Briefly: Economist says Africa growing, political risks remain

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JOHANNESBURG — Africa will continue its economic growth next year, but faces increasing threats from continued political instability, youth unemployment and the global recession dragging down oil and commodity prices, a leading economist said Tuesday.

A forecast from the African Development Bank expects 4.5 percent growth across Africa in 2012 and 4.8 percent growth in 2013, with sub-Saharan Africa to grow at an even faster pace, the bank’s chief economist Mthuli Ncube said.

Post-revolution Libya should see its economy grow by 14.8 percent over that period, as normalcy returns and oil exports return to normal levels, he said.

However, the political instability caused by the Arab Spring and other concerns has weighed down the economies of North Africa, particularly Egypt, a report by the bank released Tuesday shows.

And the recent coup in Mali indicates that unrest even in established democracies and other governments remains a possibility across the Sahel region of West Africa, Mr. Ncube said.

“If you overlay [political] exclusion with natural resources, leaders never leave,” Mr. Ncube said. “And if they do leave, they never leave quietly.”

The bank’s forecast also estimates sluggish economic growth from South Africa as well, with 2.9 percent growth in a nation that’s typically a leader on the continent. The government announced Tuesday that the nation’s unemployment rate slightly dropped to 24.9 percent from 25.2 percent.

The World Bank recently pegged South Africa’s growth at 2.5 percent for the coming year, on the back of lower exports and a drop in mining.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Congo says it won’t negotiate with rebels

KINSHASA — The Congolese government says it won’t negotiate with a new rebel movement that is sparking violence in the country’s east.

However, government spokesman Lambert Mende said late Monday that dialogue is possible with neighboring Rwanda, which Congo blames for helping the rebels.

A report by U.N. experts also has accused Rwanda of involvement, which the Rwandan government vigorously denies.

The governor of North Kivu province has said that the Congolese government should re-examine how a 2009 agreement that integrated rebels into the national army is being carried out.

The M23 fighters launched their rebellion earlier this year after accusing the government of failing to hold up their end of that peace deal.

SOUTH AFRICA

Iranian oil imports cut ahead of Clinton visit

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa cut all crude oil imports from Iran in June amid heavy European and U.S. sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program, a monthly government report shows, cutting off another major source of cash for the crude-dependent Middle Eastern nation.

June’s crude oil importation report comes as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton plans a visit to South Africa in a few days, but it remains unclear whether South Africa intends to permanently cut all Iranian imports in response to possible economic sanction.

Zodwa Batyashe, a spokeswoman for the nation’s Energy Ministry, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Monthly statistics from the South African Revenue Service show the nation received the majority of its oil in June from Saudi Arabia, with Angola and Nigeria also contributing heavily.

From May 2011 to May 2012, statistics show that about 35 percent of all crude imported by the country came from Iran. Government officials estimate the value of that crude to be more than $3.4 billion.

SUDAN

Six dead in price protest in Darfur region

NYALA — Six people were killed Tuesday during a demonstration sparked by high transport prices in Sudan’s Darfur region, a state government spokeswoman said.

“According to reports we received, six people were killed,” Bothina Mohmed Ahmed, of the South Darfur government, told AFP.

She had no details of how they died, in the state capital Nyala, and added that a number of people were also injured.

A witness earlier told AFP that police had fired tear gas at the demonstrators scattered in groups around the main market. He said protesters threw stones at government buildings and burned tires in the street.

“The demonstration started because the students rejected the price of transport announced by the government,” Ms. Ahmed said.

She added that “other groups,” whom she did not identify, attacked government property during the protest.

SOUTH AFRICA

Chimps in attack being reintroduced

JOHANNESBURG — Officials say the two chimpanzees that mauled a U.S. college student at an animal refuge in South Africa are being reintroduced at the center.

Eugene Cussons of the Jane Goodall Institute’s Chimpanzee Eden SA in eastern South Africa said that chimpanzees Amadeus and Nikki were in separate cages. Cussons said scientists would watch their behavior before letting them back together and with other chimps.

Amadeus, the alpha male, had been held in solitary confinement at the center since the June 28 attack on University of Texas at San Antonio student Andrew Oberle. Nikki, shot in the abdomen and leg after the attack on Mr. Oberle, was transferred from the Johannesburg Zoo to the refuge this weekend.

A state investigator says Mr. Oberle lost fingers and sustained head and other injuries in the attack.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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