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AfricaFocus Bulletins on Economy and Development - 2011-2012

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Jan 15, 2011  Africa: Economic Outlook
    According to the World Bank's Global Economic Prospects 2011, released on January 13, the GDP growth rate for Sub-Saharan Africa is projected at 4.7% for 2010, from a 1.7% low in 2009, increasing to 5.3% in 2011 and 5.5% in 2012. This compares to negative growth for the United States in 2009 (-2.6%) and weak recovery in 2010-2012 (2.8%, 2.8%, and 2.9%).

Feb 1, 2011  Equatorial Guinea: Oil but No Rights, 2
    "Obiang's eldest son, Teodorin, bought a $35 million property in California in 2006. In 2004, he spent about $8.45 million for mansions and luxury cars in South Africa. His only known income was a $4,000 monthly salary as a government minister. His $43.45 million in spending on his lavish lifestyle from 2004 to 2006 was more than the $43 million the government spent on education in 2005." - Human Rights Watch

Feb 1, 2011  Equatorial Guinea: Oil but No Rights, 1
    "For the past three decades, Obiang has proudly presided over one of Africa's most devastating humanitarian and political disasters. With a per capita GDP comparable to Portugal or Korea, Equatorial Guinea's national income is the highest in sub-Saharan Africa - and yet over 60 per cent of the population struggle to live on less than a dollar a day. Since oil was discovered in 1995, President Teodoro Obiang's family and close associates have grown fabulously wealthy, while the majority of the population remain mired in poverty." - Abena Ampofoa Asare

Feb 16, 2011  Africa: Stolen Assets Recovery
    The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC ) ... has 71 articles addressing numerous tools to combat corruption ... However, it is the "return of assets" that has been singled out as "a fundamental principle of this Convention". - U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Center

Feb 16, 2011  Egypt: Recovering Stolen Wealth
    As Egypt turns from the gripping drama of the 18 days that brought down the Mubarak regime, there are multiple issues on the agenda. Among them not the least important is recovery of stolen wealth from the assets of former President Hosni Mubarak and his colleagues. That task will not be easy, requiring political will, technical competence, and international cooperation among many countries. But the chances are enhanced by recent international efforts to increase transparency and government capacity to deal with such issues.

Mar 11, 2011  Africa: Agroecology & the Right to Food
    "Small-scale farmers can double food production within 10 years in critical regions by using ecological methods, a new UN report shows. Based on an extensive review of the recent scientific literature, the study calls for a fundamental shift towards agroecology as a way to boost food production and improve the situation of the poorest." - Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Mar 11, 2011  Africa: Agriculture Gender Gap
    "Just giving women the same access as men to agricultural resources could increase production on women's farms in developing countries by 20 to 30 percent. This could raise total agricultural production in developing countries by 2.5 to 4 percent, which could in turn reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12 to 17 percent, or 100 to 150 million people. An estimated 925 million people in the world were undernourished in 2010, of which 906 million live in developing countries." - The State of Food and Agriculture, FAO, March 2011

Mar 31, 2011  Africa: ECA Calls for Developmental States
    "What is certain is that, as with the successful growth and development experience of many countries, the state has a key role to play in economic diversification and structural transformation in Africa. It is therefore important for the state that is accountable and responsive to the needs of its population to assume its developmental responsibility and guide sustainable social and economic development in African countries." - Economic Commission for Africa

Apr 5, 2011  Tanzania: Old Media, New Media
    Tanzania is only in the middle tier of technology adopters among African countries, notes Russell Southwood in the latest issue of his Balancing Act Africa newsletter. But an InterMedia national survey shows interesting combinations of old and new technologies, with text messaging leading newspapers as a source of current news (although radio remains the number one source). And there is substantial potential for rapid expansion of mobile internet in the next few years.

Apr 22, 2011  Libya: Migrants Situation Update
    "So far, only about 2,800 out of a total of 500,000 people fleeing the violence in Libya have arrived in Europe. This is less than 0.6 percent of all cross-border movements. ... The movement out of Libya is unrelated to the arrivals of some 20,000 mainly Tunisians on Lampedusa, which is part of the 'normal' boat migration by mainly North African young men in search of work." - Hein de Haas

Apr 22, 2011  Africa: Migration & Human Development
    "The entry policies that have prevailed in many destination countries over recent decades can be largely characterized by denial and delay on the one hand, and heightened border controls and illegal stays on the other. This has worsened the situation of people lacking legal status and, especially during the recession, has created uncertainty and frustration among the wider population." - Human Development Report 2009

May 4, 2011  Uganda: Protests in Perspective
    In February this year Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told a press conference: "There will be no Egyptian-like revolution here. ... We would just lock them up. In the most humane manner possible, bang them into jails land that would be the end of the story." Events of recent weeks, including last week's violent attack by security forces on opposition leader Kizza Besigye and a sit-down strike by Ugandan lawyers beginning today, seem to indicate that repression may not be the "end of the story," despite Museveni's overwhelming victory with 68% of the votes in February's election.

May 26, 2011  Africa: Where Does the Money Go?
    "Current total deposits by non-residents in offshore and secrecy jurisdictions are just under US$10 trillion ... The United States, the United Kingdom, and the Cayman Islands top the list of jurisdictions, with the United States out in front with a total of US $2 trillion. ... such deposits have been growing at a compound rate of 9 percent annually over the last 13 years." - Global Financial Integrity

May 26, 2011  Africa: Cash Drain from Poorest Countries
    The 48 countries classified by the United Nations as LDCs [Least Developed Countries], 33 of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa, lost a cumulative total of $246 billion in illicit financial flows over the period from 1990 to 2008, according to a new report from Global Financial Integrity prepared for the UNDP. Six of the top ten countries in cumulative outflows were in Africa, including Angola (#2), Lesotho (#3), Chad (#4), Uganda (#7), Ethiopia (#9), and Zambia (#10).

Jun 1, 2011  Africa: "Aid" Promises and Accountability
    The G8 "accountability report" on increased aid spending "covers up $18 billion aid shortfall by ignoring inflation," headlined a Guardian article reporting critiques of the report by aid groups. It should be no surprise that "donor" countries try to put the best possible spin on their accomplishments. But the pressure is growing for more transparent and independent reporting on international spending classified as "aid."

Jun 14, 2011  Guinea-Bissau: Drug Trade in Broader Context
    "In Guinea-Bissau, drug trafficking ... is a consequence of the pre-existing lack of stability that allows smugglers to establish their networks in the region and operate to and from there. Ignoring the structural causes of the problem (endemic poverty, corruption, impunity) will have an even deeper impact on the local population than the illegal drug trade, and will leave unaddressed the very conditions that continue to foster trafficking opportunities in the future." - February 2011 report from Norwegian Peacebuilding Center

Jun 14, 2011  Africa: "War on Drugs" Blowback Effects
    "Vast expenditures on criminalization and repressive measures directed at producers, traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption. [at the same time] the implementation of the war on drugs has generated widespread negative consequences for societies in producer, transit and consumer countries, [including] the growth of a 'huge criminal black market', financed by the risk-escalated profits of supplying international demand for illicit drugs." - Global Commission on Drug Policy

Jun 30, 2011  USA/Gabon: Blind Eye for Corruption
    The White House was brief in an official statement after the June 9 visit of the President of Gabon. The statement concluded by noting that "President Obama urged President Bongo Ondimba to take bold steps to root out corruption and to reform the judiciary and other key institutions to ensure the protection of human rights, and he welcomed the reforms that Gabon has taken under President Bongo Ondimba to bring more transparency and accountability to government. Both leaders agreed to continue to work together to promote peace and security, as well as advance good governance in Gabon."

Jul 14, 2011  Africa: Little Momentum in Climate Talks
    "We agreed in Bali in December 2007 to build a much stronger international climate regime to better cope with recent alarming analysis of the disastrous effects of climate change. But instead of achieving this new regime, we now see quite unbelievably an attempt to dismantle even the weaker regime that we now have. Instead of a legally binding system to lock in adequate emissions cuts to 2020 for developed countries ...there is now the most likely prospect of a 'voluntary pledge' system in which developed countries merely state what they can do" -- Martin Khor, South Centre

Jul 14, 2011  Africa: Renewable Energy Rising Rapidly
    "Global investment in renewable energy jumped 32% in 2010, to a record $211 billion. It was boosted in particular by wind farm development in China and small-scale solar PV installation on rooftops in Europe. ... Significant investment is also starting to be seen in Africa, which posted the highest percentage increase of all developing regions, if the emerging economies of Brazil, China and India are excluded. ... Total investment on the continent rose from $750 million [in 2009] to $3.6 billion [in 2010]." -- Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2011

Jul 24, 2011  Somalia: Local Crisis, Global Crisis
    The early warning systems worked. But the response to the famine in the Horn of Africa, which is particularly severe in Somalia, has still been too little and too late, as is the common pattern for such crises. Now the media, as well as the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, and diaspora Africans from the affected countries, are mobilizing to respond more massively. That response is both necessary and urgent. But it is also essential to reflect on the system-wide causes and the inadequacy of global institutions to respond.

Jul 24, 2011  Somalia: Refugees and Camps
    The new drought crisis, and increased flow of refugees to Kenya and Ethiopia, comes on top of years of overcrowding and incapacity to deal with the refugee flow from Somalia. The greatest responsibility has fallen on Kenya, where the vast majority of refugees are housed in the huge camp at Dadaab. The failure of the international community includes not only the lack of early response to the latest drought, but the inability to find a sustainable solution other than warehousing refugees in camps.

Jul 30, 2011  Malawi: Challenging Power & Corruption
    "The protests and riots of July 20 are fundamentally about governance and development, the enduring desire among Malawians for the establishment of a sustainable democratic developmental state. It underscores the fact that economic growth without development is not enough. ... President Mutharika embodies the contradictions of Malawi's political system and the crassness of Malawi's political class." - Paul Tiyambe Zeleza

Aug 5, 2011  Somalia: Updates and Reflections
    It is difficult to get beyond dichotomies. Either focus on responding to undeniably massive life-threatening famine or on understanding the multiple causes and the reasons that it is happening again. Highlight one cause or another among the factors responsible: drought, global warming, war, failures of governments and international agencies, and more. Nor is it sufficient to say "all of the above."

Aug 12, 2011  Nigeria: Past Time for Oil Cleanup, 1
    The fact that the environment of the Niger Delta, and that portion of it known as Ogoniland, has been devastated by oil pollution for decades should not be news. It has been repeatedly exposed by Nigerian and international activists in print, court testimony, photographs, and films, and punctuated by the 1995 martyrdom of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his fellow Ogoni activists. But this month, for the first time, a comprehensive scientific survey of oil pollution in Ogoniland has concluded that the pollution is even more pervasive than many previously assumed. Simultaneously, in response to a class-action suit in London, Shell Oil has accepted responsibility for two massive oil spills in Ogoniland in 1998.

Aug 12, 2011  Nigeria: Past Time for Oil Cleanup, 2
    "Shell faces a bill of hundreds of millions of dollars after accepting full liability for two massive oil spills that devastated a Nigerian community of 69,000 people and may take at least 20 years to clean up. Experts who studied video footage of the spills at Bodo in Ogoniland say they could together be as large as the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, when 10m gallons of oil destroyed the remote coastline." - Guardian

Aug 18, 2011  USA/Africa: New Data on African Immigrants
    "From 1980 to 2009, the African-born population in United States grew from just under 200,000 to almost 1.5 million. Today, Africans make up a small (3.9 percent) but growing share of the country's 38.5 million immigrants. ... Over one-third of all African immigrants resided in New York, California, Texas, and Maryland." - Migration Information Source

Aug 18, 2011  USA/Africa: Wage Penalties for Black Immigrants
    "Contrary to the popular impression, black male immigrants are not better off in weekly wages than U.S.-born black males after controlling for observable demographic characteristics [such as level of education and experience]. ... U.S.-born black men earn 19.1% less than similar U.S.-born white men. West Indian men do slightly worse and earn 20.7% less than similar native white men. Haitian men and African men do substantially worse than U.S.-born black men; Haitian men earn 33.8% less, and African men earn 34.7% less than similar native white men." - Economic Policy Institute study

Aug 29, 2011  China/Africa: Development Lessons, 2
    "The prospects for economic transformation have never been better in Africa. The higher growth performance in the last decade in Africa reflects an underlying trend towards improved economic governance in Africa and the resolution of many, if not all, conflicts. ... The new prospects also reflect the impact on natural resource demand of emerging economies. These prospects could speed up the resolution of remaining problems of fragility and conflict as the incentives to be part of the African growth story and regional infrastructure programmes become much stronger." - China-DAC Study Group

Aug 29, 2011  China/Africa: Development Lessons, 1
    "A consensus is building, in both private and official appraisals, and in OECD as well as emerging market countries, that Africa will be the next big emerging region. It is well-placed to benefit from the new sources of demand, investment and technology in the multipolar global economy; poverty is declining on the whole; the HIV/AIDS challenge is now being kept in check in most countries; the trajectory of progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has been striking on some fronts, and there is still the possibility of reaching the targets by 2015 in many countries." - China-DAC Study Group

Sep 12, 2011  Africa: Dead End for Diamond Monitoring?
    According to a new analysis from Partnership Africa Canada, the Kimberley Process, a joint government-industry-civil society group intended to monitor "conflict diamonds" is "unable and unwilling to hold to account participating countries that repeatedly break the rules." Unless governments are willing to support significant reforms, which seems unlikely, activists must seek other mechanisms to prevent diamonds from fueling violence and human rights violations.

Oct 4 2011  Africa: New Economic Crisis on the Way
    "It is now clear that the world is slipping -- or has already slipped -- into a new economic downturn, and that this will have serious consequences for the developing countries. Indeed, some prominent economists have warned that this time the crisis will be more serious and more prolonged than the 2008-9 Great Recession." - Martin Khor, South Centre

Oct 13, 2011  Africa: Migration, Inequalities, & Human Rights
    Issues related to the situation of refugees and other migrants are hotly contested in locations as diverse as Libya, South Africa, Kenya, Western Europe, and the United States. Anti-migrant sentiment is a recurring phenomenon, featuring restrictive legislation, official abuses against immigrants, and in extreme cases, xenophobic violence. Yet these issues are most often considered in isolation, rather than also as among the most telling indicators of fundamental structural inequalities between nations.

Oct 27, 2011  Africa: Climate Talks Background, 2
    "Running from 28 November to 9 December, [the Durban conference] will be at least a theoretical chance to restore faith in the glacial progress towards agreement on an effective way to slow the human contribution to climate change," notes a commentator in the Guardian for October 24. But rich countries and developing countries are deeply divided. And media attention and public pressure are flagging, particularly in the United States which remains the principal obstacle to progress.

Oct 27, 2011  Africa: Real Climate Finance Options
    Expectations are low for the international summit on climate change scheduled for next month in Durban, South Africa. A face-saving agreement to keep talking is perhaps the most "optimistic" view. The prospects for serious new international commitments to counter climate change are very low. But there is no shortage of proposals for actions that can be taken by national governments. "A starting point," concludes a new report, "should be the removal of subsidies on fossil fuel use" by developed countries, with part of the proceeds going to climate change financing for developing countries.

Oct 27, 2011  Africa: Climate Talks Background, 1
    "For Durban, many countries - particularly developing countries - seek an outcome that is based on science, on the multilateral system reflected in the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol, and on the deal agreed by all countries in the Bali Roadmap. A handful of wealthy countries - including notably the United States - are now seeking to move the goalposts. They want to end the Kyoto Protocol and replace it with a "pledge based" approach ... Durban, then, is shaping up as a clash of paradigms." - Third World Network

Nov 3, 2011  Somalia: Economies of War
    "Al-Shabaab's resilience, despite its lack of popular support and the chronic divisions within its leadership, is principally due to the weakness of the Transitional Federal Government, and the latter's failure to broaden its political appeal or share power with other de facto political and military forces in the country. The endemic corruption of the leadership of the transitional federal institutions ... is the greatest impediment to the emergence of a cohesive transitional authority and effective State institutions." - UN Monitoring Group

Nov 16, 2011  Africa: Fast-Paced Mobile Growth Continues
    "With over 620 million mobile connections as of September 2011, Africa has overtaken Latin America to become the second largest mobile market in the world, after Asia. Over the past 10 years, the number of mobile connections in Africa has grown an average of 30% per year and is forecast to reach 735 million by the end of 2012." - GSMA African Mobile Observatory

Dec 7, 2011  Africa: Climate Change Updates
    "Rich countries must hear loud and clear that Africa won't pay for their crisis. Developed countries are trying to kill the Kyoto Protocol. They want to turn back the clock to 1997 and shift responsibility for the climate crisis they created onto the developing countries already bearing the brunt of climate change." - Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International.

Dec 7, 2011  Africa: Carbon Trading Deceptions
    "Africa's share has remained at about two per cent of CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) projects officially registered with the UN's climate change secretariat. If South Africa and countries in North Africa are taken out of the aggregate, all the other African countries currently account for just 0.6 per cent of registered CDM projects." But even in carbon markets in Africa were expanded, argues this new comprehensive study from the Institute for Strategic Studies, carbon offsets at best bring only deceptive benefits to developing countries, while allowing rich countries to evade their responsibilities for reducing carbon emissions.

Dec 12, 2011  Africa: Books New & Notable 2011
    It's past time for one of our too infrequent book issues. I've organized this one into three groups of new books I've come across this year: three books on current priority issues that I recommend to readers as "must reads," new and notable books by AfricaFocus subscribers, and other new and notable books on a variety of topics.

Dec 17, 2011  Africa: Measuring Capital Flight
    "The magnitude of African capital flight is staggering both in absolute monetary values and relative to GDP. For the thirty-three sub-Saharan African countries for which we have data, we find that more than $700 billion fled the continent between 1970 and 2008. If this capital was invested abroad and earned interest at the going market rates, the accumulated capital loss for these countries over the thirty-nine-year period was $944 billion. By comparison, total GDP for all of sub-Saharan Africa in 2008 stood at $997 billion." - L. Ndikumana and J. Boyce, in their new book "Africa's Odious Debts"

Dec 17, 2011  Africa: Capital Flight Updates
    This week Global Financial Integrity released its latest report on illicit financial flows from developing countries, including data for 2009. The result: despite a drop in 2009 due to the recession, developing countries lost between US$723 billion and US$844 billion per annum on average through illicit flows over the decade ending 2009. In current dollar terms, the flows increased in current dollar terms by 15.19% per annum from US$386 billion at the start of the decade to US$903 billion in 2009.

Jan 30, 2012  Sudan/South Sudan: A Lose-Lose Scenario
    Sudan and South Sudan seem to have entered a "lose-lose" scenario, precipitated by failure to agree on payments for transport of oil from fields in South Sudan through the pipeline in the north to the Red Sea. Despite African Union mediation and pressure for compromise not only from Africa but also from the United Nations, China, and the United States, South Sudan has closed the oil fields, with likely disastrous economic and humanitarian consequences for both countries.

Feb 3, 2012  Africa: Paying for Health
    "Simply put, if we allow the fund to fail, many people will die, and we will forfeit the chance at the "AIDS-free generation" that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for in November. This is no time to step back." - Paul Farmer

Feb 10, 2012  Africa: Counting the Costs of Brain Drain
    According to a study published in the British Medical Journal in November 2011, nine sub-Saharan countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe) invested some $2 billion in costs of educating doctors who subsequently emigrated to the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, or Canada. The receiving countries gained an estimated $4.55 billion from these investments, in savings from medical education that they did not have to finance. The familiar phenomenon of "brain drain," it is clear, should also be seen as a subsidy from developing to developed countries.

Feb 10, 2012  Africa: Brain Drains in Context
    Topics linked to migration, such as remittances and brain drains, have attracted increasing attention in discussions of development. But such specific issues should be considered in the wider context of the goal of reducing the grossly unjust levels of inequality between nations. The brain drain of medical personnel, for example, cannot be solved simply by looking at migration flows, but by focusing on how to provide the human and financial resources needed for equitably assuring the right of health to all.

Feb 15, 2012  Africa: Social Media Updates
    Although the #OccupyNigeria protests failed to gain a complete rollback of the price increase in petrol last month, they clearly had significant impact. In addition to a partial rollback in the price, they spurred the beginning of new government action against corruption in the oil sector, including the appointment of former anti-corruption official Nuhu Ribadu to head a task force focused on the sector. The outcome is of course uncertain, but the protests clearly mark the emergence of African social media to political prominence beyond North Africa.

Feb 23, 2012  Senegal: Democracy or Gerontocracy?
    A divided opposition and support from rural areas may yet enable aging and intransigent President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal to win a third term, with a majority in the first round of presidential elections on February 26. But whether this happens or whether the election goes into a second round, urban and youth protests are likely to continue, with uncertain outcomes for Senegal and its reputation as a regional leader in democratic institutions.

Mar 21, 2012  Europe/Africa: Underdeveloping Africa (Again)
    "EPA [Economic Partnership Agreement], as currently designed, is a poison chalice. Fragmenting Africa and ramming through deadly trade arrangements in a manner that undermines internal African integration, ties the hands of policymakers and circumscribes the policy space, and literally enslaves the African economy may be smart for Europe in the short-run but not wise in the long term." - Chukwuma Charles Soludo

Apr 4, 2012  Africa: BRICS Stepping Up on Global Health
    When the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) countries met for their fourth summit in New Delhi last month, the event attracted little attention from the Western press. The New York Times headlined its report "BRICS Leaders Fail to Create Rival to World Bank," noting that the summit only created a working group to consider such a new development bank next year. But the common tendency to dismiss the group because of its internal diversity risks ignoring the steady emergence of greater influence for its members beyond their obvious growing economic weight.

Apr 11, 2012  Africa: Issues for the World Bank
    Despite the tilted voting structure and the likely victory of the candidate nominated by U.S. President Obama, the contest for the new World Bank president, who will be chosen next week by the World Bank board, has been the subject of unprecedented open debate. Any of the three candidates would, in different ways, break the mold of selection of a white male American economist or foreign policy veteran. But, of equal importance, and much less discussed, any of the candidates would also head up an institution with a contradictory mix of old practices and new ideas, despite the demise of the market-fundamentalist "Washington consensus."

Apr 11, 2012  Africa: "New Structural Economics"
    "I believe that every developing country, including those in Sub-Saharan Africa, can grow at 8 percent or more continuously for several decades, significantly reducing poverty and becoming middle- or even high-income countries in the span of one or two generations, if its government has the right policy framework to facilitate the private sector's development along the line of its comparative advantages and tap into the late-comer advantages" - Justin Yifu Lin, Chief Economist, World Bank, in introducing his just published book New Structural Economics: A Framework for Rethinking Development and Policy

May 3, 2012  Sierra Leone: Resisting Land Deals
    "While the government of Sierra Leone says it is now supporting farmers with its smallholder commercialization program, at the same time it is promoting massive foreign direct investment in farmland in the country. It claims this will not harm smallholders or food security. ... Participants at the conference [of affected land owners and land users] strongly disagreed." - The Oakland Institute

May 3, 2012  Africa: Pushing Land Deals
    "Whereas WBG's [the World Bank Group's] mandate is to 'reduce poverty and improve living standards through sustainable development and investment in people,' its work largely strays from this mission in that, by promoting investor access to land, it actually tends to threaten rather than improve food security and local livelihoods in developing countries." - The Oakland Institute

May 17, 2012  Africa: Jobs, Justice, and Equity
    "The extreme pessimism surrounding Africa a decade ago was unwarranted. So, too, is the current wave of blinkered optimism. Real gains have been made, but governments and their development partners need to reflect on the weaknesses, as well as the strengths ... Countries across Africa are becoming richer but whole sections of society are being left behind. ... The current pattern of trickle-down growth is leaving too many people in poverty, too many children hungry and too many young people without jobs." - Africa Progress Panel, May 2012

May 24, 2012  Africa: Food Security and Human Development
    "This [Africa Human Development] Report argues that subSaharan Africa can extricate itself from pervasive food insecurity by acting on four critical drivers of change: greater agricultural productivity of smallholder farmers; more effective nutrition policies, especially for children; greater community and household resilience to cope with shocks; and wider popular participation and empowerment, especially of women and the rural poor."

May 24, 2012  Africa: G8 Detour on Food Security
    The Camp David summit of the G-8 countries, held on May 17-18, announced a "New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition," pitched as potentially raising 60 billion people out of poverty over the next 10 years. But the program as announced, featuring some $3 billion in investment pledges by 45 private agribusiness companies, was grotesquely out of sync with international commitments to respecting country-owned plans and prioritizing broad-based public investment to benefit smallholder farmers.

Jun 7, 2012  West Africa: Sahel Food Crisis
    "The high prices of basic foods are the most alarming feature of the current Sahel crisis, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Prices are expected to keep rising until the end of August - during the lean season - but the size of recent hikes has surprised food price analysts and humanitarian aid personnel." - IRIN humanitarian news and analysis

Jun 15, 2012  Africa: Key Issues at Rio+20
    The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, more commonly known as Rio+20, is in full talking mode this week, although the official summit takes place next week, on June 20-22. But while many ideas and new terminology will be aired, and the volume of official and parallel documents are more than even the most dedicated international conference junkie can read, the script seems familiar. Rich countries are for the most part determined to block firm commitments to strong action.

Jul 2, 2012  Zimbabwe: Diamonds Fund Parallel Government
    A new report from Global Witness reveals that Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) appears to have received off budget financing from a Hong Kong-based businessman as the CIO and other security agencies continue to prepare to influence elections due to take place sometime in 2013. Global Witness reports that CIO members exercise joint control over Sino Zimbabwe Development (Pvt) Ltd, a diamonds, cotton and property company in Zimbabwe, in collaboration with businessman Sam Pa, a prominent member of the Queensway Syndicate, a network of companies with a track record of negotiating opaque resource for infrastructure deals across the African continent.

Aug 9, 2012  Africa: Global Pirates vs. Tax Justice
    A new report from the Tax Justice Network estimates that the global super-rich have at least $21 trillion in secret tax havens, the equivalent of the United States and Japanese economies combined. While these estimates presumably include funds such as those held by Mitt Romney in "offshore" accounts in the Cayman Islands, they also include as much as $944 billion estimated last year to be derived from capital losses to Africa between 1970 and 2008.

Sep 6, 2012  South Africa: The Marikana Era?
    Will Marikana become an emblematic symbol for an era of post-apartheid plutocracy, as did Sharpeville for the apartheid era in the decades following 1960? Or will it, as many hope, serve as a wakeup call for South Africa to deliver on the promise of the end of political apartheid in 1994?

Sep 6, 2012  South Africa: The Price of Platinum
    "The recent study of the Bench Marks Foundation has predicted the problems now seen at Marikana. If all the mining houses had addressed the underlying causes of unrest and provided both workers and local communities with the opportunity to live a decent life, the killings could have been avoided." - Reverend Jo Seoka

Sep 24, 2012  Africa: Shades of Green, 1
    "AGRA adopts a fairly good critique of prior approaches to support for African agriculture, including systematic under- investment, the historical focus on large-scale agriculture and standardised technologies, and efforts to transfer technologies developed elsewhere which were inappropriate to the context (both seed and manufactured fertilisers). ... [but there is a hidden agenda of privatization] behind the humanitarian façade." - African Centre for Biodiversity

Sep 24, 2012  Africa: Shades of Green, 2
    The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the centerpiece of donor-initiated plans for agricultural development in Africa, is replete with positive language about food security, sustainable development, and attention to smallholder farmers. And, notes a new report from the African Centre for Biodiversity, it also recognizes many of the limitations of previous Green Revolution experiences in Asia and Latin America. Nevertheless, the Centre argues, its emphasis on incorporating African agricultural production into global value chains ignores the likely outcome of increased dependence by farmers on large multinational corporations, which will reap the largest share of the rewards.

Sep 24, 2012  Africa: The Hidden Issue of "Gene Grabbing"
    "Patents on the sorghum genome are the contemporary biotech equivalent of an 18th Century European explorer planting his flag on an ill-understood foreign land and claiming it for himself or his sovereign, as if by divine right subordinating all other interests in the territory." - African Centre for Biodiversity

Oct 3, 2012  Southern Africa: Climate Threat to Zambezi Basin
    According to a new study released in September, "There will be a significant reduction in the amount of water flowing through the [Zambezi] river system, affecting all eight countries it passes through. The water that feeds the river is expected to decrease by between 26 percent and 40 percent in another four decades. But when the rains do fall, they will be more intense, triggering more extreme floods." Nevertheless, says the author of the study, planning for existing and new dams does not yet take account of the impact of climate change in reducing power generation and capacity for flood control.

Oct 12, 2012  West Africa: Toxic Waste, Failed Accountability
    "This is a story of corporate crime, human rights abuse and governments' failure to protect people and the environment. It is a story that exposes how systems for enforcing international law have failed to keep up with companies that operate trans-nationally, and how one company has been able to take full advantage of legal uncertainties and jurisdictional loopholes, with devastating consequences." - Greenpeace Netherlands and Amnesty International, in a comprehensive report on the 2006 dumping of toxic waste in Abidjan

Oct 22, 2012  Africa: Whose Property? Whose Rights?
    In early November, a ministerial-level meeting of the African Union is preparing to approve the draft statute for a new Pan-African Intellectual Property Organization. But critics warn that the draft, developed without significant consultation beyond a small group of experts, embodies a restrictive intellectual property (IP) regime being pushed by rich countries, without regard for needs to protect development, access to health and knowledge for developing countries, and protection of indigenous knowledge. The draft would be a giant step backwards, ignoring African positions presented in other international venues.

Oct 28, 2012  Africa: Social Security & the Right to Food
    Since Amartya Sen's pioneering work on the subject three decades ago, it has been a truism that famine is caused most directly not by shortages of food but by inequalities which deprive poor people of the resources to compensate for such shortages. Now a new joint report by UN special rapporteurs on the right to food and on extreme poverty is drawing the logical conclusion, namely the need for a global social security fund "of last resort" to enable every country, however poor, to provide guarantees for its citizens against catastrophic events that exhaust their resources needed for survival.

Nov 15, 2012  USA/Africa: A Rare Policy Success
    "In 2011, the number of successful pirate attacks fell by half compared to 2010. This year, in 2012, the number of successful attacks off the Horn of Africa has continued to decline. To date, pirates have captured just ten vessels this year, compared to 34 in 2011 and 68 in 2010." - U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Andrew J. Shapiro

Nov 20, 2012  Africa: Capital Losses, What Can Be Done?
    "Both rich countries and Africa suffer from a global system of financial secrecy, in which rich individuals and large companies hide income and assets from public scrutiny and from taxation by transferring them across borders. ... despite many differences ...the same structural realities and the same institutions are implicated in the "fiscal crises" of Europe and North America and in the failure of African states to capture and channel sufficient resources to development." - Introduction to special issue of ACAS Bulletin on "Africa's Capital Losses: What Can Be Done?"

Nov 20, 2012  Africa: Debt Audits and Debt Repudiation
    "Repudiation of odious debt, if properly implemented, is selective rather than indiscriminate. Creditors who lend in good faith for legitimate projects have no reason to fear a fair and transparent process, and no cause to withhold new lending. Indeed by freeing governments from the burden of servicing illegitimate debts and strengthening incentives for responsible lending, the strategy yields a better climate for legitimate borrowers and legitimate creditors alike." - James Boyce and Leonce Ndikumana

Dec 13, 2012  Africa: Time for Climate Justice
    The latest international conference on climate change has concluded in Doha, with the predictable "low-ambition" results. Meanwhile, reports proliferate on the disastrous consequences for Africa and the entire planet if governments do not begin to overcome their lethargy in slowing carbon emissions and preparing for adaptation to the changes from global warming already built into the global system.

Dec 20, 2012  Africa: Books New & Notable
    This annual books issue contains 22 books that have come to my attention that seemed to me to be of particular interest. It's hardly a systematic selection, and I've only read a couple of them so far. But they cover a wide range of topics, and I think most AfricaFocus readers will find at least of a few ot them well worth their time.