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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
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
May 17, 2017 Africa/Global: Whose Energy?
"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
"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
"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
April 17, 2017 Africa/Global: New Reports Show Massive Tax Losses
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
"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
March 21, 2017 Africa/Global: Scaling Up Solar
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
"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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
November 10, 2016 Africa/Global: Climate Threat, Action Tracks
"Africa is already burning. The election of Trump is a disaster for
our continent. The United States, if it follows through on its new
President's rash words about withdrawing from the international
climate regime, will become a pariah state in global efforts for
climate action. This is a moment where the rest of the world must
not waver and must redouble commitments to tackle dangerous climate
change," Geoffrey Kamese from Friends of the Earth Africa.
July 26, 2016 Africa/Global: Not Yet "End of AIDS"
At the 21st International AIDS Conference in South Africa last week,
"optimism faded as delegates arrived to news that donor countries
had reduced global HIV funding by more than $1 billion from 2014 to
2015. ... Nearly 20 million people are [still] in need of
antiretroviral therapy. [and] nearly half of the $44 billion cost
could be unfunded between 2016 and 2020." - Washington Post, July