Can African small farmers benefit from global trade?


Comments icon 3 comments July 24, 2014

By Eoghan Molloy, Senior Evaluation Analyst/Associate Manager FAO, Rome; until recently Policy Analyst at OECD Development Centre, Paris, contributing to the African Economic Outlook 2014.

Agriculture employs two thirds of Africa’s labour force and accounts for one third of the continent’s GDP. However, it is also the least integrated of all African economic sectors into international trade.

This may be changing, though, as new evidence suggests: horticulture exports from Africa increased more than six fold in one decade outpacing global growth averages and doubling its world export share.

The challenge remains, however, to ensure that African farmers benefit from global value chains. At the very least, how can they be equipped to adapt to the changing dynamics of the agricultural sector?

Going green and social may help African countries diversify products and find niche markets. Developing new varieties of products is a key element of successful strategies in many global value chains.

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Stamping out the FGM practice

Kenya leads the way


Comments icon 8 comments July 15, 2014

By Ruth Njeng’ere Lehmann, Communications Officer, Equality Now, Kenya

Kenya’s political context is currently charged, and the good things can easily go unnoticed. One example is the fact that Kenya has made remarkable progress in fighting female genital mutilation (FGM).

The National Assembly has showed its determination to protect girls, raising questions regarding the FGM cases reported since the enactment of the Prohibition of the FGM Act (2011).

Kenya recorded the highest decline in Africa, with prevalence rates falling to to 27% from 38 % in 1998. Out of Kenya’s 42 tribes, 38 have traditionally practiced FGM; a few still have extremely high rates.

FGM is very much a global problem. The beliefs and customs that lead to it, as well as the girls who are subjected to it, cross borders—in Africa as well as in Europe, USA and elsewhere.

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AU undermines jurisdiction of its court

What next in the battle against impunity?


Comments icon 1 comments July 10, 2014

By Alex Obote-Odora, Consultant in International Criminal Law and Policy, Stockholm.

Last week, the African Union (AU) amended the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights to provide for blanket immunity from prosecution for African leaders.

The amendment creates an exceptionalism only enjoyed by African leaders. It shields them and their cronies from accountability. This obnoxious law must be challenged by all persons of good will.

The rights of leaders are always tempered and balanced by their duty and obligation to protect the rights of citizens. All acts of a leader must be carried out within agreed legal frameworks.

This decision by the AU leaders is gross abuse of power and a dereliction of duty. ICC’s difficulties in prosecuting Heads of State do not translate into extending immunity to all African leaders.

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Aid and its implications for governance

Malawi marks 50 years of 'independence'.

Khumbo Bonzoe Soko

Comments icon 1 comments July 6, 2014

By Khumbo Bonzoe Soko, Malawian lawyer, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK; regular social and political commentator on Malawi.

Today, 50 years to the day when Malawi became an independent state, it’s important to accentuate the discussion on aid to Malawi as one of the most aid dependent countries in the world.

In any serious debate on the implications of aid for Malawi, no area will be as important as that of governance, i.e. ‘the exercise of political power to manage a nation’s affairs’.

It is impossible to talk of governance in Malawi without mentioning aid. Donors,or development partners as we euphemistically call them, have always had a say in our governance.

As we celebrate the golden jubilee of our independence we will need to find ways of growing our economy to such levels that we are able to govern ourselves without outside help.

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Understanding the violent conflict in CAR


July 3, 2014

By Gabriella Ingerstad, Analyst, Department for Peace Support Operations, Studies in African Security, Swedish Defence Research Agency FOI.

Since the Séléka rebels took power in the CAR in early 2013, violence has escalated in the country. More than one million people have been forced to flee and thousands have been killed.

The conflict has resulted in polarisation of Christians and Muslims, but calling the conflict religious or ethnic is simplistic and does little to help understand the causes of the violence.

Instability has reigned in CAR for a long time and armed groups challenging the government is nothing new, although previous violence never reached the levels seen over the past year.

To re-establish security, protect civilians and deliver humanitarian assistance must be a priority in the short term. There are some lessons to be learned from previous peace-building attempts in CAR.

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Confessions of a Terrorist

A book review


Comments icon 3 comments June 30, 2014

By Atunga Atuti O.J., Chief Executive Officer, East African School of Human Rights, Nairobi, Kenya; Editor, Journal of Human Rights and Democracy.


We never get to hear the terrorists themselves explain the reasons that drive them to take some of the actions they take, the motivations and goals that drive them to join campaigns of terror.

A renowned scholar on security and terrorism has authored a novel, which seeks to offer terrorists a voice to explicate the motives, goals, and expected outcomes of terrorist activities.

The novel goes beyond the prevailing narratives of terrorist behaviour and delves into the thought processes of a terrorist giving us unique insights into the ‘mind’ of a terrorist.

The book is especially useful for East Africa where many countries are battling al-Shabbab militants in an environment where the anti-terrorism units seem to be chasing shadows.

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A Culture of Wrong Priorities

Root cause of the leadership challenges of African countries

John Akile Sr

Comments icon 1 comments June 27, 2014

By John I. Akhile Sr, President,

Author of Unleashed: A New Paradigm of African Trade

For most African leaders, the immediate post-independence period was a euphoric arrival at their destination. But for Asian leaders, there was the weight of the awesome realization that they were responsible for managing the affairs of their people and countries.

For them the challenge of defending the nation from external threats, providing stable employment for their people and ushering in prosperity for the nation was a worthy goal, requiring that they hurl all the resources at their disposal towards its achievement.

There are no challenges facing African countries that cannot be resolved by leaders who concentrate on the task of resolving them, by single-minded allegiance to their countries and people and the task of successful governance. African leaders must change their priorities.

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End child marriage in Africa!

June 24, 2014

Julitta OnabanjoBy Julitta Onabanjo, Regional Director, UNFPA East and Southern Africa;

Benoit KalasaBenoit Kalasa, Regional Director, UNFPA West and Central Africa; and

Mohamed Abdel-AhadMohamed Abdel-Ahad, Regional Director, UNFPA North Africa and Arab States.

Of the 41 countries worldwide with a child marriage prevalence rate of 30 per cent or more, 30 countries are located in Africa. The practice is most severe in West Africa, where two women out of five are married before age 18, and one out of six by age 15.

Child marriage has a severe and harmful impact on our girls, and on society at large. It compromises the girl child’s health, education and opportunities to realise her potential. Many ‘child wives’ are exposed to repeated pregnancies and childbirth before they are physically and psychologically ready.

The African continent has tolerated child marriage for too long, based on a host of ill-conceived justifications and arguments. But our young girls, who have borne the brunt of this detrimental practice to date, cannot wait to see it banished forever. Child marriage should not be allowed to continue. Not one day longer.

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The economy of affection in Tanzania —

Important as ever


June 18, 2014

By Göran Hydén, NAI Associate and Distinguished Professor of Political Science, University of Florida, Gainesville.

In 2014, the alternative economy is still a livelihood source of last resort. The economic and political terrain has changed. The state is no longer the dominant factor. The market has taken its place.

This process has been fuelled by a number of factors. Foremost is the integration into the global economy that Tanzania and other African countries have experienced in the past two decades.

The focus on education for all has provided the youth with a license to move to the cities where they have ended up jobless or as peddlers in the informal sector, outside taxation and law enforcement.

The market has encouraged a process that renders the society more difficult to govern. As Tanzania rises, it does so with a hollow structure. The economy of affection is very much alive.

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Joyce Banda — neither saint nor sinner

Are women not better leaders?

Comments icon 3 comments June 13, 2014

Siphokazi MagadlaBy Siphokazi Magadla, Political and International Studies department at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa, with

Lindiwe MakhungaLindiwe Makhunga, Political Studies department at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

The defeat of incumbent Joyce Banda in Malawi’s recent presidential elections, raises some uncomfortable but necessary questions about collective expectations of women’s leadership in Africa.

Widely hailed as the answer to Malawi’s democratic and economic woes, Banda’s election was greeted as a decisive shift in the country’s dysfunctional politics.

Banda’s emergence as president was further burdened by the expectations that she would be the transformative woman leader that Johnson-Sirleaf was failing to become.

Banda’s political trajectory over the past two years, therefore, has been a distinct disappointment for the overwhelming majority who believed she would usher in a new brand of politics based on her gender.

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