Not so mega?

The risky business of large-scale PPPs in African agriculture


September 17, 2014

By Robin Willoughby, Food and Climate Justice policy adviser at Oxfam GB and leader of Oxfam International's agricultural investment policy work.

At a large summit on the future of African agriculture last week, the buzzwords were ‘investment opportunities’, ‘transformation’ and ‘public-private partnerships.’

Despite the worthy aims of the hosts ‘A Green Revolution for Africa (AGRA)’, discussion of poverty, rights, gender or inequality was rather absent from the plenary.

The risks of large scale public-private partnership (mega-PPPs) are enormous, particularly in the areas targeted for investment. Huge land transfers are a core component of the mega-PPP agenda.

Mega-PPP projects are focussing less on the needs of poor small-scale farmers and more on wealthier, more ‘commercially viable’ farmers and bigger, politically well-connected companies.

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GMOs and food sovereignty

Which way Africa?

Henry Makori

Comments icon 3 comments September 12, 2014

By Henry Makori, editor with Pambazuka News.

A Kenya government agency is to stop the sale of a popular seasoning product because it contains genetically modified ingredients that could harm consumers.

The Government banned production or importation of GMOs in 2012, but is now considering to allow to them in order to boost food production and alleviate poverty.

GMOs are now being touted as a major solution to hunger and mass poverty in Africa. South Africa is a leading proponent, while Nigeria and Tanzania are coming around.

Biotechnology helps boost industrial agriculture, but inadequate food production is not why a billion people are hungry; it is lack of access.

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How to Stop Boko Haram

Curtail Illicit Finance!

Michelle Fletcher

September 9, 2014

By Michele Fletcher, Global Financial Integrity and the University of Pennsylvania.

Boko Haram developed from social unrest, poverty, and a strong disillusionment with the corruption of the Nigerian government. Today, the same factors make Boko Haram lethal.

Funding opportunities for Boko Haram such as kidnapping for ransom, smuggling, and bank robberies arise because of poor security infrastructure and have provided local means for funding and recruitment.

Moreover, high-level corruption and financial opacity breeds larger-scale funding and support opportunities, contributing to illicit financial flows facilitated by banks and corrupt individuals.

ICG: “Unless issues of bad governance and systemic corruption are addressed vigorously and transparently, all other measures [to deal with Boko Haram] will be nothing but stop-gaps.”

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Namibia’s gender zebra

Alexander O'Riordan

September 5, 2014

By Alexander O'Riordan, Aid Effectiveness and Donor Funding Researcher, University of Wisconsin.

A quiet gender revolution the like of which has been unseen in Southern Africa and perhaps anywhere in the world, is now firmly underway in Namibia.

The ruling party, SWAPO, has committed to gender equality in parliament, and a ‘Zebra system’ whereby if a Minister is a woman then the Deputy Minister will be a man and vice versa.

Namibia is likely to elect a man to the presidency in 2014. The new policy implies a SWAPO commitment to appoint a woman to the presidency in 2019.

Namibia’s pushing gender equality is less a sign of progress than of a political leadership blinded by over twenty years of being a ruling party while treated with absolute respect.

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Africa needs time and policy space


Comments icon 1 comments September 1, 2014

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

Africa is not a country but a many-faceted continent with diverse domestic institutions. They vary due to ethnicity and religion, but increasingly also as a result of different development experiences.

Democratization that has been forced upon African countries by the donors has more often than not engendered its downfall and in some countries even civil strife.

Democratic values need not be irrelevant, but they cannot be expected to functions as magic bullets. Donors should loosen their grip and let a thousand flowers bloom.

In such a diversity, democracy can sprout with greater force than via the turgid transplants that the West is still trying to impose.

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Development First, Democracy Later?

Anna L

Comments icon 2 comments August 26, 2014

By Anna Lekvall, Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs; formerly Senior Programme Manager for Democracy and Development at International IDEA.

Across all continents, cultures and religions, 80 per cent of men and women worldwide believe that democracy is the best available form of governance. But there is a raging democracy deficit across the world.

There is wide support for democracy in international agreements and development policy. Yet, only 2 per cent of official development aid goes to democracy support, indicating a low priority in practice.

The much larger aid flows delivered to reduce poverty also affect democratic processes and power dynamics – sometimes negatively.

The binding constraint on development is not always money or knowledge. It is also about political processes. Citizens across the world therefore call for democratic and accountable politics.

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SADC: Another step backwards

Peter Fabricius

August 22, 2014

By Peter Fabricius, Foreign Editor, Independent Newspapers, South Africa.

Was Mozambican President Guebuza being just a tad mischievous when he congratulated Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on his political longevity at this week’s SADC summit?

Or was it just projection between sentimental constitutional democrats, desperately seeking meaning in yet another uninspiring gathering of this listless organisation?

The summit adopted a draft protocol on the SADC Tribunal, which ‘neutered’ the court by stripping it of its real power – which is to hear complaints by SADC citizens against their own governments.

And so, in the end, it was worse than just ‘another hollow summit,’ as one newspaper headline put it. It was another step backwards for the rule of law.

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Does it really matter to snub Mugabe?


Comments icon 2 comments August 19, 2014

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

Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, was conspicuously absent from this month’s, first ever US-Africa summit. Reason: facing US sanctions for poor governance and human rights violations.

Actually Mugabe pulled a hat trick in 2013: he won the election; became the world’s oldest president at 89; and assumed the SADC Deputy Chair, even before he took oath of office.

AU and SADC should have ensured free and fair elections in Zimbabwe 2013. However, the AU has inherent weaknesses regarding intervening in domestic stalemates as in Zimbabwe and Cote d’Ivoire.

SADC should strengthen rules regarding elections, citizens’ rights in electoral processes and SADC’s enforcement role. Moreover, SADC and the AU should revise their approaches to state sovereignty.

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Illicit capital flowing out of Africa often benefits foreign investors

Antonio Macheve Jr

August 16, 2014

By Antonio Macheve Junior from Maputo, Mozambique; 2013 Mandela Rhodes Scholar, University of Cape Town.

The US-Africa Summit built enormous expectations for the development of Africa, particularly in what concerns trade relations, investments and business between African nations and the US.

While American businesses will invest $33 billion in Africa, it is not known how much of the profits will fly back to the US without benefiting local economies, especially the people at the bottom.

In 2011, nearly $77 billion flowed illicitly out of Africa; huge outflows have occurred ever since the continent has had economic ties with the rest of the world.

Some companies investing in Africa do not pay what is due according to local fiscal regimes, furthering corruption and thwarting chances of reaching Africa’s most crucial development goals.

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The Imperatives for Social Protection

The case of Nigeria


August 11, 2014

By Angela Adeboye, Managing Partner, Alegna Global Partnerships, Nigeria.

While celebrating the achievements of ten years of pension reform in Nigeria, one is reminded of recent social changes amidst an almost absent social safety net, resulting in widened inequality.

Over 75 million adults in Nigeria do not participate in the current pension scheme, the unemployment rate is about 30% and the incidence of underemployment, disability and poverty remains high.

We must adopt creative ways of funding social pensions, social security and/or social assistance, including royalties from extractive processes or a proportion of value added taxes.

There are huge unclaimed dividends of companies that can be used. Resources in Nigeria belong to all Nigerians, so the gains therefrom should contribute to alleviating poverty.

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