LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - As rolling power blackouts hit South Africa this week, an old gag resurfaced. “What did South Africans use for lighting before candles?” Answer: “Electricity.” The problems at state-owned Eskom are no laughing matter, though. Energy rationing is not even the most serious issue: the utility is broke and its debt pile is too much for the government to handle.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - As the world investment spotlight illuminated Riyadh last month, bosses of limelight-shunning Naspers stayed at home to unveil plans to pour $315 million into South African tech startups. That’s small compared to SoftBank’s $93 billion Vision Fund, powered in part by Saudi petrodollars. But the emerging market internet giant’s quietly-quietly $8 billion tech war chest is still worth watching.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Donald Trump has discovered Africa. After years of paying scant attention to the continent’s economic development, Washington is trying to counter China’s pervasive influence. Yet doubling financing to poor countries to $60 billion – the same amount Beijing pledged to Africa this month – sounds worryingly Cold War. If a desire to trump his Chinese counterpart, rather than solid financials, is the U.S. president’s main objective, American taxpayers will pay the price.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Newly installed chief executives like to get bad news out of the way early on. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is taking that practice to extremes. The “Ramaphoria” that surrounded his accession six months ago was extinguished on Tuesday when official data showed the economy sunk into recession in the first half of the year. The ruling African National Congress is still destined for election victory next year. But without a solid win Ramaphosa’s grip on the party, and his ability to push through growth-boosting economic reforms, will be in doubt.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Just because beer is cheap, it doesn’t mean you should drink. Africa has for years been drunk on cheap Chinese credit, a habit that has led to waste and even sovereign default. China is now preaching sobriety, but neither Africa’s borrowers nor their lender are showing much appetite for restraint.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - MTN Group is facing another nasty surprise in Nigeria. It’s three years since regulators fined the South African mobile operator $5 billion for failing to cancel dormant accounts. Now the country’s central bank has ordered MTN’s local unit to repay $8.1 billion sent to its parent company since 2007. However the saga plays out, the company’s plan to boost future dividends looks in doubt.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Add Africa to the locations Theresa May is hoping will help shore up Britain’s post-Brexit future. The prime minister on Tuesday promised to tweak her government’s generous aid budget to open doors for UK companies on the continent of a billion people. The longer-term shift to "trade not aid” will have to be dramatic if it is to compensate for the setback of severing close ties with the European Union.
JOHANNESBURG First came the shock, then the tears of joy, then the dreams of home.
JOHANNESBURG The United States has terminated funding to three Zimbabwean human rights and pro-democracy groups three weeks before an election, a move that analysts say could undermine the credibility of the country's first post-Mugabe vote.
JOHANNESBURG U.S. petroleum company Anadarko has placed staff working on a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in northern Mozambique under "lock-down" due to the threat from suspected Islamist militants in the area, a regional security consultant said on Tuesday.