Nicholas Westcott

A regular blog from RAS Director, Nicholas Westcott.


Monday, 28 November 2016
Written by Richard Dowden
In Cuba it seems there will forever be two histories of Fidel Castro. One is the revolutionary who succeeded and became the guiding star for all who saw the world through the lens of Marxist Leninism. The other is the brutal dictator who suppressed democracy and kept his country poor. There is one place where Castro undoubtedly made a difference: Angola. In 1975 a military coup in Portugal overthrew the dictatorship of Antonio d’Oliveira Salazar. The country was tired of fighting wars in... more
Friday, 26 August 2016
Written by Richard Dowden
Ethiopia seems to be heading for another breakdown. Since the war with Eritrea ended - or maybe paused in stalemate - the country has developed rapidly. The level of poverty fell from 44% to 30% between 2000 and 2014 falling and a new dynamism emerged in the cities. But most Ethiopians are still subsistence farmers and the economy is not changing fast enough to provide jobs for the millions of school leavers and graduates.  Ethiopia, one of the world’s oldest nation states, has been... more
Friday, 19 August 2016
Written by Richard Dowden
John Campbell’s new book Morning in South Africa ends with a simple judgement: “On balance even with the clouds, it is morning in South Africa.” Having cited and analysed the failings of the ANC government, the paragraph that precedes this judgement gives a balanced assessment of South Africa’s remarkable transformation, listing “a consistent pattern of credible elections… a range of political vices are heard… freedom of speech in absolute... more
Thursday, 11 August 2016
Written by Richard Dowden
Today’s election in Zambia pits an opportunist president against a rich, slick contender. It could be tight. President Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front won 48% of the vote in 2015 to 47% for Hakainde Hichelema of the United Party for National Development. Lungu made his way to the top by switching parties to join the Patriotic Front after President Michael Sata came to power in 2011. After Sata died in 2014, Lungu made it to the top at a questionable national convention where there was... more
Wednesday, 10 August 2016
Written by Richard Dowden
Last week I was asked to speak at a gathering of Africa Auditors in Ghana. I haven’t been there for a while and I thought the conference a good opportunity to see how the country is doing as it heads into a December general election on the eve of its 60th birthday. I was in for a shock. I assumed auditors were people who added up rows of figures and made sure that companies have added up all the numbers correctly and nothing has gone missing. But these days auditors ponder and judge... more