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Continent-Wide and Global Issues

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

About these pages|Climate Change and the Environment|Peace and Security|Economy and Development|Illicit Financial Flows and Tax Justice|Food and Agriculture|Health

AfricaFocus Bulletin pays special attention to issues which are both Africa-wide and global. Today's global issues take different forms in different countries and on different continents. But the most critical issues transcend geographical boundaries and demand common action.

The talking points included in this set of pages were first prepared in July 2014, prepared for use at the Empowered Africa Forum at Howard University in Washington, DC, on August 4, 2014. Health as a Human Right was added in September 2014. Others for which talking points are in preparation include Migration and Information and Communication Technology.

Global warming and environmental damage from the fossil-fuel industry already affect all of us, although responsibility lies primarily with the rich industrialized countries and the newly industrializing powers. Africa is the most vulnerable continent, but extreme weather and sea-level rise have hit New Orleans and New Jersey as well as Lagos.

Inequality and tax evasion are growing both within and between countries, while the rich on all continents funnel their wealth into secret bank accounts scattered around the world. This erodes the public sector, starves countries of funds needed for development, and drives up deficits.

In responding to internal conflict, terrorism, and criminal violence, leaders in Africa and around the world most often rely on militarized responses that are ineffective and abusive of human rights. Although leaders give lip service to addressing the root causes, it is standard formulas of repression and funding for security forces that take priority in practice. Politicians and investors 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%.
International agencies agree that small farmers are key to addressing poverty and food insecurity in Africa. But commercial monopolization of seeds and land grabs by both foreign and domestic investors make a mockery of international pledges. According to international law, health is a fundamental human right. Both national governments and the international community have the responsibity to ensure that this right is guaranteed in practice to everyone. Rich countries in particular have the responsibility to contribute their fair share to achieving this goal.

Most recent bulletins on continent-wide and global issues

July 10, 2017  Africa/Global: Following the Money http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/iff1707.php
    "As an important tool in our fight against corruption, tax evasion, terrorist financing and money laundering, we will advance the effective implementation of the international standards on transparency and beneficial ownership of legal persons and legal arrangements, including the availability of information in the domestic and crossborder context." - G20 Summit Communiqué, Hamburg, July 8, 2017

June 19, 2017  Africa/Europe: Mediterranean Trajectories http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/migr1706.php
    "On July 5, 2016, a 36-year-old Nigerian asylum seeker named Emmanuel Chidi Nnamdi was beaten to death by Amedeo Mancini, a 39-year-old Italian soccer ultra associated with a local chapter of the neo-fascist CasaPound Italy political movement. Emmanuel and his wife Chinyery had fled the violence wreaked by the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria after losing their parents and a two-year-old daughter when their village church was set on fire. They undertook the dangerous journey through Libya and across the Mediterranean on a smuggler's boat, during which Chinyery suffered a miscarriage, finally arriving in Palermo. The harrowing story of Emmanuel and Chinyery is far from an isolated case, however." - Camilla Hawthorne, "In Search of Black Italia"

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 25, 2017  Africa/Global: Media Repression 2.0 http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/med1704.php
    "In the days when news was printed on paper, censorship was a crude practice involving government officials with black pens, the seizure of printing presses and raids on newsrooms. The complexity and centralization of broadcasting also made radio and television vulnerable to censorship even when the governments didn't exercise direct control of the airwaves. ... New information technologies-- the global, interconnected internet; ubiquitous social media platforms; smart phones with cameras--were supposed to make censorship obsolete. Instead, they have just made it more complicated." - Joel Simon, Committee to Protect Journalists, April 25, 2017

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 10, 2017  Africa: African Feminism Past and Present http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/wom1704.php
    "On February 18th I lost my grand aunt - my grandmother really ... This incredible woman, May Kyomugasho Katebaka left us at the age of 97. We last met in 2014 when I visited her. She's a fierce woman. Fierce in her religion but also fierce in her knowledge of what she wanted from the world. And that is what moves me. Moves me every time one claims feminism is foreign and for the educated, un-african. She always came to mind when I met such arguments. I would tell myself that if only they could hear half her life story, then they would understand why I am such a rebellion." - Rosebell Kagumire (https://rosebellkagumire.com/)

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 14, 2017  Africa/Global: Invisible Crises, Failing Safety Nets http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/hum1703.php
    "Famine 'largest humanitarian crisis in history of UN': UN humanitarian chief says 20 million people in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria face starvation and famine," says the headline in Al Jazeera, echoed in the BBC and other international media, but easily ignored without the high-intensity spotlight that occasionally targets disasters with greater geostrategic centrality. In the United States, while headlines rightly focus on the 24 million who would lose health care under the Republican Trumpcare plan, no one has yet calculated the toll from a proposed 50% cut in the U.S. budget for support of the UN.

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 16, 2017  Africa: Electoral Landscapes http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/afr1701.php
    Ghana, Gambia, and Gabon are all small African countries with names beginning with the letter "G," which held presidential elections in 2016. But neither the electoral landscapes nor the electoral outcomes can fruitfully be analyzed without giving greater weight to the contrasts than to the similarities. The same applies to the even wider set of 14 African countries with presidential elections last year, or the 8 so far scheduled to hold elections in 2017.

November 28, 2016  Africa/Global: Overcoming the Shadow Economy http://www.africafocus.org/docs16/iff1611.php
    "Knowledge of beneficial ownership of companies and bank accounts is fundamental, both to ensure taxation and also to prevent and prosecute crime and the money laundering that so often is associated with it. ... Corporations, trusts, and foundations are creations of the state--and as such, they have no inalienable rights. They are created to facilitate societal welfare, and to ensure that they do so, they need to be globally regulated--regulated in ways which ensure full knowledge of beneficial ownership and full compliance with all tax laws." - Joseph Stiglitz, in testimony to European Parliament Panama Papers inquiry