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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

June 9, 2022  Africa/Global: Ukraine, Africa, and Our Planet http://www.africafocus.org/docs22/upd2206.php
    “An end to this terrible war based on dialogue must be the international community’s highest priority. Support to the people of Ukraine must be matched by efforts to advance Russian/Ukrainian negotiations, European security dialogue, and wider risk-reduction measures to prevent nuclear escalation.” - The Elders, May 25, 2022

May 11, 2022  Africa/Global: Debt, IFFs, and Inequality in Africa http://www.africafocus.org/docs22/ineq2205.php
    “43 African governments are facing expenditure cuts totalling $183 billion (equivalent to 5.4 percent of GDP) over the next five years, reveals new analysis from Oxfam and Development Finance International (DFI) today. If these cuts are implemented, their chances of achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals will likely disappear.” - Oxfam International and Development Finance International

April 21, 2022  Africa/Global: Climate Put on Back Burner by War http://www.africafocus.org/docs22/clim2204.php
    While media attention focuses on the cost in human lives on the ground in Europe, the direct and indirect effects are also leading to many more lives lost around the world, not least in vulnerable countries on the African continent, according to a report issued on April 13 by the United Nations. The direct effects alone are projected to devastate the world economy (https://reliefweb.int/report/world/global-impact-war-ukraine-food-energy-and-finance-systems).

March 25, 2022  Africa/Global: Updates from AfricaFocus http://www.africafocus.org/docs22/upd2203.php
    This is the first AfricaFocus Bulletin since January. Towards the end of that month, major issues with my home office computer systems crippled the interface which I normally use to publish the Bulletin, and catching up on a variety of medical issues also limited what I could do. Nothing life threatening, but lots of doctor appointments.

January 19, 2022  USA/Africa: Bronx Fire Devastates Gambian Community http://www.africafocus.org/docs22/migr2201.php
    “This is the heart of the problem. If housing vulnerable people is an asset class – not a social good, or a human right – then generating returns for investors will always be in a zero-sum relationship with providing safe housing for those people. Landlords will always be in the middle; and when they’re taking sides, as they must in housing for profit, investors will always win.” - Annia Ciezadlo

December 23, 2021  USA/Africa: Pandora Papers Keep Giving http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/iff2112.php
    2021 was a banner year for attention to national and international tax reforms to reduce tax evasion and avoidance, with legislation in the United States spearheaded by the FACT Coalition and a global reform deal proposed by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). But the Pandora Papers also demonstrated the pervasive scale of illicit financial flows that siphon off wealth into an “offshore” world of secrecy.

November 23, 2021  Africa/Global: From Climate Denial to Deceit and Delay http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/cop26-2111.php
    Asad Rehman of War on Want spoke to the presidency of COP26 with words that resonated far from Glasgow: “The rich have refused to do their fair share, more empty words on climate finance. You have turned your backs on the poorest who face a crisis of Covid, economic and climate apartheid because of the actions of the richest. It is immoral for the rich to talk about the future of their children and grandchildren when the children of the Global South are dying now.” Less than 2 minutes. Watch here!

November 2, 2021  Africa/Global: The Heat is On! Time to Act! http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/clim2111.php
    The warnings are consistent and devastating, across the political spectrum from the International Monetary Fund from climate activists mobilizing at the climate summit in Glasgow and around the world. There are only eight years to have any chance of bending the curve of fossil fuel emissions sufficiently to avoid mounting climate chaos. Predictions are also consistent that the government officials gathered at the summit will continue to let promises and belated minimal policy shifts substitute for significant action.

October 15 , 2021  Africa/Global: Hardly a Dent in #VaccineApartheid http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/vac2110.php
    “Millions of people remain at risk of dying from COVID-19 because high-income countries (HICs), including the US, continue to hoard excess vaccine doses, warns a new report released [on October 11] by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The international medical humanitarian organization is calling on governments to commit to a concrete plan to redistribute vaccine doses to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) via COVAX or regional procurement bodies by the end of October.”

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/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.

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.

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