Items of Interest: May 3

The following items from May 3 may emerge to become significant factors impacting geomarket developments in Africa:

Angola: President João Lourenço received back to back visits by two significant Japanese officials: Toyota Tshushu Corporation CEO Ichiro Kashitani, followed by Foreign Minister Taro Kono. 

Significance: Toyota’s Kashitani will inspect progress on the $647 million project to upgrade the Port of Namibe that is funded by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. The Namibe port, the country’s third largest, is a key gateway for industrial and maritime activity in the southern region of Angola. Completing the upgrades to the port ensures its readiness to act as the terminus for industrial mining output to be carried on the upgraded Moçâmedes railway from neighboring provinces that the Lourenço administration is prioritizing. Additionally, expanding the Port of Namibe improves its capacity to support important new offshore oil and gas exploration activities that are emerging in the Namibe basin, notably those involving ExxonMobil, which in turn comply with Lourenço administration imperatives to reform and restore confidence the country’s energy sector. Lastly, the Japanese foreign minister’s visit exhibits the diplomatic capital the Japanese government is investing in Africa as it prepares to host its version of an African summit: the Tokyo International Conference on African Development from August 28-30 in Yokohama. 

Central African Republic: President Faustin-Archange Touadéra received Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhaïl Bogdanov in Bangui.

Significance: Speaking of African summits, the Putin administration will host a Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi on October 24, which Bogdanov reiterated Touadéra’s invitation to. The two officials spoke on Russia’s security and socio-economic development cooperation with the Central African Republic, which was exhibited earlier in the week by the graduation of a Russian-trained and -equipped infantry battalion. While Russia does not necessarily emphasize economic assistance as a tool of geostrategy, strategic security and political cooperation is very much a key enabler Moscow extends to friendly governments not satisfied with terms of cooperation offered by Western partners.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: President Félix Tshisekedi invested into office a dozen governors (and their deputies) recently elected by their respective provincial assemblies.

Significance: The investitures of the provincial governors whose political loyalty is largely to the Common Front for Congo (FCC) led by former President Joseph Kabila whom Tshisekedi succeeded in January demonstrates political cooperation and compliance between the Congo’s new and former regimes. The provincial governors had, preceding their investitures, met with Kabila who impressed upon them to work in full cooperation with not only Tshisekedi but the country’s institutions of government. The cooperation underscores the outlook for policy stability and continuity, notably with the country’s Mining Code, following the transition from Kabila to Tshisekedi. Following actions by the Tshisekedi administration are to form a consensus cabinet led by a prime minister to be nominated by the Kabila-led Common Front for Congo.  

South Africa: Political party campaigning is down to the final days as the country prepares for general elections set for May 8.

Significance: The African National Congress is certain to be reelected to a majority of seats in the country’s national assembly, though the ruling party is likely to see its share of seats drop from the 62% it currently enjoys. The mandate for the reelected-to-be African National Congress-led South African government will contain mixed policy priorities, the tone for which was underscored by the assertion made by President Cyril Ramaphosa that while reforms at state-owned enterprises will be strengthened, notably at Eskom, no loss of jobs is envisioned. It was furthermore instructive that ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule campaigned together with former President Jacob Zuma, whom Ramaphosa succeeded in 2018, in the country’s KwaZulu-Natal province in a move certainly meant to convey unity within the diverse and divisive ruling party and prevent defections to rival opposition parties. 

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