General budget support in Africa:

Is the end in sight?


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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Burkina Faso uprising:

The West's armed puppets broken by the masses


November 7, 2014

By Explo Nani-Kofi, Director of the Kilombo Centre for Civil Society and African Self-Determination, in Peki, Ghana and London, UK.

The uprising of the masses in Burkina Faso and overthrow of the Compaore régime is a lesson for those who think that being supported by the west means unrestrained tyrannical control of their countries.

Thomas Sankara had led the country with a revolutionary orientation of self-reliance, championed the campaign for the cancellation of odious debt and emphasised the enslavement character of foreign aid.

Sankara’s commitment to women’s rights led to the government abolishing female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy. Corrupt officials were tried and punished.

There is now a danger of the military hijacking the struggle for which the masses have fought. To prevent this, all progressive Africans, the masses as well as all internationalists need to mobilise.

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Names and democracy in southern Africa

The tale of two Presidents


November 4, 2014

By Christopher Changwe Nshimbi, Research Fellow, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

A few days after celebrating 50 years of independence in October, Zambia relived a sad history: the death of a second incumbent president to die in office in the space of six years.

Zambia is once again appearing as a beacon of peace in a violent and conflict ridden continent. However, the proof shall be in the transition with elections to be held 90 days after the president’s demise.

There are interesting comparisons to be made with neighbouring Malawi—the story less told about the successes of the evolving democratization in southern Africa.

Southern Africa needs committed politicians and senior bureaucrats that transcend personal interests to apply the principles of democracy and seek the firm establishment of state institutions.

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A new white ruler in Zambia

Is Guy Scott the legal Acting President?


Comments icon 2 comments October 29, 2014

By Elias Munshya LLB (Hons)., MA., M.Div., Northwestern University (Chicago, IL).

President Sata of Zambia died yesterday in London, in the same week that the nation was celebrating 50 years of independence from Great Britain.

The question grappling the nation right now is whether Vice-President Guy Lindsay Scott satisfies the constitution to be an Acting President for 90-days before calling a special election to replace Michael Sata.

Those who do not want Scott to lead a transition should do so without unnecessarily abusing the law as justification. The law is definitely on the side of Guy Scott.

It is up to the cabinet and the people of Zambia to answer the political question. At the end of the day, our nation should stand as one during this time of transition.

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Is Rising Africa Marginal

in Malmström’s Thinking on European Trade Policy?


October 27, 2014

By Sean Woolfrey, South Africa; Policy Officer, Food Security and Economic Transformation and Trade Programmes, ECDPM.

Negotiations with major developed countries and emerging markets are likely to dominate the European trade agenda in coming years. What does this mean for Europe’s trade relations with Africa?

The new European commissioner for trade, Sweden’s Cecilia Malmström, explained her priorities for European Union (EU) trade policy at the recent public hearings in the European Parliament.

Malmström made a passing mention of the need to strengthen Europe’s strategic partnership with Africa, but said little about how the EU might engage with Africa on trade-related issues in the future.

The increasing commercial interests of major emerging economies in Africa means that any neglect of these relations may see Europe falling behind in terms of its ability to do business with rising Africa.

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Expanding Africa’s Digital Frontier:

Farmers Show the Way

Aparajita Goyal

October 20, 2014

By Aparajita Goyal, Young Professional economist at the World Bank.

Agricultural transformation is a priority for Africa. Harnessing the rapid growth of digital technologies holds hope for transformative agricultural development.

We are now witnessing steady growth in rigorous and quantitative evidence from around the globe on the impact of ICT innovations on people’s lives.

This evidence is still limited to certain countries and contexts. Whether these effects are going to be a general trend or translate forward into larger aggregate gains still remains to be seen.

ICT is no panacea; it needs to be backed by complementary investments in rural roads, electricity, literacy etc. IT policy and the broader regulatory environment have to be discussed jointly.

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Mom-and-pop shops in Africa

How long will they continue to generate most new jobs?


October 16, 2014

By Thomas Pave Sohnesen, Development Research Group at Copenhagen University and Rockwool Foundation Research Unit, Denmark; associated with the World Bank’s Development Research Group in Washington DC.

Mom-and-pops shops are the smallest of enterprises. This is self-employment in non-incorporated enterprises in the non-farm sector, with the vast majority of them employing only one person.

Currently, they provide jobs for most people outside of agriculture: 21 per cent of the SSA labor force in 2010, while the wage sector (public and private) provided jobs for 15 per cent.

This is the most common type of employment outside of agriculture in SSA and will for the foreseeable future continue to generate more jobs than the wage sector.

Some governments have policies and programs for Household Enterprises, far most do not. The sector is more difficult to address than traditional industries, as it is more diverse and difficult to reach.

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