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AfricaFocus Bulletins on Economy and Development - 2005-2006
Jan 18, 2005  Africa: Debt Issue Unresolved
    The first test this year for rich countries' willingness to act on world poverty is coming soon, as finance ministers from rich countries meet in London on Feb. 4. A new report from the United Nations has stressed the need for new investments in strategically targeted new investments through doubling aid (see But halting debt payments to international financial institutions could have even quicker effects, through freeing up resources for health, education, and other urgent needs.

Jan 18, 2005  Africa: Multilateral Debt Cancellation
    "Given the urgency and need for immediate action, we urge the G8 to begin immediately and in particular for G7 finance ministers to reach agreement on 100 percent multilateral debt relief at their February 4th meeting," African finance ministers said in Cape Town after concluding a meeting with British finance minister Gordon Brown. But despite Brown's high-profile African visit, accompanied by pledges of debt cancellation and increased aid, debt campaigners still have questions about the details of Britain's plan and the will of other rich countries to act.

Feb 1, 2005  USA/Africa: Textile Meltdown?
    U.S. imports of apparel from Sub-Saharan Africa rose in 2003 and 2004 to more than $1.5 billion a year, benefitting from duty-free access under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This year, however, with new competition from China and India expected after abolition of quotas under the international Multi-Fiber Agreement, textile industries in African countries face the prospect of rapid decline in export potential.

Feb 8, 2005  Africa: Postponing Debt Decisions
    Finance ministers of the G7 group of the world's richest countries, meeting in London from February 4 to 5, stated their willingness to consider "as much as 100 per cent multilateral debt relief" for the poorest countries. They also asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to consider how it might contribute to financing such debt relief. In theory, these could be significant steps forward. In practice, the G7 countries remain deeply divided. They disagree both about the political urgency and about the possible mechanisms for acting to free up more resources to fight global poverty.

Feb 11, 2005  Kenya: Corruption Fight Stalling
    The resignation of respected anti-corruption campaigner John Githongo from the Kenyan government has touched off new political furor that seems certain to escalate in coming weeks. In its two years in office, President Mwai Kibabi's government has initiated numerous anti-corruption investigations. But there is widespread skepticism that it has the will to deal with high-level corruption within its own ranks.

Feb 20, 2005  Chad: Oil Transparency Loopholes
    Oil revenues for Chad are now beginning to increase rapidly from the long-debated "model project" involving World Bank financing, a pipeline through Cameroon, and a consortium of major oil companies. A new report from two U.S.-based groups says the mechanisms for transparency and accountability, while welcome, are still full of loopholes.

Mar 18, 2005  UK/Africa: Commissioning Development?
    UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's Commission for Africa report, released earlier this month and intended to galvanize common action by rich countries on African development, has received mixed reviews. The report is largely a composite of frequently repeated but not yet implemented proposals on issues such as increasing aid, reducing rich-country trade subsidies, canceling debt, and improving governance. It did, however, also feature new stress on how rich countries themselves fuel corruption in Africa through failure to stop money-laundering and bribery by their own institutions.

Mar 23 2005  USA/Africa: Cotton Dumping
    Pressure to reduce rich-country subsidies for agricultural exports ratchetted upward this month when the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued its final ruling that U.S. current payments to cotton farmers were illegal. The Bush administration's 2006 budget submitted to Congress proposes reduction in these subsidies by setting new upper limits on payments. But the outcome in Congress is uncertain, and African cotton farmers need more than promises of somewhat fairer terms for their exports in the distant future.

Apr 12, 2005  Africa: Unions Call for Debt Cancellation
    "In spite of positive rhetoric ... concrete actions [on new debt relief] have been delayed from meeting to meeting, in part because of disagreements between donor countries on the specific elements of an expanded debt relief initiative." In a new statement released in March, global unions joined other campaigners for debt cancellation in calling on international financial institutions to stop delaying and act for full debt cancellation for developing countries fighting poverty. But the prospects for action at this week's meeting of the World Bank and IMF remain uncertain.

Apr 22, 2005  Africa: Internet Advances
    As of April 2005, the African continent now has its own regional internet registry, AfriNic, with responsibility for assignment of internet addresses within the continent. This long-awaited development has the potential to save some $500 million in fees paid outside the continent each year to registries in Europe and North America. The agency, which received formal approval at an international meeting in Argentina on April 8, is headquartered in Mauritius, with an operations center in South Africa and back-up facilities in Egypt.

May 9, 2005  Africa: Economic Growth Improving
    "Africa's real GDP grew by 4.6 per cent in 2004, the highest in almost a decade, up from 4.3 per cent in 2003. ... [this] reflects a continued upward trend since 1998. Unfortunately, the growth has so far not been translated to employment creation or poverty reduction." - United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

May 20, 2005  Europe/Africa: Partnership for Whom?
    "The likely results of these new Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are not hard to imagine. With their diverse range of products and muscle in the marketplace, European producers can outstrip ACP [African, Caribbean, and Pacific] rivals in their domestic markets. ... [African countries] stand to lose existing industries and the potential to develop new ones as products from Europe flood their markets." - Christian Aid

May 20, 2005  Africa: No Development in Development Round
    "Looking at the current proposals on the table, it is clear that members are not moving towards a fairer multilateral trading system. ...The sad reality for most developing countries is that this round [of trade talks] has become an exercise in how to minimize losses; a far cry from the promise rich countries made to support development objectives and to launch a so-called development round." - Geneva Update, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

May 25, 2005  Africa: Kenyan Bishops on Debt Cancellation
    "The efforts at debt cancellation that were made till now could be compared to the scraps that Lazarus hoped he could feed on at the rich man's table: they are illusory promises without real substances. ...Giving to others scraps rather than what they deserve means basically treating them in a sub-human way, not as human beings!" - Catholic Bishops of Kenya, Pastoral Letter, May 17, 2005

Jun 3, 2005  Africa: Gold Industry Blocking Debt Plan
    "If you could improve the lives of hundreds of millions of the world's most destitute people with a program that might - just might - temporarily reduce the profits of the global gold industry, most people would probably think it is worth doing. Even most members of Congress. That's why it has been so disturbing to see gold producers strong-arm Congress and the White House into blocking just such a desperately needed measure." - The New York Times, June 3, 2005

Jun 3, 2005  Congo (Kinshasa): Gold and Violence
    "The lure of gold has fueled massive human rights atrocities in the northeastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Human Rights Watch said in a new report published [on June 2]. Local warlords and international companies are among those benefitting from access to gold rich areas while local people suffer from ethnic slaughter, torture and rape." - Human Rights Watch, releasing new report "The Curse of Gold"

Jun 13, 2005  Africa: Debt Deal Substantive but Modest
    G8 finance ministers have decided to write off 100% of stocks of debt owed to international financial institutions by 18 countries, including 14 in Africa. This decision, still to be ratified by the G8 summit in July and by the annual meetings of the IMF, World Bank, and African Development Bank in the fall, is estimated to cover some $40 billion in debt, with annual savings to the 18 countries coming to about $1.5 billion.

Jun 28, 2005  Africa: "Aid" Reality Checks
    The world's richest nations greatly exaggerate the amount they spend on aid to poor countries, says a study released by ActionAid International. The report says that between 60%-90% of aid funds are 'phantom' rather than 'real' with a significant proportion being lost to waste, internal recycling within donor countries, misdirected spending and high fees for consultants.

Jul 1, 2005  Africa: Polls and Policy
    The Program on International Policy Attitudes has released new poll data, from the United States and from eight African countries, showing wide public support for stronger international action to confront African problems, including United Nations intervention to stop "severe human rights violations such as genocide" and fulfillment of the pledge by rich countries to spend 0.7% of national income to combat world poverty.

Jul 5, 2005  Africa: The Costs of Free Trade
    "Trade liberalisation has cost sub-Saharan Africa US$272 billion over the past 20 years. Had they not been forced to liberalise as the price of aid, loans and debt relief, sub-Saharan African countries would have had enough extra income to wipe out their debts and have sufficient left over to pay for every child to be vaccinated and go to school." - Christian Aid

Jul 5, 2005  Ghana: Playing Chicken
    "For the last few years the Ghanaian market has been flooded with cheap imported chicken from the European Union and the United States. These are usually fatty chicken parts that come in packages without labels. Nonetheless, demand for local poultry has collapsed, threatening the livelihoods of over 400,000 poultry farmers in the small West African nation." - Corpwatch

Jul 13, 2005  Africa: G8 Reaction, Perspectives
    "Outside of British officialdom," writes Sanjay Suri of Inter Press Service from the Gleneagles summit, "celebrations of increased G8 aid for Africa were confined mostly to a population of two - rock stars Bob Geldof and Bono." Non-governmental groups in the Make Poverty History campaign, in contrast, were generally skeptical.

Jul 13, 2005  UK/Africa: The Damage We Do
    "The African Union estimates that the continent loses as much as $148 billion a year to corruption. This money is rarely invested in Africa but finds its way into the international banking system and often into western banks. The proceeds of corrupt practices in Africa ... are often laundered and made respectable by some of the most well known banks in the City of London." - Royal African Society, London

Jul 22, 2005  Niger: Background to Famine
    With a BBC film crew in Niger broadcasting images of starving children to the world, food aid shipments to the country are starting to pick up. But UN under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs Jan Egeland, who has repeatedly warned of neglected emergencies in African countries, told reporters that if donors had responded to earlier appeals, a child's life could have been saved for little more than a dollar a day. Now the estimated cost has risen to 80 times that, and for many it is too late.

Jul 28, 2005  Zimbabwe: Housing Tsunami Continues
    Despite a devastatingly critical report by UN-HABITAT Director Anna Tibaijuka, the government of Zimbabwe is continuing its drive to destroy "illegal" housing and shops that is estimated to have made at least 700,000 people homeless in the last two months. Zimbabweans, rejecting the government's term Operation Murambatsvina ("Clean Out Garbage") compare the assault on the country's poor to a "tsunami."

Sep 6, 2005  USA/Africa: Call for Food Aid Reform
    On August 26, just before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the United States, the World Food Programme called for the international community not to turn away from Niger, as food contributions began to tail off with less than half of the budget funded. As subsequent images of devastated New Orleans both displaced and evoked comparisons with "Third World" catastrophes, there was abundant material for reflection on U.S. and international responses to entirely predictable disasters.

Sep 15, 2005  Africa: Human Development Report
    Among the many reports issued as world leaders gather in New York to discuss their commitment to fighting world poverty, the annual Human Development Report is among the most blunt in concluding that the "promise to the world's poor is being broken." In addition to documenting the failures and presenting its annual measurement of the Human Development Index (HDI) for 177 countries, this year's report identifies specific actions that could begin to reverse the trend.

Sep 22, 2005  Africa: Debt Deal in Question
    "Arbitrary criteria have been used to exclude most countries from debt relief. While it may be politically expedient for powerful countries to pretend that only a small set of countries need debt cancellation, it is time to explode this myth." - Christian Aid

Oct 3, 2005  Africa: Whose Energy Future?
    With oil prices rising worldwide, African oil-producing countries are expecting windfall earnings. Global oil companies and consuming countries are giving even greater attention to Africa's oil. The World Petroleum Congress, held last month in Africa for the first time, in Sandton, South Africa, celebrated the potential. But a new report from South Africa's groundWork questions the fundamental structure of the oil industry on the continent.

Oct 15, 2005  Africa: Trade Smoke and Mirrors
    In an effort to give momentum to international trade talks, the United States and the European Union this week released new offers to cut widely-criticized subsidies to rich-country farmers. The proposals have already provoked opposition from defenders of subsidies, including U.S. legislators and French officials. But non-governmental analysts say in fact the concessions to developing countries are "smoke and mirrors."

Oct 18, 2005  Southern Africa: Food Emergency Shortfall
    With attention diverted and disaster fatigue accentuated by response to the hurricanes in North America, the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) as well as private agencies are finding responses slow to the earthquake in South Asia and to food crises in Africa. The WFP appeal for Niger, which briefly hit world headlines in July, has still only raised $36 million of its $58 million target; the appeal for 12 million people in Southern Africa has only raised $245 million out of an estimated $622 million needed.

Oct 24, 2005  Africa: Cotton Producers Demand Results
    Two years ago in Cancun, the issue of the damage done to African cotton producers by rich-country subsidies sparked the breakdown of world trade talks, highlighting the failure of rich countries to make this round of trade talks a "development round." In Geneva last week, African countries warned that their interests were still being ignored.

Oct 27, 2005  Nigeria: Debt Deal Views
    Nigeria has reached a new agreement on debt with its bilateral creditors, gaining $18 billion in debt cancellation at the price of $12 billion in payments over the next year and a new program of economic monitoring by the International Monetary Fund. Reactions to the deal are mixed.

Nov 13, 2005  Nigeria: Delta Oil & Human Rights
    Ten years after the execution of human rights campaigner Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his colleagues by the Nigerian government, the issues of human rights and environmental devastation in the oil-producing Niger Delta remain unresolved. Despite the return to civilian rule in 1999 and pledges by oil companies to implement voluntary corporate responsibility standards, new reports by Environmental Rights Action and Amnesty International document only limited action to correct abuses and deliver benefits to the residents of the oil-producing areas.

Dec 6, 2005  Africa: Health, Patents Clash
    In 2001, the World Trade Organization (WTO) approved the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health which affirms the right of countries to prioritize access to medicines and public health over intellectual property rights. However, this statement did not address the issue of how countries with insufficient manufacturing capacity can make use of these rights. Now developed countries want the WTO to extend a complex interim "solution" to the problem that has not worked.

Dec 16, 2005  Africa: Trade Talks Analysis, 1
    "Any expectations that developing countries or the public might have of Hongkong marking progress to achieving 'development' in the Doha negotiations have been very much dashed. The 'Doha Development Agenda' (DDA) got its nickname when the developed countries pressurised the developing countries to accept a new Work Programme at the Doha Ministerial in November 2001. To cover the fact that the programme was really aimed at opening the markets of the South, the WTO secretariat leadership and the major developed countries dubbed it the DDA." - Third World Network

Dec 16, 2005  Africa: Trade Talks Analysis, 2
    Having failed to come up with a joint proposal on agriculture that begins to satisfy the demands of developing countries, Europe and the United States have proposed a "development package" that they hope will preserve some image of success in the World Trade Organization ministerial conference in Hong Kong. But critics say whatever the face-saving agreements reached by the weekend, the results will clearly show no progress at all for poor countries in what was supposed to have been a "development round."

Jan 21, 2006  Africa: Imagining the Digital Future
    Russell Southwood's Balancing Act Africa's News Update, coming out weekly in English and monthly in French, is packed with news about new developments in African telecommunications, internet, and computer technology ( In the latest issue, Southwood imagines what the scene could look like five years from now.

Jan 27, 2006  Africa: Economic Prospects, Obstacles
    "Africa's real GDP is estimated to have grown by 5.1 per cent in 2005, roughly the same rate that was achieved in 2004. ... the relatively high rates of growth recorded over the last five years confirm the continued recovery of African economies. ... Thus far [however] increased growth seems to have had a limited effect on poverty reduction. In fact, growth has largely concentrated in relatively capital-intensive sectors with little spillover effects on employment creation and on the rest of the economy." - United Nations

Jan 31, 2006  Africa: Predictable Emergencies
    "Imagine if your local fire department had to petition the mayor for money every time it needed water to douse a raging fire. That's the predicament faced by anguished humanitarian aid workers when they seek to save lives but have no funds to pay for the water - or medicine, shelter, or food - urgently needed to put out a fire." - Jan Egeland, UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs

Feb 8, 2006  Africa: Fix Resource Leaks
    "What matters for ensuring that governments have adequate resources to finance development are net flows. This means factoring in not just inflows ... but also what is lost to the rest of the world. Debt servicing is [only] one [such] outflow. ... Indeed, the reality of Africa is that the resources that leak out far exceed those that flow in." - Charles Abugre

Feb 21, 2006  East Africa: Dams and Lake Victoria
    Low water levels in Lake Victoria, at their lowest point in 50 years, are threatening the livelihood of people dependent on fishing, raising the prices of fish, and provoking shortages of water for electricity generation. And now a new report charges that the crisis is due not only to drought but also to overuse of the lake's water for power generation by existing powerplants. At the same time the Uganda government has signed a new $500 million contract for building a third power plant, on the Bujagali Falls. Environmentalists charge that the new plant is likely to have more negative effects and that the hope of providing more electricity will prove unsustainable.

Feb 26, 2006  Kenya: Githongo Report
    John Githongo, who resigned a year ago as Kenya's anti-corruption chief, this month released a report on scandals he was investigating that has already forced the resignation of Kenya's finance minister and threatens to bring down other top officials. The report is based on detailed records he kept during his investigation, and spells out how officials used security contracts worth as much as $1 billion to siphon off government funds into non-existent companies.

Mar 9, 2006  Africa: Digital Dumps
    Recycled computers and other electronic equipment have the potential to help bridge the digital divide. But, says a recently published study by the Basel Action Network (BAN), many quickly find their way to toxic waste dumps, being not economically repairable or usable.

Apr 2, 2006  Africa: User Fees
    "The government of Zambia today (1 April) introduced free health care for people living in rural areas, scrapping fees which for years had made health care inaccessible for millions. The move was made possible using money from the debt cancellation and aid increases agreed at the G8 in Gleneagles last July, when Zambia received $4 billion of debt relief; money it is now investing in health and education." - Oxfam International

Apr 2, 2006  Africa: Social Transfers
    According to a new research report from the UK Department for International Development says social transfers - that is, regular and predictable grants to households - can have significant positive effects on human development for the poor, and particularly on health and education, even when the grants are not specifically targeted to those sectors. In other words, one of the most immediate and effective remedies for poverty is money.

Apr 14, 2006  Africa: Stolen Wealth
    "Corruption is bleeding Africa to death and the cost is borne by the poor. ... Much of the money is banked in Britain or our overseas territories and dependencies. ... We want our government to get tough on corruption." - Hugh Bayley, MP, Chair of the Africa All Party Parliamentary Group

Apr 23, 2006  Africa: Trade Talks Skip Priority Issues
    The European Union and the United States blamed each other for the failure to progress in world trade talks, as a "mini-ministerial" scheduled to complete the next stage of negotiations before the end of April was again postponed earlier this month. But African countries say there are more fundamental flaws. Recent statements by African trade ministers and by non-governmental analysts point out that priority African issues supposed to be included in this "development round" are still being sidelined.

May 9, 2006  Southern Africa: Slowing Fast-Track Trade
    Civil society groups in both South Africa and the Untied Statets are applauding the halt in progress in trade talks between the United States and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The groups say that U.S. insistence on a "one-size fits all approach" is inappropriate for SACU, which includes five southern African countries at different stages of development. Moreover, they say, the U.S. approach contains many provisions that would damage health, workers' rights, and the prospects of small farmers.

May 22, 2006  Africa: Unions, Scholars Meet
    Meeting in Cairo earlier this month, representatives of African unions and African intellectuals met to share their critiques of current development policies, targeting both international financial institutions and African governments. African scholars had documented the failures of structural adjustment decades ago, noted political economist Adebayo Olukoshi. But with few exceptions these policies are still being imposed.

May 30, 2006  Africa: Debt Relief Update
    Debt relief has become a significant vehicle of resource transfer to countries under the World Bank/IMF HIPC program, concludes a new internal World Bank evaluation. But in eight countries completing the program, debt ratios already again exceed the Bank's sustainability level of 150 percent debt-to-exports ratio.

Jul 1, 2006  Africa: Doha Deception Round
    As negotiators again reported "no progress" at international trade negotiations in Geneva, 100 developing nations released a statement saying they were still willing to negotiate but that the chasm between the views of rich and poor countries was huge. Even if a face-saving agreement is reached over the next months, critics said that major powers had already demonstrated that they had no interest in proposals to address developing country concerns.

Jul 17, 2006  Africa: Phantom Technical Assistance
    "Technical assistance - donor spending on consultants, training and research - is one of the most heavily criticised forms of aid. ... [yet it is] still one of the most heavily used forms of aid, accounting for between a quarter and a half of all ODA [Official Development Assistance]." A significant proportion of this aid, charges ActionAid in a new report, is both over-priced and ineffective.

Jul 17, 2006  Africa: Real Aid?
    World leaders gathered at the G8 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, gave only token attention to Africa issues that had been a major focus at last year's meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland. Although they pledged to keep Africa on the agenda for Germany next year, evaluations of the summit noted little progress beyond the pledges on debt relief implemented over the past year.

Aug 6, 2006  Zimbabwe: Shadows and Lies
    "There is no reason why Zimbabweans today should watch our country go down the drain. Look at the time it took to build it up. That one can just destroy it overnight is something very painful. It was not about creating another dictatorship, creating another oppressive system, where you cannot exercise your rights." - Margaret Dongo

Aug 6, 2006  Zimbabwe: Displacement and Survival
    One year after "Operation Murambatsvina" ("Clean-Up"), the damaging effects of the government campaign aimed at the urban poor are still visible, reports a recent delegation from South African social movements. With Zimbabweans expressing little hope in a divided opposition, internal efforts at resistance are concentrating on survival.

Aug 13, 2006  Nigeria: Swamps of Insurgency
    "Over the past quarter century, unrest in the Niger Delta has slowly graduated into a guerrilla-style conflict that leaves hundreds dead each year. The battle lines are drawn over the region's crude oil and gas that make Nigeria the number one oil producer in Africa and the world's tenth largest crude oil producer." - International Crisis Group

Sep 10, 2006  Africa: Africa's Lakes
    "For now, the future of Lake Chad does indeed look bleak. With a high population growth rate, pressures on water resources in the lake basin will invariably continue. While in the past Lake Chad has been able to rebound from low to high water levels, climate change and people's water use may now act in concert to block the natural forces of recovery." - atlas of Africa's Lakes

Sep 10, 2006  Africa: Environmental Threats/Opportunities
    Many of Africa's ecosystems are not just serving the region, but the whole world, for example, through the carbon soaking value of tropical forests. This alone probably equals or exceeds the current or exceeds the current level of international aid being provided to developing countries.

Sep 16, 2006  Africa: Migration and Rights
    Chartered planes started flying illegal African immigrants back from Spain to Senegal last week, resuming a repatriation program aimed at stemming the flow of immigrants to this southern European country. But judging by experience, the return is unlikely to stop thousands of others from risking their lives in small boats to reach the Canary Islands from the West African coast, or finding other perilous ways of reaching the European continent.

Sep 16, 2006  Africa: Migration and Development
    "[The] potential benefits [from international migration] are larger than the potential gains from freer international trade, particularly for developing countries," notes an extensive recent United Nations report on migration. But while the liberalization of the flow of goods and capital continues to increase, restrictions on the movement of people are leading to thousands of deaths in border areas such as the U.S. southwest desert and the sea routes between Africa and Europe.

Sep 23, 2006  Africa: Girl Power
    "Girls who complete secondary school are up to five time less likely to contract HIV than girls with no education," according to a new ActionAid review of over 600 research studies. But in Africa, an estimated 22 million girls have never been to primary school.

Sep 30, 2006  Africa: Innovative Financing
    Beginning in July, international air travelers from France have been paying a 4 euro tax on an economy ticket and 40 euros on a first-class ticket, with proceeds going to pay for treatment of children with AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Eighteen other countries have pledged to implement the tax, including Brazil, the United Kingdom, Norway, Mali, and South Korea.

Sep 30, 2006  Africa: Making Aid Multilateral
    The current international aid system, says a new UN report, is chaotic, and suffers from high transaction costs, politicization, lack of transparency, incoherence, and unpredictability. What is needed, says the report, is a shift to a multilateral model similar to the Marshall Plan and to the European Community's regional funds.

Oct 6, 2006  Africa: Forced Evictions
    "Forced evictions are one of the most widespread and unrecognised human rights violations in Africa," - Kolawole Olaniyan, Director of Amnesty International's Africa Programme. According to research by Amnesty International and the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), more than three million Africans have been forcibly evicted from their homes since 2000.

Oct 15, 2006  Africa: Green Revolution?
    The Gates Foundation has joined with the Rockefeller Foundation in promoting a new "Green Revolution" in Africa. But will the new effort learn from the mistakes of earlier "Green Revolution" initiatives? Sceptics say that the new proposals still disregard the interests of small farmers and the environment.

Oct 15, 2006  Africa: Rice Congress
    Rice development will be one of the key testing grounds of whether Africa's new "Green Revolution" can avoid some of the failures of earlier Green Revolution efforts, and reduce African rice imports. Enthusiasts point to the Participatory Varietal Selection methods used by the Africa Rice Centre to disseminate new rice varieties, and to growth in small-farmer income as well as yields.

Oct 22, 2006  Africa: New Silk Road
    "Exports from Africa to Asia tripled in the last five years, making Asia Africa's third largest trading partner (27 percent) after the European Union (32 percent) and the United States (29 percent)," reports a new World Bank study.

Nov 5, 2006  Africa: Up in Smoke?
    "The level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is historically a result of rich world activity. Therefore to be fair, the rich world should bear the full costs of adapting to climate change, at least in the early years." - Working Group on Climate Change and Development

Nov 5, 2006  Africa: Economics of Climate Change
    "All countries will be affected. The most vulnerable - the poorest countries and populations - will suffer earliest and most, even though they have contributed least to the causes of climate change." - Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change

Nov 12, 2006  Lesotho: Anti-Corruption Actions
    Search the World Bank's website section on anti-corruption ( for "Lesotho" and you will get the following response: Your search - Lesotho - did not match any documents. No pages were found containing "Lesotho". But while the World Bank may not be paying attention, the small Southern African country has taken the lead in attacking corruption in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, a giant scheme financed by the World Bank itself.

Nov 15, 2006  Africa: Global Fund as Legacy of Innovation
    After more than 20 hours of deliberations early this month, the board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was unable to agree on a new executive director. Despite the resulting delay, some observers say the failure actually indicates how seriously the Fund is taking its mandate to build a consensus between developed and developing countries.

Nov 24, 2006  Africa: Water, Health, and Development
    "We estimate that the African region loses five per cent of GDP annually as a result of both women having to walk huge distances to collect water - which diverts labor, apart from the huge personal cost that it puts someone in - and the impact of disease on productivity." - Kevin Watkins, lead author, UN Human Development Report 2006

Nov 24, 2006  Africa: Global Apartheid Update
    Speaking at the global launch of the 2006 Human Development Report in Cape Town, South African President Thabo Mbeki called for the world to fight "domestic and global apartheid in terms of access to water." The report documented high levels of inequality both within and between nations, with sub-Saharan African countries losing some five percent of GDP annually as a result of the water and sanitation crisis, far more than the region receives in international aid.

Dec 7, 2006  Africa: Bandwidth Reports
    "Bandwidth is the life-blood of the world's knowledge economy, but it is scarcest where it is most needed ... For those [African institutions] that can afford it, their costs are usually thousands of times higher than for their counterparts in the developed world, and even Africa's most well-endowed centres of excellence have less bandwidth than a home broadband user in North America or Europe, and it must be shared amongst hundreds or even thousands of users. A variety of factors are responsible for this situation, but the biggest cause is the high cost of international connections to the global telecommunication backbones." - Mike Jensen

Dec 7, 2006  Africa: Balancing Act Internet News
    "In less than two years, the bandwidth of traffic on Internet services provided by Senegal's telecom Sonatel has doubled. By today, Internet services provided by Sonatel are the most extensive in sub-Saharan Africa, second only to those in South Africa, a country of much bigger resources." - Balancing Act News Update

Dec 12, 2006  Zimbabwe: Symptoms of Decline
    "Zimbabwe was once the publishing capital of southern Africa. It used to host the best book fair in Africa. But years of neglect, as with Zimbabwe itself, [have revived the saying]: 'We cannot eat books.' With few visitors and even fewer sales, neither can the publishers."

Dec 22, 2006  South Africa: Water for All?
    Two recent issues of AfricaFocus Bulletin featured material from the latest UNDP Human Development Report, focusing on implications of the global water crisis for Africa. The introduction mentioned in passing that South Africa had affirmed water as a human right, but that there was active debate about whether government policies were actually meeting that goal.