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Just a week after Fitch Ratings issued Nigeria’s first sovereign credit rating, Standard & Poor's followed suit this past Monday announcing its own rating for Africa’s most populous country. Both agencies assigned Nigeria a long-term foreign currency rating of ‘BB-‘.
The African Union has wisely avoided the embarrassment of having Sudan chair its current summit and head the organization for the next two years. This is not only because Sudan is one of the world’s worst regimes, but also because one of the most critical issues for the AU in 2006-07 will be halting genocide in Darfur and protecting civilians from militias backed by Khartoum.
One of the most eloquent, if still little-known, heroes in Zimbabwe is lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, interviewed here by South Africa’s Mail & Guardian. She has defended many of the leading independent journalists and editors against government repression, including our friend Andy Meldrum who was illegally expelled in May 2003.
Debt relief and African poverty are firmly on this year’s global agenda, most recently from the Tony Blair-sponsored Africa Commission. But little attention is going to the big elephant in the room: Nigeria.
Even with its oil wealth, Nigeria’s debt burden is enormous given its huge population of 130 million and its extreme poverty—average income is just $330 per year. Increasingly vital to Western energy security, Nigeria is also a worrying source of transnational security threats, including Islamic radicalism, disease, drug trafficking, and international crime.
AGOA took effect January 2001 to allow qualifying sub-Saharan African countries to export qualifying goods duty free to the US. The act was expressly designed to "increase trade and investment between the USA and SSA." The evidence over the short time since it was enacted reveals that: