The Future of the State of Africa
George Monbiot: Corporate Carve-Up
Under the pretext of preventing hunger, the rich nations are engineering a new scramble for Africa.
One of the stated purposes of the Conference of Berlin in 1884 was to save the people of Africa from the slave trade. To discharge this grave responsibility, the European powers discovered, to their undoubted distress, that they would have to extend their control and ownership of large parts of Africa.
In doing so, they accidentally encountered the vast riches of that continent, which had not in any way figured in their calculations, and found themselves in astonished possession of land, gold, diamonds and ivory. They also discovered that they were able to enlist the labour of a large number of Africans, who, for humanitarian reasons, were best treated as slaves.
One of the stated purposes of the G8 conference, hosted by David Cameron next week, is to save the people of Africa from starvation. To discharge this grave responsibility, the global powers have discovered, to their undoubted distress, that their corporations must extend their control and ownership of large parts of Africa. As a result, they will find themselves in astonished possession of Africa’s land, seed and markets.
David Cameron’s purpose at the G8, as he put it last month, is to advance “the good of people around the world”. Or, as Rudyard Kipling expressed it during the previous scramble for Africa, “To seek another’s profit, / And work another’s gain … / Fill full the mouth of Famine / And bid the sickness cease”. Who could doubt that the best means of doing this is to cajole African countries into a new set of agreements, which allow foreign companies to grab their land, patent their seeds and monopolise their food markets?
The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which bears only a passing relationship to the agreements arising from the Conference of Berlin, will, according to the US agency promoting it, “lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years through inclusive and sustained agricultural growth.” This “inclusive and sustained agricultural growth” will no longer be in the hands of the people who are meant to be lifted out of poverty. How you can have one without the other is a mystery that has yet to be decoded. But I’m sure the alliance’s corporate partners – Monsanto, Cargill, Dupont, Syngenta, Nestlé, Unilever, Itochu, Yara International and others – could produce some interesting explanations.
Africa Is a Great Country — Surprising photos from a booming land.
Some see Africa’s “rise” as a myth, others a reality. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that the continent is changing rapidly. At 6 percent, Africa’s GDP growth rate has surpassed that of Asia — making it the world’s fastest-growing continent and a promising target for emerging-market investors. As the Economist noted in 2011 in its issue on “Africa rising,” roughly 40 percent of Africans now live in cities, compared with 30 percent a generation ago. That percentage is expected to rise to 50 percent by 2025.
Yet despite this promising trajectory, the modern, urban, and thriving Africa is not the one we usually see — a reality that Swedish photographer Jens Assur is hoping to change with a new collection of photographs. “In Sweden, we see only two types of pictures from Africa,” Assur tells FP. “It’s either war, famine, and HIV, or pretty lions on the savanna. I know, because I have myself contributed to those images, being a photo journalist in the 90s,” he adds.
What if Africa were to become the hub for global science?
(BBC) At first sight, it seems unlikely – a continent most associated with war and famine producing globally significant scientific research.
However, in many ways, the groundwork is there – knowledge, ingenuity, willingness to learn and adapt, coupled with the rapid expansion of digital technology. All of this is really allowing Africa to play a major part in global scientific collaborations.
Holding development back, higher education remains poor. … the tide is turning. Real, serious scientific work is taking place now in sub-Saharan Africa, especially in maths, physics and astronomy.
Africa Progress Report 2012 – Jobs, Justice and Equity: Seizing opportunities in times of global change Summary
(This is Africa) Africa Progress Report: Growing inequalities threaten African success
(The Guardian) Africa’s spectacular growth jeopardised by rising inequality, new report warns
Continent’s economy continued to grow despite the financial crisis – but almost half of Africans still earn less than $1.25 a day, warns Africa Progress Panel
2011 Reflections: Africa rises, taking charge of its affairs
(CSM) Seven Monitor correspondents reflect on the world’s hotspots. In this installment, Scott Baldauf says Africa showed signs of both the willingness and ability to solve their own problems in 2011.
(CSM) With its famines, wars, and corrupt leaders, Africa was called “hopeless” by The Economist magazine in 2000.
Today, demand for Africa’s natural resources, combined with stronger political leadership and growing entrepreneurship, make Africa a rare bright point in the global economy.
Five myths about Africa
Matt Damon, listen up: After five years of covering Africa, our departing correspondent tells how his perceptions have changed about a complex continent, including why some Africans resent celebrity visits.
(CSM) … as Africa bureau chief of The Christian Science Monitor – living in the upper-middle-class comforts of Johannesburg and traveling to the squatter camps of Chad, the artisanal tin mines of Congo, the deserts of Timbuktu – I have plenty of stories to tell. But while I have seen the same violence you read about in the news, and share the same concerns others have about the state of governance here, I remain convinced that much coverage of Africa remains needlessly tilted toward the negative.
Nobody I know here denies the problems of this continent, but too few outsiders hear about the positive strides being made and the people who are making them. Think of all the images one gets of Africa – starving babies, child soldiers, incessant conflict, unapologetic greed. Certainly every one of these images is based in fact.
Is there starvation in Africa? Ask someone who has visited the Horn of Africa, with its horrific drought and its decades-long civil war.
Is there violence? Ask a Tutsi woman who has lost her entire family in the 1994 genocide; or ask a Congolese family whose male children have been kidnapped as child soldiers by the Lord’s Resistance Army. But these images don’t tell the whole story of Africa.
Here are a few of the more common misperceptions: Africa is poor; Africa is violent; Africa is technologically backward; Africa needs “our” help; and my favorite, Africa is a country.
Add those all up, and you start to wonder why people live here. Repeat them out loud, and you might annoy some of your African friends. Report on them, year after year, and you can spend a very fruitful career in Nairobi or Dakar, in Cairo or Johannesburg. If you never look for Africans who are perfectly aware of these problems and who are actively searching for solutions, well, it’s almost certain that you’ll never find them. Yet those people do exist. Here are some of the people I met along the way, who changed how I saw Africa.
Africa Progress Report 2011 to be launched at WEF Africa
Africa Progress Panel Chair, Mr Kofi Annan, and fellow panellists Graça Machel, Linah Mohohlo and Olusegun Obasanjo will announce key findings of the Africa Progress Report 2011 next Thursday 5 May at the upcoming World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa.
Africa Progress Report
Africa Progress Report calls on African leaders to turn “scramble for Africa” into real results for the continent; progress being made despite not because of governance Read more
Kofi Annan, Graca Machel and Michel Camdessus: The Future of the State of Africa
Africa’s potential is often overlooked. Yet the continent abounds in untapped natural and human resources. The United Nations, for example, estimates that there are over 800 million hectares of unused, cultivable land that could provide the basis for a green revolution in food production — land which could be used to tackle food shortages in Africa and in other continents.
The remarkable progress that Africa has made in the past decade is also not widely recognized. Across the continent there are numerous success stories. We have seen the spread of free and fair elections, an increase in school enrollment rates and determined efforts to combat malaria. The boom in mobile phones has transformed communication and helped business.
The tragedy is that when millions of Africans believed their countries and continent were finally on the right track, their hopes are being dashed by problems whose roots lie elsewhere. While the global crisis and climate change are creations of the North, it is Africa which is worst affected and least able to cope. The social and political consequences are profound.
Yesterday, the Africa Progress Panel, on which we sit, launched its 2009 State of Africa report in Cape Town. We recognize that the roots of the development crisis often begin outside Africa. But the reality is that the main responsibility for tackling the challenges Africa faces lies with its own leaders.
This does not mean that the rest of the world can walk away. Africa’s international partners have a critical part to play in supporting the continent’s progress, and share responsibility for tackling imported problems. They also have an interest to do so: social tension and political instability in Africa have clear international costs and consequences.
At a time when other financial flows are dropping, G8 and donor countries have an even greater responsibility to honor their international aid commitments and to ensure that global deals, whether on trade, climate change, intellectual property, illicit drugs, crime or migration, are supportive of Africa’s development needs. Aid, effectively used, can leverage other financial flows, strengthen capacities and meet urgent social and humanitarian needs.
But without bold, focused and sustained leadership from African Governments, outside assistance won’t safeguard the continent’s people or protect the progress already made.
Big problems create the opportunity for big thinking. Africa’s leaders, who have already shown what can be achieved, now need to redouble their efforts to guide their continent through these challenges.
They also need the active participation of their citizens. Accountability of leadership is paramount. Holding those in authority to account is a tradition and practice that has long roots in Africa’s culture. But in many parts of the continent, it is frayed. There are too many instances of corruption, growing inequality in wealth and opportunity, and the abuse of power.
Alongside determined and accountable leadership at the national level, a strong, united position on the global stage is vital. A forcefully negotiated common African position on climate change, for example, is needed for Copenhagen Summit. We have already seen how effective unity can be. The meeting of African leaders in London ahead of the G20 Summit ensured the needs of the developing world were not forgotten. It played a major role in the G20s funding pledges, including the $100 billion for international development banks to lend to the poorest countries.
Clear-sighted African leadership, supported by effective international partnership, can turn the challenges Africa is facing into an opportunity. The APP believes that Africa can take the lead in pioneering a new, low-carbon development model. The take off of the mobile phone in Africa ended the need for an expensive network of landlines to be put in place. In the same way, the continent can make use of its vast solar, hydro, wind, thermal and biomass resources to drive forward its renewable energy sector, leapfrogging the outdated, fossil fuel based system.
The scope for investment in Africa’s infrastructure, agriculture and communications are vast. So are the benefits it could bring. The spread of financial services to the poor has shown the potential for innovative investments. A drive for investment in these sectors will not only create jobs and increased trade in Africa, but also create markets for developed countries in these difficult times.
Africa is enormously rich in potential. Amidst the gloom, there is an opportunity to be seized. If we have the courage and vision to rise to the challenge, it will benefit the 900 million people who live on the continent and create a valuable growth platform for the global economy.
Kofi Annan, Graca Machel and Michel Camdessus are members of the Africa Progress Panel