African Business' view of 2011: month by month.

Position:Cover story


WikiLeaks: The top-secret security leaks disseminated by Julian Assange's controversial website caused a global furore. The greatest shock for Africa was the revelation of the extent Shell's involvement with the Nigerian government. Other cables indicated African states' unease about Libya. Most secrets have yet to be released and Assange is currently fighting extradition from the UK to Sweden to face alleged rape charges.

Investment: Abu Dhabi joined China in putting its marker down on Africa and investing in infrastructure - this time in ports and railways. The size of the market and the opportunities inherent in constructing improved African infrastructure have continued to attract new players. Abu Dhabi-based commodities company ADS Holding paired with Hutchinson Port Holdings to form Baobab Investments, channelling multibillion-dollar investments into African infrastructure.

Energy: Nigeria regained its position from Angola as Africa's biggest oil producer and could push its output up to 4m b/d in future. South Africa was keen to reduce its reliance on coal and push for a low-carbon strategy. Ghana started oil production and looked set to become a major producer. East Africa, too, started to come on stream.


Markets: Cement group Dangote listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Its $15bn transaction was the largest in the Exchange's history.

Commodities: Zimbabwe looked set to benefit from a 15% rise in platinum prices. Global demand for Southern Africa's palladium also lifted prices.

Aid: Sudanese billionaire entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim said that Africa's untapped wealth of natural resources should make it a donor not a recipient, if it had visionary leadership.



Democracy: African Business editor, Anver Versi, reflected on the momentous month just passed for Africa, with two huge steps forward, in Tunisia, with its Jasmine Revolution, and successful elections in Sudan, and one step, back, in Cote d'Ivoire, with the intransigence of Laurent Gbagbo after his election defeat by opponent Alassane Ouattara.

Tourism: Africa's performance to date has been sporadic, but has shown growth of 9% in the past year, the only region in the world to record a rise in tourist numbers.

Consumer market: China turned its focus on the expanding African middle class with its low-cost goods. Consumer goods multinationals took steps to target Africa's growth. Private consumption of goods and services accounted for almost two thirds of the continent's GDP in 2010. Telecoms remained the star consumer performer.

Mining: The demand for Africa's natural resources kept growing as global consumption of minerals increased. Mining projects boomed in Southern, Central and West Africa.

International organisations: South Africa beat Nigeria and Egypt to become a member of BRIC, to be formally admitted in April. BRIC's member countries reflect the shifting economic power to the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, China - and now Africa. South Africa said it saw itself as a gateway to the continent for the other BRIC countries.


Democracy: African Business charted Tunisia's and Egypt's time lines to democracy and their warning to dictators everywhere. It assessed the challenges facing the world's newest state, South Sudan, after its successful secession from the North, officially to come into being in July: its pros, oil, and its cons, shortage of capacity and experience. It profiled the candidates in the run-up to the Nigerian elections slated for April and flagged up the major issues the new president would have to deal with: the Niger Delta, security, power supply and corruption.

Energy: Oil reared its head again in a special report on...

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