bulletin of the AFRICA PROGRESS PANELVolume 4, Issue 1 — 13 January 2011
Africa Progress Panel
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The Janus Face of African Democracy
The two faces of African democracy dominating news today could not be more different. On the one side, the grim face of President Gbagbo scandalously trying to rob Mr.Quattara of his proven victory in last month’s elections in Cote d’Ivoire. On the other side, the happy face of President Kiir commenting on the peaceful and well-conducted referendum that is currently under way in Southern Sudan. Even though the final results will not be known for weeks, the referendum has already exceeded the hopes of many.
Only a month ago, doubts that it would take place on time or in an orderly fashion were wide-spread. But with the help of dedicated partners, the South Sudan Referendum Bureau, managed to complete the registration of 4 million voters, set up sufficient polling stations across the country (and selected cities around the world) and train enough polling staff in time for the voting to begin according to the schedule set out in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
Halfway through the polling period, more than 60% of registered voters have already cast their vote thereby clearing an important legal hurdle. The fact that the only polling station experiencing problems happens to be in the heart of flooding in Brisbane, Australia, speaks volumes about the high level of organization on the ground in Sudan. Positive endorsements by international observers, including APP Chair Kofi Annan and former US President Jimmy Carter, have also given the process the necessary international credibility.
But ultimately, it will be the results that matter. Most people expect separation which hosts a series of new challenges to resolve. Immediate priorities are maintaining stability, repatriating returnees, resolving border and citizenship issues, particularly in Abyei and South Kordofan, and renegotiating wealth and asset sharing agreements. In the longer term the challenges will include diversifying two oil-dependent economies, building strong institutions and political parties in a region accustomed to strong men and one party rule, and formulating and implementing purposeful national development plans.
This week’s seamless democratic exercise has certainly raised hopes (and stakes) across the world, but will this initial success pervade in the longer term? Let’s hope they will show us that the happy face of African democracy can be the norm, not the notable exception.
- Côte d’Ivoire’s political crisis remains deadlocked despite mediation attempts by African leaders. ECOWAS has avoided taking any military action to oust Mr. Gbagbo as anticipated for fear that it could result in carnage. With several elections scheduled in Africa this year, this Standoff could “set a trend of incumbents trying to cling to power.”
- South Sudan has reached the 60% turnout threshold required for a landmark independence vote to be valid after three days of polling in what seems to hold an uncertain future for Africa’s largest country. Amid growing certainty that the vote will favour secession in the ongoing referendum, experts argue that partition will not benefit the Sudanese, and instead increase independence demands from other African regions.
- The BRIC club which currently includes Brazil, Russia, India and China is expanding to include South Africa as a full member. The Chinese believe South Africa’s accession will promote the development of BRIC and enhance cooperation of emerging market economies.
- Protests in Tunisia and in neighbouring Algeria are raising questions about the hard-line governments in the two North African countries following the widespread rioting and fatal clashes with the police. At least 35 people have died in violent unrest in Tunisia and two in Algeria in riots linked to rising food prices and high unemployment.
- Niger held local and regional elections on Tuesday in a prelude to presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for January 31. This vote is an historic moment that marks a further step towards a return to democracy, following a military coup last February that ousted President Tandja.
- Central Nigeria has seen a wave of violence in recent weeks including Christmas Eve bomb blasts and reprisal attacks that killed at least 80 people between Christain and Muslim ethnic groups. Violence underscores security concerns in Africa’s most populous nation as it prepares for Presidential, Parliamentary and State Governorship elections in April.
AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK
- The AfDB invests more than $1 billion in energy projects in Egypt, the DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania
- Ahead of the New Year, AfDB approved $806M for investment in the African transport sector
- AfDB signs budget support agreement for education in Niger (article in French)
- ECOWAS has suspended Côte d'Ivoire from ECOWAS decision-making bodies and searches for a regional solution to the crisis in the country
Infrastructure Consortium for Africa
- 71,000 km of rural roads in Ethiopia are to be constructed during the next five years, and connect all rural localities in the country to the national road network at a cost of $1.57 billion
- IMF launches two new trust funds to help countries improve their tax policy and to help countries manage their natural resource wealth
- IMF, together with the World Bank, give up to $1,8 billion in debt relief for Togo and $1.2 billion in debt relief for Guinea-Bissau
- The IMF Executive Board approves $3,56M for The Gambia after a satisfactory review of the country’s economy
- As the Southern African Development Community (SADC) strengthens partnership agreements with the EU, Zimbabwe is said to be left out from the regional integration
THE GLOBAL FUND
- Following the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, the GF announces it will freeze disbursment of grants to the country
- The GF approves $1,7 billion in new grants for the next two years, allowing to reach millions of additional people with prevention, treatment and care
- The UN seeks more than $20M to respond to the humanitarian needs of people in Côte d’Ivoire and in its neighboring countries, and the UN also intends to boost peacekeeping in the country with up to 2,000 additional troops
- UN, in collaboration with MasterCard Foundation, announces an initiative that will increase access to financial services for young people in Sub-Saharan Africa
- 11 African countries supported by UNDP pledge to improve the situation of women and children by ensuring an effective regional mechanism to address sexual violence
- WHO World Malaria Report 2010 shows rapid progress towards international targets, including more than 50% reduction in malaria cases or malaria admissions and deaths in 11 African countries
- A Global Witness report “Crude Calculations” provides an analysis on Sudan’s oil revenues and the sector’s transparency
- FAO releases 2011 Food Price Index and warns of ‘food price shock’ in 2011, despite that the global food prices has already hit all-time high
- Financial Times (UK): Sudan is a warning to all Africa, 7 January 2011
Mo Ibrahim reflects upon the political situation in Sudan ahead of the referendum on independence. He appeals to fellow citizens in Khartoum to foster brotherhood and unity among all Sudanese for the sake of progress.
- Pambazuka News: Political financing, incumbency and free and fair elections, 6 January 2011
Uche Igwe, a visiting scholar at John Hopkins University, comments on the recent appointment of an electoral commissioner ahead of the upcoming elections in Nigeria. He states that for credible , free and fair elections to take place, “a functional system rather than an individual is what is needed to sanitise a process that has become a vehicle for electoral fraud.”
- The Economist (UK): A more hopeful continent- the lion kings? 6 January 2011
Six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies over the past decade to 2010 were in Africa and that the future looks even brighter.
- The New Times (Rwanda): Free Markets can still feed the world, 5 January 2011
Robert Zoellick urges the G20 to prioritize the issue of food on its agenda and that practical action by the G20 could help make a real difference. He also argues that the answer to food price volatility is not to prosecute or block markets, but to use them better.
- Le Républicain, Mali - L’ONU recolonise l’Afrique, by Tierno Monénembo, 4 January 2011
With the examples of Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea, a Guinean intellectual accuses the UN and more largely the international community of overstepping their rights. The two successful candidates may have received international support thanks to their French or American connections (article in French).
- Huffington Post (USA): Why do things always fall apart in Africa? 3 January 2011
The author argues that the reason why things fall apart in Africa is that over the past 50 years of independence, “it has been nearly impossible to hold the continent’s so-called leaders accountable.”
What matters ultimately in this referendum is the voice of the people. Their voice must be heard.
- Kofi Annan commenting on Southern Sudan independence referendum
- Brazil announces investments in Sudan and stresses the desire of Brazilian companies to further expand their investments in the country
- The EU donates €10M to support the Government of Sierra Leone in dealing with consequences of the economic crisis
- The French development agency (AFD) agrees to deploy some €1.7 billion for development projects mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa, including agricultural development, energy and education projects
- The French development agency (AFD) partners with the French Environment and Energy Management Agency to help strengthen energy and climate change operations in Sub-Saharan Africa
- France announces continued support to Kenya for the development of the country’s energy infrastructure as well as to deal with the issue of climate change
- The African Carbon Asset Development Facility (ACAD), a public–private partnership funded by Germany’s International Climate Initiative, announces that it will support seven climate protection projects in Africa
- The Government of Germany grants €1M to the EAC Partnership Fund to help facilitate the development of multi-year plans
- The German Development Bank will help improve medical care for rural communities in Ghana by converting VW micro-buses into ambulances and mobile clinics
- Turkey donates $2M to support the UN World Food Programme in its humanitarian operations in Niger and Chad
Presidential Elections Africa 2011
Central African Republic
23 January- 1st round,
Source: EISA (A non-profit organization that seeks to promote credible elections & democratic governance in Africa)
|16-18 January||Conference on "Making the Most of Africa’s Graduates and the Role of International Partnerships," organized by the ACU and British Council: Accra, Ghana|
|17-20 January||World Future Energy Summit: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates|
|17 Jan- 4 Feb||48th Session of OHCHR Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Geneva, Switzerland|
|24-25 January||IFAD conference on new directions for smallholder agriculture: Rome, Italy|
|24-31 January||16th AU Summit on “Towards Greater Unity and Integration through Shared Values:" Addis Ababa, Ethiopia|
|26-30 January||World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011: Davos-Klosters, Switzerland|