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AfricaFocus Bulletins on Economy and Development - 2007-2008

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Feb 4, 2007  Europe/Africa: Partnership Reality Check
    During the World Social Forum in Nairobi, reported Kenya's Daily Nation, thousands of demonstrators paralyzed operations of the European Union office in Nairobi, protesting the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) now being negotiated as the new framework for economic ties between Europe and Africa. The demonstrators said further opening of African markets to European products would destabilize African economies and marginalize African farmers.

Feb 9, 2007  Liberia: Debt Cancellation Overdue
    Demonstrators delivered over 10,000 Valentine cards to the U.S. Treasury this week asking the U.S. Treasury Secretary to "have a heart" and cancel Liberia's debt. With the Liberia Partners' Forum in Washington scheduled for next week, even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stated that the debt is unsustainable. But more than a year after President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf took office, Liberia is still being asked to repay arrears on accumulated debt.

Feb 22, 2007  Zambia: Stop the Debt Vultures!
    A High Court in Britain has rejected the claims of a U.S.-owned debt-collection firm to $42 million of debt from Zambia, but left open the door for the firm to get as much as $10 million to $20 million for the loan, which it purchased from Romania at a discount for less than $4 million. The firm is one of a number of "vulture funds" that specialize in buying up discounted third-world debt and then trying to collect the full sum.

Mar 17, 2007  Africa: Trade Unions Speak Out on Trade
    Labor leaders from Brazil, India, South Africa and other developing countries spoke out earlier this month opposing demands by rich countries for sweeping cuts in tariffs. And global trade unions, formalizing new international ties, are also demanding that rich countries respond to the need for better terms for African cotton producers.

May 7, 2007  USA/Africa: More than Just a Mvule Tree
    "Mrs. Mead's 4th grade class at Pecan Creek Elementary in Denton, Texas is writing, publishing and selling a book titled "More Than Just A Mvule Tree" for $5 per copy. All monies will be used to purchase Mvule trees to be planted in Uganda and maintained by Ugandan children to fund education thru the Kibo Group ("

May 14, 2007  Nigeria: Election Aftermath
    Militant groups in the Niger Delta have stepped up attacks on oil installations following last month's election. Since the beginning of May, pipelines have been sabotaged and at least 29 foreign oil workers have been kidnapped. A spokesman for the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) warned that attacks would continued until the government opened a dialogue about restoring the oil wealth to the people in the region.

May 23, 2007  Africa: Medicines without Doctors
    "The World Health Organization estimates that to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), health systems need at least 2.5 health workers per 1,000 people. In Mozambique, ... per 1,000 people there are 0.36 full-time equivalents of health workers (2004 figures).Mozambique's health workforce would have to be multiplied by seven to achieve the MDGs."

May 23, 2007  Africa: Eyes on the G8
    The G8 (Group of 8) summit of the world's richest nations is scheduled to meet June 6-8 on the Baltic coast of Germany, and activists are demanding action not rhetoric on commitments to Africa. ActionAid, for example, is calling for at least 8,000 people, the number dying of AIDS every day, to upload images of their eyes to signal the leaders that the world is watching. Visit to add your eyes and your message.

May 29, 2007  Africa: eLearning Africa
    Over 1200 eLearning enthusiasts from 85 countries are attending the annual eLearning Africa conference in Nairobi this week. The countries with the largest participation are the host, Kenya, followed by Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda.

Jun 5, 2007  Africa: "Aid" Promises Unmet
    "The record so far indicates that apart from debt reduction, African countries haven't realized the benefits promised at the G-8 Summit two years ago, during the Year of Africa," John Page, the World Bank's chief economist for the Africa Region.

Jun 18, 2007  Africa: Two Cheers for G8?
    "In 2005, at its meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland, the [G-8] pledged to provide 'as close as possible to universal access to treatment' for all people suffering from AIDS by 2010. That should mean at least 10 million people in treatment by then ... Yet at the recent meeting, the G-8 said it was aiming to treat only some five million patients in Africa by an unspecified date. That sounds like consigning millions of untreated people to death and disability." - New York Times

Jun 29, 2007  Africa: Trade Disconnect
    International trade talks are again on the edge of collapse after failure of the G4 (United States, EU, Brazil, and India) to reach agreement at a side meeting in Potsdam, Germany. Developing countries are increasingly vocal in their refusal to make new commitments for opening their markets without meaningful concessions from industrialized countries on such issues as agricultural subsidies.

Aug 10, 2007  China/Africa: Civil Society Meeting
    "In China, attitudes toward Darfur are evolving rapidly - so that instead of being part of the problem, it could play a significant role in the solution. ... China does not want to be perceived globally as a defender of authoritarian regimes that perpetrate or are oblivious to human suffering." - Gareth Evans and Donald Steinberg

Aug 28, 2007  Asia/Africa: Ubuntu and Sangsaeng
    "'Business as usual' is inappropriate, if humankind and creation are to survive on planet Earth. The prevailing development trajectory leads to destruction. ... But this is only one side of the coin.... [Those] who have realized the life-threatening consequences of the prevailing growth-oriented economic development paradigm are re-discovering the wisdom and life-affirming values of their own cultures and civilizations." World Council of Churches general secretary Samuel Kobia

Sep 3, 2007  Sahel: Beyond Any Drought
    "People blame locusts, drought and high food prices for the crisis that affected more than 3 million people in Niger in 2005, But these were just triggers. The real cause of the problem was that people there are chronically vulnerable. Two years later, they still are." - Vanessa Rubin, CARE International UK

Sep 9, 2007  Africa: ICT Updates
    Africa, with only 3% of world internet users and some 14% of the world's population, is still the least connected continent. But it is also the one with the fastest growth rate in connectivity. The number of internet users has increased more than 7 times the number in the year 2000, to almost 34 million.

Oct 8, 2007  Africa: Ibrahim Governance Index
    "What we're trying to say is that at the end, governance is reflected in what is delivered to people. .. We are not commenting on the policies. ...Policies should reflect in goods delivered to people. We're trying to capture it [this way] instead of going through this endless discussion about policies - what is good, what is bad - which becomes, at the end of the day, very subjective." - Mo Ibrahim

Oct 8, 2007  Africa: New ICT Developments
    "Africa's incumbent telcos have for so long dominated the discussion about where the market's going that it's hard to spot the moment when their ability to dominate slipped below the water line. The mobile operators are now the incumbents and as contenders for the title are seeking to secure their new-found position on the top of the heap." Balancing Act News Update

Oct 24, 2007  Africa: Neglecting Agriculture, 1
    "The central finding of the study is that the agriculture sector has been neglected by both governments and the donor community, including the World Bank. ..The Bank's limited and, until recently, declining support for addressing the constraints on agriculture has not been used strategically to meet the diverse needs of a sector that requires coordinated intervention across a range of activities." - World Bank Independent Evaluation Group

Oct 24, 2007  Africa: Neglecting Agriculture, 2
    "For the first time in 25 years, the World Bank's annual Development Report (WDR 2008) is dedicated to agriculture. The report is a welcome indicator of renewed interest in agriculture worldwide that is urgently needed... [But] though the WDR 2008 makes a few guarded references to the mistakes made under structural adjustment programs, there is no place that adequately describes the responsibility of countries and firms who made irresponsible loans, or of the Bank itself for its rigid and often misguided programs " EcoFair Trade Dialogue

Nov 5, 2007  Africa: Sending Money Home
    "Remittance flows to and within Africa approach US$40 billion. North African countries such as Morocco and Egypt are the continent's major recipients. East African countries heavily depend on these flows, with Somalia standing out as particularly remittance dependent. For the entire region, these transfers are 13 per cent of per capita income." - Sending Money Home, International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Nov 25, 2007  South Africa: & India & Brazil
    With a combined population of 1.3 billion people, the alliance of "middle powers" India, Brazil, and South Africa (IBSA) could have substantial potential for influence on the world stage. At the second IBSA summit, held in South Africa in October, leaders signed pledges to accelerate cooperation and to double trilateral trade to $15 billion by 2010.

Dec 2, 2007  Africa: Climate Change Impact Report
    "Climate disasters are heavily concentrated in poor countries. Some 262 million people were affected by climate disasters annually from 2000 to 2004, over 98 percent of them in the developing world. ... In [rich] countries one in 1,500 people was affected by climate disaster. The comparable figure for developing countries was one in 19." - UNDP Human Development Report

Dec 2, 2007  Africa: Climate Change Threatens Continent
    Climate change is not just in the future. It is already having serious effects, says the latest UNDP Human Development Report. Africa "has the lightest carbon footprint but is likely to pay the heaviest price in the coming century for human-induced climate change." Meanwhile, Texas, with a population of 23 million, produces more carbon emissions than the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, with 720 million people.

Dec 20, 2007  Africa: Seed Sharing or Biopiracy
    "Sharing of seed is the essence of our planet's agricultural biodiversity. Without the open palm offering seeds, we all lose. Current policies, however, are closing the fist around seed, evident in the strong drive for individual access and monopoly ownership of genetic resources, as opposed to open access and collective principles of communities." - Andrew Mushita and Carol B. Thompson

Jan 17, 2008  Liberia: Firestone Challenge Advances
    Workers at the Firestone Rubber Plantation in Liberia have for the first time won representation under a free union vote, throwing out the officials of a company-controlled union. The vote took place in July last year, but it took two court decisions and an unauthorized strike before officials finally agreed to negotiate with the new union and hand over their company-collected union dues. The union recognition is only a first step, however, in changing a system of brutal exploitation of child labor and virtual bondage for the rubber tappers.

Jan 27, 2008  Africa: Footloose Industry and Labor Rights
    "The largest investments in manufacturing [resulting from the U.S. Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)] are in the garment industry. However, throughout the world, garment industries have been the most footloose, moving from country to country following government incentives and low wages" - Global Policy Network

Feb 21, 2008  USA/Africa: Images and Issues
    As President Bush winds up his 5-day trip to Africa, the initial focus on his legacy in the fight against AIDS and malaria has been enlivened with debate on the new and highly controversial AFRICOM military command (See, for example,, Commentators have also highlighted the contrast between Bush's itinerary (Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, and Liberia) and unresolved crises in Kenya and Sudan. But from AIDS to AFRICOM, coverage of the trip was also revealing for points hardly mentioned by either Bush boosters or critics.

Mar 3, 2008  USA/Africa: Health Policy Updates
    The House Foreign Affairs Committee last week approved a commitment of $50 billion over 5 years for spending on global AIDS and related diseases, $20 billion more than the President's original proposal. The bill, which also includes other provisions such as funds for training of health care workers, and is expected to pass the full Congress. But health activists note that additional pressure on U.S. presidential candidates is needed to ensure other measures, such as ensuring access to essential medicines.

Mar 27, 2008  Africa: "Diagonal" Health Financing
    The dichotomy between "vertical" financing (aiming for disease-specific results) and "horizontal" financing (aiming for improved health systems) of health services in developing countries is both destructive and unnecessary, argue a team of health activists and researchers in a new peer-reviewed policy paper published in the journal Globalization and Health. They propose expanding a "diagonal" approach that recognizes the necessary complementarity between disease-specific programs and improvement in health systems, with costs shared by both international and domestic funding sources.

Apr 13, 2008  Africa: Food Alarm and New Proposals
    This is the season for economic reports, and, as usual, the message is mixed. The World Bank and the Food and Agriculture are stressing the structural crisis caused by rising food prices, and propose some new remedies, both immediate and medium-term.

Apr 13, 2008  Africa: Economic Outlook
    This is the season for economic reports, and, as usual, the message is mixed. The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cite 2007 growth rates of 5.8% for Africa and 6.5% for sub-Saharan Africa, respectively. Both note, nevertheless, that few African countries are on track to halve poverty by 2015. The IMF predictably proposes a privatesector emphasis in response, while the ECA lays out a wider range of actions.

Apr 28, 2008  South Africa: Women, AIDS, and Violence, 2
    "In the Southern African region the results of a large scale household survey conducted in eight countries showed that nearly a fifth of the women interviewed reported being a victim of partner physical violence in the preceding year. ... South African based-studies have found that women who experience intimate partner violence are at long-term increased risk of HIV infection, particularly where their partners were involved in multiple concurrent, unprotected sexual relationships." - Amnesty International

Apr 28, 2008  South Africa: Women, AIDS, and Violence, 1
    "Despite gradual improvements in the government's response to the HIV epidemic and the adoption of a widely-welcomed five-year plan, five and a half million South Africans are HIV-infected - one of the highest numbers in any country in the world. Fifty-five percent of them are women. South African women under 25 are three to four times more likely to be HIV-infected than men in the same age group. ... the level of new HIV infections amongst women in South Africa continues to increase, while overall incidence of the disease has levelled off." - Amnesty International

May 11, 2008  Africa: UN Conference on Trade and Development
    "Attempts to take matters outside of the United Nations (UN), such as at G7/8 meetings or at the World Economic Forum, have not been inclusive or democratic. The UN, with all its weaknesses, is still the only multilateral intergovernmental democratic institution the world has, and UNCTAD [United Nations Conference on Trade and Development] is part of that machinery.... Unfortunately, UNCTAD seems to have been further compromised in Accra." - Yash Tandon, Executive Director, South Centre

May 11, 2008  Africa: Commodity Dependence
    "We are living in a confusing time in the history of commodity markets. Commodity prices are currently high. Yet producers in Africa and other parts of the developing world do not seem to be benefiting from these high prices. ... The rich industrialised North has set the rules of the game, but instead of holding its producers accountable to those rules, it is distorting markets in their favour. Meanwhile, African producers whose governments have accepted to play by the rules are losing out.- - Dede Amanor-Wilks, ActionAid International

May 17, 2008  Africa: Telecoms Acceleration
    "Growth in Africa's mobile sector has defied all predictions. Africa remains the region with the highest annual growth rate in mobile subscribers and added no less than 65 million new subscribers during 2007. At the beginning of 2008, there were over a quarter of a billion mobile subscribers on the continent. Mobile penetration has risen from just one in 50 people at the beginning of this century to almost one third of the population today." - International Telecommunications Union (ITU)

May 20, 2008  South Africa: Migrants under Attack
    "Xenophobia is rife in South Africa. However, repression of immigrants, refugees and undocumented people goes beyond naked violence in poor communities. Earlier this year, police raided the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg, beating up and arresting immigrants, mainly from Zimbabwe. The state systematically abuses the rights of immigrants: health workers deny treatment, home affairs officials demand bribes and police assault immigrants regularly." - Treatment Action Campaign

Jun 9, 2008  Japan/Africa: More but Not Enough
    In recent years, Japan's role in Africa has attracted little attention from international media, in comparison to the high profile of China and, sometimes, India. Nevertheless, with the world's 2nd largest national economy, behind the United States, Japan's relations with the continent are significant - and growing. As host of the G-8 Summit in July, Japan will be in the spotlight and its record on global and African issues under scrutiny.

Jun 17, 2008  Africa: Environmental Atlas
    The new Atlas of Africa from the UN Environment Programme features more than 300 satellite images, 300 ground photographs and 150 maps, along with informative graphs and charts that give a vivid visual portrayal of Africa and its changing environment. It also contains brief profiles of every African country, their important environmental issues, and a description of how each is faring in terms of environmental sustainability. "Before and after" satellite images from every country highlight specific places where change is particularly evident.

Jun 26, 2008  Mauritius: Cyber-Island Strategy
    "Mauritius remains unique in its region in having identified ICT as a fifth pillar of its economy alongside sugar, textiles, tourism and financial services. However, it not only described a compelling vision but it went out and put it into practice. ... the need for cheaper bandwidth became an essential part of delivering this vision." - Russell Southwood

Jul 1, 2008  Africa: Debt, Unfinished Business
    "In May 1998, 70,000 people from across Britain and the world took part in one of the biggest demonstrations the UK had ever seen: a human chain around the Group of 8 (G8) summit in Birmingham, demanding an end to poor country debt. ... Significant amounts of debt cancellation have been secured for the world's poorest countries, making a real difference to the lives of millions of people in poor countries. .. [But] not all that has been promised has actually been delivered - and further, what was promised was far from enough." - Jubilee Debt Campaign

Jul 7, 2008  Africa: G8 Issues Roundup
    "A staggering 9.7 million children die each year before the age of five. Most would survive if they had the basic healthcare taken for granted in rich nations. ...We're campaigning for a world where all children have an equal chance of reaching their fifth birthday." - World Vision, campaign for G8 Action on Child Healthcare

Jul 16, 2008  Nigeria: Curse of the Black Gold
    "This book lays out the dynamics of oil and development in Nigeria and Africa. It reveals the complicity in this perfect storm of international oil companies, foreign governments, corrupt oil-producing states and U.S. consumers. ... the future of oil in Nigeria is now in question in an unprecedented way. As we speak, something like 25 percent of Nigerian oil is locked in or deferred because of the attacks by militants." - Michael Watts

Jul 28, 2008  Guinea-Bissau: In Need of a State
    "Drugs arrive by boat or by air from Venezulea, Colombia, or Brazil to be stored in Guinea-Bissau before being redistributed in smaller lots to Europe. The process is relatively easy for the traffickers. The state of Guinea-Bissau has no logistical capacity to control its territory, particularly some 90 coastal islands." - International Crisis Group

Aug 11, 2008  Africa: Trade Talks Spin
    The collapse of world trade talks in Geneva in late July was accompanied by U.S. accusations that large developing countries India, China, and Brazil had sabotaged the talks with their failure to compromise. Others countered that it was the United States and Europe that refused to meet the fundamental demands of developing countries. Some commentators portrayed Africa as the passive victim of the failure to conclude this supposed "development" round. But leading trade analyst Martin Khor, of the Third World Network, says in fact it was African countries' refusal to be victimized that blocked an agreement biased towards the interests of the rich countries.

Sep 7, 2008  Africa: "Aid" Gaps & Questions, 2
    "An exit strategy from aid dependence requires a radical shift both in the mindset and in the development strategy of countries dependent on aid, and a deeper and direct involvement of people in their own development. It also requires a radical and fundamental restructuring of the institutional aid architecture at the global level." - Benjamin Mkapa, President of Tanzania 1995-2005

Sep 7, 2008  Africa: "Aid" Gaps & Questions, 1
    "Efforts to step up official development assistance (ODA) have suffered a setback. In 2007, the only countries to reach or exceed the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent of their gross national income (GNI) were Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. ... when weighted by the size of their economies, total net aid flows from the DAC members represented only 0.28 per cent of their combined national income. ,,,. net ODA (in constant prices) dropped by 4.7 per cent in 2006 and a further 8.4 per cent in 2007." - UN Millennium Development Goals Gap Task Force Report

Sep 13, 2008  USA/Africa: New Policy Prospects?
    "If the United States takes a narrow view of Africa, as a recipient of charity, a place to pump oil, and an arena for fighting terrorists, then African hopes being evoked by the Obama candidacy will almost certainly be disappointed. If, however, the United States takes a long view, understanding that its security depends on the human security of Africans, then there are real prospects for a new era of collaboration and good will." - Merle Bowen and William Minter, commentary in Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette

Sep 27, 2008  Angola: Election Free and Fair, Sort Of
    "Election free and fair, sort of," was the headline from the UN's Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) news service after Angola's long-awaited parliamentary election early this month. The news service notes that its stories do not represent the position of the United Nations, and there was no official United Nations observer team. But the comment was an accurate summary of the consensus of observers from Africa and Europe.

Oct 5, 2008  Africa: Economic Outlook, Structural Obstacles
    "Confining African countries to the production of primary commodities amounts to condemning them to remain locked in the commodity trap. Africa needs to create a competitive advantage in the production of manufactured products, as many other developing countries have done." - United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Oct 11, 2008  Congo (Kinshasa): War Goes On, Little Pressure for Peace
    The war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, site of the United Nations' largest peacekeeping operation, attracts little attention from the world's media. Conditions vary from place to place in that vast country. But violence continues at high levels in parts of the country, particularly North Kivu, and efforts to rebuild functional state security and oversight over the economy still face enormous obstacles.

Oct 24, 2008  Africa: Urban Inequality in Global Perspective
    "Although cities in the United States of America have relatively lower levels of poverty than many other cities in the developed world, levels of income inequality ... have risen above the international alert line of 0.4. ... Major metropolitan areas, such as Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington D.C., Miami, and New York, have the highest levels of inequality in the country, similar to those of Abidjan, Nairobi, Buenos Aires, and Santiago (Gini coefficient of more than 0.50)." - State of the World's Cities Report 2009/2009

Oct 31, 2008  USA/Nigeria: Chevron on Trial
    Opening arguments began this week in federal court in San Francisco in the landmark human rights case of Bowoto v. Chevron. Nineteen plaintiffs, including survivor Larry Bowoto, are accusing Chevron of collaboration with Nigerian military in brutal suppression of a protest by unarmed villagers on a Chevron offshore oil platform in the Niger Delta in 1998. Bowoto was shot during the protest; two other protesters were killed.

Nov 7, 2008  Africa: Wireless Internet in the Countryside
    Two case studies in Tanzania, discussed in a new report by wireless internet expert Ian Howard for the Association for Progressive Communications, show two very different models for building sustainable telecentres to meet needs in rural areas. The Family Alliance for Development and Cooperation is an initiative by self-taught technician Joseph Sekiku, in Karagwe, who created a telecentre on his property with the help of small grants. The Sengerema telecentre, some 200 km away, is the result of several donor and community initiatives engaging a range of stakeholders.

Nov 18, 2008  USA/Africa: Reflections on the Transition
    "The problem [with projections of President-elect Obama's foreign policy priorities] is that for a new leader promising change, they have tended to reflect the most traditional sorts of Washington priorities, neglecting other parts of the world that are starving for American moral and political leadership; places where Obama, by virtue of his unique background, offers particularly compelling potential for impact. ... The most obvious and important omission Africa, a continent of nearly one billion people today that according to United Nations projections will count an astounding two billion people by mid-century." - Howard W. French

Nov 22, 2008  Somalia: Piracy and the Policy Vacuum
    "While the responsibility for this crisis [in Somalia] lies first and foremost with the Somali leadership, the international community, principally the U.S. government and members of the UN Security Council, has also failed ... They have failed repeatedly to take a principled engagement to solve the crisis, acknowledge the power realities on the ground, support peace negotiations without imposing external agendas, or provide independent humanitarian assistance." - Refugees International

Nov 27, 2008  Africa: Gift Books Issue
    Looking for gifts that are not too expensive, but still attractive, enjoyable, and perhaps even educational as well? Take a look at the 15 books below and click on the links below each book for more information - or to view all the images, just go directly to