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Thursday, 28 June 2012 15:46

Beijing, a Boon for Africa

IN June 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gave a speech in Zambia warning of a “new colonialism” threatening the African continent. “We saw that during colonial times, it is easy to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders and leave,” she said, in a thinly veiled swipe at China.

 

In 2009, China became Africa’s single largest trading partner, surpassing the United States. And China’s foreign direct investment in Africa has skyrocketed from under $100 million in 2003 to more than $12 billion in 2011.

 

Since China began seriously investing in Africa in 2005, it has been routinely cast as a stealthy imperialist with a voracious appetite for commodities and no qualms about exploiting Africans to get them. It is no wonder that the American government is lashing out at its new competitor — while China has made huge investments in Africa, the United States has stood on the sidelines and watched its influence on the continent fade.

 

Despite all the scaremongering, China’s motives for investing in Africa are actually quite pure. To satisfy China’s population and prevent a crisis of legitimacy for their rule, leaders in Beijing need to keep economic growth rates high and continue to bring hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. And to do so, China needs arable land, oil and minerals. Pursuing imperial or colonial ambitions with masses of impoverished people at home would be wholly irrational and out of sync with China’s current strategic thinking.

 

Moreover, the evidence does not support a claim that Africans themselves feel exploited. To the contrary, China’s role is broadly welcomed across the continent. A 2007 Pew Research Center survey of 10 sub-Saharan African countries found that Africans overwhelmingly viewed Chinese economic growth as beneficial. In virtually all countries surveyed, China’s involvement was viewed in a much more positive light than America’s; in Senegal, 86 percent said China’s role in their country helped make things better, compared with 56 percent who felt that way about America’s role. In Kenya, 91 percent of respondents said they believed China’s influence was positive, versus only 74 percent for the United States.

 

And the charge that Chinese companies prefer to ship Chinese employees (and even prisoners) to work in Africa rather than hire local African workers flies in the face of employment data. In countries like my own, Zambia, the ratio of African to Chinese workers has exceeded 13:1 recently, and there is no evidence of Chinese prisoners working there.

 

Of course, China should not have a free pass to run roughshod over workers’ rights or the environment. Human rights violations, environmental abuses and corruption deserve serious and objective investigation. But to finger-point and paint China’s approach in Africa as uniformly hostile to workers is largely unsubstantiated.

 

If anything, the bulk of responsibility for abuses lies with African leaders themselves. The 2011 Human Rights Watch Report “You’ll Be Fired If You Refuse,” which described a series of alleged labor and human rights abuses in Chinese-owned Zambian copper mines, missed a fundamental point: the onus of policing social policy and protecting the environment is on local governments, and it is local policy makers who should ultimately be held accountable and responsible if and when egregious failures occur.

 

China’s critics ignore the root cause of why many African leaders are corrupt and unaccountable to their populations. For decades, many African governments have abdicated their responsibilities at home in return for the vast sums of money they receive from courting international donors and catering to them. Even well-intentioned aid undermines accountability. Aid severs the link between Africans and their governments, because citizens generally have no say in how the aid dollars are spent and governments too often respond to the needs of donors, rather than those of their citizens.

 

In a functioning democracy, a government receives revenues (largely in the form of taxes) from its citizens, and in return promises to provide public goods and services, like education, national security and infrastructure. If the government fails to deliver on its promises, it runs the risk of being voted out.

 

The fact that so many African governments can stay in power by relying on foreign aid that has few strings attached, instead of revenues from their own populations, allows corrupt politicians to remain in charge. Thankfully, the decrease in the flow of Western aid since the 2008 financial crisis offers a chance to remedy this structural failure so that, like others in the world, Africans can finally hold their governments accountable.

 

With approximately 60 percent of Africa’s population under age 24, foreign investment and job creation are the only forces that can reduce poverty and stave off the sort of political upheaval that has swept the Arab world. And China’s rush for resources has spawned much-needed trade and investment and created a large market for African exports — a huge benefit for a continent seeking rapid economic growth.

 

winner-take-all-cover-fs8Dambisa Moyo, an economist, is the author of “Winner Take All: China’s Race for Resources and What It Means for the World.”

About Moyo:

Dr. Dambisa Moyo is an international economist who writes on the macroeconomy and global affairs.Dambisa Moyo is the author of the New York Times Bestsellers “Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa”, “How The West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly – And the Stark Choices Ahead” and ”Winner Take All: China’s Race for Resources and What It Means for the World”. Ms. Moyo was named by Time Magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World”, and was named to the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders Forum. Her work regularly appears in economic and finance-related publications such as the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. She completed a doctorate in Economics at Oxford University and holds a Masters degree from Harvard University. She completed an undergraduate degree in Chemistry and an MBA in Finance at the American University in Washington D.C.. ( source Moyo website)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, President Obama signed a new Presidential Policy Directive on Sub-Saharan Africa, taking another step in deepening the U.S- Africa partnerships. The new U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa,  which is derived from the Presidential Policy Directive, builds on numerous accomplishments of U.S.-Africa policy such as:

U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa

to strengthen democratic institutions

promote regional peace and security, engage with young African leaders and

promote development, trade, and investment.

President Obama's new Policy Directive for Sub-Saharan Africa comes at a  time when the African continent is  showing great economic promise. Over the past decade (2001- 2010), six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies were in Africa. Trade and investment are also on the rise- in 2010, total foreign direct investment was more than $55 billion—five times what it was a decade earlier, and much more than Africa receives in aid.

 

ObamaPresident Barack Obama delivers remarks to Parliament at the International Conference Centre in Accra, Ghana, July 11, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy

 

This week, June 14-15 , the United States is hosting the 11th  annual US-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum. The event is mandated by the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). AGOA became law in October 2000.  AGOA is the cornerstone of U.S. economic engagement with the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.  By providing duty-free access to the U.S. market, AGOA has succeeded in helping eligible sub-Saharan African nations grow and diversify their exports to the United States.

The theme of the AGOA 2012 Forum is  “Enhancing Africa’s Infrastructure for Trade.”

In September 2009, President Obama launched the U.S. government’s global food security initiative, Feed the Future. Its goals are:

to boost food supplies through agricultural development;

to increase access to food through more efficientlyfunctioning markets, job growth, and higher incomes forpoor people;

to improve nutrition, especially among mothersand infants; and to build stronger food and agricultural systems and other institutions that can assure sustainable foodsecurity for years to come.

Sustaining the current progress in Africa requires investing in long-term development partnerships in order to accelerate sustainable - not just economic growth, but also promote food security, support the capacity of countries and communities to respond to diseases and rebuild infrastructure and combat climate change.  These  smart investments should be aligned with country-owned plans, include civil society and the private sector, while fostering mutual transpsrency, accountability and respect. Long-term progress  to reduce poverty will depend on the capacity of each country to build on the gains achieved with donor assistance rather than having donor assistance replace its own efforts.

As the President said during his visit to Ghana, in 2009, the people of Africa are ready to claim their future. This new Presidential Policy Directive should promote partnership  and mutual respect  that allows the people of Africa and the U.S to work towards a more prosperous world.

 

U .  S  .   S  T  R  A T  E G  Y   T  O WA  R  D  S  U  B  - S  A  H  A  R  A  N   A  F  R  I  C  A U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa

President Barack Obama will announce an alliance Friday with nearly 50 companies to boost productivity among small farmers in Africa with the goal of lifting 50 million people out of poverty.

 

Business executives from agricultural giants such as DuPont and Monsanto will join Obama, along with the leaders of three African countries who have pledged policy changes that U.S. officials say will improve business climates and encourage investment.

 

“We believe we’re really unlocking business investment in African agriculture in a way that will transform that sector and support improved outcomes for small farmers,” said Raj Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

 

The plan comes as aid groups are calling on the U.S. and members of the G-8 nations gathering Friday at Camp David to renew a pledge they made at their 2009 summit to spend $22 billion on efforts to alleviate global hunger. Advocates said they hoped the largely private effort would complement, not replace, a public commitment from the countries, which gather amid worries over the troubled European economy.

 

“We welcome a more robust private presence, but it can’t be an excuse for the G-8 to slow down and stop public investments,” said Adam Taylor, the vice president of advocacy for World Vision, a U.S.-based Christian aid agency. “We’re hopeful the G-8 will demonstrate the political will.”

 

Obama administration officials said the U.S. would look at the summit to keep the same level of commitment as agreed to in 2009.

 

“It’s not about replacing aid, it’s about combining aid with private capital and tools for innovation,” said Michael Froman, the deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs.

 

Shah said the U.S. thought that a significant public-sector commitment was required, but he said the private companies were able to share “incredibly unique technologies and business models that simply can’t be replicated” by the public sector.

 

He said, for example, that the United Kingdom telecommunications company Vodafone planned to connect 500,000 small-scale farmers in Tanzania, Mozambique and Kenya with local market prices via mobile phone, allowing them to negotiate for better prices.

 

“It’s highly unlikely that there’s a public-sector solution that could fill that gap,” Shah said. Another company, Norway’s Yara International, plans to build what would be Africa’s first fertilizer-production facility. “We need both public and private partnership in order to achieve these extraordinary results,” he said.

 

Obama, who pressed world leaders at the 2009 summit to make food security a focus, has invited the leaders of Ghana, Tanzania and Ethiopia to attend the Camp David summit, along with African Union President Yayi Boni of Benin.

 

The program includes investments from as many 45 companies worth as much as $3 billion, Shah said. The plans call for improving and increasing the production of crops such as cashew and cassava, along with improving irrigation systems and seed stock.

 

Participants include multinational giants such as Cargill, Monsanto, DuPont and the British brewer SABMiller, along with African companies such as Ghana Nuts and Agrica/KPL, a commercial rice producer in Tanzania.

 

Aid groups expressed concern about the emphasis on the private sector, saying the neediest subsistence farmers could be overlooked.

 

“The rhetoric is all about small-scale producers, but they haven’t yet been a part of the G-8’s conversation,” Oxfam’s Lamine Ndiaye said.

 

Ndiaye said that without a strong commitment from government, private investment was unlikely to help the smallest farmers, who feed the bulk of the continent.

 

“Their objective is not to fight against hunger; their objective is to make money,” he said of private-sector companies. “If the foundation is not strong, the private sector will probably not come.”

 

Shah said the private partnership took into account a “tough fiscal environment” for the U.S. and the other G-8 countries and that the plan allowed for extending dollars “as far as possible.”

 

“We know these types of partnerships tend to stretch our dollars,” he said. “If we’re ever going to succeed in tackling hunger and poverty on a scale like this, it’s going to be through these kinds of partnerships.”

 

He said the plan included a commitment to tracking the results: “Instead of doing scattered projects all over the place, we’re really focusing on a handful of countries,” he said.

 

Shah noted that the 2009 G-8 commitment had netted results, but that chronic hunger still exists. A drought in east Africa last year put 13 million people at risk and prompted a massive infusion of food aid and emergency humanitarian assistance.

 

“We’re trying to move to a proactive effort that helps countries modernize their food economies, address malnutrition and withstand difficult instances so they don’t need food aid and food assistance,” he said.

 

The presidents of Ethiopia, Tanzania and Ghana have agreed to policy changes aimed at improving the business climate, Shah said, such as tackling corruption and reforming access to landownership.

 

The reforms vary by country, Shah said. For example, in Ethiopia, reforms will allow more private-sector access to land and better titling of land, especially for female farmers, who represent more than half the farmers in Africa. Knowing they have legal title to their land could give small farmers the security to invest in upgrading their irrigation systems and soil, Shah said.

 

“We believe those kinds of reforms will help hundreds of thousands of small holder farmers improve their standing,” he said.

 

Nigeria was not invited to the month of May's G8 Gathering in United States

Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania and Benin presidents were officially invited to the forthcoming G8 Summit later this month in the United States by U.S. President Barack Obama. United States will be hosting the next G8 summit and with the tradition of the event, the host nation can invite other world leaders that have issues that can enhanced the gathering. Nigeria, an oil rich nation with a powerful and recognized influence in Africa has always receive invitation to the august meeting. But this time around invitation card was not extended to her.

 

According to Voice of America: " White House spokesman Jay Carney says Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Ghana's President John Mills, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and Benin President Yayi Boni, who is the current chairman of the African Union, will attend the summit for a discussion of food security on May 19 at the U.S. president's mountain retreat – Camp David in Maryland.”

 

There is no African nation that is a member of the esteemed G8 Group that includes the United States, Canada, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia. The G8 nations are characterized with developed and industrialized economies, open societies and intimidating Gross Domestic Products. The G8 are member nations of the world's largest economies but having one of the largest economies are not only the criteria for membership for China and Brazil with large economies by any standard have not made it to the well respected group.

 

G8 leadersG8 leaders pic:White House


Voice of America, further reported, "The Group of Eight holds a summit each year of the leaders of eight of the world's largest economies – the United States, Canada, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia. The host of each year's summit frequently invites other leaders for an expanded discussion of specific issues. Last month, the United States announced it is providing nearly $200 million in additional humanitarian aid to the Horn of Africa, where a lack of rain is again threatening food supplies.  Last year, the Horn suffered through a severe drought that triggered famine conditions in parts of southern Somalia. Thousands of Somalis died and tens of thousands more fled to camps in Mogadishu or refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, in search of food and water. The United States says it has provided more than $1.1 billion in humanitarian aid to the Horn since the crisis began in 2011."

 

Nigeria has enjoyed the privileged of being invited to G8 meeting until this time despite not even being a member nation of G20. South Africa is the only African nation that has both memberships in G20 and BRICS nations.

 

Published in Emeka Chiakwelu

IMF: Africa, Isolated From Europe's Woes, Set For Solid Growth

 

(Dow Jones)- Sub-Saharan Africa is set for robust growth in 2012 thanks to limited exposure to the economic turmoil emanating from Europe, the International Monetary Fund said in its updated barometer on the world economy.

 

The IMF's World Economic Outlook forecasts that gross domestic product will grow by an average of 5.4% across sub- Saharan Africa in 2012, revised downward from its previous forecast of 5.8% growth this year.

 

"The diversification of exports toward fast-growing emerging markets has reduced the region's trade exposure to Europe," IMF officials wrote. They added that exports to the euro area have fallen to one-fifth of Africa's total from two-fifths 20 years ago.

 

The IMF forecasts that South Africa will grow 2.7% this year, up from a forecast of 2.5% growth in January. South Africa--the continent's largest and most developed economy--faces the strongest headwinds from Europe due to its importance as an export market, the IMF said. The revised growth reflects signs of a more stable recovery in the U.S. and Asia, which are also major destinations for the country's goods.

 

Intense exploration and production of oil and gas resources will drive the continent's fastest growing economies, the IMF said. Oil production in Angola will push GDP growth to 9.7% this year, the highest on the continent, and to 8.8% in Ghana and 7.1% in Nigeria. Oil and gas production will push growth to 6.7% in Mozambique.

 

In East Africa, monetary tightening to combat inflation is expected to have a negative impact on growth. Uganda is expected to grow 4.2% this year after 6.7% growth in 2011, and Tanzania is expected to grow 6.4% after 6.7% growth in 2011.

 

With growth prospects for the continent looking solid, the IMF urged African officials to tighten budgets and rebuild central bank reserves to be ready for future global economic shocks.

 

 

"Budgetary discipline will also help generate the room needed to refocus spending on priority areas such as infrastructure, health, and education," the IMF said.

 

-By Patrick McGroarty, Dow Jones Newswires; +27 82 258 2355; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

Monday, 12 March 2012 17:42

CHINA’S PIECE OF THE AFRICAN CAKE

CHINA AND AFRICA

We all know that China is deeply invested in Africa. There is, at least on the surface, a mutually beneficial relationship to be had between China and individual nation states. China has money, the capacity to invest and build in Africa, and tends not to be too concerned with such niceties as human rights. Africa has natural resources, a craving for outside investment, and a desire to work with investors who won’t go about encroaching on national sovereignty.

 

So what are the countries that most benefit from Chinese investment and partnership? The Christian Science Monitor has a slideshow of the top five. The top three will come as no surprise: Angola, Nigeria, and Sudan are big countries with vast (and reasonably developed) oil resources and are happy to partner with China, which is happy to extract the oil while ignoring the political situation on the ground. The last two are something of a surprise. Mauritania has experienced two coups in the last decade, but it seems that on all political sides there is agreement on a desire for a heightened Chinese presence in a country that has both burgeoning reserves and an ambitious port project.

 

President Zuma in China

 

Coming in fifth is Botswana, which does not have oil like the other four, but it does have abundant natural resources, a fast-growing economy in a stable society, and a desire for strong investment partnerships. China is happy to reciprocate. Anyone who has spent time in Gabarone and has visited the University of Botswana or the National Stadium has seen the almost stunning volume of building that Chinese companies are carrying out.

 

Chinese involvement in Africa is a dual-edged sword. After all, looking beyond the West for investment and other partnerships makes complete sense, especially in a post-Cold War world where the bilateral struggle for dominance by the superpowers that led to considerable (if oftentimes deleterious) attention from the United States and Soviet Union gave way to not-so-benign neglect. But the question remains whether many African states are inviting unintended consequences much like those they faced during the Cold War when they largely represented pawns in a  geo-political game. It’s savvy to look east as long as doing so does not preclude continuing to peer westward as well. Indeed, looking both ways and not going all-in with any particular partner, however seductive, might just provide the best path for true growth, development, and political autonomy.

 

Derek Charles Catsam is a  blogger for Foreign policy Blogs     This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Wednesday, 22 February 2012 17:53

Africa: From Black to African History Month

 

African History Month will counter Euro-centrism with historical truth. As well, it is important to embrace our culture and take ownership of our ethnicity.

Every February, Black History Month is celebrated because of one man. In 1926, Dr. Carter Woodson created 'Negro History Week' and in 1976 it became Black History Month. The world in general and black people, in particular, owe him a debt of gratitude. Unfortunately, during his time period, our minds were poisoned against Africa.

This is best exemplified by the following quote. 'Number one, first you have to realise that up until 1959 Africa was dominated by colonial powers. And by the colonial powers of Europe having complete control over Africa, they projected the image of Africa negatively. They projected Africa always in a negative light; jungles, savages, cannibals. Nothing civilised.

 

'Naturally it became negative to you and me and you and I began to hate it. We did not want anyone to tell us anything about Africa, much less call us an African. And in hating Africa, and in hating the African, we ended up hating ourselves, without even realising it, because you cannot hate the roots of the tree and not hate the tree.' Malcom X. Subconsciously we are living the legacy of slavery and colonialism, and solely focus on breaking racial barriers. We must cleanse our minds by learning history from our own perspective to comprehend the present socio-economic conditions.

 

Just as Negro History Week grew into Black History Month to address the changes in society, in the same spirit we must continue Dr Carter's creation by extenuating it into an African History Month. The extenuation would include history of the 150 million blacks in Latin America together with the 50 million in the Caribbean and, more importantly, the history of the motherland.

 

Not only will we build on Dr Carter's great legacy but by adding the motherland's culture and other history that has been neglected. Such as Blacks in Latin America, where 90 percent of the slaves were sent, mostly in Brazil. The extenuation would encapsulate African history from the dawn of time until the present.

 

Most notably, because of slavery and colonialism, the culture has been changed in the Americas and altered in Africa. This constitutes an urgent necessity for its people to learn their history from their own perspective. Moreover, modern history is a reflection of the European conquest, according to their interpretations. Learning African history is more important than ever, because of the diversity, in Africa and Diaspora.

 

In our contemporary world, we have accepted new identities and terminologies. The whole dynamics of Africa, its people and the rest of the Diaspora has dramatically changed. A new geography has been created with the birth of the Americas, over 50 countries in Africa and colonialism has changed the cultural dynamics. It suffices to say that an African History Month would be appropriate. It is essential that we recall our past in order to negotiate the future. The importance of understanding Euro-centrism and ethnicity cannot be over emphasized .

EURO-CENTRISM

Euro-centrism really began in 1493, because the second voyage was a large-scale colonisation and exploration project. Columbus was given 17 ships and over 1,000 men. Included on this voyage, for the first time, were European domesticated animals such as pigs, horses and cattle. Columbus' orders were to expand the settlement on Hispaniola, convert the natives to Christianity, establish a trading post and continue his explorations in search of China or Japan. Moreover, the conquest of their land would provide gold and other wealth to Europeans. Encouraged by their successes, they embraced Euro-centrism, using the gun to conquer and the bible to deceive.

 

Colonialism proved even more successful in later centuries, eventually reaching the level where Europeans could conquer and rule not only the Americas but also Africa. During this process, they realised that forcing their culture on their victims was more potent than their guns.They renamed rivers, cities, lakes, created countries, continents and forced their culture on all of their victims. And European endeavors in all of these continents continued to be hugely profitable. So Euro-centric beliefs seemed to be continually confirmed as both true and useful and they gradually evolved into the Euro-centric world-model of modern times.

 

Euro-centrism's views of Africa were most famously expressed by Scottish philosopher David Hume: 'I am apt to suspect the Negroes to be naturally inferior to the Whites. There scarcely ever was a civilised nation of that complexion, nor even any individual, eminent either in action or in speculation. No ingenious manufacture among them, no arts, no sciences.' Whilst some changed slightly over time, there were still some who continued to hold these derogatory views. In the 19th century, the German philosopher Hegel simply declared: 'Africa is no historical part of the world.'

 

Later, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Professor of History at Oxford University expressed openly the racist view that Africa has no history, as recently as 1963. When this model was fully developed, in the 19th century, it created its own conception of the history and geography of the entire world. And it became the mirror in which Europeans came to see themselves and their own past. Before the European Conquest, the world was abundant with homogeneous societies. Many African cultures were uninterrupted for thousands of years . All this changed when the slaves were scattered and forced to accept foreign cultures.

 

During the seasoning or the breaking in period, Africans were forced to learn different cultures, speak a variety of European languages, embrace Christianity and were denied any connection with Africa, thus becoming Negroes. In the framework of colonialism, the Africans in Africa suffered a similar fate. That was implemented by their educational institutions and the missionaries. The denial of culture and adisconnection from Africa produced Negroes. 'African History Month' is essential to recognise Euro-centrism in order to counter it with the historical truth. It is important to embrace our culture and take ownership of our ethnicity.

ETHNICITY

Just think: Several generations ago in America, we were known as Negroes. The 1960s' was the era of African revolutionary wars and the Civil Rights Movements. Black was considered beautiful and slogans, like 'We are black and proud' became prominent. Once Negro became stigmatised, black was ubstituted.

 

Imagine it required generations to accept to be addressed as black instead of Negro. Unfortunately, neither word identifies land or culture.Because, there isn't a Negro-land, nor Blackens-tan, nor Black-land. The most important factor is that it disconnects the African descendants from Africa. Most notably, it promotes and perpetuates the divide-and-conquer theme. Just as Negro has outlived its usefulness, so has 'black' because it does not describe ethnicity. It is a colour and nothing more.

 

If we have kinky, coarse or nappy hair and our facial features consist of broad noses, thick lips and our bodies contain melanin, the chemical that defines our pigmentation, regardless of embracing different cultures , the ethnicity still remains the same. Additionally, the term 'from African descent' is rhetorical and serves no purpose because that is seldom mentioned by any other ethnic group. After scores of generations, they are still referred to as the respective cultures: Chinese, Indian, Japanese, English, German and so on.

 

Although, it is impossible to identify the exact location on the motherland, the word 'African' should be used with its appropriate sub-categories regardless of whether it refers to descendants from the Diaspora or those on the continent. Hence, when referencing ethnicity, the descriptive word should always be 'African.' The descendants should be identified by inserting African or Afro before their birth country. The following are examples: Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian, etc. And conversely, the motherland's reference would be Nigerian, Ghanaian and so on.

 

Finally, taking ownership of the word 'African' would negate the nonsense that Egypt, Carthage, Great Zimbabwe, Ethiopia or the Moorish civilizations are not black; simply because all of these civilisations are located on African soil. Furthermore, the Japanese, Chinese or Koreans are never questioned about their ethnicity. Most notably, those three cultures are distinctly different. Moreover, neither of these groups identifies themselves as being yellow. They are considered Asians. We must take charge of ethnicity as Africans, regardless if on the motherland or from the Diaspora. More importantly, together with Euro-centrism understanding the importance of ethnicity are both keys to the development of the African History Month.

WHY AN AFRICAN HISTORY MONTH?

In order to compare the present with the past, we must remember the conditions when Dr. Woodson created Negro History Week. Jim Crow segregation and lynching were common. The Berlin conference occurred in 1884 that led to the partition of Africa. Black Wall Street was destroyed in 1921 and Marcus Garvey was convicted of mail fraud in 1925.

 

In this hostile atmosphere, in 1926 Dr Woodson almost single-handedly created 'Negro History Week'. In 1976, it was lengthened into a month-long celebration and renamed Black History Month. Britain adopted this holiday in 1987 when it emerged as part of the African Jubilee celebrations for the Marcus Garvey Centenary. This was an outstanding achievement by one of our greatest heroes. The holiday served its purpose well. Obviously, the issues of Euro-centrism and ethnicity could not be addressed in the white supremacy era. Now its time to pass the baton and extenuate his legacy. By addressing forbidden issues extending the narrative of Black History Month will be

 

inclusive of the motherland history. To set the background for an African History month, a brief encapsulation of history before and after 1492 is required because the geography and cultures of the world were quite different then. In ancient history, the term 'African' would have had no meaning. People defined themselves as members of kingdoms and regions. When you consider the fact that the culture has in some ways been altered in today's modern world, these identities were still of people of the continent we call Africa.

 

The African continent is now recognised as the birthplace of humanity and the cradle of civilisation. We still marvel at the great achievements of Kemet, or Ancient Egypt, for example, one of the most notable for the early civilizations, which first developed in the Nile valley over 5,000 years ago. However, even before the rise of Kemet it seems likely that an even more ancient Kingdom known as Ta Seti existed in what is today Nubia in Sudan. This may well have been the earliest state to exist anywhere in the world.

 

The African continent continued on its own path of development, without significant external intervention until the 15th century of our era. Some of the world's other civilisations such as Kush, Axum, Mali and Great Zimbabwe, flourished in Africa in the years before 1492. In this early period Africans participated in extensive international trading networks and in trans-oceanic travel. Kilwa had established important trading relations with India, China and other parts of Asia long before these were disrupted by European intervention.

 

The Moors conquest of the Iberian peninsular began in the 7th century and led to the occupation of much of Spain and Portugal for several centuries. The Moorish invasion re-introduced much of the knowledge of the ancient world to Europe. However, Spain expelled the Moors in 1492, the same year of Christopher Columbus' voyage. Western culture deliberately omits African history before 1492. The transatlantic enslavement distorted Africa's views of the history and importance of the continent itself. It is only in the last 50 years that it has been possible to redress this distortion and to begin to re-establish Africa's rightful place in world history.

 

It is important to recognise two major omissions in the celebrations. One is that black history began in 1620 when the first slaves arrived in Jamestown, Virginia. Completely ignoring the Latin American slaves who arrived more than one hundred years earlier. And the other presupposes that our history didn't exist before contact with the Europeans.The African History Honth will address ancient Africa, the Caribbean and Afro-Latino history. Moreover, history cannot be planned because it's the record of the past. However, it has a tendency to repeat itself in some form or another. Therefore, it's important to learn from the past glories and bitter defeats, especially from mistakes and failures.

 

All the above-mentioned are necessary to prepare for the future. If we ignore history, then we will meander and drift where the world will take us. The purpose of the African History Month is learned from these events and develop a strategy to address our everyday encounters, and this will help guide us in planning our future.

 

Monday, 20 February 2012 16:30

Billions taken from Africa illegally - Mbeki

 

Africa is losing billions

Johannesburg - An estimated $50bn is exported out of the African continent illegally every year, former president Thabo Mbeki said on Saturday. "This money is exported illegally instead of being invested in the continent," he said.

 

Mbeki was speaking at the launch of a United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) high level panel in Johannesburg.

 

The panel, chaired by Mbeki, would investigate illicit and financial flows of finance out of the continent.

 

Mbeki said the loss needed to be addressed before it undermined the prospect of Africa's development.

 

"Almost $25bn comes in to the continent. That means it loses twice the capital it receives in financial assistance," he said.

 

Practical measures

 

"The panel will study the flow of money and understand how it is done. The African continent will expect the panel to provide practical measures to stop the flow."

 

He said it would take a year for the panel to complete its investigation.

 

"This is a matter of vital importance to the continent. In the end [the investigation] should result in action taken by the continent and individual countries," he said.

 

"As a panel we have no punitive measures. The panel will make proposals to those with punitive power and explain how it [the flow of money] is done."

 

He said the panel would provide sufficient information about the different methods of the outflow.

 

This would include over-invoicing and under-pricing of exports and money laundering strategies.

South African President, Mr. Jacob Zuma With Former  Presidents Nelson Mandela And Thabo Mbeki During Mandela's 90th Birthday Celebrations(pix: Telegraph)

Credible

"People will import an item into South Africa, and it is supposed to be sold for R10, but instead South Africans pay R30 for it - this is one of the ways to suck capital out of the continent," Mbeki said.

 

"In some instances mining companies will export platinum...and in the customs records they will say they are exporting tin, which has a lower price."

 

He said the panel was not starting work on a "blank slate" as there had been previous discussion on the financial outflow.

 

"We will identify the gaps that are missing and produce something that is actionable. The panel will produce a report that is credible to everybody."

 

The panel includes Economic Commission for Africa executive chairperson Abdoulie Janneh, Coca Cola Bottling Company's Nigeria chairperson Olusegun Apata and director of Global Financial Integrity in the United States Raymond Baker, among others.

 

- SAPA

 

 

Wednesday, 08 February 2012 16:44

Africa and Capitalism

Africa can remind the world of the capitalist way

 

Take a walk in downtown Lagos and you’ll see bustling shopping malls and streets populated not just by domestic restaurant chains but increasingly by global brands like KFC, which will soon have 20 restaurants in Nigeria, and Walmart, which is expected to soon open two flagship stores. At Lagos airport you’ll see planes owned by more than 20 international airlines, from countries such as China, Qatar and Turkey. You will also see many of Nigeria’s nearly 90m mobile phone subscribers who together sustain four major telecommunications companies.

 

Capitalism is alive and well in Africa. Some observers will worry about the recent violence arising from the removal of fuel subsidies. The truth is that today’s Nigeria is strong enough to avoid a protracted crisis. This is down to the growing power of the African consumer. A decade or two ago, the rash subsidies decision taken by President Goodluck Jonathan could have brought the country near to a full political meltdown. But in 2012, Nigerian consumers want to buy their groceries and get back to work; they have too much vested in the economy. It’s a pattern mirrored across the continent.

 

Africa is quietly catching up after a period of isolation from the rest of the world between the late 1990s through to 2008. Policymaking has justifiably been criticised for its multi-decade approach of ring-fencing Africa. This created an “us-versus-them” culture, which hinged on one set of development policies – trade, foreign direct investment, capital market access – for certain countries like China, India, Brazil, but prescribed an aid-centric policy for other (mainly African) countries.

This catalogue of policies prompted the economist Paul Collier to caution that many African countries were “shearing off” from the rest of the world. In part, as a consequence, although Africa is home to nearly one billion people, the continent’s share of world trade hovers around 2 per cent. Meanwhile, of roughly $1.12 tn worth of total global foreign direct investmentin 2010, sub-Saharan Africa received a paltry 3 per cent. However, this is about to dramatically change.

We now see some of the inadvertent benefits from this isolation: Africa is less exposed to the fallout from the radioactive economies of the developed world.

The credit crisis could take a decade to unwind. Already, many investors have been burned entering illusory recovery trades such as eurozone sovereign bonds, emerging market equities, and big financial institutions too early.

 

It is against this backdrop that African economies looks particularly stellar. Sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to grow at 5.5 percent for 2012, according to recent estimates by the IMF, nearly 4 per cent higher than the anaemic growth projected for advanced economies. Most African countries have no massive leverage problem to work through – if anything even good investment opportunities have been starved of capital.

 

And in some African countries, South Africa being a pertinent example, banking regulation is a model for the rest of the world. While the political risk premium remains relatively high, over the past decade real efforts have addressed many of the reasons for this – corruption, lack of transparency, and nervousness over property rights.

 

What’s more, the story extends well beyond the well-hyped resources sector – the majority of the stocks that trade on African exchanges are non-commodities; including telecommunications and consumer goods, and financial services, where even relatively small countries like Zambia has 18 registered foreign and domestic banks.

 

Investments will continue to benefit from the Africa demographic story, which is decidedly skewed towards the young. Over 60 per cent of Africans are under twenty-four years of age. If well harnessed, such statistics portend a boom in local private demand in decades to come. Changing dietary preferences from grain-based to protein-based foodstuffs, underlie a boom in food producers. Africa is home to many of the 2bn people who have a mobile phone but no bank account. The rapid integration between the financial products and mobile telephony creates a myriad of opportunities to directly serve the consumer, and to cut out the bureaucratic middle men.

 

Through conversations with policymakers from around Africa, including heads of state, the perspective is clear. They see what happened in the rest of the world as a failure of governments not a failure of capitalism. In its true form, capitalism is thriving in Africa, dragging millions out of poverty and into the shops. It is a happy and poignant irony that the isolated continent will succeed by following the rules of the market that the rest of the world forgot.

 

Dambisa Moyo is the author of Dead Aid, How the West Was Lost and the forthcoming book Winner Take All

 

 

Wednesday, 08 February 2012 16:33

World Bank Warns on Africa Trade

 

Africa Loses Billions in Potential Trade Earnings, Falls Short of Vast Promise in Cross-Border Business―New World Bank Report

Washington, February 7, 2012 – With African leaders now calling for a continental free trade area by 2017 to boost trade within the continent, a new World Bank report shows how African countries are losing out on billions of dollars in potential trade earnings every year because of high trade barriers with neighboring countries, and that it is easier for Africa to trade with the rest of the world than with itself.

 

According to the new report―De-Fragmenting Africa: Deepening Regional Trade Integration

in Goods and Services―regional fragmentation could become even more costly for the continent with new World Bank forecasts suggesting that economic slowdown in the Eurozone could shave Africa’s growth by up to 1.3 percentage points this year. As the authors write, “while uncertainty surrounds the global economy and stagnation is likely to continue in traditional markets in Europe and North America, enormous opportunities for cross-border trade within Africa in food products, basic manufactures and services remain unexploited.”

 

The reports says this situation deprives the continent of new sources of economic growth, new jobs, and sharply falling poverty, factors which accompanied significant trade integration in East Asia and other regions. The cross-border production networks that have spurred economic dynamism in other regions, especially East Asia, have yet to materialize in Africa.

 

“It is clear that Africa is not reaching its potential for regional trade, despite the fact that its benefits are enormous—they create larger markets, help countries diversify their economies, reduce costs, improve productivity and help reduce poverty.” says Obiageli "Oby" Ezekwesili, The World Bank’s Vice President for Africa, and a former Nigerian Minister of Extractive Industries. “Yet trade and non-trade barriers remain significant and fall most heavily and disproportionately on poor traders, most of whom are women. African leaders must now back aspiration with action and work together to align the policies, institutions and investments needed to unblock these barriers and to create a dynamic regional market on a scale worthy of Africa’s one billion people and its roughly $2 trillion economy."

 

In a special World Bank video at: http://vimeo.com/32976732 produced for the new report, women traders on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and neighboring countries in the Great Lakes region describe how they routinely encounter violence, threats, demands for bribes, and sexual harassment, at the hands of the large numbers of customs and other government officials at the border. As one egg and sugar trader from Goma says on the video: “I buy my eggs in Rwanda; as soon as I cross to Congo I give one egg to every official who asks me. Some days I give away more than 30 eggs!”

 

Barriers blunt trade in goods as well as services

 

The report says that until the onset of the financial crisis, most sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries grew rapidly and often at much higher rates than the world average. Economic growth in these countries was robust and driven by the boom in commodity prices, which led to very high growth in export values, especially for minerals, to new fast-growing markets such as India and China.

 

While exports have grown strongly over the last decade, and the region’s trade has recovered well from the global crisis, the impact on unemployment and poverty has been disappointing in many countries. Unemployment remains around 24 percent in South Africa. In Tanzania, extreme income-poverty appears to have remained broadly constant at around 35 percent of the population. This shows that export growth has typically been fueled by a small number of mineral and primary products with limited impacts on the wider economy and that formal sectors remain small in many countries.

 

As a result, the report suggests that Africa will have to diversify its exports from depending solely on precious metals and other commodities and encourage more people to trade goods and professional services in accounting, law, education, healthcare, among others. The region’s large number of young people also calls for significant numbers of new jobs, intensive trade, and growth.

 

“Imagine the benefits of allowing African doctors, nurses, teacher, engineers and lawyers to practice anywhere in the continent, but responsibility for making this happen lies with countries first and foremost,” says Marcelo Giugale, the World Bank’s Africa Director for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management. “The final prize is clear: helping Africans trade goods and services with each other. Few contributions carry more development power than that.”

 

Changes are needed in three areas

 

To escape the current straightjacket of trade fragmentation, the report says that African leaders, need to pursue changes in three key areas.

 

1.     Improving cross-border trade, especially by small poor traders, many of whom are women, by simplifying border procedures, limiting the number of agencies at the border and increasing the professionalism of officials, supporting traders associations, improving the flow of information on market opportunities, and assisting in the spread of new technologies such as cross-border mobile banking that improve access to finance.

 

2.     Removing a range of non-tariff barriers to trade, such as restrictive rules of origin, import and export bans, and onerous and costly import and export licensing procedures

 

3.     Reforming regulations and immigration rules that limit the substantial potential for cross-border trade and investment in services.

 

In one notable example of trade barriers, report co-editors Paul Brenton and Gozde Isik of the World Bank describe how the South African supermarket chain Shoprite spends US$20,000 a week on import permits to distribute meat, milk, and plant-based goods to its stores in Zambia alone. For all countries it operates in, approximately 100 (single entry) import permits are applied for every week; this can rise up to 300 per week in peak periods. As a result of these and other requirements, there can be up to 1,600 documents accompanying each truck Shoprite sends with a load that crosses a border in the region.

 

As the co-editors write, “lack of coordination across government ministries and regulatory authorities also causes significant delays, particularly in authorizing trade for new products. Another South African retailer took three years to get permission to export processed beef and pork from South Africa to Zambia.”

 

How the World Bank supports regional integration

 

Trade and regional integration are core elements of the Bank’s new Africa strategy, launched in March 2011, to help countries create opportunities for their transformation and sustained growth. The Bank has doubled its investment in regional integration from US$2.1 billion in 2008 to US$4.2 billion in July 2011, and it will rise to $5.7 billion by July 2012.

Contacts

In Washington: Phil Hay +1 (202) 473-1796 and cell +1 (202) 409-2909, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Aby Toure +1 (202) 473-8302 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

 

 

 

 

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