The business trends shaping Africa in 2019 — and beyond

The performance of some of Africa’s largest economies in 2018 does not inspire confidence for the year ahead. Nigeria has endured a slow recovery from a recession caused by falling oil prices, as has Angola. South Africa entered recession for the first time in a decade. But away from the flagship economies, emerging powers and … Continue reading “The business trends shaping Africa in 2019 — and beyond”

The performance of some of Africa’s largest economies in 2018 does not inspire confidence for the year ahead.

Nigeria has endured a slow recovery from a recession caused by falling oil prices, as has Angola. South Africa entered recession for the first time in a decade. But away from the flagship economies, emerging powers and international trends offer the prospect of new success stories.

    Global management consultancy McKinsey & Company’s new book “Africa’s Business Revolution” identifies areas of potential progress and opportunity across the continent based on original research and interviews with hundreds of CEOs from leading African companies. The authors find regions that recall China before its own period of explosive growth, and suggest pathways that could yield similar gains. Follow CNN Africa on social media

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    Rapid urbanization will greatly expand the consumer class with disposable incomes, the authors predict, which will lead to a massive increase in business and consumer spending — rising from $4 trillion in 2015 to $5.6 trillion in 2025. In the same period, increased Internet penetration will add $300 billion to the continent’s GDP — roughly equivalent to South Africa’s output. Read MoreWith the help of Acha Leke, co-author of “Africa’s Business Revolution” and chairman of McKinsey’s Africa office, we pick out some of the major trends and stories to watch in Africa in 2019 and beyond.

    The ascendent middle powers

    When McKinsey surveyed the top 30 African economies in 2011, they found 25 were experiencing “accelerated growth.” In the most recent survey of the same countries, the figure was just 13. Rather than the continental powerhouses, it is the mid-sized economies such as Ethiopia and Ivory Coast that offer the greatest promise. This picture taken on July 24, 2018 shows workers on a construction site of the new olympic stadium in Ebimpe, ahead of the African Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021.Leke picks out Ivory Coast as a model of stable progress, having recorded steady growth since emerging from a civil war and financial crisis around the turn of the decade. He cites high levels of government investment and infrastructure development in partnership with Chinese firms as key factors in the country’s performance, and suggests that “huge investor interest” from the private sector can keep the economy buoyant. The coming years should see growth become more inclusive with progress in sectors such as health and education.

    A closer union

    While the European Union is under strain from resurgent nationalism within member states, African countries are choosing closer alignment. The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) will create one of the world’s largest free trade blocs, with 44 countries now signed up. Of the major economies, only Nigeria has abstained, and Leke believes that position is likely to change in the near future.Progress on the deal will be supplemented by the easing of travel restrictions between African nations. McKinsey research shows 21 of the 54 states now allow visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to all African nationalities — up from just three in 1983 — which has led to increases in business and tourism visits. Rwanda and Mauritius are among the leading beneficiaries.The African Heads of States and Governments pose during African Union (AU) Summit for the agreement to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 21, 2018.Leke cites ongoing progress with business-friendly reforms as a cause for optimism in the coming years, with faster processing times for permits and registrations and reduced tariffs becoming continent-wide trends. Four African nations feature among the World Bank’s top 10 most improved for ease of doing business. With unprecedented numbers of major businesses in Africa seeking to expand and diversify in multiple countries, Leke believes it is imperative that barriers are further lowered — and that governments recognize this too.

    Manufacturing surge

    “Africa’s Business Revolution” projects the value of manufacturing across the continent will double to $1 trillion by 2025, and create up to 14 million jobs in the same period. This should ensure greater self-sufficiency as well as a healthier trade balance with a shift towards exports. Leke points out that in some cases falling commodity prices have forced governments to embrace diversification of their economies, breeding long term resilience. Nigeria’s oil price crash led to greater emphasis on manufacturing which should lead to scaled-up exports in the coming years. Factory employees work on a car assembly line at the Renault-Nissan Tanger Car Assembly Plant in Melloussa, east of the port city of Tangiers on March 12, 2018. McKinsey research suggests the greatest gains are to be made through advanced manufacturing, citing Morocco’s burgeoning car industry as an example. Ethiopia’s industrial parks are also delivering strong returns and could be profitably imitated elsewhere. Developing partnerships with Chinese firms, drawing on their resources and expertise, will be a major asset for African manufacturers in the coming years.

    Big pharma

    Progress in the pharmaceutical industry is associated with multiplier benefits such as technology advances and improved health indicators. From a low base, pharmaceutical companies in Africa could see rapid gains in the coming years. McKinsey estimates the sector could be worth $65 billion by 2020 — triple its value in 2013. To realize such gains will require a more easily-navigable regulatory system, scaled-up production infrastructure, and shrewd specialization. Not all African countries have the resources to deliver in the sector but McKinsey suggests that regional hubs in more advanced economies such as Nigeria and Kenya could be “viable if carefully executed.” Local production could lower the cost and improve the quality of medical drugs, as well as aiding the development of high-value skills and technology.

    Off-grid energy

    Rural electrification remains one of the continent’s major challenges, with around 600 million people in Africa still unconnected. But one of the continent’s most encouraging technology stories is that entrepreneurs and start-ups are stepping into the breach.Kenya-based company M-Kopa’s home solar energy kits have already connected an estimated 600,000 households, financed by mobile money, and that figure is likely to soar in the coming year with heavyweight investors supporting the venture. The company expects to pass $100 million a year annual revenue in the coming years. Photos: Africa's solar start-upsPower of the sun – Solar energy innovator Henri Nyakarundi with his portable mobile charging kiosk in Rwanda.Hide Caption 1 of 12 Photos: Africa's solar start-upsNyakarundi said he wanted to do something that not only solves a practical problem — charging empty cell phones — but also has a social impact by creating micro businesses for people.Hide Caption 2 of 12 Photos: Africa's solar start-upsIn a recent development, Nyakarundi has decided to make the franchising opportunity free for women and those with disabilities. “They are the most vulnerable group in Africa,” said the businessman.Hide Caption 3 of 12 Photos: Africa's solar start-upsA brand new prototype, developed in Germany with funding from Microsoft and software company Autodesk, will launch this autumn, offering wifi and intranet services to rural communities. Hide Caption 4 of 12 Photos: Africa's solar start-upsNyakarundi’s kiosks are designed for places with high footfall, such as bus stops and marketplaces.Hide Caption 5 of 12 Photos: Africa's solar start-upsThe bulk of ARED’s revenue comes from advertising on the side of the kiosks, which can also be rented out to charities such as the Red Cross, pictured. Hide Caption 6 of 12 Photos: Africa's solar start-upsOther African start ups using solar energy to reach customers off the grid include M-KOPA Solar, a Kenyan company that has launched a low-energy solar television.Hide Caption 7 of 12 Photos: Africa's solar start-upsAs well as televisions, M-KOPA Solar provides solar solutions for radios, lighting and other appliances for customers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Hide Caption 8 of 12 Photos: Africa's solar start-upsUgandan company Kiira Motors has launched Africa’s first solar powered bus — and plans to expand the country’s solar vehicle industry.Hide Caption 9 of 12 Photos: Africa's solar start-upsThe bus features two battery bulbs, with one connected to solar panels on the roof to provide firepower for the electric motor. The second bulb is available for charging.Hide Caption 10 of 12 Photos: Africa's solar start-upsSouth Africa’s George Airport has become the first on the continent to be powered by solar energy. It harnesses 41% of its energy from the sun.Hide Caption 11 of 12 Photos: Africa's solar start-upsIn Rwanda, an Africa-shaped 8.5 megawatt solar plant east of Kigali came into full production in December 2015. It has boosted the country’s electricity capacity by 6%.Hide Caption 12 of 12

      M-Kopa’s success is being followed up by Uganda-based Fenix, which had sold 140,000 solar kits by 2017, and BBOXX which distributes kits in 10 African countries. New start-ups are rapidly proliferating to fill the space. These initiatives have created jobs and stimulated economic activity in rural areas. But their true power lies in “opening a whole university of opportunity” for marginalised people, says Leke. From allowing children to do their homework at night to the new possibilities of the Internet, off-grid energy could go a long way to releasing potential across the continent.

Nigerian professor in sex for grades scandal gets prison term

Nigerian professor Richard Akindele, accused of demanding sex from a female student, was sentenced to prison on Monday.

Akindele was convicted after pleading guilty to four criminal charges, including demanding gratification from a student and sexual coercion of a student, according to court documents seen by CNN.Akindele had pleaded not guilty to the charges in earlier court appearances at the Federal High Court in Osogbo, southwest Nigeria. However, he changed his plea during his third appearance in court on Monday.

    Akindele was sentenced to two years in prison for demanding sexual benefits from student Monica Osagie, two years for soliciting sexual benefits to improve her marks, one year for falsifying his age, and one year for altering evidence. The judge said his sentences would run concurrently, so he will serve two years.Lecturer demanded sex in return for better grades, Nigerian student saysOsagie, 23, was not in court on Monday but her lawyers told CNN she consented to a plea bargain made by Akindele, a requirement under Nigerian law.Read MoreThe case against Akindele gained momentum after Osagie’s exclusive interview with CNN. Osagie said she secretly taped a phone conversation with Akindele to gather evidence against him.Akindele was fired by Obafemi Awolowo University for sexual misconduct one month after the interview and the Nigerian Senate launched an investigation into the issue of sexual harassment in universities.Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, ICPC, also started criminal proceedings, which led to his conviction Monday.Akindele’s lawyers negotiated a plea bargain with federal prosecutors and they deliberated for four hours before Justice Maureen Onyekenu reached a judgment on Monday. The judge rejected the terms of the plea bargain, including a suspended sentence, community service and an option of a fine.The professor needed to be “taught a lesson” to serve as a deterrent to those who abuse their authority, Onyekenu told the courtroom.She said accepting the bargain would have downplayed the trauma victims of sexual harassment face in universities.”I know the mental torture many of our female students have been subjected to by the likes of the respondent.”The adverse effect of such action is huge. Many of his like have been awarding marks to those students that are ready to warm their beds, thereby releasing half-baked graduates into the society,” Onyetenu said.Female students in Senegal's schools sexually exploited by teachers, HRW saysA lawyer for Akindele did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Akindele’s sentence was hailed by women’s rights campaigners and prosecutors pursuing the case.

      “The ripple of the outcome of this case will be felt positively for years to come,” ICPC spokeswoman Rasheeda Okoduwa said.”It’s a clear message to all those who harass students to stop it. If they don’t, we will come after them with the law. This brings some measure of relief to students in the system if this harassment occurs,” she said.

In 2019, Mideast economic troubles loom as wars wind down

AMMAN, Jordan – As the Middle East ushers in 2019, the decade's ruinous conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Iraq seem to be winding down after exacting a painful price — many thousands killed, millions uprooted from their homes and entire cities reduced to rubble.

Yet the potential for unrest remains high, including in countries that escaped civil war after the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, such as Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt. Millions of young people in the region remain locked out of economic and political participation as authoritarian governments fail to tackle soaring youth unemployment and other deep-seated problems.

"I think 2019 is a very challenging year," said analyst Amer Sabaileh in Jordan, where weekly rallies against economic policies toppled a prime minister this year and now take aim at his successor.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump's policy of siding with one Middle East powerhouse, Saudi Arabia, against its main rival, Iran, has further heightened regional tensions. For now, Tehran seems determined to wait out Trump's presidency, sticking to its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers despite the U.S. withdrawal and restoration of heavy sanctions.

In a region where violent conflict has killed hundreds of thousands of people, the brutal slaying of one Saudi writer, Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, by Saudi agents has been one of the most significant events of 2018. The killing, for which Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was widely held responsible — including by the Republican-led U.S. Senate — forced a reckoning of Saudi Arabia's involvement in Yemen's civil war and a review of the U.S.-Saudi relationship.

Here's a look at the Middle East as it heads into 2019.

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CONFLICTS WINDING DOWN

Yemen's government, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, made some progress with the Iran-linked Houthi rebels toward a U.N.-sponsored peace deal last week, a first after four years of fighting killed at least 60,000 people and pushed the country to the brink of famine. A new round of talks is set for January, with expectations that U.S. pressure on Gulf Arab allies could lead to further de-escalation.

In Syria, President Bashar Assad, aided by Russia and Iran, crushed a 7-year-old rebellion and the opposition's dream of ousting him from power. The war is not over, with major fighting still ahead in the rebel-held north. Assad's inner circle and allied entrepreneurs stand to make a fortune from reconstruction, even if the West won't contribute in the absence of a political settlement.

In Iraq, it's been a year since the government declared victory over the Islamic State group, but challenges remain, including the rebuilding of devastated cities. Rioting against corruption and poor services in the oil-rich southern region of Basra signaled the urgency of addressing Iraq's economic problems.

In Libya, rival governments in the east and west have agreed to meet at a national conference in early 2019 to pave the way for a general election. Oil production remains below its pre-2011 levels, and lack of security still prevents major foreign investment or economic growth.

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ECONOMIC TROUBLES AHEAD

In Iran, hit hard by renewed U.S. sanctions, the currency wildly fluctuated, but the Islamic Republic did not see the same widescale protests that opened the year.

While the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal ended billion-dollar deals for airplane and car manufacturers, the United States allowed many countries to continue importing Iranian oil for now. That led oil prices to plummet, straining the petrodollar economies of Gulf nations.

The boycott of Qatar by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates appeared no closer to ending, especially with a last-minute surprise by Doha of pulling Qatar from the Saudi-dominated OPEC oil cartel.

In Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country with 100 million people, job creation lags far behind an explosive population growth of more than 2 million per year. Investor confidence is improving, but inflation surpassed targets set by the International Monetary Fund.

In politically paralyzed Lebanon, decades of mismanagement and corruption are finally catching up, with a debt of $84 billion heightening concerns of impending economic collapse.

"I wonder what will happen with the rising sense of hopelessness among broad populations," said Jon Alterman at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "Will people just put their heads down and be miserable? Or will a sense that there is no public outlet, no media outlet, lead to some sort of explosion, even if it's not specifically directed toward change?"

The destructive fallout from Arab Spring uprisings could serve as a deterrent to some.

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ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu started the year with a gift from Trump, who recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and then moved the U.S. Embassy to the city in May. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas froze ties with the U.S. administration, accusing it of pro-Israel bias concerning the most sensitive issue of the conflict, which sputtered along in 2018.

Israel kept building settlements in the West Bank, the Islamic militant Hamas led mass border marches against a decade-old blockade of the Gaza Strip and lone Palestinian assailants carried out sporadic attacks against Israelis. Dozens were killed in 2018, the vast majority Palestinians.

A U.S. peace plan, promised by Trump since the beginning of his term, still hasn't materialized — to the relief of Abbas, who fears any proposal will at best offer a Palestinian mini-state in Gaza, with a small footprint in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

With Israeli elections to be held sometime in 2019, a peace plan that calls for even minimal concessions could tear apart Netanyahu's right-wing coalition. He might not get to run for re-election if a pair of corruption cases moves forward, after police recommended charges against him.

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U.S. POLICY

The Trump administration's staunch support for Saudi Arabia is expected to continue despite the Khashoggi scandal, in part because the alliance with Riyadh serves as a means of pressuring Iran.

However, Washington lacks a clear Syria policy. Trump has wavered on whether he wants troops to stay in Syria, with what goal, and appears content to cede ground to the Russians.

In Afghanistan, the administration appointed a special envoy to negotiate a peaceful exit from America's longest war, but no clear pathway has emerged. Successive presidents have sought to wind down Washington's presence in Afghanistan, to no avail.

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Associated Press writers Zeina Karam in Beirut, Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Josef Federman in Jerusalem, Hamza Hendawi in Cairo and Kathy Gannon in Islamabad contributed to this report.

Madagascar’s presidential runoff pits 2 ex-heads of state

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar – The Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar goes to the polls on Wednesday for a runoff presidential election that features two former heads of state who have a prickly past.

Andry Rajoelina received 39 percent of the vote in the first round, while Marc Ravalomanana got 35 percent. They face off for the first time since political turmoil in 2009 forced Ravalomanana from power. Both have said they will accept the runoff's results.

The capital, Antananarivo, is vibrant in the final days before the vote with the orange T-shirts of Rajoelina and the white and green ones of Ravalomanana worn by hundreds of supporters. Minibuses fill the streets with ringing chants for one candidate or the other.

Ten million voters are registered in what the World Bank calls one of the world's poorest nations, though one rich in ecological diversity. More than two-thirds of the population of 25 million live in extreme poverty, while corruption is widespread.

The 44-year-old Rajoelina says Madagascar needs a young leader and he pitches grand plans for the future. He was president from 2009 to 2014 during a transitional government.

"I will build a factory that makes solar panels so that every home will have electricity," he vowed during a rally on Friday in Miandrivazo in the central part of the country. The previous day he promised 10 helicopters to help a rural southern community combat banditry.

For his part, the 69-year-old Ravalomanana, who led Madagascar from 2002 to 2009, is appealing to voters based on his experience.

"You need a competent, mature leader," he said in a speech in the capital early this month.

The rivals have used the campaign to snipe at each other, highlighting their tense history.

"We need a democrat, not a putschist. We will not accept a president who divides the country," Ravalomanana said. He had to quit the presidency in 2009 after a series of military-backed challenges supported by Rajoelina, who was the capital's mayor at the time.

For his part, Rajoelina has responded that "we must fight against dictatorship and egoism."

In a poor neighborhood of the capital, Manarintsoa Atsinanana, the candidates' promises are inspiring few people to dream.

"I'm one of those people who will never be convinced because no matter who it is, Ravalomanana or Rajoelina, they'll never put any food on my plate. They ignore the people's poverty," Tatiana Rabenirina said bitterly. She stood in front of her tiny home fashioned from planks and other odds and ends.

"It doesn't matter who's elected. They don't care. We'll get by alone," the mother of four children said.

Residents said their demands are simple. "All I need is to live in security and that the price of rice is affordable. But it's difficult to have hope when you know you can't even have that," said Joseph Randriamiaina, who sells charcoal in the neighborhood.

"Whoever wins, he'll be the president of us all," said taxi driver Richard Rakotobe. "All we ask is that there isn't any trouble."

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Kenyan police kill 5 after residents resist arrest attempt

NAIROBI, Kenya – Five people were killed in a village in Western Kenya after residents resisted the arrest of a suspect in a domestic abuse case, a police official said Monday.

A policeman has been arrested in connection with the deaths Sunday evening in Trans-Nzoia County and an independent investigation has been launched, police spokesman Charles Owino said.

The incident is one of many where Kenyans are taking the law into their hands because they have lost trust in the police force, human rights activists say.

The lack of public trust has been caused by police acting outside the law, said Peter Kiama, the executive director of rights group, Independent Medico Legal Unit. Kenya's police are often accused of corruption and human rights abuses, including illegal killings and torture, he said.

"The more police act outside the law, the more it erodes public confidence," he said. "We have been telling them this from way back."

In recent weeks videos of Kenyans resisting police have gone viral on social media. Among them is that of a man identified as school teacher who appears to hit a baton-wielding policeman on the head with a stick when the policemen started hitting the teacher's colleagues who were demonstrating peacefully. Another is of a tricycle taxi driver who throws stones at two traffic policemen who allegedly wanted to arrest him for a traffic offence because he didn't pay a bribe.

Kiama said it is wrong for the public to attack policemen and instead they should report any misconduct to institutions which have been set up to deal with such issues.

Despite the formation of a civilian police oversight authority and a police internal affairs unit to deal with police misconduct many Kenyans remain pessimistic that the force will improve.

For more than a decade Kenya's police force has been ranked as one of the country's most corrupt institutions by the anti-corruption watch dog Transparency International.

This year the force was rated the most corrupt institution in the country by the government's own anti-corruption watchdog.

A vetting process which started in 2014 of the more than 100,000 police officers has had little impact on police behavior, even after nearly 2,000 officers were fired, said activists. Human rights groups said last month they documented 24 police killings in three weeks in the low-income areas of Nairobi. Most of the killings were illegal, according to activists.

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Gandhi statue removed from African university over claims of racism

After a wave of opposition and a petition drive that cited views deemed racist and offensive against Africans, a statue of Indian independence leader Mohandas K. Gandhi was removed this week from a university campus in Ghana, reports said.

Gandhi was one of the most celebrated figures of the 20th century for his peaceful protests in his quest for Indian sovereignty. However, in Africa, some remember him as someone who thought of Africans as savages who were beneath the British and Indians, the Washington Post reported.

A petition to remove the statue from the University of Ghana in Accra used his early writings during his two decades as a lawyer on the continent to give weight to critics' arguments.

"Having his statue means that we stand for everything he stands for and if he stands for these things [his alleged racism], I don't think we should have his statue on campus," law student Nana Adoma Asare told the BBC.

"Having his statue means that we stand for everything he stands for and if he stands for these things [his alleged racism], I don’t think we should have his statue on campus."

— Nana Adoma Asare, law student, University of Ghana

In one argument for Indian empowerment, Gandhi appeared to believe the British treated Indians “little better, if at all, than the savages or the Natives of Africa.” It also said Gandhi spoke of the "half-heathen Native."

As a young man living in South Africa, Gandhi referred to the country's black population as "Kaffirs," a racial slur, and said Indians were superior. The word "Kaffir" is deemed so offensive that it is rarely uttered aloud or published, the Post said.

The statue was unveiled at the university campus in 2016 by Indian's President Pranab Mukherjee. University professors and students told the BBC it was taken down Wednesday.

The petition cited other protests against tributes to historical figures at universities around the world.

Protests against Gandhi have occurred in Davis, Calif., where a similar statue met opposition, and in London, where plans to honor Gandhi also faced criticism.

Remove or keep a statue? South Africa debates painful legacy

JOHANNESBURG – A hulking statue of a late 19th century white leader, with a cane and top hat, has been a flashpoint for cultural conflict in South Africa for years. Black protesters threw paint on it. White supporters rallied around it. Authorities surrounded the statue with barbed wire and then ringed it with a more permanent fence.

Nearly 25 years after the end of white minority rule, the statue of Paul Kruger still looms in Church Square in the center of Pretoria, South Africa's capital. The tussle over its fate goes to the heart of a discussion over whether relics of white domination should be scrapped or kept as reminders of a harsh past. It is also a test of Nelson Mandela's dictum that the black majority's former oppressors should be embraced, not punished — an approach viewed as too generous by some South Africans.

The arguments echo similar ones in the United States, where some monuments to the U.S. Civil War-era Confederacy have been removed after protests and vandalism.

"The removal of a statue isn't the end of the conversation" about legacies of the past, said Nicole Maurantonio, an academic at the University of Richmond in Virginia who is working on a book about how the Confederacy is remembered today. She spoke on the sidelines of a forum titled "Falling Monuments, Reluctant Ruins," held last month at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

Maurantonio questioned the rapid clean-up of vandalized monuments such as a Richmond statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that in August was smeared with red paint and the letters "BLM," a reference to the Black Lives Matter movement. By quickly removing the protest graffiti, the city had engaged in a "strategic forgetting" of its past of white domination as well as ongoing racial problems, she said.

During 2015 protests in South Africa, excrement was thrown on a University of Cape Town statue of British imperialist Cecil John Rhodes that was eventually removed. However, another Rhodes statue still stands in Company's Garden, a city park. A South African foundation named after both Mandela and Rhodes announced 2019 scholarships last month, reflecting how uneven the effort to erase symbols of a nuanced past can be.

Rhodes, who died in 1902, was a segregationist who made a fortune in mining and grabbed land from the local population but was also associated with education and philanthropy. Kruger, who died in 1904, represented the Boers, who were mainly descended from Dutch settlers, at war with the British. The Kruger statue in Pretoria was unveiled in 1954 by D.F. Malan, a prime minister who championed apartheid, the institutionalized system of racial repression

"What do we do with the detritus of apartheid, which has been a preoccupation of the last more than 20 years?" said Cynthia Kros, a heritage expert at the University of the Witwatersrand. After white minority rule, she said, "there was not really an idea to destroy that, but to try and right the balance, to add the kinds of heritage that acknowledge other people in South Africa as well."

In its last annual report, South Africa's state heritage agency said it was focusing efforts on sites relevant to previously marginalized people, including the wreck off Cape Town of a Portuguese ship that was carrying slaves when it sank in bad weather in 1794. Many of the more than 400 Africans on board died.

Some of South Africa's more painful reminders of racial repression have been removed. In 1997, John Vorster Square, where apartheid-era police abused and tortured suspects, was renamed Johannesburg Central Police Station and a bust of Vorster, a former white leader, was removed.

South Africa's biggest wildlife park, though, is named after Kruger and his statue survived a recent refurbishment of Church Square. At an October ceremony, Solly Msimanga, mayor of the Tshwane metropolitan area that includes Pretoria, said authorities might add sculptures commemorating the fight against white domination.

He noted that there are statues of both Mandela and Louis Botha, a white South African leader in the early 20th century, at Pretoria's hilltop Union Buildings, home to the South African president's offices.

"You can actually have perpetual discussion around them and that's part of what is happening here at Church Square," Msimanga said, according to the Pretoria News newspaper.

Sunday marks the fifth anniversary of the Dec. 16, 2013 unveiling of a statue of Mandela at the Union Buildings, an occasion ending 10 days of mourning after his death. It replaced a much smaller statue of Barry Hertzog, prime minister of the white South African government before World War II.

Hertzog's statue was moved to another spot at the Union Buildings after an "exhaustive consultation process," said Jacob Zuma, the South African president at the time.

At the Johannesburg university forum in November, researcher Temba Middelmann said there are sometimes political and commercial factors, as well as an element of "arbitrariness," behind the erection and location of statues. He recalled Indian support for the unveiling of a Johannesburg statue of Mahatma Gandhi, which was vandalized in 2015 after a protest alleging the Indian independence leader had been racist toward Africans.

There is an argument that statues of individuals are "not the way forward in terms of monuments," Middelmann said. "But they continue to go up."

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Gandhi statue pulled down in Ghana after controversy over ‘racist’ writings

A controversial statue of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi has been pulled down at the University of Ghana following protests and petitions for its removal.

The figure was removed between Tuesday night and Wednesday from where it had stood on a recreational area of the university campus in Ghana’s capital of Accra since 2016. Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration approved the statue’s removal, university spokeswoman Stella Amoa told CNN on Friday, following petitions by the university’s council to the government. CNN contacted the ministry for comment Friday but did not immediately receive a response.

    After its unveiling two years ago, the monument sparked protests among students and faculty members, who claim that Gandhi was “racist” and African figures should be put up first, according to a Change.org petition. Gandhi was renowned across the world for his peaceful activism and remembered for his successful push for India’s independence from Britain’s colonial rule. He was assassinated in 1948.Read More Photos: Mahatma Gandhi: 'Soldier of peace' Photos: Mahatma Gandhi: 'Soldier of peace'Hide Caption 1 of 10 Photos: Mahatma Gandhi: 'Soldier of peace'Hide Caption 2 of 10 Photos: Mahatma Gandhi: 'Soldier of peace'Hide Caption 3 of 10 Photos: Mahatma Gandhi: 'Soldier of peace'Hide Caption 4 of 10 Photos: Mahatma Gandhi: 'Soldier of peace'Hide Caption 5 of 10 Photos: Mahatma Gandhi: 'Soldier of peace'Hide Caption 6 of 10 Photos: Mahatma Gandhi: 'Soldier of peace'Hide Caption 7 of 10 Photos: Mahatma Gandhi: 'Soldier of peace'Hide Caption 8 of 10 Photos: Mahatma Gandhi: 'Soldier of peace'Hide Caption 9 of 10 Photos: Mahatma Gandhi: 'Soldier of peace'Hide Caption 10 of 10Nicknamed the “Soldier of peace,” he lived in South Africa for 21 years, but some passages in his early writings about the African continent have generated controversy.Citing passages attributed to some of these writings, lecturers petitioned the University of Ghana Council to take down the monument, saying the independence leader made racist comments about black South Africans.”How will the historian teach and explain that Gandhi was uncharitable in his attitude towards the black race and see that we’re glorifying him by erecting a statue on our campus?” the petition reads.Ghana’s former government promised to relocate the statue after the protests two years ago, but it remained standing until this week.Gandhi once wrote a letter praising Jesus and it's on sale for $50,000Obadele Kambon, head of language, literature and drama at the Institute of African Studies of the University of Ghana, hailed the move to take the statue down.

      “His utterances when he was alive show he did not want to be with us black folks,” he told CNN. “Why would we want to be with him after his death by having his statue on our campus?”Activists in Malawi in southeastern Africa also see Gandhi as “racist” and are protesting the erection of a statue of him in the city of Blantyre.

Nigeria’s military lifts suspension of UNICEF activities

ABUJA, Nigeria – Nigeria's military has lifted a suspension of UNICEF's work in the extremist-threatened northeast just hours after it accused the U.N. agency of training people for "clandestine activities."

The new military statement issued overnight said the reversal came after an emergency meeting with UNICEF representatives. The military says it "admonished" UNICEF against activities that could undermine its efforts against extremist groups like Boko Haram.

Military spokesman Onyema Nwachukwu on Friday accused UNICEF of harming counterterror efforts via "spurious and unconfirmed allegations" of human rights abuses by the military. The spokesman said the alleged training was carried out in the past week in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital and birthplace of Boko Haram.

UNICEF, which focuses on aid to children trapped in one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, has not commented publicly.

Nigeria's military is highly sensitive to repeated allegations of rights abuses raised by multiple organizations over the years. In a statement overnight, Amnesty International Nigeria called the military's charges "absurd" and described the UNICEF suspension as part of a wider effort to intimidate international aid groups.

Friction between Nigerian officials and UNICEF and other arms of the U.N. has surfaced before.

In January 2017, the Borno state governor accused UNICEF and other aid groups of profiting from funds meant to help those fleeing Boko Haram's Islamic uprising and said they should leave the country. After U.N. officials flew in to discuss his comments, Gov. Kashim Shettima apologized.

His criticism followed charges by President Muhammadu Buhari that the U.N. and private agencies were exaggerating a massive humanitarian crisis in the northeast to boost funding.

In August 2017, Nigeria's army raided a U.N. compound in Maiduguri, saying it was searching for Boko Haram members.

U.N. officials earlier this year called the humanitarian crisis in northeastern Nigeria one of the worst in the world, with more than 7 million people in need of assistance.

UNICEF, in addition to work such as enrolling hundreds of thousands of affected children in school, has been openly critical of Boko Haram's use of dozens of children as "human bombs" in its decade-old insurgency.

More than 20,000 people have been killed over the years, with thousands abducted. UNICEF this week shared the story of a former abductee, one of scores of children it said it has helped to support.

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AU force in Somalia says not involved in ex-al-Shabab arrest

NAIROBI, Kenya – The African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia says it had no part in the arrest of the former No. 2 leader of the al-Shabab extremist group, who has been a leading candidate for a regional presidency.

The statement released overnight called for "utmost restraint" after several deaths were reported in the gunfire-fueled uproar around Muhktar Robow's arrest on Thursday in Baidoa.

His arrest is seen as a high-profile test of Somalia's treatment of defectors from the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab, Africa's most active extremist group. Somalia's government welcomed the defection last year by al-Shabab's former spokesman but not his popular candidacy to lead Southwest state, which took some officials by surprise.

Robow was seized by Ethiopian troops accompanied by Somali police, witnesses told The Associated Press. He was flown to the capital, Mogadishu, a Somali intelligence official said. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters or for safety concerns.

Ethiopia's military, which contributes troops to the AU mission, has not commented. Robow's arrest could re-ignite old tensions between Somalia and neighboring Ethiopia despite recent diplomatic breakthroughs in the Horn of Africa sparked by Ethiopia's reformist new prime minister.

Somalia's security ministry confirmed Robow's arrest, citing the federal government's earlier ban on his candidacy, which said he had not completed the defection process. The ministry also alleged that Robow had failed to renounce extremist ideology, and accused him of mobilizing armed forces to threaten the security of Baidoa.

Somali officials have announced that the election for the Southwest presidency will go ahead on Wednesday, even after Robow was arrested. His local supporters in Baidoa have loudly protested.

A new joint statement by the United States, more than a dozen countries, the AU mission and the United Nations expresses concern, deploring the violence, urging dialogue and urging all parties to "to respect the integrity of the electoral process."

Robow's controversial campaign has further exposed the rift between Somalia's federal government based in Mogadishu and regional governments, who in recent months have effectively severed cooperation with the capital over multiple grievances.

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