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AfricaFocus Bulletins on Economy and Development - 2009-2010
Jan 13 2009  Ghana: Economic Challenges
    Incoming Ghanaian President John Atta Mills faces high expectations on coming into office this month. Visitors to the candidate's official website ( made their priorities clear: 63% said he should focus on economic issues, 18% on national unity, 13% on education, and 6% on health care. But he also faces demands from international financial institutions; the World Bank country director warned in a January report that despite recent growth, both the fiscal and balance of payments deficits of the country were "unsustainable."

Jan 22, 2009  Africa: Agricultural Knowledge
    "The key message of the report [by the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD)] is that small-scale farmers and agro-ecological methods provide the way forward to avert the current food crisis and meet the needs of local communities. More equitable trade arrangements and increased investments in science and technologies and in sharing knowledge that support agroecologically based approaches in both small farm and larger scale sectors are urgently required." - Civil Society Statement, April 2008

Jan 22, 2009  Africa: Subsidies that Work
    In the 2008/2009 agricultural season, Malawi is spending $186 million to subsidize fertilizer and seeds for poor farmers, tripling the previous year's figure of $62 million. Malawi's success in this program, against donor advice, has made the country a grain exporter and helped contain food costs. The emerging consensus is that such subsidies are essential for African agriculture. In November the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization rewarded Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika, who also serves as his country's Minister of Agriculture, with the Agricola Prize.

Feb 4, 2009  Africa: Internet Growth Accelerating
    "Until recently, the experience of the internet in Africa has been like having to eat a three-course meal by sucking it through a straw: time-consuming, unreliable and expensive. .. [but prices are dropping] and cheap international bandwidth is an essential component for any developing country to remain competitive in a changing world." - Russell Southwood, in Global Information Society Watch 2008

Mar 1, 2009  USA/Africa: Waiting for Change
    "While low visibility for Africa policy may not be entirely unexpected, considering the multiple crises the President faced entering office, it has disappointed many who had hoped the administration might quickly mobilize the high level attention that is needed to spur action on vital issues." - Reed Kramer,

Apr 2, 2009  Africa: Global Economic Crisis, 1
    "There is a need for developing countries to examine the options for national policy on each aspect of the economic crisis and to seek the appropriate policies. However, only some policy measures can be taken at national level, especially if the country is too small to rely on the boosting of domestic-led growth. Regional-level measures are important. And most critical are the reforms, actions and cooperative measures required at the international level." - Martin Khor, South Centre

Apr 2, 2009  Africa: Global Economic Crisis, 2
    "The Group of 20 (G20) is making a big show of getting together to come to grips with the global economic crisis. But here's the problem with the upcoming summit in London on April 2: It's all show. What the show masks is a very deep worry and fear among the global elite that it really doesn't know the direction in which the world economy is heading and the measures needed to stabilize it." Walden Bello, Foreign Policy in Focus

Apr 2, 2009  Africa: Global Economic Crisis, 3
    "The welfare of developed and developing countries is mutually interdependent in an increasingly integrated world economy. ...Without a truly inclusive response, recognizing the importance of all countries in the reform process, global economic stability cannot be restored, and economic growth, as well as poverty reduction worldwide, will be threatened. This inclusive global response will require the participation of the entire international community; it must encompass more than the G-7 or G-8 or G-20, but the representatives of the entire planet, from the G-192." - United Nations Commission of Experts on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System

Apr 14, 2009  USA/Nigeria: Halliburton Fallout
    Fallout is continuing from the long-drawn-out case of Halliburton and Kellogg Brown & Root bribery of Nigerian officials for contracts for a liquefied natural gas plant in Nigeria. In February the two companies agreed to a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and Security Exchange Commission, including payment of a total of $579 million in fines. Further investigations are under way in five countries; and a detailed expose in Nigeria's Next newspaper has accused three former heads of state of being involved with the payments.

Apr 29, 2009  Africa: Education on the Brink
    "Investments in education and training were signaled in the G20 Communique as a priority to stimulate the economy - and as a key strategy to get out of the global recession. However, these warm words about education were focused on the G20 countries themselves -- and most of the children out of school around the world are in low income countries (LICs)." - Global Campaign for Education

May 5, 2009  Africa: Mobile Internet Taking Off
    "The number of people in Africa using their mobile to access the Internet has rocketed over the last year. In many instances the number of mobile Internet subscribers far outstrips their fixed line equivalent. ... By the end of 2008, South Africa had 1.35 million Internet subscribers, of which, according to World Wide Worx, 794,000 were wireless Internet subscribers ...I hear you saying that this is South Africa and the rest of Africa is different. [But similar proportions hold in Uganda, Tanzania, and other countries] - Russell Southwood, Balancing Act Africa

May 10, 2009  USA/Africa: Underfunding Global Health
    President Obama's global health budget plan, pegged at $63 billion over six years and announced on May 5, one day in advance of the full budget statement, met with predictably mixed responses. The administration spin was that it was a major new commitment to a comprehensive approach; health activist groups charged that it actually marked a cut from prior commitments made in campaign promises and by Congressional pledges.

May 14, 2009  Africa: New Books 2009
    This issue of AfricaFocus features brief notices of 15 books published so far in 2009 that I think AfricaFocus readers are likely to be interested in. This listing, including 10 on continent-wide issues or countries outside South Africa and 5 on South Africa, is far from comprehensive. But it includes a good selection of thoughtful analyses by both African writers and experienced non-African observers of the African scene.

May 20, 2009  Zimbabwe: 100 Days Plus
    "We all knew this was going to be a fragile, tenuous, very uneasy relationship but one where the MDC had little option. Having said that, it was also very clear from the beginning that this kind of arrangement was going to be a battle for the State between the two parties from its inception and indeed that's what it's turned out to be ... But I think we've also seen a kind of new hope that emerged in the 100 days, a sense that something else was possible and the beginning of, at least the first steps of accountability of the ruling party." - Brian Raftopoulos on SW Radio Africa

May 25, 2009  Africa: Arms & Air Transport
    "Air cargo companies involved in illicit or destabilizing arms transfers to African conflict zones have also been repeatedly contracted to deliver humanitarian aid and support peacekeeping operations, according to a report released today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The report reveals that 90 per cent of the air cargo companies identified in arms trafficking-related reports have also been used ... to transport humanitarian aid, peacekeepers and peacekeeping equipment." - SIPRI

Jun 1, 2009  Africa: Economy and Human Rights, 2
    "There is still an enormous gap between the rhetoric of African governments, which claim to protect and respect human rights, and the daily reality where human rights violations remain the norm. ... So many people are living in utter destitution; so few of them have any chance to free themselves from poverty. Their dire situation is exacerbated by the failure of governments in the Africa region to provide basic social services, ensure respect for the rule of law, address corruption and be accountable to their people." - Amnesty International, 2009 annual report

Jun 1, 2009  Africa: Economy and Human Rights, 1
    "Our first demand in our new campaign ["Demand Dignity"] is to the G-2 leaders, USA and China. The United States does not accept the notion of economic, social and cultural rights while China does not respect civil and political rights. We call on both governments to sign up to all human rights for all." - Irene Khan, Amnesty International

Jun 8, 2009  Africa: Innovative Global Financing
    "Innovative financing ... is no longer in the experimental stage. It has already produced over $2 billion dollars in three years. But there is still an enormous need for financing: to ensure primary education for all, improve maternal health, combat hunger and the great pandemics, guarantee environmentally-friendly development, etc. We know that $175 billion is needed every year at the global level to finance climate mitigation policy. We all know that $35 billion is needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in the health sector alone." - Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, France

Jun 12, 2009  Nigeria: Midterm Results Disappoint
    "Every Nigerian hopes Yar'Adua's administration will start delivering those political goods which every society is entitled to, and what Yar'Adua promised in his Inaugural Address. But the strength of the hope dwindles with each passing day. As Nigerians, we must raise our voices to demand for these goods, and pray for our leaders to appreciate that they are in office to solve societal problems - not just to make a few friends, relations and cronies better off." - Nasir El-Rufai

Jun 12, 2009  Nigeria: Delta Violence Past & Present
    "It is impossible to separate the actions of the oil multinationals operating across the Niger Delta from the actions of the Nigerian government in the region. ... In exchange for the oil removed from the Niger Delta, the oil companies, with the support of the Nigerian state, have left behind an ecological disaster, reducing whole towns and villages to rubble, causing death by fire and pollution, and the guns of the Nigerian military." - Sokari Ekine and Firoze Manji

Jun 18, 2009  Africa: Climate Change Action, Who Will Pay?
    "The global climate is changing rapidly. The science is clear: the process of industrialisation has caused the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to rise steadily. ... Environmental impacts have begun and will continue to be felt first and hardest by some of the poorest people in the world. By 2020, parts of Africa will see crop yields from rain-fed agriculture fall by up to 50%. The costs of mitigation - that is, changing our activities to decrease our use of greenhouse gases - and adaptation, adjusting to and paying for the additional developmental consequences of increased temperatures - will run into tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars each year. But where will the money come from?" - Stamp Out Poverty report, May 2009

Jun 24, 2009  USA/Uganda: Recovery from Conflict?
    "We applaud the commitment of the bill [in the U.S. Congress] to bring about stability and development in the region. However, we as the Acholi religious leaders whose primary concern is the preservation of human life, advocate for dialogue and other non-violent strategies to be employed so that long term sustainable peace may be realized. Let us learn from the past experiences where we have seen that violence only breeds more violence." - Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative

Jul 10, 2009  USA/Africa: Obama in Ghana, What Kind of Change?
    President Barack Obama's trip to Ghana, beginning today, will be rich in symbolism. But those hoping for a new direction in U.S. Africa policy are tempering their hopes with skepticism. The issue posed, parallel to that in other policy spheres, is to what extent change will remain symbolic or reflect substantive shifts, even if small, away from U.S. policies based on unilateral geostrategic goals or unexamined economic policy assumptions.

Jul 21, 2009  USA/Africa: Trade Profile
    "In 2008, U.S. imports under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) were $66.3 billion, 29.8 percent more than in 2007. ... Petroleum products continued to account for the largest portion of AGOA imports, with a 92.3 percent share of overall AGOA imports. ... The top five AGOA beneficiary countries in 2008 were Nigeria, Angola, South Africa, Chad and the Republic of Congo." - U.S. International Trade Administration, July 2009.

Jul 21, 2009  USA/Africa: After the Speech
    President Obama's speech met with mixed reviews. In Africa as well as in the United States, there was applause for the criticism of corrupt African rulers and the inspiring rhetoric calling for Africans to take responsibility for their future. But many commentators also called for a reality check.

Aug 4, 2009  USA/Kenya: What Kind of Partnership?
    "Many people had hoped that Kenya's 2007 presidential elections would cement Kenya's democratic progress and would provide a solid foundation for the country to break out of its economic doldrums and begin to achieve some of its enormous economic potential. Instead, the 2007 elections brought trade and commerce to a halt, polarized the country along regional and ethnic lines and for a brief moment nearly brought the country to the edge of civil war." - Johnnie Carson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa

Aug 10, 2009  Angola: Failed yet Successful
    "In recent years [Angola's] economy has grown at a feverish annual rate of 18 percent. Its government has successfully ended 40 years of violent conflict, consolidated its political base and negotiated profitable deals with major public and private bodies of the United States, Europe and China. [Yet oil revenues may begin to decline by 2015] ... the current development model is thus a ticking political time bomb. The coming decade will reveal whether that bomb will be defused or not."

Aug 10, 2009  Angola: Oil & Housing
    "Government revenues from oil and gas are set to rise strongly, giving [the top ten oil-exporting countries in Africa] the means to speed up economic and social development and alleviate poverty. The government take in the top ten oil- and gas-producing countries is projected to rise from some $80 billion in 2006 to about $250 billion in 2030. Nigeria and Angola account for 86% of the $4.1 trillion cumulative revenues of all ten countries over 2006-2030." - World Energy Outlook 2008

Aug 18, 2009  Cape Verde: Transnational Archipelago
    As regular readers of AfricaFocus Bulletin know, this publication relies on selected "reposted" material. When U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chose Cape Verde as her last stop on her 7-country African tour, I was hoping to find some analysis on-line of the unique history and position of Cape Verde that I could share with readers. Surely someone would be commenting on-line on the long history of Cape Verdean immigration to the United States, or on the significance of Cape Verdean liberation leader Amilcar Cabral for Pan-African thought on both sides of the Atlantic. But apart from brief pro-forma tributes to the country's multi-party democracy and economic stability, I could find almost nothing in recent on-line reports to pass on to AfricaFocus readers. So I had to dig a bit deeper.

Sep 21, 2009  Africa: Global Fund for Education
    "A Global Fund for Education holds the key to delivering on the world's commitment to education for all by 2015. Evolving current mechanisms into a more independent, inclusive, and accountable institution can catalyze the resources and performance needed to achieve universal education. [Because of the strong effects of education on other development goals] this would make a major contribution to reducing global poverty, empowering women, and promoting economic growth in low-income countries around the world." - Center for Universal Education

Sep 22, 2009  Africa: Reading for All
    Shortly after sending out yesterday's AfricaFocus Bulletin on the Global Fund for Education, I received an e-mail from a reader alerting me to reports from the recent 6th Pan African Reading for All Conference, held in Dar es Salaam in August. The conference attracted over 500 delegates from 34 countries, and featured two keynote addresses by Kenyan author and activist Ngugi wa Thiong'o, in addition to sharing of research and experience in more than 200 sessions.

Sep 28, 2009  Africa: Financing Global Health
    The G20 Summit meeting in Pittsburgh last week marked a significant expansion of international fora on global problems, with the official announcement that it was replacing the more restricted G8 as the primary venue for coordination of the world's major economic powers. The Summit's conclusions, focused on macroeconomic and financial issues, offered little for Africa, apart from generic expressions of support for development and protecting the most vulnerable. But the changing policy climate was also reflected in the parallel release of incremental proposals for new financing mechanisms for global needs that would be more consistent than promises of "aid" from rich countries.

Sep 28, 2009  Africa: G20 in Focus
    The G20, which has now officially replaced the G8 as the major coordination forum for the world's major economic powers, significantly expands representation beyond the previous "rich countries" grouping, for the first time including large "emerging" economies from all continents. However, the G20 still lacks either country-level or regional representation from less developed countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Oct 4 2009  Africa: Wind Power in Global Context
    "Wind is .. abundant, low cost, and widely distributed; it scales up easily and can be developed quickly. Oil wells go dry and coal seams run out, but the earth's wind resources cannot be depleted. ... harnessing one fifth of the earth's available wind energy would provide seven times as much electricity as the world currently uses. ... At the heart of Plan B is a crash program to develop 3,000 gigawatts (3 million megawatts) of wind generating capacity by 2020, enough to satisfy 40 percent of world electricity needs. ... Indeed, the idled capacity in the U.S. automobile industry is sufficient to produce all the wind turbines the world needs to reach the Plan B global goal. " - Lester Brown, Plan B 4.0, October 2009

Oct 4, 2009  Africa: Home-Grown Wind Power
    Malawian William Kamkwamba, who was forced to drop out of school in 2002 at the age of 14 because his parents couldn't pay the school fees, is now the author of an inspiring book on how he built a homemade windmill out of bicycle parts and other scraps to power his parent's home in the small village of Masitala. His invention attracted international attention, and he is now on a U.S. book tour after completing his secondary education at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg.

Oct 27, 2009  Africa: Green Power for Mobile
    "The GSMA's Green Power for Mobile (GPM) programme estimates there are 485 million mobile users without access to the electricity grid, a factor which severely limits usage opportunities. The report identifies a range of charging choices available that, if implemented effectively, will extend service availability and could boost average revenues per user by 10-14%." - Balancing Act Africa News Update

Oct 27, 2009  Africa: ICT Access Updates
    "Tanzania Telecommunication Company Ltd customers will from this month enjoy a 50 per cent cut in Internet charges, making Tanzania the first East African country to lower Internet charges. TTCL chief executive officer Said Amour Said, told The East African that the lowering of charges follows the firm's connecting to the Seacom submarine fibre optic cable." - Balancing Act Africa News Update

Oct 29, 2009  Africa: Climate Change and Natural Resources
    On the eve of the climate change summit in Copenhagen this December, momentum for action still falls far short of that needed to avert catastrophe. Africa will suffer consequences out of all proportion to its contribution to global warming, which is primarily caused by greenhouse gas emissions from wealthy countries. But Africa can also make significant contributions to mitigating (i.e. limiting) climate change, by stopping tropical deforestation and ending gas flaring from oil production.

Nov 15, 2009  Eritrea: Press Freedom Updates
    Eritrea ranks at the very bottom of Reporters without Borders index of press freedom for 2009, released in October (see, accompanied in the bottom five by North Korea, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Burma. In this report, Reporters without Borders lists 28 journalists as imprisoned in the country, more than any other country.

Nov 15, 2009  Eritrea: Perilous Journeys
    "On 20 August 2009, off the Italian island of Lampedusa, the Italian coastguard rescued five of the remaining 78 Eritrean passengers aboard a rickety boat set sail from the Libyan capital, Tripoli. While a number of European sailing vessels had passed their boat in the three weeks it had spent at sea, only one stopped to give them life jackets, bread and water. But it soon went on its way ... Seventy-three of the Eritrean refugees died from thirst, hunger and heat. ... The five survivors now face a fine of 5,000 to 10,000 Euros for illegal immigration under an Italian law that took effect in early August." - Yohannes Woldemariam

Nov 15, 2009  Eritrea: No Welcome in Italy
    "We were fortunate to spend two days in a small coastal town of Agrigento where in the central part of the city stands a Catholic church with the figure of a black priest carved in stone perched high above in the church tower. It is a statue of Saint Calogero, an African priest who came to Sicily around the 14th century and is revered as the town's patron saint. But in the 21st century, African refugees who traverse the treacherous waters of the Mediterranean Sea find Calogero's city, indeed the entire country, unwelcoming, even hostile to them. A well-known Italian Bishop is said to have remarked that if the saint-priest were to arrive in Agrigento today, he would find himself in similar circumstances as the refugees who are detained and disdained." - Nunu Kidane and Gerald Lenoir

Dec 15, 2009  South Africa: 30+ New Books
    The most popular of these new books from and about South Africa is undoubtedly that by John Carlin on Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation, now available in two editions as well as in the newly released Clint Eastwood movie. But probably the one most in need of greater international attention is the one edited by Tawana Kupe and colleagues - Go Home or Die Here: Violence, Xenophobia and the Reinvention of Difference in South Africa. This photographic and analytic portrayal of the xenophobic violence of 2008 poses fundamental questions about the shape of today's South Africa.

Dec 18, 2009  Africa: New Books from AfricaFocus Subscribers
    This AfricaFocus Bulletin has recent books (2008 and 2009) from AfricaFocus subscribers, including authors, editors, contributors, and publishers. It's a very substantial list, but I'm sure some have escaped my notice. If you are an AfricaFocus subscriber, check this out for your own books and those by the your fellow subscribers. If you are an author or editor and don't find your recently published book here, do let me know (at, and I'll add it below.

Dec 22, 2009  Congo (Kinshasa): Conflict Fueled from Many Sources
    "Minerals and arms smuggling worth millions of dollars persists in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) despite international sanctions, fuelling rebel strength despite national army operations, and army and rebel soldiers continue to kill civilians, according to a new United Nations report that calls on the Security Council to take action to plug the gaps." - UN News, reporting on independent Group of Experts on sanctions on DRC

Dec 22, 2009  Congo (Kinshasa): Militarization of Mining Well-Entrenched
    "The illicit exploitation of natural resources is not a new phenomenon in eastern DRC. It has characterised the conflict since it first erupted in 1996 and has been well documented by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the United Nations Panel of Experts and Group of Experts, journalists and others. Twelve years on, the patterns remain the same, and despite abundant evidence of these activities, no effective action has been taken to stop this murderous trade." - Global Witness

Feb 2, 2010  Africa: Haiti's Debt in Context
    "Haiti was the only country in which the ex-slaves themselves were expected to pay a foreign government [France] for their liberty [in 1804]. By 1900, it was spending 80% of its national budget on repayments. ... In 1947, Haiti finally paid off the original reparations, plus interest. Doing so left it destitute, corrupt, disastrously lacking in investment and politically volatile." - historian Alex von Tunzelmann, in London Sunday Times, May 17, 2009

Feb 2, 2010  Africa: Solidarity with Haiti
    "Despite $402 million pledged to support the Haitian government's Economic Recovery Program [in April 2009] ... as of yesterday we estimate that 85% of the pledges made last year remain undisbursed. ... [we don't need more pledges] We need a reconstruction fund that is large, managed transparently, creates jobs for Haitians, and grows the Haitian economy. We need a reconstruction plan that uses a pro-poor, rights-based approach far different from the charity and failed development approaches that have marred interactions between Haiti and much of the rest of the world for the better part of two centuries." - Dr. Paul Farmer, U.N. Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti January 27, 2010

Feb 8, 2010  USA/Africa: Two to Tango
    Corruption is not a solitary activity, and the networks that promote corruption are rarely confined to one country or one continent. For corruption in Africa, countries outside the continent enter the picture not only when foreign companies pay bribes for access. They are also a preferred location for stolen wealth. A newly released investigative report from a U.S. Senate Subcommittee provides four detailed case studies of funds from Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, and Angola, tracing connections to U.S. banks, lawyers, real-estate agents, financial institutions, and even a university.

Feb 16, 2010  Zimbabwe: Demystifying "Sanctions"
    The European Union formally decided on February 15 to lift restrictive measures against 6 individuals and 9 companies in Zimbabwe that were previously subject to travel bans and asset freezes, but continued the measures for another year on the majority of the 203 individuals and 40 companies on the list. The EU cited the lack of progress in implementation of the Global Political Agreement of September 2008 as the reason for continued measures. Companies removed included the Industrial Development Corporation of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company.

Feb 28, 2010  Africa: Education for All?
    "Many more girls are in school and enrolment rates are on the rise, due to higher-quality aid and to political commitment in developing countries. However, these achievements could be derailed by the global economic crisis ... With 72 million children still out of school, the world's poorest countries urgently need a global financing initiative that can deliver the resources to scale up to Education For All." - Oxfam

Mar 5, 2010  Nigeria: Reforming Shell?
    At last month's Oil & Gas Conference in Nigeria, outgoing Regional Executive Vice President, Shell Exploration and Production, Africa, Ann Pickard, forecast declining willingness to invest in Nigeria should Nigerian legislators insist on passing a new Petroleum Industry Bill intended to reform the industry and insure a higher proportion of revenue for Nigeria. Her statement was widely taken as a threat.

Mar 5, 2010  Nigeria: New Human Development Report
    "Between 1985 and 2004, inequality in Nigeria worsened from 0.43 to 0.49, placing the country among those with the highest inequality levels in the world. Many studies have shown that despite its vast resources, Nigeria ranks among the most unequal countries in the world. The poverty problem in the country is partly a feature of high inequality which manifests in highly unequal income distribution and differential access to basic infrastructure, education, training and job opportunities." - UNDP Human Development Report, 2008-2009

Mar 10, 2010  Africa: Remittances Update
    A 2009 report from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) notes that some 30 million African workers outside their countries send home approximately $40 billion a year in remittances. But with only as many "payout" locations on the continent as in one Latin American country (Mexico), the process is expensive and dominated by two large money transfer companies which work primarily with banks. There are large untapped opportunities for lower costs, particularly for rural Africans, if more governments allowed and fostered the participation of post offices and micro-finance institutions in remittance transfers.

Mar 23, 2010  South Africa: Coal-Fired Denialism
    With a request for a $3.75 billion World Bank loan for a new coalfired power plant, South African political leaders seem determined to entrench a policy on climate change that disregards clear evidence of catastrophic consequences, echoing the earlier disastrous policies of former President Thabo Mbeki on AIDS. But opposition is mounting to the current plan, which would consolidate South Africa's Eskom as the continent's leading producer of greenhouse gases.

Mar 30 2010  Somalia: Somali-Led Peace Processes
    "How do Somali communities deal with their need for security and governance in the absence of a state? The reality is that since 1991 numerous Somali-led reconciliation processes have taken place at local and regional levels. Often these have proven more sustainable than the better resourced and better publicized national reconciliation processes sponsored by the international community." Pat Johnson and Abdirahman Raghe in new report from Conciliation Resources and Interpeace

Apr 5, 2010  Africa: Economic Report 2010
    "The current global economic crisis has demonstrated the vulnerability of Africa to the fortunes of the global economy. It has also demonstrated that Africa cannot rely on external sources to finance its development in a sustainable way. There is therefore a need for African countries to increase their efforts to mobilize domestic resources to finance development. In the final analysis, Africa's development is the responsibility of Africans, and the argument that Africa is a poor continent that cannot finance its own development is getting tired." - Economic Commission for Africa, Economic Report on Africa 2010

Apr 12, 2010  Africa: Profiling Cash Drains
    "Estimates [for the period 1970-2008] show that over the 39-year period Africa lost an astonishing US$854 billion in cumulative capital flight--enough to not only wipe out the region's total external debt outstanding of around US$250 billion (at end-December, 2008) but potentially leave US$600 billion for poverty alleviation and economic growth. Instead, cumulative illicit flows from the continent increased from about US$57 billion in the decade of the 1970s to US$437 billion over the nine years 2000-2008." - report by Global Financial Integrity

Apr 18, 2010  Zimbabwe: Sanctions and Solidarity
    "In the case of Zimbabwe today, both supporters and opponents of sanctions exaggerate their importance. The international community, both global and regional, has other tools as well. Key issues are not only when to lift or relax sanctions but also how much support Western countries will provide for economic recovery. Even more decisive will be whether Zimbabwe's African neighbors can strengthen their diplomacy by backing it with effective pressures, even if they hesitate to use the word sanctions." - Briggs Bomba and William Minter

May 4, 2010  Africa: Finance Ministers vs. Development Goals
    "After two heated debates during the recent African ministers of finance meeting in Malawi, national delegations from South Africa, Rwanda and Egypt succeeded in deleting any reference to budgetary targets for education, health, agriculture and water in the Common Position on MDGs and the conference report and resolutions. Their action brings into question the extent to which African finance ministers are committed to continental integration, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the declarations and resolutions of their own heads of state." - Geoffrey Njora

May 9, 2010  Africa: New Internet Opportunities
    The convergence of internet and mobile phone technologies is creating significant new opportunities for innovation in Africa, which are likely to continue to grow as new fibre-optic connectivity increases not only in coastal nations but also through links to their land-locked neighbors. Ushahidi software first developed to monitor violence in Kenya in 2008 is now being used around the world. And other initiatives, such as cellphone banking, are also being rolled out rapidly.

May 12, 2010  Southern Africa: Responsible Mining Companies?
    "It is clear that South African companies are not behaving any differently than western and Asian companies ...South African mining companies are taking advantage of regional governments' weak legislation framework and lack of capacity to monitor the development agreements to disregard some of the most basic human rights." - Southern Africa Resources Watch

Jun 5, 2010  USA/Nigeria: By Way of Comparison
    The estimates are at best approximate on both sides on the equation, but six weeks after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, the cumulative oil spill has now reached a bit more than 3 times that of the 1989 Exxon Valdez. It is still dwarfed, however, by the estimated equivalent of 30 Exxon Valdez spills discharged into Ecuador's Amazon by Chevron/Texaco over 3 decades, or more than 50 Exxon Valdez spills into the Niger Delta by Shell, Chevron, and other companies over 5 decades.

Jun 11, 2010  Africa: Just Give Money to the Poor
    Discussing poverty with a Washington Post reporter last month, 5th graders at a Southeast Washington school (the poverty rate for Washington, DC is 32 percent) came up with an obvious solution. "Why not just give them money?" (Washington Post, May 11). Experts and policy-makers have found it easy to dismiss this common-sense suggestion, in favor of magical belief in trickle-down economics or of elaborate poverty-reduction plans. But a new book brings together weighty evidence that in fact the children are likely to be right.

Jun 18, 2010  Zimbabwe: Whose Diamonds?
    Zimbabwe's diamond wealth, which could potentially provide a decisive boost for economic recovery, is instead still a resource shared by diamond smugglers, army officers and police, and by cliques of top officials in the country's security apparatus, says a new report from "conflict diamonds" researchers at Partnership Africa Canada (PAC).

Jun 24, 2010  Africa: G8 Goals and Promises
    The ritual is familiar, as leaders of the G8 countries gather for their annual meeting, this year in Canada, and followed immediately by the parallel meeting of the expanded G20 countries. Although they take backseat to major power debate on their own responses to global economic crisis, previous commitments to the development of Africa are to be reviewed and, in part, renewed. But even the upbeat spin from the G8's own evaluation cannot conceal the fact that fulfillment of commitments has at best been "a very mixed picture."

Jun 24, 2010  Africa: South-South Cooperation
    A new study warns that trade and investment flows with the South are reinforcing a longstanding trend in which African countries export farm produce, minerals, ores, and crude oil, and import manufactured goods. It says this situation should be reversed while the South-South trend is still in its early stages. A repeat of the traditional pattern will not help African countries to reduce their traditional dependence on exports of commodities and low-value-added goods.

Jul 6, 2010  Africa: Book Notes
    This AfricaFocus contains a diverse selection of recent books likely to be of interest and new to AfricaFocus readers. You will find, for example, new books by Africa's distinguished elders, such as Achebe, wa Thiong'o, and Mandela. Selected new books from publishers such as Africa World Press, HSRC Press, and Aflame Books. Books on topical themes such as SMS activism and other ICT developments, on India and China's relations with Africa, and on xenophobia and migration. And more.

Jul 9, 2010  USA/Africa: Detroit to Dakar
    "We insist that the right to education, the right to health care, food, the right to work, the right to housing, the right to clean water are inherent and inalienable and that it is the obligation of the State to guarantee access to these rights for all. The legitimacy of the State itself must be derived from its ability to uphold and deliver these rights." - Detroit to Dakar U.S. Social Forum statement

Jul 20, 2010  Africa: Multilingual Education Pays Off
    "Africa is the only continent where the majority of children start school using a foreign language. Across Africa the idea persists that the international languages of wider communication (Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish) are the only means for upward economic mobility. .. [But] New research findings are increasingly pointing to the negative consequences of these policies ... We recommend that policy and practice in Africa nurture multilingualism; primarily a mother-tongue-based one with an appropriate and required space for international languages of wider communication." - Adama Ouane, Director, UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning

Aug 2, 2010  USA/Congo (Kinshasa): Conflict Minerals Law
    There is little doubt that exports of "conflict minerals" -- including cassiterite, columbite-tantalite, wolframite and gold -- controlled by rebel groups and by units of the Congolese army itself contribute to ongoing conflict in eastern Congo. It is more difficult to say how much difference the new legislation requiring transparency from U.S. companies about the supply chain of these minerals will make.

Aug 6, 2010  Africa: Migrant Rights Updates
    "An astounding 100 deportees a month come to ARACEM [in Mali] for shelter, food and clothing. They are expelled from Libya, Morocco and Algeria as they make the way from Central and West Africa in an attempt to find work. These three North African countries have signed agreements with European countries to act as external border control agents to prevent migrants from reaching Europe."

Aug 6, 2010  South Africa: Xenophobia & Civil Society
    "Virtually every author concludes that violence against African migrants will continue and increase unless some profound socio-economic and attitudinal changes occur. This text thus sounds a loud warning bell to South Africa about our future. And it does so not merely based on the opinions of the authors, but because of the views of ordinary South African citizens that informed the research. ... survey after survey, focus group after focus group, have shown deeply xenophobic attitudes rising steadily over time." - David Everatt in introduction to report on South African Civil Society and Xenophobia, July 2010

Sep 6, 2010  Africa: Global Solidarity Levy
    The turnover in foreign exchange markets has reached four trillion dollars a day, more than the total output of the U.S. economy in three months and more than a threefold increase from 2001. More than 80% of these transactions are speculative, as financial institutions trade currencies to profit from changes in rates. Yet, unlike almost all retail transactions, currency transactions deliver no revenues to public coffers. Now a group of 60 countries is proposing a new fee on currency transactions, which they call a "Global Solidarity Levy." At the proposed rate of only 5/1000 of one percent, such a "currency transaction levy" could bring in more than $30 billion a year, and perhaps much more.

Sep 10, 2010  Mozambique: Poverty and Inequality
    "Donors need to believe in the Mozambique success story, so they do not look at anything which would challenge their comfortable picture and would force them to rethink their consensus development policy. But inequalities are growing and are now the major area of conflict in Mozambique." - Joseph Hanlon

Sep 10, 2010  Mozambique: Police and Protesters
    Thirteen dead, at least 300 injured, and 224 arrested is the toll of three days of demonstrations against prices rises and the high cost of living. The main protests were in Maputo and the adjoining city of Matola, with both cities paralysed on Wednesday and Thursday (1 and 2 September) and only slightly functioning on Friday. Activity returned to normal on Saturday, and on Tuesday September 7, the government announced a reversal of the price increases.

Sep 16, 2010  Africa: Thinking Beyond Acronyms
    "Even if globally the poverty rate is reduced by half by 2015, as the latest United Nations progress report on the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals] suggests, about one billion people will still be mired in extreme poverty by 2015. ... The report argues that current approaches to poverty often ignore its root causes, and consequently do not follow through the causal sequence. Rather, they focus on measuring things that people lack to the detriment of understanding why they lack them." - UNRISD Report on Combating Poverty and Inequality, September 2010

Sep 21, 2010  Africa: Primary Education Pays Off
    "Simply getting all children into school has a direct positive impact on economic growth. Then once children are in school, ensuring that the education they receive is good quality multiplies the impact ... A recently completed study from 50 countries established that every extra year of schooling provided to the whole population can increase average annual GDP growth by 0.37%. Where the education is good quality, the improvement of cognitive skills increases the impact to 1%." - Global Campaign for Education

Oct 7, 2010  South Africa: Post-Apartheid Poverty & Inequality
    The question of how much change in social and economic conditions has followed the fall of apartheid in South Africa has provoked not also much debate but also significant research. A useful new report by Murray Leibbrant and others at the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit in Cape Town provides both a summary of previous research and new analysis of household-level data between 1993 and 2008.

Oct 14, 2010  Sudan: Post-Referendum Issues
    "It is in our interest to see that the North remains a viable state, just as it should be in the interests of the North to see Southern Sudan emerge a viable one too. The North is our neighbour, it shares our history, and it hosts our brothers and sisters. Moreover, I have reiterated several times in my speeches in the past that even if Southern Sudan separates from the North it will not shift to the Indian Ocean or to the Atlantic Coast!" - Sudanese First Vice President Salva Kiir

Oct 19, 2010  Nigeria: Enabling Corporate Crime
    A September U.S. Court decision dismissed a case against Shell for human rights abuses in Nigeria, with the sweeping claim that corporations could not be held liable under international law for human rights abuses. And a UN Environmental Programme report on oil in the Niger Delta, due to be completed early next year and funded by Shell Oil, is reported to include, without alternate views, claims from Shell that 90% of oil spills from its facilities are due to sabotage or attempts at theft rather than to negligence.

Oct 28, 2010  Africa: Land, Take 2
    A World Bank report leaked to the Financial Times in late July on "The Global Land Rush" reportedly documented a devastating picture of weak land governance and poorly thought-out investments, despite a few examples of the sustainable and equitable investment practices it called for. By the time the report was published in September, the title had become "Rising Global Interest in Farmland."

Oct 28, 2010  Africa: Questionable Land Investments
    "Africa needs investment in agriculture--better seeds and inputs, improved extension services, education on conservation techniques, regional integration, and investment to build local capacity. It does not need policies that enable foreign investors to grow and export food for their own people to the detriment of the local population." - Howard G. Buffett

Oct 28, 2010  Africa: Land Grab or Development?
    "While there is a perception that land is abundant in certain countries, these claims need to be treated with caution. In many cases land is already being used or claimed - yet existing land uses and claims go unrecognised because land users are marginalised from formal land rights and access to the law and institutions. And even in countries where some land is available, large-scale land allocations may still result in displacement as demand focuses on higher value lands." - joint report from FAO, IFAD, and the International Institute for Environment and Development.

Nov 9, 2010  Africa: Climate Debt Deferred, 2
    "The UN Climate Convention requires [industrialized countries] to take a lead in cutting pollution, and to provide the finance and technology needed by less industrialized countries to overcome the adverse impacts of climate change ... [yet] The current financing model being advanced by developed countries, which centers on carbon markets and financial institutions outside the authority of the Convention, runs counter to their commitments under the Convention." - Civil Society Statement on Fair and Effective Climate Finance, September 2010

Nov 9, 2010  Africa: Climate Debt Deferred, 1
    "Responsibility for these [greenhouse gas] emissions lies principally with the developed countries. With less than one fifth of the world's population they have grown wealthy while emitting almost three quarters of all historic GHG emissions into an atmosphere they share with all life on Earth." - Climate Debt Primer, Third World Network

Nov 22, 2010  Africa: E-Books Poised to Take Off
    Can Africa take the lead in taking advantage of e-books, as it has with the rapid expansion of mobile phones and innovations such as mobile banking applications? It is certainly too early to be sure. But there are some solid reasons to think this might be possible, more quickly than it seemed only a year or two ago.

Dec 3, 2010  Africa: Real Climate Action Options
    "The current obsession with carbon trading as a primary tool for tackling climate change is high risk, irresponsible and dangerous. It is a distraction from more viable, more equitable, more effective solutions for tackling greenhouse gas emissions and providing adequate finance to developing countries for tackling climate change and adapting to its impacts." - Clearing the Air, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Dec 3, 2010  Africa: Key Issues at Cancun
    "The possible bright spot in Cancun could be a decision to create a new climate fund in the UNFCCC and under the authority of the Conference of Parties. The discussion on this is quite advanced. Agreement to establish the new fund would be a limited gain, as the details of the fund [would remain to be determined]... Nevertheless, it would be an advance ... But Cancun may be deprived of even such a simple outcome." - Martin Khor, South Centre

Dec 14, 2010  USA/Africa: Wikileaks Highlights, 1
    For Africa, as for elsewhere in the world, the cables released by Wikileaks - so far less than 1% of the full set - provide valuable nuance, some embarrassment, and confirmation of many suspicions by exposing a wide variety of reports by diplomats. The attempt to silence Wikileaks should be rejected. It is all the more important, however, that the cables should be used with the same caution that competent journalists or historians should apply to any other source.