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Chad and Niger

1) Chad may be next in line. France is about to lose another African country where it has influence as the Franco-American geopolitical struggle moves further north.

2) Niger is again an unstable country. Military coups occur here about every year or so, the latest on 18 February 2010. People are killed in the hundreds in this part of the world, but the stories seldom reach Western mass media.

3) Niger was the last country where Kaddafi recruited his mercenaries from, the same people which are now being tortured in Libya with very few Western reactions

Burkina Faso, Togo, Mali, and Senegal

1) The French are losing ground rapidly in the region. The Chinese are already everywhere. Only the French language is hanging on, so far. (The Chinese offer free courses in Mandarin all over Africa now, while the Western world is starting to charge more for their language courses). The Chinese are winning hearts and minds with their combination of gifts on one hand and access to consumer markets on the other.

2) Everyone wants cheaper products, especially in Africa where people are poor. In Mali you can now buy Chinese motorbikes for a tenth of the price that a Western product costs. There are already Chinese cars on sale for a fifth of the price. Imagine what that means. If you think America changed with Wal-Mart it is nothing compared to how fast African economic reality is becoming Chinese.

3) Malians used to receive considerable gifts from Russia (university education) and Gaddafi (television and radio stations). Now the Chinese are bringing many more gifts (airport infrastructure, major roads, major bridge, and new buildings surrounding the presidential palace). From the Western world they get the usual political talks which in the end give them next to nothing.

Tanzania

1) This is a country which receives about forty per cent of its GDP in overseas aid each year. Despite its "good student" reputation, it is a country with few economic prospects.

2) Mainlanders (former Tanganyikans) feel themselves to be Tanzanians. Most people from Zanzibar feel themselves to be Zanzibaris, not necessarily Tanzanians. Zanzibaris in general have less education than mainlanders, and are sensitive to mainlander taking their jobs. This often leads to sabotage. Tanzanians are sensitive towards anything that might look like a master-slave relationship and remind them of colonialism.

3) Religion is another sensitive issue. Muslims feel that Christians are favored, since many Christians also have leading positions in business and political life. Native religions are practiced by about thirty per cent of the population. Different tribes have different gods and religious practices.

4) The political scene is dominated by one party, the CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi), even though the country has a multi-party political system. Investors who want to stay must ensure they are on good terms with CCM politicians.

5) Tanzania is a tribal society. People still favour one another on a tribal basis. Members of the larger tribes tend to have advantages over those from smaller tribes. Tribes in areas with more schools tend to have more influence on national politics.

6) All Tanzanians speak Swahili. This has served as a unifying factor for the people of this country in a way hardly seen elsewhere in Africa.

7) "In Ghana and Uganda it can take one or two years to establish a business and become operational. In Tanzania and Mozambique, [it takes] 18 months to three years; and in Namibia, six months to a year.

Zimbabwe

1) Once the best kid in the class, now the most hated. How did it come to this? Robert Mugabe simply became too fond of power, they say. It was too good to pass on. Slowly the State became more of a dictatorship. Now he feels he has to play out the game to the bitter end. It is an old familiar story.

Southern Africa

1) It was the multinationals more than Western governments who put pressure on the apartheid regime. Apartheid was bad for business, and the system was corrupt: it did not help to foster a new middle class of consumers. Instead a bargain was made: we will give you political power, if we are allowed to keep the assets we have accumulated.

2) The USA and its allies failed in Namibia (SWAPO won, and is now the majority party) and in Angola (FNLA and UNITA lost, and are now small minority parties), because they were on the wrong side, supporting the white minority against the black majority.

3) The new leaders in South Africa are reluctant to help overthrow Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, because they have shared a common struggle against the white minority.

4) Zuma coming to power marks the transition from meritocracy to mass democracy in South African, as conditions are getting worse. The South African homicide rate is four times that of the USA. Perhaps as many as forty per cent of the working population are unemployed. Poverty levels and social conditions have not much improved since the time of apartheid, and there are no obvious solutions in sight. As always in Africa, things will take time.

 
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