Kenya campaigns, Zuma and Kanu trials and a new airline takes off

Russia/Ukraine

Hang in there for impact

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 triggered a cascade of political, economic and strategic changes across the world, including in Africa. The conflict is leading officials in Bangui, Bamako and Conakry to question their support for strengthening ties with Russia. At the same time, African policymakers are considering opportunities to take advantage of competing Russian and Western interests.

Russia’s investment in the continent lags far behind its commitments to Europe and North Africa, so the economic impact of the fighting will be less direct. As war drives up the prices of commodities like wheat, oil, gas and gold, international financial institutions are warning that conflict is a major threat to the post-Covid global economic recovery.

The rapid return to oil sales above $100 a barrel is a boon for major African producers such as Algeria, Angola and Nigeria. On the other hand, the conflict is already stressing Egyptian economic planners. The world’s largest wheat importer depends on both Russia and Ukraine for most of its grain. The 2022 wheat season in Egypt will start in April, with the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi raising prices for domestic producers and supporting the expansion of wheat cropland to boost local production.

Books

Graywolf Press Award-winning African Fiction, poet Noor Naga’s experimental novel, released in April, is set in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, when a revolutionary photographer and an Egyptian American woman meet, fall in love and don’t live Happy forever. The award committee said that If an Egyptian does not speak English ‘bubbling with metaphorical passion and emotional intelligence […] and will reward each reread with new doses of pleasure”.

Trials

Your day in court

April will bring more hearings in high-profile Nigerian and South African criminal cases. The corruption case against former South African President Jacob Zuma (above right) has been repeatedly delayed and could be postponed again due to appeals. Hearings on an $8 billion arms deal under the presidencies of Thabo Mbeki and Zuma could further damage the popularity of the African National Congress government. Meanwhile, in Nigeria, Nnamdi Kanu (above left), the secessionist leader of the indigenous people of Biafra, will also be back in court to hear the federal high court’s decision on April 8 on his motion to bringing the charges of treason and terrorism against him fell.

Appointment

Duncan Wanblad

The Anglo American mining giant has a new boss. Duncan Wanblad will take over as chief executive in April. He has been with the company since 2008, coming from its copper and base metals divisions.

Marc Dunford

In April, Mark Dunford will become the new Managing Director of Knight Frank Kenya, the property consultancy firm. He was previously the head of East Africa for US-based Jones Lang LaSalle.

Kenya

Campaign preparation

In Kenya, 2022 is a high-stakes political year, with national elections in August when President Uhuru Kenyatta steps down as president. April is a milestone on the road to voting, with political parties holding their primaries and national delegate conventions.
There is no doubt that Vice President William Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the main candidates for the presidency, will lead the United Democratic Alliance and Orange Democratic Movement ticket respectively. With the government’s high level of debt and the impact of the Covid pandemic, the economy, along with education and security, will be on the agenda as ‘hustler’ Ruto takes on Odinga, l heir to a Kenyan political dynasty.

They are busy forging alliances and meeting potential vice-presidential candidates who could help tip the balance in their favor. Ruto is leading in the polls, but Odinga has the support of President Uhuru Kenyatta and the vested interests that go with it. As The Africa Report went to press, Ruto seemed likely to choose former vice president Musalia Mudavadi, while Peter Kenneth, a former deputy minister, was among Odinga’s top running mate candidates.

Late in the ballot, the 2022 vote will provide opportunities for rising political stars, as two-term governors look elsewhere to advance their political careers. The primary season will reshuffle some games, and those who don’t win in their favorite parties have until May 5 to declare their candidacies as independents.

Aviation

As the worst of the pandemic’s impact on air travel seems behind us, Nigerian business leaders are launching operations for a new airline in April. Nigeria Air is backed by Nigerian investors (46%) and the government (5%), who are looking for foreign investors to take over the remaining capital. Nigeria Air launched a call for interested investors in early March, with reports indicating that Qatar Airways is interested.

Events

  • April 11-13 Tourism sector players mobilize for their post-Covid recovery during Africa Travel Week in Cape Town, South Africa. www.atwconnect.com
  • April 11-16 African Studies Association of Africa Conference at the University of Cape Town. www.as-aa-org
  • April 27-29 The West Africa Pharma & Healthcare Show in Accra, Ghana. www.westafricapharmahealthcare.com
  • From April 29 to May 1 Stars like Master KG and DJ Maphorisa will be at the Vic Falls Carnival in Zimbabwe. www.vicfallscarnival.com