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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

July 15, 2019  Africa/Global: New Horizon for Off-Grid Solar http://www.africafocus.org/docs19/sol1907.php
    With their most dramatic success in Kenya and other East African countries, off-grid solar home systems are expanding rapidly, reaching more consumers and extending beyond basic lighting and mobile-phone charging, now even offering bundles with solar-powered flat-screen televisions. Costs continue to drop precipitously, and, according to Beyond Fire, a new report released at the end of May, the next new horizon may be in the kitchen, with solar-energy-powered cooking.

July 2, 2019  Kenya/Global: Big Victory for #SaveLamu/#deCOALonize http://www.africafocus.org/docs19/coal1907.php
    “On Wednesday 26th June, Kenya’s National Environment Tribunal (NET) made a landmark ruling that set aside the license granted to Amu Power Company Ltd by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to construct a 1050MW coal plant in Lamu. The tribunal noted that … there was no evidence that Amu Power properly informed residents of Lamu of the impacts that the coal plant project would have on their environment, livelihood or health.” - #deCOALonize press release, June 29, 2019

June 19, 2019  AfricaFocus Updates: Sudan, Ebola, Mozambique http://www.africafocus.org/docs19/upd1906.php
    AfricaFocus Bulletin normally contains material on one topic only, as in bulletins earlier this year on Mozambique in January and March, Sudan in March , and Ebola in April. Each provides substantive excepts from current material as well as links for ongoing coverage.

May 27, 2019  Africa/Global: World Bank Ramps Up Attack on Small Farmers http://www.africafocus.org/docs19/land1905.php
    “Enabling the Business of Agriculture,” promoted by the World Bank, and now enhanced with a new sub-indicator on land policy, is presented as a way to advance agricultural development, particularly in Africa. In reality, notes a new report from the Oakland Institute, it gives an additional push to a “land rush” by mostly foreign corporate interests. This trend, notes Harvard land tenure scholar Pauline Peters, “marks the most radical shift in the distribution and tenure status of land since colonial times.”

May 13, 2019  Africa/Global: Cutting the Costs on Remittances http://www.africafocus.org/docs19/rem1905.php
    “Some people use their savings to start a business, while others turn to family and friends to borrow cash. But Ismail Ahmed’s case was more unusual. He launched WorldRemit, a money transfer business, with compensation cash he received after uncovering alleged corruption at the UN. … Ahmed had waited four years since he’d submitted the dossier alleging corruption to the UN. But the wait proved worthwhile when in February 2010 he received £200,000 in compensation for the way he had been treated after making allegations, the money he used to fund the launch of WorldRemit.” - Guardian, January 20, 2017

April 30, 2019  Africa/Global: Fighting Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance http://www.africafocus.org/docs19/eca1904.php
    The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), in its annual Economic Report on Africa, focused on financing development in Africa, highlighted the urgency to curb what it termed “revenue leaks” through tax evasion and tax avoidance, as well as through misguided government policies. Multinational corporations, corrupt officials, and financial intermediaries around the world siphon off African wealth, leaving national budgets starved for resources to invest in health, education, and sustainable economic growth.

April 9, 2019  Africa: Migration within the Continent http://www.africafocus.org/docs19/migr1904a.php
    Reporting on recent surveys from 34 African countries, Afrobarometer reports that the average preferred destination for those seeking to migrate breaks down with 29% opting for a country in their own region, 7% for elsewhere in Africa, 27% for Europe, 22% for North America, and 13% for some other region. The real message of this and other reports, however, is not a single highest-ranked location, but the wide diversity of migration experiences. Breakdowns by region within Africa and by country make this lesson even more pointed.

April 9, 2019  South Africa: Politicians Scapegoating Immigrants http://www.africafocus.org/docs19/migr1904b.php
    In what became a debate amongst a small group of residents [in Alexandra], another resident Kabelo Tsotetsi, defended immigrants, saying they were starting their own businesses and not taking jobs from South Africans. Tsotetsi said: “Our government doesn’t make it easy for foreigners to live here, they don’t get help. They come from countries where they are severely oppressed and they come here and face the same struggles as us. We are all Africans fighting for our dignity.” - GroundUp, April 3, 2019

March 22, 2019  Southern Africa/Global: Cyclone Idai and Climate Justice http://www.africafocus.org/docs19/idai1903.php
    A week after Cyclone Idai struck the coast of Mozambique near Beira, there are still people awaiting rescue from treetops and roofs. The death toll, with confirmed deaths numbering in the high hundreds, is still unknown, with the largest number in Mozambique, and still devastating numbers in Zimbabwe and Malawi as well. The full impact has been slow to emerge, but it is finally gaining more attention from world media.

March 11, 2019  Sudan: Just Fall, That is All! http://www.africafocus.org/docs19/sud1903.php
    “These protests are unprecedented in terms of their length and sustainability, their geographical spread throughout the entire country, and the remarkable coalition of youth groups, civil society organizations, and opposition political parties that have joined in these protests now still ongoing in their third month.” - Khalid Medani

February 26, 2019  USA/Africa: From Wakanda to Reparations, Part 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs19/usa1902a.php
    Jelani Cobb: “Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa, the Black Panther and the King of Wakanda, confronts Erik Killmonger, a black American mercenary, played by Michael B. Jordan, as a rival, but the two characters are essentially duelling responses to five centuries of African exploitation at the hands of the West. The villain, to the extent that the term applies, is history itself.” Karen Attiah: “Indeed, ´Black Panther´ offers a radical vision of what black national power and internationalism could look like, if we trusted, respected, and elevated black women … In ´Black Panther,´ as in real life, black women be saving ev-ery-body, white or black.”

February 26, 2019  USA/Africa: From Wakanda to Reparations, Part 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs19/usa1902b.php
    “Just as cotton, and with it slavery, became key to the U.S. economy, it also moved to the center of the world economy and its most consequential transformations: the creation of a globally interconnected economy, the Industrial Revolution, the rapid spread of capitalist social relations in many parts of the world, and the Great Divergence—the moment when a few parts of the world became quite suddenly much richer than every other part.” - Sven Beckert

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