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About these pages|Climate Change and the Environment|Peace and Security|Economy and Development|Illicit Financial Flows and Tax Justice|Food and Agriculture|Health
AfricaFocus Bulletin pays special attention to issues
which are both Africa-wide and global. Today's global
issues take different forms in different countries and on different continents. But the most critical issues transcend geographical boundaries and demand common action.
The talking points included in this set of pages were first prepared in
July 2014, prepared for use at the Empowered Africa
Forum at Howard University in Washington, DC, on August 4, 2014.
Health as a Human Right was
added in September 2014. Others for which talking points are in preparation include
Information and Communication Technology.
Global warming and environmental damage from the
fossil-fuel industry already affect all of us, although
responsibility lies primarily with the rich industrialized countries
and the newly industrializing powers. Africa is the most vulnerable
continent, but extreme weather and sea-level rise have hit New
Orleans and New Jersey as well as Lagos.
Inequality and tax evasion are growing both
within and between countries, while the rich on all continents funnel
their wealth into secret bank accounts scattered around the world. This erodes the public sector, starves countries of funds needed
for development, and drives up deficits.
In responding to internal conflict, terrorism, and criminal violence,
leaders in Africa and around the world most often rely on militarized
responses that are ineffective and abusive of human rights.
Although leaders give lip service to addressing the root causes, it
is standard formulas of repression and funding for security forces
that take priority in practice.
Politicians and investors 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%.
International agencies agree that small farmers are key to
addressing poverty and food insecurity in Africa. But commercial
monopolization of seeds and land grabs by both foreign
and domestic investors make a mockery of international pledges.
According to international law, health is a fundamental human right. Both national governments and
the international community have the responsibity to ensure that this right is
guaranteed in practice to everyone. Rich countries in particular have the
responsibility to contribute their fair share to achieving this goal.
Most recent bulletins on continent-wide and global issues
August 8, 2017 Africa: Bridge to Education, or to Nowhere?
"When Liberia's Minister of Education, George Werner, announced last spring that he
was inviting foreign education companies and non-profits to run our public schools,
our country came under the international spotlight, both in Western media and for
education activists. ... Quickly, Liberia was turned into a battlefield between those
who see for-profit 'charter' schools as the solution to the problems that plague
public education across the world, and those of us who point to underinvestment and
poor management as the true culprits." - Mary Mulbah, president, National Teachers'
Association of Liberia
July 31, 2017 Africa: Visa Openness on the Agenda?
"For now, however, crossing borders remains a painful experience for most
Africans. ... On average, Africans need a visa to travel to 54% of the continent's
countries; it's easier for Americans to travel around Africa than it is for Africans
themselves. So far, the AU has issued its single African passport only to heads of
state and senior AU officials." - The Economist
July 10, 2017 Africa/Global: Following the Money
"As an important tool in our fight against corruption, tax evasion, terrorist
financing and money laundering, we will advance the effective implementation of the
international standards on transparency and beneficial ownership of legal persons and
legal arrangements, including the availability of information in the domestic and
crossborder context." - G20 Summit Communiqué, Hamburg, July 8, 2017
June 19, 2017 Africa/Europe: Mediterranean Trajectories
"On July 5, 2016, a 36-year-old Nigerian asylum seeker named Emmanuel Chidi Nnamdi
was beaten to death by Amedeo Mancini, a 39-year-old Italian soccer ultra associated
with a local chapter of the neo-fascist CasaPound Italy political movement. Emmanuel
and his wife Chinyery had fled the violence wreaked by the Boko Haram insurgency in
Nigeria after losing their parents and a two-year-old daughter when their village
church was set on fire. They undertook the dangerous journey through Libya and across
the Mediterranean on a smuggler's boat, during which Chinyery suffered a miscarriage,
finally arriving in Palermo. The harrowing story of Emmanuel and Chinyery is far from
an isolated case, however." - Camilla Hawthorne, "In Search of Black Italia"
May 17, 2017 Africa/Global: Whose Energy?
"We, the undersigned representatives of African civil society, express our deep
concern regarding efforts by the European Union and France to hijack the Africa
Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), an African-owned and African-led initiative
endorsed by all 55 African Heads of State to scale up renewable energy on our
continent." April 6 statement by Pan African Climate Justice Alliance and over 200
civil society networks and groups from 34 African countries.
May 8, 2017 Africa: World Bank Financing Land Grabs
"The World Bank Group has indirectly financed some of Africa's most notorious land
grabs, according to a report by a group of international development watchdogs. The
World Bank's private-sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), is
enabling and profiting from these projects by outsourcing its development funds to
the financial sector." - Oakland Institute
April 25, 2017 Africa/Global: Media Repression 2.0
"In the days when news was printed on paper, censorship was a crude
practice involving government officials with black pens, the seizure
of printing presses and raids on newsrooms. The complexity and
centralization of broadcasting also made radio and television
vulnerable to censorship even when the governments didn't exercise
direct control of the airwaves. ... New information technologies--
the global, interconnected internet; ubiquitous social media
platforms; smart phones with cameras--were supposed to make
censorship obsolete. Instead, they have just made it more
complicated." - Joel Simon, Committee to Protect Journalists, April
April 17, 2017 Africa/Global: New Reports Show Massive Tax Losses
On April 15, "tax day" in the United States, tens of thousands of
demonstrators in over 200 communities around the country marched to
demand that President Trump make public his tax returns (
http://taxmarch.org/home/). Protesters also denounced his use of
taxpayer funds for his personal profit and military escalation while
his administration continues its assault on spending for urgent
public needs at home and around the world. There is no sign that the
President will comply with the demand for transparency. But the
award of a Pulitzer Prize last week to the international consortium
that exposed the Panama Papers was only one indicator that the drive
to expose tax evasion, tax avoidance, and corruption around the
world will continue.
April 10, 2017 Africa: African Feminism Past and Present
"On February 18th I lost my grand aunt - my grandmother really ...
This incredible woman, May Kyomugasho Katebaka left us at the age of
97. We last met in 2014 when I visited her. She's a fierce woman.
Fierce in her religion but also fierce in her knowledge of what she
wanted from the world. And that is what moves me. Moves me every time
one claims feminism is foreign and for the educated, un-african. She
always came to mind when I met such arguments. I would tell myself
that if only they could hear half her life story, then they would
understand why I am such a rebellion." - Rosebell Kagumire
March 21, 2017 Africa/Global: Scaling Up Solar
Even in the United States, where action on climate change is under
threat from aggressive assault by climate deniers in the Trump
administration and Congress, renewable energy is projected to
continue to advance rapidly, on the basis of its still
growing cost advantages over fossil fuels. According to a report
just released by GTM research, the US total solar market, already
supplying the largest share of new power production, is poised to
triple over the next five years. The prospect for renewable energy
to power increased access to electricity in Africa is also dramatic,
according to a new report from the Africa Progress Panel.
March 14, 2017 Africa/Global: Invisible Crises, Failing Safety Nets
"Famine 'largest humanitarian crisis in history of UN': UN
humanitarian chief says 20 million people in Yemen, South Sudan,
Somalia and Nigeria face starvation and famine," says the headline
in Al Jazeera, echoed in the BBC and other international media, but
easily ignored without the high-intensity spotlight that
occasionally targets disasters with greater geostrategic centrality.
In the United States, while headlines rightly focus on the 24
million who would lose health care under the Republican Trumpcare
plan, no one has yet calculated the toll from a proposed 50% cut in
the U.S. budget for support of the UN.
February 28, 2017 Africa/Global: Open Data for Tax Justice
"Multinational companies typically publish global, consolidated
accounts - and international accounting standards now allow these to
roll into one all financial information on the substance of their
economic activities, or at best to provide regional figures. This
means that country-level information on profits, revenues, taxes,
borrowings and employees, for example, are not provided. ... As the
name suggests, the longstanding proposal for country-by-country
reporting (CBCR) would make multinational companies break down and
publish their results for each country. This is essential for
citizens to know what companies and their affiliates are doing where
they live, and what contributions they are making." - Open Data for
Tax Justice announcement
February 20, 2017 Africa/Global: Agribusiness Giants on Merger Path
"If the Bayer-Monsanto merger is approved, the new merged company
will control almost 30% of the global commercial seed market and
25% of the agrochemical market - making it the world's largest
supplier of seeds and chemicals. In South Africa, it would control
about 30% of both markets. Already today, Monsanto is one of two
companies in South Africa that employs 80% of the private sector
breeders in maize and 100% of the breeders in soybean and sunflower
breeders. " - African Centre for Biodiversity
February 7, 2017 Africa/Global: Transparency Setback, African Agendas
In the world of large multinational corporations, secrecy is more
than the rule rather than exception. Despite this reality, there
have been some advances in recent years, including U.S. legislation
and regulations requiring disclosure of payments by U.S. oil, gas,
and mining companies to foreign governments. Last week, the U.S.
Congress revoked this Security and Exchange Commission rule, a year
before it was actually to be implemented. Although comparatively
little noticed in comparison to the tumult around White House
actions, this was an indication that the Republican Congress as well
was determined to reverse even modest steps to fight corporate
corruption and other similar abuses.