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In February 2004, British Prime Minister Tony Blair established the Commission for Africa to examine the continent's development problems and suggest measures that the international community should take to eradicate poverty. This final report from the commission has provoked mixed reactions: while some politicians call it "painfully honest," many critics regard the suggested measures as unrealistic or as mere repetition of old, unkept promises.
This article takes on Ethiopia's multiple problems that hinder the world's poorest country from achieving self-sufficiency. Huge military expenses, a missing land reform and 150 religious holidays a year fail to provide the necessary political framework. Although essential to keep people alive, food aid from rich countries has destroyed the local market prices. Nowadays, Ethiopians follow the aid convoys "the way they once followed rain clouds." (Der Spiegel)
Israeli scientists started the International Programme on Arid Land Crops in 1995 to help neighboring Islamic countries cultivate crops in semi-arid areas. Now, the founder of the project hopes that it will bring "a second green revolution for Africa because Africa missed the first one." (Inter Press Service)
Many policymakers claim that integration into the global economy represents the solution for poverty in Africa. This editorial takes into consideration existing research and data, and debunks this claim. The World Trade Organization, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund imposed on Africa a neoliberal agenda which exploited natural resources and blocked the creation of a productive middle class. Such policies drained Africa's wealth. (Pambazuka)
This article discusses development issues in African history. It covers the era of independence, characterized by the influence of Marxist theories and "developmentalism," the "lost decade" of the 1980s, and finally the rise of neoliberalism and the birth of "Pan Africanist resistance." Despite decades of African independence, rich countries continue to chair important development initiatives without considering African peoples' voices and needs. This article calls for a new approach that, far from liberalization and privatization policies, links economic growth to development and self-reliance. (Pambazuka)
This statement from African Civil Society questions the commitments of the world's governments to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in Africa. Analyzing three main sectors - aid, trade and debt - the group stresses that Africa was excluded from the negotiating process. If things continue this way, "the cost to Africa will be catastrophic."
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) often fails in creating jobs, transferring new technologies and promoting social progress. This UNCTAD report focuses on FDI's costs and benefits in Africa. It calls for their "replacement with a more balanced and more strategic approach tailored to African socio-economic conditions and development challenges."
Rich countries prefer to give aid "on the basis of news headlines and political priorities instead of need," and West Africans are paying the price, contends this Oxfam International press release. While Iraq receives on average $91 per person in aid per year, Niger, a much poorer country, gets just $12 per person. As a result, African nations are extremely vulnerable to hunger crises.
Rich country governments could have acted to prevent the hunger crisis in Niger but donor nations ignored the World Food Programme's first call for funds for Niger in fall 2004, says the Independent. Instead, the International Monetary Fund and the European Union pressed Niger to introduce a 19 percent tax on foodstuffs, making food more expensive and contributing to the hunger crisis.
After shocking images of starving children once again appeared on Western viewers' television screens, food aid is finally beginning to flow into the African nation of Niger. But the 2.9 million hungry people in Niger are only the tip of the iceberg. Over 31 million Africans suffer from famine because the troubled continent's food production cannot keep pace with population growth. Reforming the international famine response system could save lives, but the long-term solution lies in improving infrastructure and curbing population growth. (Christian Science Monitor)
As the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in December 2005 approaches, many bones of contention remain between rich and poor countries. To overcome the hurdles and reach a trade deal that would alleviate global poverty, rich countries should take Africa's special needs into account. A successful trade deal should consist of multilateral trade liberalization in products of export interest to African countries, measures to compensate African nations for their possible losses if their goods lose preferential duty-free treatment in Western markets, and investments in trade-related capacity-building and infrastructure. (Guardian)
In this Washington Post opinion piece, former Finance Minister of Eritrea Gebreselassie Yosief Tesfamichael criticizes Western NGOs and the Bretton Woods institutions for imposing their development models on Africa. Over the years, this has led to the waste of billions of aid dollars. In order to make aid work, Africans themselves should set the priorities. However, the primary challenge lies in improving political leadership and changing the nature of the African state, originally a colonial creation whose "mission was not to serve people, but to dominate and exploit them," Tesfamichael writes.
The Group of Eight summit in Gleneagles will provide leaders of wealthy nations a chance to address global development, focusing on Africa. A different story is told, however, behind the scenes. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, host of the G8 summit, poses as the leader in the fight against African poverty, while at the same time quadrupling Britain's arms sales to the continent. In this interview with Pambazuka, African commentator Issa Shivij is not optimistic about the summit's proposed "solutions" for Africa.
In the context of the Group of Eight meeting in Gleneagles, George Dor critiques the recent debt cancellation "deal" for Africa, the Blair Commission for Africa and the rise of Paul Wolfowitz to the top job at the World Bank. He concludes that they represent "nothing other than a new means of continuing the exploitation initiated under the times of conquest, slavery and colonialism." (Pambazuka)
Debt and poverty are only symptoms of Africa's true problem: a global power deficit. This deficit allows Group of Eight nations and their corporations "to run other people's lives." Without global constraints on these corporations, they will continue to impoverish millions of Africans. While they hype the "make poverty history" rhetoric, the G8 leaders deny that there is a "conflict between ending poverty and business as usual" for the corporations that have plundered and pillaged Africa's resources for profit. (Guardian)
Debt relief and increased aid cannot alone alleviate poverty in Africa, according to this International Herald Tribune editorial. Rather than oversimplifying the debate on aid to Africa, world leaders would do well to attack the root causes of poverty, such as corruption and human rights violations, if they are committed to "making poverty history." Aid to Africa must be accompanied by "an equally serious effort to address human rights violations," or world leaders will risk strengthening and funding the abusive governments responsible for so much of the continent's misery.
While African people express gratitude for the "outpouring of sentiment" and concern over their livelihoods, they feel that "there is a dangerous disconnect" between what rich countries see as solutions and what Africans believe they need. Trade barriers, agricultural subsidies, and tied aid remain as external obstacles. Within Africa, corruption and lack of infrastructure impede any progress on poverty reduction. Without addressing the needs of the people and the root causes of poverty, no amount of debt relief or aid will help Africa out of poverty. (Washington Post)
Although biotechnology corporations and some governments are promoting genetically modified (GM) crops as a "miracle solution" to world hunger, the use of GM crops could "do more damage than good." Rather than investing millions of dollars in a "grandiose biological experiment" without a clear idea of how it will help African farmers and consumers, governments and corporations should investigate alternative, region-specific solutions to poverty and hunger. (Inter Press Service)
Thirty-four countries are now experiencing droughts and food shortages, and their number could increase. Droughts could become semi-permanent if climate change persists, increasing global food shortages. Scientists predict that global warming will cause the dunes of the Kalihari desert to spread, shifting sand across huge tracts of Botswana, Angola, Zimbabwe and western Zambia. (Guardian)
Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, and also one of the most poor and indebted, will finally receive some debt relief. Most of Nigeria's debt is owed to the 19-member Paris Club of creditor countries. The debt was accumulated by corrupt military dictators, and the country has been struggling to repay the outstanding $31 billion for decades. The Paris Club has agreed to write off $18 billion of the debt, leaving Nigeria with $13 billion left to pay. (BBC)
Africa, a continent already suffering from extreme poverty and epidemics of AIDS and malaria, will be the hardest hit by global warming, according to a report
by the Working Group on Climate Change and Development
. As temperatures rise, desertification threatens land for farming and grazing. Conflicts over natural resources could prove even deadlier and more violent than the civil wars that have shaken the African continent in the past. Tragically, African countries will pay the highest price for climate change that is caused by much wealthier industrial countries. (Independent
Jeffrey Sachs, director of the UN Millennium Development Project, describes in this interview with the Independent how simple and inexpensive it can be to end poverty. Poverty is "not just something that just happens, like rain. It is something that we can change in a short period of time." Man-made and preventable pitfalls are trapping poor countries in a cycle of debt and poverty. "The G8 is the time for the world to stand up and say, 'no more,' " Sachs argues.
The US enacted the controversial African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2000, claiming to promote industry in poor African nations. In order to qualify for AGOA status, poor nations have to jump through all the right hoops, including privatization of all public assets and the creation of a US-style legal system. Rather than decreasing poverty or promoting wealth, the trade deal, which eliminates most US trade barriers on African goods such as textiles and clothing, has instead resulted in headaches and frustration. (Inter Press Service)
The poorest nations in the world will only slip further into poverty if they cannot earn revenues from their own national resources. While the G8 resumes the debate over methods and forms of debt relief, Western corporations will continue to profit by plundering Africa's oil, gas, gold, and diamonds. (The Nation)
If current trends continue, most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa will fall short of their targets for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to this United Nations Development Programme report. This is the only region where the number of child deaths is rising. If the signatory countries can meet the MDGs, 28 million fewer children will die in Sub-Saharan Africa in the next 10 years, and there will be 219 million fewer people in poverty in the region.
Of the roughly two million people who die of malaria each year, 90 percent are African children under the age of five. Each year, the disease costs the continent an estimated 12 billion dollars in gross domestic product and increases poverty by reducing productivity and social stability. Thanks to international efforts, the incidence of malaria has decreased in recent years, but further progress requires continuous and substantial funding. (Inter Press Service)
Despite the fact that few African countries are likely to meet all UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on time, the setting of targets has accelerated development in many areas. Uganda has reversed the spread of HIV/AIDS, Mozambique has succeeded in curbing child mortality and Tanzania is on track to provide safe water for all. Poor countries bear prime responsibility for achieving most MDGs, but they cannot make it if rich states fail to provide more and better aid, debt relief and fair trade terms. (Inter Press Service)
Southern African countries have lost tens of thousands of factory jobs in a matter of a few months, reports the Independent. After the system of global textile quotas expired at the end of 2004, foreign investors moved their production to cheap-labor China, often abandoning their African factories and leaving workers without their outstanding wages. As a result, Lesotho, where textiles account for 90 percent of export earnings, is now struggling with an unemployment rate as high as 40 percent.
Sub-Saharan Africa will not meet any of the UN Millennium Development Goals if the present trends continue, warns a joint report from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. According to World Bank President James Wolfensohn, correcting the situation will require concerted action from rich and poor countries alike: "Rich countries must now deliver on the promises they have made in terms of aid, trade and debt relief, and the developing countries [...] need to aim higher and do better in terms of their own policies and governance and to make more effective use of aid," he said. (Agence France-Presse)
"Ending poverty is a grand moral task, [...] but at the core, it is a relatively straightforward business proposition," says economist Jeffrey Sachs in this Guardian article. Sachs writes that this summer at the Glendale Summit, the G8 countries can make the decision to eradicate extreme poverty in Africa by increasing foreign aid to 0.7 percent of their national incomes. He argues that Tony Blair now needs to "bring his friend George Bush back to reality, to an understanding that the US military alone will never secure a world beset by hunger, disease, and deprivation."
As a result of rising temperatures and deforestation, the ice cap on Mount Kilimanjaro is melting, decreasing the water supply to the lowland areas around the mountain. Scientists warn that the greenhouse effect will have a devastating impact on communities around Kilimanjaro and across Africa unless rich countries take decisive and concerted action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Already suffering from poverty, food insecurity and conflicts, Africa is particularly vulnerable to the effects of global warming. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)
Increasing international aid to a level that would really help eradicate poverty in Africa would not cost the rich world much, says this Washington Post op-ed. Even better, refusing to hide corrupt money in Western banks, eliminating the costly and trade-distorting agricultural subsidies, and enforcing transparency in extractive industries that enable official corruption in poor countries, would cost nothing. The only obstacles to action are entrenched lobbies that give political leaders campaign contributions to keep the unfair structures in place.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Commission for Africa has published an extensive report on how to lift the continent from poverty. But persuading rich countries to follow the report's recommendations will not be easy, as reforms cost money and many benefit from the structures that contribute to African poverty, argues this BBC commentary.
Long viewed as separate issues, African poverty and global warming have become increasingly interconnected. Warming climate and failures of rainfall contribute not only to chronic hunger but also to the onset of violence when hungry people clash over scarce food and water, says Jeffrey Sachs in this Project Syndicate article.
Even if rich states could finally agree on complete cancellation of poor countries' debt, it would not be enough to lift Africa from poverty. This Reuters article argues that poor countries need to grow their export base and diversify their economies – but they cannot do it without increased aid and fair access to global markets.
Millions of Africans already struggling with poverty and disease will suffer most from the global warming crisis unless the major producers of greenhouse gases substantially reduce their emissions. According to Nigerian scientist Anthony Nyong, a rise in temperature and a drop in rainfall will lead to major shortages in highly water-stressed African countries that depend on agriculture for food and export earnings. (Reuters)
Until 2002, the World Bank pushed African countries to introduce fees on primary education. Thanks to pressure from advocacy groups, the Bank reversed its policy and now an increasing number of African countries let children attend school for free. But overburdened and under-resourced education systems need both more political support and more international aid in order to succeed. (New York Times)
This article explores how British companies, with the support of Britain's Department for International Development (DfID), push for water privatization in South Africa's poorest urban areas. The author criticizes Britain's export of water privatization models and accuses the DfID for breaking the law by linking aid money to specific British business interests. (Guardian)
While the author of this New York Times article correctly asserts that "Africa ought to be rich but is miserably poor," he demonstrates a poor understanding of what problems have led to Africa's present status. The article neglects the role of failed development policies by multilateral institutions and claims that "Africans are poor because their leaders keep them that way."
China has increased its trade with Africa by 50% since 2000 and is planning another substantial increase this year. Despite growing economic connections and projects in over 40 countries on the continent, Chinese leaders avoid statements about development or human rights, claiming they must "try to separate business from politics." (New York Times)
Chad's government began a new oil-drilling plan, intended to channel resources directly from exports to social welfare and development projects. Because past endeavors have been stifled by corrupt leaders and expropriation, the funds from this project will be held by the World Bank and monitored by a panel of government and NGO officials. (Christian Science Monitor)
The World Food Program, "which operates only at government request," cannot distribute sustenance to the starving people of Zimbabwe, due to President Mugabe's refusal of the assistance. Noting rampant poverty, NGO and UN officials are skeptical of Mugabe's motives. In previous elections, he has withheld food, to create popular desperation, then "bought" political support by exchanging provisions for votes. (Washington Post)
Due to prolonged drought and the aftermath of the conflict with Ethiopia, Eritreans continue to suffer from extreme poverty. "Half of all families are dependent on women who are themselves suffering from malnutrition." This UNICEF report provides statistics about the situation and information about the UN efforts there.
Despite evidence that pesticides are hazardous to human health and the environment, and that they are becoming less effective with increasing use, governments and international aid agencies continue to promote their use in Africa to raise farm outputs. This report calls for a phase out of pesticide programs and the institution of alternative, integrated pest management (IPM) solutions that would bolster sustainable development, rather than short-term agricultural productivity. (Id21)
Just as the WHO and UNICEF prepared to successfully complete their polio-eradication campaign, the disease reemerged in Western and Central Africa. This new epidemic highlights the importance of continuing to vaccinate until diseases have been completely eradicated. As a result of this public health tragedy, the WHO will increase its immunization efforts to completely eliminate the disease as soon as possible. (New York Times)
African leaders and activists were hopeful that the G8 meetings would bring debt relief, funding for the containment of HIV/AIDS, and intervention in Sudan. Unfortunately, they were let down on all counts, as the G8 made agreements only on minor initiatives and deferred future responsibilities to the UN. (One World)
If African leaders do not pay more attention to poverty alleviation, the continent will fall short of the Millennium Development Goals. The UNFPA requests increased emphasis on population issues throughout the region to strengthen development efforts. Poor Nations (World Press Review)
In this article, President Thabo Mbeki, of South Africa, calls Africans to become "masters of their own destiny." This entails a pan-African movement to delineate regional priorities and create conditions for development. According to President Mbeki, such a movement, stemming directly from African leaders, is the only way to reshape current, international power dynamics that have hampered developmental progress in the past. (Washington Post)
At the current rate of progress, the world will not meet the Millennium Development Goals in Africa, set for 2015, for another 100 years. The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer urges rich countries to live up to their promises and promote fair trade, aid and debt relief. (Independent)
Tony Blair's new Commission on Africa is intended to bring together government officials, NGO workers, and business executives, to devise a plan for the development of the continent. Though the commission seems beneficial, NGOs worry that it will be another "talking shop" of little action, and that business interests will be over represented. (Brandt 21 Forum)
More than 600,000 women and children in Namibia face a deadly combination of severe poverty and food deficits, a worsening AIDS epidemic and erratic weather. The failure of donor governments to "come forward with any money" worsens this situation, which is ultimately crippling Namibia's social system. (News 24)
There is a direct, measurable link between agricultural growth and poverty reduction. This article advocates engaging small farmers in the policy making process, in order to evaluate the agricultural sector's needs and reinvigorate its productivity. (OneWorld)
Themba Dlamini, Swaziland's Prime Minister, has declared a state of emergency as the country battles with HIV/AIDS, poverty and food shortages. Dlamini blames the country's problems on "natural calamities," yet the country's banned opposition parties argue that government negligence, and a feudal land distribution system are to blame. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)
The deadly combination of drought, war and mine infestation has internally displaced 58,953 people from their homes in Eritrea. Most are living in camps, which inadequately fulfill basic human needs and hence are desperately reliant on international aid assistance. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)
Since independence from Britain in 1980, Zimbabwean authorities have diligently pursued "education for all." Yet this article argues that education has become the main casualty of government inability, high inflation and economic contraction. (Inter Press Service)
Zimbabwe has 489 "satellite schools," which are poorly resourced and unregistered learning centers that operate in badly ventilated tobacco barns. This article argues that the growth of these centers is the result of the Zimbabwean Government's "land redistribution exercises." (Integrated Regional Information Networks)
Development analysts recognize education as a cornerstone for poverty elimination. Yet in Zambia, the education system is under severe threat from inadequate government funding of social services. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report argues that trade liberalization has made few advances in poverty reduction. However, international trade can play a crucial role in the development of Least Developed Countries if governments in both poor and rich states undertake substantial change in the international trade system.
Though rural poverty receives more public attention, the urban poor comprise more than 71 percent of sub-Saharan city dwellers. This article explains life in the slums, while calling leaders to prioritize slum eradication through holistic policy that looks at root causes of urban poverty and alternative housing options. (UN Human Settlements Programme)
For poverty-stricken Sub-Saharan Africa, the current oil boom means great opportunity and great peril at the same time. While oil exploitation will set free enormous financial resources that could help reduce poverty, history shows that in many oil-dependent countries, petrodollars exacerbated poverty, rather than reducing it. (Catholic Relief Services)
Although Africans fought decades for national independence, they still cannot enjoy real freedom. Forty percent of the people in southern Africa live in extreme poverty, and "political freedom in poverty is only half freedom," says this article. (Xinhua)
A South African economist contends that the proposed South African-US trade agreement would limit the SA government's control over development policy and other non-trade issues. (Business Day)
President Bush's plan offers little promise to fight HIV/AIDS unless he shifts the US position on WTO rules for intellectual property rights prohibiting affordable generic drugs from entering African markets. (Common Dreams)
US President George W. Bush sees trade as Africa's best route to development, but critics warn that a free trade agreement would benefit the US while doing little to help the poorest Africans. (Christian Science Monitor)
Many Africans worry that President Bush offers aid tied to compliance with US foreign policy. "American unilateralism is at odds with African efforts to gain international cooperation to address the most urgent global priorities such as AIDS, poverty and civil conflict, which have the most devastating consequences in Africa." (allAfrica)
US-African trade relationships have often had negative results for African societies. Genuine US involvement in sustainable development requires more than President Bush's call for open markets and oil pipelines. (Power and Interest News Report)
A South African business professor contends that when local entrepreneurs rush to compete in the markets of more industrialized, slower-growth economies, they forego sustainable market development in their own emerging regions. (Business Day)
Exporting US genetically modified food to Africa as aid makes rural communities dangerously dependent on large agri-business. What Africa really needs is support for its domestic agricultural infrastructure and fair pricing. (International Herald Tribune)
The patriotic day of remembrance "Madaraka" symbolizes the importance of 21st century generations to remember the struggles of African freedom fighters. In an era of globalized materialism, commercialized ownership, and rhetoric of benevolent free markets economies for Africa, the battle for human rights, democracy, and anti-imperialism still exists. (East African Standard)
Should developing countries use DDT to combat malaria? Or should they prohibit DDT due to its harmful effect on the environment? The debate about this chemical continues in the international community. (New York Times)
While the international community focuses on Iraq, an entire continent is in dire need of attention: 40 million suffer from famine; populations are caught up in endless series of civil wars; debt and death rates rise; and development is at a standstill.(New York Times)
An interview with three Ghana ministers reveals that foreign aid is necessary, but trade and access to markets is essential for the long-term development of Ghana and Africa. Due to the lack of clout in the international economic institutions, African decision makers cannot apply appropriate policies to meet the needs of African communities. (AllAfrica)
According to the World Bank's Chief Economist for the Africa region, many African countries are not going to reach the millennium development goals of halving poverty by 2015, "unless their performance changes in a very surprising way." (AllAfrica)
In the sub-Saharan African region, many people are still dying from malaria, a curable and preventable disease. The executive director of UNICEF appeals for greater investment and political commitment at the global level to effectively combat malaria. (International Herald Tribune)
This Boston Globe commentary notes that relief efforts for Iraq are diverting international aid funding from poverty reduction programs in Africa. This shows that international organizations have limited ability to persuade powerful and rich countries to contribute to the development agenda when their immediate interests are not at stake.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is trying to convince Wall Street investment managers that trading on African stock exchanges not only benefits the region, it also makes financial sense. The UNDP released a handbook with comprehensive data and market information on all 18 African stock exchanges.
A World Bank report shows that the rate of return on foreign direct investment in Sub-Saharan Africa was higher than any other region in the world in 2002. (BBC)
In a statement to the UN Security Council, World Food Programme Executive Director James Morris asks how the international community can "routinely accept a level of suffering and hopelessness in Africa" above that tolerated in the rest of the world. Morris exhorts G8 members to take several concrete actions to relieve hunger in Africa.
The Commonwealth Businesswomen's Network held a one-day conference in Johannesburg to discuss the New Partnership for African Development's (NEPAD) failure to reflect the crucial role of women in Africa's development. Women dominate agricultural production in Africa and play an active role in the informal economy. (Inter Press Service)
Researchers estimate that endangered ape populations in Africa could decline by another 80 percent over the next 30 years due to poaching, deforestation, and the Ebola virus. Biodiversity researchers say working with local villagers, particularly in strife-torn Congo and Gabon, remains key to stemming the crisis. (Washington Post)
Tanzania hopes to attract foreign investment from the African diaspora in the United States by promoting "Florida-style" retirement homes around Lake Victoria. The US-based organization Africa United Against AIDS Globally led a group of wealthy African Americans to East Africa to discuss this and other investment opportunities. (East African (Nairobi))
Suresh Babu of the International Food Policy Research Institute argues that helping small farmers in Africa, especially women, to raise their crop yields by just one percent could drastically improve food security and reduce poverty on the continent. Babu adds that initiatives targeting infrastructure and AIDS are also crucial for long-term development in Africa. (Inter Press Service)
As the shadow of a potentially massive food crisis continues to loom over Ethiopia, some aid workers are beginning to question whether food aid alone can do anything to prevent the country's reoccurring food shortages. (Independent)
At the launch of the UN Global Compact in Zambia, French ambassador Jean-Paul Monchau announced that France would increase its development assistance to Africa by fifty percent over the next five years. Monchau said France wanted to reverse the economic marginalization of Africa and help the continent reach the Millennium Development Goals. (Post (Lusaka))
Africa's new development plan, Nepad, is linking poverty and instability to conflict and terrorism. By stressing interdependence between African and G7 nations, Nepad's development blueprint aims to stop the inequality that characterized past trade treaties. Critics of Nepad are not optimistic about the prospect for success of Africa's appeal for a just management of the globalization process. (BBC)
The prime minister of Ethiopia says unfair farm subsidies, unsustainable debt, plummeting coffee prices, and complacency in the international aid community have all contributed to the country's current hunger crisis. Aid donors have pledged only half of the 1.4 million tons of food the UN says the country's people will need to survive. (Guardian)
In Kenya's Nation, the World Bank vice-president of the Africa region writes that Kenya's proven commitment to democratic elections, battling corruption, and providing free education for all children sets a standard for other African countries, and brings hope to a continent accustomed to crisis.
The food security situation in Malawi has stabilized, and the government is now in the surprising position to sell its grain surplus. The Malawian government's last sale of surplus grain may have exacerbated the food crisis, but international relief organizations say the circumstances are right for this year's sale. (UN Integrated Regional Information Network)
The newly created African Union may finance its ambitious proposals, including a central bank, common African currency, and a continent-wide court, by offering people of original African origin dual citizenship in exchange for funds. The AU hopes to tap into the African diaspora's expertise and education to strengthen the continent's capacity for development. (South African Press Association)
At the African Union's (AU) first official summit, held in Ethiopia, African leaders expressed hope that the AU would have the capacity to tackle the poverty and violence plaguing the continent. The AU will include a Security Council designed to intervene in conflicts. (Addis Tribune)
The African Development Bank Group organized a conference to help African countries develop action plans to prevent and combat corruption. An ADB study found that African governments lose up to fifty percent of tax revenue, driving up the cost of public services and limiting access for poor people. (Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa))
African officials and non governmental organizations claim that the World Economic Forum in Davos largely ignored the serious issues that African countries face today. Only three African presidents were invited to the invitation-only gathering. (Inter Press Service)
World Food Programme head James Morris says that allowing grain to be bought and sold freely on the market would help alleviate Zimbabwe's severe food crisis. The government fixes the price of grain below regional market prices, inhibiting businesses from selling in Zimbabwe. (Associated Press)
After receiving a flood of letters in protest from the global public, Nestlé backed down from its demand that Ethiopia pay $6 million in reparations. The company settled on $1.5 million, which it will pour directly into famine relief efforts. (Guardian)
UN special rapporteur on structural adjustment programs and foreign debt Fantu Cheru argues that Africa should beware of focusing too heavily on market solutions to fight poverty. Instead, Cheru advocates democratization, educational reform, less dependence on international aid, and a more assertive, self-reliant approach to international trade. (UN Wire)
Ethiopia's successful agricultural reforms in the late 1990s produced a surge in crop yields, but by 2002 the country had plummeted into severe famine. What went wrong? This author argues that better transportation and stronger market infrastructure could have mitigated the effects of the current drought. (Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa))
Action Aid Uganda's Policy Coordinator provides an excellent critique of the New Partnership for African Development's (NEPAD) worthy intentions versus its flawed foundations. NEPAD's focus on market liberalization and capital flows risks marginalizing the needs of the poorest Africans in the interest of attracting foreign investment. (Monitor (Kampala))
Shortly after being elected as president of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki made good on his pledge to eliminate fees for public primary school. Thousands of children are taking advantage of the opportunity to learn, overwhelming the school system, but government officials are hopeful that "there is a lot of goodwill to make it work." (Christian Science Monitor)
In a country where forty percent of adults are HIV positive and a quarter of all citizens face starvation, a king's desire to afford himself a $45 million private jet draws deserved international censure. (Reuters)
Several senior UN officials, including Secretary General Kofi Annan and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Caroline McAskie, appeal to the international community not to let the crisis in Iraq divert attention away from Africa. Famine, AIDS, and war are tearing the continent apart at the seams, with high potential for destabilization. (Inter Press Service)
A Ugandan graduate student appeals to the president of Uganda that the government must integrate human rights into its economic development strategy. "Sustainable development is impossible without human rights, and vice versa," he writes. (New Vision (Kampala))
US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick will travel to Africa, in President Bush's place, to pitch a proposal for a free trade agreement between the US and southern Africa, but the AIDS crisis is conspicuously absent from his agenda. "Free trade doesn't work for the dead," said Asia Russell, director of international policy of the nonprofit Health Global Access Project. (New York Times)
Reeling from the AIDS crisis, widespread famine, soaring unemployment, and Mugabe's iron fist, Zimbabwe is in the midst of a serious crisis. The international community needs to engage the country now to prevent its total collapse, argues this Los Angeles Times article.
In Malawi, geopolitics, fear, and tradition intersect with the trauma of the AIDS crisis to produce a new alleged epidemic: vampires who disable victims with sleeping gas and draw their blood with syringes. According to one man's theory, the vampires sell the blood to donor nations in exchange for aid. (New York Times)
Two years after the US launched its African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), Lesotho stands as one of the only countries to have benefited from the plan. In Lesotho, however, free trade has brought new problems, including worker abuse, prostitution, and environmental degradation. (Christian Science Monitor)
Scientists believe that Africans suffering from food shortages across the continent may represent some of the first victims of climate change, as highly unusual weather patterns have left fields barren. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that the effects of global warming will continue to intensify water shortages, hunger, and disease. (Washington Post)
Food aid has failed to address the root causes of Ethiopia's cyclical famines. A Christian Aid report calls for investment in skills training, infrastructure building, restocking of pastoralist communities, and economic diversification to rebuild the country's resilience to drought.
Supporters of Swaziland's monarchy equate the movement for democracy with a modern assault on traditional Swazi values. While human rights activists condemn the Swazi government for its unfair political system and persecution of dissidents, supporters claim the system upholds the Swazi communal way of life. (Africanews)
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan writes in the New York Times that African women play a crucial role in Africa's ability to survive famine and the AIDS crisis. He argues that aid programs to Africa must address the soaring rate of HIV infection among women and increase women's capacity to provide for their families.
Rampant official corruption in Kenya drains money from public works and exacerbates poverty and inequality in a country where half the population lives under the international poverty line. This article suggests several minor, cost-free changes that Kenya could make to end corruption's drain on social services and the economy. (Daily Nation)
A severe drought and a destructive border war with Ethiopia have left Eritreans in need of immediate food aid. The UN World Food Programme requested US $105 million of food or cash contributions last month, but only received US $9 million. "Considering the magnitude of the crisis at hand, each day is critical," warns a WFP representative. (IRIN)
Swiss-based Nestle demands that famine-stricken Ethiopia reimburse it for $6 million lost after the Communist regime nationalized a firm owned by its subsidiary company in 1975. While Nestle made $3.9 billion in profits the first six months of this year, Ethiopia faces one of the worst food crises in its history. (BBC)
While Zimbabwe teeters at the edge of massive famine, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange is soaring as upper class Zimbabweans buy up stocks and hoard televisions, cars, houses, and US dollars to channel wealth into more secure assets. (New York Times)
A provision in the African Growth and Opportunities Act, a trade package hyped by the United States as its most generous ever to the continent, requires that factories source certain inputs only from the US or within Africa. The "rule of origin'"provision has shut out trade benefits from twenty countries that did not fully adhere to its conditions. (The Independent (Banjul))
The United Nations suspended its operations in Insiza, Zimbabwe in October to protest President Robert Mugabe's use of food aid as a weapon against opposition supporters in the midst of a famine. Pro-government militants raided UN food aid distribution centers, providing grain only to Mugabe's supporters. (New York Times)
Zambian opposition leader Michael Sata declares that the people of Zambia will refuse to capitulate to IMF demands that the country privatize its national bank under the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) scheme. Sata argues that the HIPC initiative has done nothing for Zambia, and the government should refuse further negotiations with the IMF. (The Post (Lusaka))
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin addresses the challenges and opportunities of internet and telecommunications for African development. Using Nigeria as a case study, he thoroughly outlines the implications of new technologies for governance, education, foreign investment, international trade and community development. (Vanguard)
Proponents of trade liberalization see it as the only way for Africa to grow, while critics point to Africa's significant decline in the global economy since its adoption of neo-liberal reform. Unfair agricultural subsidies in the North create more poverty, especially for farmers, and worsen the already severe famine and disease sweeping Africa. (BBC)
The World Food Programme is launching an urgent appeal for emergency food aid for Burundi, where a two month delay in annual rains and last year's bad harvest have resulted in famine conditions.
An awareness of humans' relationship with nature runs deep through traditional African values, argues Cameroon's Environmental Defense Party president. Today, as foreign timber and oil companies tear apart Cameroon's natural ecology, Cameroon must return to abandoned traditional values and challenge a political system that benefits the elite at the expense of the environment. (Le Monde Diplomatique)
The expensive, corruption-ridden Lesotho Highlands Water Project has already caused massive environmental damage and human displacement in Lesotho, but it represents a crucial source of money and jobs for the small landlocked country. "Dams bring progress," argues one Lesotho farmer, "and we want progress." (Washington Post)
Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, president of Zambia, told the Business Forum at the University of South Florida that unfair and exploitative trade relations impair African countries' ability to reduce poverty. Kaunda calls for fair trade, ethical business practices, and sensible aid conditionalities to promote equitable development in Africa. (The Post (Lusaka))
The UN Economic Commission for Africa argues that "no amount of growth will reduce poverty if it only targets an increase in the average income and does not aim at reducing income inequality." The commission met in Brussels to discuss how African countries can take more ownership of poverty reduction strategies.
Zambia has come under criticism for refusing genetically modified food for its starving citizens based on fears that GM food is "poisonous." However, George Monbiot argues that the real poison lies in biotech corporations' shameless tactics to use food aid as a covert means to conquer new markets in Africa. (Guardian)
The Guardian argues that as Africa slides deeper into debt and poverty, and famine sweeps across the continent, the rich world would better spend its two hundred billion dollars on a war against poverty in Africa than a war in Iraq.
The WTO's Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights agreement could have serious consequences for Kenya's ability to profit from traditional cultural products such as textile designs. Most African countries do not have the staff or the expertise to form a large presence at TRIPS negotiations, weakening their bargaining power. (Public Agenda (Accra))
Ethiopia is bracing for a food crisis more severe than the 1984 famine that left one million people dead. The United Nations and non-governmental organizations have begun to respond, but they warn that their resources will not meet the enormous need without an influx of donations. (The Times (London))
This Christian Science Monitor article explicitly links the famine in Southern Africa to farm subsidies in the US and the EU. Small scale African farmers cannot compete with heavily subsidized northern producers who sell their grain below the cost of production, driving already-poor farmers deeper into poverty.
Zimbabwe has survived severe drought in the past without collapsing into a food crisis. However, President Mugabe's corrupt policies, including redistributing land only to wealthy elite with no interest in farming and channeling food aid only to his supporters, have put poor Zimbabwean people at risk of starvation. (Christian Science Monitor)
The government of Zimbabwe accused the US of planning to invade the country after a State Department official stated it would take "very intrusive interventionist measures" to ensure food aid reaches hungry Zimbabweans. Aid organizations have criticized President Mugabe of allowing aid to reach only his supporters. (BBC)
The most severe drought in Eritrea's history may cause severe food shortages. Now that officials have detected the threat early, "if in four or five months we begin to see grossly emaciated children, it will be a failure of the international community." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks)
In 1999, Ivory Coast abandoned fixed cocoa prices for farmers, which had ensured they made a decent living. Now, while chocolate makers like Hershey and local exporters make enormous profits from high cocoa prices, they pay small-scale cocoa bean farmers barely enough to survive. (New York Times)
Zimbabwe's leaders are quick to blame the IMF for "destroying democracy in the Third World," but they abdicate their own responsibility for Zimbabwe's economic and human rights crisis. This article from the Zimbabwe Independent blasts the government for taking IMF advice only to maintain power, regardless of the interests of the Zimbabwean people.
During a two-day conference, African finance ministers discussed ways to move forward with the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). The ministers hope NEPAD will empower African countries on the world stage, pronouncing, "We can now talk to the north as equals." (South African Press Association)
An impassioned letter to the Addis Tribune condemns the Ethiopian government for "shamelessly parad[ing] their hungry peoples before the international community" in appeals for aid. The letter argues the government's utter incompetence and greed, in addition to drought, have caused persistent famine in Ethiopia.
The United States froze the assets of many Somali money transfer agencies after September 11, accusing them of supporting terrorists. The UN argues that disrupting the flow of money from Somali immigrants in the US to their families in war-torn Somalia could lead to a humanitarian disaster. (BBC)
The South African government responded to the escalating food crisis by "doing little" except "re-endorsing free-market mechanisms in the food industry." The free-market, however, pushes the price of food up during a famine, leaving people the choice to absorb higher costs or starve. (Mail and Guardian (Johannesburg))
African finance, development and planning ministers hope to make open access to industrialized countries' markets a priority on the Doha trade round agenda. The ministers argue that free and open trade would benefit Africa even more than international aid. (Business Day (Johannesburg))
The managing director of a South African electricity company envisions an "electricity grid across the continent" of Africa that could export energy to Europe. "Africa's got everything - the resources, the raw materials and the energy," he says. "It's just a matter of developing it." (BBC)
African NGOs complain that heads of state have not consulted with "ordinary Africans" in implementing NEPAD. These NGOs argue the development program is "donor-driven and not home grown." (Daily Observer)
The World Food Program reports that drought and the risk of famine in Africa has reached an "unprecedented" scale, challenging the ability of international relief organizations to respond. (BBC)
Former chairman of the Nairobi Stock Exchange Jimnah Mbaru proposes that an African Monetary Fund would be better equipped than the IMF to take into account each country's unique situation during financial crisis. (East African Standard)
Many Africans regard neo-liberal economic globalization as yet another form of Western imperialism, dominated by institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and the WTO. These institutions effectively overrun domestic policy-making for many African nations, and thus far have managed to increase both debt and poverty. (Weekly Trust, Kaduna, Nigeria)
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad analyzes economic globalization, particularly the need for developing countries to create new government regulation. He argues for "selective and strategic" integration into the global economy. (Globalist)
Malawi sold most of its grain reserves on the basis of IMF advice, leaving the country ill-prepared for a food crisis. The government of Malawi must develop the capacity to make its own decisions about economic policy, rather than relying on the help of foreign aid and financial institutions. (AllAfrica)
Greenpeace and ActionAid charge that the United States takes advantage of the food crisis in southern Africa to force open markets for surplus grain and to promote the interests of biotech corporations. (Guardian)
Economic assistance and aid to Ethiopia have done nothing to alleviate poverty, and accepting more aid only increases the country's debt burden. Instead, this author argues for an approach that relies on domestic resources and promotes Ethiopia's private sector as an engine of growth. (Addis Tribune)
Sub-Saharan Africans constitute ninety percent of the world's malaria victims, imposing a huge social and economic burden on the continent. New genetic information about malaria could lead to advanced prevention and treatment. (Washington Post)
from the World Development Movement
reveals that IMF and World Bank enforced policies are responsible for turning a food shortage into large-scale famine in Malawi.
African civil society leaders speak in Washington about privatization, NEPAD, and why Africa would be better off without the World Bank. (AllAfrica)
This article from the Malawi Insider calls on Malawi to "free itself" from the "indirect rule" of the World Bank and IMF and to develop policies in the interests of the Malawian people.
African leaders are right to blame western industrialized countries for "decades of imperial domination and unprecedented asset stripping," leaving Africa in increasingly desperate poverty. However, African governments must also acknowledge their own "corrupt and inefficient management of economies," "greed," and "disrespect for human rights." (Financial Gazette (Harare)
The United Nations expressed enthusiasm for the New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), but the United States remains cool to the plan. US Congressional members cite Zimbabwe's recent turmoil and concerns about human rights violations as reasons not to endorse NEPAD immediately. (allAfrica)
Carolyn McAskie reports that the AIDS epidemic greatly exacerbates the food crisis in southern Africa. She argues that the food crisis is "also a health crisis and an education crisis, and water crisis." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks)
During a special General Assembly session on Africa, Kofi Annan expressed enthusiasm for the African-conceived New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). Annan asserted that, "African countries . . . should be allowed to design, direct and implement their policies and programs consistent with their needs and circumstances." (Africa Recovery, UN)
In this article from the East African, George Ndegwa discusses international aid donors' heavy-handed, condescending conditions for aid to Kenya. He argues that Kenya must develop a plan to release itself from dependence on foreign aid, rather than simply complaining about donor conditions.
United States officials pressure African countries facing hunger epidemics to accept genetically modified (GM) grain in the form of aid. However, "in trying to force GM corn onto the plates of African children, the U.S. government is less concerned about their hunger than about expanding the market for biotech seed." (Yellow Times)
The privatization of water, electricity, and other public works in developing countries has left thousands of impoverished people without access to basic needs. South African companies tout privatization as the answer for the country's development woes, but the author of this article warns of privatization's dangers. (Business Day (Johannesburg))
Malawi launched an initiative to provide free primary education, but extreme poverty and hunger prevent many children from going to school. Instead, some children work during school hours in tobacco fields to supplement family incomes. (African Church Information Service)
This article argues that New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) economic policies must not mirror neoliberal structural adjustment programs. Instead, NEPAD policies should take advantage of domestic resources and respond to local conditions. (Independent (The Gambia))
Former World Bank vice-president George Saitoti denounced the Bretton Woods institutions for disregarding the interests of impoverished African countries. He accuses the World Bank and the IMF of formulating policies that "expose more people to poverty instead of reducing poverty." (East African Standard)
High tariffs, poor infrastructure, and the colonial legacy make it easier for many African countries to trade with Europe than with each other. African governments hope that fostering inter-country trade within Africa could spur industrialization, allow for economies of scale, and attract investors. (Africa Recovery)
A UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report shows that the proportion of people in Africa's least developed countries living below $2 per day increased between the 1960s and 1990s. UNCTAD argues that dependence on low value-added commodities and trade liberalization have worsened poverty in those regions. (Africa Recovery)
Local aid workers are warning international donors not to forget Ethiopians in the midst of southern Africa's crisis. The World Food Program has warned that up to 4 million people are at risk of food shortages. (OneWorld)
According to the 2002 UNDP Report, the 27 least developed countries in the world are all African. The BBC reports that not only did attempts to eliminate poverty fail, but the number of people living in "extreme poverty" on the continent grew.
The author argues that "nothing has changed dramatically on the social, political and economic landscape of black Africa since independence to suggest that the prescriptions now being put forward by the West, the International Monetary Fund, Nepad and the AU will work." (Mail and Guardian)
Civil Society organizations are urging the immediate "implementation of two key institutions" of the AU, which will enhance people's participation. The proposed organizations are "pan-African parliament and Economic, Social and Cultural Council." (IRIN)
The African Union is replacing the Organization of African Unity as the overarching governing body in Africa. To many skeptics this is just a new moniker for the old institution. For optimists the new element of peer review raises hope for change. (AllAfrica)
The BBC reports on the "the worst starvation to hit Southern Africa in over a decade." This article focuses on Angola, where the causes of mass starvation are man-made, political ones.
Le Monde Diplomatique draws attention to African leaders' apathy toward higher education, which they seem to regard as "unproductive." It argues that "there is a link between the deconstruction of the African authoritarian state and the crisis of knowledge in general."
This article underlies the irony surrounding Nepad, touted as an African-rooted solution to African problems. The author points out that Nepad's development policies do not take local people or struggles into account, but were created by a "few ruling elites and their international capitalist allies." He writes, "the hypocrisy is breathtaking." (ZNET)
Is NEPAD, as many claim, the plan that will save Africa? A closer look at this "one-size-fits-all solution" shows that the proposal fails to address some of Africa's most urgent problems such as AIDS and exploitation, and excludes African civil society from the process. (Global Policy Forum)
In a new report the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development concludes that poverty hinders economic growth by limiting the domestic resources available for private investment and public goods. International economic relationships could alleviate poverty but in practice they reinforce it.
The Toronto Star argues that the developed world's recent attention on Africa is an attempt to appease the increasingly vociferous "anti-globalization" movement. The author argues that perhaps "more dangerous [â€¦] are those who appear eager to help," such as the IMF, World Bank, and US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill.
In a harsh critique of Nepad, NGOs highlight the hypocrisy of the "superpowers" vis a vis African development: "In the real world, subsidised food products from the US and the EU have wrought havoc to agriculture in Africa and Latin America." (Africa News)
YellowTimes.org gets to the heart of water privatization in Africa and the disregard for the poor. This article argues, "investors say it brings efficiency. Opponents say it hurts the poor. Whatever one believes, the poor have no say in the matter."
This article examines the causes for Sub-Saharan Africa's "descent into misery" in the past twenty years. The author argues that "the regional roots of Africa's disorders, and the structural transformations in the world system led by the US that have overshadowed them," are primary causes for decline in growth. (New Left Review)
NEPAD and South African President Mbeki acting as frontman, will only increase African poverty instead of reducing it. This article argues that the partnership relies on neo liberal policies, unfair terms of trade, and political double standards. (World Development Moment)
As rock-star Bono and US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill travel around Africa witnessing the conditions of poverty first-hand, the pair disagree on the US' priorities and its outlook on foreign aid. (New York Times)
NEPAD must operate as "an internal relationship of accountability between African governments and their own citizens" rather than an external collaboration between African leaders and international donor governments so that it represents the interests of civil society. (Mail & Guardian)
The IMF promotes a system of double standards, particularly when formulating policy in Africa. Reform programs and unsustainable debt actually serve the interests of rich countries and deliberately stifle Africa's development. (Newswatch)
Many African scholars remain skeptical of NEPAD, arguing that citizens and civil society have not been adequately consulted and that it does not address gender issues. Some refer to NEPAD as "only okay on paper." (The East African)
President Robert Mugabe pronounced Zimbabwe in a state of disaster following reports that 7.5 million people will soon face serious food shortages. The World Food Program previously warned
that the drought would have severe effects on many Southern African countries vulnerable to famine. (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
Western companies require Africans to pay to connect to the Internet, while Americans and Europeans connect for free. The complex and expensive connection procedures significantly restrict Internet access throughout Africa while westerners connect easily. (Inter Press Service)
NEPAD's architects must address certain fundamental issues for the plan to function fairly and effectively. Several important issues are not clearly defined, including ownership, implementation, the roles of various African groups and the effects on IMF and World Bank initiatives. (Accra Mail)
Politicians and corporate executives insist that privatization and good governance are conditions for foreign investment in Africa. (AllAfrica)
Reacting to the African Development Indicators 2002 report, the World Bank is encouraging rich countries to follow through with aid pledges made at the Monterrey Conference. The report indicates that foreign aid to most African countries has significantly decreased in recent years. (Zimbabwe Independent)
A recent Dutch report to the UN stresses that economic development cannot succeed without safe, sanitized water. Last century, the world population tripled but water consumption increased six-fold. (BBC Online)
World Bank and IMF policies, which sacrifice social programs for economic integration and privatization, have undermined significant health care advances in Africa and increase the spread of infectious diseases. (Africa Action)
The instability of the international economy threatens to plunge Africa into a deeper financial crisis. High foreign debt, fluctuating financial markets and the global economic slowdown could all potentially cause significant harm to African economies as they continue to attract foreign investment. (Africa Recovery United Nations)
The 1990 World Summit for Children set far-reaching goals for improving child health, education and welfare. Twelve years later, many African children live in worse conditions, as they remain "trapped in a downward spiral of war, disease and deepening poverty." (Africa Recovery United Nations)
Seeking solidarity on problems such as debt, structural adjustment programs and unequal trade, more than 200 African social movements met to formulate an African perspective on global economic and development issues in preparation for the World Social Forum. (Africa Recovery United Nations)
Many scholars argue that NEPAD places too much emphasis on the rate of economic growth, failing to address important dimensions of poverty alleviation including equity and well-being. (Addis Tribune)
The author predicts the New Economic Partnership for Africa's Development's failure. He argues that NEPAD, like most reforms of the past, centers on rapid integration into the world economy- a process that has clearly failed to promote sustainable growth. (Foreign Policy in Focus)
Africa Action criticizes the US foreign aid initiatives announced at the Monterrey Conference. International aid must focus on debt cancellation and AIDS as more immediate solutions to poverty in Africa.
At the next G8 summit Chrétien expects to focus more on Africa and development aid than on terrorism. Bush is non-committal, and some foreign leaders have expressed frustration at the administration's inability to sustain concentration on any foreign policy issue unrelated to the anti-terrorism effort. (Washington Post)
A consensus statement issued at the Third African Development Forum (ADF III) outlined agreements about, challenges to, and proposals for the promotion of greater African integration under the African Union. (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa)
Opening Statement by K.Y. Amoako, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, at the start of the African Development Forum III.(United Nations Economic Commission for Africa)
The Nigerian government is trying to avert a crisis for Nigerian women. The country has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the world; about 170,000 pregnant women die each year, a full 10% of the world's maternal death cases. Poverty, lack of pre-natal care, and illiteracy are the main causes. (Harvard School of Public Health)
Many Ghanaian organizations are fighting the World Bank's water privatization package. Such measures will make water too expensive for poor people and will actually benefit foreign companies more than Ghana's citizens. (Bretton Woods Project)
Oxfam details the extent of poverty and disease in Africa, but affirms that "there are grounds for optimism." The paper makes several recommendations as to how African countries, together with the global community, can work towards poverty alleviation based on the interests of the African people.
At a UN-sponsored conference in Ghana, World Bank delegates and local officials expressed concern about Africa's prospects. (Accra Mail)
A Tanzanian journalist depicts the reality of Agoa – an African-US market access agreement – as benefiting private profiteers alone, throwing doubt on its ability to raise Africa out of poverty through trade. Rather, publicly owned co-operatives are the way to impart benefits to the ordinary citizen. (TOMRIC)
has commenced emergency food distributions to famine-endangered Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Speaking to agriculture experts, Nigeria's President Obesanjo solicited more resources for development at the Monterrey conference. (Agence France Press
Simon Jenkins in The Times, London, critically evaluates the UK government's development policies toward Africa in light of Prime Minister Tony Blair's tour of West Africa and support for NEPAD, the New Partnership for Africa's Development.
This excerpt from the book Zimbabwe's Plunge proposes a comprehensive non-neoliberal economic strategy based on "strategic principles of social justice" to bring Zimbabwe out of economic crisis. (IDEAs)
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) criticizes the World Bank and the IMF for continuing to implement structural adjustment and economic stabilization policies in Africa, despite evidence that those policies have failed.
This report from the Panos Institute analyzes the experiences of three African countries with the World Bank's Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRS). The report shows that governments and civil society lack a sense of "ownership" of PRSs.
While the WTO trade talks in Doha brought some favorable compromises to Africa, the wide-ranging and complex agenda set for the next few years poses a challenge for the limited resources available to many African countries. (Africa Recovery)
Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) K.Y. Amoako calls for new models to reverse the trend of declining aid to the African continent. The continent will probably not meet the development goals set at the UN millennium summit. (10 Downing Street)
As western countries divert their attention towards Pakistan and other allies in the war against terrorism, they neglect the war against poverty in Africa. (Guardian)
Africa can develop with the help of richer countries but Africans should devise plans of development. "The African Marshall Plan", an initiative by the presidents of South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria, includes ambitious aid and investment proposals. (Reuters)
African groups on debt suggest a swap initiative about debt payments. According to the initiative, creditors should donate debts to NGOs that then uses the money to carry out projects in the debtor country. (Inter Press Service)
The World Trade Organization needs to review its implementation procedures. The author argues that in order to solve developing country problems and make them equal stakeholders, the rules of the organization have to be strengthened. (South Centre)
Chairman of the European Union Guy Verhofstadt and five African presidents agree on a five-point plan, laying the basis for the New Africa Initiative (NAI). The plan aims to combat poverty and disease, and to allow Africa access to markets in the industrialized world. (Independent)
The WTO has nearly ignored all demands by the Zanzibar declaration. The author argues that the WTO draft is a trap for developing countries to give up their primary issues for illusory short term gains. (Attac)
African countries give their viewpoint on defining the "development content" of the WTO agenda. The countries demonstrate their interest in being proactive stakeholders in the multilateral trading system, instead of being forced to negotiate with rich nations on a unfair basis.(South Centre)
This UNCTAD report sketches the main policy measures required to reverse the economic situation in Africa. The report suggests, among other things, a doubling of aid flows and a critical review of current poverty reduction policies.
Roughly 30 percent of the world population –two billion people lack access to electricity. As a commodity, electricity is imperative for development, and in certain cases, advanced technology such as solar power, can make a real difference in developing countries. (New York Times)
A comprehensive study by the International Food Policy Research predicts rising hunger on the African continent. The study concludes that "without massive investment in irrigation, roads to take the harvest to market, and crop research, Africa might have 49 million malnourished children by 2020, a rise of 50 percent." (Washington Post)
While the walk out by both the US and Israeli delegates from the UN World Conference Against Racism has been met with regret by many participants, African delegates to the conference are demanding that "reparations for slavery take the form of a 'broad commitment' in support of new development initiatives on the continent." (World Bank Development News)
The US initiated Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is proving to be an industrial growth catalyst for Africa. However, AGOA also serves US economic interests as US exports to Africa grew 6.4 percent to US$5.9 billion during the year 2000. (African Church Information Service)
UNICEF and WTO called for ensuring the safe passage of health workers to investigate the recently confirmed case of wild poliovirus in southern Sudan. Sudan is now one of only a handful of nations where the virus still circulates and paralyses children. However, the killing of two polio vaccinators and beating of five health workers during National Immunization Days in Congo earlier this month highlighted the UN's concerns for the safety of its staff. (UN Integrated Regional Information Network)
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe announced that his government is redistributing white-owned farms to Zimbabweans. The land reform program has been recognized around the world as "just and reasonable." (Independent)
The creation of the EU-modeled African Union may stir noble ambitions of African leaders but may not bring real change, political will or the necessary resources to change the lives of most Africans, especially the poor. All Africa news analysis bluntly states, "it is a tall order," adding that "too much faith is being placed in a document that makes more sense in theory than in practice."
At a session of the last Organization of African Unity (OAU) summit, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urged the African leaders to unite to rebuild the continent. The organization's full transition into an African Union modeled on the European Union, however, may be difficult due to the two regions' contrasting histories. (Business Day, South Africa)
This commentary from the World Bank Development News examines the need for the rest of the world to care for Africa since increasing poverty could continue to undermine African societies through confrontation, violence and civil disorder.
With Britain promising a "derisory 50 million pound" financial aid to address the issue of poverty in Africa, the recent conditions imposed on Malawi however indicates that the British government might be asking to control African governments. (World Socialist Web Site)
Sub-Saharan nations have not gained much from the expansion of the global economy due to inadequate infrastructure among other problems. However, the region is expected to gain improvements in their living standards in the years ahead. (The Nairobi Nation)
"But this plan will come with "conditionalities", this time imposed by African leaders themselves and not by the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank. (Business Day)
The OAU President says this call is not for charity for the least developed countries but "a genuine international co-operation and solidarity in support of the efforts that African countries have deployed". (Business Day)
A new World Bank study shows that in societies, greater discrimination correlates to greater poverty, slower economic growth and a lower quality of life compared to those with less discrimination. (Africa News)
The UN Secretary General has said that for Africa to develop, it must provide an enabling environment for business to thrive, have access to open markets abroad and obtain help from "more fortunate countries" on other continents. (International Chamber of Commerce)
The UK Secretary of State for International Development observed that for development to be successful, it is important that more indigenous people in developing countries are consulted on how resources and revenue are to be used. (Africa News)
With African development constrained by the small size and lack of diversification of its economies the EU has announced that it would help with Africa's regional integration which is seen as an engine of economic growth and a reliable source of employment. (Oneworld.org)
Ambassador Kumalo has indicated that since foreign direct investment, development aid and terms of trade are deteriorating in Africa, the UN-Nadaf should consider blending Africa-specific elements of major UN conferences with other initiatives to help promote development in Africa. (News 24)
With the current levels of development, including small economies, non-diversified production bases, underdeveloped infrastructure and inadequate skilled human capital, experts say African economies must recognize the need for a regional integration. (Business Recorder)
This article from World Watch examines how the HIV epidemic is affecting Africa's life expectancy - an important indicator of development, and its overall development.
After a decade of liberalization and being the first country to benefit from the PSAC under the World Bank, Tanzania still ranks among the poorest in the world and is still heavily dependent on aid. (News24)
As a measure to fill the investment gap to help boost Africa's development, the Trade and Development Board of UNCTAD has stressed the need for increased foreign capital flows, private and official aid and institutional reforms to reverse capital flight.(Third World Network)
Heads of State Museveni, Mahathir and Mugabe urged Third World leaders to resist globalization, calling it an â€˜ideology'. The â€˜new world order' was nothing but the old one with new means of domination and exploitation. (News24)
Archbishop Ndungane said that debt repayment amounted to a new form of slavery. The money should be spent on health care and education instead. He further called for African leaders to step down when their time was up.' (East African Standard)
No other region has suffered from globalization as much as Africa, claims James Mutethia in the Nigeria Guardian. Its leaders and its people are growing ever more exasperated at demands for more liberalization while the developed countries shut their markets to African products.
UNDP head Mark Malloch Brown says developing countries should focus on stopping capital flight instead of relying on aid. He outlines UNDP's strategy as moving away from project aid to improving governance. (World Bank Development News )
Rubens Ricupero, head of UNCTAD, calls for a substantial increase in untied development aid and private investment to lift Africa's countries out of the poverty trap. (International Herald Tribune)
If Africa hopes to break its dependence on international aid, a huge sum of aid needs to be donated to the continent to promote stability. Then, hopefully, private investment will begin to flow and Africa's economic independence will begin to emerge. (Agence France Presse)
A doubling of today's development aid could trigger a virtuous circle of rising investment and increased consumption in underdeveloped countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, an UNCTAD study says. These countries' aid dependence could be ended within a decade.(UNCTAD Press Release)
Donor countries develop a sense of helplessness towards Africa and are tired of giving aid to the continent. Ogata, the head of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, comments that there is a feeling among donor countries that Africa is just producing refugees. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
Africa is often seen as "somehow uniquely doomed", says Charlotte Denny. Yet there are ways out of the continent's poverty: conflict resolution, debt relief and fair markets are just a few of them. (Guardian)
Building and sustaining sound "record management systems" can be expensive for developing countries with serious budget constraints. Yet the World Bank maintains that legally verifiable records play a key role in fighting corruption. (World Bank Development News)
In this speech delivered at the United Nations Conference on Women and Development, Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers makes rhetorical remarks about the importance of selectivity, support for integration, and substantial increased investments in education and in basic health. However, there are few indications that the US will commit more in the sub-Saharan Africa in the future. (Treasury News LS-681)
The World Bank reports that exclusion from the global economy, foreign aid dependence, corrupt governments, the spread of AIDS and malaria epidemics are all causes for the fall of income level in the already impoverished sub-Saharan Africa. (Los Angeles Times)
Three Congressional delegates are convinced that private investments and trade should play a primary role in developing Africa, coinciding with the ideas in the "African Growth and Opportunity Act". (Baltimore Sun)
An analysis by Business Day (Johannesburg) implies that the ultimate cause of all the calamities and humanitarian tragedies in Africa is "poverty".
Little progress has been made to alleviate the persistent poverty among African nations. ATTAC identifies the main concern as the huge amount of external debts. (ATTAC Weekly)
Article from Perspective examines the impact of the IMF and World Bank demands on Africa and argues that Africa's resistance to IMF/World Bank adjustment policies has abated while such policies have not fundamentally improved over the years.
In a recent message, Secretary General Kofi Annan stated that industrialization is the key to development in Africa, and that this could be achieved by a closer partnership among Africans and their international partners to increase foreign investment. (Ghanaian Chronicle)
Though Africa accounts for one fourth of the IMF's total members, and many African countries are contributing funds to the IMF, African members control only 5% of the vote. (Interpress Service)
UNCTAD secretary-general, Rubens Recupero, speaks out about UNCTAD's projects for Africa, calling for actions to help them prepare for multilateral commercial negotiations "which requires a lot of technical skill," he added. (Panafrican News Agency)
Despite the fact that more than 1.9 million people have been displaced over the past month by floods, International purse strings remain tied shut. (Independent UK)
Applauding the Algerian President's in-depth analysis of the economic plight of Africa and the inadequate response to it by Western governments, this (South-North Development Monitor) article looks beyond UNCTAD X to the future of trade and development policy.
In a continent that is grappling with satisfying the basic needs of its people, South African President Mbeki's call for the development of Internet infrastructure in Africa is especially far sighted.
An excellent analysis of the struggle between issue based coalitions, nation states and international trade and finance organizations to dictate the terms of sustainable development in Africa. (African Realities)
An in depth look at whether or not Africa is benefitting from the economic policies promoting globalization.(Africa Recovery
United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s is a compact of mutual commitments signed in 1991 by African countries and the international community. This document by UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali evaluates the progress of commitments and raises specific concerns about the resource gap in Africa's economic recovery and development.