bulletin of the AFRICA PROGRESS PANELVolume 5, Issue 3 — 10 February 2012
Africa Progress Panel
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Embracing Africa: The Continent of Opportunities
Panel members Kofi Annan, Bob Geldof, Michel Camdessus, Olusegun Obasanjo, Peter Eigen and Bob Rubin recently convened an expert meeting recently to discuss Africa’s place in a changing world. Where geopolitical relationships have changed fundamentally, put in relief by the past year’s breakneck pace of change in the Middle East and North Africa. From Egypt to Davos, many are questioning assumptions about how the world works, including rethinking “donor driven” aid, mutual accountability, the role of the state and established development models, to mention a few. With this in mind, participants at the Africa Progress Panel Expert Consultation discussed these sea changes and what they may signify for African development.
In some respects, participants noted, the window of opportunity for Africa in this new global context has never been wider. Increasingly, the world is waking up to the great potential that Africa holds to drive economic growth and development both at home and on a global scale.
Underlying this wave of optimism, lays the fundamental dividend from Africa’s demographic nature. Africa is said to be experiencing a so called “youth bulge” precisely at the time when most regions of the world are ageing. Participants identified this moment as a tremendous opportunity for African development - economically, socially and politically - as well as a potentially global resource.
However, Africa’s demographic growth also translates into an initial seven to ten million young people entering the labour force annually. This has multiple ramifications in terms of the strain it will put on the African state to support its citizenry, and the optimistic short-term economic growth scenarios for Africa may not be sustainable over the long-term.
Public education, some form of “industrial policy” and infrastructure are areas identified by participants, as requiring intensive and immediate investment to seize development opportunities. Closely related to this is the issue of developing agricultural productivity.
Another challenge identified was the need for “jobs and justice”. This can only be achieved through good governance, which by definition must be inclusive of the voices of the governed and will have to incorporate diverse grass roots movements and a gender perspective that promotes meaningful involvement. Instability, fed by territorial and ethnic divisions continues to be an obstacle to popular participation, and therefore, security will figure as a key issue in implementing a “just” development agenda.
On balance, substantial “peace dividends”, strong economic growth and quantum leaps in technology such as those seen in the field of ICT, have brought new resources to the continent. However, this has yet to be translated into relative social and economic progress, creating a disconnect and the potential for explosion if the promise of electoral processes and freedom of expression are not met with greater opportunities for a wider range of participants.
Seizing opportunities for Africa in light of the changing global landscape will require greater resource mobilization across the board, domestically and internationally. Signs of this are already apparent from the sound fiscal policies maintained through economic downturn, to increased foreign and domestic investment, and current rethinking of development assistance, all of this provides an important resource base with which to confront the “risks” to realizing long-term gains.
- With only a few weeks left before Senegal’s February 26th presidential elections, violent protest erupts over the country’s court ruling that President Abdoulaye Wade can run for a third term in office. Senegal - seen as one of the most democratic and stable country in West Africa - the only country in the region never to have experienced a military coup, is faced with rising tensions that could threaten the country’s social foundations.
- The AU has decided that Mr Ping should remain at the head of the organization until fresh elections are held in June 2012, after four rounds of voting, where the incumbent chairman failed to get two-thirds majority. Analysts say, the failure to elect the Chairman of the AU Commission is an indication of the changing power dynamics in Africa. It raises fears that some powerful Western nations are seeking to influence events at the AU.
- Despite complaints of electoral fraud in Chad’s local elections, President Deby expresses satisfaction at seeing the first local elections in the central African country's history, after the ballot had been rescheduled several times. According to provisional results, Chad's ruling MPS party won the majority of seats in the main cities. Final election results are due to be announced on February 22.
- Nigerian oil militants, MEND, who signed an amnesty agreement in 2009, have destroyed an oil pipeline in the oil-rich Niger Delta, in their first attack in more than a year. The militant group claims the attack was a reminder of their presence in the area.
- Analysts warn that the Democratic Republic of Congo is gradually sinking into chaos following the announcement of provisional election results, which gave President Joseph Kabila and his allies an outright parliamentary majority, in the first Congolese-organised polls since the end of a war in 2003. International and local observers say the election was flawed - and the opposition party has rejected the results and called for a full recount of presidential and parliamentary votes.
- Sudan's president has launched a body intended to kick-start development in the war-torn western region of Darfur.The new Darfur Regional Authority aims to share power and wealth, compensate those affected by the nine-year war and help the return of displaced people.It was formed as part of a peace deal to end the war, and signed by one of Darfur's weaker rebel movements. But the other rebel groups, who say they are fighting against their marginalisation, rejected the deal.
- A young Cameroonian engineer has built the first fully touch screen medical tablet (Cardiopad) made in Cameroon and in Africa – an invention that could save numerous human lives by enabling medical examinations to be performed remotely and the results transmitted electronically, saving patients the hassle of having to travel to the city.
In the blogs...
- The Guardian’s Poverty Matters Blog: The west has no right to criticize the China-Africa relationship, 8 Feb. 2012 – The author argues that Chinese aid to Africa will have strings attached, despite claims of ‘no conditionality’, but western governments should not be too quick to cast accusations.
- Open Society Blog: Communicating the cause: NGOs and social media in Uganda, 7 Feb. 2012 – In this blog, the author discsses how NGOs and other organisations are using social media in Uganda to advance their work and facilitate debate.
- Oxfam Blog: Reviving Rio? Global sustainability Panel Report throws a life-ring, 6 Feb. 2012 – Sarah Best, a Policy Advisor at Oxfam Great Britain, discusses the good and the bad of the report recently published by the High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability.
- The Africa Progress Panel Blog: Growth doesn’t mean trickle down, 6 Feb. 2012 – APP’s Senior Advisor in Kenya, Peter da Costa, writes about how the benefits of economic growth often do not trickle down to ordinary citizens and so, in light of the wave of ‘Afro-optimism’, someone has to intervene and ensure that everyone benefits.
- How We Made It in Africa.com: Sub-Saharan Africa at the World Economic Forum-Key takeaways, 31 Jan. 2012 – This article outlines the key takeaways for sub-Saharan Africa from the recently concluded World Economic Forum in Davos.
- The 2012 AfDB agriculture strategy is to focus on a drought resilience building programme, says AfDB’s Agriculture and Agro-industry Department
- The AfDB expects the Ghanaian economy to grow between 8-9 per cent by the end of this year, according to the AfDB’s Resident Representative in Ghana
- AfDB and World Customs Organization partner to strengthen African Customs administrations
- The AU adopts a plan to create a continental free trade area by 2017 and has estimated that Africa's infrastructure would need about $60 billion over the next 10 years
- AU leaders endorse a major continent-wide infrastructure programme that is expected to run through 2040
- Head of the UK’s National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) lauds EAC police harmonization programme
- EAC economies grew by 5% last year, making the region one of the fastest growing in the world
THE GLOBAL FUND
- G20 unlikely to agree soon on IMF funding, says Mexico’s finance minister
- Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party, the country’s biggest parliamentary group, said it will vote against a $3.2 billion IMF loan if the government fails to convince lawmakers it has no alternatives
- Mauritius-based AfrAsia Bank to invest $16.5 million in SADC and COMESA regions
- SADC intervenes to ease tensions in Madagascar, urging the main political players to speed up implementation of a roadmap intended to restore constitutional order in the country
- The UN says the famine in Somalia has ended but warns that the crisis is not over
- UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations stresses need to boost peacekeeping operations in DRC
- According to a new report published by the World Bank, Africa loses billions in potential trade earnings every year because of high trade barriers with neighbouring countries
- Increase local procurement in mining to promote growth in Africa, according to a new World Bank study
- BBC News Africa: African viewpoint: A year of great leaps forward? 8 Feb. 2012 – Filmmaker and columnist, Farai Serenzo, looks to the on-going Africa Cup of Nations and the recent AU meeting and questions what the year ahead looks like for Africa.
- The Daily Maverick: The Chinese Model is morbidly obese, 7 Feb. 2012 – Ivo Vegter comments on the South African government’s plan to announce a major change in economic policy for the country. He argues that adopting the Chinese economic model, as has been reported is the government’s intention, would be a grave mistake.
- The Huffington Post: Women and the Egyptian Revolution, 7 Feb. 2012 – In this article, an anonymous woman writes about her and her friends’ experiences of being women in a changing Egyptian society. She questions how a functional democracy can be implemented when women live under a constant threat of being (sexually) harassed and abused.
- Financial Times: Africa can remind the world of the capitalist way, 6 Feb.2012
Dambisa Moyo, author of Dead Aid, argues that Capitalism is thriving well in Africa.
- The Atlantic: The Egypt-US breakup: It’s not you, it’s me, 6 Feb. 2012 – Steven A. Cook, an author and senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations, discusses why he thinks Egypt and the US should distance themselves from each other, and why the US should bring an end to their aid programme in Egypt in particular.
- Mail and Guardian: After the botched election the AU needs to bridge the divide, 3 Feb. 2012 – Gilbert M. Khadiagala, Head of the Department of International Relations at Wits University in South Africa, discusses the recent AU meeting in Addis Ababa and how to handle the fall-out over the “botched” elections.
Selection of quotes“
What some see as fragility, others see as opportunity.
You can’t have long term development without stability and you can’t have stability without the rule of law & respect for human rights.
How can you eradicate poverty when you can’t even measure it?
Listen to the voice of the people for whom development is sought.
We need to stop talking about ‘poor Africa’ and the ‘rich west.’
- Australia sign an agreement to support the AU’s Institution and Capacity Building Programme
- Australia to give Africa $19 million in humanitarian aid
- Sudanese rebels free 29 kidnapped Chinese workers 11 days after they were taken hostage
- Nigeria seeks EU help to get rid of small arms in West and Central Africa
- Oxfam calls on EU not to shut down ‘pharmacy of the developing world’ by pressuring India into agreeing to new trade rules that could deny hundreds of millions of people access to affordable medicines
- EU envoy talks tough to Somalian leaders, saying they must press ahead with political reforms or risk losing aid form the EU, the country’s biggest donor
- Germany gives EUR 1.2 million for vegetable pest management initiatives in Tanzania, Kenya, Madagascar and Thailand
- Democratisation well on the way in Tunisia, says German Foreign Minister
- India’s state-controlled NMDC Ltd. looking to buy coal assets in South Africa, according to company executive
- Russian and Chinese arms ‘fuel Darfur abuse’, according to Amnesty International
- Russian Deputy Foreign Minister expresses support for African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)
- South Africa’s unemployment rate fell by 1.1% to 23.9% in the fourth quarter of 2011, Statistics South Africa reported this week
- South Africa signs an economic pact aimed at fostering investment in Burundi’s financial services, transport and agriculture
- UK appoints first ambassador to Somalia in 21 years
- British technology firm, Ensoft, has donated funds to bring computing solutions to three rural communities in Africa
- US and Tunisia work together on first ever medical readiness and training exercise, which forms part of a broader series of military-to-military activities aimed at strengthening partnerships between the US and African nations
- US Energy Trade Mission to visit four African countries
- Despite turmoil in the world economy, global foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows rose by 17% to $1.5 trillion in 2011, according to UNCTAD’s Global Investment Trends Monitor.
- A new report from the US-based One Earth Future Foundation says Somali piracy cost the world economy nearly $7 billion in 2011, including more than $2 billion for military operations, armed guards and equipment to protect ships.
- Africa is emerging as an infrastructure hot spot, according to the 2015 Infrastructure Report to be released at a gathering of the Top 100 Global Infrastructure Projects at the 5th Annual Global Infrastructure Leadership Forum.
- UN’s latest World Youth Report highights that gloabl youth unemployment is on the rise, stating that current education systems are not preparing young people adequately to compete in the job market.
- AMCEN Guidebook: Addressing Climate Change Challenges in Africa: A Practical Guide towards Sustainable Development, intended for policymakers and practitioners, provides guidance and practical advice on how to address climate change issues in the development and implementation of actions leading to sustainable development.
- The High-level Panel on Global Sustainability recently released their report “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing”. The report contains 56 recommendations to put sustainable development into practice and to mainstream it into economic policy as quickly as possible.
|13 February - 9 March||80th Session of the OHCHR Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Geneva, Switzerland|
|20 February||World Day of Social Justice|
|20-22 February||UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum: Nairobi, Kenya|
|22-23 February||16th African Water Association (AFWA) International Congress and Exhibition: Marrakech, Morocco|
|22-24 February||CG/LA 5th Annual Global Infrastructure Leadership Forum: London, United Kingdom|
|23-24 February||Morocco Investors' Summit : The ultimate gateway to doing business and invest in the Maghreb Countries: Casablanca, Morocco|
|25-26 February||G20 Finance Ministers/Central Bank Governors Meetings: Mexico City, Mexico|
|26 February||Presidential Elections: Sénégal|