bulletin of the AFRICA PROGRESS PANELVolume 5, Issue 11 — 8 June 2012
Africa Progress Panel
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G8 outcomes: Will the private sector undermine Africa’s smallholder farmers?
Finally, the G8 are demanding a greater focus on agriculture and food and nutrition security. In the lead up to the recent G8 Summit at Camp David, USA, the host, President Obama made a call to, "achieve sustained and inclusive agricultural growth and raise 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years". The endorsement of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition at the Summit is a promising sign of renewed commitment from the G8 countries to urgently needed agricultural sector reforms that prioritize smallholder farmers and promote food security in Africa, with the assistance of private sector partnerships. In addition to the existing USD 22 billion commitment from donors for food security, the Summit declared that USD3 billion in new funds would be raised – mostly from the private sector.
Nevertheless, critical questions remain outstanding. Will the donors deliver on their commitments? Will the private sector invest enough and commit to supporting smallholder farmers? Who will be accountable to whom and for what?
A welcome sign at this Summit was the inclusion of African public and private sector leaders – the Heads of State of Ghana, Benin and Tanzania, as well as the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, the President of the African Development Bank, and prominent African leaders, including Africa Progress Panel Member and Prudential Plc. CEO, Tidjane Thiam, Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin, CEO, Ethiopia Commodity Exchange, and Mr. Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Chairman Econet Wireless, in the food security discussions.
The agricultural sector represents the primary source of employment and thus food security for most Africans. But for far too long, smallholder farmers have suffered from a combination of indifference and damaging policies. Investment in this sector will provide critical employment opportunities for the poorest, address, rural poverty reduction, and enhance food security.
The Guardian UK’s Poverty Matters blog noted recently that the G8 announcement represents little in the way of new aid commitments. Donors do not have a good track record on delivering on their promises for agriculture. For example, only half of the $22 billion pledged for food security at the 2009 l’Aquila, Italy G8 Summit has been delivered to date. The G8’s emphasis on mobilizing private sector resources to increase investment in the agricultural sector should also be questioned given the scale of need and lack of accountability to the African public. Concerns are emerging that the private sector’s focus may not be aligned with poverty reduction objectives.
As the UK prepares to take up the G8 Chair in 2013, priority must be given to meeting aid commitments set at l’Aquila and reiterated at the Camp David Summit. The US has already produced an accountability report on the 2012 G8 meeting outcomes indicating 2009 food security commitments will be met by the end of 2012, and donors should be held to this timeline. Prime Minister David Cameron has taken a first step by announcing a “hunger summit” around the 2012 Olympics in London (23 May, Global Development).
The UK now has a unique opportunity to keep the issues of food and nutrition security at the center of development policy since Cameron has been appointed to co-chair Ban Ki-moon’s panel on the post MDG agenda and, in 2013, the UK will take over the G8 Presidency. It is also an opportunity to promote greater accountability in both the private and public sectors. Greater aid accountability is clearly outlined in the Camp David Accountability Report and more broadly in the International Aid Transparency Initiative.
The refocus at the Camp David G8 meeting on agriculture sector reform is a step in the right direction; the G8 must now fully support implementation and monitoring of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition targets, and ensure that smallholder farms are integrated into private sector partnership strategies.
*APP bi-weekly editorial as featured on allafrica.com.
- Despite the pressure applied by SADC, led by South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, to adhere to an internationally agreed process of democratisation, Zimbabwe's political leaders appear to be preparing to abandon constitutional talks and hold a sudden election in September or October 2012. Zimbabweans fear that the abrupt elections will be followed by a campaign of violence and another rigged result establishing Mugabe's rule over the country for a further five years.
- Just a few days before the 2nd round of Egyptian Presidential elections, new protests against Mubarak’s trial verdict, divisions amongst political forces, and a crucial decision by the country’s Constitutional Court that could disqualify one of the two run-off candidates appears to be undermining the credibility of the polls. Now its very legitimacy is being attacked on multiple fronts, threatening to plunge the country into a new round of chaos.
- Malawi refuses to host the July AU summit and insists that the country will co-operate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to have Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir arrested if he enters Malawi. There are concerns that this move may set Malawi on a collision course with some AU member states.
- Former Liberia president Charles Taylor has been handed a 50-year jail term for his role in Sierra Leone’s civil war. The sentencing, which is seen to be sending an important message, is considered as a major victory for human rights campaigners across Africa.
- As Nigeria mourns the victims of the Dana crash, President Goodluck Jonathan vows that the Government will deal decisively with any official found responsible. Analysts say the plane crash should serve as a wakeup call for regulatory agencies of governments to strictly monitor institutions under them to avert dereliction of duties.
- AfDB supports access to finance for African SMEs with the official launch of the African Guarantee Fund
- AfDB calls for a more equitable distribution of growth in Africa (article in French)
- AfDB grants €12m to Democratic Republic of Congo to modernize its public finances
- AfDB boosts Liberia’s government efforts to improve smallholder productivity with $46.5m grant
- African Union welcomes Sudanese police withdrawal from Abyei
- African Union calls for UN-backed intervention in Mali
- EAC and AfDB sign $428,000 agreement for railway project
- Governance critical for EAC integration, says EAC Secretary General, Dr Richard Sezibera
- EAC, COMESA and SADC partner to establish a Climate Change Adapatation and Mitigation Programme with the support of the Global Mechanism
- 600-Strong ECOWAS mission deployed in Guinea-Bissau to faciliatate the return of constitutional rule after the April 12 coup
- ECOWAS rejects Northern Mali secession and condemns the creation of an Islamic state
- EU and AU call for “concerted international action” to solve Guinea-Bissau crisis
- Zimbabwe sues the European Union over Mugabe sanctions
- IFAD addresses drought in Kenya's coastal region with $33m loan
- IMF says the last decade was the best ever economically for Sub-Saharan Africa
- IMF-ILO-Zambia conference calls for commitment to growth strategy for employment, decent work and development
- Too few teachers and resources hindering students in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the UN
- UN tribunal convicts former Rwandan minister of youth for genocide
- UN calls for better civilian protection as DR Congo violence uproots tens of thousands
- The World Bank releases its new Environment Strategy for 2012-2022 with the aim of supporting countries’ efforts to secure a sustaianable future through green, clean and resilient initiatives
- The World Bank approves $144.5m in zero interest financing and a $31.5m grant for two projects under the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP) program to increase electricity supply and lower energy cost in Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea
- World Bank approves $6m grant to support The Gambia grapple with agricultural challenges
- World Bank helps to provide improved water and sanitation services to over 4 million Ethiopians
In the blogs...
- From Poverty to Power: What can political economists tell us about Africa, aid and development? 8 June 2012 – Duncan Green discusses the joint statement recently released by five research programmes on aid and development in Africa.
- African Arguments: Joyce Banda wills the IMF to give Malawi a loan, 7 June 2012 – Magnus Taylor writes about Malawi’s new president, Joyce Banda, her approach to her new role, and the changes she’s bringing about in the country.
- The Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog: We must act now to stop the genocide of Sudan's Nuba people, 6 June 2012 – Giles Fraser outlines the troubled history of Sudan’s Nuba people and warns that a humanitarian disaster looms if the international community continues to ignore their plight.
- Impatient Optimists: Mali’s first woman seed entrepreneur helps improve food security, 4 June 2012 – The author writes about Mali’s first seed entrepreneur and how, together with ICRISAT, she’s working to spread drought-tolerant and high-yielding seeds among farmers in her country.
- The World Bank’s Africa Can…End Poverty blog: Thou shall not die: Reducing maternal deaths in sub-Sahara Africa, 30 May 2012 – The author discusses the progress that has been made in reducing maternal mortality in Africa, as well as the challenges that remain, and argues that as the ‘African Century’ evolves, sustained reductions in maternal deaths should be seen as a critical marker to gauge its progress and impact on improving the lot of society as a whole.
- Namibia Economist: Prevent the unemployed from becoming unemployable, 8 June 2012 – The author argues that there is only one solution to reducing poverty: we must make our economies grow as fast as we can so that the surplus of the future makes a difference in the lives of the poor today.
- The Daily Maverick: Finances, not fighting, force Sudans to the negotiating table, 7 June 2012 – Simon Allison argues that talks between Sudan and South Sudan are finally progressing due to both countries’ finances and the prohibitive cost of war.
- Pambazuka News: International dimensions of the conflict in Eastern Congo, 6 June 2012 – Gary K. Busch argues that the profits and riches to be gained from exploiting Eastern Congo’s natural resources continue to propel violence, as well as the continued suffering of the Congolese people.
- This is Africa: Nigeria nips at South Africa’s heels, 1 June 2012 – The author argues that with Nigeria’s GDP set for re-basing this year, South Africa’s economic dominance is under threat.
Africa has an opportunity to not only feed itself but to feed the world.
- Kofi Annan, Opening Plenary Session, WEF on Africa 2012
- Australia and South Africa to share $1.87billion space radio telescope
- BRICS slowdown spells trouble for global growth
- China will further deepen cooperation with Africa in the service trade and infrastructure sector, according to vice minister of commerce Li Jinzao
- AFD and IFAD partner to develop an agricultural index insurance in West Africa, which aims to protect smallholder incomes, improve rural livelihoods and contribute to food security in the region
- In an effort to boost Africa’s carbon market, the French Global Environment Facility (GEF) plans to provide additional funds to expand the African Carbon Asset Development Facility
- German pharmaceutical firm donates a compact mobile laboratory to help fight against counterfeit drugs in Ghana
- Germany's Research Ministry offers funding for research partnerships between institutions in sub-Saharan Africa and Germany as part of its strategy to internationalize science, research and education
- India looking at collaborating with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to work in Africa
- India extends diplomatic overtures to South Sudan
- India to give $4.66 million boost to programme to develop Africa’s cotton industry
- Japan pledges $1 billion for African private sector development through AfDB’s Enhanced Private Sector Assistance for Africa Initiative
- 40 new alliances formed by British and Nigerian companies are expected to expend over $500m in the Nigerian oil and gas industry within the next five years
- Britain is determined to help protect the poorest in Malawi by providing urgent assistance to stabilise the economy following its recent currency devaluation
- The United States is providing over $81 million in additional humanitarian assistance to the drought affected Sahel region of West Africa
- Amnesty International’s 2012 Report on the state of the world’s human rights calls on Governments to show legitimate leadership and reject injustice by protecting the powerless and restraining the powerful.
- The European Environment Agency’s Signals report entitled “Building the Future We Want,” focuses on the impacts of consumption and production patterns and ways to reduce their impact on environment.
- The Africa Ecological Footprint Report: Green Infrastructure for Africa's Ecological Security by the AfDB and WWF takes stock of the health of Africa’s ecosystems, as well as trends in resources use patterns. It also lays out recommendations on implementing green development pathways for Africa.
|11-13 June||Frontiers in Development Forum organized by USAID: Washington, D.C., U.S.A|
|11-14 June||Global Environment Facility (GEF) 42nd Council Meeting: Washington, D.C., U.S.A|
|11-15 June||UNCTAD’s Multi-year Expert Meeting on International Cooperation: South–South Cooperation and Regional Integration (fourth session): Geneva, Switzerland|
|12-14 June||ECOWAS/IPU Regional Seminar on Joining the initiatives and experiences of national parliaments for an effective campaign against child trafficking and labour: Abuja, Nigeria|
|16 June||Egypt Presidential Elections (2nd round)|
|18-19 June||G20 Summit: Los Cabos, Mexico|
|20 June||World Refugee Day|
|20-22 June||United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20): Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
|27-29 June||6th OECD Forum on African Public Debt Management: Midrand, South Africa|