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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

November 30, 2020  USA/Africa: Build Back Better on Africa Policy http://www.africafocus.org/docs20/usa2011.php
    “President Trump's overt contempt for Africans is encapsulated in his famously crass remark about African countries. But the principal damage to Africa has stemmed from his administration’s broader policy choices, such as the disastrous rejection of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Paris climate accords; harsh curbs on legal immigration and asylum; and gutting of gender equality programs. … Nevertheless, the Biden administration should not merely go back to the pre-Trump status quo. … We argue that an even more fundamental questioning of U.S. Africa-related policy is needed.” - Imani Countess and William Minter

November 30, 2020  USA/Global: On Climate, How Much Will Be New? http://www.africafocus.org/docs20/clim2011.php
    “One of the most powerful pieces of climate change legislation the Biden administration will need has already been passed: the Dodd- Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. This legislation, known for creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other public safeguards against financial wrongdoing, also empowers key agencies including the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission to limit systemic risks to financial stability.” - Justin Guay, Sunrise Project

October 13, 2020  Africa/Global: The Future's Not in Plastics http://www.africafocus.org/docs20/plas2010.php
    “The petrochemical industry is already facing record-low plastic feedstock prices as a result of massive overcapacity. And yet, it plans to expand supply for virgin plastics use by a quarter at a cost of at least $400 billion in the next 5 years, risking huge losses for investors. The plastics industry is a bloated behemoth, ripe for disruption. … Meanwhile, 36% of plastic is used only once, 40% ends up polluting the environment and less than 10% is actually recycled.” - Carbon Tracker Initiative

September 28, 2020  USA/Global: Millions Displaced by US Post-9/11 Wars http://www.africafocus.org/docs20/disp2009.php
    “Wartime displacement (alongside war deaths and injuries) must be central to any analysis of the post-9/11 wars and their short- and long-term consequences. Displacement also must be central to any possible consideration of the future use of military force by the United States or others. Ultimately, displacing 37 million—and perhaps as many as 59 million—raises the question of who bears responsibility for repairing the damage inflicted on those displaced.” - Brown University Costs of War Project

September 23, 2020  USA/Global: Overhauling U.S. Foreign Policy http://www.africafocus.org/docs20/usa2009.php
    The most consequential election year in most of our lifetimes has featured stark crises unspooling against a backdrop of vigorous activist mobilizations and simmering public outrage. While the first essential step for progressives is to prevent the reelection of President Trump, that will not be enough. We need fundamental change rather than a return to the status quo ante.

September 14, 2020  India/Africa: Common Threads of Kanga and Vitenge http://www.africafocus.org/docs20/fabr2009.php
    The new book Common Threads (along with an accompanying video, both open access), explores the ties that bind India and Africa through the material medium of cloth, from antiquity to the present. Cloth made in India has been sold across African markets for millennia, by Indian, African, and European traders. ... Most significantly, it highlights the role of African consumers in defining the evolution of these genres of fabric, and the centrality of people-to-people connections in sustaining the continued cosmopolitanism of these transoceanic connectivities.

August 24, 2020  USA/Global: Divest from Violent Policing and Endless Wars, Part Two http://www.africafocus.org/docs20/viol2008-2.php
    The notion of policing as a war, in which more lethal force will lead to more security, is not a recent development, but is deeply rooted in U.S. history. The police and the military share the country’s legacy of white supremacy and violence against racial others, which has also given rise to mob and individual violence by white civilians. Both domestic law enforcement and the conduct of foreign wars continue to reflect the history of conquest, slavery, and U.S. empire of earlier centuries.

August 24, 2020  USA/Global: Divest from Violent Policing and Endless Wars, Part One http://www.africafocus.org/docs20/viol2008-1.php
    The notion of policing as a war, in which more lethal force will lead to more security, is not a recent development, but is deeply rooted in U.S. history. The police and the military share the country’s legacy of white supremacy and violence against racial others, which has also given rise to mob and individual violence by white civilians. Both domestic law enforcement and the conduct of foreign wars continue to reflect the history of conquest, slavery, and U.S. empire of earlier centuries.

August 3, 2020  Africa/Global: Preventing the Next Pandemic http://www.africafocus.org/docs20/zoo2008.php
    “COVID-19 is just one example of the rising trend of diseases – from Ebola to MERS to West Nile and Rift Valley fevers – caused by viruses that have jumped from animal hosts into the human population. … The rising trend in zoonotic diseases is driven by the degradation of our natural environment – through land degradation, wildlife exploitation, resource extraction, climate change, and other stresses.” - Press release from UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Nairobi, July 6, 2020

July 20, 2020  South Africa: Covid-19 Response Failing; How to Do Better http://www.africafocus.org/docs20/sa2007.php
    “Covid-19 is a crisis on a crisis – it is a health crisis on top of existing social, economic and political crises in SA. Every faultline is exposed: those with food security, and those who go hungry; those with jobs and the unemployed; those with water and sanitation and those without; those who drive cars and those in crowded public transport; those in well-resourced schools with small classes and those in overcrowded, under-resourced schools; those who use private health care and those who wait in long queues outside under-resourced rural and township clinics.” - Statement by members of the C19 People’s Coalition Health Task Force

July 6, 2020  Africa/Global: Not Pessimism or Optimism but Possibilism http://www.africafocus.org/docs20/econ2007.php
    “The evidence—gathered both from our own long experience of working with African governments and from the work of others—is that there are in fact cadres of thoughtful, public-spirited policy officials and even politicians; and furthermore that there is ample demand from wage workers and the intelligentsia for industrial policies rooted in evidence rather than abstruse economic theory.” - Christopher Cramer, John Sender, and Arkebe Oqubay

June 22, 2020  Africa/Global: Fossil Fuel Viability to Decline Sharply http://www.africafocus.org/docs20/clim2006.php
    “Falling demand and rising investment risk is likely to slash the value of oil, gas and coal reserves by nearly two thirds, sending shock waves through the global economy by hitting companies, financial markets and countries reliant on exports, finds a new report from Carbon Tracker. It warns that the fossil fuel industry is approaching terminal decline because of competition from clean technologies and tougher government policies to achieve climate targets and increase energy security. The COVID-19 crisis is now accelerating this: demand for oil could fall by 9% in 2020 according to the International Energy Agency.”

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