The Nerve Desk

The Nerve Desk

Africa this week

The executive board of the World Bank unanimously approved David Malpass as the international lender’s president having been nominated by U.S. President Donald Trump but if he had anything over former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (NOI), who many thought was more suited for the job, it would be his nationality, closeness to Trump and maybe the fact that he speaks Spanish, Russian, and French. Those should count for something, right? But the smarts of Africans doesn’t seem to count when it comes to important offices globally, especially those the United States is interested in. However, World Bank presidency or not, the world knows NOI and will always respect her. But we deserve more.

Africa deserves more, from companies like Boeing, which took weeks to admit its fault after trying but failing to put the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 on the carrier’s pilots. “But with the release of the preliminary report of the Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 accident investigation it’s apparent that in both flights the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, known as MCAS, activated in response to erroneous angle of attack information,” Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in a statement. Lawsuits against Boeing are already mounting, including one from the family of a Rwandan who died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash.

Nigeria’s Air Peace did not say that it would cancel its order of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 which the planemaker has now agreed needs to be fixed, but it has ordered more planes from Embraer as it continues its expansion. The airline has a firm order of 10 aircraft and sealed a deal to purchase 20 more later. The airline hopes to create jobs and contribute to Nigeria’s fight against poverty which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says will be difficult if the Nigerian economy continues to grow at its current pace. Yet, the country dawdles when it comes to making important trade decisions like it did for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA) which can come into force soon, with the 22 ratifications needed already achieved.

While it tries to figure out how ignite economic growth, Nigeria keeps racking up debt, now at N24.387 trillion ($79.437 billion), while it continues to struggle to make sufficient revenues, with about 70 percent of government revenue spent on debt servicing. Like Nigeria, East Africa’s largest economy Kenya is also facing a looming debt crisis, with total debt now at Sh5.4 trillion ($53.7 billion). With South Africa also struggling to achieve its revenue targets, the continent’s most advanced economy may also be moving closer to unsustainable debt levels. As at March 19, South Africa had a total debt of R3.046 trillion ($216 billion).

Accross Africa, countries are more committed than ever to raising revenues, whether to ensure they have enough to repay debts or to improve the lives of people who have in several cases endured years or e en decades of misrule. That’s why Tanzania is not taking it easy with some employees of Vodacom Tanzania—a subsidiary of the South Africa’s telco Vodacom—whi are charged with withholding 11 billion Tanzanian shillings ($4.8 million) in revenue from the government. The Managing Director Hisham Hendi and others are facing 10 criminal counts, including “criminal racket” that caused government revenue losses. Leaders in Africa are becoming more responsible to the people and we have fewer colluding with private sector bigwigs for personal gains, because they know that no matter how long they manage to stay in power, once the people have had enough, nothing will stop them. Algeria’s Abdelaziz Bouteflika knows this.