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AfricaFocus Bulletins on Economy and Development

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Talking Points

  • Politicians and investors in Africa and around the world speak of creating good jobs. In practice most often they promote a market-fundamentalist development model that sheds jobs while increasing profits for the 1%.

  • The "Africa Rising" narrative celebrating rapid economic growth in many African countries is based on a partial truth. New investment in extractive industries to serve world markets is growing, and there is striking growth in information and communication technology as well.

  • But most Africans, whether in the rural areas or the burgeoning cities, have little access to the wealth created. Jobs in the formal sector do not come close to keeping up with expansion of the labor force. And government policies marginalize the interests of workers and small farmers.

  • Sustainable development depends on public investment in health, education, and infrastructure. But the levels of these investments fall far short of what is needed.

  • Significant change in economic policies, whether in Africa or around the world, will only come if there is active transnational mobilization for economic justice for the 99%. Such action must include not only political groups, but also unions, farmers' organizations, human rights groups, churches, and others in all sectors of society.

Bulletins

August 18, 2014  Africa: From Kerosene to Solar http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/sol1408.php
    The largest marketer of solar lamps in Africa, which recently passed the one million mark in lamps sold, has set an ambitious target for the industry. ""Our mission is to eradicate the kerosene lamp from Africa by the end of this decade," proclaims Solar Aid. Although achieving this goal would require the pico-solar market to emulate mobile phone industry's exponential growth path, it may not be as utopian as it sounds. According to market research company Navigant Research, "Off-grid solar lighting for base of the pyramid (BOP) markets, the leading solar PV consumer product segment, is transitioning from a humanitarian aspiration to big business."

August 11, 2014  Africa: Investment for Whom? http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/iff1408.php
    "While governance remains an issue for many African countries, structural deficiencies in the U.S. financial system are just as responsible for driving the outflow of illicit capital. ... The burden for curtailing these illicit flows must be shared equally by policymakers in the U.S. and in Africa for this partnership to be effective." - Global Financial Integrity

July 31, 2014  Africa/Global: Talking Points on Common Issues http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/tp1407.php
    As African leaders and corporate CEOs gather to meet with President Obama and U.S. government officials, a wide variety of civil society activists will also be meeting in Washington, some in officially recognized side events, others in alternative venues. Many more will be issuing statements and communicating their views, some appropriating the twitter hashtag #AfricaSummit used by U.S. government officials, thus inserting their views as well into that hashtag stream.

July 29, 2014  USA/Africa: A Dubious Summit http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/sum1407.php
    "Starting August 4, the Obama Administration will host a mini replica of an African Union (AU) summit. As many as 40 heads of state from the continent will be on hand for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, a conference that will look at ways to boost trade and investment in the continent, tap into Africa's burgeoning youth population, and promote good governance. ... Unfortunately, unless a major change is made, the summit risks simply becoming an AU heads of state road trip with a photo-op at the end to confirm that they visited Washington before returning home." - Adotei Akwei, Amnesty International

July 14, 2014  Africa: Understanding Organized Crime http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/oc1407.php
    "We have concluded that drug use must be regarded primarily as a public health problem. Drug users need help, not punishment. We believe that the consumption and possession for personal use of drugs should not be criminalised. Experience shows that criminalisation of drug use worsens health and social problems, puts huge pressures on the criminal justice system and incites corruption. ... We caution that West Africa must not become a new front line in the failed "war on drugs," which has neither reduced drug consumption nor put traffickers out of business." - West Africa Commission on Drugs

July 10, 2014  Africa: Rapid Growth in Mobile Money http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/mob1407.php
    "The mobile money landscape is becoming increasingly competitive, and this is especially true in Sub-Saharan Africa where mobile money is already available in 36 of 47 countries in the region. ... [For one example], Tanzania has witnessed unprecedented uptake of mobile financial services (MFS) in the span of five years. After a humble beginning, when less than 1% of the adult population had access to mobile financial services in 2008, 90% had access by September 2013 - an exponential increase. Likewise, active usage has shown similar improvement, with 43% of the adult population actively using this service in September 2013." - GSM Association reports

July 7, 2014  Africa: Trade Union Perspectives http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/trad1407.php
    "Almost all interviewees who responded to the Solidarity Center survey, when asked about the general economic situation, noted some economic growth. But they also were emphatic that the growth was not accompanied by good jobs and did not trickle down or benefit the majority of the population. ... The message that quantitative macroeconomic growth is not sufficient to lift people out of poverty or improve lives has [also] been a prominent theme in reports by multilateral agencies in recent years." - Solidarity Center report, April 2014

June 30, 2014  Africa: Clean Energy Most Cost-Effective http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/ces1406.php
    "From off-grid LED lighting to 'Skinny Grids,' we can now provide energy access with a fraction of the amount of power we used to need. More importantly, we can unlock affordable initial interventions -- like lighting, mobile phone charging, fans, and TVs plus a small amount of agro processing -- to help people get onto the energy ladder today rather than forcing them to wait decades for a grid extension that may never come. ... It's important to understand that we aren't just imagining this clean energy market growth -- it's already happening." -- Justin Guay, Sierra Club

June 16, 2014  Africa: Investor Perspectives http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/inv1406.php
    "Among our survey results, what really stands out is the perception of Africa's attractiveness as an investment destination relative to other regions: from being ranked 8th out of 10 regions in our first survey [2011], to 5th in each of the last two years, Africa ranked 2nd overall this year. This remarkable progress in a short space of time shows how the image of Africa has begun to change." - Ernest & Young

June 1, 2014  South Africa: Disappearing Diamond Revenue http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/dia1406.php
    "In 2011, South Africa produced diamonds whose uncut, or rough, value was $1.73 billion, or 12 percent of global production, according to the most recent government data available. Yet from 2010 to 2011, diamond-producing companies paid South Africa's government just $11 million in mining royalties, according to the latest Tax Statistics report, produced by the South African Treasury and the South African Revenue Service." - Khadija Sharife

May 26, 2014  Africa: Fraudulent Trade & Tax Evasion http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/iff1405.php
    "The fraudulent misinvoicing of trade is hampering economic growth and potentially resulting in billions of U.S. dollars in lost tax revenue in Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda, according to a new report by Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington DC- based research and advocacy organization. The study -- funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark -- finds that the over- and under-invoicing of trade transactions facilitated at least US$60.8 billion in illicit financial flows into or out of the five African countries between 2002 and 2011."

May 12, 2014  Africa: Report Highlights Resource Plunder http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/app1405.php
    "Take the profit out of plunder: Africa's resources should be sustainably managed for the benefit of Africa's peoples. National and regional action alone will not be enough. The international community must develop multilateral systems that prevent the plunder of Africa's resources [of fisheries and forests]." - Africa Progress Panel, 2014

May 5, 2014  South Africa: Views from the Left http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/sa1405.php
    No one doubts that the ANC will win this week's election in South Africa, as it has the four previous democratic elections beginning in 1994. But it is also clear that disillusionment with the liberation movement turned incumbent ruling party has reached high levels, not least with many South Africans who supported the ANC's liberation struggle and share its proclaimed goals of a more just South Africa.

April 30, 2014  Africa: Taxation Key to Fighting Inequality http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/tax1404.php
    'In many countries, it is the poor who end up paying more tax as a proportion of their income and this is just not right. When the rich are able to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, a government must rely on the rest of its citizens to fill its coffers. While tax dodging goes unchecked, governments are severely hampered from putting in place progressive tax systems - so fairer domestic tax systems depend on global transparency measures' - Alvin Mosioma, Director, Tax Justice Network - Africa

April 24, 2014  Africa: The High Cost of Remittances http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/remi1404.php
    "Remittances from African migrants play a vital role in supporting health, education, food security and productive investment in agriculture. Yet many of the benefits of remittance transfers are lost in intermediation as a result of high charges. Africa's diaspora pays 12% to send $200 - almost double the global average." - Overseas Development Institute

April 17, 2014  Mali: Polls Show Turn to Optimism http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/mali1404.php
    "In an Afrobarometer survey in December 2012, three quarters of adult Malians were worried that the country was moving in 'the wrong direction.' At that time, at the depths of a profound national crisis, most Malians thought the future looked bleak. A year later, however, a follow-up survey reveals newfound hope in the future. By December 2013, two thirds of all Malians now consider that that the country is headed in the 'right direction.'"

April 14, 2014  Lesotho: "Model" Project Drains Health Budget http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/les1404.php
    A new hospital in Lesotho, touted as a model for public-private partnership by the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC), is already draining the country's health budget and diverting resources from rural health, charges Oxfam International in a new report released on April 7. Cost overruns, high earnings by the private partner, and clauses imposing additional financial risks for the government offset the advantages of the new hospital in improved hospital care in the capital Maseru, the report contends.

March 31, 2014  Africa: Accountability for User Fee Damage? http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/user1403.php
    "In contrast to the untested economic theories of the World Bank's health economists in the 1980s, it turns out the critics had been correct all along: user fees do not raise substantial revenue for the health sector, nor do they make public health interventions more effective." Rather, argues Richard Rowden in a 2013 paper, user fees "turned out to be inequitable and sharply limited access to health care for the poor." Those who imposed these policies, he suggests, should be held accountable.

March 25, 2014  Nigeria: Corruption & Its International Partners http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/nig1403.php
    The Nigerian government has pledged to order a forensic audit of alleged missing oil receipts, which Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi reckoned at some $20 billion before his suspension by President Goodluck Jonathan in February. Previous experience with such audits has led Nigerians to be skeptical of the outcome. On a much earlier case, however, this month the U.S. Department of Justice froze some $458 million of assets embezzled by former dictator Sani Abacha and his colleagues during his years in office from 1993-1998.

March 17, 2014  Africa/Global: The Right to Food http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/food1403.php
    "The right to food is the right of every individual, alone or in community with others, to have physical and economic access at all times to sufficient, adequate and culturally acceptable food that is produced and consumed sustainably, preserving access to food for future generations. ... Because of the various channels though which access to food can be achieved, the creation of decent jobs in the industry and services sectors plays an essential role in securing the right to food, as does the provision of social protection."- Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Final Report

February 26, 2014  Africa: Tracking Toxic Pollution http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/env1402.php
    The damages produced by modern economies, termed "externalities" by economists, most often do not figure in the market signals shaping corporate profits and therefore corporate decision-making. The result, both in advanced economies or around the world, includes not only the massive threat to our common future through global warming, but also extraordinary levels of toxic pollution disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable. Of the top ten toxic threats around the world identified in a new report, three are in Africa: the Agbogbloshie Dumpsite for e-waste in Ghana, the entire Niger Delta region in Nigeria, and the now-closed but still deadly lead mining site in Kabwe, Zambia.

February 8, 2014  Africa: New Development Goals http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/econ1402.php
    "Global income inequality stands at a very high level: eight per cent of the world's population earns half the world's income, with the remaining 92 per cent earning the other half. Such a distribution is rightly viewed by global civil society networks as unacceptably high, as it is both unjust and undermines development progress." - Helen Clark, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

February 5, 2014  Somalia: Threat to Remittances Lifeline http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/som1402.php
    "Collateral damage" from the war on terror takes many forms. Civilian deaths from drone or missile strikes are the most dramatic when they come to light. Damage from the "financial war on terror" is less visible but also deadly. As illustrated in the case of Somalia, regulations intended to curb financing for terrorism end up threatening sources of income vital for survival, such as remittances and humanitarian aid. The effects, although indirect and rarely noted in the media, are systemic and large-scale.

January 21, 2014  South Africa: Renewables Rising, Coal Still King http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/coal1401.php
    "South Africa [is] the world's sixth-largest coal exporter, seventh-largest coal producer, and thirteenth-largest CO2 emitter, with per-capita emissions twice the global average. Ninety-four percent of the country's electricity comes from coal ... The country's abundant solar and wind resources offer a promising renewable energy alternative. But entrenched political interests connected to the ruling party are fighting to expand coal's role in the national economy." - Adam Welz, "The Future of Coal"

December 12, 2013  Africa/Middle East: Saudi Migrant Expulsions http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/migr1312b.php
    Deadly risks to migrants and abuses of migrants' rights are found around the world. Yet while deaths of migrants on the US-Mexican border and in the Mediterranean sometimes gain news coverage and have been widely studied, those on other migration pathways are most often invisible to all but those most directly affected. This is certainly true of the journeys from the Horn of Africa to Middle Eastern countries in the arc from Egypt to the Gulf.

December 12, 2013  Africa/Middle East: Sinai Trafficking http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/migr1312a.php
    "[I]t is estimated that 25,000--30,000 people [mostly Eritreans] were victims of Sinai trafficking between 2009 and 2013. This figure includes those that have died, disappeared, and survived and those currently being held in the Sinai. It is also estimated that the value of the ransoms paid -- the 'Sinai trafficking industry' -- is, conservatively, USD 600 million over the last five years." - The Human Trafficking Cycle: Sinai and Beyond, December 2013

December 5, 2013  Africa/Global: Pope Francis on Economic Justice http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/pope1312.php
    "As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills." - Pope Francis, November 24, 2013

November 18, 2013  Africa: Time to Pay for Climate "Loss and Damage" http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/clim1311.php
    "The U.S. delegation negotiating at the U.N. international climate change conference in Poland is pushing an agenda of minimising the role of "Loss and Damage" in the UNFCCC framework, prioritising private finance in the Green Climate Fund, and delaying the deadline for post-2020 emission reduction commitments, according to a State Department negotiating strategy which IPS has seen." Inter Press Service

November 12, 2013  Africa: Digital Divide to Power Divide http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/ict1311.php
    "The success of many African countries in addressing the digital divide masks a large, yawning hole into which many are about to fall. The more successful they are at addressing the digital divide, the more it turns into the power divide. The shortage of electricity access and poor quality of supply will begin to undermine what has been achieved. ... The kind of political focus that has been bought to bear on the digital divide just does not exist to address this problem." - Russell Southwood, Balancing Act Africa

November 9, 2013  Africa: Monopolizing Maize http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/food1311.php
    According to a new report from the African Centre for Biosafety, in South Africa, "Monsanto's Bt maize, MON810, has failed hopelessly in South Africa as a result of massive insect resistance, after only 15 years of its introduction into commercial agriculture." Yet the same variety is being promoted in other African countries by projects supported by Monsanto. And South Africa's supply of maize, a staple food, is dominated by a few large companies and consists almost entirely of GM crop varieties.

October 18, 2013  Africa: Whose "Africa Rising"? http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/econ1310.php
    "New findings from Afrobarometer, based on surveys conducted in an unprecedented 34 African countries between October 2011 and June 2013, reveal widespread dissatisfaction with current economic conditions despite a decade of strong growth. ... a majority (53%) rate the current condition of their national economy as 'fairly' or 'very bad', while just 29% offer a positive assessment." - Afrobarometer press release, October 1, 2013

Oct 6, 2013  Africa: Migrant Deaths at Sea http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/migr1310.php
    "These days, it takes a blockbuster tragedy for migrant boats to reach the front pages - the quiet, regular additions to the Mediterranean's death toll encountered on an almost-weekly basis by rescuers, human rights activists and migrant communities themselves are simply far too humdrum to make the mainstream news. In the past two decades, almost 20,000 people are recorded as having lost their lives in an effort to reach Europe's southern borders from Africa and the Middle East." - Guardian, Oct. 3, 2013

August 5, 2013  South Africa: The Marikana Syndrome http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/mar1308.php
    "What took place on August 16th could just as conceivably have occurred with similar violence at just about any mine in South Africa - because of workforce similarities, common historical residues inherited from apartheid and preserved so exactly in the world of mineral extraction, similarities of geological conditions, the nature of industrial relations nationwide, the appalling state of safety in South Africa's "hard rock" mines or, perhaps most importantly of all, because the local mining industry has, albeit to differing degrees, experienced common discomfort in coming to terms with the transformative demands being made upon it by a new regime in the twenty years since apartheid. Perceived on this landscape the Marikana massacre is but a symbol or outcome of wider developments." - Philip Frankel

July 31, 2013  Africa: Youth, "Waithood," and Protest http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/honw1307.php
    "This morning I would like to focus our attention on the lives of young Africans struggling with unemployment, the difficulty of finding sustainable livelihoods, and the absence of civil liberties. ... The recent wave of youth protests can best be understood in the context of this generation's struggles for economic, social, and political emancipation. ... Beyond the disparities in their material, cultural, and political situations, young people in rich and poor countries are affected by similar problems of exclusion and restricted futures. And they are beginning to assert their rights as citizens, claiming a new space for themselves." - Alcinda Honwana

June 12, 2013  Mozambique: Agriculture Project Challenged http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/moz1306.php
    "We, the rural populations, families from the communities of the Nacala Corridor, religious organisations and Mozambican civil society, recognising the importance and urgency of combating poverty and promoting sustainable and sovereign development, believe it is timely and crucial to voice our concerns and proposals in relation to the ProSavana Programme. ... After several discussions at community level in the districts covered by this programme, with Mozambican Government authorities [and with representatives of Brazil and Japan], we find that there are many discrepancies and contradictions [confirming] defects in the programme design; irregularities in the alleged process of public consultation and participation; serious and imminent threat of usurpation of rural populations' lands and forced removal of communities from areas that they currently occupy." - Open letter to leaders of Mozambique, Brazil, and Japan, May 28, 2013

June 12, 2013  Africa: Underdeveloping African Agriculture http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/ag1306.php
    "These interventions from AGRA [Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa] and the G8 are, first and foremost, about opening markets and creating space for multinational corporations such as Yara, Monsanto and Cargill, to secure profits. ... As world leaders speak in philanthropic terms about 'ending hunger', behind the scenes Africa's seed and trade laws are being 'harmonised' to the whim of agri-business giants. The efforts of Africa's farmers over millennia stand to be privatised and expropriated, while traditional and vital practices such as seed saving and sharing stand to be criminalised." -- Francis Ngang, Secretary General of Inades-Formation (http://www.inadesfo.net/)

May 31, 2013  Africa/Global: Rich Without Borders http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/tax1305.php
    "For every country losing money illicitly, there is another country absorbing it. These outflows are facilitated by financial opacity in advanced Western economies and offshore tax havens. Implementing transparency measures to curtail tax haven secrecy and anonymous shell companies is crucial to curtailing illicit flows." Raymond Baker, Global Financial Integrity

May 13, 2013  Africa: Rise of the Global South http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/hdr1305.php
    "Although most developing countries have done well, a large number of countries have done particularly well -- what can be called the 'rise of the South'. Some of the largest countries have made rapid advances, notably Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey. But there has also been substantial progress in smaller economies, such as Bangladesh, Chile, Ghana, Mauritius, Rwanda and Tunisia. ... For the first time in 150 years, the combined output of the developing world's three leading economies -- Brazil, China and India -- is about equal to the combined GDP of the longstanding industrial powers of the North -- Canada, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom and the United States." - UNDP Human Development Report, 2013

May 8, 2013  USA/Africa: Immigration Reform Needs Fixing http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/migr1305.php
    "The recently released Senate immigration reform bill had a mix of carrot and stick approaches to providing the long-awaited path to citizenship for millions of undocumented people living under repressive conditions. While the bill has several good features, it weighs heavily toward very bad and very ugly provisions that will leave out millions of people and will continue the mass detentions and deportations that have become normalized in U.S. society." - Gerald Lenoir, Black Alliance for Just Immigration

Apr 19, 2013  Africa: Towards Structural Transformation? http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/econ1304.php
    At a gathering hosted by the Pan African Parliament in February this year, an impressive range of African thinkers, parliamentarians, and civil society organizations called for focusing development efforts on "structural transformation." This was needed, they noted, to overcome the limitations of the Millennium Development Goals and the damaging efforts of "structural adjustment" and more current "austerity" agendas. The points made seem to reflect an emerging consensus within Africa, but, as always, implementation in the face of inertia and vested interests will be a gigantic challenge.

Apr 11, 2013  Nigeria: #Offshoreleaks http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/tax1304.php
    The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has begun publication of stories from a vast trove of documents revealing transactions in the "offshore world" of tax havens. The data, from an Australian investigation of offshore financial shelters and fraud, held more than 2.5 million records, which are being investigated by dozens of journalists. The total size of the files, measured in gigabytes, is more than 160 times larger than the leak of U.S. State Department documents by Wikileaks in 2010.

Apr 2, 2013  Africa: The Industrialization Agenda http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/eca1304.php
    It seems to be the season for economic reports and meetings, with the IMF issuing a critique of subsidies for fossil fuels, the UNDP's Human Development Report focusing on the "Rise of the South," the BRICS summit in South Africa, meetings of the Pan African Parliament and civil society on "Structural Transformation," and more. That's far too much to even provide links for in one AfricaFocus Bulletin, so I'm beginning a series today with a policy paper from the Economic Commission for Africa on the critical importance of new industrialization strategies.

Mar 10, 2013  Africa/Global: Fossil-Fuel Divestment http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/div1303.php
    The fossil-fuel divestment movement now gaining momentum on college campuses to fight climate change frequently evokes the precedent of the anti-apartheid divestment campaigns of the 1970s and 1980s. But there are other Africa connections that are also beginning to be made. Africa is the continent most vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events. American and other multinational companies have a long history of environmental destruction in areas such as the Niger Delta. And while many African countries look to fossilfuel exploitation to fund their development, the experience of the "resource curse" shows that the profits may fuel gross inequality and capital flight rather than development.

Feb 26, 2013  Zimbabwe: New Narrative on Land Reform, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/zim1302b.php
    "Under the fast track land reform, 169,000 farmers have received land since 2000. Most are small farmers under model A1, but the fast track also includes model A2 with land for wealthy people prepared to invest in largerscale commercial farming--maintaining the dual agriculture policy that had continued since the colonial era. The 146,000 A1 farmers moved quickly onto their land and are using more of the land than their white predecessors. A2 farm allocation was more competitive and politicized ... [nevertheless] The bulk of settlers are 'ordinary' people ... Undoubtedly some are political elites or what are sometimes called 'cronies,' which we guess to be 5% of farmers and 10% of land." - Hanlon, Mantengwa, and Smart, in Zimbabwe Takes Back the Land

Feb 26, 2013  Zimbabwe: New Narrative on Land Reform, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/zim1302a.php
    Whether to take credit for it or to cast blame, both ZANU-PF and most of its critics attribute responsibility for the land reform in Zimbabwe since 2000 to the party of Robert Mugabe. Although much of the debate in the media about the book "Zimbabwe Takes Back Its Land," has repeated this familiar point and counterpoint, the authors in fact deny this premise, arguing that the principal force behind the land reform and how it was implemented was not ZANU-PF but Zimbabwean farmers.

Feb 15 2013  Zambia/Global: The Price of Tax Avoidance http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/tax1302.php
    "From 2008 to 2010, an agricultural labourer employed by the company has paid more income tax in absolute terms than the company whose US$200 million revenues have benefitted from her labour. And even when Zambia Sugar has been paying some corporate income tax in Zambia, as in 2011 and 2012, it has still paid 20 times less income tax, relative to its income, than the tax paid by its own agricultural workers." - ActionAid, in new report on tax avoidance by Associated British Foods group in Zambia.

Feb 5 2013  Africa: Towards Reality-Based Talk http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/real1302.php
    Almost a decade ago, Republican strategist Karl Rove disparaged what he termed the "reality-based community" of his critics, claiming he and his friends had the power to create their own reality. The slogan has become a catch phrase justifiably used to illustrate the distance of Rove's party from reality. Yet, on African issues, commentators of all political persuasions, Africans as well as non-Africans, not infrequently fall back on dubious generalizations about the entire diverse continent.

Jan 23 2013  Africa/Global: Half of World's Food Lost to Waste http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/food1301.php
    "The world produces about four billion metric tonnes of food per year, but wastes up to half of this food through poor practices and inadequate infrastructure. By improving processes and infrastructure as well as changing consumer mindsets, we would have the ability to provide 60-100% more food to feed the world's growing population." - Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Dec 20, 2012  Africa: Books New & Notable http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/book1212.php
    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.

Dec 13, 2012  Africa: Time for Climate Justice http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/cl1212.php
    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.

Nov 20, 2012  Africa: Debt Audits and Debt Repudiation http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/cap1211b.php
    "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

Nov 20, 2012  Africa: Capital Losses, What Can Be Done? http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/cap1211a.php
    "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 15, 2012  USA/Africa: A Rare Policy Success http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/pir1211.php
    "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

Oct 28, 2012  Africa: Social Security & the Right to Food http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/soc1210.php
    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.

Oct 22, 2012  Africa: Whose Property? Whose Rights? http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/ip1210.php
    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 12, 2012  West Africa: Toxic Waste, Failed Accountability http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/tox1210.php
    "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 3, 2012  Southern Africa: Climate Threat to Zambezi Basin http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/zam1210.php
    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.

Sep 24, 2012  Africa: Shades of Green, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/ag1209b.php
    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" http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/ag1209c.php
    "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

Sep 24, 2012  Africa: Shades of Green, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/ag1209a.php
    "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 6, 2012  South Africa: The Price of Platinum http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/saf1209b.php
    "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 6, 2012  South Africa: The Marikana Era? http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/saf1209a.php
    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?

Aug 9, 2012  Africa: Global Pirates vs. Tax Justice http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/bank1208.php
    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.

Jul 2, 2012  Zimbabwe: Diamonds Fund Parallel Government http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/zim1207.php
    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.

Jun 15, 2012  Africa: Key Issues at Rio+20 http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/rio1206.php
    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.

Jun 7, 2012  West Africa: Sahel Food Crisis http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/sah1206.php
    "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

May 24, 2012  Africa: Food Security and Human Development http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/ag1205a.php
    "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 http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/ag1205b.php
    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.

May 17, 2012  Africa: Jobs, Justice, and Equity http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/app1205.php
    "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 3, 2012  Africa: Pushing Land Deals http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/wb1205.php
    "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 3, 2012  Sierra Leone: Resisting Land Deals http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/sl1205.php
    "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

Apr 11, 2012  Africa: "New Structural Economics" http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/wb1204b.php
    "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

Apr 11, 2012  Africa: Issues for the World Bank http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/wb1204a.php
    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 4, 2012  Africa: BRICS Stepping Up on Global Health http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/brics1204.php
    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.

Mar 21, 2012  Europe/Africa: Underdeveloping Africa (Again) http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/econ1203.php
    "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

Feb 23, 2012  Senegal: Democracy or Gerontocracy? http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/sen1202.php
    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.

Feb 15, 2012  Africa: Social Media Updates http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/mob1202.php
    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 10, 2012  Africa: Counting the Costs of Brain Drain http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/bd1202a.php
    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 http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/bd1202b.php
    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 3, 2012  Africa: Paying for Health http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/hf1202.php
    "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

Jan 30, 2012  Sudan/South Sudan: A Lose-Lose Scenario http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/sud1201.php
    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.

Dec 17, 2011  Africa: Measuring Capital Flight http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/cap1112.php
    "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 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/iff1112.php
    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.

Dec 12, 2011  Africa: Books New & Notable 2011 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/books1112.php
    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 7, 2011  Africa: Climate Change Updates http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/clim1112a.php
    "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 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/clim1112b.php
    "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.

Nov 16, 2011  Africa: Fast-Paced Mobile Growth Continues http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/ict1111.php
    "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

Nov 3, 2011  Somalia: Economies of War http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/som1111.php
    "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

Oct 27, 2011  Africa: Real Climate Finance Options http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/clim1110.php
    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, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/dur1110b.php
    "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: Climate Talks Background, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/dur1110a.php
    "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

Oct 13, 2011  Africa: Migration, Inequalities, & Human Rights http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/migr1110.php
    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 4 2011  Africa: New Economic Crisis on the Way http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/econ1110.php
    "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

Sep 12, 2011  Africa: Dead End for Diamond Monitoring? http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/dia1109.php
    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.

Aug 29, 2011  China/Africa: Development Lessons, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/ch-af1108a.php
    "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

Aug 29, 2011  China/Africa: Development Lessons, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/ch-af1108b.php
    "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 18, 2011  USA/Africa: Wage Penalties for Black Immigrants http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/mig1108b.php
    "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 18, 2011  USA/Africa: New Data on African Immigrants http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/mig1108a.php
    "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 12, 2011  Nigeria: Past Time for Oil Cleanup, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/nig1108b.php
    "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 12, 2011  Nigeria: Past Time for Oil Cleanup, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/nig1108a.php
    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 5, 2011  Somalia: Updates and Reflections http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/som1108.php
    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."

Jul 30, 2011  Malawi: Challenging Power & Corruption http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/mal1107.php
    "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

Jul 24, 2011  Somalia: Local Crisis, Global Crisis http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/som1107a.php
    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 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/som1107b.php
    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 14, 2011  Africa: Renewable Energy Rising Rapidly http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/ren1107.php
    "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 14, 2011  Africa: Little Momentum in Climate Talks http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/clim1107.php
    "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

Jun 30, 2011  USA/Gabon: Blind Eye for Corruption http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/gab1106.php
    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."

Jun 14, 2011  Guinea-Bissau: Drug Trade in Broader Context http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/gb1106.php
    "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 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/wod1106.php
    "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 1, 2011  Africa: "Aid" Promises and Accountability http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/aid1106.php
    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."

May 26, 2011  Africa: Where Does the Money Go? http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/iff1105b.php
    "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 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/iff1105a.php
    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).

May 4, 2011  Uganda: Protests in Perspective http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/uga1105.php
    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.

Apr 22, 2011  Libya: Migrants Situation Update http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/migr1104a.php
    "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 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/migr1104b.php
    "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

Apr 5, 2011  Tanzania: Old Media, New Media http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/tan1104.php
    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.

Mar 31, 2011  Africa: ECA Calls for Developmental States http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/eca1103.php
    "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

Mar 11, 2011  Africa: Agriculture Gender Gap http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/fao1103.php
    "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 11, 2011  Africa: Agroecology & the Right to Food http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/rtf1103.php
    "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

Feb 16, 2011  Africa: Stolen Assets Recovery http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/ar1102.php
    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 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/sw1102.php
    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.

Feb 1, 2011  Equatorial Guinea: Oil but No Rights, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/eq1102b.php
    "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 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/eq1102a.php
    "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

Jan 15, 2011  Africa: Economic Outlook http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/wb1101.php
    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%).

Dec 14, 2010  USA/Africa: Wikileaks Highlights, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/wl1012a.php
    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.

Dec 3, 2010  Africa: Key Issues at Cancun http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/can1012a.php
    "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 3, 2010  Africa: Real Climate Action Options http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/can1012b.php
    "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

Nov 22, 2010  Africa: E-Books Poised to Take Off http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/eb1011.php
    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.

Nov 9, 2010  Africa: Climate Debt Deferred, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/clf1011a.php
    "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 9, 2010  Africa: Climate Debt Deferred, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/clf1011b.php
    "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

Oct 28, 2010  Africa: Questionable Land Investments http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/ag1010b.php
    "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? http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/ag1010c.php
    "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.

Oct 28, 2010  Africa: Land, Take 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/ag1010a.php
    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 19, 2010  Nigeria: Enabling Corporate Crime http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/nig1010.php
    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 14, 2010  Sudan: Post-Referendum Issues http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/sud1010.php
    "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 7, 2010  South Africa: Post-Apartheid Poverty & Inequality http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/sa1010.php
    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.

Sep 21, 2010  Africa: Primary Education Pays Off http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/educ1009.php
    "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

Sep 16, 2010  Africa: Thinking Beyond Acronyms http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/pov1009.php
    "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 10, 2010  Mozambique: Police and Protesters http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/moz1009b.php
    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 10, 2010  Mozambique: Poverty and Inequality http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/moz1009a.php
    "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 6, 2010  Africa: Global Solidarity Levy http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/ctl1009.php
    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.

Aug 6, 2010  Africa: Migrant Rights Updates http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/migr1008.php
    "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 http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/xeno1008.php
    "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

Aug 2, 2010  USA/Congo (Kinshasa): Conflict Minerals Law http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/cgk1007a.php
    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.

Jul 20, 2010  Africa: Multilingual Education Pays Off http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/educ1007.php
    "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

Jul 9, 2010  USA/Africa: Detroit to Dakar http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/d2d1007.php
    "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 6, 2010  Africa: Book Notes http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/bk1007.php
    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.

Jun 24, 2010  Africa: South-South Cooperation http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/unct1006.php
    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.

Jun 24, 2010  Africa: G8 Goals and Promises http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/g8-1006.php
    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 18, 2010  Zimbabwe: Whose Diamonds? http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/zim1006.php
    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 11, 2010  Africa: Just Give Money to the Poor http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/pov1006.php
    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 5, 2010  USA/Nigeria: By Way of Comparison http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/oil1006.php
    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.

May 12, 2010  Southern Africa: Responsible Mining Companies? http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/sar1005.php
    "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

May 9, 2010  Africa: New Internet Opportunities http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/bal1005.php
    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 4, 2010  Africa: Finance Ministers vs. Development Goals http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/fin1005.php
    "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

Apr 18, 2010  Zimbabwe: Sanctions and Solidarity http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/zim1004.php
    "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

Apr 12, 2010  Africa: Profiling Cash Drains http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/fin1004.php
    "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 5, 2010  Africa: Economic Report 2010 http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/era1004.php
    "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

Mar 30 2010  Somalia: Somali-Led Peace Processes http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/som1003a.php
    "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

Mar 23, 2010  South Africa: Coal-Fired Denialism http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/coal1003.php
    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 10, 2010  Africa: Remittances Update http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/rem1003.php
    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 5, 2010  Nigeria: New Human Development Report http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/nig1003b.php
    "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 5, 2010  Nigeria: Reforming Shell? http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/nig1003a.php
    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.

Feb 28, 2010  Africa: Education for All? http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/educ1002.php
    "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

Feb 16, 2010  Zimbabwe: Demystifying "Sanctions" http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/zim1002.php
    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 8, 2010  USA/Africa: Two to Tango http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/usa1002.php
    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 2, 2010  Africa: Solidarity with Haiti http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/hai1002a.php
    "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 2, 2010  Africa: Haiti's Debt in Context http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/hai1002b.php
    "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

Dec 22, 2009  Congo (Kinshasa): Conflict Fueled from Many Sources http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/un0912.php
    "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 http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/gw0912.php
    "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

Dec 18, 2009  Africa: New Books from AfricaFocus Subscribers http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/sub0912.php
    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 africafocus@igc.org), and I'll add it below.

Dec 15, 2009  South Africa: 30+ New Books http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/sab0912.php
    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.

Nov 15, 2009  Eritrea: No Welcome in Italy http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/er0911c.php
    "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

Nov 15, 2009  Eritrea: Perilous Journeys http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/er0911a.php
    "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: Press Freedom Updates http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/er0911b.php
    Eritrea ranks at the very bottom of Reporters without Borders index of press freedom for 2009, released in October (see http://www.rsf.org/en-classement1003-2009.html), 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.

Oct 29, 2009  Africa: Climate Change and Natural Resources http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/clim0910.php
    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.

Oct 27, 2009  Africa: ICT Access Updates http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/ict0910.php
    "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 27, 2009  Africa: Green Power for Mobile http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/gpm0910.php
    "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 4, 2009  Africa: Home-Grown Wind Power http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/wind0909.php
    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 4 2009  Africa: Wind Power in Global Context http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/pb0909.php
    "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

Sep 28, 2009  Africa: G20 in Focus http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/g20_0909.php
    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.

Sep 28, 2009  Africa: Financing Global Health http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/fin0909.php
    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 22, 2009  Africa: Reading for All http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/rfa0909.php
    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 21, 2009  Africa: Global Fund for Education http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/educ0909.php
    "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

Aug 18, 2009  Cape Verde: Transnational Archipelago http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/cv0908.php
    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.

Aug 10, 2009  Angola: Oil & Housing http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/ang0908.php
    "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 10, 2009  Angola: Failed yet Successful http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/ang0908s.php
    "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 4, 2009  USA/Kenya: What Kind of Partnership? http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/ken0908s.php
    "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

Jul 21, 2009  USA/Africa: After the Speech http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/usa0907a.php
    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.

Jul 21, 2009  USA/Africa: Trade Profile http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/usa0907b.php
    "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 10, 2009  USA/Africa: Obama in Ghana, What Kind of Change? http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/usaf0907.php
    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.

Jun 24, 2009  USA/Uganda: Recovery from Conflict? http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/ugan0906.php
    "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

Jun 18, 2009  Africa: Climate Change Action, Who Will Pay? http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/cc0906.php
    "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 12, 2009  Nigeria: Midterm Results Disappoint http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/nig0906a.php
    "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 http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/nig0906b.php
    "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 8, 2009  Africa: Innovative Global Financing http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/tax0906.php
    "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 1, 2009  Africa: Economy and Human Rights, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/hr0906b.php
    "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 http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/hr0906a.php
    "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

May 25, 2009  Africa: Arms & Air Transport http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/arms0905.php
    "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

May 20, 2009  Zimbabwe: 100 Days Plus http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/zim0905.php
    "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 14, 2009  Africa: New Books 2009 http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/nb0905.php
    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 10, 2009  USA/Africa: Underfunding Global Health http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/gh0905.php
    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 5, 2009  Africa: Mobile Internet Taking Off http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/ict0905.php
    "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

Apr 29, 2009  Africa: Education on the Brink http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/ed0904.php
    "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

Apr 14, 2009  USA/Nigeria: Halliburton Fallout http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/hal0904.php
    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 2, 2009  Africa: Global Economic Crisis, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/gec0904a.php
    "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, 3 http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/gec0904c.php
    "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 2, 2009  Africa: Global Economic Crisis, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/gec0904b.php
    "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

Mar 1, 2009  USA/Africa: Waiting for Change http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/usa0903.php
    "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,

Feb 4, 2009  Africa: Internet Growth Accelerating http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/int0902.php
    "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

Jan 22, 2009  Africa: Subsidies that Work http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/sub0901.php
    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.

Jan 22, 2009  Africa: Agricultural Knowledge http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/ag0901.php
    "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 13 2009  Ghana: Economic Challenges http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/gh0901b.php
    Incoming Ghanaian President John Atta Mills faces high expectations on coming into office this month. Visitors to the candidate's official website (http://www.attamills2008.com/site) 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."

Nov 27, 2008  Africa: Gift Books Issue http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/book0811.php
    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 http://www.africafocus.org/books/gifts08a.php

Nov 22, 2008  Somalia: Piracy and the Policy Vacuum http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/som0811.php
    "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 18, 2008  USA/Africa: Reflections on the Transition http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/usaf0811.php
    "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 ...is 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 7, 2008  Africa: Wireless Internet in the Countryside http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/apc0811.php
    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.

Oct 31, 2008  USA/Nigeria: Chevron on Trial http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/nig0810.php
    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.

Oct 24, 2008  Africa: Urban Inequality in Global Perspective http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/cit0810.php
    "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 11, 2008  Congo (Kinshasa): War Goes On, Little Pressure for Peace http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/conk0810.php
    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 5, 2008  Africa: Economic Outlook, Structural Obstacles http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/ec0810.php
    "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

Sep 27, 2008  Angola: Election Free and Fair, Sort Of http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/ang0809.php
    "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.

Sep 13, 2008  USA/Africa: New Policy Prospects? http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/usaf0809.php
    "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 7, 2008  Africa: "Aid" Gaps & Questions, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/aid0809b.php
    "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 http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/aid0809a.php
    "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

Aug 11, 2008  Africa: Trade Talks Spin http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/wto0808.php
    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.

Jul 28, 2008  Guinea-Bissau: In Need of a State http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/gb0807.php
    "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

Jul 16, 2008  Nigeria: Curse of the Black Gold http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/nig0807.php
    "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 7, 2008  Africa: G8 Issues Roundup http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/g8-0807.php
    "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 1, 2008  Africa: Debt, Unfinished Business http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/debt0807.php
    "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

Jun 26, 2008  Mauritius: Cyber-Island Strategy http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/apc0806.php
    "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

Jun 17, 2008  Africa: Environmental Atlas http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/env0806.php
    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 9, 2008  Japan/Africa: More but Not Enough http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/jap0806.php
    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.

May 20, 2008  South Africa: Migrants under Attack http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/xen0805.php
    "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

May 17, 2008  Africa: Telecoms Acceleration http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/itu0805.php
    "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 11, 2008  Africa: UN Conference on Trade and Development http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/sc0805a.php
    "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 http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/sc0805b.php
    "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

Apr 28, 2008  South Africa: Women, AIDS, and Violence, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/ai0804a.php
    "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

Apr 28, 2008  South Africa: Women, AIDS, and Violence, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/ai0804b.php
    "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 13, 2008  Africa: Economic Outlook http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/era2008.php
    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 13, 2008  Africa: Food Alarm and New Proposals http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/wb0804.php
    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.

Mar 27, 2008  Africa: "Diagonal" Health Financing http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/diag0803.php
    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.

Mar 3, 2008  USA/Africa: Health Policy Updates http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/heal0803.php
    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.

Feb 21, 2008  USA/Africa: Images and Issues http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/usa0802.php
    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, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/21/world/africa/21prexy.html), 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.

Jan 27, 2008  Africa: Footloose Industry and Labor Rights http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/gar0801.php
    "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

Jan 17, 2008  Liberia: Firestone Challenge Advances http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/lib0801.php
    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.

Dec 20, 2007  Africa: Seed Sharing or Biopiracy http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/bio0712.php
    "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

Dec 2, 2007  Africa: Climate Change Threatens Continent http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/cc0712a.php
    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 2, 2007  Africa: Climate Change Impact Report http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/cc0712b.php
    "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

Nov 25, 2007  South Africa: & India & Brazil http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/ibsa0711.php
    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.

Nov 5, 2007  Africa: Sending Money Home http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/rem0711.php
    "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.

Oct 24, 2007  Africa: Neglecting Agriculture, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/ag0710a.php
    "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 http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/ag0710b.php
    "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

Oct 8, 2007  Africa: New ICT Developments http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/tel0710.php
    "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 8, 2007  Africa: Ibrahim Governance Index http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/moib0710.php
    "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

Sep 9, 2007  Africa: ICT Updates http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/ict0709.php
    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.

Sep 3, 2007  Sahel: Beyond Any Drought http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/sah0709.php
    "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

Aug 28, 2007  Asia/Africa: Ubuntu and Sangsaeng http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/wcc0708.php
    "'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

Aug 10, 2007  China/Africa: Civil Society Meeting http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/ch0708.php
    "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

Jun 29, 2007  Africa: Trade Disconnect http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/tr0706.php
    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.

Jun 18, 2007  Africa: Two Cheers for G8? http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/lew0706.php
    "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 5, 2007  Africa: "Aid" Promises Unmet http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/aid0706.php
    "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.

May 29, 2007  Africa: eLearning Africa http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/el0705.php
    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.

May 23, 2007  Africa: Eyes on the G8 http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/g8_0705.php
    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 http://eyes.actionaid.org.uk/ to add your eyes and your message.

May 23, 2007  Africa: Medicines without Doctors http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/gf0705.php
    "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 14, 2007  Nigeria: Election Aftermath http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/nig0705a.php
    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 7, 2007  USA/Africa: More than Just a Mvule Tree http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/kibo0705.php
    "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 (http://www.kibogroup.org)"

Mar 17, 2007  Africa: Trade Unions Speak Out on Trade http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/tr0703.php
    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.

Feb 22, 2007  Zambia: Stop the Debt Vultures! http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/zam0702.php
    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.

Feb 9, 2007  Liberia: Debt Cancellation Overdue http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/lib0702.php
    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 4, 2007  Europe/Africa: Partnership Reality Check http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/epa0702.php
    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.

Dec 22, 2006  South Africa: Water for All? http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/wat0612.php
    Two recent issues of AfricaFocus Bulletin featured material from the latest UNDP Human Development Report, focusing on implications of the global water crisis for Africa. The introduction mentioned in passing that South Africa had affirmed water as a human right, but that there was active debate about whether government policies were actually meeting that goal.

Dec 12, 2006  Zimbabwe: Symptoms of Decline http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/zim0612.php
    "Zimbabwe was once the publishing capital of southern Africa. It used to host the best book fair in Africa. But years of neglect, as with Zimbabwe itself, [have revived the saying]: 'We cannot eat books.' With few visitors and even fewer sales, neither can the publishers."

Dec 7, 2006  Africa: Balancing Act Internet News http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/ba0612.php
    "In less than two years, the bandwidth of traffic on Internet services provided by Senegal's telecom Sonatel has doubled. By today, Internet services provided by Sonatel are the most extensive in sub-Saharan Africa, second only to those in South Africa, a country of much bigger resources." - Balancing Act News Update

Dec 7, 2006  Africa: Bandwidth Reports http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/apc0612.php
    "Bandwidth is the life-blood of the world's knowledge economy, but it is scarcest where it is most needed ... For those [African institutions] that can afford it, their costs are usually thousands of times higher than for their counterparts in the developed world, and even Africa's most well-endowed centres of excellence have less bandwidth than a home broadband user in North America or Europe, and it must be shared amongst hundreds or even thousands of users. A variety of factors are responsible for this situation, but the biggest cause is the high cost of international connections to the global telecommunication backbones." - Mike Jensen

Nov 24, 2006  Africa: Global Apartheid Update http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/hdr0611a.php
    Speaking at the global launch of the 2006 Human Development Report in Cape Town, South African President Thabo Mbeki called for the world to fight "domestic and global apartheid in terms of access to water." The report documented high levels of inequality both within and between nations, with sub-Saharan African countries losing some five percent of GDP annually as a result of the water and sanitation crisis, far more than the region receives in international aid.

Nov 24, 2006  Africa: Water, Health, and Development http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/hdr0611b.php
    "We estimate that the African region loses five per cent of GDP annually as a result of both women having to walk huge distances to collect water - which diverts labor, apart from the huge personal cost that it puts someone in - and the impact of disease on productivity." - Kevin Watkins, lead author, UN Human Development Report 2006

Nov 15, 2006  Africa: Global Fund as Legacy of Innovation http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/gf0611.php
    After more than 20 hours of deliberations early this month, the board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was unable to agree on a new executive director. Despite the resulting delay, some observers say the failure actually indicates how seriously the Fund is taking its mandate to build a consensus between developed and developing countries.

Nov 12, 2006  Lesotho: Anti-Corruption Actions http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/les0611.php
    Search the World Bank's website section on anti-corruption (http://www.worldbank.org/anticorruption) for "Lesotho" and you will get the following response: Your search - Lesotho - did not match any documents. No pages were found containing "Lesotho". But while the World Bank may not be paying attention, the small Southern African country has taken the lead in attacking corruption in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, a giant scheme financed by the World Bank itself.

Nov 5, 2006  Africa: Up in Smoke? http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/clim0611.php
    "The level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is historically a result of rich world activity. Therefore to be fair, the rich world should bear the full costs of adapting to climate change, at least in the early years." - Working Group on Climate Change and Development

Nov 5, 2006  Africa: Economics of Climate Change http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/ster0611.php
    "All countries will be affected. The most vulnerable - the poorest countries and populations - will suffer earliest and most, even though they have contributed least to the causes of climate change." - Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change

Oct 22, 2006  Africa: New Silk Road http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/asia0610.php
    "Exports from Africa to Asia tripled in the last five years, making Asia Africa's third largest trading partner (27 percent) after the European Union (32 percent) and the United States (29 percent)," reports a new World Bank study.

Oct 15, 2006  Africa: Green Revolution? http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/gr0610.php
    The Gates Foundation has joined with the Rockefeller Foundation in promoting a new "Green Revolution" in Africa. But will the new effort learn from the mistakes of earlier "Green Revolution" initiatives? Sceptics say that the new proposals still disregard the interests of small farmers and the environment.

Oct 15, 2006  Africa: Rice Congress http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/rice0610.php
    Rice development will be one of the key testing grounds of whether Africa's new "Green Revolution" can avoid some of the failures of earlier Green Revolution efforts, and reduce African rice imports. Enthusiasts point to the Participatory Varietal Selection methods used by the Africa Rice Centre to disseminate new rice varieties, and to growth in small-farmer income as well as yields.

Oct 6, 2006  Africa: Forced Evictions http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/evic0610.php
    "Forced evictions are one of the most widespread and unrecognised human rights violations in Africa," - Kolawole Olaniyan, Director of Amnesty International's Africa Programme. According to research by Amnesty International and the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), more than three million Africans have been forcibly evicted from their homes since 2000.

Sep 30, 2006  Africa: Innovative Financing http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/aid0609b.php
    Beginning in July, international air travelers from France have been paying a 4 euro tax on an economy ticket and 40 euros on a first-class ticket, with proceeds going to pay for treatment of children with AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Eighteen other countries have pledged to implement the tax, including Brazil, the United Kingdom, Norway, Mali, and South Korea.

Sep 30, 2006  Africa: Making Aid Multilateral http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/aid0609a.php
    The current international aid system, says a new UN report, is chaotic, and suffers from high transaction costs, politicization, lack of transparency, incoherence, and unpredictability. What is needed, says the report, is a shift to a multilateral model similar to the Marshall Plan and to the European Community's regional funds.

Sep 23, 2006  Africa: Girl Power http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/educ0609.php
    "Girls who complete secondary school are up to five time less likely to contract HIV than girls with no education," according to a new ActionAid review of over 600 research studies. But in Africa, an estimated 22 million girls have never been to primary school.

Sep 16, 2006  Africa: Migration and Rights http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/mig0609a.php
    Chartered planes started flying illegal African immigrants back from Spain to Senegal last week, resuming a repatriation program aimed at stemming the flow of immigrants to this southern European country. But judging by experience, the return is unlikely to stop thousands of others from risking their lives in small boats to reach the Canary Islands from the West African coast, or finding other perilous ways of reaching the European continent.

Sep 16, 2006  Africa: Migration and Development http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/mig0609b.php
    "[The] potential benefits [from international migration] are larger than the potential gains from freer international trade, particularly for developing countries," notes an extensive recent United Nations report on migration. But while the liberalization of the flow of goods and capital continues to increase, restrictions on the movement of people are leading to thousands of deaths in border areas such as the U.S. southwest desert and the sea routes between Africa and Europe.

Sep 10, 2006  Africa: Africa's Lakes http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/lake0609.php
    "For now, the future of Lake Chad does indeed look bleak. With a high population growth rate, pressures on water resources in the lake basin will invariably continue. While in the past Lake Chad has been able to rebound from low to high water levels, climate change and people's water use may now act in concert to block the natural forces of recovery." - atlas of Africa's Lakes

Sep 10, 2006  Africa: Environmental Threats/Opportunities http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/unep0609.php
    Many of Africa's ecosystems are not just serving the region, but the whole world, for example, through the carbon soaking value of tropical forests. This alone probably equals or exceeds the current or exceeds the current level of international aid being provided to developing countries.

Aug 13, 2006  Nigeria: Swamps of Insurgency http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/nig0608.php
    "Over the past quarter century, unrest in the Niger Delta has slowly graduated into a guerrilla-style conflict that leaves hundreds dead each year. The battle lines are drawn over the region's crude oil and gas that make Nigeria the number one oil producer in Africa and the world's tenth largest crude oil producer." - International Crisis Group

Aug 6, 2006  Zimbabwe: Shadows and Lies http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/zim0608a.php
    "There is no reason why Zimbabweans today should watch our country go down the drain. Look at the time it took to build it up. That one can just destroy it overnight is something very painful. It was not about creating another dictatorship, creating another oppressive system, where you cannot exercise your rights." - Margaret Dongo

Aug 6, 2006  Zimbabwe: Displacement and Survival http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/zim0608b.php
    One year after "Operation Murambatsvina" ("Clean-Up"), the damaging effects of the government campaign aimed at the urban poor are still visible, reports a recent delegation from South African social movements. With Zimbabweans expressing little hope in a divided opposition, internal efforts at resistance are concentrating on survival.

Jul 17, 2006  Africa: Real Aid? http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/aid0607a.php
    World leaders gathered at the G8 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, gave only token attention to Africa issues that had been a major focus at last year's meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland. Although they pledged to keep Africa on the agenda for Germany next year, evaluations of the summit noted little progress beyond the pledges on debt relief implemented over the past year.

Jul 17, 2006  Africa: Phantom Technical Assistance http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/aid0607b.php
    "Technical assistance - donor spending on consultants, training and research - is one of the most heavily criticised forms of aid. ... [yet it is] still one of the most heavily used forms of aid, accounting for between a quarter and a half of all ODA [Official Development Assistance]." A significant proportion of this aid, charges ActionAid in a new report, is both over-priced and ineffective.

Jul 1, 2006  Africa: Doha Deception Round http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/tr0606.php
    As negotiators again reported "no progress" at international trade negotiations in Geneva, 100 developing nations released a statement saying they were still willing to negotiate but that the chasm between the views of rich and poor countries was huge. Even if a face-saving agreement is reached over the next months, critics said that major powers had already demonstrated that they had no interest in proposals to address developing country concerns.

May 30, 2006  Africa: Debt Relief Update http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/debt0605.php
    Debt relief has become a significant vehicle of resource transfer to countries under the World Bank/IMF HIPC program, concludes a new internal World Bank evaluation. But in eight countries completing the program, debt ratios already again exceed the Bank's sustainability level of 150 percent debt-to-exports ratio.

May 22, 2006  Africa: Unions, Scholars Meet http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/work0605.php
    Meeting in Cairo earlier this month, representatives of African unions and African intellectuals met to share their critiques of current development policies, targeting both international financial institutions and African governments. African scholars had documented the failures of structural adjustment decades ago, noted political economist Adebayo Olukoshi. But with few exceptions these policies are still being imposed.

May 9, 2006  Southern Africa: Slowing Fast-Track Trade http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/sacu0605.php
    Civil society groups in both South Africa and the Untied Statets are applauding the halt in progress in trade talks between the United States and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The groups say that U.S. insistence on a "one-size fits all approach" is inappropriate for SACU, which includes five southern African countries at different stages of development. Moreover, they say, the U.S. approach contains many provisions that would damage health, workers' rights, and the prospects of small farmers.

Apr 23, 2006  Africa: Trade Talks Skip Priority Issues http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/trad0604.php
    The European Union and the United States blamed each other for the failure to progress in world trade talks, as a "mini-ministerial" scheduled to complete the next stage of negotiations before the end of April was again postponed earlier this month. But African countries say there are more fundamental flaws. Recent statements by African trade ministers and by non-governmental analysts point out that priority African issues supposed to be included in this "development round" are still being sidelined.

Apr 14, 2006  Africa: Stolen Wealth http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/corr0604.php
    "Corruption is bleeding Africa to death and the cost is borne by the poor. ... Much of the money is banked in Britain or our overseas territories and dependencies. ... We want our government to get tough on corruption." - Hugh Bayley, MP, Chair of the Africa All Party Parliamentary Group

Apr 2, 2006  Africa: Social Transfers http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/soc0604.php
    According to a new research report from the UK Department for International Development says social transfers - that is, regular and predictable grants to households - can have significant positive effects on human development for the poor, and particularly on health and education, even when the grants are not specifically targeted to those sectors. In other words, one of the most immediate and effective remedies for poverty is money.

Apr 2, 2006  Africa: User Fees http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/user0604.php
    "The government of Zambia today (1 April) introduced free health care for people living in rural areas, scrapping fees which for years had made health care inaccessible for millions. The move was made possible using money from the debt cancellation and aid increases agreed at the G8 in Gleneagles last July, when Zambia received $4 billion of debt relief; money it is now investing in health and education." - Oxfam International

Mar 9, 2006  Africa: Digital Dumps http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/dd0603.php
    Recycled computers and other electronic equipment have the potential to help bridge the digital divide. But, says a recently published study by the Basel Action Network (BAN), many quickly find their way to toxic waste dumps, being not economically repairable or usable.

Feb 26, 2006  Kenya: Githongo Report http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/git0602.php
    John Githongo, who resigned a year ago as Kenya's anti-corruption chief, this month released a report on scandals he was investigating that has already forced the resignation of Kenya's finance minister and threatens to bring down other top officials. The report is based on detailed records he kept during his investigation, and spells out how officials used security contracts worth as much as $1 billion to siphon off government funds into non-existent companies.

Feb 21, 2006  East Africa: Dams and Lake Victoria http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/vic0602.php
    Low water levels in Lake Victoria, at their lowest point in 50 years, are threatening the livelihood of people dependent on fishing, raising the prices of fish, and provoking shortages of water for electricity generation. And now a new report charges that the crisis is due not only to drought but also to overuse of the lake's water for power generation by existing powerplants. At the same time the Uganda government has signed a new $500 million contract for building a third power plant, on the Bujagali Falls. Environmentalists charge that the new plant is likely to have more negative effects and that the hope of providing more electricity will prove unsustainable.

Feb 8, 2006  Africa: Fix Resource Leaks http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/abug0602.php
    "What matters for ensuring that governments have adequate resources to finance development are net flows. This means factoring in not just inflows ... but also what is lost to the rest of the world. Debt servicing is [only] one [such] outflow. ... Indeed, the reality of Africa is that the resources that leak out far exceed those that flow in." - Charles Abugre

Jan 31, 2006  Africa: Predictable Emergencies http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/food0601.php
    "Imagine if your local fire department had to petition the mayor for money every time it needed water to douse a raging fire. That's the predicament faced by anguished humanitarian aid workers when they seek to save lives but have no funds to pay for the water - or medicine, shelter, or food - urgently needed to put out a fire." - Jan Egeland, UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs

Jan 27, 2006  Africa: Economic Prospects, Obstacles http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/econ0601.php
    "Africa's real GDP is estimated to have grown by 5.1 per cent in 2005, roughly the same rate that was achieved in 2004. ... the relatively high rates of growth recorded over the last five years confirm the continued recovery of African economies. ... Thus far [however] increased growth seems to have had a limited effect on poverty reduction. In fact, growth has largely concentrated in relatively capital-intensive sectors with little spillover effects on employment creation and on the rest of the economy." - United Nations

Jan 21, 2006  Africa: Imagining the Digital Future http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/bal0601.php
    Russell Southwood's Balancing Act Africa's News Update, coming out weekly in English and monthly in French, is packed with news about new developments in African telecommunications, internet, and computer technology (http://www.balancingact-africa.com). In the latest issue, Southwood imagines what the scene could look like five years from now.

Dec 16, 2005  Africa: Trade Talks Analysis, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/wto0512b.php
    Having failed to come up with a joint proposal on agriculture that begins to satisfy the demands of developing countries, Europe and the United States have proposed a "development package" that they hope will preserve some image of success in the World Trade Organization ministerial conference in Hong Kong. But critics say whatever the face-saving agreements reached by the weekend, the results will clearly show no progress at all for poor countries in what was supposed to have been a "development round."

Dec 16, 2005  Africa: Trade Talks Analysis, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/wto0512a.php
    "Any expectations that developing countries or the public might have of Hongkong marking progress to achieving 'development' in the Doha negotiations have been very much dashed. The 'Doha Development Agenda' (DDA) got its nickname when the developed countries pressurised the developing countries to accept a new Work Programme at the Doha Ministerial in November 2001. To cover the fact that the programme was really aimed at opening the markets of the South, the WTO secretariat leadership and the major developed countries dubbed it the DDA." - Third World Network

Dec 6, 2005  Africa: Health, Patents Clash http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/trip0512.php
    In 2001, the World Trade Organization (WTO) approved the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health which affirms the right of countries to prioritize access to medicines and public health over intellectual property rights. However, this statement did not address the issue of how countries with insufficient manufacturing capacity can make use of these rights. Now developed countries want the WTO to extend a complex interim "solution" to the problem that has not worked.

Nov 13, 2005  Nigeria: Delta Oil & Human Rights http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/nig0511.php
    Ten years after the execution of human rights campaigner Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his colleagues by the Nigerian government, the issues of human rights and environmental devastation in the oil-producing Niger Delta remain unresolved. Despite the return to civilian rule in 1999 and pledges by oil companies to implement voluntary corporate responsibility standards, new reports by Environmental Rights Action and Amnesty International document only limited action to correct abuses and deliver benefits to the residents of the oil-producing areas.

Oct 27, 2005  Nigeria: Debt Deal Views http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/nig0510.php
    Nigeria has reached a new agreement on debt with its bilateral creditors, gaining $18 billion in debt cancellation at the price of $12 billion in payments over the next year and a new program of economic monitoring by the International Monetary Fund. Reactions to the deal are mixed.

Oct 24, 2005  Africa: Cotton Producers Demand Results http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/cot0510.php
    Two years ago in Cancun, the issue of the damage done to African cotton producers by rich-country subsidies sparked the breakdown of world trade talks, highlighting the failure of rich countries to make this round of trade talks a "development round." In Geneva last week, African countries warned that their interests were still being ignored.

Oct 18, 2005  Southern Africa: Food Emergency Shortfall http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/food0510.php
    With attention diverted and disaster fatigue accentuated by response to the hurricanes in North America, the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) as well as private agencies are finding responses slow to the earthquake in South Asia and to food crises in Africa. The WFP appeal for Niger, which briefly hit world headlines in July, has still only raised $36 million of its $58 million target; the appeal for 12 million people in Southern Africa has only raised $245 million out of an estimated $622 million needed.

Oct 15, 2005  Africa: Trade Smoke and Mirrors http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/ag0510.php
    In an effort to give momentum to international trade talks, the United States and the European Union this week released new offers to cut widely-criticized subsidies to rich-country farmers. The proposals have already provoked opposition from defenders of subsidies, including U.S. legislators and French officials. But non-governmental analysts say in fact the concessions to developing countries are "smoke and mirrors."

Oct 3, 2005  Africa: Whose Energy Future? http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/gw0510.php
    With oil prices rising worldwide, African oil-producing countries are expecting windfall earnings. Global oil companies and consuming countries are giving even greater attention to Africa's oil. The World Petroleum Congress, held last month in Africa for the first time, in Sandton, South Africa, celebrated the potential. But a new report from South Africa's groundWork questions the fundamental structure of the oil industry on the continent.

Sep 22, 2005  Africa: Debt Deal in Question http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/debt0509.php
    "Arbitrary criteria have been used to exclude most countries from debt relief. While it may be politically expedient for powerful countries to pretend that only a small set of countries need debt cancellation, it is time to explode this myth." - Christian Aid

Sep 15, 2005  Africa: Human Development Report http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/hdr2005.php
    Among the many reports issued as world leaders gather in New York to discuss their commitment to fighting world poverty, the annual Human Development Report is among the most blunt in concluding that the "promise to the world's poor is being broken." In addition to documenting the failures and presenting its annual measurement of the Human Development Index (HDI) for 177 countries, this year's report identifies specific actions that could begin to reverse the trend.

Sep 6, 2005  USA/Africa: Call for Food Aid Reform http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/iatp0509.php
    On August 26, just before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the United States, the World Food Programme called for the international community not to turn away from Niger, as food contributions began to tail off with less than half of the budget funded. As subsequent images of devastated New Orleans both displaced and evoked comparisons with "Third World" catastrophes, there was abundant material for reflection on U.S. and international responses to entirely predictable disasters.

Jul 28, 2005  Zimbabwe: Housing Tsunami Continues http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/zim0507.php
    Despite a devastatingly critical report by UN-HABITAT Director Anna Tibaijuka, the government of Zimbabwe is continuing its drive to destroy "illegal" housing and shops that is estimated to have made at least 700,000 people homeless in the last two months. Zimbabweans, rejecting the government's term Operation Murambatsvina ("Clean Out Garbage") compare the assault on the country's poor to a "tsunami."

Jul 22, 2005  Niger: Background to Famine http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/nig0507.php
    With a BBC film crew in Niger broadcasting images of starving children to the world, food aid shipments to the country are starting to pick up. But UN under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs Jan Egeland, who has repeatedly warned of neglected emergencies in African countries, told reporters that if donors had responded to earlier appeals, a child's life could have been saved for little more than a dollar a day. Now the estimated cost has risen to 80 times that, and for many it is too late.

Jul 13, 2005  Africa: G8 Reaction, Perspectives http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/glen0507.php
    "Outside of British officialdom," writes Sanjay Suri of Inter Press Service from the Gleneagles summit, "celebrations of increased G8 aid for Africa were confined mostly to a population of two - rock stars Bob Geldof and Bono." Non-governmental groups in the Make Poverty History campaign, in contrast, were generally skeptical.

Jul 13, 2005  UK/Africa: The Damage We Do http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/ras0507.php
    "The African Union estimates that the continent loses as much as $148 billion a year to corruption. This money is rarely invested in Africa but finds its way into the international banking system and often into western banks. The proceeds of corrupt practices in Africa ... are often laundered and made respectable by some of the most well known banks in the City of London." - Royal African Society, London

Jul 5, 2005  Ghana: Playing Chicken http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/gh0507.php
    "For the last few years the Ghanaian market has been flooded with cheap imported chicken from the European Union and the United States. These are usually fatty chicken parts that come in packages without labels. Nonetheless, demand for local poultry has collapsed, threatening the livelihoods of over 400,000 poultry farmers in the small West African nation." - Corpwatch

Jul 5, 2005  Africa: The Costs of Free Trade http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/trad0507.php
    "Trade liberalisation has cost sub-Saharan Africa US$272 billion over the past 20 years. Had they not been forced to liberalise as the price of aid, loans and debt relief, sub-Saharan African countries would have had enough extra income to wipe out their debts and have sufficient left over to pay for every child to be vaccinated and go to school." - Christian Aid

Jul 1, 2005  Africa: Polls and Policy http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/poll0507.php
    The Program on International Policy Attitudes has released new poll data, from the United States and from eight African countries, showing wide public support for stronger international action to confront African problems, including United Nations intervention to stop "severe human rights violations such as genocide" and fulfillment of the pledge by rich countries to spend 0.7% of national income to combat world poverty.

Jun 28, 2005  Africa: "Aid" Reality Checks http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/aid0506.php
    The world's richest nations greatly exaggerate the amount they spend on aid to poor countries, says a study released by ActionAid International. The report says that between 60%-90% of aid funds are 'phantom' rather than 'real' with a significant proportion being lost to waste, internal recycling within donor countries, misdirected spending and high fees for consultants.

Jun 13, 2005  Africa: Debt Deal Substantive but Modest http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/debt0506.php
    G8 finance ministers have decided to write off 100% of stocks of debt owed to international financial institutions by 18 countries, including 14 in Africa. This decision, still to be ratified by the G8 summit in July and by the annual meetings of the IMF, World Bank, and African Development Bank in the fall, is estimated to cover some $40 billion in debt, with annual savings to the 18 countries coming to about $1.5 billion.

Jun 3, 2005  Congo (Kinshasa): Gold and Violence http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/drc0506.php
    "The lure of gold has fueled massive human rights atrocities in the northeastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Human Rights Watch said in a new report published [on June 2]. Local warlords and international companies are among those benefitting from access to gold rich areas while local people suffer from ethnic slaughter, torture and rape." - Human Rights Watch, releasing new report "The Curse of Gold"

Jun 3, 2005  Africa: Gold Industry Blocking Debt Plan http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/gold0506.php
    "If you could improve the lives of hundreds of millions of the world's most destitute people with a program that might - just might - temporarily reduce the profits of the global gold industry, most people would probably think it is worth doing. Even most members of Congress. That's why it has been so disturbing to see gold producers strong-arm Congress and the White House into blocking just such a desperately needed measure." - The New York Times, June 3, 2005

May 25, 2005  Africa: Kenyan Bishops on Debt Cancellation http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/debt0505.php
    "The efforts at debt cancellation that were made till now could be compared to the scraps that Lazarus hoped he could feed on at the rich man's table: they are illusory promises without real substances. ...Giving to others scraps rather than what they deserve means basically treating them in a sub-human way, not as human beings!" - Catholic Bishops of Kenya, Pastoral Letter, May 17, 2005

May 20, 2005  Europe/Africa: Partnership for Whom? http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/epa0505.php
    "The likely results of these new Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are not hard to imagine. With their diverse range of products and muscle in the marketplace, European producers can outstrip ACP [African, Caribbean, and Pacific] rivals in their domestic markets. ... [African countries] stand to lose existing industries and the potential to develop new ones as products from Europe flood their markets." - Christian Aid

May 20, 2005  Africa: No Development in Development Round http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/iatp0505.php
    "Looking at the current proposals on the table, it is clear that members are not moving towards a fairer multilateral trading system. ...The sad reality for most developing countries is that this round [of trade talks] has become an exercise in how to minimize losses; a far cry from the promise rich countries made to support development objectives and to launch a so-called development round." - Geneva Update, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

May 9, 2005  Africa: Economic Growth Improving http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/eca0505.php
    "Africa's real GDP grew by 4.6 per cent in 2004, the highest in almost a decade, up from 4.3 per cent in 2003. ... [this] reflects a continued upward trend since 1998. Unfortunately, the growth has so far not been translated to employment creation or poverty reduction." - United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

Apr 22, 2005  Africa: Internet Advances http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/itc0504.php
    As of April 2005, the African continent now has its own regional internet registry, AfriNic, with responsibility for assignment of internet addresses within the continent. This long-awaited development has the potential to save some $500 million in fees paid outside the continent each year to registries in Europe and North America. The agency, which received formal approval at an international meeting in Argentina on April 8, is headquartered in Mauritius, with an operations center in South Africa and back-up facilities in Egypt.

Apr 12, 2005  Africa: Unions Call for Debt Cancellation http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/debt0504.php
    "In spite of positive rhetoric ... concrete actions [on new debt relief] have been delayed from meeting to meeting, in part because of disagreements between donor countries on the specific elements of an expanded debt relief initiative." In a new statement released in March, global unions joined other campaigners for debt cancellation in calling on international financial institutions to stop delaying and act for full debt cancellation for developing countries fighting poverty. But the prospects for action at this week's meeting of the World Bank and IMF remain uncertain.

Mar 23 2005  USA/Africa: Cotton Dumping http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/cot0503.php
    Pressure to reduce rich-country subsidies for agricultural exports ratchetted upward this month when the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued its final ruling that U.S. current payments to cotton farmers were illegal. The Bush administration's 2006 budget submitted to Congress proposes reduction in these subsidies by setting new upper limits on payments. But the outcome in Congress is uncertain, and African cotton farmers need more than promises of somewhat fairer terms for their exports in the distant future.

Mar 18, 2005  UK/Africa: Commissioning Development? http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/act0503.php
    UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's Commission for Africa report, released earlier this month and intended to galvanize common action by rich countries on African development, has received mixed reviews. The report is largely a composite of frequently repeated but not yet implemented proposals on issues such as increasing aid, reducing rich-country trade subsidies, canceling debt, and improving governance. It did, however, also feature new stress on how rich countries themselves fuel corruption in Africa through failure to stop money-laundering and bribery by their own institutions.

Feb 20, 2005  Chad: Oil Transparency Loopholes http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/oil0502.php
    Oil revenues for Chad are now beginning to increase rapidly from the long-debated "model project" involving World Bank financing, a pipeline through Cameroon, and a consortium of major oil companies. A new report from two U.S.-based groups says the mechanisms for transparency and accountability, while welcome, are still full of loopholes.

Feb 11, 2005  Kenya: Corruption Fight Stalling http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/ken0502.php
    The resignation of respected anti-corruption campaigner John Githongo from the Kenyan government has touched off new political furor that seems certain to escalate in coming weeks. In its two years in office, President Mwai Kibabi's government has initiated numerous anti-corruption investigations. But there is widespread skepticism that it has the will to deal with high-level corruption within its own ranks.

Feb 8, 2005  Africa: Postponing Debt Decisions http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/debt0502.php
    Finance ministers of the G7 group of the world's richest countries, meeting in London from February 4 to 5, stated their willingness to consider "as much as 100 per cent multilateral debt relief" for the poorest countries. They also asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to consider how it might contribute to financing such debt relief. In theory, these could be significant steps forward. In practice, the G7 countries remain deeply divided. They disagree both about the political urgency and about the possible mechanisms for acting to free up more resources to fight global poverty.

Feb 1, 2005  USA/Africa: Textile Meltdown? http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/text0502.php
    U.S. imports of apparel from Sub-Saharan Africa rose in 2003 and 2004 to more than $1.5 billion a year, benefitting from duty-free access under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This year, however, with new competition from China and India expected after abolition of quotas under the international Multi-Fiber Agreement, textile industries in African countries face the prospect of rapid decline in export potential.

Jan 18, 2005  Africa: Debt Issue Unresolved http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/dbt0501a.php
    The first test this year for rich countries' willingness to act on world poverty is coming soon, as finance ministers from rich countries meet in London on Feb. 4. A new report from the United Nations has stressed the need for new investments in strategically targeted new investments through doubling aid (see http://unmp.forumone.com). But halting debt payments to international financial institutions could have even quicker effects, through freeing up resources for health, education, and other urgent needs.

Jan 18, 2005  Africa: Multilateral Debt Cancellation http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/dbt0501b.php
    "Given the urgency and need for immediate action, we urge the G8 to begin immediately and in particular for G7 finance ministers to reach agreement on 100 percent multilateral debt relief at their February 4th meeting," African finance ministers said in Cape Town after concluding a meeting with British finance minister Gordon Brown. But despite Brown's high-profile African visit, accompanied by pledges of debt cancellation and increased aid, debt campaigners still have questions about the details of Britain's plan and the will of other rich countries to act.

Dec 14, 2004  Africa: Oxfam Poverty Report http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/ox0412.php
    In one of the first reports from a global coalition to make 2005 a year of action against poverty, Oxfam International has issued a report calling on rich countries to live up to their promises to provide resources and opportunities to achieve the "Millennium Development Goals" adopted unanimously by the United Nations in September 2000. Making this finance available, Oxfam noted, is "both a moral obligation and a matter of justice."

Nov 29, 2004  South Africa: Poverty Debate http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/big0411.php
    "At the moment, many, too many, of our people live in gruelling, demeaning, dehumanising poverty. We are sitting on a powder keg. ... We should discuss as a nation whether a basic income grant is not really a viable way forward. We should not be browbeaten by pontificating decrees from on high. We cannot, glibly, on full stomachs, speak about handouts to those who often go to bed hungry. It is cynical in the extreme to speak about handouts when people can become very rich at the stroke of a pen." - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Nov 7, 2004  Africa: Intellectual Property http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/wipo0411.php
    "Humanity stands at a crossroads - a fork in our moral code and a test of our ability to adapt and grow. Will we evaluate, learn and profit from ...new ideas and opportunities [to share knowledge], or will we respond to the most unimaginative pleas to suppress all of this in favor of intellectually weak, ideologically rigid, and sometimes brutally unfair and inefficient policies [on intellectual property]? - Geneva Declaration on the Future of the World Intellectual Property Organization

Oct 21, 2004  Angola: From War to Social Justice? http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/ang0410.php
    "Negative peace (cessation of hostilities) is far preferable to no peace at all but it ... leaves deficits and injustices in the social, political and economic structures, institutions and cultures largely unresolved. It fails to promote political negotiation and democratic processes." - Conciliation Resources briefing paper

Oct 18, 2004  Africa: AIDS Time Bomb http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/hiv0410.php
    "If we think we are seeing an impact today, we have to brace ourselves because it is set to get very much worse." Alan Whiteside of the United Nations Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa (CHGA) issued this warning last week at a meeting of the commission in Addis Ababa. Scaling up of treatment is now on the continental and global agenda. But the pace is still far short of that needed to stem the drop in life expectancies and catastrophic damage to all sectors of societies.

Oct 4, 2004  Africa: Debt (Continued) http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/debt0410.php
    Despite an emerging consensus in favor of complete debt cancellation for the poorest heavily indebted countries, the G-7 group of rich countries failed this weekend to reach agreement on how to cancel the debt. Meanwhile a new UN report noted that between 1970 and 2002, African countries received some $540 billion in loans, paid back close to $550 billion in principal and interest, and still held debt of $295 billion at the end of 2002.

Sep 27, 2004  Africa: Reviewing the Bank http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/eir0409.php
    As the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank gather for their annual meetings on October 2 and 3, World Bank reports not yet released are said to indicate a continued failure of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program to provide debt sustainability, even by the Bank's own criteria. The U.S. and British governments are reported to have two competing plans for writing off more of the debt owed by the poorest countries.

Sep 27, 2004  Africa: Blocking Progress http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/act0409.php
    If the international community did come up with the funds required for adequate support to fight HIV/AIDS, spending the money could still be blocked by International Monetary Fund (IMF) guidelines designed to limit government spending in the affected countries. A new report by ActionAid International USA and three other Washington-based groups, excerpted in this AfricaFocus Bulletin, argues that this outcome is both unacceptable and unnecessary.

Sep 16, 2004  West Africa: Locust Invasion http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/loc0409.php
    "The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has appealed to the international community for $100 million to help contain this locust invasion, the worst which West Africa has seen for 15 years. But everywhere, too little is being done too late. The FAO has so far received only a third of the money needed." - UN Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN)

Sep 6, 2004  Africa: Trade Deception http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/tr0409.php
    Initial news stories from world trade talks in Geneva heralded rich country commitments to cut agricultural subsidies, celebrating the July 31 framework agreement as a victory for rich and poor countries alike. For those who followed the later dissection of the fine print, however, it quickly became apparent that the commitment was largely a "shell game," as James Flanagan put it in the Los Angeles Times (Aug. 15, 2004).

Aug 19 2004  South Africa: Apartheid Reparations Update http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/arep0408.php
    Reparations for historical crimes against humanity, such as the centuries-long slave trade, slavery itself, and the more recent apartheid system in South Africa, are not currently on the agenda for governments preoccupied with more immediate goals. But the issues raised will not go away, as long as the deep inequalities and injustices that these crimes produced continue to exist. Whether in South Africa, the U.S., or globally, the past is in fact not yet past.

Jul 31, 2004  Africa: Trade Talks Background http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/tr0407.php
    Discussions continued beyond Friday's midnight deadline in world trade talks in Geneva, as major countries pressed for wording compromises that would avoid an obvious breakdown. West African cotton-producing countries reportedly accepted a U.S. pledge to deal with the issue of cotton subsidies expeditiously within the wider agriculture negotiations. Even if disagreements are papered over, however, fair trade campaigners note that the text remains deeply unbalanced in favor of rich countries, with their commitments under the framework text still vague and ambiguous in comparison with concessions exacted from developing countries.

Jul 28, 2004  USA/Africa: Oil and Transparency http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/eq0407.php
    Two recent U.S. Senate hearings have highlighted issues related to oil and transparency in West and Central Africa. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has focused on the options for U.S. support for transparency in strategic oil-rich countries in the Gulf of Guinea region, including Nigeria, Angola, and Equatorial Guinea. The Committee on Governmental Affairs, on the other hand, has focused on the less often discussed role of American banks and companies in fostering lack of transparency, with a detailed expose of a prominent Washington bank's role in managing suspect accounts for the leaders of Equatorial Guinea.

Jun 22, 2004  Africa: Trade Update, UNCTAD http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/twn0406.php
    The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), held every four years, met in Brazil last week. Participants issued ringing statements in favor of South-South collaboration and the need for greater equity in the international trade arena. The meeting was virtually ignored by the press in the United States and other developed countries. Nevertheless, the conference was an indicator of greater international awareness, among almost all political currents, that the current bias against developing countries is both unfair and unsustainable.

Jun 22, 2004  Africa: Trade Update, Commonwealth http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/stig0406.php
    "The development focus of the Doha Round emerged from a renewed spirit of collective responsibility for the challenges faced by poor countries, and also as a response to the perceived inequities generated by previous rounds of trade negotiations. Unfortunately, in the years since it was launched, the Doha Round has not delivered on its development mandate."

Jun 13, 2004  Africa: Debt Update http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/debt0406.php
    Despite pre-summit news reports that rich country leaders gathered for the G8 summit might consider a British proposal for full cancellation of debt for poor countries, the summit only announced a two-year extension of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. The Jubilee2000 USA Network and other groups reportedly flooded the U.S. Treasury Department with phone calls, and some officials were said to be considering the idea. But the White House was not convinced.

Jun 3, 2004  Zambia: Condemned to Debt http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/zam0406.php
    "The evidence suggests that the past twenty years of IMF and World Bank intervention have exacerbated rather than ameliorated Zambia's debt crisis. Ironically, in return for debt relief, Zambia is required to do more of the same. The country has been condemned to debt." - World Development Movement report

May 18, 2004  Malawi: Election Context http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/mal0405.php
    "We have the greatest policies around, the most liberal constitution. We have a constitution that any liberal democracy would be proud of, but the will to implement ...is not there." - Rafiq Hajat, Institute for Policy Interaction, Malawi

May 14, 2004  Africa: Economic Report 2004 http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/eca0405.php
    African ministers in the economic sector, meeting next week in Kampala, Uganda, plan to focus on what Africa can do to become more competitive in global trade. Current trade negotiations, as well as the perennial and unresolved issues of debt and aid, will feature in discussions at the meeting. But documents prepared for the meeting, including a preview of this year's Economic Report on Africa, stress that African countries must also build internal conditions for more competitive and diversified trade.

May 14, 2004  Africa: Cotton Update http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/cot0405.php
    "This system [of U.S. cotton subsidies] pits a typical Malian producer, farming two hectares of cotton, who is lucky to gross $400 a year, against US farms which receive a subsidy of $250 per hectare." - Oxfam. The World Trade Organization (WTO) will soon issue a formal ruling, in response to a Brazilian and African challenge, declaring these U.S. subsidies in violation of international trade rules. This changes the climate for international trade talks, but no policy shifts that could directly affect African farmers are yet imminent.

May 6, 2004  Africa: Mobile Renaissance? http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/han0405.php
    The number of telephone subscribers in Africa has more than doubled in the last three years. In 2003, Africa had 73 million voice telephone subscribers (22 million fixed and 51 million mobile), up from 35.4 million in 2000 (19.7 million fixed and 15.7 million mobile).

May 6, 2004  Kenya: ICT Policy Debates http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/chak0405.php
    Virtually everyone agrees that information and communications technology (ICT) must be a key component of any viable development strategy for African countries. But lip service is still easier than charting and implementing a coherent strategy. Recent meetings in Nairobi and Cairo provide ample evidence of both lively debate and continuing obstacles.

May 4, 2004  Angola: Humanitarian Update http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/ang0404.php
    Two years after the end to war in Angola, a UN analysis reports, almost all the 3.8 million internally displaced people have returned home. Nevertheless, "the transition [from war to recovery] seems to be on hold," says the report, faulting both donors and the Angolan government for failure to get resources to local communities.

Apr 30, 2004  Africa: Tragedy and Hope http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/book0404.php
    "Africa eludes us; it is so clearly outlined on the map, and yet so difficult to define. From afar, Westerners have long fancied it to be divided into 'black' and 'white,' in the image of their own societies, and yet observant visitors are more likely to be struck by Africa's diversity, and by the absence of any sharp dividing lines."

Apr 27, 2004  Africa: Learning to Survive http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/educ0404.php
    Universal primary education is "the single most effective preventive weapon against HIV/AIDS," says a new report by Oxfam International. But donor countries are failing to come up with even the minimal funds they have pledged to support African countries under an optimistically named "Fast Track Initiative" to expand education funding.

Apr 22, 2004  Swaziland: AIDS in Context http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/sw0404.php
    "Swaziland now holds the dubious title of [having] the highest [HIV] prevalence level in the world. ... [It] is a vivid microcosm of all the similarly afflicted countries of Southern Africa. At the grass roots, where it counts, there's a superhuman determination to bring the pandemic to heel, and to overcome the tremendous assault on the human condition." - Stephen Lewis, UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa

Apr 13, 2004  Africa: World Bank Protests/Policy http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/wb0404a.php
    Controversies about the World Bank, which marks 60 years with its spring meetings this month, are attracting less attention than the high-profile debates about Iraq and terrorism. The Bank's policies and programs, nevertheless, have profound effects on countries around the world, and particularly in Africa. Both protesters and other critics remain skeptical of this powerful institution's claims to be fighting poverty and contributing to development.

Apr 13, 2004  Africa: World Bank Industry Review http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/wb0404b.php
    In 1996, in a report on Poverty Reduction in Sub-Saharan Africa, World Bank researchers wrote that poverty assessments "have done a reasonably good job of identifying ... options that will assist the poor ... " They added, however, that "these options, typically, are not being reflected in the Bank's assistance strategies or operations." This spring, as the World Bank delays consideration of the report of its own Extractive Industies Review, there is a similar disconnect between Bank-fostered proposals for internal change and ongoing operations.

Mar 25, 2004  Africa: Generic Drugs under Threat http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/gen0403.php
    One of the most important battles affecting how many people with AIDS will receive needed anti-retroviral drugs is to take place in a so-far little publicized conference in Botswana on March 29 and 30. AIDS activists and generic drug manufacturers fear that pharmaceutical companies and the Bush administration will succeed in a behind-the-scenes campaign to discredit the most effective generic treatment, recommended by the World Health Organization, in favor of more expensive patented drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Mar 16, 2004  Congo (Kinshasa): Forests under Threat http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/rf0403.php
    Central Africa is the region having the richest rainforest resources on the continent, and its Congo basin is second only to the Amazon among the world's rainforest regions. How these resources are used and who controls their "development" are issues that deserve wide debate. Yet new legislation to permit rapid expansion in logging is being introduced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), on the advice of the World Bank, without significant consultation with civil society or people living in forest areas.

Mar 9, 2004  Africa: Commodity Trap http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/unct0403.php
    Africa remains caught in a "commodity trap," says a new report on trade performance and commodity dependence from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Africa is less competitive than in previous decades even in traditional primary commodities, its trade position undermined both by competition from Asia and Latin America and by agricultural subsidies in rich countries. Market solutions have aggravated this structural vulnerability, and it is time to reconsider a greater role for both national and international state actions, UNCTAD concludes.

Mar 3, 2004  Africa: Fair Globalization Report http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/glob0403.php
    "No one likes to eat crumbs from a feast; everyone likes to sit at the table." Tanzanian President Benjamin William Mkapa quoted this African proverb in introducing the report of the World Commission on the Social Dimensions of Globalization, released last week. The Commission, initiated by Juan Somavia of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and chaired by the presidents of Tanzania and Finland, offers specific proposals to move the world towards "fair globalization."

Feb 17, 2004  Africa: Internet Creativity http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/ict0402.php
    According to latest estimates, Africa still has the lowest level of internet access among world regions, accounting for only 1.4% of the estimated 700 million people online worldwide. The 10 million in Africa estimated to have internet access are only a tenth of the 100 million that would match Africa's share of the world population. But the African internet public is large enough to provide much scope for an abundance of diverse ventures to make creative use of new technologies.

Feb 13, 2004  Ethiopia: Debt Relief Backstep http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/eth0402.php
    Ethiopia's debt is becoming more and more unsustainable, even under the narrow criteria used by international agencies to calculate what countries can afford to pay. Changes in interest rates and continued low coffee prices are projected to drive the value of the debt up to 220 percent of Ethiopia's exports, even after promised relief.

Feb 8, 2004  Africa: Who Owes Whom? http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/debt0402.php
    Rich-country finance ministers meeting in Florida this weekend focused on the sinking dollar and rising U.S. debt, cautioning against excessive volatility in currency markets. They also called for more reductions in the debt burdens of Iraq and Afghanistan, and warned debt-strapped Argentina to comply with International Monetary Fund policies. Africa's debt, estimated at more than $300 billion, was not on the agenda.

Feb 4, 2004  Africa: Rice for the Future http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/rice0401.php
    Only two decades ago, rice was considered a luxury food in West Africa, comments Dr. Kanayo Nwanze of the West African Rice Development Association (WARDA). Now it is a staple, accounting for more than 25% of cereal consumption. Import growth has consistently outpaced growth in production. But new rice varieties developed by WARDA researchers give hope that Africa could rapidly increase domestic production.

Jan 22, 2004  Africa: Davos Report Card http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/dav0401.php
    In his New Year's message for 2004, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, referring to HIV/AIDS, poverty, and other global issues, concluded: "We don't need any more promises. We need to start keeping the promises we already made." A report card prepared for the World Economic Forum now meeting in Davos, Switzerland has concluded that the international community is putting in barely one-third of the effort needed to achieve internationally agreed goals.

Jan 16, 2004  Africa: Oil and Transparency http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/oil0401.php
    From Houston to Luanda, London to Lagos, Washington to Baghdad, or wherever else oil is found or sold, the nexus of oil, cash, and politics poses a fundamental challenge to democratic accountability. Campaigns for greater openness, including the global Publish What You Pay campaign, are making some headway. Still, resistance to transparency is the most common note. In the US, Vice President Dick Cheney continues to refuse to release even the names of the industry executives who advised him on the Bush Administration's energy plan.

Jan 16, 2004  Angola: Oil and Accountability http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/ang0401.php
    A new report by Human Rights Watch on Angola is the most detailed public examination to date of discrepancies in accounting for revenue from oil, the product that accounts for the lion's share of the country's exports and government budget. Although Angolan government officials complained about the unfair focus on their country, attributing the problems primarily to insufficiencies in financial systems, the issues raised go to the heart of questions about political accountability not only in Angola, but also around the world.

Dec 18, 2003  Nigeria: Oil and Violence http://www.africafocus.org/docs03/nig0312.php
    Delta State produces 40 percent of Nigeria's two million barrels a day of crude oil and is supposed to receive 13 percent of the revenue from production in the state, notes Human Rights Watch in a new report. Conflict over oil revenue lies at the root of ongoing violence, particularly in the key city of Warri. "Efforts to halt the violence and end the civilian suffering that has accompanied it must therefore include steps both to improve government accountability and to end the theft of oil."

Dec 15, 2003  Africa: Digital Solidarity Gap, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs03/it0312b.php
    Meeting in Lyon, France just before the World Summit on the Information Society, representatives of cities and local authorities decided to take their own initiatives to address the global digital divide. When the World Summit failed to make a firm commitment to a new Digital Solidarity Fund, the mayors of Lyon and Geneva joined with Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade to commit 1 million euros to launch the fund themselves.

Dec 15, 2003  Africa: Digital Solidarity Gap, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs03/it0312a.php
    Delegates from 176 countries and as many as 10,000 representatives of civil society and the private sector attended the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva last week. They dispersed having filled dozens of web sites with documentation of the vast digital divide between rich and poor, declarations of good intentions, examples of promising initiatives, and decisions to postpone controversial decisions on internet governance and a proposed Digital Solidarity Fund.

Nov 28, 2003  Sudan: Oil and Rights Abuses http://www.africafocus.org/docs03/sud0311.php
    While diplomats say there are good chances of achieving a peace settlement in Sudan by the end of the year, fighting nevertheless continues in western Sudan, and the United Nations has appealed for $450 million to support some 3.5 million displaced Sudanese. Human Rights Watch has just released an extensive new report documenting the complicity of oil companies with human rights abuses in Sudan, and warning that disputes over oil revenue have the potential to further prolong the conflict.

Nov 25, 2003  Africa: Debt Meeting Consensus http://www.africafocus.org/docs03/debt0311.php
    African experts meeting in Dakar under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) deplored the lack of a consolidated African position in response to global policy proposals that have vast economic implications for Africa. They agreed that current debt relief schemes are inadequate, that increased debt relief is the most effective way to provide rapid additional funding for development, and that additional measures were also essential to advance the globally acknowledged goals of ending proverty.

Nov 16, 2003  Africa: Agriculture Strategic, Neglected http://www.africafocus.org/docs03/fao0311.php
    "Unfortunately, development partners have paid much less attention to agriculture and rural development over the past two decades," commented Dr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in a speech last week. "The World Bank, the major funding source for Africa, targeted 39 percent of its lending in 1978 to the agricultural sector in Africa. By 2002, this proportion had dropped to 6 percent."

Nov 4, 2003  Africa: Debt and Deception http://www.africafocus.org/docs03/hipc0311.php
    As the U.S. Congress approves $87 billion for the U.S. occupation of Iraq, long-standing promises by rich creditors to provide debt "relief" of some $49 billion for 42 countries remain unfulfilled, and largely off the radar screen for policymakers. Yet debt remains a crippling burden not only for the 34 African countries that qualify as Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC), but also for major African powers such as Nigeria and South Africa.

Nov 4, 2003  Senegal: Debt and Destruction http://www.africafocus.org/docs03/sen0311.php
    As the U.S. Congress approves $87 billion for the U.S. occupation of Iraq, long-standing promises by rich creditors to provide debt "relief" of some $49 billion for 42 countries remain unfulfilled, and largely off the radar screen for policymakers. Yet debt remains a crippling burden not only for the 34 African countries that qualify as Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC), but also for major African powers such as Nigeria and South Africa.