JOHANNESBURG - From pulsating slums to the lavish mansions of the new rich, celebrations for the first World Cup in Africa also highlight a dramatic change driven by forces more powerful than football. "It will help clear age old beliefs that Africa and Africans are still in the Stone Age," says veteran Nigerian sports broadcaster Larry Izamoje. While the competition may help change Africa's image in the minds of any outsiders still fixated on clichés of bloodshed and famine, those in the know long ago spotted Africa's emergence from a no-go zone to the frontier market and are seeing the returns. If you had put $1 000 in Nigerian or Kenyan stock markets at the start of the year, you would have made a profit of around $150. If you had done the same with the US benchmark S&P 500 index, you would be nursing a loss. Global fund tracker EPFR reports a fortieth consecutive week of inflows to African equity funds this week. India's Bharti Airtel completed a $9-billion purchase of Zain's African operations in another vote of confidence in the continent. "It's not to denigrate the 2010 FIFA World Cup for a moment, but it's not what defines Africa in 2010. What should really be defining Africa is Zain buying Bharti's assets," says African affairs commentator Joel Kibazo. "I think there is still a false image of Africa even in South Africa, never mind the rest of the world, about the rest of the continent. The fact is, it has really been getting ahead and there are more people with money to spend." One-half of the world's ten fastest-growing countries will be in Africa in 2011, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Africa & the world
HARARE - Zimbabwe's government will soon lift its ban on diamond exports and expects to trade more than four-million carats from the controversial Marange fields, State media report. Mines Minister Obert Mpofu last month stopped all diamond exports, including from Rio Tinto's Murowa mines and the privately owned River Ranch, until stones from government's Marange fields are certified by industry regulators. Last week, a monitor appointed by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme to assess the government's mining operations at Marange said that Zimbabwe had met the minimum conditions set by the industry regulator and could start gem exports. The State-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper quotes Mpofu as saying that Zimbabwe will now lift the diamond export ban and begin the auction of its own gem stockpile of four-million carats, which the paper says could be worth up to $1,7-billion. "We have met the criteria and what is now left is to start exporting the diamonds," Mpofu says. "The report is good and we have to go by its findings." The government has partnered South African companies, Grandwell Holdings and Core Mining, to mine the Marange diamonds in two 50:50 joint ventures. Rights groups are pushing for a trade ban on the Marange stones, alleging serious abuses by security forces deployed by government to stop illegal diamond digging after up to 30 000 panners descended on the poorly secured fields in 2006.
THE HAGUE - The International Criminal Court's (ICC's) chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has urged the United Nations (UN) Security Council to support his crusade to apprehend two men indicted three years ago for suspected war crimes in Sudan. The Hague-based court issued international warrants in 2007 for the arrest of Ahmed Haroun, a provincial governor and former State Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, and a militia leader known as Ali Kushayb, for helping to organise mass killings and deportations in Sudan's western Darfur region. Moreno-Ocampo told the 15-nation council that it should ensure that the UN makes the arrest of both men a priority and treat it "as a critical condition for securing peace and stability to Darfur". In March 2009, the ICC announced a third indictment for war crimes in Darfur against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Sudan rejects all three indictments as politically motivated and refuses to cooperate with the ICC. UN officials say that as many as 300 000 people died and over 2,7-million were driven from their homes in seven years of ethnic and politically motivated violence in Darfur, a remote region of Western Sudan.