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ideas have consequences

You are here:Home>>All Expert Articles>>Displaying items by tag: africa
Displaying items by tag: africa

Enough is enough. Another ‘We are the World for Africa’ or ‘Live Aid’ jamboree courtesy of the singer turned humanitarian activist, Bob Geldof to commemorate thirty years of Ethiopian famine.   Thirty years ago, before Nelson Mandela became the first black president of South, before Nigeria became the largest economy in Africa, even before the current economic miracle in Ethiopia there was a disaster on a biblical proportion that took place in northern Ethiopia. Yes, it was a man-made famine in the horn of Africa culminated by war and food blockage similar to Biafra‘s tragedy.



Once again the proposed ‘Live Aid 30’ by Bob Geldof and his gang will geared towards the news dominated Ebola disease in West African nations of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.  The continuous focus on Africa for aid may have outlived its usefulness. It has certainly commence to conjure and reinforce old stereotypes about Africa -  as a strange land of primitive natives that have not adjusted to the modern world, always stepping out their bare hands  for a handout from masterly strangers.


Although the disaster that took place in northern Ethiopian was not in the entire country but it was projected as an African famine and the whole continent has been stigmatized. The image of Africa is being decimated with overwhelming projection of Africa as a hopeless continent that cannot do anything for itself. But the reality is that there is a new Africa.  It is no more news that African economy is vibrant and bustling, the seven out of the ten fastest growing economies of the world are in Africa. The World Bank and IMF projected Africa to grow above 5 percent in 2014/15. The promotion of image of aid and dependency is not what Africa needs.  Such a projection may discourage investments and recalled the image of Africa as land of losers and inactive individuals.



“Africa is the world's most natural-resources-rich continent. It has 50 percent of the world's gold, most of the world's diamonds and chromium, 90 percent of the cobalt, 40 percent of the world's potential hydroelectric power, 65 percent of the manganese, and millions of acres of untilled farmland, as well as other natural resources,” as conservative writer Walter Williams reminded us of African greatness.


The illegal transfer of African funds to off shore banking centers and IMF‘s structural adjustment programs have done more harm to African wellbeing and stability, but nobody is gathering any musicians to sing about them because such pressing problems deviates from the cultivated stereotype of Africa.



“Geldof, the lead singer of the Boomtown Rats, sprung to global prominence with his role in Band Aid to raise money for the Ethiopian famine. The single sold nearly 12 million copies; the Live Aid concerts raised £150m. For these efforts Geldof received an honorary knighthood and was elevated to a spokesman for African development,” as written by Dr Greg Mills, the head of the Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation in theguardian newspaper.



Mills further made a clarification on the use of the word famine with a connective paragraph: “But the reason for the famine that catapulted him to prominence had less to do with the weather than the Ethiopian government's policy to withhold food shipments to rebel areas and to spend nearly half of its gross domestic product on the military. Aid became a tool of the counter-insurgency strategy, being left to rot or distributed according to political objectives. The same political issues shape African development choices today and these, not external activism on aid, are key to the continent's future.”



The point to be made is not that Ethiopians or Africans for that matter were not grateful, but to elevate a humanitarian activist to an African economic expert is quite a stretch. In 2014 the Ebola disease in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea do not need gathering of musicians from Britain to put a limelight on it.  The whole from United States to Spain and between countries have already recognized that Ebola is a global threat and not just an African problem. Moreover, what are needed in these three West African countries are not necessarily monetary but technical know-how; essentially, medical human resources especially medical doctors and nurses.


Many countries and individual around the world are rising to challenge of making contributions. Many African countries including Nigeria and Ethiopia are making contributions to Ebola infested countries. African Union reported that “The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has answered to the appeal made by the African Union Commission Chairperson, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma last week to Member States to urgently contribute human resources to the fight against Ebola in West Africa.



In their response, the Ethiopian Government has pledged to deploy 200 volunteer health professionals to West Africa and also donated 500,000 USD to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The health professionals comprises medical doctors, nurses, field epidemiologists, environmental health personnel and public health specialists. These medics will engage in Ebola case management/treatment, surveillance, contact tracing, social mobilization, and community engagement, and will also assist national health systems in the affected countries to continue their essential and basic health, food, water and sanitation services.”



“Just recently, the African Union announced that African nations have pledged 1,600 health workers, with 600 coming from Nigeria and ($3.5 million). Ethiopia has committed 200 volunteers and pledged $500,000 to help the affected countries. The DRC, which has been affected by Ebola before, has promised 1,000 volunteers. The United States, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund have committed $500 million, $400 million, and $130 million respectively. In addition, private foundations and donors like Paul Allen, Mark Zuckerberg, Gates Foundation, and Open Society Foundations have allocated millions of dollars to Ebola. And while Africans themselves for the most part were inconspicuous from the response efforts, some of Africa’s richest, billionaires, Aliko Dangote and Tony Elumelu from Nigeria and Patrice Motsepe from South Africa recently pledged funds towards the fight against Ebola, “as reported by Forbes Magazine.



Currently, Africa is not advocating aid but trade as engine of economic development. If Geldof wants to help Africa, let him organize a summit of Investment for Africa.  He can gather his musician friends and they will entertain investors in the summit. But to continue to project Africa as an endless needy basket case may be self-defeating of his intention for aiding Africa.



Emeka  Chiakwelu, Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL. His works have appeared in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many other important journals around the world. His writings have also been cited in many economic books, publications and many institutions of higher learning including tagteam Harvard Education. Africa Political & Economic Strategic Center (AFRIPOL) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.      This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



Monday, 06 October 2014 20:12

Africa’s destiny is in her hands


Africa’s economy has grown fourfold since the turn of the millennium, with sub-Saharan Africa outperforming the rest of the world in terms of economic growth and at long last banishing any doubts about the continent’s upward trajectory.


Apart from the 10 African countries that still have an African Union or a UN peacekeeping presence, 85 per cent of Africans live in countries that are at peace and relatively stable, and are generating 95 per cent of the continent’s gross domestic product. Indeed, of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies, seven are from Africa


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That is not the only positive fact. Average incomes have risen by 30 per cent in the past 10 years, having declined by 20 per cent between 1980 and 2000. Strong commodity prices have been central to the turnround, but other factors have played a part. Rwanda and Ethiopia, for example, although not blessed with oil or mineral wealth, are among the strong performers. Nonetheless, across the continent significant challenges remain. Poverty is falling but in most places not fast enough. Social indicators have been improving but inequalities remain. And, although foreign direct investment has increased significantly, job creation remains a struggle.


The reasons for those negatives are not difficult to fathom. There has been limited structural change or diversification. Agriculture’s share of GDP has declined. At the same time, manufacturing growth has been hampered by fragmented markets, while poor infrastructure, particularly a shortage of energy and port capacity, remains acute.


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That said, eliminating poverty in the next two decades remains an achievable goal. If the right policy framework is in place and bottlenecks are eliminated, we can look forward to a new Africa.


It is important to remember that the so-called “New Africa” is made up of 54 countries in five regions. Africa is not a single monolithic whole. The current Ebola crisis has again revealed the tendency of those outside the continent to classify it as one entity. The notion of the 21st-century “scramble for Africa” is every bit as pernicious as was the first “scramble” at the end of the 19th century. The only safe generalisation is that Africa is planning, managing and starting to finance its own destiny.


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The continent is being influenced by the four big trends. First, the emergence of a multipolar economic world, bringing new investment sources and export destinations, development experience and knowhow. Second, the demographic potential, the “human capital”, of a young and increasingly urbanised continent of 1bn people, which is expected to double to 2bn by 2050, with two-thirds living in cities. Third, the continuing discoveries of large amounts of natural resource wealth, and the challenges of managing and sharing that wealth. Fourth, the continuing opportunity to leapfrog more developed regions in many sectors through the use of technologies such as the mobile phone.


So how can Africa turn economic growth into true economic transformation? First, the continent needs to achieve real regional economic integration through the building of road, rail and air linkages, opening up borders and eliminating needless “soft” regulatory standards hindering trade.


Second, Africa needs better management of its natural resources to ensure that it takes advantage of the current strong cycle of commodity prices. Commodities should not be sold on the cheap. Instead, they should be processed in value chains and exported on fairer trading terms.

Third, we need to address the challenges faced by those African states that are still experiencing the fragility that is inherent in the development process. This year, I set up a high-level panel under Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to address this issue.


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At the root of all these challenges is the gap in African infrastructure, which is both the means to trade and the route to economic and social development. The continent’s primary task is to close the $50bn annual infrastructure funding deficit which costs it at least 2 per cent in annual GDP growth. Private capital is a large part of the answer, in the form of foreign private equity, debt and the untapped resources of African pension funds and capital markets.


The key is to take the risk out of the equation. Today, the prerequisites are in place: in the policy and regulatory areas, the public-private partnership frameworks, and independent regulators. The tools of risk mitigation – such as credit guarantees – are also in place, giving comfort to investors, especially in “high-risk” and low-income countries.


Africa is no longer the place for “business as usual”. Today, it offers a different value proposition, as it moves towards economic transformation.



Dr. Donald P. Kaberuka is president of the African Development Bank

Billed as Africa’s first home-grown military aircraft, the Advanced High-Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft (AHRLAC) made its first test flight in South Africa this week, marking a milestone in the continent’s aviation history.


On Wednesday, August, 13, as the AHRLAC descended from the Pretoria skies and taxied to a halt outside a hangar at the Wonderboom airport north of the South African capital, engineers and officials beamed and high-fived each other.


The first military aircraft to be fully developed in Africa had completed its first public test flight after three years and 315,000 hours of work on its design and construction.


The new, multi-purpose military aircraft was designed and built by two South African companies - Aerosud in partnership with the Paramount Group.


Initially conceived as a design study into the viability of producing a low-cost manned alternative to UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), the project developed into an initiative to produce an affordable intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) light-strike platform targeted at developing nations as well as countries with sophisticated defence capabilities.


This time for Africa


For the manufacturers of the AHLRAC, Wednesday’s successful public test flight marked a milestone in the long-cherished goal of having “African solutions to African problems” – a slogan frequently cited at international summits.


“The emergence of Africa as an increasingly important global economic power brings with it the expectation on the world stage that Africa must itself play a greater role in avoiding and controlling the perpetuation of violence and conflict on the continent. The solution is to build African capabilities to solve these African challenges,” said Ivor Ichikowitz, Paramount’s executive chairman, in a statement on the company website.


The aircraft was designed and built by a team of more than 60 engineers and technicians. Of the 6,000 parts in the aircraft, 98% were designed using sophisticated software and produced locally by the engineering team.


“Every single part of the aircraft was pre-designed on a computer which allowed it to have a jigless construction,” said AHRLAC Holdings CEO Paul Potgieter in a company statement. “This means that every part fits together, much like a Meccano set, which saves vast amounts of money and time – especially when exporting globally.”


Competition in the attack helicopter market


In an interview with the British defence weekly, IHS Jane’s, during the Farnborough Airshow last month, Ichikowitz noted that a number of developing nations in Africa and South America, as well as more developed countries in the Middle East and Europe, had expressed interest in the new aircraft. He declined, however, to name the countries.


"While we originally targeted the developing world, the recent economic crisis meant that many developed nations began thinking along the same lines and we are starting to receive a great deal of interest from the developed world," said Ichikowitz.


Designed for multiple roles, the AHRLAC can be used for anti-poaching missions, border patrols, anti-trafficking, anti-piracy, anti-insurgent, as well as anti-terror operations.


The proposed weapons fit include a slightly off centreline nose-mounted 20 mm cannon and the six underwing hardpoints can accommodate a variety of 'dumb' and precision-guided munitions, according to IHS Jane’s.


The company sees the new twin-seat aircraft as a competition not in the light attack turboprops, but in the attack helicopter market.


"If anyone needs to be concerned about the AHRLAC, it is the [attack] helicopter manufacturers,” said Ichikowitz in an interview with IHS Jane’s. "We see this aircraft cannibalising the [attack] helicopter market, in that it has a very good short take-off and landing [STOL] capability and can operate from unprepared airstrips, but at a fraction of the cost of a helicopter."


For now its exact production date is being kept secret, although the first plane is expected to roll off the manufacturing floor within two years, according to South African media reports. Pricing and availability of the AHRLAC has yet to be revealed.




Africa accounted for only 9 per cent of the world’s population in 1950, but by the end of this century about 40 per cent of all humans (and nearly half of all children) will be African, heralding one of the fastest and most radical demographic changes in history, the report says.

While every other continent is seeing a slower rise in births, or even a decline, UNICEF projects that 1.8 billion babies will be born in Africa over the next 35 years, and the total African population will nearly quadruple to about 4.2 billion by the end of the century.

Africa could reap a massive demographic dividend from its bigger labour force and relatively fewer dependents, the report says. The population boom could “transform the continent, breaking centuries-old cycles of poverty and inequality.”

But the opposite is also possible, and requires urgent discussion soon, UNICEF warns. “Unless investment in the continent’s children is prioritized, the sheer burden of population expansion has the potential to undermine attempts to eradicate poverty through economic growth, and worse, could result in rising poverty and marginalization of many if growth were to falter.”

The new projections are based on the latest revised numbers from the UN’s population division, showing an even stronger shift in child demographics in Africa’s direction. Until recently, the UN had predicted that one-third of the world’s children would be living in Africa by mid-century, yet that prediction is now believed to be an underestimate. Instead, 37 per cent of the world’s children will be African by 2050, and more than 40 per cent of births will take place in Africa.

The population explosion will be biggest in West Africa, especially in Nigeria. By 2050, Nigeria alone will account for an astounding one-tenth of all births in the world, the report says, and its total population will reach nearly a billion by the end of the century.

Fertility rates are declining in Africa, but they remain far higher than anywhere else in the world, the report says. At the same time, life expectancy and child survival rates have drastically improved in Africa, helping explain the population boom.

“Within 20 years, Africa will have its first generation of children who can expect to reach pensionable age,” UNICEF says, predicting that African life expectancy will reach 65 years in the next two decades. (By contrast, in the 1950s, African life expectancy was less than 40.)

As part of these trends, Africa will become increasingly urbanized and crowded. In 1950, its population density was just eight persons per square kilometre. By mid-century, Africa will hold 80 people per square kilometre. Its megacities will soar in size, with the population of Lagos nearly doubling to 24 million by 2030 and Kinshasa growing from 12 million to 20 million in the same period.

Much of the population boom is occurring in the poorest and most fragile countries. The world’s highest fertility rate is believed to be in the impoverished West African nation of Niger, where the average woman has 7.5 children, the UNICEF report says. The next-highest fertility rate is in a neighbouring country, Mali, where the average woman has 6.8 children.

The report calls for “courageous and determined action” to face the challenges of the African population boom. It cites, for example, the continued lack of contraception for many African women. About a quarter of all women in marriages or unions in sub-Saharan Africa lack the reproductive health services they need, the report says. It also calls for stronger programs to improve the education of girls and to end child marriage.


Erin Conway-Smith (for The Globe and Mail)Geoffrey York,  Africa Bureau Chief for The Globe and Mail

First lady Michelle Obama embraced her family’s African roots in a speech on Wednesday, telling a group of young Africans that the “blood of Africa” runs through her veins as she urged changing traditional beliefs on the worth of educating women.


Her husband had shied away from discussing his African heritage in his own remarks to the 500 Africans finishing a six-week Washington leadership fellowship on Monday, referencing his Kenyan father only once and in the question-and-answer session. But Michelle Obama said as an African American woman, her discussion with the African youth was “deeply personal.”


“The roots of my family tree are in Africa,” the first lady told the cheering crowd. “My husband’s father was born and raised in Kenya. Members of our extended family still live there. I have had the pleasure of traveling to Africa many times over the years, including four trips as first lady, and I have brought my mother and my daughters along whenever I can.”


“The blood of Africa runs through my veins, and I care deeply,” Obama said, addressing her listeners as her “brothers” and “sisters.”


Three months before congressional elections that could determine the fate of much of President Obama’s platform, Michelle Obama’s popularity remains high while her husband’s has sunk.


The White House is making women’s empowerment a theme in a Washington African leaders summit next week. Michelle Obama said problems with girls’ education often stemmed from traditional “attitudes and beliefs” that exist even in the United States and lead to issues such as the gender pay gap and an underrepresentation of women in leadership.


She said men worldwide needed to “look into their hearts and souls and ask if they truly view women as their equals.”


“I am who I am today because of the people in my family, particularly the men in my family, who valued me and invested in me from the day I was born,” Obama said.


“And as I grew up, the men who raised me set a high bar for the type of men I’d allow into my life - which is why I went on to marry a man who had the good sense to fall in love with a woman who was his equal, to treat me as such - a man who supports and reveres me, and who supports and reveres our daughters as well,” Obama said.

There is a story that governments of wealthy countries like to tell about the rich world's relationship with Africa. It is a story of generosity, charity and benevolence. It is a story of selfless aid givers supporting the needy and impoverished people of Africa.

While this is the story that governments like to tell, it is not the correct story. Research launched this week by Health Poverty Action, with a number of African and UK partners, shows that $192 billion a year is being taken out of Africa by the rich world - almost six and a half times the amount of 'aid' it receives.

Our research examined outflows from Africa across a wide range of areas. These include illicit financial flows, the repatriation of multinational company profits, debt repayments, loss of skills, illegal logging and fishing and the costs imposed as a result of climate change. We compared these to inflows - including aid, foreign investment and remittances.

We found that Africa's net loss is $58 billion a year. To put this amount into context, it is over one and a half times the amount of additional money that would be needed to deliver affordable health care to everyone in the world.

The current debate about the role of the UK in ending global poverty focuses mostly on how much aid we should give. As politicians line up to defend our 'proud record' as a donor, for the purposes of political point scoring, the charity sector has tended to respond by applauding the aid budget - and in so doing has reinforced this aid-based perception of our relationship with Africa.

We need to ask why then, despite years of this 'generosity', is the end of global poverty still nowhere in sight? Rather than tackling poverty, this false narrative has instead helped to reinforce paternalistic notions of Africa as a poor and corrupt continent, with helpless people in need of intervention from wealthy countries. The narrative ignores the fact that the rich aid givers are in fact taking more than they give.

In reality, Africa is not poor, but its people are being kept in poverty by a combination of inequitable policies, huge disparities in power, and criminal activities perpetuated and sustained by wealthy elites, both inside and outside of the continent.

The UK, with its network of tax havens, is at the heart of this theft from the continent. Yet this truth is rarely told, while politicians and charities praise the rich world for being the saviours of the poor. This perverse portrayal allows wealthy governments to publicly celebrate their 'generosity, while continuing to be party to the sustained looting of Africa - increasing inequality and creating the very poverty they profess to be solving through aid.

As the general election approaches, we - and especially the international NGO sector - must demand that the main political parties clearly set out not how much aid they will provide for the poor, but focus on what they will do to address the far bigger issue - putting a stop to the amounts regularly stolen from the poor.

It is time for us to face an inconvenient truth. It is not the world that aids Africa, but Africa that aids the world. Even more, it's time for us to communicate that truth.


Visit website to read the full report.


Martin Drewry has a long background in the voluntary sector, initially as an award-winning grass-roots community development worker in the UK, before moving to international development. After a few years as national secretary of World Action, a pioneering Methodist programme enabling young people and adults to take action for social justice, he spent the next decade as head of campaigns at Christian Aid. Here he played leading roles in Jubilee 2000, Drop the Debt, the Trade Justice Movement and was one of the elected coordinators of Make Poverty History. Martin’s academic grounding came from the Bradford University School of Peace Studies in the mid-eighties, an experience he valued. He became director of Health Poverty Action in April 2006.

Judging from the daily outpouring of commentary, opinions and reports, you would think that there were two African continents. One of them is the new land of opportunity, with seven of the world's 10 fastest-growing economies, offering limitless possibilities to investors. There is, however, this other image: a starving and hopeless continent, hungry and poor, corrupt and prey to foreign exploiters.


As Africans, we are tired of caricatures. But we are also tired of waiting – waiting to be led towards the one Africa we all want, the Africa that can and should be. We know the real Africa, filled with possibilities, dignity and opportunities, able to face its challenges and solve them from within. Never has the time been more right for us finally to realise our full potential. It is within our grasp.


As a scientist, I am always interested in facts. Africa is a land rich in resources, which has enjoyed some of the highest economic growth rates on the planet. It is home to 200 million people between the ages of 15 and 24 (pdf). And it has seen foreign direct investment treble over the past decade.


As the head of an institution whose business is investing in rural people, I know that you also need vision and imagination. At the International Fund for Agricultural Development we have banked on the poorest, most marginalised people in the world, and over and over again these investments have paid off for people and for societies. And more than half the people we invest in are Africans.


Almost 11 years have passed since the Maputo Declaration, in which you, as African leaders, committed yourselves to allocating at least 10% of national budgets to agriculture and rural development – key sectors in the drive to cut poverty, build inclusive growth and strengthen food security and nutrition.


Today, just seven countries have fulfilled the Maputo commitment consistently (pdf), while some others have made steps in the right direction. Eleven years is a long time to wait. I have seen projects turn desert into farmland in less time.


In just a few days, in Malabo at the 23rd African Union summit, I will join those of you, African leaders, who will gather to discuss this year's topics - agriculture and food security. This is my call: don't just promise development – deliver it; make it happen now. Make real, concrete progress towards investment that reaches all Africans, investments that prioritise rural people.


Our biggest resource is our people. To squander this is worse than wasteful. If we don't act now, by 2030 Africa will account for 80% of the world's poor (pdf). Is this the legacy that we want to leave for future generations?


The AU declared 2014 to be the year of agriculture and food security. And this is the year we look beyond the deadline of the millennium development goals to a post-2015 world with new goals and targets to reach. I hope this means that we will be dedicating ourselves fully to making agriculture a priority. GDP growth due to agriculture has been estimated (pdf) to be five times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in any other sector, and in sub-Saharan Africa, up to 11 times. Paradoxically, it is countries that lack lucrative extractive industries, and which have had to invest in agriculture, that have found out what is now an open secret: agriculture not only improves food security but also creates wealth. Small family farmers in some parts of our continent contribute as much as 80% of food production (pdf). Investing in poor rural people is both good economics and good ethics.


A full 60% of our people depend wholly or partly on agriculture for their livelihoods (pdf), and the vast majority of them live below the poverty line. It's not pity and handouts that they need. It's access to markets and finance, land tenure security, knowledge and technology, and policies that favour small farms and make it easier for them to do business. A thriving small farm sector helps rural areas to retain the young people who would otherwise be driven to migrate to overcrowded cities, where they face an uncertain future. Investing in agriculture reinforces not only food security, but also security in general.


In an Africa where 20 states are classified as fragile and 28 countries need food assistance, the need for a real rural transformation backed by investment and not just words is critical – I have often said that declarations don't feed people.


Investment must be focused on small family farms. Such smallholdings make up 80% of all farms in sub-Saharan Africa. And, contrary to conventional wisdom, small farms are often more productive than large ones. For example, China's 200 million small farms cover only 10% of the world's agricultural land but produce 20% of the world's food (pdf). The average African farm, however, is performing at only about 40% of its potential. Simple technologies – such as improved seeds, irrigation and fertiliser – could treble productivity, triggering transformational growth in the agricultural sector. It is estimated that irrigation alone could increase output by up to 50% in Africa (pdf). Rural areas also need the right kinds of investment in infrastructure – roads, energy, storage facilities, social and financial services – and enabling policies backed by appropriate governance structures that ensure inclusiveness.


If we look at the countries that have met the Maputo commitment, we see that investing in agriculture works. Given that agriculture has become lucrative for private investors, and that about 60% of the planet's available uncultivated agricultural land is in Africa (pdf), there is no mystery about why we hear of so-called "land grabs". Opportunity draws foreign investors. There is nothing wrong with foreign investment. But it has to be managed, for the benefit of all.


What is a mystery is why, with such a vast potential and a young population just waiting for a reason to seize it, our African leaders do not announce that they will redouble their efforts to drive an inclusive rural transformation, with concrete commitments, that will make Maputo a reality. I hope that, after the Malabo meeting, that will be a mystery no longer.


African economies have grown impressively. But it is time to stop focusing on GDP figures and instead focus on people. The majority of our people are engaged in agriculture, and the neglect of that sector must stop if we really want to realise the healthy, peaceful and food-secure Africa that we know can be. It is not a dream: it is a responsibility.

Picture of Kanayo F NwanzeKanayo F Nwanze is the president of the United Nations rural development agency, the International Fund for Agricultural Development


Foreign investors pouring money into Africa are increasingly turning away from commodities-led projects to tap into the growing consumer market, while smaller, less-established countries are also getting a bigger lion's share.


In its annual report on Africa released this week, EY revealed the continent became the world's second-most attractive investment destination in 2013, just behind North America. In addition, Africa's share of global foreign direct investment (FDI) reached its highest level in a decade, at 5.7 percent, while capital investments grew by 12.9 percent in the same period.


But 2013 also saw some major shifts in investment trends on the continent. Mining and metals, for instance, are no longer the main beneficiaries of FDI and the list of the top 10 countries in FDI projects showed some surprising trends.

Forget mining?


While EY noted a "dramatic improvement" in perceptions of Africa over the last four years, the usual magnets for foreign investment are losing momentum. FDI flows into mining and metals, coal, oil and natural gas have become less prominent, according to EY, with their share of overall FDI projects at the lowest-ever level in 2013.


Instead, investors are turning to service- and consumer-related industries. The top three sectors – technology, media and telecommunications, retail and consumer products (RCP) and financial services – accounted for more than 50 percent of total FDI projects last year.


The expanding but still underpenetrated consumer market and the improving communication infrastructure boosted investments in RCP, which accounted for 17.5 percent of FDI projects last year.


Claire Schaffnit-Chatterjee, a senior analyst at Deutsche Bank, said that although the African consumer market was largely still for basic goods and services, this was changing as citizens became richer. "More than half of African households are forecast to have discretionary income by 2020," she told CNBC by phone.


Razia Khan, regional head of research for Africa at Standard Chartered, named Nigeria as one country which was likely to see increasingly diversified FDI flows, despite concerns about political instability and terrorism activities, such as the recent kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls.

Nigeria recently overtook South Africa to become the continent's fastest-growing economy. Khan added that Nigeria's high birth rate would also boost consumer demand. "Already there are more Nigerian babies born every year than there are in the whole of Europe," she told CNBC by phone.


Watch out for…Zambia


However, for Africa's less well-established countries, the story may still be about commodities. "For small economies, the stuff that will really move the dial is resources," Khan said. She highlighted Ghana, Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia as "resource stories".


Zambia and Uganda both made their first appearances in 2013 on EY's top-10 list of most popular destinations for foreign investment, ranked by number of FDI projects.


Zambia is the world's third-largest copper producer and output is expected to double by 2020. The country is also rich in other natural resources, with fertile lands and hydro power, and is considered politically stable.


The Zambian government is also taking steps to develop various sectors beyond the mining industry, by setting up a sovereign wealth fund and boosting investment in infrastructure to develop tourism and agricultural industries.


As for Uganda, investors are attracted by the solid economic growth record, rapid population expansion and currently low per capita consumption. Uganda has also discovered oil, and is on track to become an oil producer by 2017, according to Khan.


Ghana and Mozambique moved up EY's ranks for FDI projects to occupy fourth and seventh place in 2013. Like Uganda, both have been boosted by recent energy discoveries – oil for Ghana , coal and gas for Mozambique – and the accompanying boom in infrastructure development.


Between 2014 and 2018, Mozambique's economy is seen expanding by 8 percent per year on average. "Mozambique has very strong growth prospects," Schaffnit-Chatterjee told CNBC.


Alice Tidey   @AliceTidey


In 2005, Binyavanga Wainaina published a brilliantly sarcastic essay in Granta called "How to Write About Africa," advising people on how to sound spiritual and compassionate while writing a book about the continent.


"Always use the word 'Africa' or 'Darkness' or 'Safari' in your title," Wainaina advised. "Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress."


Wainaina had other tips: The people in said book should be depicted as hungry, suffering, simple or dead. The children should have distended bellies and flies on their faces. The animals should be depicted as wise and filled with family values.


Elephants are caring and good feminists. So are gorillas. Be sure to show how profoundly you are moved by the continent and its woes, and how much it has penetrated your soul. End with a quote from Nelson Mandela involving rainbows.


There's been something similarly distorted to some of the social media reactions to the Boko Haram atrocities. It's great that the kidnappings and the massacres finally are arousing the world's indignation. But sometimes the implication of the conversation has been this: Africa is this dark and lawless place where monstrous things are bound to happen. Those poor people need our help.


But this is more or less the opposite of the truth. Boko Haram is not the main story in Africa or even in Nigeria. It is a small rear-guard reaction to the main story. The main story in Africa is an impressive surge of growth, urbanization and modernization, which has sparked panic in a few people who don't like these things.


Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa are growing at a phenomenal clip. Nigeria's economy grew by 6.7% in 2012. Mozambique's grew by 7.4%, Ghana's by 7.9%. Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole is predicted to reach 5.2% this year. Investment funds are starting up by the dozen, finding local entrepreneurs.


In 2011, roughly 60 million African households earned at least $3,000 a year. By next year, more than 100 million households will make that much. Trade between Africa and the rest of the world has increased by 200% since 2000. Since 1996, the poverty rate has fallen by 1% per year. Life expectancies are shooting up.


Africa should not be seen as merely the basket case continent where students, mission trips and celebrities can go to do good work. It has become the test case of 21st-century modernity. It is the place where the pace of modernization is fast, and where the forces that resist modernization are mounting a daring reaction.


We are seeing three distinct clashes. They're happening all over the world, but they exist in bold contrast in Africa.


The first is the clash over pluralism. Africa has seen an explosion of cellphone usage. It's seen a rapid expansion of urbanization. In 1980, only 28% of Africans lived in cities, but today 40% do. This has led to a greater mixing of tribal groupings, religions and a loosening of lifestyle options. The anti-gay laws in Nigeria, Uganda, Burundi and many other countries are one reaction against this cosmopolitan trend.


The second is a clash over human development. Over the past decade, secondary school enrollment in Africa has increased by 50%. This contributes to an increasing value on intellectual openness, as people seek liberty to furnish their own minds. The Boko Haram terrorists are massacring and kidnapping people — mostly girls — at schools to try to force people to submit to a fantasy version of the past.


The third is the clash over governance. Roughly 80% of Africa's workers labor in the informal sector. That's because the formal governmental and regulatory structures are biased toward the connected and the rich, not based on impersonal rule of law. Many Africans are trying to replace old practices with competent governance.


Too many of our images of Africa are derived from nature documentaries, fundraising appeals and mission trips. In reality, Africa faces in acute forms the same problems that afflict pretty much every region these days. Most important: Individual and social creativity is zooming ahead, and governing institutions are failing to perform the basic, elementary tasks.



David Brooks is a neo- conservative columnist for The New York Times.


The best untold story of the last decade may be the story of Africa. Real income has increased more than 30 percent , reversing two decades of decline. Seven of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies are in Africa, and GDP is expected to rise 6 percent per year in the next decade. HIV infections are down nearly 40 percent in sub-Saharan Africa and malaria deaths among children have declined 50 percent . Child mortality rates are falling, and life expectancy is increasing.


This is a moment of great opportunity for Africans. It is also a moment of decision.


The choices that Africans and their leaders make will determine whether a decade of progress leads to an era of African prosperity and stability — or whether Africa falls back into the cycle of violence and weak governance that held back the promise of the continent for far too long.


The challenges are real. Bitter and bloody conflicts are embroiling South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Congo. Corruption remains rampant; the African Union reports that $148 billion is wasted through corrupt practices each year. Africa needs strong leaders and strong institutions to stand up for human rights, address discrimination against women and minorities, and remove restrictions on freedom of expression.


The United States and African nations have deep historic and economic ties. The U.S. government has invested billions of dollars in health care, leading to real progress in combating AIDS and malaria. Our security forces work with their African counterparts to fight extremism. U.S. companies are investing in Africa through trade preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. As a friend, the United States has a role to play in helping Africans build a better future.


Many of the choices are crystal clear. African leaders need to set aside sectarian and religious differences in favor of inclusiveness, acknowledge and advocate for the rights of women and minorities, and they must accept that sexual orientation is a private matter. They must also build on their economic progress by eliminating graft and opening markets to free trade.


The conflict and crises that have held Africa back for too long were evident Friday when I flew into Juba, the capital of South Sudan. I remember arriving in Juba in January 2011 when the people of South Sudan voted overwhelmingly for independence. Even in that moment of jubilation, the threat of ethnic violence loomed just over the horizon.


The violence turned tragically real in December when fighting broke out between forces loyal to the government and militias aligned with a rebel leader. Today we see the echoes of too many earlier conflicts: thousands of innocent people killed, both sides recruiting child soldiers and a country on the cusp of famine.


Led by the U.S. special envoy to South Sudan, Donald Booth, the United States and our partners in Africa have been trying to mediate the conflict. On Friday, when I met with President Salva Kiir, I reminded him of our conversations about his nation’s promise. I urged him to set aside old grudges and reach a settlement with the opposition before that promise is soaked in more blood.


Resolutions of age-old grievances are difficult, but they are possible. For two decades, Africa’s Great Lakes region has endured a crisis as militants and gangs have fought over mineral wealth and ethnic differences. In recent weeks, Angola has demonstrated remarkable leadership in working with other African countries and the State Department’s special envoy to the Great Lakes region, Russ Feingold, to promote a framework for peace. There is a long way to go, but the progress is real and it represents hope for the region and the continent.


Our role in Africa goes beyond security assistance. We are working to develop the prosperity that is critical to a better future. One aspect of that effort is Power Africa, a public-private partnership conceived by President Obama to pump billions of dollars into the continent’s energy sector and double the number of people with access to electricity.


And we are engaging the promise of a new generation of leaders across Africa. This summer, 500 Africans will come to the United States for the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. The fellowship is part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative, providing training, resources and platforms to support leadership development, promote entrepreneurship and connect leaders with one another and the United States. In August, the president will host the first summit between African and U.S. leaders.


Africa can be a beacon for the world: Dramatic transformations are possible, prosperity can replace poverty, cooperation can triumph over conflict. This is tough work, and it requires sober commitment, regional cooperation and a clear vision of a better future. The goal of a prosperous, healthy and stable continent is within reach if Africans and their leaders make the right decisions.


John F. Kerry, a former United States Senator  is secretary of state for U.S.

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