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So there’s a Minister for Africa in the UK, so what?

Perhaps the West does not realise how they insult us when they always carry on about Africa this and Africa that, as if this massive, diversified continent is one big political entity.

Do the Brits have a minister for Asia or North America or South America or even one for Aussie Land? I doubt it very much. Do not think they are alone in this, Germany also sports a so-called Minister for Africa.

Africa is a continent, nuckleheads, and a massive one with many independent countries, at least 54 but depending on your definition of the disputed territories, it may be 56. This fact, the obvious dispute over the exact number of jurisdictions, is used by many African critics to tell us just how backward we are, we do not even know our own territories. To them I have only one question: are Israel and Palestine one country or two?

To the rest of the ignoramusi, imagine what an insult it would be to the ever-so-sensitive Yanks if the UK had a Minister for North America. I mean, Mexico, Nicaragua and Costa Rica are just as much basket cases as the worst African countries, and technically they are part of the North American continent. So why not throw them all together in the same rotten basket and appoint one official to oversee relations with them all, including the mighty USA. That will cause a stink or two.

What about a UK Minister for Asia. What will such an office do? Deal with China and forget the rest, or lump the entire Asia from Turkey to Kamchatka together and tell all of them “when you want to talk to the UK Government, you talk to the Minister for Asia first.”

I have explained ad nauseam to foreigners, both investors and visitors, that Africa is so vast, so stratified and so complex, that it does not help any African the slightest bit to filter us all through the same screen.

We are busy with very noble efforts to try and create a veneer of One Africa One Nation, but this is absolute nonsense. It does not exist in reality, it is a construct of the generally misinformed and misguided American and European liberals. In Africa itself, it is viewed with a mixture of amusement and perplexity.

Now, one Rory Stewart makes such completely meaningless, empty statements like “Africa is an extraordinary continent with so much potential: An incredible number of young people, some of the most stunning landscapes in the world and extraordinary new businesses.”

Which Africa does he refer to? Is it Mugabe’s palace in Harare while the rest of his underlying are grovelling in the dirt? Or does he refer to the sprawling shanty towns which some of our neighbours call capital cities?

And what landscapes are so uniquely African that they portray the continent as a whole? There are none. African landscapes are country, or at least region specific. He can rather go and insult the people of South America if he so chooses. What typifies that continent? Is it the Amazon or the Pampas? I am sure he’ll poke his fingers up the hooters of both the Brazilians and the Argentinians when he makes such silly statements about a continent that is just as diversified and complex as Africa.

Africa falls naturally into four distinct regions, North, West, East and South. The independent jurisdictions in each of these regions have for decades tried to forge closer ties, not with much success. If it is so difficult to create some hegemony between countries that are naturally linked, how impossible is it to make an Africa that conforms to the notion of one, unified homogenous sovereign entity.

Namibia really has no dealings or common ground with Algeria or Libya. Even Kenya and Egypt that are relatively close on the continent, have absolutely nothing in common.

If the UK or the German Government wants dealings with African countries, let them take up diplomatic relations like they would with any other sovereign jurisdiction and deal with us, individually through the normal, accepted diplomatic and trade channels.

If they want to deal with the African Union, fine, but then they must realise they are dealing with a representative body whose agenda is developmental and not political. There is no African government to represent the whole continent, and there will not be one for a very very long time.

About The Author

Daniel Steinmann

Brief CV of Daniel Steinmann. Born 24 February 1961, Johannesburg. Educated at the University of Pretoria: BA, BA(hons), BD. Postgraduate degrees are in Philosophy and Divinity. Editor of the Namibia Economist since 1991. Daniel Steinmann has steered the Economist as editor for the past 29 years. The Economist started as a monthly free-sheet, then moved to a weekly paper edition (1996 to 2016), and on 01 December 2016 to a daily digital newspaper at www.economist.com.na. It is the first Namibian newspaper to go fully digital. Daniel Steinmann is an authority on macro-economics having established a sound record of budget analysis, strategic planning and assessing the impact of policy formulation. For eight years, he hosted a weekly talk-show on NBC Radio, explaining complex economic concepts to a lay audience in a relaxed, conversational manner. He was a founding member of the Editors' Forum of Namibia. Over the years, he has mentored hundreds of journalism students as interns and as young professional jourlists. He regularly helps economics students, both graduate and post-graduate, to prepare for examinations and moderator reviews. He is the Namibian respondent for the World Economic Survey conducted every quarter for the Ifo Center for Business Cycle Analysis and Surveys at the University of Munich in Germany. He is frequently consulted by NGOs and international analysts on local economic trends and developments. Send comments to daniel@economist.com.na

Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia

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20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.