: African press review 7 December 2015

African countries stand to lose their quest for larger market access due to conflicts between developed and Asian countries, according to the main story in regional paper The East African. The paper is previewing next week’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Summit to be held in Nairobi.

According to The East African, developed countries, that basically means the US and the EU, are reluctant to make a commitment that will allow African nations’ exports easy access, unless rapidly industrialised countries like China, India and Brazil are removed from the cluster of “developing nations”. This confusion over classification means the emerging economic giants will continue to be given the same preferential treatment African countries want.

Confidential sources at the WTO offices in Geneva say Africa’s agenda for the ministerial meeting has been classified under “key contentious issues”, has not been included in the draft declaration to be adopted by ministers in Nairobi and will, therefore, not be discussed.

These key contentious issues omitted from the draft Nairobi ministerial declaration are agricultural subsidies, market access, trade in industrial goods and trade in services.

In the past 12 months, according to South African financial paper BusinessDay, the Nigerian Islamic fundamentalist group Boko Haram has expanded its campaign of killings far beyond Nigeria’s borders, attacking the former French colonies of Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

Boko Haram has been responsible for at least 6,644 deaths in the past year.

Dossier: Sharia wars – Boko Haram v the military in northern Nigeria

BusinessDay also reports that international financial analysts Fitch have downgraded South Africa’s credit rating from BBB to BBB negative, a situation which is just one level above speculative grade or junk. Fitch has, however, changed the outlook for the South African economy from negative to stable.

Weak economic growth, rising government debt, a persistent current account deficit, slow implementation of the National Development Plan and power-supply challenges were the main reasons for the downgrade.

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Another international agency, Standard & Poor’s, on Friday confirmed South Africa’s rating at BBB negative but altered its outlook to negative from stable mainly on weak economic growth.

A downgrade raises the cost at which government borrows from markets but Fitch’s change in the outlook to stable from negative means that a ratings downgrade is unlikely in the near future.

At least there’s good news on the tourism front, with visitor numbers starting to climb as travellers to South Africa take advantage of the low value of the rand. BusinessDay gives no figures to support this optimism but the Johannesburg-based paper does quote the boss of the tourist industry’s umbrella body as saying there has been an upturn in visitor numbers, so it must be true.

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom is even more enthusiastic, if just as lacking in statistical support. He says tourism at the moment is booming, adding that numbers are increasing quite dramatically.

The main story in the Kenyan Daily Nation reports that President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday defended his frequent trips abroad, arguing that they are in keeping with Kenya’s standing as a regional leader.

A statement from the presidential spokesperson insisted on the benefits the country got from Kenyatta’s travels. The statement listed deals clinched by the head of state in the sectors of infrastructure development, education and energy.

The president has made 43 trips in his three years in power, that’s 10 more than his predecessor, retired President Mwai Kibaki, made in his 10 years in power.

While many of the trips may have diplomatic and economic benefits, critics argue that the large delegations that accompany the president and the attendant costs to the taxpayer undermine his Jubilee party’s message of austerity.

Source: rfi afrique