The US may push Africa to accept genetically modified (GM) food now that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has ruled the EU broke rules by barring GM foods and seeds, however, Africans vowed yesterday to resist.
Health equity in economic and trade policies
Africa’s 'Blue world' is made of vast lakes and rivers and an extensive ocean resource base. The Blue Economy can play a major role in Africa’s structural transformation, sustainable economic progress, and social development. The largest sectors of the current African aquatic and ocean based economy are fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, transport, ports, coastal mining, and energy. This Policy Handbook, offers a step by step guide to help African member States to better mainstream the Blue Economy into their national development plans, strategies, policies and laws. The Blue Economy approach is premised in the sustainable use, management and conservation of aquatic and marine ecosystems and associated resources.
The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) under the theme: "China-Africa Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development" was held on 4-5 December in Johannesburg, South Africa. This was the first time that a leaders’ summit level of FOCAC is held in Africa. The Summit which also celebrated the 15th anniversary of the partnership was co-chaired by Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma. The FOCAC was established fifteen years ago with its first Ministerial Forum held in Beijing in 2000. With six Ministerial Meetings and two at Summit level already organised, FOCAC has evolved over the years to become a prominent example of South-South cooperation. In the two-day event, Chinese President Xi Jinping and over 50 African leaders gathered in South Africa to discuss together the blueprints of cooperation and show to the world the power of solidarity among developing countries. To build China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership, the conference was informed that China will implement ten cooperation plans with Africa in the next three years. Guided by the principle of government guidance, businesses being the major actors, market operation and win-win cooperation, these plans aim at addressing three bottleneck issues holding back Africa’s development, namely, inadequate infrastructure, lack of professional and skilled personnel, and funding shortage, accelerating Africa’s industrialization and agricultural modernization, and achieving sustainable self-development.
At a panel discussion on Africa-EU relations organised by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation on 8 July 2009, participants discussed four scenarios for ongoing economic partnership agreements in West Africa, ranging from a full liberalisation agreement on all trade in goods and services, to no agreement whatsoever. While European Commission representatives favoured full liberalisation, regional stakeholders called for a partial, phased liberalisation, covering only trade in goods. This approach would provide greater flexibility for national and regional trade policy, protect local agricultural and industrial sectors, and facilitate regional integration. Participants also discussed the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) process. They noted that respect for JAES’s fundamental principles such as ‘treating Africa as one’ and ensuring the ‘harmonisation of existing policy frameworks’ will be more effective than emphasising ‘functional deliverables’ only.
Narratives of “the hopeless continent” and “Africa rising”, pumped by the West, woven into its knowledge with nostalgic pop culture, rubber-stamped by media and financial institutions, are observed by the author to be false propaganda. A study by Standard Bank titled “Understanding Africa’s Middle Class”, notes African Development Bank’s (AfDB) claims that by 2010, 350 million people or 34% were middle-class in Africa, up from 27% in 1990. Examining 11 countries, chosen for, among other things, scale of population, growth and economy- Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia- the Standard Bank report noted that since 2000 the collective GDP of the 11 measured economies has grown tenfold from US$120 billion to today’s level of over US$1 trillion, with a growth in the middle class of 230% in the period. While East Africa is lagging behind in pushing low-income earners to the middle, the region is argued to offer the most interesting findings in the report, with a broad upward shift within the low-income band as households shift from deeply marginalised into less poor categories. Africa’s growing middle class may be driving the rising narratives, but the upward movement of low-income groups is argued to be where the most economic potential will be realised. It’s also these groups that will have the largest impact on political and social development. They’re the groups in the majority, the ones with the largest votes and the largest claim to the need for improved living conditions.
The ability of African countries to respond to HIV and AIDS is dependent on their ability to control the terms of trade, elicit more favourable patent policies on medication and climb out of poverty - all linked to globalisation. While globalisation has brought some benefits to the urban elite in Africa - information, communication and technology - the outcomes have not reached the urban poor and rural folk who form more than 80 per cent of African populations.
African ministers of mineral resources resolved, in a conference in Addis Ababa in December 2011, to move into action to reform Africa’s mining sector to benefit the African people. They set a brand new vision apparent in its action plan that includes these six points: Member States should reform the fiscal framework in order to optimise benefits from the mineral sector; Member States should explore the possibility of renegotiating existing contracts to secure a fair share of the rent; Member States should align their development strategies to their long term national development goals; Member States should ensure transparency in the collection and use of mining revenues; Governments could explore the use of equity participation in mineral ventures to capture a greater share of benefits; and Governments in collaboration with partners should build capacity of oversight bodies. Along with the action plan, the ministers reasserted the African Mining Vision (AMV) approved by the February 2009 African Union Summit. The AMV puts development outcomes at the heart of mineral regimes to stimulate the local economy and help prevent mines operating as enclave enterprises.
How Africa urbanises will be critical to the continent’s future growth and development, according to the African Economic Outlook 2016. Africa’s economic performance held firm in 2015 amid global headwinds and regional shocks. The continent remained the second fastest growing economic region after East Asia. In 2015, net financial flows to Africa were estimated at USD 208 billion, 1.8% lower than in 2014 due to a contraction in investment, while official development assistance increased by 4%; and remittances remain the most stable and important single source of external finance at USD 64 billion in 2015. According to the authors, if harnessed by adequate policies, urbanisation can help advance economic development through higher agricultural productivity, industrialisation, services stimulated by the growth of the middle class, and foreign direct investment in urban corridors. It also can promote social development through safer and inclusive urban housing and robust social safety nets. Finally, it can further sound environmental management by addressing the effects of climate change as well as the scarcity of water and other natural resources, controlling air pollution, developing clean cost-efficient public transportation systems, improving waste collection, and increasing access to energy. Seizing this urbanisation dividend requires bold policy reforms and planning efforts, however, such as by strengthening local governance, tailoring national urban strategies to specific contexts and diverse urban realities and harnessing innovative financing instruments.
Africa’s development agenda beyond 2015 was at the heart of discussions at the 15th International Economic Forum in Africa: “Africa beyond 2015”, in Berlin in September 2015. According to the OECD, Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to strengthen to 2016 but poverty and hunger rates remain stubbornly high, progress in health and education is uneven, and huge inequalities persist between and within countries, and between women and men. Furthermore, low productivity and investment as well as weak or non-existent infrastructure are holding back economic and development progress. A panel of African leaders suggested that regional development strategies and local assets provide possible solutions to these challenges, and discussed special economic zones, economic corridors, strategies for lagging regions and slum upgrading for promoting regional development, overcoming spatial inequalities, mobilising local resources and creating productive employment opportunities. The importance of the Common African Position on the Post-2015 Development Agenda “to speak with one voice and to act in unity to ensure that Africa’s voice is heard and is fully integrated into the global development agenda,” was highlighted.
African leaders have signed an agreement to set up a massive free-trade area to improve regional integration and boost economic growth across the continent. The deal to create the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was signed at an extraordinary summit in Kigali, Rwanda by representatives of 44 of the 55 African Union (AU) member states. The agreement commits countries to removing tariffs on 90 percent of goods, with 10 percent of "sensitive items" to be phased in later. It will also liberalise trade in services and might in the future include free movement of people and a single currency. AfCFTA will now have to be ratified by individual countries. Nigeria pulled out of the signing ceremony. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had warned government against signing the agreement, calling it a "renewed, extremely dangerous and radioactive neo-liberal policy initiative". A further protocol, the Protocol on Free Movement of People has to date been signed by 27 countries.