Craig Eisele on …..

March 28, 2008

Infrastructure Development Tops AfDB Projects in Africa

I have read the article below and am in awe of the lack of strategic planning and the failure of appropriate methodology to bring to Africa this much needed Infrastructure. This lack of this basic “backbone” infrastructure is what hold Africa back more than any other issue that faces Africa today. Trying to develop Africa in the same way as North America or Europe is NOT feasible. There has to be a unique and special plan such as the one developed by Trans-African Development  Strategies and the sister Company Trans African Development Company to bring this “backbone” Infrastructure to fruition. The current approach will hold Africa back for at least 50 years. When I read articles like this I can honestly say I am furious at the lack of true understanding… but then I remember that organizations like AfDB are NOT inclined to think “outside the box” …. As those who know me will tell you I subscribe to the basic philosophy “If you cannot solve the problem you are facing…. then you are facing the wrong problem” If AfDB and others would redefine the problem as I have then the realistic and implementable solutions would be obvious!!! But I have tried to discuss this with AfDB and others… and to my dismay they are not interested in even considering anything but the “Status Quo” thus dooming Africa and it’s people to decades of unnecessary poverty and suffering. My offer to AfDB and others interested in truly and honestly solving these and other issues that face Africa remains open but I am NOT optimistic that closed minded individuals will ever consider other pragmatic approaches.
Infrastructure development tops AfDB projects in Africa
 
 
The announcement was made during a recent conference on African infrastructure held in Senegal, which brought together donors, government ministers, and representatives of regional bodies such as the African Union and its intergovernmental development initiative, NEPAD.
An AfDB press release notes that the promised funds will come from the bank’s low-interest lending window, the African Development Fund (ADF). In December, the Bank secured commitments from donors to contribute a record $8.9 billion to replenish the ADF for the next three years.
It has earlier been reported that the loans will finance regional infrastructure projects, including the construction of “a number of major road and rail projects aimed at crisscrossing the continent with transport corridors.”
Proposed projects would include transcontinental transportation corridors that would require a huge outpouring of money. They would serve to benefit exporters and, by extension, transnational companies that profit the most from Africa’s commodities.Some of the more ambitious proposed projects include the construction of “Trans-African highway projects to connect Beira in Mozambique to Lobito in Angola, Dakar in Senegal to Lagos in Nigeria, and Lagos to Mombassa in Kenya.”
While Africa suffers from an acute lack of infrastructure, it is important to consider what type of infrastructure is most needed to help alleviate poverty on the continent. By and large, transcontinental highways and railroads will require a huge outpouring of money and serve to benefit exporters and, by extension, transnational companies that profit the most from Africa’s commodities. Roads and high-quality railroads are indeed necessary to move goods to and from land-locked countries such as Uganda.
The sheer scale of transcontinental projects, however, could distract effort and funds from these more manageable projects, and in the end the more grandiose projects have a higher likelihood of being abandoned because of unmet expectations.
At the same time, Africa’s poor will likely remain cut off by the lack of basic local road networks and adversely affected by the intense footprint that such large-scale physical infrastructure projects often entail.
A recent study by International Rivers and Environmental Defense also shows that large, capital-intensive infrastructure projects such as these tend to be the most prone to corruption. Questions also remain as to whether the AfDB has the requisite experience to identify and mitigate the serious potential impacts of these projects, and whether it wields sufficient leverage to ensure that its social and environmental safeguards, which are strong on paper, are enforced.
Since it resumed regular operations after facing a financial crisis in the early 1990’s, the AfDB has sought to define itself as a lender with special expertise on infrastructure in Africa. It has consistently allocated a significant portion of its lending to the sector, and was chosen to coordinate regional infrastructure initiatives, such as NEPAD’s Infrastructure Action Plan and the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA). However, the AfDB has made limited progress in its convening role, and few of its ambitious plans to create regional energy, transportation, and water initiatives under NEPAD have come to fruition.
While African governments appear keen to benefit from this and other regional infrastructure schemes, it remains unclear the extent to which this latest initiative is demand-driven or being pursued at the behest of donors. The lion’s share of new donor commitments at the AfDB have been earmarked for infrastructure, while a new high-level panel (see “High-level panel issues report on prospects for African Development Bank”) on the Bank recognizes that the board of the ADF is disproportionately influenced by its donors. A recent Financial Times article suggests that AfDB President Donald Kaberuka “is facing dissent from some African staff concerned that efforts to carve out an independent role for the AfDB are being undermined by some western donors.”

November 19, 2007

Intra-Regional Trade an Imperative for Africa

‘Intra-Regional Trade an Imperative for Africa’
The Herald (Harare)

NEWS
8 November 2007
Posted to the web 8 November 2007

By Victoria Ruzvidzo
Harare
Intra-Regional trade in Africa is not an option but an imperative for the African continent to sustainably eradicate poverty, unemployment and poor health systems among its challenges.

This came out strongly here yesterday as the Trade Policy Training Centre in Africa (Trapca) annual conference entered its third day.

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Overall, Africa was not ready to sign such agreements as the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) from its current weak position but needed to build capacity through increased trade within regional groups such as Sadc, Comesa, Ecowas and Sacu. Presently there was not much trade activity within due to a myriad of challenges that included tariff barriers, misconceptions about the quality of local products and other perceptions that led many to believe that products from the continent were inferior to what the rest of the world produced.

Zimbabwe is a member of both Sadc and Comesa. There was heated debate yesterday regarding the status quo on the continent. Poor trade within regions was reflected in low socio-economic growth and the continent’s inability to claim a significant share of global trade despite its rich endowment of natural resources.

Africa commanded only 2,3 percent of world trade. Intra-Africa trade was the lowest at 14 percent compared to other regions such as the European Union whose figure stood at 60 percent and the North Atlantic Free Trade Area, which was at 50 percent.

“This indicates that we need to do more to trade amongst ourselves. We should value this kind of trade to ensure that we become more competitive as a continent,” said Mr Fudzai Pamacheche, a Zimbabwean who heads the African Union’s Private Sector Development, Investment and Resource Mobilisation division based in Ethiopia. Regions needed to develop their trade capacities and infrastructure while taking the trade debate to a higher level that included not just Government representatives but the private sector as well.

Leaving out the private sector had been a major drawback in fostering intra-regional trade while also compromising Africa’s position in world trade negotiations. “In most instances we forget the key players involved, which is the private sector. Negotiations should be all-inclusive in character so that they become easy to implement. Involving all stakeholders is critical to allow everyone to make an input,” said Mr Pamacheche.

A delegate from Zambia also remarked that Africans lived under the misconception that selling their products to America was much better than trading with other African countries. “We are our own enemies. We have to defeat that notion so that we boost intra-regional trade and negotiate from a position of strength,” he said.

A senior lecturer at the University of Buea in Cameroon Dr Ernest Molua challenged the continent to put its act together and look inwards before negotiating trade pacts elsewhere. “There have been a lot of missed opportunities to promote trade amongst ourselves,” he said. To enhance trade, it was important that African countries liberalised trade amongst themselves. This could be done through reduction of tariffs, more efficient customs systems, increased political will to promote trade and the adoption of appropriate exchange rate policies.

Furthermore, it was essential that countries diversified their exports.

United Nations Development Programme International Policy Advisor based in Mongolia Dr Koffi Addo challenged the continent to move with the times and realise that world trade polices were largely influenced by regional trade arrangements. “We should trade more among ourselves before we think of America, United Kingdom etc. Trade is the engine for economic growth and prosperity,” he said. This was echoed by the Minister Consular (Trade) at the Zimbabwean consulate based in Johannesburg Mrs Constance Zhanje who drew much applause when she remarked that it was all about attitude.

“In Africa we need to start changing our attitudes because if we don’t, nobody will. Why should we see some countries buying water from Europe when we have it here,” she said. In his official opening remarks on Monday, Swazi leader King Mswati lll challenged the continent to improve trade within itself. “It is noteworthy that intra-regional trade is critical to economic development and poverty reduction in Least Developed Countries (LCDs) given that regional integration offers better markets while creating a bigger domestic territory amongst countries.

“It is, therefore, important for us to explore ways of modernising trade facilitations in order to encourage more trade amongst countries in the same region,” he said.

Zimbabwe is represented by Mrs Zhanje and two International trade experts from the Ministry of Industry and International trade.

September 9, 2007

East African Leaders Interested in African People or African Markets?? Scathing Op-Ed Piece

East African Leaders Go Into Slow Motion

Weekly Trust (Kaduna)
OPINION
4 September 2007
Posted to the web 4 September 2007

By Dr. Tajudeen Abdulraheem
Kaduna
At the historic summit of the AU in Accra in July President Yoweri, Kaguta Museveni of Uganda, was one of the surpriseed pro-gradualism leaders who made it easy for the other leaders principally led by South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki, who are only interested in Africa and Africans as markets rather than peoples, to gain their pyrrhic victory.

His reasons for becoming a latter day gradualist at the continental level while he had been a faster-faster unionist and ardent promoter of the political federation of East Africa was that regional integration needed to be consolidated because there was more likelihood of convergence on economic, social, political and even historical non state linkages that would make this possible. That was the mantra of all leaders in Accra. Many of them not known for caring much about their people’s wishes also became listening leaders in Accra, arguing that the bulk of the people have not been consulted. How one wishes that this love for consulting the people was genuine! How many of them bother to even consult their own cabinet, parliament or political parties before signing away the future of their countries to foreigners in the name of encouraging investment? Did any one of them subject their neo-liberal policies to the masses’ consent?

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The main political gain in Accra for those of us who believe in immediate political union was that nobody, no head of state argued against political union. What they lacked was just the courage to agree to concrete steps towards it, instead they heed behind ‘step by step’ and the need to consolidate regional economic communities (RECs) which was a very seductive argument but used to subvert the African Unity agenda. For instance, if indeed post apartheid South Africa had been interested in regional integration in the SADC region instead of just expanded markets for South African goods and services that region could have been more integrated with full freedom of movement by now. Confronted with the prospects of African Union, President Mbeki suddenly discovered the virtue of regional integration!

President Museveni must be reflecting over his Accra opportunistic switch now that his pet dream of faster political integration and federation of East Africa has been deferred at the recent summit of the East African states.

How can you argue for gradualism at the continental level and not concede the same at the regional level and also at the national level? That is the ridiculous but logical conclusion of the gradualist argument on Pan Africanism. They will never be ready.

In the 1960s, they used to argue that the nations newly liberated from colonialism were too young, needed consolidation therefore, could not go for political union continentally. More than four decades for most of them not many of them have been united. If gradualism is the route we should all be one happy family in the various countries but are we? So now they have shifted the goal post to ‘let us unite the region first’. And even that they want to do gradually!

Even those of us who believe in immediate union have no illusions that it would happen over night, but if we agree that destination the way we approach it will be radically different. We will give the required political authority and financial resources to the AU to carry out clearly defined functions on our behalf and align our regional and national policies accordingly. The RECs route would have been more sensible if there are not many of them wrecking any prospects of unity. We declare them to be the building blocs of the Pan African Enterprise but for more than four decades we have remained at the foundation level!

Actually, we keep building new foundations. Hence our states belong to more than one regional economic groupings. If you have so many foundations, when are you going to finish the building?

There are practical reasons why the East African Federation timeliness needed to be changed given its recent enlargement with the ascension to full membership by Rwanda and Burundi but these are not enough to halt the match towards political union. The presidents must stop looking at these issues as either/or.

How can the EAC leaders expect to negotiate the European Union dictated Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAS) regionally or form custom unions when they all belong to more than one regional economic block? Tanzania which ironically is now the most reluctant regional integrator ( Nyerere must be turning in his grave because he even offered to delay Tanzania’s independence for the sake of greater East Africa!) is in SADC in addition to all of them being in EAC and COMESA. The same is true among West African States and in the SADC countries.

They are talking about aligning economies that they do not control. The Chinese, Asians and globalisation are already aligning us forcibly and you can see them across this continent. Our only leverage is to have the political will to act together instead of being picked one by one to the slaughter house! These African leaders have to stop treating African unity as an ala carte menu. They are either committed to it in total and take necessary steps including abandoning their narrow ‘big man in Africa’ complexes which they conveniently interpreter as ‘sovereignty issues’ or quit deceiving us with a unity agenda that in effect mean ‘NOT IN MY LIFE TIME.’

August 21, 2007

East Africa Region to Have Single Currency by 2012

Region to Have Single Currency by 2012

New Vision (Kampala)
NEWS
20 August 2007
Posted to the web 21 August 2007

By Felix Osike
Kampala
THE East African heads of state yesterday resolved to have a common market and a single currency by 2012, then move on to a political federation.

While noting the overwhelming support of East Africans for a political federation, the leaders decided to “move expeditiously towards establishing a common market and a monetary union by 2012.”

The common market would allow the free circulation of goods and movement of the people within the region. To ease this, one common passport will be used within the five countries.

The decision came after most Tanzanians rejected the proposal to fast-track the East Africa political federation whose ultimate objective was to have a federal president and parliament by 2013. Tanzania wants a gradual movement towards the federation.

After hours of a closed-door meeting at Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge in Arusha, the leaders called for more time for consultations to take place in Rwanda and Burundi.

A statement issued at the end of the meeting said the leaders, after considering the reports of the national consultative committees, “noted the need to mobilise and deepen sensitisation on political integration and stimulate greater political will to promote deeper economic integration.”

Presidents Yoweri Museveni, Mwai Kibaki (Kenya), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania), Amani Abeid Karume (Zanzibar) and Burundi’s second Vice-president Gabriel Ntisezerana attended the meeting.

The leaders of Rwanda and Burundi, who were attending the summit for the first time since their admission last month, were asked to speed up the process of integrating fully in the customs union which came into force on January 1, 2005.

The chairman of the Council of Ministers, Eriya Kategaya, said negotiations among partner states on the common market starts next month.

Museveni, who chaired the summit, added that although there was overwhelming support for the fast tracking process in Kenya and Uganda, there was less support from Tanzania mainly because of questions regarding land, employment, security and other natural resources.

“These questions are easy to answer and cannot form an obstacle at all,” Museveni observed.

According to the findings, most Tanzanians were afraid their country risked being infected with ethnicity problems and corruption that characterise politics in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. There is also the fear of loss of sovereignty.

Tanzanians also fear Kenyans will take advantage to migrate to Tanzania and take up legal rights there.

There was broad consensus from the five partner states that the East African Community should negotiate one economic partnership agreement with the European Union. However, Tanzania rejected a proposal backed by the four nations to allow other countries in it.

The summit also adjusted various administrative and financial systems geared at accommodating Rwanda and Burundi.

The membership of the Legislative Assembly will now increase to 55 members from the current 33.

In his address, Museveni urged the leaders to ensure that the process towards regional integration was not reversed. “All the options are leading to progress and not to stagnation that has characterised the last 50 years in Africa.”

He said even for the 13 original colonies to agree to form a nucleus of the United States of America was not easy.

“We are all now worshipping the USA instead of worshipping God. The Latin American Spanish colonies which after independence acted differently are now far behind the USA in all aspects of human endeavour.

“Europe which was the epitome of fragmentation, war, bigotry etc is also waking up,” he asserted.

“Some leaders are talking of United States of Africa. Do not under-estimate this view. Eventually, small countries of West Africa have found out, from the experience of the last 50 years of independence that without unity they cannot manage. It is a good movement; it needs to be harnessed carefully,” Museveni warned.

Museveni said Africa was the cradle of mankind and civilisation yet it in the last 500 years, “it has bled, been humiliated and lagged behind other continents.”

“Fifty years after independence, all African countries except South Africa, are still third world countries regardless of whether they have had a violent history or not,” he added.

He attributed this to the past leaders and the ancestors. “African leaders, past and present are responsible primarily for the misfortunes of Africa,” he commented.

He also remarked that after independence African leaders failed to “move strategically in order to immunise Africa or insure Africa against future re-colonisation, marginalisation or even extermination of her peoples.”

He paid tribute to the late Tanzanian President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere for his strong stance against balkanisation of African countries.

“Ever since my youth, I have been a supporter of the formation of the federation of East Africa. That is why I became a strong follower of Mwalimu Nyerere,” he remarked.

August 17, 2007

Africa: Infrastructures Are Priority For SADC Regional Integration

Infrastructures Are Priority For SADC Regional Integration

Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)
NEWS
17 August 2007
Posted to the web 17 August 2007
Lusaka
Developing transport, communications, and energy infrastructures is a priority for economic regional integration of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

All heads of state and of government of the SADC member countries agreed on this at the opening session of the organization’s 27th summit in Lusaka on Thursday.

Regional integration is high in the agenda of the summit, along with the crisis in the neighbouring Zimbabwe.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawassa, who started his rotative mandate as the organization’s chairperson, taking over from Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, said that he is very much aware of the challenges and of his responsibility to the organization and to the entire region.

In his inauguration speech as the new SADC chairperson, Mwanawassa said that it is ‘with great sense of humility that I accept this honour and I assume the chairpersonship of SADC and I assume it in the name of the government of Zambia. I am aware of the huge challenges of leading the implementation of the common SADC agenda and the priorities set up in the Regional Indicative Strategic Plan’.

One of this plan’s priorities is to develop infrastructures, which is seen as a basic element for the regional integration.

The plan is focusing on the relief of poverty and equity distribution of wealth among the SADC member countries.

SADC executive secretary Tomas Salomao said that the summit, that is running under the theme ‘Development of Infrastructures in Support of Regional Integration’ stressed the importance of the meeting, supporting the words of the outgoing Mosisili, during a plenary, also attended by former Zambia Presidents Kanneth Kaunda and Frederick Chiluba.

In his speech, Mwanawassa urged all region leaders to work together to meet the commitments taken during the last summit, in Maseru, on flexibilising the regional integration, because ‘ only thus the organization will continue progress in the ways achieved since its creation, with all member countries mobilizing resources for a common end’, he said.

‘We must continue working together next year to improve our capacities , and use regional integration as a way to attain high levels and sustainable socio-economic and levels, which are key elements for the SADC region to increment its influence, both in the African continent and internationally’, said Mwanawassa.

He said that to attain this target, one must necessarily work together and mobilize resources and the capacity for all countries through the creation of a SADC Development Fund, agreed upon during the extraordinary summit in Midrand, in South Africa, in October 2006.

The fund is to cover the infrastructures development programme, that is part of the New Partnership for African Development Programme (NEPAD), and this will stimulate intra and inter-regional communications.

Zambia has already embarked on a number of projects to improve roads, aiming at the development of its communications network with other SADC member countries.

Speaking of the regional integration, Mwanawassa admitted that ‘all SADC members states are, one way or another, committed in trade negotiations at sub-regional, regional and multilateral levels that, most probably, will generate significant results in the future’, and for that end, ‘it is the task of the member states to ensure the instruments of trade agreements may contribute to the promotion of the interests of Africa’, he said.

Among the challenges SADC is facing at the moment are the consolidation of the Free Trade Area, which highly depends on modernization or innovation of production infrastructures, the continuation of some trade barriers between some of the member countries, due to their multiple participation in various programmes in SADC and other African regions’ integration programmes, and also the issue of food security, that affected Southern Africa lately, among others.

Mwanawassa called for the respect for the calendar for a full Free Trade liberalization.

He also called for the setting up of an organization of a full institutional mechanism to flexibilize the processes toward a Customs Union as some of the priorities of his country’s chairpersonship of the organization.

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