Africa in the news: India doubles assistance to Africa at summit, Doing Business and Regional Economic Outlook reports launched, and Cote d’Ivoire and Tanzania vote

Indian and African heads of states convene in Delhi for regional summit

The third India-Africa Forum Summit was held this week in Delhi from October 26-30, 2015. The five-day summit began with consultations among high-level government officials and was followed by a heads-of-state level summit and bilateral meetings on October 29, 2015. At least 41 African leaders, including the South African, Egyptian, Zimbabwean, and Nigerian presidents, attended the event.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the summit on Thursday, referring to India and Africa as “the two bright spots of hope and opportunities in the global economy” that must rise together. India committed to doubling its development assistance to Africa with an additional $10.6 billion in concessional loans and grants to support health care, scholarships, and clean energy in Africa. In addition to economic issues, leaders discussed pressing global issues such as combating climate change and terrorism, boosting maritime security, and reforming international institutions, including the United Nations Security Council. Throughout the summit, analysts have drawn parallels between India’s relationship with Africa and the China-Africa partnership, arguing that India has several comparative advantages over China and that the economic slowdown of China will strengthen India- Africa links.

For more information Indian-African relations, refer to Brookings India’s collection of essays, “India and Africa: Forging A Strategic Partnership”  and Amadou Sy’s blog on trends in Indo-African trade and investment.

The World Bank’s Doing Business report highlights reforms to business environments in Africa, while IMF’s Regional Economic Outlook for sub-Saharan Africa predicts near-term economic slowdown

This week, the World Bank released its annual Doing Business report, which measures the “ease of doing business” in countries based on criteria such as access to electricity and credit as well as the country’s ability to enforce contracts and property rights, among other metrics. The 2015 report found that while sub-Saharan Africa has made significant progress in improving business environments over the last year, there is still room for improvement in several areas.  

African countries have made numerous reforms to create business enabling environments over the past year, accounting for 30 percent of business-related regulatory reforms that occurred globally in 2014/15. Most of these reforms focused on increasing the availability of credit information and expediting the process of property transfer. Of the 10 countries whose business climates improved the most in 2015, five were in Africa: Kenya, Mauritania, Senegal, Uganda, and Benin. Still, one of the biggest issues constraining businesses in Africa remains access to power. Forty-five percent of firms identified power supply as the key limitation to conducting business. The continent also continues to lag in its ability to enforce contracts.

Furthermore, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released its biannual Regional Economic Outlook report for the sub-Saharan Africa region. The report paints a gloomy picture for the continent as it highlights the slowing GDP growth rates witnessed throughout the region in 2015. Since the growth spurt experienced in many African countries over the last few years was mainly driven by commodity exports, the steep decline in commodity prices has taken a toll on the region’s GDP growth rate. Still, the slowing rate is not uniform across the continent. While oil-exporting countries are expected to grow at 2.6 percent, low-income countries have a projected growth rate of 5.9 percent. The IMF is now urging countries to allow their currencies to depreciatein order to absorb the enduring shock from the declines in terms-of-trade.

Presidential election outcomes in Cote d’Ivoire and Tanzania

On Sunday, October 25, Cote d’Ivoire held its first presidential election since 2011, when electoral violence escalated into a civil war that left nearly 3,000 people dead. This week’s elections, however, were carried out peacefully, with the national electoral commission and international observers fully accepting its results. The Independent Electoral Commission announced on Wednesday that incumbent President Alassane Ouattara won in a landslide with 84 percent of the vote, while his closest opponent, the leader of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) Pascal Affi N’Guessan, garnered just 9 percent.

Meanwhile, in Tanzania, the National Electoral Commission declared on Thursday that the ruling party (Chama Cha Mapinduzi) candidate John Magufuli won the presidential election with 58 percent of the vote, defeating his main rival Edward Lowassa from the opposition Ukawa coalition, who received 40 percent of the vote. Although Lowassa rejected the election results, the national electoral body dismissed the opposition party’s complaints while U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Tanzania on carrying out peaceful, credible elections.