bulletin of the AFRICA PROGRESS PANELVolume 5, Issue 8 — 20 April 2012
Africa Progress Panel
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Millennium Development Goals- Further and Faster
Last week’s Guardian news story on UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s role in a post 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) committee, highlighted the importance of making a no-holds-barred push to meet the current MDG targets, in Africa and elsewhere. While many African countries have registered significant advances during the past decade, overall the continent will miss 2015 goals by a wide margin at the current rate.
A key reason for this is that MDG progress is being constrained by inequality. When assessing nations, we tend to focus too much on economic growth at the expense of social development, rule of law and respect for human rights. Renewed commitment to meeting MDG targets is therefore crucial. Indeed, failure to accelerate progress towards the MDGs would diminish the credibility of any post-2015 commitments.
Recent data from the World Bank shows that the share of Africans living on less than $1.25 a day has fallen, however that still leaves 386 million living in extreme poverty. Africa’s wealth disparities are among the biggest in the world and the continent accounts for a rising share of world poverty, in spite of a decade of impressive economic growth.
Results are mixed as well for other MDG targets. Compared with a decade ago, Africa’s children are less likely to die before their fifth birthday, women are less likely to die from complications of pregnancy or in childbirth, and more children are getting into school.
But an estimated 35 per cent of Africa’s children suffer from stunting. This figure is deeply disturbing given that malnutrition is associated with over one third of child deaths. Thirty million African children are out of school, improvement in school completion rates has slowed and far too many children are unable to meet the most basic learning achievement standards. The region is home to over 40 per cent of the 783 million people globally lacking access to improved sources of safe drinking water and decline in maternal death rates lags behind other developing regions.
The challenge for Africa is to harness economic growth to more equitable opportunities and income distribution. Indeed, a wealth of evidence is now showing that greater equity can boost growth and strengthen the rate at which growth converts into less poverty. Conversely, high levels of inequality act as a brake on growth, limiting the potential for development of markets and investment.
Recent advances in school enrolment, child survival rates, and combating infectious disease, demonstrate what is possible when good policies combine with effective political leadership and consistent international partnerships. Over the last 10 years there has been a massive investment to combat malaria, tuberculosis and HIV AIDS and the results are plain to see – a 47 per cent coverage increase in anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and a decline by one-third in the number of malaria deaths since the end of the 1990s (WHO World Malaria Report, 2011). These examples illustrate the critical role of international aid in fulfilling the MDG compact between African Governments and partners.
As noted by Myles Wickstead of the Commission for Africa - “The Millennium Development Goals – What next, Mr Cameron?” - meeting the 2015 MDGs is part of a larger commitment to achieving widespread poverty reduction and strengthening the foundation for sustainable development in Africa.
This can only happen through an immediate and concerted push by African governments and international partners to meet the 2015 targets by narrowing inequalities. Not every country in Africa can reach every target – but every country can go further and faster.
The above themes are discussed at length in the 2012 Africa Progress Panel Report, which will be launched at the World Economic Forum in Addis Ababa in May 2012.
*APP bi-weekly editorial as featured on allafrica.com.
- Mali has sworn in parliament speaker Dioncounda Traoré as its transitional president, launching the restoration of civilian rule after last month's coup. Some predict that the restoration of a legitimate government coupled with ECOWAS’s readiness to send troops to intervene militarily could stabilize the country by halting the military aggression of the rebels in the North.
- Africa has a second woman president after Mrs. Banda was sworn in as president in Malawi following the death of president Mutharika. Although the move allays fears that the constitutional order would break-down, natives are optimistic that with the new president, the county’s social and economic woes will end soon.
- The coup leaders in Guinea-Bissau announce that elections will be held in two years. While some analysts argue that this is unlikely to satisfy the international community, as ECOWAS has already indicated the possibility of military intervention. Others say, that convincing the opposition to take part in the elections is the way forward.
- Following the selection this week of Dartmouth College president and public health expert Jim Young Kim as World Bank president, African financial leaders are calling for more democracy and transparency in the global financial institution. The selection of Kim, who had faced two developing-world nominees - the African candidate, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and former Colombian Finance Minister, Jose Antonio Ocampo – continues a seven-decade practice of installing an American citizen to lead the bank.
- As the conflict between the two Sudans intensifies, observers are worried that it could escalate into an all-out war, which the economy may not be able to support. While the UN Security Council is debating imposing sanctions on the two Sudans, the UN and the AU demand the withdrawal of the South from Heglig and strongly condemn Sudan’s aerial bombardment of the South.
- On Wednesday 18 April, a London court convicted the former governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, of corruption and multiple accounts of fraud and consequently jailed him for 13 years. As many Nigerians applaud the London court for ensuring Ibori's thoroughfare to prison, the lessons inherent in this conviction are enormous for Nigeria, especially the nation's judicial system, which declared the former governor innocent.
- Recurrent drought and conflict-related situations in Africa’s Sahel region are now affecting 15 million people. A fear of a cascading crisis has prompted the UN to call for urgent action. Yet, many observers note that with the right approach the Sahel region has ‘huge agricultural potential.’
- The AU suspends Guinea-Bissau's membership of the organisation following a recent military coup
- The EAC launches a $10m project to harmonise the registration of medicines in the region
- EAC hosts a round table meeting on “Women and Access to Finance in Africa,” a first step to establish an Africa-wide working group to jointly address issues on women’s access to Finance
- ECOWAS lifts sanctions against Mali, saying it is convinced the leaders of a military coup are committed to restoring constitutional rule
- Regional experts approve a programme to formalize informal trade in the West African sub-region as part of efforts to reduce poverty, boost economic development and integration
- EIB launches a €50m East Africa microfinance programme aimed at encouraging job creation and increasing access to long-term funding for micro and small enterprises
- EIB pledges €70m to finance SMEs in Kenya
- OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) approves a $46m loan and grant to boost socio-economic development in seven African countries
- WFP presents equipment and materials to 10 farmer groups under its Purchase for Progress (P4P) Initiative to help improve rice production in Northern Ghana
- UNDP Administrator emphasizes the role of women in "Road to Rio," a series of online posts on human development issues
- UNEP, UNDP calls for enhanced support for climate change adaptation in Africa
- Dutch postman Cycles 13,000 kms from the Netherlands to raise funds for WFP to provide more than 30,000 meals for Malawian schoolchildren
- UNFCCC to consider the candidacies of six countries competing to host the Green Climate Fund designed to help raise up to $100 billion a year for the world's poorest countries
- In a speech delivered by DG of WTO, Pascal Lamy says, “trade improves the lives of most people around the world”
- Four WTO members (India, China, Chinese Taipei, and Korea) reported their commitment to opening their markets for products from least-developed countries
- Deputy DG, Vantine Rugwabiza, says Africa should trade more with Africa to secure future growth
In the blogs...
- Impatient Optimists: Tragedy, hope, and raw determination, 18 April 2012 – The post discusses Ghana’s intention to introduce two new vaccines into its immunisation programme next week during the WHO’s first-ever World Immunisation Week.
- The World Bank’s Africa Can…End Poverty blog: Big shifts and what they mean for Africa and Kenya, 16 April 2012 – Wolfgang Fengler, the World Bank’s Lead Economist in Kenya, discusses the big shifts and changes in the world and Africa over the past two decades and what they could mean for Africa.
- From Poverty to Power: Are aid cuts inevitable and if so, what should aid campaigners do about it? 12 April 2012 – Duncan Green, Head of Research at Oxfam GB, discusses four ways in which aid campaigners can deal with the current decline in aid.
- The Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog: How democracy came through in Malawi’s succession, 11 April 2012 – This post details the events following the death of Malawi’s former president, Bingu wa Mutharika, and leading up to the inauguration of the country’s new president, Joyce Banda.
A world that is not advancing toward the Millennium Development Goals – a world mired in the deprivation of hunger, the prevalence of disease and the despair of poverty -- will not be a world at peace.
- Kofi Annan, Chair, Africa Progress Panel
- Business Day Nigeria: Senegal’s resilient democracy, 19 April 2012 – The author argues that despite all the controversy and problems that faced Senegal’s recent elections, the country’s long-established democracy not only survived but emerged strengthened.
- The Huffington Post: Education without borders, 17 April 2012 Former Prime Minister of the UK, Gordon Brown, argues that the current aid architecture for education is inadequate and, focusing on South Sudan, he discusses his ‘education catch up plan’ aimed at extending learning opportunities to 2.5 million children by the end of 2015.
- The Financial Times: Africa presses for World Bank reform, 17 April 2012 – According to authors, African leaders and development experts are pushing for changes in World Bank policy and reform of its selection procedures following the election of Dr Jim Yong Kim as president of the bank.
- allAfrica.com: Will the East African Community have teeth to bite Like Ecowas? 16 April 2012 – The author argues that one of the main things that gives the Ecowas its power to effectively deal with undemocratic and unconstitutional tendencies in the region, such as the recent military coup in Mali, is the Central Bank of West African States. He argues that the EAC should seek similar financial unity.
- The New York Times: A population antidote: high school for girls, 16 April 2012 – In light of the runaway population growth in Africa, the authors illustrates how requiring secondary education for girls would lead to smaller families and a more sustainable world.
- Australia’s Pancontinental Oil & Gas company plans to raise $51.8 million to fund its ongoing exploration programmes in Africa
- China Development Bank Corp signs a $1 billion lending agreement with Ghana as part of the biggest loan in the country's history expected to provide jobs and develop natural gas
- The EU launches a new initiave:"Energising Development" Initiative, which aims to provide access to sustainable energy for an additional 500 million people in the developing world
- France provides Senegal with a €130 million budget assistance package to help strengthen the country’s present financial position
- French Development Agency extends Sh54 million grant to the Eastern and Southern African trade and development bank, PTA
- Germany’s BMZ and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation commit €20m to support family planning projects in West Africa
- DFID signs an agreement with FAO to donate £16m ($25m) to support an innovative new global partnership that would improve the agricultural statistics available to governments and farmers around the world
- US lawmakers introduce bills in the House and Senate with the goal of expanding US exports to Africa by 200% over the next decade
- USAID addresses global waste issues through "Launch: Beyond Waste" challenge, which aims to transform waste management, waste prevention, and waste reuse in the developing and developed worlds
- Latest figures released by OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) show that global official development assistance (ODA) dropped by $3.5 billion between 2010 and 2011, representing a 2.7 percent decrease. Disregarding years of exceptional debt relief, this was the first drop since 1997.
- According to a new report by ONE Campaign, increased donor support for agricultural investment plans in 30 countries in Africa, Asia and Central America could lift about 50 million people out of extreme poverty
- The 2011 Revision of the World Urbanization Prospects report states that 86% of future urban population growth will be driven by African and Asian countries, adding that this unprecedented increase will pose new challenges in terms of jobs, housing and infrastructure.
- Over four million fewer children under 5 are dying each year than in 1990. A new report from UNICEF and Save the Children highlights improvements for millions of children, identifying international aid as a key driver of change
- EAC Community improves business environment, according to the 'Doing Business for East African Community Report 2012'. The report has revealed that the business environment for entrepreneurs in all five economies improved in 2010-2011, as the countries implemented critical regulatory reforms.
- World Bank brief on Climate-Proofing Development Programmes outlines the Bank's contribution to achieving synergies between development finance and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
|20-22 April||IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings & G20 Finance Ministers/Central Bank Governors meetings: Washington, D.C|
|21-26 April||13th session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIII): Doha, Qatar|
|23-27 April||27th session of the FAO Regional Conference for Africa: Brazzaville, Congo|
|24-26 April||Global Forum for Health Research Forum 2012 on “Beyond Aid… Research and Innovation as key drivers for Health, Equity and Development:” Cape Town, South Africa|
|25 April||18th Africa Partnership Forum on “Energy for Africa:” Paris, France|
|25-26 April||Third Workshop on Water and Climate Change Adaptation in Transboundary Basins: Geneva, Switzerland|
|25-27 April||Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week 2012, hosted by AU and UNECA: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia|