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Loans from the IMF and World Bank won’t end poverty in Africa by Kara Freedman, Policymic, 20 June 2013


On May 23 the World Bank approved a $50 million loan to Burkina Faso, one of many international development projects that will go into effect this year throughout West Africa and the world. Yet for all of the loans and aid projects in the region, Burkina Faso is just one of many African countries that is not on track to complete the Millennium Goal of reducing the poverty rate to 35%, among other objectives.

This particular loan from the World Bank will go to the Ministry of Labor and will create programs to train unemployed and underemployed youth to promote economic development. Most of Burkina Faso’s economy is based around agriculture and mining, particularly cotton and gold, so the lack of industry diversity can negatively affect economic growth. Even with a drop in poverty rates since 2003, from 49.2% to 46.7% in 2009, a huge percentage of Burkina Faso’s population still lives in poverty. In order to create the necessary jobs for youth in the coming years, the World Bank’s loan will go toward training programs for young people aged 15 to 34 in order to diversify the economy and hopefully reduce poverty rates.

When discussing these credits by international institutions, the following question arises: Are loans from the World Bank and other organizations such as the United Nations or individual governments — the United States gives more money in aid than any other country in the world — effective ways to helping developing countries such as Burkina Faso? There are certainly success stories such as the NGO Right to Play, which promotes education and health among young children through the medium of sports and playtime, or United Nations organizations such as UNICEF, which runs a large variety of programs for children’s health, education and economic future across the world. These organizations depend on money from governments such as the United States and European countries to fund their many programs and have had a largely positive impact on many people.

But as the Heritage Foundation published in 1996, many countries that receive loans from the World Bank or enjoy the presence of a large international aid organization are not necessarily better off than they were 50 or 60 years ago. In Burkina Faso, for example, the Gross National Income per capita is slowly growing, but has not seen a convincing increase in the past decade, In addition, its GNI is much lower than the GNI of other Sub-Saharan countries, as shown on the graph from the World Bank below, in spite of international aid and loans.

While in many cases a loan from the World Bank can prove useful to the receiving country, too often it leaves developing countries in increasing debt to these international organizations and struggling to repay it. This accumulating debt has an indirect impact on the taxpayers in the countries whose governments support these programs, so if for no other reason it is important for us to understand where this money is going and whether or not the programs that it funds are successful.

International aid and bank loans are certainly not all bad, however. A report funded by the World Bank entitled “Yes Africa Can: Success Stories from a Dynamic Continent” paints a different picture from the Heritage Foundation report. Inflation is down from the 1990s and private investment, particularly from China, flows freely across the continent, outspending international aid.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2013 in Africa Development

 

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Making local government in Africa more autonomous for the continent’s renaissance, by Chofor Che, 16 May 2013


There has been much talk on Africa’s renaissance especially by the World Bank and the African Development Bank. This renaissance is occurring in Africa while countries especially in Europe are still grappling with the effects of the global economic crises.

In 2012, the IMF stepped down its forecast for global growth and improvement for 2013 from 4.1% to 3.9%. According to the IMF’s updated World Economic Outlook, which is published twice each year, ‘Downside risks continue to loom large, importantly reflecting risks of delayed or insufficient policy action’.

Local government in Africa has a great part to play in the continent’s renaissance, but is not yet autonomous administratively and financially. Decisions which could have been taken by authorities like mayors are still taken by central governments.

Local government in Africa has a significant influence on the quality of life of the grassroots; especially as they are responsible for the provision of essential services like sanitation, health and water. One of the main reasons why local governments in Africa have failed in service delivery in the wake of the global crisis is because even though they have the greatest potential for being effective, they are the furthest removed from the central authorities and the donor community. Most local governments in Africa like those of Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic and Chad are yet to be administratively and financially autonomous. There is also little or no intergovernmental relations between local government and other spheres of government in these countries. Financial transfers from the central government to local government usually delay.

Many central governments in Africa have even resorted to slashing material resources and fiscal transfers to local government. Slashing local government transfers in the case of a fiscal shortfall means cutting back on essential services such as health care and quality water supply. In Swaziland for instance, supplies of anti-retroviral drugs to local government, has been slashed by central government as a result of the global financial crunch, especially as donors have cut back on the assistance they used to give to this country towards fighting the HIV/ AIDS pandemic.
It is time to reflect seriously on local government’s role in Africa’s renaissance. One of such ways is the twinning of municipalities in Africa as well as other parts of the world, so as to boost the participation of local government in issues traditionally reserved for central government like international business and investment. This would definitely entail lessening the numerous trade barriers that exists among African nations.

It is also important for the powers including administrative and financial powers of local government in Africa, to be constitutionalised. In this way, local government will be able to make effective decisions affecting the local populace in essential service delivery areas such as health care and water supply.

Autonomy to local government does not mean that there should be no supervision of this sphere of government especially by regional government. Local government should be supervised without any usurpation of powers.
There is also need for municipal personnel especially municipal executives like the mayors and municipal managers to be well trained and educated. The central government, the regional governments as well as other partners such as universities, need to join efforts to train municipal officials and executives.

There is also need for intergovernmental relations between all spheres of government in African states. If spheres of government in African states cooperate among themselves, the continent’s renaissance can be rapidly achieved, especially as ideas on budgeting; service delivery, as well as trade can be shared across the board.

Corruption is another canker-worm eating into the economic fabric of local government in Africa. There exist numerous anti-corruption measures including lengthy legislation on the continent, but the problem of effective implementation remains the greatest dilemma.

Africa’s renaissance definitely needs unified efforts from governments including local governments and a serious boost from free market engineers in Africa and Europe. Coordinated action with autonomous local governments in Africa having a legally defined role can speed up Africa’s renaissance.

 

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France and Francophone Africa: A marriage of inconvenience. By Chofor Che, 29 April 2013


France colonised a great part of Africa prior to independence in the 1960s. Former colonies of France include the North African states of Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia. In West Africa, former French colonies include Ivory Coast, Benin, Mali, Niger, Guinea, Mauritania, Senegal and Burkina Faso. In the Central African region and French Equatorial Africa, former French colonies comprise of Chad, French Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon, Congo Brazzaville and São Tomé and Príncipe. In French Africa, former French colonies include Madagascar, Mauritius Seychelles, Comoros and Réunion. Some analysts, like Placide Moussounda of Nouvelle Afrique, argue that Francophone Africa has benefitted very little from France since independence.

I am one who has always viewed the on-going relationship between France and Africa as suspicious and detrimental to the continent’s growth and development. My position is fortified by a statement made in 2006 by former President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy during his presidential campaign, where he said “France does not need Africa”. During President Sarkozy’s term of office, Francophone Africans were repatriated in their numbers from France. Despite such humiliation and expulsion of Francophone Africans from France, French presence in Africa remains firm.

Another area where Francophone Africa continues to suffer from the marriage with France is the imposition of the franc CFA, a currency utilised by former French colonies in the Central African region. CFA stands for Financial Cooperation in Central Africa (Coopération financière en Afrique centrale). The CFA franc represents two currencies utilised in Africa which are guaranteed by the French treasury. The two CFA franc currencies are the Central African CFA franc and the West African CFA franc. Although theoretically separate, the two CFA franc currencies are effectively interchangeable.

According to former French minister of finance, René Pleven, the CFA franc was created on 26 December 1945, in French colonies to spare them the strong devaluation, thereby facilitating exports to France. Today the creation of the CFA has grossly impoverished Francophone Africa. This currency is regulated by three central banks in Francophone Africa, Banque des États de l’Afrique Centrale, or the Bank of the Central African States (BEAC) located in Yaoundé, Cameroon, the Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, or the Central Bank of the West African States (BCEAO ) located in Dakar, Senegal and the Comoros Bank in Comoros. French citizens who constitute part of the board of directors of the above mentioned banks have veto rights on decisions of these banks, which means decisions concerning the CFA are influenced enormously by the French. The structuring and composition of the central banks makes it possible for a colossal flow of finances from Africa to the French public treasury. This means that very poor countries in Africa finance France. There happens to be over 8 000 billion of CFA from Africa stocked in France. This means over 40 million Africans are deprived of their revenue. This can be connoted as monetary slavery which is the outcome of the marriage of inconvenience between France and Francophone Africa.

Time for a new Africa has come. This new Africa needs to get rid of the shackles of colonialism which continue to plunge the continent down the drains of poverty. Africans need to nurture the spirit of free markets and stop relying on aid especially from France. Maybe it is time for Francophone Africa, to have its own currency as other currencies like the South African rand. Allowing impoverished African states to continuously finance the French treasury is not the way to go.

Additionally, Francophone Africa can curb the numerous trade barriers inhibiting commerce amongst them. Francophone Africa can ease trade with Anglophone Africa and benefit from a fruitful relationship which would benefit the continent as a whole, rather than relying on a marriage of inconvenience which has done nothing but plunge Francophone Africa and the entire continent into poverty.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2013 in Africa Development

 

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Africa: World Bank Gives Scaring Statistics On Annual Losses From Lack of Sanitation, By All Africa, 22 April 2013


The World Bank has given a rather scaring statistics on the state of human conditions, saying that one out of every three people in the world have no toilet and that economic losses from lack of access to sanitation amount to an estimated US$260 billion annually, more than the entire gross domestic product of Chile.

“Without proper toilets or sewage systems, many people in developing countries go to the bathroom in rivers or fields, unknowingly spreading germs that cause diarrheal disease – the second leading cause of death in children under five – in their own communities, as well as those downstream,” the statement quoted WB experts as indicating. “We have to fix sanitation if we want to end extreme poverty by 2030 and boost the incomes of the poorest 40 percent,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. “From my background in health, I know well the magnitude of the problem. This is an absolutely critical intervention. The impact of inadequate sanitation lies at the core of so many barriers to prosperity faced by poor people – health, education, environment, wealth, equity, and dignity. The return on investment is high, especially for the poor.”

Liberia is struggling to make any progress in achieving the factors spelled out in the WB report.

“Diarrheal disease kills thousands of children each day. Children who survive often miss school due to illness. Having no access to sanitation renders women and girls particularly vulnerable, as they risk personal security seeking private locations, or drop out of school at puberty as there are no sanitation facilities,” the statement said.

According to the statement, poor sanitation also leads to costs valued in the hundreds of billions of dollars every year by damaging health, environment, and tourism.

The World Bank is the largest multilateral financier of water and sanitation development. In FY11, the World Bank committed US$4 billion to water supply and sanitation. This is expected to help 9 million people access improved water supply and sanitation services.

“We support the effort for access to proper sanitation by 2025 for everyone,” Kim said. “We can achieve this goal and transform the lives of billions of people over the next several years. It will take real commitment and action from the heads of state of our client countries, as well as collaboration with all of our partners in civil society and the private sector. We can do this.”

In order to achieve this goal, the World Bank says in intends to take a global leadership role to advocate that countries make the required investments to meet their sanitation targets and eliminate open defecation, which affects the poorest 40 percent in these countries, and work with domestic and global private sector and other partners to scale up efforts to meet demand from households and communities for sanitation products and services, moving from open defecation to improved latrines to improved waste management.

More than that, it intends to work closely with countries where open defecation is most prevalent to ensure that the World Bank’s lending and evidence-based knowledge is supporting improved sanitation service delivery, such as through effective monitoring and use of data.

The announcement coincides with a World Bank-IMF Spring meetings side event on investing in sanitation and on the heels of a call by Deputy Secretary-General of the UN Jan Eliasson last month to end open defecation by 2025.

“I am determined to mobilize major players, on behalf of the UN Secretary-General, to boost sanitation efforts and end open defecation by 2025,” said Eliasson. “I applaud the World Bank’s commitment in this area, and look forward to working closely with the World Bank as part of the partnership between our organizations. We have less than 1,000 days of action before the 2015 target date for the Millennium Development Goals. While we have made great improvements towards all the Goals, sanitation is the target where we have made least progress, and we urgently need to scale up investment. This is an issue of fundamental human dignity, and the health of people and the environment. ”

“Poor sanitation is often ignored because people don’t like to talk about it, much less act on it, ” said Rachel Kyte, Vice President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank. “But poor sanitation is a major cause of diarrheal disease and there is increasing evidence of its link to childhood stunting, which deprives the poorest and most vulnerable from opportunities for a better life. It’s time to act.”

The side event on sanitation also included discussion by Jim McHale, Senior Vice President at American Standard of a US$1.50 toilet, affordable for many of the world’s poor, designed by one of the world’s largest producers of toilets and bathroom fixtures.

The World Bank is exploring ways of scaling up access to sanitation through new kinds of partners, such as software developers, to learn how new technology-enabled mobile phone applications can address sanitation sector needs. It is widely reported that more people in the developing world have access to cell phones than to toilets.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Africa Development

 

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A ‘BRICs’ Bank? No Thanks, The IMF And World Bank Are Bad Enough, by Jens F. Laurson and George Pieler, 22 April 2013, Forbes.com LLC


Led by China, the five “BRICS” states (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) plan to set up a development bank of their own. This is loosely characterized as an IMF and World Bank rival, which is to say an unholy combination of the two. Does this mean the fast-growing graduates of the Developing World are finally coming together as a potent force?

It does not. Chen Yuan, the veteran of the China Development Bank, has been tasked with making this ill-defined BRICS Bank a reality, but as of yet there is no plan even on paper. The new institution might support infrastructure projects in the non-developed world, or leverage a stronger presence for China and its four friends anywhere they find takers, but so far it is still a phantom project.

What is most striking about this first really tangible BRICs initiative is its lack of originality. Everything so far points to the BRICs bank mimicking one or more of the Bretton Woods institutions that western nations devised after WWII with the objectives of supporting war recovery and spurring (peaceful) postwar development. (Whether their track record on development really makes them such good models for imitation is a question for another day.)

At the core of the planned development bank of the BRICs is a large void: an apparent lack of a central mission these countries want to collectively accomplish. Their development bank-project amounts more to an announcement that they will have one, too – just like the established economic powers. They’re free to have one, of course. The BRICs nations are already enmeshed in the status quo structure of international development finance, as it is, though they are clearly not satisfied with the role they play in the IMF and World Bank. China especially, which has long demanded a larger role in the Bretton Woods institutions, has a valid point.

But these institutions seem a strange model to emulate: China is renowned for offering no-strings development aid, particularly in Africa, as opposed to the tied or limited aid that usually comes from the development banks or bilateral deals. The western concern has been that its own development aims, whether in the field of human rights, public health, or improved governance, will be shot to bits if aid recipients can get unconditional deals from China.

What the supposed BRICs bank could do, though, is heighten China’s influence in places perceived as outside of its current realm of influence, yet more amenable to suasion by Russia, India, or Brazil. That would allow China to render services (or cash and credits as needed) via the other four BRICS. Aid-laundering, as it were. This also makes sense of South Africa’s membership: While the country doesn’t fit the rapid-growth criteria of the other four, it is in the mix for prestige and an African presence.

None of this will necessarily have profound geopolitical repercussions: The BRICs have not yet proposed their own trading bloc, and deal with their share of trade tensions within the group. Particularly Brazil and South Africa lock horns on agricultural products. They aren’t trying to stop the planned Trans Pacific Partnership anchored by the US. They say they are committed to the WTO principles of free trade as an aspiration of the postwar world trade order. They are certainly not planning a Euro-style currency bloc, although China keeps pushing for Renmimbi convertibility to establish its currency as an eventual competitor for the dollar. They don’t have treaties of mutual defense and support, and they continue to embrace all the status quo institutions of international relations, in short “global governance”: the UN, WTO, G20, and the various development banks.

The BRICs alliance is probably best seen as a collective effort to secure greater leverage in all these longstanding institutions, and generally to be seen as the champion(s) of less developed nations in their decision-making processes. Not an unreasonable goal, but not a very exciting one especially since the BRICs agenda doesn’t trump the BRICs members’ extant individual obligations as members of the Bretton Woods institutions, or their commitments and treaty obligations with the rest of the developed and developing world.

The BRICs are waiting expectantly, and not necessarily vulture-like, to see what their opportunities in a multipolar world will be. Everyone assumes the so-called unipolar world revolving around the United States is on its way out (if it isn’t already), and (to the extent the Eurozone is counted as part of the U.S. orbit) it isn’t daring to predict that will happen sooner, rather than later.

It’s fair enough to extrapolate from today’s trends a trajectory for the global economy, but it would be folly to assume it can’t come out any other way. And if it weren’t to happen soon, expect the loose BRICs-alliance to break apart before long. Russia needs China much more than the reverse, and the longstanding territorial rivalries between China and India are seething just below the surface. Brazil may be better placed to play a leading role in the economies of the southern hemisphere than get enmeshed in global power-plays.

Russia isn’t growing so fast these days, China’s growth has been bogged down by systemic corruption and increasingly obvious environmental and social limits, and slowed down by design, to achieve a hope-for sustainability instead of a crash. The BRICs, by pushing modification of the old order while pretending to proclaim a new one, merely reinforce the global preference for gradual evolution of global economic relations, not a revolution led by newly-wealthy players on the global stage. This makes sense, given that wealth has been won by adopting western-style markets and – at least to some extent – newfound respect for the rule of law in international relations.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2013 in BRICs

 

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Less than a thousand days to respect the promises of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, by Chofor Che, 12 April 2013


Eight objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were defined in 2000 when a number of United Nations (UN) organisations came together at the UN Head Quarters in New York. These UN organisations vowed that by 2015, they would have reduced poverty and hunger in the world by half, fought against climatic change and illnesses, resolved the problem of lack of consumable water, and increased possibilities for the education of women and girls. This was not the first time that world leaders had made such lofty promises.

Many critics especially in Africa have been cynical that such promises were very ambitious and were going to be abandoned. All the same though a lot still has to be done, some optimists argue that these objectives have assisted in fine tuning policy objectives of states especially in the developing world. According to Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General, 600 million people have been taken out of poverty. Girls and women around the world have benefited from primary education. There has been a drop in infant mortality and juvenile delinquency. Investments injected in the fight against malaria, tuberculosis and HIV AIDS have helped to save lives.

Despite views propounded by UN Secretary General, it is clear that the MDGs were very ambitious. Such is the case especially in Cameroon where the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has already started partnering with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for a post-MDG agenda.

Many reasons account for the slow realisation of the MDGs. A major reason why these goals may not be realised in record time is because of uncoordinated financial aid especially to governments in Africa. A lot of financial aid, pumped into central governments via UN agencies, has been siphoned by corrupt officials. Some of this money has been starched in bank accounts especially in Switzerland. The UN is well aware of such malicious operations, but very little has been done to ensure that financial assistance destined for the world’s poor and destitute, are rightly utilised.

Another major reason why the MDGs may not be realised in record time is because most UN agencies prefer to operate with central governments rather than also bringing on board development partners like civil society groups and NGOs. It is true that civil society and NGOs are not so organised. Despite this fact, most of these civil society groups and NGOs are able to channel funds judiciously to affected communities. The UNDP in Cameroon seems to have realised that working solely with governments may not solve the MDG gig puzzle, reason why there is now a great involvement of civil society groups and NGOs all over the national territory.

In as much as concerns plague the development community about the attainment of the MDGs by 2015, it is vital for certain wrongs committed in the past by the UN system to be put right. If job creation and true privatisation without government coercion, rather than financial aid, is given priority by the UN system, then it may be possible to attain the MDGs in record time. Additionally, if civil society groups and NGOs especially in Africa are well structured and organised, then they could easily assist the UN system in the attainment of the MDGs by 2015. Financial aid alone cannot solve the trick, a holistic approach is very important for the attainment of the MDGs in record time.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2013 in Africa Development

 

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Industrialisation in Africa: Beautiful dream, dreadful obstacles, by Chofor Che


The 6th annual joint conference of ministers of finance of the African Union and the conference for African Ministers of Finance, Programming and Economic Development of the Economic Commission of Africa, took place in Abidjan, Ivory Coast in late March 2013. According to a report dated the 25 March 2013 by Jeanine Fankam, Cameroon Tribune’s special envoy to Abidjan, the theme of the two day conference focused on the importance of industrialisation for an economic emerging Africa.

This conference which was also attended by high ranking members of international organisations like the United Nations (UN), The African Development Bank (ADB) as well as central banks was aimed at seeing how African states could put in place strategies to revamp the industrial sector so as to reduce reliance on always importing products from the West and Asia.

In the auditorium of hotel Ivoire, President Alassane Ouattara made mention of efforts towards industrialisation in Africa since independence. According to Cameroon Tribune, some progress has been made in boasting the industrial sector in Africa, but much still has to be done.

From all indications, African products need to be more competitive in the international market. At moment, the slow industrialisation rate has made African products less competitive on the international scene.

Abdallah Msa of the Department of Economic Affairs of the AU says there are serious obstacles to industrialisation in Africa, especially financing. Africa still depends greatly for financing from the Western financial institutions like the World Bank and the ADB. Relying on financial organisations to revamp the industrial sector in Africa will definitely handicap this ambition.

Another problem which plagues the industrialisation sector are the numerous economic barriers that exists in on the African continent, between states and sub-regional groups like the Economic Community of West African states (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). How can there be industrialisation when people and goods cannot circulate freely on the continent without barriers?

There also remain serious concerns about security on the continent. Countries like the Central African Republic recently plunged into a coup d’Etat. There is definitely no way a state like Central African Republic, which has so far had six coup d’Etats, can be advanced in the industrial sector with such insecurity. Countries in the Gulf of Guinea like Cameroon and Nigeria are also plagued by attacks from kidnappers and pirates. This remains a big blow in the face of industrialisation in Africa.

Concerning internal problems in African states, the central governments in Africa remain reticent to improve on the private sector. It is via a vibrant private sector in the continent that the continent of Africa can be industrialised.

Some states like Ghana and Nigeria have beautiful legislation when it comes to industrialisation, but state actors who are called upon to implement these legislative provisions remain reluctant to see the industrialisation dream on the continent come through.

Having these conferences on the continent is a waste of time and tax payers’ money if serious action is not taken. By now the continent should have been very advanced with respect to industrialisation but this is not the case.

It is thus important for African states to curb barriers like economic barriers and corruption. It is also important for African states to revamp the private sector, because this definitely is the gateway to industrialisation. A continent with a weak private sector and many security concerns cannot advance in the industrialisation era.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2013 in Africa Development

 

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Eradicating turbulent armed conflict and insecurity in Africa for sustainable economic growth, by Chofor Che, 14 March 2013


Africa is still plagued by on-going conflicts in Mali and parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). There are security concerns in parts of Cameroon especially with the recent kidnapping of French tourists. Such security concerns are even magnified with assassinations of foreign investors in parts of Nigeria and Tunisia. There remains a serious concern on how sustainable Africa’s economic growth can last in the midst of insecurity and armed conflict. Despite these worries, the international community has begun to look at Africa differently.

According to a report by Ivor Ichikowitz, executive chairman of the African defence engineering company, Paramount Group, in the Business Day Live, posted in early January 2013, the boss of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde was in Abidjan, the political capital of Cote d’Ivoire, and considered armed conflict as the worst enemy of Africa’s economic growth. The IMF boss concurred that “Security is too fragile … if there is no peace, the people simply won’t have the confidence or courage to invest in their own future and neither will (foreign investors).” All the same, the IMF boss did not stop at security being important simply because it distorted economic development in Africa. Lagarde said security was fundamental for the financial stability of the whole world.
Lagarde alluded that “It’s clear that emerging countries are the motor of world economic growth.” In her assertion, the IMF boss was supporting the IMF’s projections that sub-Saharan Africa will grow 5.25% in 2013, second only to Asian growing economies and well above the world average of 3.6%.

The IMF boss is not the only one to recognise the important role Africa’s economic growth and security record has to play in the world today. During the visit of President Barack Obama of the United States of America (USA) to Ghana in 2009, he acknowledged that Africa’s economic growth and security can benefit that of the USA. According to Obama, it was necessary for all and sundry, including African leaders to play their own role in making Africa a safe haven for global economic competition. Good governance is thus a necessary recipe for security, added the President of the USA.
To get such hope from leading figures in the international arena that security is germane for Africa’s problems is inspirational. Such recognition is a reflection of the role Africa has to play in the economic growth of the world. Concurring with Ichikowitz position, instead of Africa being considered as a drain, the continent is being considered as a core player of the global economy by leading figures.

As one who has had the privilege to have studied and travelled over the beautiful continent of Africa, especially from Cape to Cairo via Rwanda, I am of the view that there are high hopes for economic gains in Africa. All the same, such economic gains must definitely be backed by regional stability and peace especially in Mali and the DRC.
Africa cannot only rely on its growing sectors, such as oil, for its growth. It needs to nurture strong economic foundations spiced with peace and stability. As postulated by Ichikowitz, Africa’s anticipated growth might be second only to that of Asia, but unlike Asian economies like China and India, economic growth is occurring in the absence of the fundamental institutional framework required to absorb that growth and channel it towards more investment in the education, infrastructure, public transport and health sectors.

In Africa, resource rent from natural resources have too often been reserved for a few elitist groups, rather than for the populace and for the growth of the private sector. Africa will remain unstable creating a fragmented terrain for postulated sustainable economic prosperity, if this scenario does not change.

Central governments in Africa and regional organisations have not acted very seriously on this problem. There is need for political disputes to be quelled. There is also need for the African Union to play a major role as a mediator in the conflicts distorting the continent’s economic growth.

This article is syndicated and published at http://www.africanliberty.org/

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Combatting the influx of counterfeit medicine in Africa, by Chofor Che, 28 February 2013


International health specialists have warned of a growing health calamity in several parts of Africa as a result of an influx of counterfeit medicine from Asia and other parts of the world. According to an article by The Guardian, dated 23 December 2012, negligent central governments in Africa coupled with indifferent oversight from states like China are combining to turn the continent and its pressing health issues into a ‘free-for-all for maverick manufacturers’, some of whom are producing fake medication with no active ingredients at all.

In 2012 the Secretary General of the national pharmaceutical order in Cameroon appealed to the government to fight against counterfeit medicine in the state especially in Yaoundé and Douala. Eric Sunjo, a member of the national pharmaceutical order in Cameroon, added that some of these counterfeit medicine was exposed to solar rays and therefore toxic for human consumption. Since then very little has been done to combat the sales of counterfeit medicine in the streets of Cameroon. Many Cameroonians die because of such medicines.

The problem of counterfeit medicine is not only peculiar to Cameroon. Counterfeit medicine is sold in the poor neighbourhoods of Cape Town in South Africa, in the streets of Ghana, in townships in Rwanda right up to ghettos in Cairo, Egypt. According to The Guardian, precise data is difficult to track down because of the informal nature of African health systems. But many recent studies warn that as many as one-third of malaria drugs in Tanzania and Uganda are fake or below average, with most believed to originate from Asia especially India. There has been great reluctance to call the scourge of killer medications in Africa a crisis.

The vice president of the US Pharmacopeial Convention’s global health impact programmes, Patrick Lukulay, alludes that it is no secret that the majority of fake medications came from India and China. According to Lukulay, China is not doing much to better this precarious situation. On the other hand, India is trying to ensure that the quality of medicine sent Africa is of commendable quality.

Though it may seem like an enormous amount of trouble to counterfeit a £3 packet of malaria pills, Lukulay adds that the global trade is estimated at £46bn a year. Counterfeiters master their markets properly. Efforts to combat the fake medication in Africa remain timid.

This indeed is a great calamity which adds to the death rates in Africa. Attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 especially in Africa, remains far-fetched if serious measures are not taken. Central governments in Africa remain reticent in combatting this ill. Instead of ensuring that fake medications do not inundate African markets, central governments allow the influx of counterfeit medicine while discouraging local markets.

Fighting fake medications is not an issue only of central governments. “If you want to be efficient in fighting it, you have to have a very strong regulatory authority, very strong collaborations, very good distribution networks and good co-operation between governments,” opines Sabine Kopp, who manages the anti-counterfeiting and medicines quality assurance programmes at the World Health Organisation. All the same this should not be an excuse for central governments in Africa to clamp down on viable manufactures with robust regulatory powers, because over regulation kills the purpose of regulation and thus free markets.

African states have the potential of encouraging the domestic private sector to manufacture good medication. Of course, this must be done under the scrutiny of quality control mechanisms. Encouraging local producers in no way shelves out competition from foreign competitors. All the same foreign competitors must ensure that they furnish proper medication to Africans and not counterfeit medicine which has contributed enormously to the loss of life of many Africans.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in Africa Development, Uncategorized

 

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Developing countries to receive over $400 billion in remittances in 2012, says World Bank report, By Panorama, 20 November 2012


Remittance flows to the developing world are expected to exceed earlier estimates and total $406 billion this year, an increase of 6.5 percent over the previous year, according to a new World Bank brief on global migration and remittances.

Remittances to developing countries are projected to grow by 7.9 percent in 2013, 10.1 percent in 2014 and 10.7 percent in 2015 to reach $534 billion in 2015.

Worldwide remittances, including those to high-income countries, are expected to total $534 billion in 2012, and projected to grow to $685 billion in 2015, according to the latest issue of the Bank’s Migration and Development Brief, released today.

However, despite the growth in remittance flows overall to developing countries, the continuing global economic crisis is dampening remittance flows to some regions, with Europe and Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa especially affected, while South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are expected to fare much better than previously estimated.

The top recipients of officially recorded remittances for 2012 are India ($70 billion), China ($66 billion), the Philippines and Mexico ($24 billion each), and Nigeria ($21 billion). Other large recipients include Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Lebanon.

As a percentage of GDP, the top recipients of remittances, in 2011, were Tajikistan (47 percent), Liberia (31 percent), Kyrgyz Republic (29 percent), Lesotho (27 percent), Moldova (23 percent), Nepal (22 percent), and Samoa (21 percent).

“Although migrant workers are, to a large extent, adversely affected by the slow growth in the global economy, remittance volumes have remained remarkably resilient, providing a vital lifeline to not only poor families but a steady and reliable source of foreign currency in many poor remittances recipient countries,” said Hans Timmer, Director of the Bank’s Development Prospects Group.

Read more at Developing countries to receive over $400 billion in remittances in 2012

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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