NAI Forum is closing down


Comments icon 22 comments December 31, 2014

By Dag Ehrenpreis, Coordinating editor, NAI Forum.

The Nordic Africa Institute (NAI) has decided to close down NAI Forum with immediate effect, due to lack of funding and in anticipation of a new communications strategy.

I wish to thank all participants, including the 359 authors of the 427 articles published since the launch in April 2010, the contributors of all 549 comments, and the 550 registered subscribers to the email announcements of new articles, as well as all other visitors to the site.

The participants have come not only from Africa and the Nordic countries, but from many other parts of the world. You have all contributed to making NAI Forum a vibrant interactive meeting place for people taking an interest in African development.

As the creating and coordinating editor of NAI Forum for the last five years, I regret this announcement to our followers and stakeholders, while hoping for your continued interest in following NAI’s homepage and Facebook page.

I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy New Year 2015.

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Africa and the Emerging Economies

in the Changing Development Landscape


December 29, 2014

By Fantu Cheru, Senior Researcher at the African Studies Centre, Leiden University, and Associate Senior Fellow at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The development landscape for Africa and other developing countries has drastically changed with the emergence of such development partners from the global South as Brazil, China, India, and Turkey.

The increased engagement of emerging powers in Africa has rung alarm bells among Western partners who are now following in China’s and India’s footsteps by establishing engagement platforms.

The interests of the emerging powers are not always compatible with those of the least developed. The former are unlikely to rally behind issues that are very important to the latter, including aid to address climate change.

In a multipolar world, there will be overlapping spheres of interest. African countries, however different, all confront the challenge of developing strategic approaches toward old and new partners.

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Inequality in Africa

— A Middle Income Trap


Comments icon 2 comments December 15, 2014

By Ravi Kanbur, T. H. Lee Professor of World Affairs, Cornell University

Africa will be particularly vulnerable to rising inequality because of its natural resource base, rapid urbanization, and the ethno-linguistic diversity of its population.

It is neither feasible nor desirable to stand against the tide of technical progress and global integration which underlies the forces for both growth and rising inequality.

Policy makers should intervene proactively to achieve a more equal distribution of assets, addressing in particular the inequality of human capital in its many dimensions, starting with education and health.

The needs for aid targeted towards these ends may become less available as African countries cross into middle income country status, thus losing concessional resources for development.

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The people have voted – or not…

Analysing Namibia's elections


Comments icon 1 comments December 8, 2014

By Henning Melber, Senior Advisor of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and of the Nordic Africa Institute, Extraordinary Professor of Political Sciences/University of Pretoria and the Centre for Africa Studies/University of the Free State in Bloemfontein.

Namibia is now the arena of one-party dominance. This translates the slogan from the struggle days that ‘SWAPO is the nation and the nation is SWAPO’ into the dominant if not exclusive political culture.

While observers testify to free and fair elections, the latter seems to be a relative if not dubious call. The party is the government and the government is the state, which also keeps the electorate at bay.

President Geingob will not have an easy task. He might be the last president of the first generation – who joined the anti-colonial movement in its founding days and was in exile for more than a quarter of a century.

Given the overwhelming majority secured by the party and the personal power vested in his office, it remains to be seen to which extent he translates the political success into a success story for the Namibians.

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Draining development

Illicit flows from Africa


December 4, 2014

By Menelaos Agaloglou, Head of Geography, Greek Community School in Addis Ababa; researcher at the University of Peloponnese, Greece.

Illicit outflows of capital from Africa seriously harm the efforts for poverty reduction. It hampers both public and private investment and hence job creation, infrastructure and industrial development.

These outflows also reduce tax revenues that could be used for education and health; they drain hard currency reserves, thus encouraging poor countries to borrow money from abroad and worsening their debt burdens.

It is the poor who pay for these flows through high levels of unemployment and increased inflation, which affects them more. Illicit flows increase inequality that can lead to political tensions and further poverty.

Whether one views the problem either as an economic or a political one, the burden is placed on the African countries to solve these and other problems through their own efforts.

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The Ethiopian Revolution:

The origins of contemporary development


Comments icon 4 comments November 28, 2014

By Andreas Admasie, PhD candidate, University of Basel; regional representative for the International Institute of Social History in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Ethiopian economy has expanded at an unprecedented annual rate of about ten per cent. Massive social transformation obviously follows and conditions this process.

The number of people engaged in paid employment very nearly doubled between 2006 and 2013 alone, and these figures are set to expand further in the near future.

The discussion on the Ethiopian economy is marked by strong ahistorical and economistic biases that fail to ground the present conjuncture in the past, and to embed economic debates in social structures.

The preconditions for the current phase of capitalist development were set with the emergence of the modern Ethiopian social structural configuration in the context of the Ethiopian revolution.

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General budget support in Africa:

Is the end in sight?


Comments icon 1 comments November 24, 2014

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

The past ten years has seen a growing readiness by international donors to disburse aid through official institutions in partner countries, with General Budget Support (GBS) as the preferred mechanism.

This deal between donors and recipients has been heralded as a win-win situation. Recipient governments in Africa make political gains and donor governments reap administrative benefits.

In reality, however, GBS has caused as many problems as it has solved. It has become politicized to the point that many African governments now have second thoughts about the mechanism.

Their frustration is often exacerbated by the donors acting as one, sometimes under EU auspices, at other times as GBS providers. Rwanda and Tanzania are two current cases in point.

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New elections in Namibia:

Any Lessons from Zimbabwe?

Henning M

Comments icon 4 comments November 20, 2014

By Henning Melber, Senior Advisor of The Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and of the Nordic Africa Institute, Extraordinary Professor of Political Sciences/University of Pretoria and the Centre for Africa Studies/University of the Free State in Bloemfontein.

Parliamentary and presidential elections take place in Namibia next week. A long withheld but just released report provides a reminder that elections should be an important criterion for legitimate political rule.

The report by two South African high court judges observing the 2002 general elections in Zimbabwe concludes that these should not have been considered free and fair.

Leaders of other SADC countries such as Angola, Namibia and South Africa were among the very first to whitewash the result that kept Mugabe in office and congratulate him for his ‘victory’.

Scrutinizing the elections in a wider context, including not only the act of voting during election day but also the general environment for parties to campaign, is of utmost relevance to secure confidence and trust.

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Kenya – a country in deadlock


Comments icon 3 comments November 14, 2014

By Cecilia Bäcklander, Swedish independent journalist and film maker

Corruption in Kenya is widespread and often exposed, but impunity is total. The police and security services are chronically and thoroughly corrupt and inefficient. The President’s corruption controller is in exile.

The violence after the fraudulent 2007 election was a gigantic setback for the confidence of Kenyans in the possibility of influencing policies and appointing leaders through elections.

Primary schooling is free and even the girls go to school. Digital technology has a huge impact. Cellphone services are being developed locally and now reach every farmer and roadside vendor.

No Kenyan politicians seem to be able to replace the tainted leadership. Both the government and the opposition are still being led by the families that appeared at Independence 50 years ago.

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‘There is no Ebola here’

What Liberia teaches us about the failures of aid

Sisonke Msimang

November 10, 2014

By Sisonke Msimang, South African writer and activist; non-executive director at Democracy Works; Trustee of the Graca Machel Trust.

While health professionals are crucial frontline responders, the Ebola crisis is too important to be left to medical personnel. The virus has emerged from the nexus of several overlapping problems.

The international community’s Ebola response is focused too narrowly on the technical aspects and too little on the underlying social and political reasons why the problem has been allowed to fester in the first place.

A virus that is deadly but can be effectively contained with good planning and logistics has managed to escape from a country that has one of the largest concentrations of ‘helpers’ in the world.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of ignoring cronyism in countries where a government that is friendly to Western governments is in place.

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