africa economic development commodity industrialization un
A new report from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union says the key to long-term development in Africa is commodity-based industrialization. The study collected data mostly from nine African countries and the continent’s five sub-regions. Those countries are Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia.

The report urges African nations to take advantage of their abundance of natural resources by using a commodity-based industrialization strategy. Each nation should frame its own specific policy for commodity-based industrialization so that it can direct its own development.  This is necessary to address poverty and gender disparities, youth unemployment, and other challenges African nations faces. The report states that “massive industrialization based on commodities in Africa is imperative, possible, and beneficial.”

Instead of African nations shipping raw materials to foreign nations to make commodities which are of higher value, the report recommends adding value to raw materials locally. Not only does this increase the profit to African nations but also fosters diversification of technological capabilities, an expansion of an advantageous skills base, and deepened industrial infrastructures in individual countries.

Case studies were prepared for Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia.

Essee Oruma

Source: UN News Centre

Fifth_BRICS_Summit_2013_Brazil_Russia_India_China_Sout_Africa_conference_leadership_global_business

Leaders of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) announced at the end of their summit in March in Durban their intention to start a new Development Bank.  This Development Bank will be used to mobilize resources within developing countries to build infrastructure and promote sustainable development projects.

Over the last four decades, the nations of BRICS have seen enormous success in economic development and are coming together to see that their futures are bright and full of opportunities.  As developed nations struggle through their own economic difficulties, the Development Bank will serve to bridge a gap in funding.  Infrastructure requirements in emerging-market economies point to the need for the availability of credit and sources of financing. With 1.4 billion people lacking reliable electricity, 900 million lacking access to clean water, and 2.6 billion without adequate sanitation, the Development Bank will be a key player in addressing the long-term sustainable solutions to those problems.  In addition, the forecasted large migration to cities calls for policymakers to fund environmentally sustainable investments.

Predictions for infrastructure spending within the developing world top $2 trillion annually in the coming decades.  This spending will allow nations to achieve long-term poverty reduction and economic growth. The private market will still be relied upon, but their dollars can only go so far. The Development Bank will fill the gap and become a catalyst for change in developing countries.

As the world economy is changing, the Development Bank provides BRICS a chance to reflect on those changes within an institution that utilizes modern financial instruments, strong governance, and broad-based mandates.  The bank can capitalize on new development partnerships and collective action as well as innovative and cost-effective approaches.  While developed countries still have a strong role to play in global development, the shortfall in assistance and need for quick decisions make the Development Bank a welcome institution in the marketplace of emerging countries.

– Amanda Kloeppel

Source: The Korea Herald
Photo: BRICS

africa nation economic growth

Africa promises a bright new future. Population projections show that in the next 25 years Africa will more than recover its population losses from the ’80s and ’90s. At the same time, investment companies see Africa as having some of the world’s most promising opportunities for sharp economic growth.

1. South Africa is the leading economy in the continent. South Africa plays the role of the continent’s economic powerhouse, by providing the continent’s other countries with goods and services, as well as investments. South Africa has a stake in seeing the standard of living rise in its potential trading partners and that this will continue to stimulate economic growth in the continent.

2. Nigeria has a large population base and a thriving petroleum export business. Nigeria is consolidating political reform, as exemplified by two peaceful transfers of power within the past decade. Nigeria also has demonstrated its prowess in mobile telecommunications technology.

3. Angola is growing rapidly due to oil exports. Angola’s economy is vulnerable because it lacks diversity but for the time being it is rapidly expanding its infrastructure as part of a controversial “infrastructure for oil” trade agreement with China, which critics believe benefits the Chinese more than the Angolans.

4.  Ghana is “one of the fastest growing economies in the world.” Ghana’s economic growth is based primarily on its oil production, but  political and economic reforms that were in place nearly two decades before oil was discovered in 2007, play a major role in the country’s long-term economic prospects and sustainability, even though Ghana’s rate of growth will not remain at its current astronomical levels.

5. Ethiopia represents a huge market that can drive economic growth and integration in the Horn of Africa region. Ethiopia’s economic growth has been fueled by hydroelectric power, which enables it to export electricity to neighboring countries. Ethiopia has also benefited from large-scale government investment in agriculture, industrialization, and infrastructure.

-Essee Oruma

Source: Christian Science Monitor

What Technology Means To The Developing World

According to the World Economic Forum, the United States placed ninth worldwide in a study that measured each country’s ability to make use of information technology. The U.S. lost out to Finland which placed first due to the regulatory environment which exists in the United States. Even in the top 10 countries, the gap of access to information is wide between the classes, and this gap is heightened in the developing world.

Many countries in Africa and Latin America hold low levels of connectivity to the internet and thus the rest of the globe is reflected in these statistics. By lacking this type of connectivity, the communities in this country miss out on the huge social and economic rewards which coincide with open internet access.

Notably, countries with lacking connectivity are often countries with the poorest communities: China’s ranked 58, Brazil rose to rank 65, India rose to rank 68, and South Africa ranked 70.

In many of the poorest countries, stable access to the internet is secondary to stable access to food, potable water and shelter; however, accessing the internet is a huge benefit in country’s which have met the most basic needs of communities and require further education or economic opportunities to advance their communities and maintain stable income and access to food. While internet access will not fill a stomach, it can provide economic opportunities to keep that stomach full.

– Pete Grapentien

Source: Business Recorder
Photo: Media Global News

Africa’s Economies Thrive During Global Recovery
The global community is slowly recovering from economic difficulties across the board. However, countries in Africa continue to grow at rates that surpass all but their Asian counterparts.

According to the International Monetary Fund, African economies will remain strong throughout this year and next. GDP for the region is expected to increase by 5.3 percent while certain countries will experience even larger growth rates. Mozambique’s economy is projected to increase by 8.4 percent while Nigeria will increase by 7.2 percent. Despite the drop in the value of gold, South Africa is expected to grow by 3.3 percent this year and 6.1 percent next year. In its entirety, the global recovery is occurring at a much slower pace.

These numbers do not seem that extreme unless they’re compared to the United States’ growth rate which is predicted to increase this year to three percent. This is up from last year’s increase of roughly 2.2 percent.

In tough economic conditions such as these, the United States is being left behind in the cultivation of African businesses and the economy. China has been extremely aggressive in creating these relationships and has been reaping the benefits of it. China’s total economic growth is set for 7.7 percent growth this year.

By having a lax or overcautious attitude regarding African investment (both philanthropic and purely business), it is very possible that the United States is missing out on being a part of future success.

– Pete Grapentien

Photo: A Never Ending Dream

Disputed Rate of HIV in South African SchoolgirlsSouth African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi recently released troubling statistics which show that 28 percent of his country’s schoolgirls have HIV, seven times the rate of their male counterparts. In an assembly of the National Council of Provinces, Motsoaledi revealed that these figures “‘destroyed his soul’ and blamed the ‘sugar daddies’ infecting young girls with the virus,” as he advocated government policies to stop such predation.

Motsoaledi points to the drastic difference in HIV rates between boys and girls to illustrate his argument; he argues that if schoolchildren were passing the virus to each other, then rates among boys would not be so much lower. However, it is not clear whether this discrepancy is due to “sugar daddies” as Motsoaledi claims, or to the fact that males are less likely to contract HIV from a positive female than the reverse. Some sources dispute these figures, asserting that they are solely representative of “a small number of schools in the Natal Midlands” and that real figures are closer to 12 percent, down from the previous year’s 14 percent.

South Africa has struggled historically with HIV, and in 2009 began one of the biggest anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment programs in the world. But in the following two years, rates of infection among women aged 30-40 increased. Allegedly, these numbers are due to more people who were infected at a young age moving into older age groups. In order to prevent children from being exposed to one of the worst possible viruses known to humanity, proper education and prevention programs must be implemented in all countries. US foreign aid helps pay for these kinds of initiatives, but there is always more to help with. This might decrease the rate of HIV in South African schoolgirls.

Jake Simon

Sources: Nigerian Tribune, Mail & Guardian
Photo: Sydney Morning Herald

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Africa produces some of the most brilliant artists, athletes, and activists worldwide.  From the media industry to the political stage, these African celebrities are working to improve lives.  The Borgen Project presents the top 10 African celebrities to follow.

1. Patricia Amira, Nigerian, TV Personality

Patricia Amira is a self-proclaimed “optimistic realist” and “closet artist.”  She is the “Oprah” of Africa and hosts one of the continent’s most popular talk shows.  The Patricia Show transcends national boundaries and identities.  The show focuses on achievements across Africa and aims to create social and cultural transformation. The Pan-African talk show is broadcasted in over 45 African countries and averages over 10 million viewers.  She currently serves as the Director of the Festival of African Fashion and Arts.  The festival encourages collaboration among designers and emphasizes the importance of artists.  Amira is also a spokesperson against human trafficking.

2. Nneka, Nigerian, Musician

Nneka is a soul musician of Nigerian-German descent.  Investigative journalism and philosophy inform her music, and she often writes about poverty, war, and and social justice issues.  Nneka emphasizes the importance of understanding balance and harmony.  “It’s important that you recognize yourself as part of the system, too, and that the only way we can make things work is by realizing we are part of the same entity,” Nneka said.

3. Didier Drogba, Ivorian, Soccer Player

Didier Drogba was a leading striker for England’s Chelsea football club and head captain of the Cote D’Ivoire national team.  His performance on the field is impressive, but he made headlines at the 2006 FIFA World Cup for something much greater.  Drogba begged on live television for a cease-fire on the Ivory Coast.  The warring factions subsided within one week.  The Telegraph reporter Alex Hayes noted that Drogba is “the face of his country; the symbol of a new, post-civil war Ivory Coast.”  He also created the Didier Drogba Foundation, a foundation “to provide financial and material support in both health and education to the African people.”  The foundation recently partnered with United Against Malaria (UAM) to help fight malaria.

4. Wole Soyinka, Nigerian, Playwright

Wole Soyinka is a playwright, author, and political activist from Nigeria.  Soyinka entered the political stage after lobbying for a cease-fire during Nigeria’s civil war.  “The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism,” Soyinka said.  This led to his imprisonment for 22 months.  He was released in 1969, and he began publishing again.  Soyinka became the first African to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986.  His novel The Interpreters analyzes the experiences of six different African intellectuals.

5. Neill Blomkamp, South African, Movie Director

Neill Blomkamp is a movie director known for his documentary, handheld cinema style.  He blends natural and computer-generated elements effortlessly.  Blomkamp co-wrote and directed District 9.  The film focused on extraterrestrial refugees in a South African slum.  The title derived from real events during the apartheid era at District Six, Cape Town. The film received international fame, and box office sales totaled $200 million.  Time magazine named Blomkamp one of the “100 Most Influential People of 2009.” 

6. Binyavanga Wainaina, Kenyan, Author

Binyavanga Wainaina founded the first literary magazine in East Africa, entitled Kwani?.  The magazine is known as “the most renown literary journal in sub-Saharan Africa.”  Wainaina created the magazine after winning the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing.  The Caine Prize is an annual literary award for the best original short story by an African writer.  He is known for authoring “How to Write About Africa.”  The short story is known as one of the most satirical pieces ever written about Africa.

 7. Genevieve Nnaji, Nigerian, Actress

Genevieve Nnaji skyrocketed from a middle class upbringing to Nollywood stardom.  She is one of the most popular African celebrities.  Nnaji grew up in Lagos, Nigeria as one of eight children.  Nnaji began her acting career at eight years old on Ripples, a Nigerian soap opera.  She is now one of Africa’s most popular actresses.  At only 32 years old, she has starred in over 80 feature films.  She is one of the best paid actresses in Nollywood—Nigeria’s feature film industry.   “I have always maintained that when they [Hollywood directors and actors] are ready for a young African woman to take part in a project that they will come looking for us,” Nnaji said.

8. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian, Writer

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of Africa’s leading contemporary authors.  She is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun.  Adichie delivered a popular TED Talk after publishing The Thing around Your Neck, a collection of short stories.  She warns against judging a person or country based on limited information.  “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story,” Adichie said.  Nigerian history and tragedies inspire her literature.  She is one of the most notable authors of disaporan literature.

9. Rokia Traoré, Malian, Musician

Rokia Traoré became famous in 1997 with the release of her first album Mouneissa.  Malian singer Ali Farka Touré helped Traoré develop her sound, and she later earned “Best African Discovery” from the Radio France Internationale.  Traoré’s father was a Malian Diplomat, and she traveled extensively as a child.  Her travels in Algeria, Saudi Arabia, France, and Belgium influenced her music.  Traoré joined the 30 Songs/30 Days campaign in September 2012.  The campaign supported the Half the Sky movement, based on the book by the same name.  The movement focuses on sex trafficking, sexual violence, and female education.

10. Alek Wek, Sudanese, Supermodel

Alex Wek is a supermodel, fashion designer, and political activist.  Wek fled Sudan at the age of 14 to escape the civil war. She moved to London, England with her parents and eight siblings and was later discovered at an outdoor market.  Ford Models, one of the world’s top modeling agencies, signed her in 1996.  By 1997, she was the first African model to appear on the cover of Elle magazine.  Wek continues to model but is also a member of the U.S. Committee for Refugees’ Advisory Council.  Wek works with World Vision to combat AIDS.  She is also an ambassador for Doctors Without Borders in Sudan.  She belongs to the Dinka ethnic group

– Whitney M. Wyszynski

Source: Forbes

BRICS Think Tanks Plan Involvement With AfricaBRICS think tanks are planning the proceedings of the 2013 BRICS summit in Durban, South Africa. The proceedings will decide the course of BRICS’s support and capitalization on exploring African economies.

BRICS (an association of the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) will be discussing the establishment of the BRICS Development Bank which was proposed at last years’ BRICS conference in New Delhi.

Although it would be an internationally supported bank, the BRICS Development Bank would not be competing with larger banks such as the World Bank or International Monetary Fund (IMF). Instead, the BRICS Development Bank will be concerned with financing and supporting intra-BRICS programs and emerging African economies.

Among the finance projects of the BRICS Development Bank will be creating job prospects, urbanization and infrastructure development of African communities and economies. While the goals of larger organizations such as the World Bank are in line with these same pursuits, many representatives affiliated with the BRICS association feel that reform is necessary and that a more focused bank could better meet the needs of developing African economies.

If the BRICS Development Bank is established, South African officials believe that it should be based in their country.

-Pete Grapentien

Source Business Day

Flooding Disaster in MozambiqueThe nation of Mozambique experienced one of the worst floods in recent history due to extremely high amounts of rainfall throughout the month of January. Flooding in Mozambique damaged the province of Gaza. Over 250,000 have been affected by the floods, with 150,000 people forced out of their homes in the province and over 100 killed.

While the victims of flooding in Mozambique are dealing with destroyed homes and families, the natural disaster has been exacerbated by the outbreak of cholera. There have been over 250 cases so far, fortunately, no cases have proved fatal. Mozambique has experienced problems with cholera for years, so their response has been effective thus far. However, the potential for more flooding means that they must remain vigilant.

The complete rebuilding effort is estimated to cost over $30 million, according to The Humanitarian Country Team in Mozambique, an organization comprised of NGO and UN officials. UNICEF itself seeks $6.8 million from this fund to pay for projects to improve the welfare of children and those around them, like building clean water pumps and constructing new homes.

According to Jesper Morch of UNICEF, “emergency supplies and funding has been depleted…we urgently need additional funds if we are to help many children and families recover.”

Jake Simon

Sources: news24, UNICEF, Al Jazeera
Photo: Times Live

Books For Africa Teams Up With The Peace CorpsBy pairing with the Peace Corps and other nonprofits, Books for Africa has become the world’s largest shipper of donated books to the African continent. With its headquarters based in St. Paul, Minnesota, Books for Africa has shipped nearly 27 million books to 48 countries in the past 25 years.

In countries where few classrooms have suitable resources, Books for Africa ship libraries of new scholarly and leisurely texts as well as new law and human rights texts. Classrooms in countries such as Ghana, Ethiopia and South Africa are filled with avid learners whose parents have sacrificed greatly to provide them with an education but often lack adequate supplies.

While many classrooms have adequate textbooks to constitute as reading material, noted on project organizer, the establishment of reading centers such as libraries indulge the hope that “Ethiopian children and their families will be able to experience the joys of reading and literacy activities directly.”

– Pete Grapentien

Source Huffington Post