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Africa in the News: Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor Suspended, Zimbabwe’s Mugabe turns 90, and Ghana’s Mahama Gives His State of the Nation

Nigeria's Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi attends the World Islamic Economic Forum in London

Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor Sanusi Suspended

The now former Nigerian Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi made headlines again this week after being suspended by President Goodluck Jonathan.  The news came after Sanusi’s allegations last week that the Jonathan administration failed to account about $20 billion in oil revenues.  In addition to the suspension, Sanusi has had his passport confiscated by Nigerian authorities.  Sanusi reportedly is not interested in regaining his position (his term was scheduled to end in June 2014); however, he has questions about the legality of the move.  Several foreign exchange dealers and bond markets have stopped trading due to the uncertainty Sanusi’s suspension has created.  Deputy Governor Dr. Sarah Alade will serve as the interim governor, while Godwin Emefiele, managing director of Zenith Bank, has been nominated by Jonathan to assume the role.

Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe Turns 90 Years Old, and the EU Lifts Economic Sanctions Against the Country

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe turned 90 years old today.  The president is only 10 years away from his self-proclaimed goal of remaining president of Zimbabwe until he reaches 100.  In fact, earlier in the week, he asked his party, ZANU-PF, to stop discussing his retirement as it weakens the party and creates fractionalization.  An upcoming week-long celebration, estimated to cost the country $1 million, is planned for Mugabe and has sparked heavy criticism due to the once-again declining economic conditions in the country.

In related news, the European Union lifted economic sanctions this week against Zimbabwe, but kept sanctions against Mugabe and his wife Grace. The sanctions were seen as ineffective at weakening Mugabe’s regime, and the EU would like deepen engagement with the Zimbabwe for purposes of trade.

Ghana’s President Mahama’s State of the Nation Focuses on Economic Diversification

President John Mahama of Ghana announced in his State of the Nation speech on Thursday that he would take measures to diversify the Ghanaian economy away from its main commodities of gold, oil and cocoa.  One of the measures proposed by Mahama is the provision of incentives to cocoa producers that move into processing, which will help diversify the economy away from its commodity focus.   The emphasis on diversification in his State of the Nation comes after a series of fiscal issues for the West African country.  Investors have sold off the Ghanaian cedi due to concerns about the country’s widening fiscal deficit.  The currency weakened by 20 percent in 2013 and by another 4.7 percent this year.  In addition, the fiscal deficit was larger than initially estimated due to a shortfall in tax revenue and high spending on public sector wages.

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