bulletin of the AFRICA PROGRESS PANELVolume 4, Issue 16 — 14 October 2011
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Window of Opportunity
Last week, the Peace Nobel Prize was awarded to three women for their non-violent struggle in favour of “women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” Two of them are African. This decision has been welcomed with great enthusiasm, including by our African Panel members. Graça Machel is thrilled to see that her African sisters have achieved their life’s work, “through collaboration and compassion, instead of competition and conflict”. She also praised Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a pioneer as Africa's first elected female head of state and Leymah Gbowee, “who has never held political office but whose activism brought peace to a country torn apart, by mobilising the power of women.”
Linah Mohohlo emphasized that “African women are on the move,” that these strong women, in addition to bringing peace to their own countries, “are campaigning for good governance and better democratic practice,” and that by starting their own businesses, they are “speeding Africa’s progress towards a bright economic future.”
Finally Kofi Annan, Chair of the Panel and laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize himself, expressed how pleased he was that three women received this special award: “Time and again we know that women are often the peacemakers in their households, in their communities and even at a national level. I am thrilled that women’s political participation in peacekeeping processes is yielding profound social change for Africa.”
And indeed, we all know how much women’s participation is fundamental to democracy and essential to the achievement of sustainable development and peace, yet less than 10% of countries in the world have a woman leader. Despite progress in a few African countries, including Rwanda, which counts 58% women Parliamentarians, only 28 countries worldwide have more than 30% women in their government.
Is this deficit of women in politics the reason why three women were awarded the famous Prize? It is indeed a first in the Nobel Peace Prize history. In 110 years, only 15 women have received the award of whom only three are African. As the world begins to recognize the value of women’s power and creativity in promoting less armed conflict, more peace and greater social justice, leaders and citizens need to make room for the next generation of women leaders.
Let us hope that this triple award is not perceived as a third of a decoration for each laureate but rather as three awards that lead the way towards greater stability and equality.
By making full use of half the world’s intelligence – the intelligence of women – we improve our chances of finding real and lasting solutions to the challenges that confront us.
- Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women
- Cameroonians in and out of the country are looking forward to the results of the October 9 presidential poll. According to provisional results, President Paul Biya, who has been in power for 29 years, is in the lead. Constitutional Council is expected to declare the official results within 15 days. Meanwhile, opposition parties claim the vote was marred by irregularities and have already said they will challenge the results. As a result of the complex political situation, post-electoral instability is a concern in Cameroon.
- After years of violent strife and tensions, Sudan and South Sudan vow to defeat “enemies of peace” and pledge to resolve outstanding issues between them and not return to war again. They stress that they will engage in dialogue without foreign mediation.
- Preliminary results from the recently conducted elections in Liberia show a marginal lead by the Unity Party of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf but if she doesn’t receive the 50% needed to avoid a runoff, the National Electoral Commission say a second round of elections for a new president is expected and that Liberians will go to polls again on 8 November 2011 to choose between the two leading candidates of the first round.
- The Mo Ibrahim Foundation awards its Africa Leadership Prize for the first time in three years to Cape Verde’s former President Pedro Pires for his stewardship of the tiny island nation and his peaceful exit from power. Analysts say, it is a well-deserved recognition of the national leadership and efforts to transform his country and the lives of his people.
- The Nobel Committee has awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize to three women, two of which are African, for working to promote democracy, security and women's rights. It is hoped that Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Yemeni opposition leader Tawakkul Karman will help bring to an end the suppression of women that still occurs in many countries.
- Former Guinea Minister, Dr Hadja Saran Daraba Kabba has been appointed the first woman secretary-general of the four-nation Mano River Union comprising of Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire with the objective of promoting regional integration along economic lines. Dr Kabba’s appointment is seen as a major boost to the womenfolk in the entire Mano River basin for their effort in bringing peace to the region and as an example to the rest of the world.
- AfDB approves $370.3m loan to finance Gabon’s road program
- AfDB promotes gender equality for development
- African stakeholders agree on a position on development effectiveness ahead of the upcoming High-level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan
- NEPAD showcases progress on policy reforms and aims to focus the next decade on implementation, on improving Africa’s global standing
- EAC, COMESA and SADC plan to issue infrastructure and municipal bonds as an option of raising funds to fix their infrastructure
- Stakeholders in the agricultural sector of West Africa endorse the ECOWAS Agricultural Programme (ECOWAP) as a veritable response to the volatile and soaring food prices in the region
- UNDP and NEPAD agree to focus on results in tackling the challenges of the continent
- With 1 in 5 of the world's people deprived of electricity, the UN calls for universal access to power by 2030, saying anything less could impede global economic growth
- With half of Africa's forests and water resources and trillion-dollar mineral reserves, the DRC could become a powerhouse of African development, according to a study by UNEP
- World Bank’s Vice-president for Africa urge investors worldwide to invest in Africa and Africa’s capital markets
In the blogs...
- Elders’ Blog: To achieve the MDGs, put girls at the centre of development, Sept. 2011
Ela Bhatt argues that ending child marriage can accelerate progress towards achieving the MDGs and that families and communities need to be enouraged to value their girls more for their education, skills and work and not for their fertility.
- ODI Blog: Another shock - can the G20 come to the rescue once more?, Sept. 2011
Are developing countries and the international community prepared for another round of crises? Dirk Willem te Velde explores the global community's response to current and ongoing shocks.
- World Bank’s Africa can end poverty Blog: Africa’s statistical tragedy, Oct. 2011
Shanta Devarajan writes about the urgent need to address the shortcomings of development statistics in Africa.
- Guardian Poverty Matters Blog: Sanitation- time to tackle an MDG laggard, Oct. 2011
Improvements in sanitation and hygiene are lagging compared to other MDGs, writes Mark Tran. He states that “Sanitation and hygiene are sensitive and unpopular subjects, but funding them is essential to fighting disease, ensuring basic rights and meeting Millennium Development Goals.”
- ONE Blog: The 2011 Ibrahim Index- Citizens at the centre of governance? Oct. 2011
This blog highlights the key findings of the fifth annual Ibrahim Index of African Governance, stating that the general trend in Africa, similar to last year’s findings, is one of imbalance.
- Pambazuka News (Pan Africa): The AU, the OAU and the UNESCO Obiang Prize, 4 Oct 2011
Under pressure from campaigners, UNESCO last year rightly shelved a prize for research in the life sciences funded by Equatorial Guinea’s president of 32 years, Teodoro Obiang. Given Obiang's poor human rights record, why are African governments suddenly so eager to resuscitate the award, asks Tutu Alicante, Executive Director of EG Justice.
- The Huffington Post (USA): The F Word: Famine is the Real Obscenity, 4 Oct 2011
Lead Singer, U2 and Co-founder of ONE says the food crisis in the Horn of Africa is nothing short of a humanitarian catastrophe, but it is getting less attention than the latest Hollywood break-ups and make-ups. He promotes an emergency appeal by ONE, which aims to build political support in the US and around the world for interventions that will stop the suffering today and break the cycle of famine in the future.
- The East African (East Africa): Open and shut case: Those Governments that involve citizens in policy will prosper, 2 Oct 2011
Reflecting on the recently launched ‘Open Government Partnership’, an initiative designed to increase access to information about government operations, promote citizen participation in decision-making and oversight, and improve the performance and integrity of the public sector; Author calls on East Africans to use the initiative’s declaration, action plans to put pressure on their governments to pledge the release of information that citizens actually want and will use.
- The Australian Government pledges to match, dollar for dollar, donations by Australians to help people in the Horn of Africa
- Brazil and the EU agree to further deepen the political dialogue in order to generate a greater convergence of positions on key global challenges
- CIDA and UN Women issue a joint call for strong, practical actions to strengthen women’s economic security and rights
- China pledges to continue to working with the international community to help improve food security in African countries
- The European Union and African Union discuss ways of maximizing the use of the available knowledge on science and technology in Africa
- EU Finance ministers adopt conclusions on climate finance, in which the Council stresses the need to provide a transparent report on fast-start finance to ensure trust among UNFCCC parties
- French President Nicolas Sarkozy inaugurates work on a future high-speed train link in Morocco, the first such project in Africa and the Arab world
- German Minister reiterates that his Government’s development cooperation programmes are intended and designed to help African countries make use of their unexploited resources for the benefit of their own development
- Japan, Kenya agree to fight famine in Africa and piracy off the coast of Somalia
- The Japanese Government will send a Ground Self-Defense Force engineering unit to South Sudan for peacekeeping operations
- African countries which persecute gays will have their aid cut, says, Andrew Mitchell, UK Secretary of State for International Development
- The British Government releases official figures on its foreign aid spending up to 2010
- The British Government launches a new funding scheme to help UK aid partners deliver rapid, essential support in humanitarian emergencies
- Aiding Stability: Improving Foreign Assistance in Fragile States, a report by the Brookings Institution outlines an agenda for making aid more effective in fragile states and details how agencies can support these countries in gaining stability.
- The 2011 Ibrahim Index of African Governance shows that balance, equity and inclusiveness are key to governance quality across the continent.
- A World Bank report on higher education suggest that low and middle income countries should resist the temptation to establish world-class universities as it is significantly more complex than many countries estimate.
- African countries should enhance the strength and resilience of their poor populations through targeted social safeguards, according to “Assessing Progress in Africa toward the MDGs.”
- World Bank’s Africa Development Indicators 2011 provides the latest set of data on social and economic conditions across the continent and provides the most detailed collection of data on Africa.
- 2011 Food Insecurity Report highlights that food price volatility is likely to continue and possibly increase, making poor farmers, consumers and countries more vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity.
- Enjoying a bar of chocolate could become an expensive pleasure in years to come, say researchers who have been studying the impact of climate change on West Africa’s cocoa-growing regions.
- Climate change, water resources and WASH: a study by the Overseas Development Institute explores the impacts Climate Change will have on water resources and services
|16 Oct||World Food Day|
|16-19 Oct||UNDP/EMRC Agribusiness Forum 2011 on “Engaging the Private Sector for Africa’s Agri-Food Growth:” Johannesburg, South Africa|
|17 Oct||Young people are invited to engage on Twitter with the UN's top climate Change official on their actions to address climate change|
|17-20 Oct||UNESCO Youth Forum 2011: “How Youth Drive Change”: Paris, France|
|19 Oct||ODI/AGI event on “Rethinking Leadership for Development”: London, UK|
|19-20 Oct||UNEP Finance Initiative Roundtable : Washington D.C., U.S.A|
|20 Oct||Conférence “G20 Développement: des solutions pour un nouveau monde”: Paris, France|
|23-26 Oct||World Health Summit 2011: Berlin, Germany|
|25-26 Oct||OECD Global forum on Environment: Making Water Reform Happen: Paris, France|
|25-27 Oct||Commonwealth Business Forum 2011: Perth, Australia|
|25-28 Oct||6th African Economic Conference: Green Economy and Structural Transformation: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia|