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By Joe Brock JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Falling commodity prices, political upheaval and simmering conflict are exposing the differing fortunes of Africa's economies, undermining the idea that the continent of a billion people is on one collective ascent. Sub-Saharan Africa has achieved annual growth of more than 5 percent over the last decade, and foreign investment has more than quadrupled over the same period, feeding the popular catch phrase that Africa is 'rising'. "'Africa Rising' served a purpose because it alerted people who weren't interested in Africa before to the opportunities," said Simon Freemantle, senior economist at Johannesburg-based Standard Bank, Africa's largest bank by assets. "It is useful to move away from that now and give each country individual attention and accept that some will build on success and others will fall back." For now, Africa's growth remains more disparate than any other region in the world.
The British government would like to "get rid of" its stake in Royal Bank of Scotland as quickly as possible, British finance minister George Osborne was quoted saying on Friday, but warned a sale could take years to complete. "When I say 'get rid' of it, I mean put it into the good hands of the private sector," Osborne told the Financial Times in an interview, in which he also admitted he made a mistake in not radically restructuring the bank when the Conservative-led coalition came to power in 2010. Osborne, speaking weeks before a national election due on May 7 whose outcome is particularly uncertain, warned the huge size of the government's 79 percent stake in the bank, worth 34.4 billion pounds at current share prices, meant it could take years to complete the sale. Britain pumped 45.5 billion pounds into RBS to rescue it during the financial crisis of 2007-9, meaning taxpayers are sitting on a loss of over 11 billion pounds, and Osborne indicated he would be unwilling to sell the bank at a loss.
JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian assailant rammed his car into a group of Israeli pedestrians near an Israeli police station in east Jerusalem on Friday, injuring four officers and a bystander, and lunged at security guards with a knife before being shot and wounded, the police said.