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Economy and Development

This page updated on-line at http://www.africafocus.org/intro-econ.php.

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Talking Points

  • Politicians and investors in Africa and around the world speak of creating good jobs. In practice they most often 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 contains a partial truth. New investment in extractive industries to serve world markets is growing, and there is rapid 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 these investments fall far short of what is needed.

  • Significant change in economic policies, in Africa and 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.

South African platinum miners organize a wildcat strike in October 2012.
T-shirts refer to massacre of striking miners at Marikana in August that year.

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Most recent bulletins on economy and development

August 26, 2021  Mozambique/Global: “Most Egregious Corruption Case of the 21st Century” http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/moz2108.php
    “In my view the hidden debt scandal is the most egregious corruption case of the 21st century.  In dollar terms, the Malaysian 1MBD case is larger, but Malaysia is far wealthier than Mozambique, ranked 47th out of 185 countries on GDP per capita whereas Mozambique ranks 180.“ - Richard Messick, senior contributor to the Global Anticorruption Blog and pro bono legal counsel to the Budget Monitoring Forum, a civil society coalition in Mozambique.

July 27, 2021  USA/Global: Let Cuba Live! http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/uscuba2107.php
    The Biden administration has now been in office for six months, along with a narrow Democratic majority in Congress. So it seems an appropriate time for a report card. I offered my evaluation in another AfricaFocus Bulletin sent out today, entitled “Building Back Better? Or Not?” But as I was finalizing that Bulletin, I realized that the rising U.S. attacks on Cuba are a key indicator of how things are going.

July 27, 2021  USA/Africa: Building Back Better? Or Not? http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/usaf2107.php
    Last week marked six months for the Biden administration and for the narrow Democratic majority in Congress. So it seems an appropriate time for a report card on U.S. Africa policy. And that also means a review of U.S. policies on today's most pressing global issues, on which the negative effects fall disproportionately on Africans on the continent and in the diaspora.

June 14, 2021  USA/Global: Bad Days for Big Oil (except in the GOP) http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/clim2106.php
    “Fossil fuel companies are having a big reckoning with climate change this week. Shareholders for Exxon and Chevron voted for measures that could force them to take more responsibility for their emissions, while a Dutch court is forcing Shell to slash its pollution.” - The Verge, May 26, 2021

May 31, 2021  Mozambique/Global: Fossil Fuels, Debt, and Corruption http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/moz2105b.php
    “The scandal of Mozambique’s “hidden debts” has already cost the country at least 11 billion US dollars, and has plunged an additional two million people into poverty, according to a detailed study of the costs and consequences of the debt published on Friday by the anti-corruption NGO, the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP), and its Norwegian partner, the Christian Michelsen Institute. The term “hidden debts” refers to illicit loans of over two billion US dollars from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia in 2013 and 2014 to three fraudulent, security–linked Mozambican companies – Proindicus, Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company), and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management).” - report by Centre for Public Integrity (Mozambique) and Christian Michelsen Institute (Norway)

May 31, 2021  Mozambique/Global: War, Intervention, and Solidarity http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/moz2105a.php
    “No amount of international military assistance will, within two years, create a fighting force that can combat the insurgency. Two other factors complicate external support. Foreign intervention is likely to provoke a response from Islamic State to provide weapons and training to the insurgents. And the fight is already underway between factions in Frelimo over the upcoming 2024 elections. Cabo Delgado politics and economics, the police and military, and the war itself are already caught up in the bitter infighting. Thus the war seems likely to escalate and continue until a new president is in place in 2025.” - Joseph Hanlon

May 17, 2021  Africa/Global: Decolonizing Medical Technology http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/mal2105.php
    “A continent of 1.2 billion people should not have to import 99% of its vaccines. But that is the tragic reality for Africa. Fixing the lack of home-grown manufacturing capacity has become a top priority for Africa’s policymakers. Last week, 40,000 people, including researchers, business leaders and members of civil-society groups, joined heads of state for a two-day online summit designed to share the latest developments and kick-start fresh thinking on how to bring vaccine manufacturing to Africa.” - Nature magazine editorial, April 21, 2021

April 19, 2021  Confronting Global Apartheid Demands Global Solidarity http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/ga2104.php
    "The COVID-19 pandemic has both revealed and deepened structural inequalities around the world. Nearly every country has been hit by economic downturn, but the impacts are unevenly felt. Within and across countries, the people who have suffered most are those already disadvantaged by race, class, gender, or place of birth, reflecting the harsh inequality that has characterized our world for centuries."

April 6, 2021  Africa/Global: People's Vaccine vs. Vaccine Apartheid http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/vac2104.php
    Despite the vast disparity in the pace of vaccinations for Covid-19, currently at over 20% having one dose in North America, 5% in the world, and less in 1% for Africa, the United States, other rich countries, and pharmaceutical companies are still rejecting growing demands to waive patents and transfer technology. See chart below and data by country at https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations.

March 8, 2021  USA/Global: Taxing the Tech Giants http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/dig2103.php
    “How should we determine the corporate tax a big tech company should pay in each country where they operate? There are many ways that this could be calculated, but most recommendations suggest looking at their sales, their assets and the number of employees they have in each country. In the absence of transparent reporting, collecting such data is not easy, but we can get a useful estimate through looking at a proxy indicator: the number of users they have in each country. For example, in just 20 developing countries there are nearly 1.5 billion internet users accessing Google, about 900 million people using Microsoft on their desktops and over 750 million Facebook users. For these companies, the number of users is a good indicator of both their sales and their assets.” - ActionAid

February 22, 2021  Africa/Global: The Inequality Virus http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/ineq2102.php
    “COVID-19 has been likened to an x-ray, revealing fractures in the fragile skeleton of the societies we have built. It is exposing fallacies and falsehoods everywhere: The lie that free markets can deliver healthcare for all; The fiction that unpaid care work is not work; The delusion that we live in a post-racist world; The myth that we are all in the same boat. While we are all floating on the same sea, it’s clear that some are in super yachts, while others are clinging to the drifting debris.” – António Guterres, UN Secretary General

January 26, 2021  Africa/Global: Distant Horizon for Vaccine Equity http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/vacc2101.php
    “I need to be blunt: the world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure – and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries. Even as they speak the language of equitable access [to Covid vaccines], some countries and companies continue to prioritize bilateral deals, driving up prices and attempting to jump to the front of the queue. This is wrong. … The situation is compounded by the fact that most manufacturers have prioritized regulatory approval in rich countries where the profits are highest, rather than submitting full dossiers to WHO.” - Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General

Complete listing of bulletins on the economy and development, 2003-present