bulletin of the AFRICA PROGRESS PANELVolume 5, Issue 1 — 13 January 2012
Africa Progress Panel
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Faith in Africa
The on-going popular uprising in North Africa during the past year, dubbed the “Arab Spring,” in which citizens raised their voice en masse to show their determination for freedom, justice and democracy, has introduced a new socio-political momentum to the African continent.
The unrest reflects the deep-rooted desire among North Africans for fundamental political, social and economic change. It has already resulted in the ousting of long-standing authoritarian leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, leading to deep-rooted political transformation. Today, their citizens are electing their representative leaders through meaningful democratic processes. Moreover, the chilling effects of the movements have also compelled leaders in other countries to take precautionary political reforms as we have witnessed in Morocco.
In the course of the political upheaval in North Africa, other significant dynamics have also emerged, such as the (re) introduction of religious-based political platforms. In Egypt and Tunisia, religious parties have surfaced as one of the main conduits for political campaigning. In some instances, tensions have escalated into violent conflicts, casting a dark shadow over the reform movement.
Religious tensions are not limited to North Africa but have also been witnessed recently in other African countries including Somalia, Ethiopia and Nigeria, resulting in the loss of lives and displacement of thousands of people from their homes. Some are questioning whether religious fundamentalism is emerging as a factor affecting the current political environment of the continent. Others, however, believe that these shifts are not significant. An important question is what is driving the emergence of religious fundamentalism – poverty, exclusion, lack of jobs, lack of voice etc?
According to many commentators, religion can play an important role in the quest for freedom, justice and democracy, and not only in Africa. What is clear is that it is increasingly important to understand the powerful dynamics of religion and work together with religious figures and others in civil society to build stable, cohesive societies and promote national development agendas.
- President Jacob Zuma is under pressure as South Africa’s ruling African National Congress(ANC) celebrates its 100th year anniversary. Despite his leadership style being criticized, president Zuma is widely expected to gather enough support in the fractious party to win a second term as party chief and then stay on as national president until 2019. But, analysts warn that if the ANC government keeps up its current policies, South Africa risks slipping to new depths of unemployment, debt and corruption that could undermine long-term prospects.
- Egyptians are watchful as they move towards the first anniversary of the January 25th revolution. And with Islamists set to dominate the new parliament, secular Egyptians hope that the moderates will keep the extremists in check.
- In the last few days, Nigeria has witnessed ongoing general strikes and mass protests across the country against the Government removal of the subsidy on petroleum products, which sent the price of fuel up by more than 100%. Anger at President Goodluck Jonathan’s policy appears to have united Nigerians in a way not seen for many years; and there are fears that “this New Year gift” from the president and the violent activities of the Boko Haram sect could drive the country into civil war.
- Civil society and Diaspora in the Democratic Republic of Congo speak out against the recent elections, asking why election results marred by irregularities and considered to be ‘too flawed to be credible’, have not been annuled. While the results have led people to question the essence of democratic culture in their country, the country’s fractious parliament is liable to provoke more unrest.
- Presidential politics in Senegal is in full swing, with famous musician Youssou N’dour’s announcement that he will run for presidency in the February 26 elections against President Abdoulaye Wade's controversial bid for a third term in office, re-igniting a six-month old opposition. Some Western nations are pressing President Wade not to run, concerned that it could spark unrest in a country that has enjoyed relative stability since it gained its independence 50 years ago.
- The Migration and Development Fund’s oversight committee approve a series of grants amounting to € 1.4 million to six remittances funded local development projects across the African continent
- The AfDB approves a $15.6 million grant to strengthen the capacity of the African Virtual University (AVU)
- The AfDB and other development finance institutions, including the IFC, are providing a loan of €39.5 million to boost energy access in Cameroon
- The AU and China sign an agreement to provide additional support to the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM)
- ECOWAS calls for a smooth constitutional transition in Guinea Bissau following the sudden death of President Malam Bacai Sanha
- The ECOWAS Commission provides $2 million to the Ghanaian Ministry of Roads and Highways for the design of a three-tier interchange on the Tema Motorway and Ashaiman roundabouts
- IFAD Member States announce $1.5 billion new funds for food security in developing countries
- IFAD will provide a $24.9 million loan to the Republic of Liberia to improve food security and reduce post conflict poverty in rural communities
- The January 2012 issue of the IMF’s Survey magazine says that the odds are in Africa's favour this year as it seeks to sustain its impressive growth performance of recent years
- Benin and IMF to co-host a high-levelconference on Public Service Reform aimed at exploring ways to help Benin design civil service reform strategies that foster sustainable and inclusive growth
THE GLOBAL FUND
- The Global Fund adopts a new strategy for the period 2012-2016, which aims to build on past successes and investments, evolve to address challenges, and shift to a new model of “investing for impact”
- FAO chief, Jose Graziano da Silva, predicts food price decline in 2012
- The UN Mission in South Sudan is to set up permanent bases for peacekeepers in areas worst affected by ethnic violence in Jonglei State
- The UN and Libyan authorities sign an agreement, establishing the legal framework under which the UN’s support mission in the country will operate
- The World Bank, UNEP, OECD & Global Green Growth Institute expand their cooperation on Green Growth for Development, a global initiative aimed to identify and address major knowledge gaps in green growth theory and practice
- World Bank to finance better health services for up to 8 million Tanzanians a year
In the blogs...
- The Huffington Post: Africa: not fit for print, 12 Jan. 2012 – An interesting post about one man’s two week trip to the DRC and how Africa is so much more than what people think and what is presented in the news.
- African Politics Now!: A hundred years since birth, but what has happened to the ANC ? 6 Jan. 2012 - Richard Dowden, Director of the Royal African society, examines the role the African National Congress (ANC) has played in South Africa since its inception 100 years ago. He argues that despite its reputable history, today’s ANC has fragmented into cliques and has become a narrow class of haves protecting their own interests.
- Central African Forum: DRC election ‘too flawed to be credible’ – Civil society and Congolese Diaspora speak out, 5 Jan. 2012 – The author examines the attitudes of Western countries to the elections in the DRC and argues that they ought to have called for an annulment of the results. The author also looks at the Congolese Diaspora and the role they are playing in fighting Kabila’s regime from abroad.
- The Guardian’s Poverty Matters Blog: Technology’s new chance to make a difference in 2012, 4 Jan. 2012 – In this post, the author discusses what he hopes for the information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) community over the next 12 months with a specific focus on Africa.
- Global Development: Views from the Center: A bold new idea for infrastructure in Africa, 3 Jan. 2012 – The author discusses Sokoni, an online marketplace for infrastructure projects in Africa which was endorsed in November last year by the G-20 Panel in Cannes. The author argues that Sokoni could reduce risk, lower costs, improve the flow of information to investors, and present African investment opportunities in a positive light.
- Asia Times Online: The war is with China, the battleground is Africa, 13 Jan. 2012 - Referring to a recent press conference at the Pentagon during which President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta appeared together to reiterate America's commitment to the Asia Pacific region, the author argues that America's real focus is Africa and trying to assert its authority over China.
- The Christian Science Monitor, Africa Rising - Ghana’s future looks bright, 11 Jan. 2012 - In an interview in Accra, one of the world’s most prominent development economists says Ghana is proving to be one of the strongest performers on the MDGs in Africa and unlike some of its African counterparts is likely to fulfill them by the 2015 deadline.
- Business Day: IMF begging bowl comes to Africa, 10 Jan. 2012 - The author argues that the IMF needs to focus more on what actually needs to be done in Europe, and less on talking up European growth prospects, to get support from emerging market countries for more bail-out funds to support European countries.
- The Mercury: Freedom’s just another word when everything’s at stake, 10 Jan. 2012 - The author writes about the recent centenary celebrations of the ANC in South Africa. He argues that today's ANC does not represent the founding ideals and values of the party.
- The Atlantic: Anti-Christian violence, and maybe worse, in Congo, 10 Jan. 2012 – In this article, the author questions, first, why Congolese living abroad have reacted so differently to those living in the country regarding the elections at the end of last year and, secondly, why some populations are inactive following flawed or stolen elections while in others there is violent protest and the prospect of civil war.
- africanews.com: Is the Ivorian syndrome looming in Senegal? 9 Jan. 2012 – According to the author, Sub-Saharan Africa needs the kind of extreme make-over politics that upended long-term tyrannies in North Africa last year. He focuses specifically on Senegal and examines how the political landscape has changed since President Abdoulaye Wade was elected in 2000.
- allAfrica.com: Livestock Insurance – A Chance to Outsmart Drought? 9 Jan. 2012 – The authors examine the Index-Based Livestock Insurance scheme in Kenya and argue that although the new insurance product does not cover the total loss caused by drought, it does offer participating farmers and herders an opportunity to recoup some of their losses.
There are obvious benefits of providing aid to fragile states, it is, after all, cheaper to prevent conflicts than to deal with wars and their aftermath.
- Malcolm Bruce, Scottish Liberal Democratic Member of Parliament
- China is open to trilateral cooperation with the West and the international community to enhance Africa’s development
- The EC announces its plan for the allocation of €640 in humanitarian aid funding during 2012, with the largest operation in budgetary terms being sub-Saharan Africa, for which 52% of Commission's humanitarian funding is reserved
- A large EU observer delegation is headed for Senegal to monitor the country’s tightly-contested February election
- A French inquiry has cleared Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame of the air strike that is said to have sparked the 1994 genocide
- Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, reiterates Germany’s commitment to investing in the future of Algeria, Libya and Tunisia, three countries which were rocked by the upheavals of the past year
- India will provide a credit line worth $100 million to Mali to help the west African nation expand its energy sector
- India proposes a $100 million line of credit for improving health infrastructure in Zimbabwe, saying that Indian public sector undertakings would assist in reducing the infrastructural deficit and contribute to the African nation's economic development
- After a year of disasters, the UK urges more support for the international response system to make sure funding is fast and effective
- A WTO Report titled “Harnessing Trade for Sustainable Development and a Green Economy” looks at the workings of the WTO and how the multilateral trading system supports countries’ efforts to realize sustainable development and a green economy.
- A report drawn up by representatives of several national and international organisations, entitled “Quelle protection pour les enfants concernés par la mobilité en Afrique de l’Ouest?” calls on ECOWAS for increased efforts on West Africa child migration.
- An FAO guidebook titled "Climate Change Mitigation Finance for Smallholder Agriculture - A guide book to harvesting soil carbon sequestration benefits," underscores the role of agriculture in global climate change mitigation efforts and describes approaches for participating in carbon financing opportunities.
|16-19 January||World Future Energy Summit – Launch of the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All: Abu Dhabi, UAE|
|17 – 19 January||International Scientific Symposium on Food and Nutrition Security Information: Rome, Italy|
|19 – 21 January||Global Forum for Food and Agriculture: Berlin, Germany|
|21 January – 12 February||Africa Cup of Nations: Equatorial Guinea and Gabon|
|23-30 January||18th African Union Summit- “Boosting Intra-African Trade:” Addis Ababa, Ethiopia|
|25 – 29 January||World Economic Forum Annual Meeting: Davos, Switzerland|
|30 January – 3 February||27th Regional Conference for Africa (ARC), Brazzaville, Congo|