bulletin of the AFRICA PROGRESS PANELVolume 4, Issue 15 — 29 September 2011
Africa Progress Panel
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1202 Geneva, Switzerland
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Tackling the white elephant
This past week’s Africa Investor events aimed at linking US investors to Africa generated excitement and optimism about what is in store for the continent. The feeling was palpable in the present audience which included political leaders, business leaders, bankers, investors, and international civil servants.
There was broad recognition of Africa’s potential as a place to invest, make money and provide the world with much needed goods and services -at rates unavailable anywhere else. However, equally as important was the recognition that all of this growth and potential rests on good governance and effective partnerships where all stakeholders have clear roles and responsibilities – a key message in our 2011 Annual Progress Report.
Governments need to improve investment climates, promote competitiveness, strengthen the rule of law, and integrate with other African economies. The importance of regional integration cannot be under-emphasized. Without integration, the market size and economies of most African countries will not achieve their full potential and will remain marginalized. Moreover, the huge challenges and gaps -whether in infrastructure or services - cannot be managed by the public sector alone; partners are paramount. Weak governance, corruption, inefficient institutions, and lack of skilled workers –all elements that used to be part of the traditional white elephant in meetings trying to promote investment - were discussed as Africa’s potential and success stories were shared.
The private sector acknowledges Africa’s potential and investors are already extremely active where institutions are solid, the law is respected, and a strong vision articulated by the government and their people.
Africa finds itself at a unique inflection point where long-term growth and private sector development will reflect interrelated social, political and economic transformations such as rapidly growing young populations, rising consumer demand from an emerging middle class, increasing productivity linked to urbanization, and an expanding labour force. Indeed, private sector flows to Africa are already higher than official development assistance. Furthermore, in 2010, foreign direct investment flows to Africa surpassed those received by India. This time it is about sound business and investment opportunities.
African leaders must not squander these opportunities. They are well aware of what needs to take place to ensure that Africa’s seizes the opportunities wisely but they need collective support. As our chair, Kofi Annan remarked on Africa’s progress, “There is no lack of resources, no deficiency of knowledge and no shortage of plans. Africa’s progress rests...on the mobilisation of political will, both on the continent and internationally”. It is time for Africa’s leaders; international partners and the private sector to each play their role.
- Egyptian military rulers announce that the country will hold its first parliamentary election on November 28 since the expulsion of Hosni Mubarak therefore ending months of speculation on the timing of the key vote. Elections expected to take place in three stages across different districts sparked fierce criticism among activists.
- Following renewed conflicts in Sudan's tense border regions of South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei, the International Crisis Group warns that there could be an eruption of civil war in Sudan, if no urgent action is taken. With hundreds of thousands of people displaced, some of whom which have fled into Ethiopia from Blue Nile, the growing war on multiple fronts poses serious dangers for the country, for its future relationship with the Republic of South Sudan and for the stability of the region as a whole.
- Côte d’Ivoire launches its Truth, Reconciliation and Dialogue Commission aimed at forging unity and bringing peace after months of post-election violence that rocked the West African country. The commission modeled on the South African-style commission is expected to hear grievances from the families of people killed by Gbagbo’s military but there are a lot of uncertainties about exactly how it will function.
- With 13 million people affected by drought in East Africa, Oxfam, ONE and Save the Children have released a “Charter to End Extreme Hunger,” which outlines five key actions that governments of rich and poor countries should take to stop widespread starvation as a result of drought, high food prices and conflict.
- Kenyans, Africa and the whole world are mourning the death of Nobel Prize-winning environmentalist Wangari Maathai, one of Kenya’s finest veterinary scientists and most dedicated campaigners for the world’s environment health.
- AfDB approves a loan of $258 million to finance public sector growth in Burkina Faso, Mozambique and Niger
- AfDB and the World Bank reaffirm their commitment to support Côte d’Ivoire’s post-crisis reconstruction and reconciliation program
- AU and UN agree to strengthen cooperation to promote peace across the continent
- The FAO and the AUC will work together to strengthen sustainable food security and long term planning to minimize avoidable famine and food shortages in Africa
- EAC and AU sign a €3.4 million agreement for the implementation of the African Peace and Security Architecture in the East African region
- EAC official calls for involvement of regional blocs in the ongoing efforts to develop a framework for the African Green Fund
- EIB is set to provide a funding package of €8 million aimed at supporting small businesses, growth and job creation in Rwanda
- IMF members vows to confront the global economic crisis and to prevent it from worsening
- The IMF and the AfDB sign an agreement for a contribution of $7.5 million by the AfDB to support IMF capacity building in Africa
- Next generation of development goals must more prominently reflect sustainability, says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
- The Coca-Cola Company and UN Women form global partnership to accelerate women’s economic empowerment
- Nearly $45 billion has been pledged to support the UN Every Woman Every Child initiative in the year since the effort to reduce maternal and child mortality rates began, with 11 billion from the world’s poorer countries
- Political leaders sign a joint declaration on advancing women’s political participation at UNGA side event in New York
- WTO scales back its trade forecast to 5.8% from their earlier estimate of 6.5%, since trade has grown more slowly than expected in recent months and the outlook for the global economy is increasingly uncertain
- The World Bank and Switzerland launch a $9 million joint program to strengthen the management of fiscal shocks in middle-income countries
- The World Bank approves a grant of $50 million for a Youth Employment and Skills Development Project for the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire
- According to the The MDG Gap Task Force Report 2011: The Global Partnership for Development: Time to Deliver, significant gaps remain in delivering on the commitments in the areas of aid, trade, debt relief, and access to new technologies.
- Aid dependency among 54 of the world’s poorest countries has declined by a third over the last decade, according to the Real Aid 3 report by ActionAid.
- A publication by the AfDB, World Bank and Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development entitled “Financing Africa: Through the Crisis and Beyond” takes a fresh look at Africa’s financial systems in the light of major changes that have taken place in the global financial structure in the wake of the 2008 world financial crisis.
- Developed countries are being far from transparent about the climate-change finance they promised to developing nations at the Copenhagen summit in 2009, according to a scorecard developed by the IIED.
- “Land and Power: The growing scandal surrounding the new wave of investments in land” published by Oxfam highlights the growing pace of land deals brokered around the world, often to the peril of poor communities who lose their homes and livelihoods.
- A new study “Leveraging ICT for the Base of the Pyramid”co published by Hystra and Ashoka offers new insight into effective and sustainable business models that have a positive socioeconomic impact for the poorest.
- A report by the World Bank and IFC finds that government reforms enhance economic opportunities for women but that they still face legal and regulatory hurdles to fully participating in the economy.
- The International Business Leaders Forum releases ‘Many Healthy Returns’, a specialised report and action framework on the role of business in tackling chronic or 'NCDs' diseases and the overlapping interests between business and global health strategy.
- A global malaria prevention scorecard indicates that Rwanda is on track in the fight against the disease. The scorecard is expected to help politicians, health care professionals and others track each country’s efforts in the fight against malaria on the continent.
For those who want to deal with Africa; a population of almost 1 billion... it would be easier to deal with Africa as an entity, rather than dealing with 55 entities, 55 sets of policies, 55 currencies, 55 custom procedures, 55 monetary and fiscal exchanges…
- Olusegun Obasanjo, member of Africa Progress Panel
- The Guardian (UK): Aid agencies' role is to save lives – there are times when we can't be political, 19 Sept. 2011 Max Lawson responds to accusations against aid agencies not being political enough with regards to the famine in Somalia. He says that the role of aid agencies is to save lives and remaining impartial is sometimes the best way to deliver aid.
- Pambazuka News (Pan Africa): No honour among dictators, 22 Sept. 2011 - According to a Professor of political science at Carlifonia State University, Meles Zenawi has no qualms about backstabbing his professed friend, President Omar Bashir of Sudan, which is nothing strange. ‘Dictators are in power for themselves and their cronies.’
- Mail and Guardian (South Africa): A Sovereign Africa needs more dialogue, 23 Sept. 2011 Diplomatic contradictions in Côte d’Ivoire and Libya reveal a lack of inter-African coordination, writes Francis Kornegay, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Global Dialogue.
- The New York Times (USA): On top of famine, unspeakable violence, 24 Sept. 2011
Nicholas Kristof condemns the violence outbreaks when refugees flee towards Kenya, which adds another layer of despair to the worst humanitarian crisis ever; suggesting that aid agencies be established at the border to drive refugees to nearby camps in Kenya.
- Afronline: Obasanjo roots for regional integration, 27 Sep. 2011- While addressing African heads of State and international business leaders at the New York Stock Exchange, President Obasanjo called on African leaders to accelerate regional integration to boost economic and social development in the continent.
- Zambia’s opposition leader Michael Sata has won Zambia's presidential election following a tight race with incumbent Rupiah Banda marred by scattered reports of violence throughout the country. Michael Sata is scheduled to be sworn in as the next president on Friday, in what will be the country's second democratic transition of power since its independence from Britain.
- Two presidential candidates rejected by the Cameroon's electoral commission may run in the Oct. 9 election, bringing the total number of aspirants to 23. Without a unifying opposition figure, analysts question whether there is hope for change.
- On October 11, Liberia will hold presidential and legislative elections, a critical juncture for this post-conflict country, and fair and peaceful elections will be instrumental in solidifying gains made over the last eight years since the cessation of conflict.
- G20 Finance Ministers reaffirm that the development agenda will remain at the heart of their priorities ahead of the Cannes Summit
- Australia and the World Bank sign an agreement to help developing countries manage their environment, water natural resources, and vulnerability to natural disasters
- Austrialia provides microfinance support of $2.2 million to help 26 million women in developing countries achieve economic independence
- Canada’s PM announces three new projects that support life-saving treatments and improved healthcare for mothers and children in Tanzania
- Canadian Parliament vote in favor of continuing Canada's role in helping Libya transition to the post-Gadaffi era
- China’s Foreign Minister calls on G-20 leaders to play a bigger role in global economic governance and to promoteefforts to revive and expand the world economy
- The Government of China expresses their willingness to support capacity building of African countries in drought-risk reduction
- AFD and International Organization for Francophonie sign agreements of €8.5 million to help improve the quality of basic education in Africa
- A German Foundation launches a project that aims to provide better educational opportunities to 7,000 children in Zambia
- India’s Finance Minister calls for additional global funding to be made available to the World Bank and regional development banks to meet the requirements of developing nations
- Britain sets up a project: “Girls Education Challenge” aimed at educating up to a million girls in their fight to tackle poverty
- Andrew Mitchell calls for more funding from the international community to deal with the crisis in Somalia, which is said to likely last into 2012
- USAID, PepsiCo, and World Food Programme partner to increase food production and address malnutrition in Ethiopia
- The US and UK are determined to inspire action by celebrating successes and innovations that are bringing about a significant step towards achieving the MDGs
- US Government promotes global entrepreneurship with the launch of a new toolkit
|29 Sept||Norwegian-African Business Summit: Oslo, Norway|
|3-5 Oct||Conference on Women’s Economic Empowerment: Ottawa, Canada|
|4-5 Oct||Conference on Land policy in Africa, Nairobi, Kenya|
|5-7 Oct||8th Biennial US-Africa Business Summit, Washington, D.C., U.S.A|
|9 Oct||Cameroon Presidential Elections|
|10 Oct||5th Index of African Governance and Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership: London, U.K|
|11 Oct||Liberia Presidential Elections|
|11-14 Oct||12th African Regional Meeting: Johannesburg, South Africa|