Craig Eisele on …..

July 24, 2007

Hope Mixed with Concern Greets China’s Growing Prominence in Africa

Hope, Concern Greet China’s Growing Prominence

Inter Press Service (Johannesburg)
NEWS
23 July 2007
Posted to the web 23 July 2007

By Michael Deibert
Paris
While China’s growing trade and investment flows to Africa have sparked a sometimes contentious debate with the United States and Europe over who has the continent’s best interests at heart, a closer look at the dynamic developing reveals a political landscape where the rhetoric is rarely in line with the reality, observers say.

When a recent World Bank report revealed that trade between Africa, the European Union (EU) and the U.S. is nearly equalled by that between Africa and Asia, a closer look at the numbers brought the picture of China’s involvement in Africa into even starker relief.

African exports to China grew 48 percent annually between 1999 and 2004, with 10 percent of all sub-Saharan exports now destined for the Asian behemoth. Likewise, as a whole, over the last five years Asian exports to Africa increased at an annual rate of 18 percent, higher than that of any other region, including the EU.

China’s deepening involvement in Africa has been driven by its domestic demand for the natural resources and raw materials that are needed to support its population of 1.3 billion and a booming economy — the country has the second-largest economy after the U.S. and the world’s largest current account surplus nearly 180 billion dollars.

It is a development that is profoundly — and, many believe, permanently — changing the nature of Africa’s relationship with the former colonial powers of the EU, and re-writing the nature of African realpolitik. But at present the EU remains Africa’s largest trading partner with trade totalling more than 200 billion euros in 2006.

“I think it’s going to dramatically change the diplomatic and economic landscape,” says Mamadou Diouf, a noted West African scholar who directs the Institute for African Studies at Columbia University. “In the previous world defined by the Cold War, the pressure was much more ideological, Africa had to align itself ideologically rather than come up with its own agenda. Today they are negotiating between different choices and possibilities.”

The seeming lack of conditionality to China’s aid, such as the absence of any stipulation based on anti-corruption measures, as well as the speed with which it is dispersed have both proved attractive to African governments with varying degrees of accountability and respect for human rights.

“China’s zero-condition policy is appealing to a country which doesn’t have very transparent reporting and budgetary mechanisms,” says Katherine Constabile, an Africa analyst with the New York-based Eurasia Group, a global political risk consultancy.

Among the more controversial aspects of China’s involvement in Africa is that of the PetroChina company, a subsidiary of the state-controlled China National Petroleum Corporation, which owns a major stake in Sudan’s national oil consortia, and maintains extensive operations there.

To help meet its demand for fuel, China purchased more than half of Sudan’s oil exports in 2006. Critics charge that profits from these sales have enabled the Khartoum government to buy weapons with which to continue its military operations — both directly and by proxy — in the nation’s Darfur region.

The Sudanese military and government-aligned Janjaweed militia forces stand accused here of carrying out war crimes against the area’s civilian population. The chaos engulfing Darfur has claimed an estimated 200,000 lives, mainly civilians, since 2003, according to a study published in the journal Science.

Some in Africa, though, despite being skeptical of China’s motives, see a certain amount of selective memory in the West’s position.

“Both the U.S. and Western Europe, particularly over the last two decades, have linked their involvement in Africa — whether trade or other — with demands for reform or better governance and a more democratic substance,” says Ayesha Kajee, programme director with the International Human Rights Exchange (IHRE) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“But elections have come to represent the be all and end all, with very few (African) governments paying more than lip service to them,” Kajee says. “When it comes to the institutions of democracy, and instituting democratic practice in society, the U.S. and Europe haven’t been half as vocal.”

Western powers, even in recent years, have appeared to be willing to turn a forgiving eye to questionable regimes when the moment suited them.

In 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush invited Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi to the White House, and then conducted a high-profile meeting with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni outside of Kampala in 2003. Both men had also enjoyed warm relations with the administration of former president Bill Clinton.

Zenawi’s government has been accused of massacring nearly 200 protestors around the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in violent upheaval following disputed May 2005 elections, and routinely jails opposition politicians. He has been named ‘Predator of Press Freedom’ by the journalist’s advocacy group Reporters Sans Frontières.

During elections in 2005, Museveni arrested Uganda’s main opposition leader, Kizza Besigye, and posted heavily-armed government partisans around the court where his bail hearing was being held.

At the same time, the EU seems willing to engage in a bit of its own non-conditionality to adapt its Africa involvement to this new reality with the announcement that it will invite Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe to an EU-Africa summit scheduled in Lisbon this coming December, despite Mugabe being the subject of an EU travel ban.

Mugabe stands accused of gross human rights abuses and economic mismanagement in his 27-year rule of his country, once one of Africa’s richest. Zimbabwe’s inflation is now believed by unofficial estimates to measure around 15,000 percent. A recent report by the New York-based group Human Rights Watch concluded that “police routinely arrest and detain political opponents and government critics, and then abuse them in custody.”

The African Union (AU), a body of 53 African states formed in 2001 with the ostensible aim of integrating the region’s currency and its defence forces, as well as promoting human rights, had threatened to boycott the summit if Mugabe was excluded.

Stepping into this landscape of grey area and compromise, Chinese President Hu Jintao has visited 17 countries on the continent during the last year, making him the most frequent visitor among heads of state.

“The EU knows how much influence China has in Africa, they know that it’s profound and that it has implications on EU-Africa relations,” says Veronika Tywuschik, an academic researcher based in the Netherlands currently exploring Chinese-African relations.

In a June report ‘From Cairo to Lisbon — The EU-Africa Strategic Partnership’, the European Commission, which serves as the executive body of the European Union, called for a reassessment of EU-Africa relations based on “a genuine partnership of equals.”

The report went on to say that the new understanding between the two regions should “promote peace and security, governance and human rights, trade and regional and continental integration in Africa” as well as to “facilitate and promote a broad-based and wide-ranging people-centred partnership for all people in Africa and Europe.”

In an almost musical corollary, though, in late June, China’s state-controlled China Development Bank commenced the first phase, measuring a billion dollars, of its 5-billion-dollar China-Africa Development Fund.

Belying China’s supposed carte blanche to its African counterparts, this aid in fact comes with many strings attached, though none, perhaps attractively for some governments, related to human rights or anti-corruption.

The conditions include that the aid’s availability will be restricted solely to investment in Chinese enterprises and projects in Africa, and that 70 percent of the contracts be set aside for Chinese companies, with the rest going to African businesses, many already working with Chinese enterprises.

Despite all the sound and fury, some Africa observers say, what we may be witnessing is the same old networking simply presented in a new wrapping.

“By and large, when you look at foreign interest in Africa, it is still directly linked to geo-strategic concerns,” says Human Rights Exchange’s Kajee.

Nine Lessons for Greater Effectiveness in Fragile States

Filed under: Africa,Trans Africa,Uncategorized,World Bank — Mr. Craig @ 8:50 pm

Nine Lessons for Greater Effectiveness in Fragile States

World Bank (Washington, DC)
PRESS RELEASE
24 July 2007
Posted to the web 24 July 2007
Addis Ababa
Development in fragile states must become a top priority on the global development agenda to reverse deepening poverty and contain adverse spillovers on neighboring countries and globally, according to representatives from fragile states, donor countries, multilateral development agencies and NGOs. The group is currently meeting in Addis Ababa to share lessons on more effective ways to deal with the most intractable problems of fragile states. The conference, entitled “Engaging with Fragile States: Challenges and Opportunities”, is co-hosted by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group.Fragile states are characterized by weak institutions and vulnerability to conflict. They are home to almost 500 million people, roughly half of whom earn less than a dollar a day. As other countries have grown and prospered, the population of these countries have all too often been left behind.

“Fragile states themselves must provide full leadership and take ownership of their development. However, the international community must strive to offer them the best technical and financial support possible, adapted to their specific country circumstances,” said Obiageli Ezekwesili, Vice President for Africa at the World Bank. The international community is grappling with the difficult question of how to provide the right type and level of support at the right moment to make a significant difference.

The conference participants urged national and international stakeholders to seize the development opportunities that fragile states present by applying six key lessons learned from past experience.Move forward in manageable steps. Reforms are needed across all sectors and levels of society, but fragile states seldom have the capacity for many parallel reforms all at once. Yet, donors often push for a multitude of reforms which are often poorly coordinated. In Afghanistan, for example, this resulted in dozens of pieces of pending legislation with little likelihood of being adopted, much less implemented. “Small improvements through incremental steps, for example, in state capacity building, are preferable to ambitious, unrealistic reforms,” said Poul Engberg-Pedersen, Director-General, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.Understand the political context. Awareness of local dynamics and circumstances allows for a better understanding of the potential effects of proposed reforms on various societal groups, their expected response to them, and thus the likely success of the reform agenda. Incorporating political understanding in country strategies is all the more important in fragile states, where decision-making processes are not institutionalized and may be influenced by personal and political interests. In the Central African Republic, some donor activities have reflected a good understanding of the country’s political situation. Yet, in other fragile states, donors have often failed to appreciate the political context—in Papua New Guinea, for example, donors recognized problems such as clan loyalties, political patronage, corruption, and lack of capacity, but treated these problems as technical in nature without adequately building them into their assistance programs.

Improve capacity development and governance outcomes in fragile states. Governments and donors need to devote greater attention to strengthening institutional capacity and improving governance. “The approaches to achieving these objectives have not in many instances been well-suited to the realities on the ground. Moreover, sufficient attention needs to be paid to monitoring and evaluating outcomes,” said Abdoulie Janneh, Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa. In countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, governments and donors have faced the stark reality of the length of time which it takes to build functioning institutions.

Confidence-building needs to precede donor support. Donors must invest ample efforts in building confidence with governments of fragile states before they start moving forward with significant aid programs. In Liberia, close cooperation between donors and government resulted in agreement on the Governance and Economic Management Assistance Program between the National Transitional Government and various bilateral and multilateral donors. In Angola, however, analytical work by donors was perceived by senior government officials as an imposition of donor views on internal affairs, leading to limited ownership and capacity development. “Without trust and country ownership, the chances of influencing government policies are small,” said Dr. Soumana Sako, Executive Secretary, Africa Capacity Building Foundation. “When foreign experts are brought in to provide technical advice, it must also be ensured that this does not compromise local capacity in the long term.”

Build realistic post-conflict expectations. Public pledges of large aid programs immediately after the cessation of a conflict create high expectations, which can be frustrated by delays in implementation on the ground. This disconnect has often led to disillusionment when day-to-day living has seen few tangible improvements. “This is what we are experiencing in Liberia,” said Natty B. Davis, Advisor to the President and National Coordinator of the Reconstruction and Development Committee in Liberia. “In 2004, we received a lot of international attention and more than US$500 million in pledges to disarm and reintegrate combatants, reform the security services, maintain public sector accountability, aid refugees and prepare for elections. But some of these pledges were not followed-through and there is still a long way to go until the population can feel real change.” Avoiding over-ambitious agendas and more effectively communicating realistic targets is critical.

Ensure that fragile states are not under- or over-aided. During 2002-2004, international aid to fragile states has varied widely from about US$2 per capita in some countries to almost US$200 in others, creating aid-orphans and aid-darlings. Examples of under-aided countries include the Central African Republic and Guinea. A much more transparent aid allocation system is needed that is consistent with the Paris Declaration, an international agreement committing countries and donors to increased harmonization, alignment and managing of aid for better results.

“Fragile states need far greater financial support from the development community in confronting their daunting challenges,” said Vinod Thomas, Director-General of the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group, “Yet, that support also depends on getting better results on the ground from the financing. That is why it is so important to learn from both the successes and setbacks of past efforts across the world, and to apply those lessons in future efforts.”

Africa Needs to Get Ready for Climate Change!!

Climate Change – Continent Gets Ready

Africa Renewal (United Nations)
NEWS
23 July 2007
Posted to the web 23 July 2007

By Michael Fleshman

It was not an easy life. But for fisherman Mohammadu Bello and his nine children the shallow waters of Lake Chad, a vast body of fresh water at the intersection of Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Cameroon, at least provided a living. Sales of lake catfish were brisk at the Doron Baga fish market, sustaining his family. But no more. Over the past 30 years the lake has steadily retreated from its former shores, leaving Mr. Bello and his neighbours high and dry and raising the prospect that the lake – once one of Africa’s largest – could vanish entirely. “Some 27 years ago when I started fishing on the lake,” he told the British Broadcasting Corporation in January, “we used to catch fish as large as a man.” Now, he said, the fish are small and what little is available is trucked into the market over the dry lakebed.

The causes of the lake’s shrinking, say scientists and researchers, include its increased use for irrigation and drinking. But more important, they say, are changes in the region’s climate, which have reduced the rainfall that once kept the lake and its feeder rivers full. These changes, which are occurring in every part of the world, are now widely understood to be caused by human activities, particularly those that use pollution-producing oil and other fossil fuels such as industrial processes, electricity generation and motor cars. Gases created by such activities are building up in the atmosphere, trapping too much of the sun’s heat and raising the earth’s temperature – a process known as global warming. As the earth heats up, it alters rainfall and other weather and climate patterns, threatening human, animal and plant life with potentially calamitous climate change.

The science is a bit abstract for fishermen like Mohammadu Bello, but the impact is not. “I don’t know what global warming is,” he said. “But what I do know is that this lake is dying and we are all dying with it.”

While some parts of Africa will get less rain, other areas will experience greater flooding.

In fact, Mr. Bello has found ways to cope. He and his family now till the rich soil left behind by the vanishing lake, growing vegetables for the Doron Baga market. He has acquired the skills and tools needed for his new profession as a farmer. But prospects for the 20 million people who depend on the lake and its rivers for water are less certain, and plans to divert water from other rivers into Lake Chad remain on the shelf for want of funding.

As the world prepares for the inescapable effects of global warming and seeks ways to reduce the emissions that cause it, Mr. Bello’s struggle to adapt will be shared by untold millions of people around the world. It is a challenge that looms particularly large in Africa.

Global warming, local impact

After a divisive and decades-long debate over the causes and potential impact of global warming, a series of studies by 2,500 scientists from 130 countries, part of the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has finally laid the issue to rest. In February 2007 the IPCC provided overwhelming scientific evidence that the use of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas is releasing billions of tonnes of heat-trapping “greenhouse” gases into the atmosphere every year, causing air, ground and ocean temperatures around the world to rise at an alarming rate.

Countries can reduce harmful emissions and halt warming, noted IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri in April, by investing in cleaner “green” technologies and changing consumer habits. But it is too late to prevent climate change from having sometimes severe impacts on the planet, and “it is the poorest of the poor in the world, and this includes poor people even in prosperous societies, who are going to be the worst hit.”

Demonstrators in Nairobi, Kenya, protest failure of developed countries to curb emissions of gases that contribute to global warming.

Africa, the poorest and least developed of the world’s regions, will be especially hard-pressed to adjust. Although sub-Saharan Africa produces less than 4 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases, scientists predict with “very high confidence” – as close as scientists get to saying they are certain – that the region’s diverse climates and ecological systems have already been altered by global warming and will undergo further damage in the years ahead.

Among the most worrying effects of global warming is the impact on water supply. Africa is fortunate to have large reserves of untapped water and some dry areas are likely to benefit from increased rain, but the Sahel and other arid and semi-arid regions are expected to become even drier. A third of Africa’s people already live in drought-prone regions and climate changes could put the lives and livelihoods of an additional 75-250 million people at risk by the end of the next decade. Flood-prone areas in Southern Africa, on the other hand, are likely to become wetter as rainfall patterns shift, causing floods to become more frequent and severe and diverting resources from development to emergency relief.

Farming, coastlines at risk

Africa’s agricultural sector is already hampered by its reliance on rain-fed irrigation, poor soils and antiquated technology and farming methods. It is likely to be hit hard as droughts and flooding worsen, temperatures and growing seasons change, and farmers and herders are forced off their land.

This could spell humanitarian and economic disaster on a continent where farming accounts for 70 per cent of employment and is often the engine for national economies – generating export earnings, industrial raw materials and inexpensive food. In some countries, scientists project, farmers will harvest just 50 per cent of current yields by 2020. The important fishing industry, as Mohammadu Bello’s situation reveals, is also likely to suffer as lakes and rivers dry up and rising water temperatures destroy commercial species of fish.

Coastlines and islands around the world are threatened by rising ocean levels as warming temperatures melt the earth’s polar icecaps. But East Africa’s low-lying islands and coastal regions are at particular risk of frequent flooding or becoming permanently submerged.

Higher water temperatures are expected to increase the power and frequency of hurricanes and other violent ocean storms. Africa’s coastal fisheries and the fragile ecosystems that support them could also be damaged if higher sea levels push salt water inland and destroy freshwater estuaries and coastal farmland.

‘Environmentally displaced’

As life becomes more difficult, the UN estimates, as many as 50 million “environmentally displaced” people around the world could join the exodus of migrants already crossing borders and oceans in search of new livelihoods. Many will move into overcrowded cities that today strain to provide jobs, housing and basic services, and will themselves be under threat from the effects of climate change.

Africa’s vast forests help absorb harmful gases in the atmosphere, and governments are working to slow excessive logging and other practices that contribute to deforestation.

Climate change will also affect parasites like the tsetse fly and parasitic diseases such as malaria. Malaria is the single greatest killer of African children and imposes a $12 bn annual drain on African economies through death, medical costs and lost productivity. The mosquitoes that spread it thrive within a relatively narrow range of temperature and moisture, and some infected areas may become malaria free as they become drier. Yet simultaneously, regions currently outside the malaria zone may become infested as they get hotter and wetter. The World Health Organization has warned that globally, as many as 80 million more people could become infected as malaria spreads among populations lacking both natural protection against the disease and awareness of prevention and treatment methods.

Nor will Africa’s diverse plant and animal populations be spared. A study of nearly 5,200 plant species throughout the continent found that about 5,000 of them would lose much of their natural habitat to climate change. Of these, some 2,100 could lose all of their native habitat by 2085. Wildlife will fare no better. In South Africa’s famous Kruger game reserve, for example, studies show that two-thirds of animal species could disappear.

Adapting to climate change

African leaders, aware of the continent’s vulnerability, have long supported international efforts to combat global warming and climate change. African governments were prime movers behind the 1994 UN convention to combat desertification – a particular concern on a continent where two-thirds of the land is arid or semi-arid. Many African countries also were early signatories to the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the first and to date only international treaty setting binding limits on pollution emissions.

“Climate change is the greatest market failure the world has ever seen.”

- Sir Nicholas Stern, former World Bank chief economist

But because Africa’s small industrial base and limited transport system and power grid generates comparatively few greenhouse gases, reducing emissions has not been the region’s top priority. Instead African governments, civil society and their development partners are focused on planning for the coming climate shocks and assisting vulnerable communities to adapt. In September 2006, for example, the UNFCCC secretariat convened a workshop on climate-change adaptation attended by 33 African governments and a number of international agencies and civil society groups. The meeting highlighted the need for greater monitoring and early warning of climate changes and severe weather events like droughts and floods, and called for integration of long-term adaptation strategies into development and disaster-preparedness programmes.

Indeed, many aspects of Africa’s development agenda strengthen the ability of communities and countries to cope with climate change. Irrigation schemes, for example, are a vital component of efforts to improve food security and raise farm incomes in many parts of Africa. Only about 4 per cent of Africa’s farmland is irrigated. Bringing water to more acreage figures prominently in agricultural development plans. As seasonal rains become more erratic and less frequent due to climate change, irrigation also becomes an important adaptive strategy – helping farmers keep their livelihoods, increasing the food supply and allowing rural communities to remain on the land.

The problem, Sierra Leonean climate scientist Ogunlade Davidson told Africa Renewal from his Freetown office, is finance. “Climate change will have a major impact on agriculture in Africa,” he said. “Africa will have to change its agricultural systems. But if [Africa] doesn’t have enough money, it can’t,” since irrigation, fertilizers, improved technology and better seeds all require expensive investments. “Africa never enjoyed the financial benefits generated by putting greenhouse gases up there in the first place,” he continued, “so it never accumulated the wealth to be able to bear the shocks.” Because they now have to cope with the effects of a situation they did not create with resources they do not have, he noted, global warming is “a double loser for countries in Africa.”

‘Time for implementation’

Africa is receiving some assistance through two funds operated by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), a funding agency established in 1991 to assist developing countries finance environmental protection projects. The Least Developed Countries Fund is only for those countries classified as LDCs, while the Special Climate Change Fund supports adaptation, energy management, technology transfer and climate-related economic diversification projects in all developing countries. Since its launch in 2001 the LDC fund has attracted almost $116 mn in pledges, less than half of which has so far been received. Pledges to the special fund total $62 mn, over $52 mn of which has arrived.

Participating governments in consultation with the private sector and civil society develop National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPAs) which identify vulnerabilities and needs and set country-specific priorities for action. Projects emerging out of the NAPA process are then eligible for funding. The GEF is administered by the UN Environment Programme, the World Bank and the UN Development Programme.

Ethiopia has now received $1 mn from the special fund towards a $3 mn programme to conduct pilot projects in the arid northern half of the country aimed at halting soil erosion. The project also seeks to strengthen the ability of pastoralists and farmers to cope with drought. Kenya has received $6.5 mn towards a $51 mn project to build national, provincial and community capacity to recognize and manage climate change and promote private sector involvement in climate-change adaptation.

The problem with the grants, says Mr. Davidson, a specialist in energy and the co-chair of the IPCC report on reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, is that they are too small to have a dramatic impact on threatened communities. Until very recently, he observed, international climate-change funding focused largely on scientific research into the causes and mitigation of global warming rather than on local adaptation programmes: “Take energy. If you upgrade to cleaner energy technology it will take considerable investment – more than a country would make otherwise. Who will pay that additional cost?”

The need to answer that question is one reason that a global commitment to combat climate change is important, Mr. Davidson said, “because it is the international community that can come up with the means. But if we put a long list of bureaucratic obstacles and conditionalities on it, those countries will not be in a position of accessing those funds and the problem will persist.” The time for studies and pilot projects is over, he asserted. “Now is the time for implementation.”

NEPAD’s plan: green growth

Whether those resources will be made available, however, is an open question. Africa has struggled for decades to find the capital needed for poverty reduction, and has fallen far short. Critics point out that despite Northern promises to boost development assistance to Africa and other developing regions to ease poverty and achieve the modest quality-of-life improvements set out in the Millennium Development Goals (see Africa Renewal, July 2005), aid actually decreased last year by over 5 per cent.

It is little wonder then, that the environmental action plan in Africa’s continental development blueprint, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), begins with the observation that “Africa is characterized by two interrelated features: rising poverty levels and deepening environmental degradation.”

The action plan, developed in 2003 with the assistance of the UN Environment Programme, notes that “throughout Africa, poverty remains the main cause and consequence of environmental degradation and resource depletion…. For African countries alleviating poverty is the overriding goal and priority of their development policies…. Without significant improvement in the living and livelihoods of the poor, environmental policies and programmes will achieve little success.”

The action plan emphasizes local, national and sub-regional responses to environmental degradation, improved environmental monitoring and research, and more effective international partnerships to promote “green” technology transfer, improve disaster preparedness and early warning systems and ease the consequences of climate change on the most vulnerable.

Because Africa contributes so little to planetary warming, the NEPAD programme on climate change stresses the region’s contribution to slowing the rise of global temperatures. Among the most important factors in the slowdown are its forests, which absorb and trap the carbon dioxide gas that is a principal contributor to warming. Africa contains 17 per cent of the earth’s remaining forestland and fully a quarter of its dense rain forests, which clean the atmosphere of emissions caused by polluters thousands of miles away. The forests also support an astonishing diversity of plant and animal life, an estimated 1.5 mn different species, which in turn provide sustenance for many millions of people.

Forests dwindling

But Africa’s forests are now vanishing at a rate of over 5 mn hectares per year, NEPAD reports, casualties of wasteful and unsustainable commercial logging and “slash and burn” clearing for agriculture. Almost two-thirds of all energy generated in Africa comes from firewood, particularly for household cooking and heating, which adds to the pressure on existing woodlands.

Although Africa and the international community have stepped up efforts to protect and restore forests in recent years, the results have been limited. Between 1980 and 1995, researchers note, some 66 mn hectares of forests have been destroyed. And despite initiatives like Kenya’s Green Belt movement, a grassroots women’s campaign that has planted 10 mn trees since 1977, the rate of deforestation is increasing.

NEPAD’s action plan argues that enacting and enforcing sustainable logging laws and reducing agricultural demand for forest land by improving yields on existing farms are critical aspects of any successful programme to protect Africa’s forests. But it is not easy. Logs are an important export commodity for some countries, and reducing exports could create budget shortfalls that may be difficult or impossible to fill. Boosting agricultural production and farm incomes is a NEPAD priority, but reforming Africa’s rural economy is a costly and long-term project and progress has been too slow to halt the addition of 1 million people each year to the ranks of the hungry.

In late May 2007, the NEPAD Secretariat announced that detailed climate-change responses for each of the continent’s subregions had been developed by a consortium of 800 African environmental, conservation and economic experts for consideration by African environment ministers. Those studies will form part of the presentation African heads of state will make at the next UNFCCC meeting in Bali at the end of the year.

Greening the market

The challenge of meshing urgent environmental needs with stubborn economic realities is particularly pressing in Africa, but it is scarcely unique to the continent. The expense of reducing greenhouse emissions has been a major obstacle to action against climate change over the past decade, even for rich countries. While scientists generally argue that it is cheaper to cut emissions now and prevent the worst effects of climate change, some governments argue for slower and smaller reductions, pointing to the cost to industry and consumers and the risk of damaging the global economy.

In a major study of the economics of climate change for the UK in 2006, Sir Nicholas Stern, a former chief economist for the World Bank, argued that the nature of free markets prevent them from being naturally greener. It works like this: The financial benefit of manufacturing a tonne of steel is enjoyed by a small number of people – the mill owners, workers and shareholders. But the cost, when measured in greenhouse emissions and environmental damage, is distributed over billions of people around the world over many generations. This provides little incentive to the mill owners to raise their production costs to reduce pollution. “Climate change,” noted Dr. Stern “is the greatest market failure the world has ever seen.”

Changing the economic processes by raising the cost of pollution is therefore important if global efforts to halt global warming are to succeed. One proposal is to tax greenhouse gas emissions, thereby making it cheaper to prevent them than to generate them. But “carbon taxes” have encountered strong opposition in many countries and have been adopted by only a handful of governments.

A different way to put a price on pollution, called “cap and trade” schemes, has proven more popular since the Kyoto Protocol came into effect. Kyoto requires industrial country signatories to reduce greenhouse gases by about 5 per cent from 1990 levels. The agreement also established the UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which allows heavily polluting industries to, in effect, buy pollution rights from a country with low emissions by investing in green projects there.

If, for example, the theoretical steel mill owners are required by their Kyoto-compliant government to reduce their carbon emissions by 10 tonnes, they can invest in improved anti-pollution and manufacturing technology to meet that target. But the mill owners may find it cheaper to plant enough trees in Africa to absorb 10 tonnes of carbon pollution instead. Under the CDM, the mill owners are permitted to count the carbon trapped in the new trees against their reduction target, saving them money and creating incentives to invest in the continent.

The same rules would apply to a project to replace a polluting coal-fired power plant in Africa with one producing cleaner hydro or natural gas power, allowing Northern investors to count the reduction in power plant emissions in Africa against their domestic reduction requirements. The agreement even allows CDM “carbon credits” to be bought and sold in much the same way that corporate stocks are traded.

Since it was first suggested at the end of 1997, carbon trading has developed into a $22 bn industry. Africa hoped to capitalize on its low emissions to attract CDM investments and help finance green development. But to date Africa has attracted less than 2 per cent of CDM projects worldwide, owing to the absence of sophisticated financial and marketing institutions and limited administrative and management capacity.

The programme has proven controversial for other reasons as well, with critics arguing that wealthy countries and businesses use the mechanism to avoid reducing their emissions and cheat on their Kyoto obligations by inflating the environmental value of their offsetting projects.

But with the Kyoto agreement set to expire in 2012 and evidence mounting that the earth is heating faster than expected, Africa’s green development agenda may yet benefit from efforts to change the economics of global warming. “We have a very short window for turning around the trend we have in rising greenhouse gas emissions,” the IPCC’s Rajendra Pachauri told reporters in Bangkok in May. “We don’t have the luxury of time.”

Security Council: climate change may threaten peace

The economic, political and social consequences of climate change could threaten world peace unless the world acts to prevent it, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council on 17 April. “Throughout human history people have fought over natural resources,” he noted. “Changing weather patterns, such as floods and droughts and related economic costs … could risk polarizing society and marginalizing communities,” thereby increasing the risk of conflict and violence.

The unusual day-long session, an initiative of the UK, marked the first time the Council addressed climate change. Its presence on the agenda was not without critics. Pakistan’s Ambassador Farukh Amil, speaking on behalf of the influential G-77 and China group of developing countries, argued that the topic was outside the Security Council’s mandate and an encroachment on the authority of larger and more representative bodies, including the General Assembly and the UN Economic and Social Council. But the session was welcomed by other speakers, including those from small island states facing the prospect of inundation from rising sea levels.

The meeting was chaired by UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, who said, “Today is about the world recognizing that there is a security imperative, as well as economic, developmental and environmental ones, to tackling climate change.” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, she noted, has already described climate change as “an act of aggression” by the polluting industrial North against the developing South – a comment that underscored the link between the environment and world peace. “He is one of the first leaders to see this problem in security terms,” she asserted. “He will not be the last.”

Fish Exporters Set Conditions for Economic Partnership Agreements

Fish Exporters Set Conditions for Economic Partnership Agreements

The Monitor (Kampala)
NEWS
23 July 2007
Posted to the web 23 July 2007

By Joseph Olanyo
Kampala
With barely five months to go before the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) come into force, it is still unclear whether agreements in the negotiations will be reached.

EPAs are trade deals being negotiated between the European Union (EU) and African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

The EPA allows products from any member country access to any market within the partnership at competitive tax rates. Along with 15 other countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region, Uganda is negotiating the EPAs with the EU.

At a one-day consultative workshop in Kampala on July 20 to review progress of EPAs for the fisheries sector, Uganda Fish Processors and Exporters Association (UFPEA) said while the probability of signing EPA was high, there were some areas that needed to be considered. UFPEA and Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) contended that the signing should be subject to certain conditions.

UFPEA want among other things, increasing funding on Lake Victoria management project, financial support for more laboratories, and support fish food for aquaculture.

“We are saying that we want to be part of EPA. We want it to be signed, continue with market access and also develop our sector in terms of increased production,” said UFPEA Chief Executive Officer Ovia Katiti Matovu.

The fisheries sector, one of the clusters being negotiated under the EPAs, are a leading Ugandan export, a major employer to many lake communities and the major market is Europe. The others sectors are agriculture, trade related issues such as services and market access.

“The opportunity cost of not signing EPA is high,” said PSFU trade policy officer Mr John Ssempebwa. In 2002, the EU and ACP countries officially opened negotiations on EPAs.

The negotiations, which are to take place over five years, are aimed at redefining the trade regime between the two groups of countries. Uganda is a member state. The negotiations have now entered a critical phase before the expiry of the December 31 deadline.

The outcome of the negotiations will see a series of new Free Trade Agreements (FTA) replacing the Lomé system of preferential access to the European market.

Fish processors and exporters contend that there are possible dangers that full liberalisation of fisheries might deplete Lake Victoria when better vessels from Europe are allowed to fish on the lakes.

In addition, the failure for Uganda to sign the EPAs means that Ugandan fish exports will now be subjected to some kind of tariff which is charged to fish from non-Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

With the high costs of business like high costs of power in processing fish, limited freezing facilities, fish exporters will have a hard time to compete with fish from more competitive non-LDC countries like Kenya.

A lot remains at stake for Uganda’s fish exports because the fisheries negotiations are dominated by sea fisheries while inland fisheries are given very little attention.

EU & China Bid for Markets in Africa

EU, China Bid for Markets

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)
NEWS
22 July 2007
Posted to the web 23 July 2007

By Ndamu Sandu

AHEAD of the second EU-Africa summit in December, the European Commission has adopted a proposal presenting key flagship initiatives embodying a new approach to relations to be deliberated at the indaba.

The policy initiatives will be put forward by the future Joint EU-Africa Strategy to be deliberated by both the EU and Africa at the summit in Lisbon, Portugal.

In a news release the European Commission said: “The Joint Strategy, to be adopted during the second EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon in December, will outline a long term shared vision of the future of EU-Africa relations in a globalised world.”

The European Commission policy initiatives embody partnership in energy; climate change; migration, mobility and employment; democratic governance; and political and institutional architecture.

The Joint Strategy aims to strengthen the EU-Africa political dialogue so as to bring the EU-Africa partnership beyond development co-operation by opening up the EU-Africa dialogue to issues of joint political concern and interest. It envisages to bring partnership beyond Africa by moving away from a focus on Africa matters only and openly address European and issues of global concern and to act accordingly in the relevant fora to make globalisation work for all.

The joint strategy sees partnership beyond fragmentation in supporting Africa’s aspirations to find regional and continental responses to some of the most important challenges. It also looks at partnership beyond institutions in ensuring a better participation of African and European citizens, as part of an overall strengthening of civil society in the two continents.

EU and African countries are locked in negotiations for the reciprocal Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). African, Carribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries used to enjoy unilateral trade preferences with the EU for almost three decades under the Lomé Conventions. The Fourth Lomé Convention was replaced by the Cotonou Agreement in 2000, which extends these unilateral trade preferences up to the end of 2007.

Negotiated World Trade Organisation (WTO) compatible reciprocal trade agreements, EPAs, will replace the current non-reciprocal preferential trade regime. These EPAs have to be concluded by no later than the beginning of 2008.

EU and China are tussling over the control of African market following heavy investments by Beijing into the continent.

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)
NEWS
22 July 2007
Posted to the web 23 July 2007

By Ndamu Sandu

AHEAD of the second EU-Africa summit in December, the European Commission has adopted a proposal presenting key flagship initiatives embodying a new approach to relations to be deliberated at the indaba.

The policy initiatives will be put forward by the future Joint EU-Africa Strategy to be deliberated by both the EU and Africa at the summit in Lisbon, Portugal.

In a news release the European Commission said: “The Joint Strategy, to be adopted during the second EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon in December, will outline a long term shared vision of the future of EU-Africa relations in a globalised world.”

The European Commission policy initiatives embody partnership in energy; climate change; migration, mobility and employment; democratic governance; and political and institutional architecture.

The Joint Strategy aims to strengthen the EU-Africa political dialogue so as to bring the EU-Africa partnership beyond development co-operation by opening up the EU-Africa dialogue to issues of joint political concern and interest. It envisages to bring partnership beyond Africa by moving away from a focus on Africa matters only and openly address European and issues of global concern and to act accordingly in the relevant fora to make globalisation work for all.

The joint strategy sees partnership beyond fragmentation in supporting Africa’s aspirations to find regional and continental responses to some of the most important challenges. It also looks at partnership beyond institutions in ensuring a better participation of African and European citizens, as part of an overall strengthening of civil society in the two continents.

EU and African countries are locked in negotiations for the reciprocal Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). African, Carribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries used to enjoy unilateral trade preferences with the EU for almost three decades under the Lomé Conventions. The Fourth Lomé Convention was replaced by the Cotonou Agreement in 2000, which extends these unilateral trade preferences up to the end of 2007.

Negotiated World Trade Organisation (WTO) compatible reciprocal trade agreements, EPAs, will replace the current non-reciprocal preferential trade regime. These EPAs have to be concluded by no later than the beginning of 2008.

EU and China are tussling over the control of African market following heavy investments by Beijing into the continent.

African Manufacturers, Producers Urged to Comply With Food Safety Measures

Manufacturers, Producers Urged to Comply With Safety Measures

East African Business Week (Kampala)
NEWS
23 July 2007
Posted to the web 23 July 2007

By Shadrack Kavilu
Nairobi
Local manufacturers and producers have been challenged to devise national mechanisms to tackle emerging issues related to food safety and environment such as the carbon miles that are threatening to bar trade in the European countries.

African products such as horticulture continue to face technical barriers when exporting to the global market due to lack of compliance with the WTO agreements on food safety standards.

The WTO Technical barrier to Trade (WTO-TBT) agreement enshrines the rights of member states to take necessary measures to ensure the quality of products entering their territories are of high quality.

Speaking during the opening ceremony of the National CODEX Committee stakeholders sensitization seminar, Permanent secretary ministry of Trade and Industry David Nalo challenged the committee to address critical issues which hinder market access for Kenyan products.

The consultative process involved extensive consultation among member countries and experts within several food related scientific disciplines that include participation of consumers’ organizations, production and processing industries, food control administrators and traders.

“Countries have to effectively implement Codex standards and recommendations to create confidence among consumers and be competitive in both the local and international markets,” he said.

Nalo said that Kenyan and the rest of Africa should find ways and mechanisms of predicting and forestalling international trends that might be aimed at blocking the country in participating in global trade.

The WTO agreement on the application of sanitary and phytosanitary measures recognizes the standards and guidelines established by the codex Alimentarius commission (CODEX)) as a reference in international food trade.

Codex Alimentarius is a collection of standards, codes of practice, guidelines and other recommendations pertaining to consumer health protection and fair practice in food trade.

The codex system, Nalo said presents a unique opportunity for countries to ensure implementation of good hygienic food processing practices, harmonization of food standards and compliance with agreements for Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT).

Some of the critical areas that affect consumer confidence in commodities and hinder their access to international and local markets include; maximum residues limits for pesticides and veterinary drugs, food contaminants and toxins, food import and export inspection and certification among others.


Copyright © 2007 East African Business Week. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Me

Many Africans Fear ‘Ruin’ from EU Amid the EPA Trade Talks

Africans Fear ‘Ruin’ in Europe Trade Talks

Africa Renewal (United Nations)
NEWS
23 July 2007
Posted to the web 23 July 2007

By Gumisai Mutume

The warnings are grim. Cape Verde may lose 80 per cent of its import revenues. Three-quarters of Ghana’s industry may collapse. And African countries could end up even more dependent on trade with Europe than with each other. Such worries about the possible impact of ongoing “free trade” negotiations between Europe and its former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) are beginning to galvanize public debate in the region.

African governments, policy analysts, regional economic groups and civil society organizations are increasingly speaking with one voice: the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) now being hammered out between Europe and the ACP countries must be significantly modified to safeguard those countries’ prospects for development.

“If the EPAs are signed as they are, it will be suicide and death for farmers,” Jules Zongo, national president of Burkina Faso’s regional chambers of agriculture, declared at a protest march and rally of 2,000 farmers in that country’s capital, Ouagadougou, in December. Several months earlier, civil society organizations rallied in Senegal, as part of a global Stop EPA campaign, to demand that their government not sign the agreements unless significant changes are made.

African leaders have taken note of such calls. When heads of state from throughout West Africa converged on Ouagadougou for a summit meeting in January 2007, Burkina’s President Blaise Compaoré affirmed that the “legitimate concerns” of farmers and other producers must be considered in any trade talks with the European Union (EU).

Among other venues, opposition to the EPAs also featured at the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya, in January, at which tens of thousands of civil society representatives chanted and carried signs declaring: “Fight poverty… Say no to EPAs.” In April, the Africa Youth Coalition Against Hunger mobilized more than 1,000 activists from 20 countries in the Gambia to launch a “big noise campaign” to stimulate public debate on the proposed agreements.

Beyond the concrete impact that the new agreements may ultimately have on people’s lives, the negotiations are attracting wider attention for another reason: they began at a time when talks to further liberalize global trade, under the so-called Doha round of the World Trade Organization (WTO), seemed stalled.

One factor in the indefinite suspension of the Doha round last year was the reluctance of richer countries to liberalize their agricultural sectors, while at the same time they insisted that developing nations open their own economies even further to products from the North. Some analysts regard the EPA negotiations as an attempt by the more powerful EU to extend to its weaker ACP trading partners, through a different forum, agreements that it could not obtain at the WTO. The 27 countries of the EU have a combined gross domestic product of US$14 bn, while 39 of the 79 ACP nations are among the world’s least developed countries (LDCs).

New scenario

Although the Doha round talks have bogged down, earlier changes at the WTO have already seriously affected the nature of the EU’s relations with the ACP countries. From 1975 to 1994, the EU and ACP shared special development cooperation arrangements through a series of five-year agreements, originally known as the Lomé Conventions. Through those agreements, the EU granted trade preferences to ACP exports, without requiring similar treatment for EU products in ACP markets.

The so-called Uruguay Round of trade negotiations, which concluded in 1994, adopted new rules requiring parties to regional trade agreements to eliminate duties and other restrictive regulations on “substantially all the trade” among them. But for some regions application of the rules was postponed, as the WTO, which emerged from the Uruguay talks in 1995, agreed to a special exception allowing the EU to maintain “non-reciprocal” preferences for ACP exporters until December 2007.

With the WTO deadline in mind, in 2000 the two groups signed a new cooperation accord known as the Cotonou Agreement, covering aid, trade and political cooperation. Its aim was to “facilitate the economic and political integration of the ACP countries into a liberalized world market.” Its framers also envisaged the conclusion of negotiations on EPAs or other alternative trade arrangements by the start of 2008, to comply with WTO rules. Initial talks on the EPAs began in 2002.

Some developing countries now fear that the EU’s approach to such EPAs will oblige them to remove trade protections so quickly and to such an extent that the development of their own industries will be harmed. “At no point in time was an EPA as a free trade agreement the first choice for the ACP,” says Mauritius’ ambassador to the EU, Sutiawan Gunessee. “It was not. But we had no alternative.”

According to Zimbabwean Trade Minister Obert Mpofu, any new trade agreements should reinforce, not undermine, “the development of our economies, employment generation, wealth creation for our people and ultimately poverty reduction.”

Ending dependency?

In contrast, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson views the EPAs as beneficial. He argues that they will shift the relationship between the EU and Africa from one of dependency on tariff preferences to one that promotes business competitiveness. After 30 years of preferential market access, African countries still export a limited range of basic commodities, he points out. “Most of these are sold at lower prices than they were 20 years ago. This is not sustainable. It certainly isn’t sustainable development.”

Countered Nigerian Commerce Minister Aliyu Modibo Umar: “If 30 years of non-reciprocal free market access into the EU did not improve the economic situation of the ACP, how can a reciprocal trading arrangement achieve anything better?” Instead, he argues, simply liberalizing trade will “further widen the gap between the two [blocs] and probably destroy the little development that some ACP countries have managed to achieve over the past years.”

Unloading grain at the port of Dakar, Senegal: Africa worries that Europe is trying to bring in new trade issues that have not been agreed at the World Trade Organization.

Hard choices

Under the type of EPAs currently proposed by the EU, ACP countries would eventually have to liberalize 80-90 per cent of their trade with the regional bloc in order to gain duty-free access to European markets. That would allow ACP countries to use tariffs to protect only a small portion of their products from competition with European goods.

To stay within that narrow band, governments would have to make some hard choices, notes Oxfam in a 2006 report, Unequal Partners. They could choose, for example, to maintain tariffs on valuable revenue-raising imports such as cars and electronics, protect staple foods such as maize, exempt a few existing industries from competition or retain the ability to support future industrial development.

Fiscal losses

In the short term, lifting tariffs on European goods would deprive many governments of an important source of fiscal revenue. “Many countries would lose the valuable income they earn from tariff duties,” notes Mr. Godfrey Kanyenze of the Labour and Economic Development Institute of Zimbabwe. Until countries are able to diversify their revenue bases – often a long process – they could be confronted with national budget deficits, possibly leading to lower spending on education, health care, poverty reduction and social security.

A 2002 study by the Common Market for East and Southern Africa, a regional trade bloc, found that if all EU imports entered that region duty-free, governments would lose about 25 per cent of their trade taxes and about 6 per cent of total tax revenue. Another study, by Germany’s Hamburg Institute of International Economics, estimated that declines in import duties in countries of the Economic Community of West African States would range from the equivalent of $2.2 mn in Guinea-Bissau to $487.8 mn in Nigeria. The decline would be sharpest in Cape Verde, where 80 per cent of import revenues are likely to be lost. If no adjustments on spending were made, Cape Verde and the Gambia would incur budget deficits of 4.1 and 3.5 per cent respectively.

Such “doomsday” predictions need to be treated with caution, responds EU Trade Commissioner Mandelson. “If we look closely, most studies are highly theoretical,” he argues. “They assume immediate and complete liberalization, and ignore the economic benefits of reform.” According to Mr. Mandelson, the EU and ACP can negotiate the timing and phasing of tariff reductions to guard against any sharp drops in government income.

The commissioner adds that while some “transitional protection” may be necessary, the aim should be to reduce protection to encourage local industries to become more competitive. Over time, ACP countries will need to adapt their economies to compete with the rest of the world.

‘Back door’ issues

In principle, the central objective of the Cotonou Agreement is poverty reduction. Both parties agree that whatever arrangements are negotiated, they should foster development in the ACP countries. But they differ on what policies would best serve that purpose, echoing debates that previously unfolded within the WTO.

The EU, for example, is proposing that ACP countries adopt stringent rules to protect foreign investment, promote domestic competition and increase transparency in government procurement procedures. Similar proposals – known as the “Singapore issues” after the WTO ministerial meeting at which they were first raised – were blocked by developing countries, which feared the rules would hinder their ability to use trade policy to promote development (see Africa Renewal, January 2004).

But rich countries, following their failure to introduce such issues into WTO agreements, are now trying to insert them into multilateral and bilateral agreements as conditions for aid or loans, notes Mr. Irungu Houghton of Kenya, a pan-Africa policy analyst for Oxfam. EPAs are one part of this broader effort to bring the Singapore issues in through “the back door,” he argues.

In several countries, Mr. Houghton told Africa Renewal, “there is intense pressure to open up procurement processes for public contracts and supplies to non-indigenous suppliers, who because of their international reach are able to produce those goods at a much lower cost than local contractors.” Such a liberalization of procurement would take away one of the few tools governments have traditionally used to promote local industry – that is, favouring domestic companies ahead of foreign ones.

Mr. Houghton notes that similar changes in government procurement policies are also appearing in Country Assistance Strategies – documents that spell out loan conditions from the continent’s main lender, the World Bank.

The implications of adopting all the Singapore issues in Africa have not been fully studied. But policy analysts agree that simply implementing new laws to enact the reforms will by itself be costly. Oxfam estimates that rewriting domestic laws and changing business procedures in each of the 16 areas of reform agreed under the Uruguay Round would cost an average country $2.5 mn.

The European Commission (the secretariat of the EU) insists, however, that there will be “no EPA without investment rules and full reciprocity.” The commission argues that “the EPAs are, at root, about putting progressive trade policy into practice,” by reducing bad business practices hindering investment in Africa.

‘A field of ruins’

But opposition is mounting to the EPAs, as currently envisaged by the EU. In 2004 civil society organizations from across the world rallied in London to launch a Stop EPAs campaign. The campaigners charge that in their current form EPAs are essentially narrow “free trade” agreements intended to further liberalize the markets of ACP countries. They cite examples of earlier trade liberalization measures. In 1986 Côte d’Ivoire cut tariffs by 40 per cent, resulting in massive layoffs in the chemical, textile, footwear and automobile assembly industries. Senegal lost one-third of manufacturing jobs between 1985 and 1990 after reducing tariffs from 165 per cent to 90 per cent. The campaigners are calling for EU-ACP trade relations that support the weaker partners’ pursuit of economic development.

The organizations endorsing the campaign include the Economic Justice Network in South Africa, Third World Network-Africa in Ghana, Civil Society Trade Network of Zambia, Action Aid and Oxfam International. In a number of African countries, including Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Senegal, thousands of farmers, workers and civil society activists have staged public protests against the perceived consequences of EPAs.

In April, West African business representatives also voiced alarm. Meeting in Dakar under the auspices of the regional chamber of commerce of the eight-country West African Economic and Monetary Union, they affirmed their readiness to become more competitive in global markets, but not to enter into competition “with unequal arms.” Commenting specifically on the EPAs, Mr. Iddi Ango, president of the regional chamber, said that “if we open up our countries, given the current state of our enterprises, it will not be an opportunity, but a disaster, a field of ruins.”

Mr. Ibrahim Akalbila, national coordinator of the Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition, comprising civil society and farmers’ groups in that country, cites the high domestic subsidies that many European governments continue to provide their producers, allowing European products to undersell producers in poor developing countries. “Whether it is tomatoes and rice, textiles or iron rods,” he said in April, “cheap imports, illegally dumped into our markets, are destroying whole areas of economic activity, and with it, the lives of millions.”

‘EPA light’

Some European analysts acknowledge the validity of the ACP criticisms. But they also note that the EU faces a dilemma: how to reconcile the special status of the ACP group with its obligations to the WTO.

One possible solution, they suggest, is for the EU to accept an agreement that is only as reciprocal as necessary to meet WTO requirements, while leaving the ACP countries some room to safeguard their domestic markets and industries. The European Centre for Development Policy Management, an independent foundation funded by a number of European governments, proposes the adoption of an “EPA light.”

Such an arrangement would initially require ACP countries to open up their markets only enough to comply with WTO rules. They would liberalize just 50-60 per cent of their EU trade over a long transitional period of 20 years or more, while the EU would continue to grant full market access to all ACP countries. During the transition, the EU also would support the building of viable industries in ACP countries.

Along similar lines, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) argues that the primary focus of EPAs over an initial 12-year period should be to strengthen intra-African trade, to help local industries first become more competitive with their African counterparts. Only after this period, notes the Addis Ababa-based ECA, should EPAs then consider opening African economies to EU competition. And even then, tariff reductions should be phased in gradually, to allow countries time to adjust to the rigours of global markets.

Alternative options

If ACP countries ultimately decide not to sign EPAs, there are a number of other options they could pursue. At the Cotonou meeting in 2000, the EU agreed that if EPAs were not accepted, it would propose “alternative possibilities, in order to provide these countries with a new framework for trade which is equivalent to their existing situation and in conformity with WTO rules.” A country, however, would first have to reject an EPA before work could begin on an alternative.

One such option would be to develop new trade arrangements agreeable to both sides. For example, notes Action Aid, the EU could continue offering ACP countries preferential access to European markets while allowing them to protect their vital industries or cut tariffs in ways that do not jeopardize their economic development goals. But such provisions would require changes to current WTO rules on regional trade agreements. With the Cotonou deadline looming and the Doha round talks still suspended, that option seems unlikely.

Therefore, both parties may have to rely on existing trade regimes. One of these is the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP): nonreciprocal market-access schemes open to all developing countries that meet certain standards in human and labour rights, environmental protection and good governance.

Nations classified as least developed countries – 39 out of the 77 countries currently taking part in the EPA negotiations – could benefit from one of the variants within the GSP framework, the “Everything But Arms” initiative. It grants LDCs nonreciprocal duty-free and quota-free access to the EU for all goods except arms and munitions.

Non-LDCs could also decide to seek GSP treatment, but they would not be eligible for full duty-free access to the EU market. Moreover, GSP arrangements are narrower in scope than EPAs or the current ACP-EU agreement, since they cover only market access. Unlike the Lomé or Cotonou agreements, they do not include any development assistance, in the form of either financial aid or technical cooperation. GSP rules are also considered more restrictive and onerous than those of the Lomé/Cotonou agreements: hence the reluctance of ACP countries to rely solely on them.

The European Commission acknowledges that the GSP alternative would be a “second best” solution, from the development perspective of the ACP countries. A GSP arrangement is not negotiated, like a contract. The EU would design it and offer it on its own terms, and could amend or suspend it at any time. The products covered would not include all those of interest to ACP countries. And if an ACP country were to develop a new product not on the list, that item would be excluded.

Some civil society organizations argue that in a worst-case scenario, GSPs could be used as a starting framework for a new trade arrangement, but with their flaws corrected to provide both market access and development assistance to ACP countries.

Because of the controversy, the British Parliament held public consultations on the EPAs in 2005. Subsequently, its parliamentary committee on international development recommended that the UK push the EU to ensure that alternatives for non-LDC ACP states guarantee the same level of market access as the Lomé arrangements. “Development,” it concluded, “should be integral to any trade options presented to the ACP, even when they are not the first choice of the EU.”

UN: Group of Eight – More Promises on Africa Renewal

Group of Eight – More Promises

Africa Renewal (United Nations)
NEWS
23 July 2007
Posted to the web 23 July 2007

The annual summit of the world’s major industrial countries, the Group of Eight (G-8), concluded in Heiligendamm, Germany, on 8 June with new pledges of support for African development. In a communiqué on Africa, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, UK and US pledged $60 bn “over the coming years” to help Africa combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious diseases. They also reaffirmed a promise made at the 2005 G-8 meeting to increase aid to developing countries by $50 bn a year by 2010 – including $25 bn in additional support for Africa.

On the eve of the meeting, Oxfam International reported that the G-8 would, at present aid levels, miss their 2005 commitments by a full $30 bn. The group applauded the G-8 for cancelling the debts of 24 poor countries in 2005, including 18 in Africa, but noted that, globally, official development assistance actually dropped by more than 5 per cent in 2006, the first decline in a decade. Aid to Africa, Oxfam said, has risen just 2 per cent since 2004.

Irish rock star Bono, who campaigned for increased African aid at the 2005 meeting, criticized the 2007 declaration for lacking a timetable for funding increases. Some G-8 leaders are meeting their pledges, he said, “but collectively they are slipping up.”

AFRICAN ECONOMIES

Robust growth to continue

African economies maintained robust growth rates in 2006, averaging 5.7 per cent last year on the strength of increased world prices for African commodity exports and better economic management. It was the third consecutive year that African economies have grown above 5 per cent annually, according to the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), based in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia. The ECA expects the trend to continue in 2007, with average rates forecast to reach 5.8 per cent. Among African economies, only crisis-bound Zimbabwe posted negative growth rates in 2006, while eight countries posted rates above 8 per cent.

Africa’s 2006 growth figure, from the ECA’s annual Economic Report on Africa (http://www.uneca.org/era2007/), was well above the 3.8 per cent average for the world as a whole. It reflected increased demand for African energy and minerals, particularly from China, India and other rapidly industrializing developing economies. The negative impact of high oil prices on non-oil producers, the report noted, had been cushioned by debt relief and higher export earnings. The ECA cautioned, however, that the development benefits of recent debt cancellations are proving “very slow to materialize” and that growth rates are still too low to have a significant impact on poverty levels.

Appointments

The UN Secretary-General has named Mr. Francis Deng of Sudan as his special adviser for the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities, succeeding Mr. Juan Mendez. At the time of his appointment, Mr. Deng served as director of the Sudan Peace Support Project. From 1992 to 2004, he was the UN Secretary-General’s representative on internally displaced persons. He has also served as his country’s ambassador to Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the US.

Ms. Josette Sheeran of the US became the new executive director of the UN World Food Programme in April 2007. She previously served as under-secretary for economic, energy and agricultural affairs at the US Department of State. In 2006, she also served on the High-level UN Panel on System-wide Coherence. Ms. Sheeran brings to WFP more than 20 years of experience in the public and private sectors.

Ms. Elizabeth Mataka, a Zambian policymaker and activist, will serve as the UN Secretary-General’s new special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, succeeding Mr. Stephen Lewis of Canada. Ms. Mataka had been executive director of the Zambian National AIDS Network and vice-chairperson of the board of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Mr. Robert Zoellick, a former deputy US secretary of state and trade representative, has been named by the World Bank’s board of governors as the institution’s new president, following the resignation of Mr. Paul Wolfo­witz. At the time of his appointment, Mr. Zoellick was vice-chairman of the Goldman Sachs investment group. During the 1990s, he also served on numerous non-profit boards, including the Council on Foreign Relations and the Overseas Development Council, as well as on advisory councils of the World Wildlife Fund and the Institute of International Economics.

Ms. Obiageli Ezekwesili of Nigeria assumed the post of the World Bank’s vice-president for Africa on 1 May 2007. Most recently, she was Nigeria’s minister of education. Ms. Ezekwesili was a founding member of Transparency International, for which she served as director for Africa, and was also special assistant to the president of Nigeria on budget monitoring. She also served as Nigeria’s minister of solid minerals development and since 2004, as Nigeria’s chairperson for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

The UN Secretary-General has named Mr. Haile Menkerios of Eritrea as assistant secretary-general for political affairs. Most recently, Mr. Menkerios was deputy special representative of the Secretary-General in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Previously, he also served his country as ambassador to Ethiopia and the Organization of African Unity, special envoy to Somalia and the Great Lakes region and permanent representative to the UN from 1991 to 2000. He succeeds Mr. Tuliameni Kalomoh of Namibia.

Jeffrey D. Sachs: “No Development, No Peace”

I only hope that Mr. Sachs reads my proposal for Africa one day and sees that this Project of mine is exactly in keeping with the development that Africa needs TODAY!

Here is his article: 

No Development, No Peace

Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)
COLUMN
23 July 2007
Posted to the web 23 July 2007

By Jeffrey D. Sachs

Anyone interested in peacemaking, poverty reduction, and Africa’s future should read the new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report Sudan: Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment. This may sound like a technical report on Sudan’s environment, but it is much more. It is a vivid study of how the natural environment, poverty, and population growth can interact to provoke terrible human-made disasters like the violence in Darfur.

When a war erupts, as in Darfur, most policymakers look for a political explanation and a political solution. This is understandable, but it misses a basic point. By understanding the role of geography, climate, and population growth in the conflict, we can find more realistic solutions than if we stick with politics alone.

Extreme poverty is a major cause, and predictor, of violence. The world’s poorest places, like Darfur, are much more likely to go to war than richer places. This is not only common sense, but has been verified by studies and statistical analyses. In the UNEP’s words, “There is a very strong link between land degradation, desertification, and conflict in Darfur.”

Extreme poverty has several effects on conflict. First, it leads to desperation among parts of the population. Competing groups struggle to stay alive in the face of a shortage of food, water, pasture land, and other basic needs. Second, the government loses legitimacy and the support of its citizens. Third, the government may be captured by one faction or another, and then use violent means to suppress rivals.

Darfur, the poorest part of a very poor country, fits that dire pattern. Livelihoods are supported by semi-nomadic livestock-rearing in the north and subsistence farming in the south. It is far from ports and international trade, lacks basic infrastructure such as roads and electricity, and is extremely arid. It has become even drier in recent decades because of a decline in rainfall, which is probably the result, at least in part, of man-made climate change, caused mostly by energy use in rich countries.

Declining rainfall contributed directly or indirectly to crop failures, the encroachment of the desert into pasturelands, the decline of water and grassland for livestock, and massive deforestation. Rapid population growth – from around one million in 1920 to around seven million today – made all of this far more deadly by slashing living standards.

The result has been increasing conflict between pastoralists and farmers, and the migration of populations from the north to the south. After years of simmering conflicts, clashes broke out in 2003 between rival ethnic and political groups, and between Darfur rebels and the national government, which in turn has supported brutal militias in “scorched earth” policies, leading to massive death and displacement.

While international diplomacy focused on peacekeeping and on humanitarian efforts to save the lives of displaced and desperate people, peace in Darfur can be neither achieved nor sustained until the underlying crises of poverty, environmental degradation, declining access to water, and chronic hunger are addressed. Stationing soldiers will not pacify hungry, impoverished, and desperate people.

Only with improved access to food, water, health care, schools, and income-generating livelihoods can peace be achieved. The people of Darfur, Sudan’s government, and international development institutions should urgently search for common ground to find a path out of desperate violence through Darfur’s economic development, helped and supported by the outside world.

The UNEP report, and experiences elsewhere in Africa, suggests how to promote economic development in Darfur. Both people and livestock need assured water supplies. In some areas, this can be obtained through boreholes that tap underground aquifers. In other areas, rivers or seasonal surface runoff can be used for irrigation. In still other areas, longer-distance water pipelines might be needed. In all cases, the world community will have to help pay the tab, since Sudan is too poor to bear the burden on its own.

With outside help, Darfur could increase the productivity of its livestock through improved breeds, veterinary care, collection of fodder, and other strategies. A meat industry could be developed in which Darfur’s pastoralists would multiply their incomes by selling whole animals, meat products, processed goods (such as leather), dairy products, and more. The Middle East is a potentially lucrative nearby market. To build this export market, Darfur will need help with transport and storage, cell phone coverage, power, veterinary care, and technical advice.

Social services, including health care and disease control, education, and adult literacy programmes should also be promoted. Living standards could be improved significantly and rapidly through low-cost targeted investments in malaria control, school feeding programmes, rainwater harvesting for drinking water, mobile health clinics, and boreholes for livestock and irrigation in appropriate locations. Cell phone coverage could revolutionise communications for sparse populations in Darfur’s vast territory, with major benefits for livelihoods, physical survival, and the maintenance of family ties.

The only way to sustainable peace is through sustainable development. If we are to reduce the risk of war, we must help impoverished people everywhere, not only in Darfur, to meet their basic needs, protect their natural environments, and get onto the ladder of economic development. (Project Syndicate)

*Jeffrey Sachs is Professor of Economics and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

The Russians are Coming to Africa: Has the Time Finally Come for Continent to Get Protective Over Resources

Time Has Come for Continent to Get Protective Over Resources

The Nation (Nairobi)
OPINION
23 July 2007
Posted to the web 23 July 2007

By Chege Mbitiru
Nairobi
A Russian politician recently lost patience with his country’s major companies. He urged them to get voracious overseas. Africa featured in the destinations he offered. Like the Chinese, the the Russkies are coming and the Africans aren’t bargaining hard enough.

Mr Yuri Trutnev heads the natural resources ministry. Apparently, he also wields political muscle. Already some people consider him a possible successor of President Vladimir Putin.

Media reports say Mr Trutnev held an open ministerial meeting eleven days ago. Representatives of major energy and mining companies attended. Trutnev told them the government would “back all Russian projects abroad.” Additionally, “for those projects to be realised, Russia must act” on the governmental level.

The money people appreciated Mr Trutnev’s assurance. For examples: Zinaida Zhukova of Norilsk Nickel, a metals behemoth, said: “State support would help reduce the risks.” That equals “Mess with us, and face the Kremlin,” a veiled blackmail. Valery Rusakov of oil giant Rosneft noted obtaining licenses “is very hard to resolve at the company level.” Translation: Marshal diplomatic artilleries.

Russia, unlike the US, doesn’t prosecute its investors who offer bribes overseas. That’s not saying US investors don’t use “kosher” styles to meander through the palm-greasing routes. Anyway, palm greasing is as Russian as is African.

Mr Anatoly Makarov, Russia’s ambassador to South Africa, last month described, in Business Day, President Vladimir Putin’s visit there last September as “the official return of Russia to Africa.”

Unlike other European nations, Russia didn’t bother much with Africa during the continent’s colonial scramble. It possessed expansive territory, all the way to Alaska, which it sold to the US for peanuts.

Communist Russia saw emerging independent African states as allies in undermining capitalist imperialism. That explains the Soviet Union’s generosity to liberation movements and African rebels who sought to topple “imperialist stooges.” That remained so until the communist bubble bust 16 years ago and Russia retreated. By then machetes rivalled AK47s in abundance. In all fairness, the Soviet Union left good legacies, but white elephants overshadow them.

Russia’s transition to capitalism and absorption of the system’s filth is notable. Last year, its Gross Domestic Product grew by about 6.7 per cent, very different from the mid-1990s when the Bear merely whimpered.

It’s illustrative that Putin chose South Africa, an economic powerhouse of all capitalist faces, as his first continental destination. He didn’t offer to construct dams, peoples’ and convention halls, sports complexes or dual carriage highways from airports to state houses.

Putin was after what South Africa, and other African countries-especially in Sub-Sahara-possess aplenty and Russia needs, raw materials. Of course, Russia isn’t starved of natural resources. But then, why exhaust its own when it can find them elsewhere and certainly more cheaply? That’s capitalist system’s modus operandi.

Consequently, Russia will go after minerals-already the appetite for uranium is shameless-and such other goodies like oil. The list is endless. Usual platitudes like cooperation and mutual respect will abundantly crop up.

Russia isn’t an exception. Trutnev actually told the companies to catch up. Former colonial powers, the US, China and the-ever-polite Japanese and Indians are, like gigantic backhoes scooping whatever they can from Africa.

Time has come for African nations, especially in Sub-Sahara, to urgently get more protective of their resources and press for higher bargains. This is not singly, as Equatorial Guinea and Chad-rewriting oil laws-are doing, but in concert while maintaining national identities.

Grandiosities like the United States of Africa, a desirable future political luxury Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi champions, aren’t necessary. Discreet consultations, especially within regional groupings, will do. A hackneyed saying still counts: If we don’t hang together, we’ll hang separately.

Annan Urges Be Like Madiba at the Nelson Mandela Foundation Forum

     

Be Like Madiba, Annan Urges

Nelson Mandela Foundation (Johannesburg)
DOCUMENT
23 July 2007
Posted to the web 23 July 2007

By Kofi Annan
Johannesburg
Thank you Graça [Machel], President Mandela, [other acknowledgments].

Madiba, Nane and I were honoured to spend your birthday with you here in Johannesburg a few days ago. It is always a delightful thing to be in your company. You and Graça have always made us feel welcome here and we are always grateful to return.

It is truly a privilege for me to deliver this year’s Mandela Lecture. Before I begin, I want to clarify something. I am delivering a lecture in honour of Nelson Mandela. I am in no way delivering a lecture to Nelson Mandela.

I wouldn’t dare.

If I did, I imagine he would listen graciously… tolerantly. But let me tell you this: one does not presume to lecture Madiba. Not on his birthday, not on any other day. He may have relinquished his office years ago, but he has not relinquished one ounce of his natural, personal authority.

Still, for some reason he persists in calling me ‘boss’.

For years, whenever I’d call, he would say, ‘My boss. How are you, boss?’ I’d reply, ‘How can I be your boss?’ He’d say, ‘Secretary-General of the UN. You run the world.’ Of course, as he knows, I never did run the world. Now I don’t even run the UN.

And still he persists. I think he is teasing me.

But then, he has always been like that. You see it in his expansive smile. Nelson Mandela may be the most gentle, good-humoured, even mischievous icon that the world has known.

He is also one of the strongest. We all know about his courage and tenacity — which saw him through 27 years in prison, and saw South Africa through the end of apartheid and a difficult, but successful, transition to freedom.

The world has seen how deeply he believes in freedom, human dignity, and the right of the individual to fulfill his or her dream. And in our work together, I have been privileged to see how determined he can be in pursuit of those ideals.

I have seen him in tough negotiations like those in Burundi, where he was trying to get the warring factions to put down their guns and make peace. When he saw what was going on around him, he said, ‘You men make me ashamed to be African.’

A withering indictment from someone who makes us all proud to be African.

You can imagine the force of these words. Or perhaps you cannot. It was an extraordinarily powerful moment. And it certainly had its intended effect.

On certain points—certain principles — Nelson Mandela cannot be moved.

When his term as president ended, as you know, a lot of people tried to talk him into staying on. But he was determined to leave office. What a wonderful example on a continent where presidents have, in some cases, defied or changed their countries’ constitutions and clung to power for decades.

There are other former leaders have drawn important lessons from Mandela’s post-presidency: that the center stage is not the only place from which you can make a contribution.

That is what brought leaders like Jimmy Carter, Mary Robinson, Muhammad Yunus, Li Zhaozing, myself, and [others] to Johannesburg last week — to announce our intention to work together on solutions to some of the world’s most intractable problems. As ‘elders,’ so to speak, we have a unique perspective to share, and, we believe, an obligation to share it.

We will be joined in that effort by Graça Machel — a partner to Madiba in life and in work, both in South Africa and across the continent. Graça has long been well respected in Mozambique and beyond, for her leadership in education and on the rights of children, especially children caught up in armed conflict. And now she lends her strength to this important partnership.

And that is a great gift to us all. We need her energy and experience—matched by her husband’s — because so much work remains to be done.

There has been great change in Africa in the years since Nelson Mandela walked out of prison. Even since 1999, the year he left office, we have seen considerable progress on a number of fronts: progress in peace and security, where the number of civil wars and inter-state conflicts continues to decline; in development, where we see a rise in direct investment, trade and aid, and measurable progress toward the Millennium Development Goals; and lastly, in the spread of freedom and the strengthening of human rights.

Progress has not always been as consistent, or as extensive, as we might have wished. Violent conflicts continue to rage in many spots on the continent, including Northern Uganda and Darfur. More than 300 million people in south of the Sahara live on less than $1 a day – what the world rightly recognizes as the most extreme kind of poverty—ravaged by disease, betrayed by their leaders, starved not only for food, but for opportunity and hope.

Still, this wave of progress continues to unfold. Our challenge, in this new century, is to ensure that the gains some of us have made can be experienced not just by a few but by all who live on this rich, vast and varied continent.

We live in an era of interdependence. That is true everywhere in the world; but in some ways it is more obvious in Africa than anywhere else. We Africans know, perhaps more than most, that problems like water shortages and disease, like environmental degradation and political unrest, cannot be neatly contained within national borders. If some of us are poor, we are all the poorer; if some countries are unstable, we are all less secure.

Similarly, we know that solutions to these problems will only come if we work together—across borders, across boundaries of race, religion, language and culture.

To accelerate our progress, to extend its reach into every corner of this continent, we must work together toward a comprehensive strategy — one that rests on three pillars: peace and security; development; human rights and the rule of law.

They all reinforce each other; they all depend on each other, just as we do.

On the first of these pillars—peace and security — we have seen real and measurable progress in the past decade. Many bloody civil wars have ended; and there are fewer inter-state conflicts than there used to be.

I am proud that the UN has been an important actor in resolving conflicts. And I am proud of what my fellow Africans have achieved in ending much of the violence that has disfigured our continent. South Africa, under President Mbeki’s leadership, has played a major role.

But we should be under no illusion.

About half the world’s armed conflicts, and some three quarters of the UN’s peacekeepers, are in Africa. That is because millions of Africans are still at the mercy of brutal regimes, gangs and rebels — wielding small, but deadly, weapons and showing no respect for human rights, or even human life.

Every day, in Darfur, more men, women and children are being driven from their homes. Villages are burned. Murder and rape are commonplace. Beyond Sudan, less visible but no less devastating conflicts cry for action by Africans and others. The ever downward spiral of Zimbabwe, for example, is both intolerable and unsustainable; we all have a stake in resolving the crisis.

Stability in Africa may be spreading, but a continent at peace — which, after all, is what we seek — remains a distant goal. Most Africans have come to recognize the high cost of persistent conflict: the years of squandered development, the displacement of people, the enormous loss of life. And most realize that they need to work together to pacify the continent.

So we are working harder for peace. Through the African Union we are learning to better manage and resolve conflicts and, most important, to prevent new ones from breaking out.

We all share responsibility for each other’s security — all nations, not just those in the AU. At the UN Summit two years ago, all nations solemnly accepted that obligation — meaning that national sovereignty can no longer be used as a shield by governments that massacre their own people, or as an excuse for the rest of us to do nothing about it.

Only by working to make each other secure can we hope to achieve security for ourselves; only by acting together can we achieve lasting peace on this continent, or anywhere else in the world.

Make no mistake: this can be achieved. The Africa of my youth, the Africa I knew, the Africa that I remember, was not this violent Africa. Yes, there was repression, brutal repression, in South Africa and elsewhere. Yes, there were conflicts. But on the whole, the Africa of my youth was tolerant, it was conciliatory, it was forgiving.

These are the best attributes of Africa. They are not a relic of the past. They have the power to define our future. We see the power of tolerance and reconciliation not only in remarkable individuals like Nelson Mandela, or nations like South Africa, but in Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia, Sierra Leone – nations reclaimed from the ashes of violence.

Of course, lasting peace requires more than the absence of war — or the continued presence of peacekeepers. Peace will endure only when it is accompanied by economic and social development — the second pillar of an African renaissance.

Here, again, there is reason for cautious optimism. Today, inflation is at historic lows in many countries, and 27 African economies are projected to grow by more than 5 per cent this year. Direct investment has increased more than 200 per cent in the past five years. Exports are also rising. There have been spectacular advances on debt relief, most notably, Nigeria, as well as encouraging initiatives on aid and investment.

Africa has also made headway toward the UN Millennium Development Goals. The latest report from the UN shows that today – halfway to the 2015 target date – we’ve achieved positive change in several crucial areas. We are not excelling, but we are advancing.

Take the goal of achieving universal primary education. Enrolment is up in many countries, especially enrolment of girls. Or fighting AIDS: through better treatment, victims are living longer and more productive lives; through better prevention, prevalence is dropping in several countries.

We have also seen progress in reducing maternal mortality, and in providing safe drinking water. We have seen how limited, even low-cost, interventions—like fighting malaria with bed nets – can make dramatic improvements.

Today, one thing is clear to all of us here: Africa’s development disproves the widespread notion of our continent as a sea of undifferentiated poverty.

Still, there can be no denying the magnitude of African needs—and no minimizing the stakes for us all. How much longer can the wealthiest nations derive great benefits from globalization while billions of their fellow human beings remain in abject poverty? Is that sustainable? Is it morally defensible? If all lives have equal worth, should all not have the chance to live, work, and prosper?

We know the right answer.

Every single African – every single person – should have that chance. So there is more to be done for the welfare of all.

It is vital that Africa lead its own development process. The key now is to reinforce the progress we have made and eliminate shortfalls in development assistance, debt relief and fair trade.

Of course, the imperative for leadership does not fall entirely on Africa. The G8 has made significant and welcome promises of aid. Their resolve to meet their Gleneagles commitment to increase ODA to Africa by $25 billion a year by 2010 is encouraging. But the only promises that truly count are promises met.

And the G8’s track record, to be frank, is not very good. As the chairman of the Africa Progress Panel — an independent body focused on fulfillment of these promises — I have urged the G8 to set a specific timetable and deliver the aid it has pledged.

Of course, aid alone will not end poverty in Africa.

Market access, fair terms of trade, and a non-discriminatory financial system are equally essential in helping Africans to lift themselves out of poverty and deprivation.

The path to prosperity begins at the fields of our farmers. Yet ours is the only continent that cannot feed itself. To address poverty at its core, we need a uniquely African green revolution. Our farmers need better seeds, soils, and prices for what they sell. They need access to water, markets and credit. They need national policies that accelerate rural economic growth, investment and job creation.

Water scarcity will be an increasing focus as climate change intensifies. Africa’s great lakes—Victoria, Tanganyika, and others — are shrinking. Climate change is the world’s responsibility, but it may be Africa’s particular problem. Non-African nations are doing the polluting, but as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned, Africa will pay the most severe price. As global weather patterns have changed, crops here have failed. Yields will decline. Other continents can survive such a fate. Africa cannot.

For me, there is nothing more important than reversing these trends. That is why I have accepted the chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. AGRA sees agricultural production as the leading edge of a larger revolution—one that delivers greater opportunity, enterprise and prosperity to all Africans.

To realize this vision, we must also strengthen the third pillar of African progress: human rights and the rule of law.

Ten years ago, I said some African leaders viewed human rights as a rich country’s luxury. Others treated it as an imposition, if not a plot. I find these thoughts demeaning to African people, and have called on them to ostracize leaders who seize power through military coups against elected governments.

Africans must guard against a pernicious, self-destructive form of racism — that unites citizens to rise up and expel tyrannical rulers who are white, but to excuse tyrannical rulers who are black.

Only when government is grounded in the rule of law — fairly and consistently applied — can society rest on a solid foundation. Leaders must ensure that the rules are respected—that they protect the rights and property of individual citizens. Leaders must also hold themselves to the same rules, the same restraints — never above them.

In the past decade, Africans have increasingly shown that human rights are African rights, and that democracy has deepening roots in this continent. More states than ever have governments that were duly elected – instead of imposed. And these governments, through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, have explicitly agreed to uphold human rights and democracy, to fight corruption and promote good governance.

In most countries, the rights of women are better respected. The political empowerment of women is on the rise, such that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, of Liberia, has become the first woman ever elected President of an African state. Throughout Africa, civil society and ordinary citizens also are engaged as never before. Africans are standing up for their rights, demanding honest and accountable leadership.

Governments are beginning to listen.

Societal shifts — urbanization, demographic changes, and new technologies—all require governments to be more inclusive, more accountable and more responsive, and require leaders who are in tune with this new, and increasingly complex, Africa.

Last year, I made what I think is a strange confession: that as the leader of the UN, I envied the World Cup.

Every four years, the entire world is focused on soccer. All nations compete to be the best, and all citizens know where their team stands and what it did to get there.

I wish we had more of that sort of competition in the family of nations. Countries vying for the best standing in respect for human rights, trying to outscore each other in governance. Performances ranked for all the world to see. Governments held accountable for whether goals are met. Citizens taking pride in the results.

Good governance and democracy are central to Africa’s development—and to its security. That is why, in addition to my other work, which I have described, I have accepted the chairmanship of the prize committee of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

Mo — who, of course, is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Africa — is establishing an index of good governance—sort of a FIFA table for governments. He is also offering the largest cash prize in the world – to the former African head of state or government who has set the highest standard for honest and enlightened leadership. It will help them to continue their work — and to inspire the next generation to reach an even higher standard of public service.

Without such leadership, it will be hard if not impossible to reach the MDGs by 2015 and continue to prosper.

Again, we see how the three pillars of security, development and human rights all reinforce one another. The rule of law, like peace and security, is a prerequisite to strong and sustained development. And without prosperity and opportunity that are widely shared, peace cannot last long and democratic institutions cannot truly flourish.

Here in South Africa we see this virtuous cycle in motion. So much has changed here that it is hard to believe only 13 years have passed since Nelson Mandela’s inauguration. There have, of course, been setbacks; but a lot has been achieved.

Since the years when Madiba helped free this nation from the prison of its history, President Mbeki — whom I considered an essential partner during my tenure as Secretary-General — has steered a steady course economically, on security questions, and in safeguarding the rights of people here and around the world.

Under his leadership, South Africa is showing the way—as a beacon of tolerance, peaceful co-existence and mutual respect. You exercise a powerful, beneficial influence through NEPAD and the AU, helping solve crises from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Cote d’Ivoire and Burundi.

There is much to be done; but the momentum here is strong, and in the right direction.

The same is true for Africa as a whole – the Africa we love.

The Africa we love is capable of the best.

And the Africa we love is capable of some surprises.

There is tremendous energy on this continent — and it is being channeled, more effectively than ever, toward a future of shared prosperity, shared security, and a shared sense of values and purpose.

Working together—just as the races and colours and cultures of South Africa have worked together—we Africans can meet our greatest challenges. We will do this in partnership — not only with one another but with the other nations of the world, all of whom have a stake in our success.

The greatest instrument for global collaboration, I believe, is the institution I was privileged to lead: the United Nations. It is, as it has been for the past half century, the most powerful expression of the idea of multilateralism.

Because we believe so strongly in that idea, we must address what President Mbeki has called “the gross imbalance of power” between rich and poor member states. We must give the world’s poorest people a greater voice in the decisions that shape their lives.

When Nelson Mandela received the Africa Peace Award in 1995, he said that while Africa “should challenge the untenable global division of power and wealth… Africa has long traversed past a mindset that seeks to heap all blame on the past and on others.” He continued: “The era of renaissance we are entering is, and should be, based on our own efforts as Africans to change Africa’s conditions for the better.”

I agree. I share Madiba’s belief—and his faith that we can find the strength we need within ourselves, as Africans. Such strength as we have, and such wisdom—these are the legacies of Nelson Mandela. Let us strive to be worthy of his example—as we strive to create a future worthy of our children.

Thank you.

Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, delivered this address, the Fifth Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, in Johannesburg on July 22.


Copyright © 2007 Nelson Mandela Foundation. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).


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Annan’s Address at Mandela’s Annual Lecture Focuses On New Strategy for Africa

Mandela’s Annual Lecture Focuses On Continent

BuaNews (Tshwane)
NEWS
23 July 2007
Posted to the web 23 July 2007

By David Masango
Johannesburg
A new strategy for Africa which rests on peace and security, human rights and the rule of law, and development, has been unveiled at the Fifth Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture.

Former Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) Kofi Annan, delivered this year’s lecture at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg on Sunday, said the three pillars both reinforce and depend on each other.

Mr Annan explained that Africa had seen real and measurable progress in peace and security over the past decade.

“Many bloody civil wars have ended and there are fewer inter-state conflicts than there used to be.

“I am proud that the UN has been an important actor in resolving conflicts. And I am proud of what my fellow Africans have achieved in ending much of the violence that has disfigured our continent.

“South Africa, under President Thabo Mbeki’s leadership, has played a major role.”

Mr Annan condemned the situation in Darfur where men, women and children are being driven from their homes by conflict; and further spoke out against the “ever downward spiral of Zimbabwe”, which is experiencing political and economic chaos.

He warned that although stability in Africa might be spreading, a peaceful Africa remained a distant goal.

“We are working harder for peace. Through the African Union we are learning to better manage and resolve conflicts and, most importantly, to prevent new ones from breaking out,” he said.

However, Mr Annan explained, peace would only endure when it was accompanied by economic and social development.

He highlighted some of the progress Africa had achieved, including inflation which was at historic lows in many countries and that 27 African economies were projected to grow by more than 5 percent this year.

Direct investment has also increased more than 200 percent in the past five years, due to rising exports, advances on debt relief and aid and investment initiatives.

Africa has also made headway toward the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to Mr Annan.

“The latest report from the UN shows that today, halfway to the 2015 target date, we’ve achieved positive change in several crucial areas.

“We are not excelling, but we are advancing. It is vital that Africa lead its own development process.

“The key now is to reinforce the progress we have made and eliminate shortfalls in development assistance, debt relief and fair trade,” he explained.

Mr Annan further cautioned that aid alone would not end poverty in Africa, but market access, fair terms of trade and a non-discriminatory financial system were equally essential in helping Africans to lift themselves out of poverty and deprivation.

Mr Annan emphasised the importance for Africa to strengthen human rights and the rule of law to accelerate progress.

“Only when government is grounded in the rule of law, and it is fairly and consistently applied, can society rest on a solid foundation.

Mr Annan also praised Africa, saying democracy on the continent had deepened in the past decade and that more states than ever had governments that were duly elected instead of imposed.

“The rule of law, like peace and security, is a prerequisite to strong and sustained development. And without prosperity and opportunity that are widely shared, peace cannot last long and democratic institutions cannot truly flourish,” said Mr Annan in conclusion.

The annual lecture offers an opportunity for leaders of international standing to present their views on critical issues impacting society at large.

The previous Nelson Mandela Annual Lectures were delivered by:

* Former United States President William Jefferson Clinton on 19 July 2003;

* Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu on 23 November 2004;

* Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Wangari Maathai from Kenya on 19 July 2005; and

* President Mbeki on 29 July 2006.

The annual lecture is part of a wide range of events to celebrate Mr Mandela’s birthday, which he celebrated last week Wednesday.

Reduction of Poverty Key Hurdle for Education in Africa

Poverty Key Hurdle for Education in Continent

The Nation (Nairobi)
NEWS
24 July 2007
Posted to the web 24 July 2007
Nairobi
Increased poverty in Africa is a major hindrance to the development of education systems, a regional workshop was told yesterday.

The seminar heard that most poverty reduction strategies developed by most governments only focused on access and quality of education by students but not the need to change teaching methods to counter increased poverty.

The result was that there was little information on what improving the teaching methods can do in the war on poverty, Mrs Christine Panchaud of Unesco’s International Bureau of Education said.

“The specific links between the curriculum and poverty has been less explored in spite of various agreements between education specialists and their respective governments about their influence on improving the living conditions of communities,” said Mrs Panchaud.

She said there was therefore an urgent need for countries to reorganise the curriculum geared towards enabling children from poverty stricken areas to learn the necessary skills that would improve their chances of prosperity.

She was speaking at a regional seminar on Poverty alleviation, HIV and Aids and Inclusive Education at a Nairobi hotel. “

The five-day seminar, organised by the Kenya Institute of Education in collaboration with Unesco’s International Bureau of Education, drew participants from Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda.

This is the first meeting of its kind to be held in Kenya.

Mrs Panchaud said that instead of forcing students to adapt to the education system, efforts must be made to make the system to be able to adapt to the students needs.

Education Secretary Prof George Godia said curriculum development should be geared towards producing learners who are equipped with relevant skills for development.

UN’s FAO Discusses the Benefits And Limits of an Important Biotech Tools

Benefits And Limits of an Important Biotech Tool

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Rome)
INTERVIEW
24 July 2007
Posted to the web 24 July 2007
Rome
The biotechnology tool of marker-assisted selection (MAS) has raised high expectations for increasing genetic progress through breeding. Some experts have even argued that the application of MAS could “revolutionize” the way varieties and breeding stock are developed.

In a new comprehensive assessment (Marker-Assisted Selection, Rome 2007), FAO emphasizes that MAS has enormous potential but notes that the technology has not yet delivered its expected benefits to farmers in developing countries. Shivaji Pandey, Chairperson of the FAO Working Group on Biotechnology, gives his view on MAS.

What is marker-assisted selection (MAS)?

MAS is a biotechnology tool that could greatly accelerate conventional breeding of crops, livestock, farmed fish and trees. Scientists are using MAS to genetically improve certain characteristics or traits (productivity, disease resistance, quality etc.) that are important for farmers. MAS makes it possible to select traits with greater accuracy and to develop a new variety quicker than in the past.

What is the difference between MAS and genetically modified organisms (GMOs)?

MAS and genetic modification are different biotechnologies. MAS allows desirable genes to be “marked” or tagged so they can be selected within the breeding population, while GMOs are the result of the transfer of a desirable gene or genes from one species to another.

New plant varieties or improved animal breeds resulting from MAS do not require a specific legislative framework. The complicated approval process required for GMOs does not apply for MAS – its costs of release are therefore lower.

In addition, the technology is not controversial so there is no problem with public acceptance. Indeed, one of the drawbacks of the intense debate that has taken place in recent years over the benefits and risks of GMOs is that it has overshadowed the potential role that other, non-GMO, biotechnologies, such as MAS, may play for food and agriculture.

What is the potential of MAS?

Since MAS first became a practical reality about 20 years ago, it has now gone past the research and development stage and is being applied in the field. For example, it is currently being used in dairy cattle breeding programmes in France and Germany, and rice varieties with improved bacterial blight resistance have being developed using MAS approaches and released in India and Indonesia.

However, initial enthusiasm and optimism have been tempered by the realization that it is more difficult and takes longer than originally thought before genetic improvement of traits using MAS can be realized. The considerable resources invested in this technology have been mainly concentrated in the industrialized world, and MAS has not yet delivered its expected benefits to farmers in developing countries.

What are the costs associated with MAS?

MAS requires quite a sophisticated infrastructure and considerable investments: including specialized equipment, electricity, laboratory design and management, data handling and statistics, and Internet connectivity. Efficient and effective application of MAS also requires well-qualified staff and good funding. It should therefore be used where there is a clear advantage over traditional selection techniques.

What are the constraints countries are facing applying MAS?

Apart from the investments required, a serious constraint that most countries face in applying MAS is the lack of a national policy on science and technology and on biotechnology. This is essential to provide guidance on the strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation of biotechnologies, including MAS, for food and agriculture. In addition, MAS should only be applied when well-structured breeding programmes are already in place, which is often not the case in many developing countries.

How could the application of MAS contribute to hunger and poverty reduction?

Most of the around 820 million hungry people in developing countries live in rural areas where people’s livelihoods depend on agriculture. This means that investing in agriculture, and more broadly in rural development, must be at the heart of any strategy for hunger and poverty reduction. While the measures needed certainly go well beyond the issue of producing more food and agricultural products, achieving greater yields and higher value products from the same plot of land or enterprise, through, for example, appropriate application of technologies such as MAS, must be a key ingredient for the great majority of developing countries.

Churches Condemn EPA’s with the EU an Harmful to All Africa

Churches Reject New Trade Pacts With Europe

Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)
NEWS
24 July 2007
Posted to the web 24 July 2007
Nairobi
New trade agreements being negotiated between Europe and developing countries are harmful to Africa, All Africa Conference of Churches said.

In a letter urging African trade ministers not to sign the Economic Partnership Agreements by Dec. 31, AACC General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Mvume Dandala, said developing countries risked losing much-needed revenues if the new trade agreements came into force in January as planned.

Africa’s trade ministers met last week in Accra, Ghana, to discuss the EPAs which have been rejected by fair trade activists from around the world.

Revenue losses due to the new trade rules, Dr Dandala said, would lead to cuts in the already reduced spending on crucial social welfare needs like education, health, food security, water and sanitation. This will challenge the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and governments’ development plans.

From independence until 2002, trade between African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and Europe were ruled by the Yaounde and Lome Conventions. The trade regime was “asymmetric” (without obligation of reciprocal advantages), thus favouring ACP exports to the EU and allowing the ACP to get an income from the custom duties of goods imported from Europe.

ACP countries benefited from unilateral duty-free access to the EU market for most of their exports, while not obliged to open their market to European goods that had to pay custom duties.

But some Latin-American countries, backed by USA, considered this “special treatment” of goods incompatible with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, as they felt “discriminated” against by the EU regarding bananas and sugar.

In 2002 when the last Lome Convention ended, the EU asked the WTO for a waiver valid till Dec. 31, 2007. In the new Cotonou Agreement between the EU and the ACP states, the signatories agreed to establish Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) that would pursue trade liberalization and create free trade by the end 2007.

Dr Dandala said that by neglecting the WTO principle of special and differential treatment for less developed countries, the EU was shifting away from its previous thinking on development and trade.

“The EU prefers this bilateral route for trade negotiations because it will gain further concessions through the ‘divide and rule’ negotiating tactic,” Dr Dandala said.

“The pact seeks investment liberalization, guaranteed protection for European corporate property and increased intellectual property rights,” he said.

“It will also open up ACP service sectors and government procurement (public tenders) to the operations of European companies, and the imposition of inappropriate ‘competition’ rules.”

Dr Dandala said the church, faith-based organizations and the civil society are opposed to the new pact. Catholic and other church organisations in Europe and Africa have already rejected the EPAs.

Rascom – AfDB Strengthens Telecommunications Sector

Rascom – AfDB Strengthens Telecommunications Sector

African Development Bank (Tunis)
PRESS RELEASE
24 July 2007
Posted to the web 24 July 2007
Tunis
The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday in Tunis approved a US $ 50-million senior loan under its private sector window in support of a Regional African Satellite Communications Organization Mebers (RASCOM) Telecommunications Project.

The RASCOM project involves the construction and launch of an earth-orbiting satellite system to provide point to multi-point telecommunications services throughout Africa. The project will: (i) provide a full range of telecommunications services to end-users; (ii) provide complete coverage of Africa (urban and rural), including remote locations; (iii) provide international telephone calls and internet connections at low cost; (iv) create direct links among all African countries; (v) allow interurban communications within each country; (vi) permit radio, television, and multimedia broadcast reception in each country as well as the exchange of TV and radio programs between African countries; and (vii) support limited intercontinental connectivity.

Development impacts that are likely to accrue from this project include, but not limited to (i) Rural Communities: RASCOM will provide telephony services (TES) to various remote rural areas throughout Africa which previously had no direct interconnectivity; this translates into a substantial economic value added. Rural end-users will benefit from an estimated consumer surplus of US$ 1.2 billion in present value terms, equivalent to an average of about US$ 210 million per annum; (ii) Interconnectivity: RASCOM will permit lower-cost pan-African interconnectivity for African telecom operators, compared to charges levied by existing service providers; (iii) Bandwidth Lease Services: BLS service subscribers, such as TV broadcasters, internet service providers (ISPs) and big corporations, are expected to benefit from an estimated consumer surplus.

This project demonstrates a very strong rural focus as a socio-economic impact. Even though the RASCOM project is geared to cover the entire continent, the most noticeable impact will be witnessed in rural areas.

The full impact will be achieved once the Ground Traffic Segment (GTS) investments are implemented by Telecoms in Regional Member Countries (RMCs). Farmers will have better access to market information, weather forecasts as well as new technologies. This will increase production, boost livelihoods and contribute to combating rural poverty. With internet connectivity and TV services, people in rural areas, particularly women and children, will have access to new sources of information and education. This will help to break the barriers of social and geographical isolation experienced in many rural areas. The project will help bridge the digital divide. The e-Schools Initiative sponsored by e-Africa commission through NEPAD will promote distance learning and will provide a linked ICT platform to all primary and secondary schools (urban and rural).

The RASCOM project is strongly aligned with the Bank Group’s core development policies and strategies as well as the Bank’s NEPAD objectives. RASCOM provides a model for public-private partnerships and will help create an enabling environment for private sector development in Africa.

UN’s Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Join to Examine Economic Costs of Climate Change to Africa

Filed under: Africa,Trans Africa,UN,Uncategorized,UNEP — Mr. Craig @ 6:34 pm

Two UN Arms Join Forces to Examine Economic Costs of Climate Change to Africa

UN News Service (New York)
NEWS
23 July 2007
Posted to the web 24 July 2007

By Abdoulie Janneh and Achim Steiner

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) today announced their intent to work together on African environment-related issues, including the economic costs of climate change and financing the shift to a low-carbon economy.

The heads of the two organs, ECA Executive Secretary Abdoulie Janneh and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, also decided to revise their existing agreement to cover such topics as environmental statistics, adaptation economics, sustainable production and consumption, during a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“In many respects, the environment is still seen as a tax on development, instead of an investment,” Mr. Steiner said, stressing that he hopes the ECA and UNEP will intensify their focus on the connections between economics and the environment.

While in Addis Ababa, where the ECA is headquartered, Mr. Steiner also met with other UN agency heads, as well as African Union Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konaré.

Do New Trade Deals Mean Africa “Loses” while EU “Gains”??

New Trade Deals – Continent to Lose Out As EU Gains

East African (Nairobi)
ANALYSIS
24 July 2007
Posted to the web 24 July 2007

By Gichinga Ndirangu
Nairobi
As Africa’s leaders met in Accra, Ghana, last week to consider ways of consolidating continental unity through increased trade, pertinent questions were being raised over the impact that a new trade arrangement between the European Union and the 75-member ACP trading bloc will have on regional integration.

At least four regional trading blocs in Africa – Comesa, Ecowas, EAC and SADC – are working towards establishing Customs Unions to reduce their dependence on the EU market and take advantage of regional economies of scale.

But as the clock ticks towards the end of 2007, the deadline for concluding negotiations between the ACP and EU, uncertainty looms on what will happen if the deadline is not met and the impact that a deal will have on the trade fortunes of individual countries within the regional blocs.

A deal between the ACP and EU will usher in a new trade framework based on reciprocity that will require agreement on uniform tariffs on at least 80 per cent of goods traded. This will effectively end years of preferential access enjoyed by the ACP countries, under which their goods entered the EU market duty-free even as EU exports to ACP markets attracted tariffs.

The current negotiations have been necessitated by the imminent expiry of the waiver granted by the WTO, which allowed the EU-ACP preferential trade arrangement to continue until the end of 2007. This has been viewed as discriminating against non-ACP members and in violation of WTO trade rules; it is also implicit that the EU wants a share of the pie by increasing exports to the ACP markets on more favourable terms.

But the entry of EU goods on more favourable terms has raised concerns that more efficient EU firms and subsidised agricultural goods will out-compete local enterprises involved in value-added production and farmers, thus limiting the benefits of regional integration to individual countries.

THE EU believes that the economic partnership agreement (EPA) negotiations will strengthen regional integration through more predictable trade policies, but the limited time left to conclude negotiations and the serious capacity constraints facing many ACP countries have raised concern that they actually risk slowing down regional integration.

A major concern is the isolation of members of the same regional trading blocs forced to negotiate under different EPA configurations, which now creates the risk of members of one regional bloc committing to different tariffs and trade liberalisation measures from those agreed upon under regional blocs.

For instance, Tanzania, though a member of the East African Community, is negotiating under the Southern African Development Community (SADC) while Kenya and Uganda negotiate under the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) configuration.

Yet, even as EPA negotiations raise mounting concern over their potential impact on the African trade blocs, the reality is that integration efforts in most regions have been slow due to cumbersome border controls, inefficient Customs administrations and poor transport infrastructure, which have limited intra-regional trade to an average 10 per cent for individual countries.

BUT DESPITE these difficulties, regional trade for some countries, like Kenya, has grown. A total of 49 per cent of Kenya’s exports are now destined for other African countries, dominated by the Comesa region, while the EU takes up 25 per cent of the country’s exports.

However, the EU still remains an important market destination for many ACP countries as a result of limited intra-regional trade. For instance, whereas the EU absorbs 49 per cent of Ghana’s exports, the country exports an insignificant 2.6 per cent to neighbouring Benin – a situation replicated in many other African countries.

Even as the EU market remains a prime destination, it is ridden by uncertainties over constantly changing criteria of eligibility, especially from EU consumers and the private sector. Strict sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures, pesticide traceability criteria and other health certification standards are among the most challenging non-tariff barriers to trade facing exports into the EU.

Under EPAs, the different regional configurations will be expected to liberalise at least 80 per cent of their trade over an average 12-year period, even though many African countries favour a time frame pegged on the achievement of specified development indicators rather than arbitrary timelines. This approach is intended to allow local enterprises prepare adequately for competition from EU firms.

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has warned that the EU stands to benefit the most from a reciprocal trade arrangement with the ACP countries. In particular, the EU would benefit from improved access to regional markets, while African countries are likely to lose out on intra-regional trade.

FOR INSTANCE, intra-regional trade in the Comesa region is expected to decline by 5.8 per cent, which translates into a loss of $242 million. On its part, the EU stands to increase exports to Comesa to the tune of $1,152 million under a new trade arrangement based on reciprocity.

The situation is replicated in West Africa, where the ECA estimates that Ecowas countries could lose trade worth $365 million to EU competitors, who are expected to increase their exports by an estimated $1.87 billion into this regional market.

These trends emphasise the relative efficiency of EU firms over local enterprises, which will result in increased presence of EU products in their markets, hence eating into the share of individual country exports within these markets.

Indeed, with an anticipated elimination of existing tariffs on at least 80 per cent of the ACP’s trade with the EU, it is estimated that regional trade in ACP countries will decline by about 22 per cent, which will translate into a loss of jobs and investment in different regions.

Rwanda is, for instance, expected to increase its imports from the EU from the current 27.4 per cent to 32.2 per cent, even though a large number of these imports could be sourced locally and hence help augment trade in industrial goods. The ECA warns that, “This threatens to weaken regional integration efforts as Comesa countries could significantly lose out to the benefit of the EU countries, especially Belgium, France, Germany and Netherlands.”

KENYA’S DEVELOPMENT strategy, which is increasingly shifting emphasis to regional markets, is also expected to experience the effects of the EU’s foray into key regional markets like Comesa, which accounted for an estimated 67 per cent of the country’s manufactured exports (excluding agro-processed products) in 2003 compared with 9 per cent to the EU market.

Currently, Kenya’s trade with Comesa stands at nearly Ksh80 billion ($1.2 billion), an increase of Ksh19.3 billion ($288 million) over the 2005 earnings totaling Ksh60.7 billion ($906 million). This has made the region Kenya’s most significant trading partner.

However, as the main destination for Kenya’s agricultural exports, the EU remains a significant market, accounting for 25 per cent of total exports, while Africa takes up 49 per cent. A full 37 per cent of Kenya’s total exports to Africa go to the Comesa region.

THE KENYA Institute of Public Policy Research and Analysis (Kippra) estimates that Kenya stands to lose 15 per cent of its regional trade under an EPA. It adds that Kenya will lose out to the EU, especially in exports of manufactured products to the EAC and Comesa.

“This will undermine the country’s trade in value-added goods and increase dependence on primary exports, narrow the range of products that Kenya currently trades in as well as the diversity of its trading partners,” observes Kippra.

Given the fears that a broad liberalisation of trade with the EU could adversely impact on intra-regional trade, negotiators must try for a less ambitious liberalisation, excluding higher-value products traded among individual African countries, even as the EU seeks a more ambitious regime encompassing broad tariff reduction.

Gichinga Ndirangu is a lawyer and trade policy analyst based in Nairobi

Knowledge Management Africa (KMA)launches the “Knowledge Hub “

Filed under: Africa,quality of life,responsibility,Trans Africa,Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 6:16 pm

African Knowledge Hub Launched

The Voice (Francistown)
NEWS
24 July 2007
Posted to the web 24 July 2007

The Knowledge Management Africa (KMA) has launched the Knowledge Hub at its second biennial conference in Nairobi, Kenya. This Knowledge Hub, according to information from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), will serve as a central point of access to all information and knowledge management, services and products and all development related topics in Africa. It is intended to be a central depository of Knowledge and Information on all development related topics in Africa.

Speaking at the conference, Paul Baloyi, DBSA Chief Executive Officer said, “The hub will provide users throughout the African continent with access to reliable and efficient information. Our intention with the hub is to encourage users to use knowledge-based information in their decision-making on issues related to, amongst others, health, education, tourism, poverty and communication”.

KMA initiative is intended to promote knowledge as an enabler for African development. It facilitates the harnessing of knowledge to improve development outcomes in Africa in the socio-economic spheres. KMA also encapsulates an undertaking to support relevant research from institutions based in Africa.

The conference forms an integral part of these initiatives by bringing together key partners from around the continent to share their best practices.

“We encourage academics and researchers to not only use the hub to access information, but to register their case studies so that users can have access to valuable information”, said Snowy Khoza, DBSA Executive Manager and Chairperson of KMA.

The KMA plans to work with various other development agencies to promote the development of infrastructure, as well as play a role in addressing the challenges of endemic diseases such as HIV and Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis.

“We need to emphasise the need to develop Africa, eradicate poverty and reverse dependency. DBSA is making efforts to address these challenges including the development of human capacity and developing innovative technologies that are sustainable and suitable for Africa,” concluded Baloyi.

The KMA conference took place in Nairobi, Kenya from 17th to 19th July 2007.

US State Department Calls AGOA Forum a Success

Trade Forum Proves Networking Success

United States Department of State (Washington, DC)
NEWS
23 July 2007
Posted to the web 24 July 2007

By Jim Fisher-Thompson
Accra
The expansion of export trade in Africa is leading to more jobs and prosperity. This is happening, in part, because of the networking program created by U.S. legislation passed seven years ago to replace aid with trade as the engine for economic growth on the continent, a State Department official says.

The Sixth Annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, held in Accra July 18-19, was “very positive and a success,” says Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer, because “it brought together the business sector, the NGO [nongovernmental organization] and the government sector all in one place and it was very much focused on practical steps to realize the total benefits of the AGOA legislation.”

Frazer spoke with USINFO while returning to the United States July 20.

Thirty-nine sub-Saharan nations now are eligible for the duty and quota-free entry of 6,400 of their products into the U.S. market under AGOA. Although oil and gas account for more than 80 percent of those exports, the United States is expanding programs meant to build up agricultural capacity to diversity Africa’s exports. In 2006, $394 million was devoted to such capacity-building programs.

In Accra, thousands of participants from NGOs like the Leon Sullivan Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation met with African entrepreneurs and U.S. businesses like the Coca-Cola Company and Caterpillar (a manufacturer of industrial vehicles) while interacting with 139 U.S. officials and trade experts in Accra to obtain tips on how to enter the U.S. market.

The forum also featured a business exhibition where dozens of Ghanaian firms advertised their wares and services to interested U.S. buyers and investors. The business fair was arranged in part by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which also operates a regional trade hub in Accra that offers advice and guidance on business opportunities in the United States.

Frazer said that, during her talks at the conference, “One of the things that was most striking was that [Ghanian} President [John] Kufuor indicated an interest in deepening our trade relationship by looking at the possibility of a free-trade agreement and we are certainly interested in this.”

DARFUR

Frazer said she also had a number of meetings in Accra with African officials on the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan.

She noted that Ghana currently is a member of the U.N. Security Council, its president is head of the African Union, and the United States is “negotiating the Security Council resolution to authorize the hybrid [AU-U.N. peacekeeping] force” in Darfur.

Frazer said many of her bilateral meetings in Accra on the Darfur crisis addressed ways to achieve:

• Agreement among African countries for a robust mandate for the peacekeeping operation;

• Clarity on the unity of command to ensure an effective operation; and

• An early transition date — by October 1 – by which the hybrid force can take over from the AU-AMIS force with its 7,000 troops on the ground.

Following the talks, Frazer said she saw progress being made on addressing the conflict in Darfur.

“It’s clear that the Africans support a robust mandate, after all it’s their troops on the ground there right now” outnumbered by marauders called the Janjaweed. “So, they have the experience of AMIS not having a sufficient mandate to protect civilian lives.”

At the same time, Frazer said, officials with whom she spoke made it clear “they wanted an early transition [to the hybrid force] because it’s their [AU] forces on the ground that do not have the financing, logistical support or planning capabilities that this [U.N.-supported] hybrid [force] will bring.”

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

Africa Needs a Common Policy On Pastoralism (Wandering Livestock Raising and Grazing)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 6:08 pm

Continent Needs a Common Policy On Pastoralism

East African (Nairobi)
NEWS
24 July 2007
Posted to the web 24 July 2007

By Fred Oluoch
Nairobi
African countries will soon be required to embrace a common policy on pastoralism to reduce rural poverty and meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Faced with challenges such as climatic change and conflicts, agricultural experts in Africa are concerned that the survival of pastoralism as a livelihood will depend on a comprehensive livestock development policy designed to increase productivity.

Such a policy must also promote market access and ensure sustainable use of natural resources and protection of the environment.

Consultations are currently going on among various organs of the African Union (AU) to formulate a pastoral policy for Africa to be adopted by the AU heads of state summit in July 2008. It should then lead to legislation.

Pastoralist leaders, government officials and experts from 15 African countries met for a three-day workshop at Sarova Shaba Lodge in Isiolo, Kenya, to kick-start the process of coming up with a common pastoral policy for Africa.

The meeting was organised by the AU’s Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources and the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Participants included representatives from pastoralist groups and governments from across Africa, experts on livestock management, and representatives from the East African Community, the Economic Community of West African States, the Central African Economic Community and Unicef.

Participants argued that a continental policy is essential for a sustainable pastoral livelihood system.

In East Africa, for example, policy makers in government and other development actors understand little about the livestyle of pastoralists. They also do not recognise that mobile herding systems are rotational and efficient use of arid and semi-arid lands.

The new policy is expected to revolve around six major constraints – governance; land access; education; markets and financial services; conflicts and poverty; risks and vulnerability.

While forecasts of Africa’s population growth show a rapid urbanisation in the next few decades – resulting in a rapid increase in demand for livestock products in urban areas – there is no indication that pastoralists are prepared to meet this increased demand.

Data from various sources shows that pastoralists are the most politically and economically marginalised, have less access to resources (land, water, pasture) and basic services such as health and education and suffer from increased insecurity, perennial conflict, poverty, environmental degradation and exposure to climatic risks.

A major milestone could be the proposal that the new policy include livestock insurance, through which an index insurance system – now being experimented with in Mongolia – would offer safety nets and compensation for losses due to natural calamities such as drought.

But more challenging for the proponents of the continental pastoral policy is that most governments in Africa – where pastoralists are a minority – have been pushing pastoralists to abandon the lifestyle “because it is not viable and degrades the environment.”

Notably, pastoralists are mainly found in countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea and Chad, that frequently experience conflicts among pastoralists over water and pasture.

In these countries, the priority is the survival of the state. But even in relatively peaceful countries, governments have more pressing issues that they prefer to deal with rather than commit resources to provide services to the pastoralists.

Anab Abdulkadir, the MP for Awere in pastoralist-dominated eastern Ethiopia, argued that pastoralists needed to qualify know what they contribute to the economy and what they ought to get back in terms of services and infrastructure.

This is because despite the fact that pastoralism offers a viable production system that enables huge arid and semi-arid areas to be used productively, the budgets allocated to livestock production in Africa are consistently lower than its share of the gross domestic product.

Considering that over 70 per cent of the land in pastoral areas is unsuitable for agriculture, livestock production remains the most viable.

Mohammed Salah, Algeria’s Permanent Secretary for Rural Development, said the mistake that most African governments make is to pretend to be deciding on behalf of pastoralists, while the only solution is to ask them first how they want their issues to be addressed before embarking on any policy.

Pastoral areas occupy 40 per cent of Africa’s land mass. In Kenya, this figure is 80 per cent of the country’s land area, which hosts 10 million people.

Some 70 per cent of the total livestock population and 90 per cent of the wildlife population inhabit the area.

According to 2005 statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organisation, there are about 235 million cattle, 472 million goats, 21 million pigs and 1.3 billion poultry in Africa, valued at $65 billion.

Apart from livestock, some pastoral areas have important strategic resources such as minerals and oil reserves. In Chad and Sudan, many mineral and oil deposits are found in areas classified as pastoral.

Participants at the workshop noted that, in most cases, pastoral livelihoods depend on exchange of pastoral products for agricultural ones, but the terms of exchange are often in favour of agriculturalists, whereas pastoralists have to dispose of their animals under unfavourable conditions.

Postoralists are also hard hit by the export of cheap European livestock products such as powdered milk to Africa.

According to Ali Wario, the chairman of the Kenya Pastoralist Parliamentary Group, pastoralists have no access to bank loans because livestock is not recognised as collateral.

In addition, they are not benefiting from the tourism industry even though they have protected and co-existed with wild animals all their lives.

Still, difficulties abound that pastoralism is a cross-border issue, “How many governments will be willing to change their national laws such as those governing the movement of livestock, animal diseases and taxation?”

Pastoral production systems have little or no regard for state borders, mainly because they are driven by the need for pasture and water for livestock.

These movements sometimes promote the spread of trans-border animal and human diseases and provoke farmer-pastoralist conflicts. .

Abdia Mohamud, a board member of the Network of Pastoralist Women in Kenya, which is based in Isiolo, suggested that African governments come out clearly and state whether they believe that pastoralism is a threat to the environment and a contributor to desertification.

She said that, in Kenya, for example, a foreign plant -Prosopis juliflora (mathenge) – had been introduced to fight desertification in pastoralist areas, but ended up being poisonous to both livestock and humans.

Daoud Tari Abkula, a Kenyan who works with the Pastoralist Communication Initiative in Ethiopia, said the new policy must address issues of diversity without undermining the common factors that unite pastoralists everywhere in Africa.

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