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AfricaFocus Bulletins with Material on Aid, Poverty, & Public Investment - 2007-2008

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January 29, 2018  Africa/Global: Humanitarian Attention Deficits
    The international system of response to humanitarian crises is flawed. And the often-repeated call to focus on addressing causes of crises and structural flaws in the system, instead of only providing short-term relief, is undeniably justified. But current trends, paralleling austerity programs and cuts in services at domestic levels in the United States and around the world, are not moving in the direction of fundamental reform. Instead, they are further diminishing the already inadequate resources devoted to saving lives.

March 10, 2015  Africa/Global: Falling Short on Climate Finance
    Africa, the continent with warming deviating most rapidly from "normal" conditions, could see climate change adaptation costs rise to US$50 billion per year by 2050, even assuming international efforts keep global warming below 2 degrees C this century, according to a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report.

November 19, 2014  Africa: Past Time for Bandaids
    Although the new BandAid30 single may raise millions, some of which may actually aid in fighting Ebola, it is also prompting an unusually high level of criticism for its patronizing lyrics and paternalistic stance towards Africa. Even more important, the Ebola epidemic is prompting not only traditional charity but also questioning of the fundamental global failure to invest in sustainable support for health at all levels.

May 13, 2013  Africa: Rise of the Global South
    "Although most developing countries have done well, a large number of countries have done particularly well -- what can be called the 'rise of the South'. Some of the largest countries have made rapid advances, notably Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey. But there has also been substantial progress in smaller economies, such as Bangladesh, Chile, Ghana, Mauritius, Rwanda and Tunisia. ... For the first time in 150 years, the combined output of the developing world's three leading economies -- Brazil, China and India -- is about equal to the combined GDP of the longstanding industrial powers of the North -- Canada, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom and the United States." - UNDP Human Development Report, 2013

Oct 28, 2012  Africa: Social Security & the Right to Food
    Since Amartya Sen's pioneering work on the subject three decades ago, it has been a truism that famine is caused most directly not by shortages of food but by inequalities which deprive poor people of the resources to compensate for such shortages. Now a new joint report by UN special rapporteurs on the right to food and on extreme poverty is drawing the logical conclusion, namely the need for a global social security fund "of last resort" to enable every country, however poor, to provide guarantees for its citizens against catastrophic events that exhaust their resources needed for survival.

Jun 15, 2012  Africa: Key Issues at Rio+20
    The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, more commonly known as Rio+20, is in full talking mode this week, although the official summit takes place next week, on June 20-22. But while many ideas and new terminology will be aired, and the volume of official and parallel documents are more than even the most dedicated international conference junkie can read, the script seems familiar. Rich countries are for the most part determined to block firm commitments to strong action.

Jun 7, 2012  West Africa: Sahel Food Crisis
    "The high prices of basic foods are the most alarming feature of the current Sahel crisis, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Prices are expected to keep rising until the end of August - during the lean season - but the size of recent hikes has surprised food price analysts and humanitarian aid personnel." - IRIN humanitarian news and analysis

Aug 5, 2011  Somalia: Updates and Reflections
    It is difficult to get beyond dichotomies. Either focus on responding to undeniably massive life-threatening famine or on understanding the multiple causes and the reasons that it is happening again. Highlight one cause or another among the factors responsible: drought, global warming, war, failures of governments and international agencies, and more. Nor is it sufficient to say "all of the above."

Jun 1, 2011  Africa: "Aid" Promises and Accountability
    The G8 "accountability report" on increased aid spending "covers up $18 billion aid shortfall by ignoring inflation," headlined a Guardian article reporting critiques of the report by aid groups. It should be no surprise that "donor" countries try to put the best possible spin on their accomplishments. But the pressure is growing for more transparent and independent reporting on international spending classified as "aid."

May 26, 2011  Africa: Where Does the Money Go?
    "Current total deposits by non-residents in offshore and secrecy jurisdictions are just under US$10 trillion ... The United States, the United Kingdom, and the Cayman Islands top the list of jurisdictions, with the United States out in front with a total of US $2 trillion. ... such deposits have been growing at a compound rate of 9 percent annually over the last 13 years." - Global Financial Integrity

May 26, 2011  Africa: Cash Drain from Poorest Countries
    The 48 countries classified by the United Nations as LDCs [Least Developed Countries], 33 of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa, lost a cumulative total of $246 billion in illicit financial flows over the period from 1990 to 2008, according to a new report from Global Financial Integrity prepared for the UNDP. Six of the top ten countries in cumulative outflows were in Africa, including Angola (#2), Lesotho (#3), Chad (#4), Uganda (#7), Ethiopia (#9), and Zambia (#10).

Feb 16, 2011  Africa: Stolen Assets Recovery
    The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC ) ... has 71 articles addressing numerous tools to combat corruption ... However, it is the "return of assets" that has been singled out as "a fundamental principle of this Convention". - U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Center

Feb 16, 2011  Egypt: Recovering Stolen Wealth
    As Egypt turns from the gripping drama of the 18 days that brought down the Mubarak regime, there are multiple issues on the agenda. Among them not the least important is recovery of stolen wealth from the assets of former President Hosni Mubarak and his colleagues. That task will not be easy, requiring political will, technical competence, and international cooperation among many countries. But the chances are enhanced by recent international efforts to increase transparency and government capacity to deal with such issues.

Oct 19, 2010  Nigeria: Enabling Corporate Crime
    A September U.S. Court decision dismissed a case against Shell for human rights abuses in Nigeria, with the sweeping claim that corporations could not be held liable under international law for human rights abuses. And a UN Environmental Programme report on oil in the Niger Delta, due to be completed early next year and funded by Shell Oil, is reported to include, without alternate views, claims from Shell that 90% of oil spills from its facilities are due to sabotage or attempts at theft rather than to negligence.

Sep 6, 2010  Africa: Global Solidarity Levy
    The turnover in foreign exchange markets has reached four trillion dollars a day, more than the total output of the U.S. economy in three months and more than a threefold increase from 2001. More than 80% of these transactions are speculative, as financial institutions trade currencies to profit from changes in rates. Yet, unlike almost all retail transactions, currency transactions deliver no revenues to public coffers. Now a group of 60 countries is proposing a new fee on currency transactions, which they call a "Global Solidarity Levy." At the proposed rate of only 5/1000 of one percent, such a "currency transaction levy" could bring in more than $30 billion a year, and perhaps much more.

Jun 24, 2010  Africa: G8 Goals and Promises
    The ritual is familiar, as leaders of the G8 countries gather for their annual meeting, this year in Canada, and followed immediately by the parallel meeting of the expanded G20 countries. Although they take backseat to major power debate on their own responses to global economic crisis, previous commitments to the development of Africa are to be reviewed and, in part, renewed. But even the upbeat spin from the G8's own evaluation cannot conceal the fact that fulfillment of commitments has at best been "a very mixed picture."

Jun 11, 2010  Africa: Just Give Money to the Poor
    Discussing poverty with a Washington Post reporter last month, 5th graders at a Southeast Washington school (the poverty rate for Washington, DC is 32 percent) came up with an obvious solution. "Why not just give them money?" (Washington Post, May 11). Experts and policy-makers have found it easy to dismiss this common-sense suggestion, in favor of magical belief in trickle-down economics or of elaborate poverty-reduction plans. But a new book brings together weighty evidence that in fact the children are likely to be right.

Feb 2, 2010  Africa: Solidarity with Haiti
    "Despite $402 million pledged to support the Haitian government's Economic Recovery Program [in April 2009] ... as of yesterday we estimate that 85% of the pledges made last year remain undisbursed. ... [we don't need more pledges] We need a reconstruction fund that is large, managed transparently, creates jobs for Haitians, and grows the Haitian economy. We need a reconstruction plan that uses a pro-poor, rights-based approach far different from the charity and failed development approaches that have marred interactions between Haiti and much of the rest of the world for the better part of two centuries." - Dr. Paul Farmer, U.N. Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti January 27, 2010

Feb 2, 2010  Africa: Haiti's Debt in Context
    "Haiti was the only country in which the ex-slaves themselves were expected to pay a foreign government [France] for their liberty [in 1804]. By 1900, it was spending 80% of its national budget on repayments. ... In 1947, Haiti finally paid off the original reparations, plus interest. Doing so left it destitute, corrupt, disastrously lacking in investment and politically volatile." - historian Alex von Tunzelmann, in London Sunday Times, May 17, 2009

Sep 28, 2009  Africa: G20 in Focus
    The G20, which has now officially replaced the G8 as the major coordination forum for the world's major economic powers, significantly expands representation beyond the previous "rich countries" grouping, for the first time including large "emerging" economies from all continents. However, the G20 still lacks either country-level or regional representation from less developed countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Sep 28, 2009  Africa: Financing Global Health
    The G20 Summit meeting in Pittsburgh last week marked a significant expansion of international fora on global problems, with the official announcement that it was replacing the more restricted G8 as the primary venue for coordination of the world's major economic powers. The Summit's conclusions, focused on macroeconomic and financial issues, offered little for Africa, apart from generic expressions of support for development and protecting the most vulnerable. But the changing policy climate was also reflected in the parallel release of incremental proposals for new financing mechanisms for global needs that would be more consistent than promises of "aid" from rich countries.

Apr 2, 2009  Africa: Global Economic Crisis, 2
    "The Group of 20 (G20) is making a big show of getting together to come to grips with the global economic crisis. But here's the problem with the upcoming summit in London on April 2: It's all show. What the show masks is a very deep worry and fear among the global elite that it really doesn't know the direction in which the world economy is heading and the measures needed to stabilize it." Walden Bello, Foreign Policy in Focus

Apr 2, 2009  Africa: Global Economic Crisis, 3
    "The welfare of developed and developing countries is mutually interdependent in an increasingly integrated world economy. ...Without a truly inclusive response, recognizing the importance of all countries in the reform process, global economic stability cannot be restored, and economic growth, as well as poverty reduction worldwide, will be threatened. This inclusive global response will require the participation of the entire international community; it must encompass more than the G-7 or G-8 or G-20, but the representatives of the entire planet, from the G-192." - United Nations Commission of Experts on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System

Apr 2, 2009  Africa: Global Economic Crisis, 1
    "There is a need for developing countries to examine the options for national policy on each aspect of the economic crisis and to seek the appropriate policies. However, only some policy measures can be taken at national level, especially if the country is too small to rely on the boosting of domestic-led growth. Regional-level measures are important. And most critical are the reforms, actions and cooperative measures required at the international level." - Martin Khor, South Centre

Sep 7, 2008  Africa: "Aid" Gaps & Questions, 2
    "An exit strategy from aid dependence requires a radical shift both in the mindset and in the development strategy of countries dependent on aid, and a deeper and direct involvement of people in their own development. It also requires a radical and fundamental restructuring of the institutional aid architecture at the global level." - Benjamin Mkapa, President of Tanzania 1995-2005

Sep 7, 2008  Africa: "Aid" Gaps & Questions, 1
    "Efforts to step up official development assistance (ODA) have suffered a setback. In 2007, the only countries to reach or exceed the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent of their gross national income (GNI) were Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. ... when weighted by the size of their economies, total net aid flows from the DAC members represented only 0.28 per cent of their combined national income. ,,,. net ODA (in constant prices) dropped by 4.7 per cent in 2006 and a further 8.4 per cent in 2007." - UN Millennium Development Goals Gap Task Force Report

Jul 7, 2008  Africa: G8 Issues Roundup
    "A staggering 9.7 million children die each year before the age of five. Most would survive if they had the basic healthcare taken for granted in rich nations. ...We're campaigning for a world where all children have an equal chance of reaching their fifth birthday." - World Vision, campaign for G8 Action on Child Healthcare

Jun 9, 2008  Japan/Africa: More but Not Enough
    In recent years, Japan's role in Africa has attracted little attention from international media, in comparison to the high profile of China and, sometimes, India. Nevertheless, with the world's 2nd largest national economy, behind the United States, Japan's relations with the continent are significant - and growing. As host of the G-8 Summit in July, Japan will be in the spotlight and its record on global and African issues under scrutiny.

Apr 13, 2008  Africa: Food Alarm and New Proposals
    This is the season for economic reports, and, as usual, the message is mixed. The World Bank and the Food and Agriculture are stressing the structural crisis caused by rising food prices, and propose some new remedies, both immediate and medium-term.

Mar 27, 2008  Africa: "Diagonal" Health Financing
    The dichotomy between "vertical" financing (aiming for disease-specific results) and "horizontal" financing (aiming for improved health systems) of health services in developing countries is both destructive and unnecessary, argue a team of health activists and researchers in a new peer-reviewed policy paper published in the journal Globalization and Health. They propose expanding a "diagonal" approach that recognizes the necessary complementarity between disease-specific programs and improvement in health systems, with costs shared by both international and domestic funding sources.

Dec 2, 2007  Africa: Climate Change Threatens Continent
    Climate change is not just in the future. It is already having serious effects, says the latest UNDP Human Development Report. Africa "has the lightest carbon footprint but is likely to pay the heaviest price in the coming century for human-induced climate change." Meanwhile, Texas, with a population of 23 million, produces more carbon emissions than the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, with 720 million people.

Dec 2, 2007  Africa: Climate Change Impact Report
    "Climate disasters are heavily concentrated in poor countries. Some 262 million people were affected by climate disasters annually from 2000 to 2004, over 98 percent of them in the developing world. ... In [rich] countries one in 1,500 people was affected by climate disaster. The comparable figure for developing countries was one in 19." - UNDP Human Development Report

Nov 5, 2007  Africa: Sending Money Home
    "Remittance flows to and within Africa approach US$40 billion. North African countries such as Morocco and Egypt are the continent's major recipients. East African countries heavily depend on these flows, with Somalia standing out as particularly remittance dependent. For the entire region, these transfers are 13 per cent of per capita income." - Sending Money Home, International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Oct 24, 2007  Africa: Neglecting Agriculture, 1
    "The central finding of the study is that the agriculture sector has been neglected by both governments and the donor community, including the World Bank. ..The Bank's limited and, until recently, declining support for addressing the constraints on agriculture has not been used strategically to meet the diverse needs of a sector that requires coordinated intervention across a range of activities." - World Bank Independent Evaluation Group

Oct 24, 2007  Africa: Neglecting Agriculture, 2
    "For the first time in 25 years, the World Bank's annual Development Report (WDR 2008) is dedicated to agriculture. The report is a welcome indicator of renewed interest in agriculture worldwide that is urgently needed... [But] though the WDR 2008 makes a few guarded references to the mistakes made under structural adjustment programs, there is no place that adequately describes the responsibility of countries and firms who made irresponsible loans, or of the Bank itself for its rigid and often misguided programs " EcoFair Trade Dialogue

Sep 3, 2007  Sahel: Beyond Any Drought
    "People blame locusts, drought and high food prices for the crisis that affected more than 3 million people in Niger in 2005, But these were just triggers. The real cause of the problem was that people there are chronically vulnerable. Two years later, they still are." - Vanessa Rubin, CARE International UK

Jun 18, 2007  Africa: Two Cheers for G8?
    "In 2005, at its meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland, the [G-8] pledged to provide 'as close as possible to universal access to treatment' for all people suffering from AIDS by 2010. That should mean at least 10 million people in treatment by then ... Yet at the recent meeting, the G-8 said it was aiming to treat only some five million patients in Africa by an unspecified date. That sounds like consigning millions of untreated people to death and disability." - New York Times

Jun 5, 2007  Africa: "Aid" Promises Unmet
    "The record so far indicates that apart from debt reduction, African countries haven't realized the benefits promised at the G-8 Summit two years ago, during the Year of Africa," John Page, the World Bank's chief economist for the Africa Region.

May 23, 2007  Africa: Eyes on the G8
    The G8 (Group of 8) summit of the world's richest nations is scheduled to meet June 6-8 on the Baltic coast of Germany, and activists are demanding action not rhetoric on commitments to Africa. ActionAid, for example, is calling for at least 8,000 people, the number dying of AIDS every day, to upload images of their eyes to signal the leaders that the world is watching. Visit to add your eyes and your message.

May 7, 2007  USA/Africa: More than Just a Mvule Tree
    "Mrs. Mead's 4th grade class at Pecan Creek Elementary in Denton, Texas is writing, publishing and selling a book titled "More Than Just A Mvule Tree" for $5 per copy. All monies will be used to purchase Mvule trees to be planted in Uganda and maintained by Ugandan children to fund education thru the Kibo Group ("

Nov 15, 2006  Africa: Global Fund as Legacy of Innovation
    After more than 20 hours of deliberations early this month, the board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was unable to agree on a new executive director. Despite the resulting delay, some observers say the failure actually indicates how seriously the Fund is taking its mandate to build a consensus between developed and developing countries.

Nov 12, 2006  Lesotho: Anti-Corruption Actions
    Search the World Bank's website section on anti-corruption ( for "Lesotho" and you will get the following response: Your search - Lesotho - did not match any documents. No pages were found containing "Lesotho". But while the World Bank may not be paying attention, the small Southern African country has taken the lead in attacking corruption in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, a giant scheme financed by the World Bank itself.

Nov 5, 2006  Africa: Economics of Climate Change
    "All countries will be affected. The most vulnerable - the poorest countries and populations - will suffer earliest and most, even though they have contributed least to the causes of climate change." - Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change

Nov 5, 2006  Africa: Up in Smoke?
    "The level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is historically a result of rich world activity. Therefore to be fair, the rich world should bear the full costs of adapting to climate change, at least in the early years." - Working Group on Climate Change and Development

Oct 15, 2006  Africa: Green Revolution?
    The Gates Foundation has joined with the Rockefeller Foundation in promoting a new "Green Revolution" in Africa. But will the new effort learn from the mistakes of earlier "Green Revolution" initiatives? Sceptics say that the new proposals still disregard the interests of small farmers and the environment.

Sep 30, 2006  Africa: Making Aid Multilateral
    The current international aid system, says a new UN report, is chaotic, and suffers from high transaction costs, politicization, lack of transparency, incoherence, and unpredictability. What is needed, says the report, is a shift to a multilateral model similar to the Marshall Plan and to the European Community's regional funds.

Sep 30, 2006  Africa: Innovative Financing
    Beginning in July, international air travelers from France have been paying a 4 euro tax on an economy ticket and 40 euros on a first-class ticket, with proceeds going to pay for treatment of children with AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Eighteen other countries have pledged to implement the tax, including Brazil, the United Kingdom, Norway, Mali, and South Korea.

Sep 16, 2006  Africa: Migration and Development
    "[The] potential benefits [from international migration] are larger than the potential gains from freer international trade, particularly for developing countries," notes an extensive recent United Nations report on migration. But while the liberalization of the flow of goods and capital continues to increase, restrictions on the movement of people are leading to thousands of deaths in border areas such as the U.S. southwest desert and the sea routes between Africa and Europe.

Sep 16, 2006  Africa: Migration and Rights
    Chartered planes started flying illegal African immigrants back from Spain to Senegal last week, resuming a repatriation program aimed at stemming the flow of immigrants to this southern European country. But judging by experience, the return is unlikely to stop thousands of others from risking their lives in small boats to reach the Canary Islands from the West African coast, or finding other perilous ways of reaching the European continent.

Sep 10, 2006  Africa: Environmental Threats/Opportunities
    Many of Africa's ecosystems are not just serving the region, but the whole world, for example, through the carbon soaking value of tropical forests. This alone probably equals or exceeds the current or exceeds the current level of international aid being provided to developing countries.

Sep 10, 2006  Africa: Africa's Lakes
    "For now, the future of Lake Chad does indeed look bleak. With a high population growth rate, pressures on water resources in the lake basin will invariably continue. While in the past Lake Chad has been able to rebound from low to high water levels, climate change and people's water use may now act in concert to block the natural forces of recovery." - atlas of Africa's Lakes

Jul 17, 2006  Africa: Real Aid?
    World leaders gathered at the G8 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, gave only token attention to Africa issues that had been a major focus at last year's meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland. Although they pledged to keep Africa on the agenda for Germany next year, evaluations of the summit noted little progress beyond the pledges on debt relief implemented over the past year.

Jul 17, 2006  Africa: Phantom Technical Assistance
    "Technical assistance - donor spending on consultants, training and research - is one of the most heavily criticised forms of aid. ... [yet it is] still one of the most heavily used forms of aid, accounting for between a quarter and a half of all ODA [Official Development Assistance]." A significant proportion of this aid, charges ActionAid in a new report, is both over-priced and ineffective.

Apr 14, 2006  Africa: Stolen Wealth
    "Corruption is bleeding Africa to death and the cost is borne by the poor. ... Much of the money is banked in Britain or our overseas territories and dependencies. ... We want our government to get tough on corruption." - Hugh Bayley, MP, Chair of the Africa All Party Parliamentary Group

Apr 2, 2006  Africa: User Fees
    "The government of Zambia today (1 April) introduced free health care for people living in rural areas, scrapping fees which for years had made health care inaccessible for millions. The move was made possible using money from the debt cancellation and aid increases agreed at the G8 in Gleneagles last July, when Zambia received $4 billion of debt relief; money it is now investing in health and education." - Oxfam International

Apr 2, 2006  Africa: Social Transfers
    According to a new research report from the UK Department for International Development says social transfers - that is, regular and predictable grants to households - can have significant positive effects on human development for the poor, and particularly on health and education, even when the grants are not specifically targeted to those sectors. In other words, one of the most immediate and effective remedies for poverty is money.

Mar 9, 2006  Africa: Digital Dumps
    Recycled computers and other electronic equipment have the potential to help bridge the digital divide. But, says a recently published study by the Basel Action Network (BAN), many quickly find their way to toxic waste dumps, being not economically repairable or usable.

Feb 26, 2006  Kenya: Githongo Report
    John Githongo, who resigned a year ago as Kenya's anti-corruption chief, this month released a report on scandals he was investigating that has already forced the resignation of Kenya's finance minister and threatens to bring down other top officials. The report is based on detailed records he kept during his investigation, and spells out how officials used security contracts worth as much as $1 billion to siphon off government funds into non-existent companies.

Feb 21, 2006  East Africa: Dams and Lake Victoria
    Low water levels in Lake Victoria, at their lowest point in 50 years, are threatening the livelihood of people dependent on fishing, raising the prices of fish, and provoking shortages of water for electricity generation. And now a new report charges that the crisis is due not only to drought but also to overuse of the lake's water for power generation by existing powerplants. At the same time the Uganda government has signed a new $500 million contract for building a third power plant, on the Bujagali Falls. Environmentalists charge that the new plant is likely to have more negative effects and that the hope of providing more electricity will prove unsustainable.

Feb 8, 2006  Africa: Fix Resource Leaks
    "What matters for ensuring that governments have adequate resources to finance development are net flows. This means factoring in not just inflows ... but also what is lost to the rest of the world. Debt servicing is [only] one [such] outflow. ... Indeed, the reality of Africa is that the resources that leak out far exceed those that flow in." - Charles Abugre

Jan 31, 2006  Africa: Predictable Emergencies
    "Imagine if your local fire department had to petition the mayor for money every time it needed water to douse a raging fire. That's the predicament faced by anguished humanitarian aid workers when they seek to save lives but have no funds to pay for the water - or medicine, shelter, or food - urgently needed to put out a fire." - Jan Egeland, UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs

Oct 18, 2005  Southern Africa: Food Emergency Shortfall
    With attention diverted and disaster fatigue accentuated by response to the hurricanes in North America, the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) as well as private agencies are finding responses slow to the earthquake in South Asia and to food crises in Africa. The WFP appeal for Niger, which briefly hit world headlines in July, has still only raised $36 million of its $58 million target; the appeal for 12 million people in Southern Africa has only raised $245 million out of an estimated $622 million needed.

Oct 3, 2005  Africa: Whose Energy Future?
    With oil prices rising worldwide, African oil-producing countries are expecting windfall earnings. Global oil companies and consuming countries are giving even greater attention to Africa's oil. The World Petroleum Congress, held last month in Africa for the first time, in Sandton, South Africa, celebrated the potential. But a new report from South Africa's groundWork questions the fundamental structure of the oil industry on the continent.

Sep 15, 2005  Africa: Human Development Report
    Among the many reports issued as world leaders gather in New York to discuss their commitment to fighting world poverty, the annual Human Development Report is among the most blunt in concluding that the "promise to the world's poor is being broken." In addition to documenting the failures and presenting its annual measurement of the Human Development Index (HDI) for 177 countries, this year's report identifies specific actions that could begin to reverse the trend.

Sep 6, 2005  USA/Africa: Call for Food Aid Reform
    On August 26, just before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the United States, the World Food Programme called for the international community not to turn away from Niger, as food contributions began to tail off with less than half of the budget funded. As subsequent images of devastated New Orleans both displaced and evoked comparisons with "Third World" catastrophes, there was abundant material for reflection on U.S. and international responses to entirely predictable disasters.

Jul 22, 2005  Niger: Background to Famine
    With a BBC film crew in Niger broadcasting images of starving children to the world, food aid shipments to the country are starting to pick up. But UN under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs Jan Egeland, who has repeatedly warned of neglected emergencies in African countries, told reporters that if donors had responded to earlier appeals, a child's life could have been saved for little more than a dollar a day. Now the estimated cost has risen to 80 times that, and for many it is too late.

Jul 13, 2005  Africa: G8 Reaction, Perspectives
    "Outside of British officialdom," writes Sanjay Suri of Inter Press Service from the Gleneagles summit, "celebrations of increased G8 aid for Africa were confined mostly to a population of two - rock stars Bob Geldof and Bono." Non-governmental groups in the Make Poverty History campaign, in contrast, were generally skeptical.

Jul 13, 2005  UK/Africa: The Damage We Do
    "The African Union estimates that the continent loses as much as $148 billion a year to corruption. This money is rarely invested in Africa but finds its way into the international banking system and often into western banks. The proceeds of corrupt practices in Africa ... are often laundered and made respectable by some of the most well known banks in the City of London." - Royal African Society, London

Jun 28, 2005  Africa: "Aid" Reality Checks
    The world's richest nations greatly exaggerate the amount they spend on aid to poor countries, says a study released by ActionAid International. The report says that between 60%-90% of aid funds are 'phantom' rather than 'real' with a significant proportion being lost to waste, internal recycling within donor countries, misdirected spending and high fees for consultants.

Mar 18, 2005  UK/Africa: Commissioning Development?
    UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's Commission for Africa report, released earlier this month and intended to galvanize common action by rich countries on African development, has received mixed reviews. The report is largely a composite of frequently repeated but not yet implemented proposals on issues such as increasing aid, reducing rich-country trade subsidies, canceling debt, and improving governance. It did, however, also feature new stress on how rich countries themselves fuel corruption in Africa through failure to stop money-laundering and bribery by their own institutions.

Feb 20, 2005  Chad: Oil Transparency Loopholes
    Oil revenues for Chad are now beginning to increase rapidly from the long-debated "model project" involving World Bank financing, a pipeline through Cameroon, and a consortium of major oil companies. A new report from two U.S.-based groups says the mechanisms for transparency and accountability, while welcome, are still full of loopholes.

Feb 11, 2005  Kenya: Corruption Fight Stalling
    The resignation of respected anti-corruption campaigner John Githongo from the Kenyan government has touched off new political furor that seems certain to escalate in coming weeks. In its two years in office, President Mwai Kibabi's government has initiated numerous anti-corruption investigations. But there is widespread skepticism that it has the will to deal with high-level corruption within its own ranks.

Dec 14, 2004  Africa: Oxfam Poverty Report
    In one of the first reports from a global coalition to make 2005 a year of action against poverty, Oxfam International has issued a report calling on rich countries to live up to their promises to provide resources and opportunities to achieve the "Millennium Development Goals" adopted unanimously by the United Nations in September 2000. Making this finance available, Oxfam noted, is "both a moral obligation and a matter of justice."

Apr 27, 2004  Africa: Learning to Survive
    Universal primary education is "the single most effective preventive weapon against HIV/AIDS," says a new report by Oxfam International. But donor countries are failing to come up with even the minimal funds they have pledged to support African countries under an optimistically named "Fast Track Initiative" to expand education funding.

Apr 13, 2004  Africa: World Bank Protests/Policy
    Controversies about the World Bank, which marks 60 years with its spring meetings this month, are attracting less attention than the high-profile debates about Iraq and terrorism. The Bank's policies and programs, nevertheless, have profound effects on countries around the world, and particularly in Africa. Both protesters and other critics remain skeptical of this powerful institution's claims to be fighting poverty and contributing to development.

Apr 13, 2004  Africa: World Bank Industry Review
    In 1996, in a report on Poverty Reduction in Sub-Saharan Africa, World Bank researchers wrote that poverty assessments "have done a reasonably good job of identifying ... options that will assist the poor ... " They added, however, that "these options, typically, are not being reflected in the Bank's assistance strategies or operations." This spring, as the World Bank delays consideration of the report of its own Extractive Industies Review, there is a similar disconnect between Bank-fostered proposals for internal change and ongoing operations.

Dec 15, 2003  Africa: Digital Solidarity Gap, 2
    Meeting in Lyon, France just before the World Summit on the Information Society, representatives of cities and local authorities decided to take their own initiatives to address the global digital divide. When the World Summit failed to make a firm commitment to a new Digital Solidarity Fund, the mayors of Lyon and Geneva joined with Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade to commit 1 million euros to launch the fund themselves.

Dec 15, 2003  Africa: Digital Solidarity Gap, 1
    Delegates from 176 countries and as many as 10,000 representatives of civil society and the private sector attended the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva last week. They dispersed having filled dozens of web sites with documentation of the vast digital divide between rich and poor, declarations of good intentions, examples of promising initiatives, and decisions to postpone controversial decisions on internet governance and a proposed Digital Solidarity Fund.

Nov 16, 2003  Africa: Agriculture Strategic, Neglected
    "Unfortunately, development partners have paid much less attention to agriculture and rural development over the past two decades," commented Dr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in a speech last week. "The World Bank, the major funding source for Africa, targeted 39 percent of its lending in 1978 to the agricultural sector in Africa. By 2002, this proportion had dropped to 6 percent."