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Economy and Development

This page updated on-line at http://www.africafocus.org/intro-econ.php.

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Talking Points

  • Politicians and investors in Africa and around the world speak of creating good jobs. In practice they most often promote a market-fundamentalist development model that sheds jobs while increasing profits for the 1%.

  • The "Africa Rising" narrative celebrating rapid economic growth in many African countries contains a partial truth. New investment in extractive industries to serve world markets is growing, and there is rapid growth in information and communication technology as well.

  • But most Africans, whether in the rural areas or the burgeoning cities, have little access to the wealth created. Jobs in the formal sector do not come close to keeping up with expansion of the labor force. And government policies marginalize the interests of workers and small farmers.

  • Sustainable development depends on public investment in health, education, and infrastructure, but these investments fall far short of what is needed.

  • Significant change in economic policies, in Africa and around the world, will only come if there is active transnational mobilization for economic justice for the 99%. Such action must include not only political groups, but also unions, farmers' organizations, human rights groups, churches, and others in all sectors of society.

South African platinum miners organize a wildcat strike in October 2012.
T-shirts refer to massacre of striking miners at Marikana in August that year.

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Most recent bulletins on economy and development

May 24, 2017  Nigeria: Corruption Undercuts Boko Haram Fight http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/nig1705.php
    "Nigeria's corrupt elites have profited from conflict; with oil prices at a record low, defence has provided new and lucrative opportunities for the country's corrupt kleptocrats. Former military chiefs have stolen as much as US $15 billion a sum equivalent to half of Nigeria's foreign currency reserves through fraudulent arms procurement deals." - new report on "Weaponizing Tranparency"

May 17, 2017  Africa/Global: Whose Energy? http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/clim1705.php
    "We, the undersigned representatives of African civil society, express our deep concern regarding efforts by the European Union and France to hijack the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), an African-owned and African-led initiative endorsed by all 55 African Heads of State to scale up renewable energy on our continent." April 6 statement by Pan African Climate Justice Alliance and over 200 civil society networks and groups from 34 African countries.

May 8, 2017  Africa: World Bank Financing Land Grabs http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/land1705.php
    "The World Bank Group has indirectly financed some of Africa's most notorious land grabs, according to a report by a group of international development watchdogs. The World Bank's private-sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), is enabling and profiting from these projects by outsourcing its development funds to the financial sector." - Oakland Institute

April 17, 2017  Africa/Global: New Reports Show Massive Tax Losses http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/tax1704.php
    On April 15, "tax day" in the United States, tens of thousands of demonstrators in over 200 communities around the country marched to demand that President Trump make public his tax returns ( http://taxmarch.org/home/). Protesters also denounced his use of taxpayer funds for his personal profit and military escalation while his administration continues its assault on spending for urgent public needs at home and around the world. There is no sign that the President will comply with the demand for transparency. But the award of a Pulitzer Prize last week to the international consortium that exposed the Panama Papers was only one indicator that the drive to expose tax evasion, tax avoidance, and corruption around the world will continue.

April 3, 2017  South Africa: Rising Outcry for Zuma to Go http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/sa1704.php
    "We call on Ministers and leaders of the ANC who care about the future of democracy and the Constitution to speak up and call on the President, in the best interests of the country, to step down. We call on the parliamentary leadership of the ANC, supported by all opposition parties, to insist that parliament be recalled immediately to debate a motion of no-confidence, proposed by the ANC leadership in parliament. We call on all members of Parliament to unite and support a motion of no-confidence." - Statement by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, March 31, 2017

March 28, 2017  Liberia: Mining, Displacement, and the World Bank http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/lib1703.php
    "The roots of the New Liberty Gold project stretch back before 1995, when a resource extraction license was issued by former warlord turned president Charles Taylor to a mysterious company called KAFCO. The permit changed hands a few times and, today, Avesoro holds its permit via a wholly-owned subsidiary, Bea Mountain Mining Corp a company created in 1996 by Keikurah B. Kpoto, one of Taylor's closest associates. In 1998, foreign interests bought Bea Mountain Mining. The beneficiaries of the sale were well hidden. According to a document IRIN procured, three quarters of its capital belonged to a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. The rest was held by owners of bearer shares." - IRIN investigative report, March 21, 2017

March 21, 2017  Africa/Global: Scaling Up Solar http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/clim1703.php
    Even in the United States, where action on climate change is under threat from aggressive assault by climate deniers in the Trump administration and Congress, renewable energy is projected to continue to advance rapidly, on the basis of its still growing cost advantages over fossil fuels. According to a report just released by GTM research, the US total solar market, already supplying the largest share of new power production, is poised to triple over the next five years. The prospect for renewable energy to power increased access to electricity in Africa is also dramatic, according to a new report from the Africa Progress Panel.

March 6, 2017  South Africa: Targeting Immigrants, Again http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/migr1703.php
    "In the post-apartheid South Africa, resurgence of xenophobic violence is a symptom of the deep leadership deficit. For the fourth consecutive week now, South Africa is witnessing what many analysts call a "resurgence" of xenophobic violence in parts of Johannesburg and Pretoria, the country's capital city. The reality is that this type of violence is a daily occurrence in the country, although it does not always get media attention. It has, in fact, become a longstanding feature in post-apartheid South Africa." - Jean Pierre Misago, African Centre for Migration and Society, Johannesburg

February 28, 2017  Africa/Global: Open Data for Tax Justice http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/tax1702.php
    "Multinational companies typically publish global, consolidated accounts - and international accounting standards now allow these to roll into one all financial information on the substance of their economic activities, or at best to provide regional figures. This means that country-level information on profits, revenues, taxes, borrowings and employees, for example, are not provided. ... As the name suggests, the longstanding proposal for country-by-country reporting (CBCR) would make multinational companies break down and publish their results for each country. This is essential for citizens to know what companies and their affiliates are doing where they live, and what contributions they are making." - Open Data for Tax Justice announcement

February 20, 2017  Africa/Global: Agribusiness Giants on Merger Path http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/ag1702.php
    "If the Bayer-Monsanto merger is approved, the new merged company will control almost 30% of the global commercial seed market and 25% of the agrochemical market - making it the world's largest supplier of seeds and chemicals. In South Africa, it would control about 30% of both markets. Already today, Monsanto is one of two companies in South Africa that employs 80% of the private sector breeders in maize and 100% of the breeders in soybean and sunflower breeders. " - African Centre for Biodiversity

February 7, 2017  Africa/Global: Transparency Setback, African Agendas http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/iff1702.php
    In the world of large multinational corporations, secrecy is more than the rule rather than exception. Despite this reality, there have been some advances in recent years, including U.S. legislation and regulations requiring disclosure of payments by U.S. oil, gas, and mining companies to foreign governments. Last week, the U.S. Congress revoked this Security and Exchange Commission rule, a year before it was actually to be implemented. Although comparatively little noticed in comparison to the tumult around White House actions, this was an indication that the Republican Congress as well was determined to reverse even modest steps to fight corporate corruption and other similar abuses.

January 30, 2017  Kenya: State of the Internet http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/ken1701.php
    Kenya has long been a global technology leader for innovation in mobile and internet technology, including the use of mobile phones for uses as diverse as cash transfers and crowdsourcing of reports on election violence (in 2008). Kenya also features an active press and civil society accustomed to speaking out about national issues including corruption and human rights violations. With national general elections scheduled for August this year, these assets can play important roles in sustaining peace and democracy. But they may also be threatened by government restrictions or by use of social media for propaganda and incitement to violence.

Complete listing of bulletins on the economy and development, 2003-present