Abiy, Eliud, Africa’s Pulse, Ecclesiastes and Ozymandias

Possession of territory is not primarily about laws and contracts, but first and foremost a matter of movement and circulation.

In Summary

•We are at a Pivot moment and we can keep regurgitating the same old Mantras like a stuck record and if we do that this turns Ozymandias

Two important events happened last week. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed Ali was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 by the Norwegian Nobel Committee and indeed it was a well-deserved award. In July 2018, I wrote 

''These 90 or so days represent the most consequential arrival of an African politician on the African stage since Mandela walked out of prison blinking in the sunlight and constructed his ‘’rainbow nation’’'' And whilst he faces a fiendishly complicated task fending off the centripetal forces which are tearing Ethiopia apart, the Prime Minister who has a singular self-belief in his destiny is a Virilian figure and a c21st African Leader which is a scarce commodity. 

“Whoever controls the territory possesses it. Possession of territory is not primarily about laws and contracts, but first and foremost a matter of movement and circulation.” 

 

Staying with the Theme of Speed our very own Philosopher Runner Eliud Kipchoge claimed the first sub two hour Marathon with a time of 1:59:40. Mr. Kipchoge has said 

''I don’t know where the limits are, but I would like to go there.''

Eliud went to Vienna to run his race and under the auspices of the #IneosChallenge which is a message of its own but is not the subject of this Article.

Both these ''Feel-Good'' Events were iconic and totemic. 

Staying with the theme of Speed and the Pulse, the World Bank released its #AfricaPulse Africa's Pulse Report, No. 20, October 2019, which gives us deep dive insights into the Pulse of this vast continent of ours and below are some Bullet Points..

Regional growth is projected to rise to 2.6 percent in 2019 (0.2 percentage point lower than the April forecast) from 2.5 percent in 2018.

The recovery in Nigeria, South Africa, and Angola—the region’s three largest economies—has remained fragile.

 

In Nigeria—real gross domestic product (GDP) growth decelerated from 2.1 percent year-over-year (y/y) in 2019q1 to 1.9 percent in 2019q2 

South Africa For the entire first half of the year, real GDP growth amounted to 0.4 percent.

In Angola—the region’s second largest oil exporter— GDP contracted by 0.4 percent (y/y) in the first quarter,

Debt vulnerabilities remain high. The share of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa assessed in debt distress or at high risk of external debt distress has almost doubled, though the pace of deterioration has slowed.

The median government debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to stabilize at around 55 percent in 2019, following sustained and broad-based increases since 2013 

For the region as a whole, the average interest payments-to-revenue ratio is expected to rise to 11 percent in 2019, from 6 percent in 2012 

Per capita GDP growth for the region as a whole has remained relatively flat, with no gain expected in 2019. Per capita GDP growth is projected at 0.5 percent in 2020 and 0.6 percent in 2021, well below the growth needed to improve the living standards of the region’s population.

The downward forecast revision for 2019 mostly reflects temporary drags from stressed economies, including Mozambique, Sudan, and Zimbabwe, but slowdowns are also seen in Kenya due to sluggish agricultural exports.

Africa’s total fertility rate (TFR) of 4.8 births per woman remains high (and even higher for poor women)

Charlie Robertson [Chief Economist Renaissance Capital] has pronounced that South Africa [is] Heading for [a] Junk Downgrade. A meme flying round on social media is that There is a New sex position called the "Ramaphosa" Get on top and do nothing [@danielmarven] 

You will agree that the overall picture is not very pretty. The Canary in the Coal Mine is Zambia.

“Investors have lost faith in government promises to get spending under control and the government has fallen out with the IMF as well,” he said. In Zambia, Eurobonds are trading at 60c in the $. Even the Chinese whom many thought was Santa Claus ave thrown in the Towel. I recall #FOCAC2018 and the famous Photograph where all the Chinese Officials had a Pen and Paper and not one African Official was taking notes. Had they been taking notes they would have heard Xi Jinping specifically speak of ''The End of Vanity'' which I characterised at the time as a ''a substantive linguistic recasting of China Africa by Xi Jinping'' 

I only recently discovered Ecclesiastes and clearly Xi was ahead of me in this regard. 

Ecclesiastes 1:2-11 2 Vanity[a] of vanities, says the Preacher 2 Vanity[a] of vanities, says the Preacher,     vanity of vanities! All is vanity. 11 There is no remembrance of former things,[c]     nor will there be any remembrance of later things[d] yet to be     among those who come after.

It seems to me that we are at a Pivot moment and we can keep regurgitating the same old Mantras like a stuck record and if we do that this turns Ozymandias 

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”