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Issue Talking Points

These pages, with brief talking points on sets of issues and links to recent related AfricaFocus Bulletins, were initially prepared for use at the Empowered Africa Forum at Howard University in Washington, DC, on August 4, 2014. AfricaFocus Bulletin is among the co-sponsors for this event, which was initiated by the US-Africa Network. The initial set of pages corresponds to panels planned for that event. An additional page on Health as a Human Right was added in September 2014.

The opinions expressed in these talking points are the responsibility of AfricaFocus Bulletin editor William Minter, as a contribution to debate on these critical issues. Much of the analysis and information on which they are based are included in the Bulletins cited on each page. Links are automatically updated to include the most recent AfricaFocus Bulletins related to each set of issues.

Note: This set of pages is a work in progress, and more sets of issues will be added as time permits. Comments and suggestions are welcome, and can be sent to

Other issues covered regularly by AfricaFocus, but not yet included in this set of pages, include Migration, and Information and Communication Technology.

  • Continent-wide and Global Issues
    In addition to background analyses on African countries and crises in the news, AfricaFocus Bulletin pays particular attention to issues which are at the same time Africa-wide and global. Today's global issues take different form in different countries and on different continents. But the most critical issues transcend geographical boundaries and demand common action.

  • Climate Change and the Environment
    The effects of 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.

  • Illicit Financial Flows and Tax Evasion
    Inequality and tax evasion eroding the public sector is growing both within and between countries, while the rich on all continents funnel their wealth into secret bank accounts scattered around the world.

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

  • Food and Agriculture
    International agencies agree that small farmers are indispensable 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 to help small farmers, replicating international patterns of domination by large enterprises.

  • Peace and Security
    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.

  • Health as a Human Right
  • 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.