In the foreword to the book "Escaping the Resource Curse", George Soros describes how countries rich in resources have failed to benefit from their natural prosperity. In Africa many countries rich in natural resources are often poorer than those with fewer natural resources. The author argues that NGO initiatives such as "Publish What You Pay," could provide a solution to the resource curse by requiring oil companies to disclose their payments to governments for extracting natural resources. Columbia University Press. The author argues that some African regions have improved their education, healthcare and agricultural productivity but that poverty is not decreasing at the same rate as before.
This BCI report finds that at the current rate of progress, "a minimum set of social services" will not be universally accessible in Sub-Saharan Africa until — almost a century beyond the Millennium Development Goals target date of Social Watch calls on the world's wealthiest countries to seize the opportunity of the June G8 summit "to fulfill their side of the agreement" by increasing aid and debt relief to Africa. Inter Press Service highlights the link between extreme poverty and rising infant mortality in Zimbabwe. The country's economic decline has led to "the breakdown of the health delivery system," putting Zimbabwe's under-five mortality rate at per 1, live births — a more than 50 percent increase since Health care workers have called for increased international aid to provide basic food and necessities to "vulnerable groups such as newborn babies.
Although many African countries such as Nigeria, Angola, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea enjoyed great revenue increase in the s from the petroleum industry, the oil money benefited the countries' leaders and not the people who still remain in poverty. This Gulf Times article says that while the responsibility of managing oil resources lies with governments, foreign oil companies, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the US and other governments should do their part by demanding transparency from African governments.
AGRA's projects aim to alleviate poverty and hunger by creating a market-based agricultural sector in Africa, enabling agrochemical and genetically modified GM seed companies to enter the market. The Centre fears such agribusiness will undercut traditional agriculture, create dependency on expensive inputs like GM seeds, and weaken African biodiversity.
This "Green Revolution" could worsen, rather than address, the structural problems that undermine African farmers. The Africa Progress Panel APP , established to monitor the Gleneagles Summit aid pledges, reports that the G8 countries are "only 10 percent of the way to their target" of doubling aid to Africa by Despite the "dire" shortage of food rations faced by the UN World Food Program WFP , the US government refuses to change a law that requires most of its food donations be domestically grown and then shipped to recipient countries — an inefficient and costly process.
International aid groups such as Oxfam estimate that amending this law to allow cash donations to the WFP could "feed at least a million more people" and "save 50, more lives. The report criticized the IMF's African aid program as having a "mismatch" between its reported goals and its actual capabilities. However, the IEO blames this strictly on a lack of "policy clarity," arguing that the IMF's public relations department has given "the impression that the Fund committed to do more on aid mobilization and poverty-reduction" than it had intended.
The article calls for a thorough external review of the Fund's policies in developing countries. Despite renewed promises to double aid to Africa and to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals by , a meeting of the G8 development ministers is unlikely to produce any concrete policy changes, reports this Deutsche Welle article. Although some of the ministers claim that the G8 members have made substantial progress toward "democratization, social reforms and economic growth" in developing countries, experts argue that more aid money and increased cooperation between North and South are necessary to reach those goals.
The IEO congratulates the IMF on its success in "improving performance" in Sub-Saharan African countries, and blames any perceived shortcomings on "ambiguous" IMF communications that gave "the external impression that the Fund committed to do more" to reduce poverty than it had actually intended.
African Theatre for Development
This Inter Press Service article reports that underdeveloped infrastructure is a leading cause of food insecurity in Africa. Meat imports frequently thaw in transit due to an unreliable supply of electricity and substandard technology, allowing food-borne illnesses like salmonella "to flourish. Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh has announced that a mandate from God allows him to cure AIDS using a combination of Koranic prayers, herbs, and bananas. When a United Nations representative in Gambia questioned the "cure" — which also requires that patients stop taking anti-viral medication — Jammeh promptly "branded [her] persona non grata" and gave her 48 hours to leave the country.
However, this Der Spiegel article reports, "hardly anyone in the country dares challenge him and, unfortunately, many actually believe him. The World Food Programme WFP warns that "erratic weather patterns" in Africa may devastate agricultural output and lead to severe food shortages. The failure of donor countries to fully fund the WFP — which currently assists 4. The 80 percent official unemployment rate does not reflect the 78 percent of the country's workers engaged in this "unregulated, untaxed work.
The "overwhelming number of orphans" in southern Africa due to war, hunger and AIDS has led many governments and aid groups to direct resources away from traditional orphanages and toward "community-based care. Organizations such as UNICEF argue this solution is "healthier and more culturally appropriate" than moving the children into institutions. Although unlikely to uphold the full amount of Donegal's "evasive and even dishonest" claim, the UK judge hearing the case "had little choice but to say the contract was binding. Joseph Stiglitz summarizes a discussion on "global growth with responsibility" by "a diverse group of concerned citizens from around the world," including leading economists and former government officials.
The resulting consensus calls for a reformed G8 process which would enable participation from all countries "to discuss informally the major issues facing the world," with a focus on the four immediate problems of climate change, global imbalances, global governance, and poverty, especially in Africa. Initiative for Policy Dialogue. Arguing that the majority of debts in poor countries were accrued under "dictatorial, unaccountable and irresponsible leaders," participants at the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya called for complete debt cancellation by international financial institutions.
This Inter Press Service article reports that, without unconditional debt cancellation, impoverished countries will not meet the Millennium Development Goals by As malaria decreases worker productivity, increases the rate of population growth and, possibly, the likelihood of transmitting AIDS, this "common resolve" to reduce malaria could be the key to "unlocking Africa's poverty trap. At the Gleneagles summit, the G8 pledged to double aid to Africa by A year later, however, African nations such as Liberia, "one of the poorest places on the face of the earth," are facing diminishing international aid flows.
Liberia had failed to meet the condition of "good governance" at the time of the Gleneagles summit, and therefore did not qualify for debt cancellation. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf fears the aid shortage will further destabilize the already volatile country as it struggles to recover from civil war. The annual Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International has repeatedly ranked African countries as some of the most corrupt in the world. Hosting a conference on European aid to Africa in November , the EU aimed to prevent loss of influence on the continent after "recent Chinese overtures of trade and aid to Africa," says the Associated Press.
Against Chinese lack of concern for human rights and sound governance in dealings with African countries, the EU confirmed its conviction that tying aid to political and economic reforms "is the best way of improving the lives of Africans. Meanwhile NGOs argued that the policy of conditionality "has never worked," and criticized the EU lack of attention to businesses' role in African corruption.
Despite the general focus on Africa's failings, the region also has many success stories, argues this afrol News article. Cape Verde, Botswana and Seychelles amongst others have achieved a level of development moving them out of the category of Least Developed Countries. These countries now feel "penalized for progress," as donors disengage while investors are still not convinced, bringing "new hardships" to governments trying to move their nations from a middle-income level "to a wealthy state of general welfare.
The report finds rising sea levels could inundate 30 percent of Africa's coastal infrastructure, while percent of the continent's natural habitat could be lost by According to the article, "climate change is a present reality for many Africans," as a tight link exists between Africa's many violent conflicts — often viewed by the West as stemming from ethnic or religious differences — and the increasing climate-induced scarcity of water resources.
The summit also produced several natural resource investment deals between Chinese companies and African countries, thus further boosting recent years' enormous increase in China-African trade, which consists primarily of oil, minerals and other natural resources along with Chinese-made weapons. Meanwhile, critics say China "extracts what it needs from the continent, while ignoring environmental and anti-corruption standards. With Chinese trade and foreign direct investment in Africa "skyrocketing" in , China has become a major player in Africa's economic development, and a widely cited "ideal development model" among African leaders.
Many African leaders frustrated by Western policy conditionality have welcomed China's "strictly business" involvement in their countries. But the Chinese lack of concern for good governance and social responsibility produces a "backlash in several African countries. The resulting exposure to the world market cotton price — significantly driven down by rich countries' subsidies — decreased the price Malian farmers received for their cotton by 20 percent in This could increase country-wide poverty by 4.
Funding and visiting AIDS orphans projects in Malawi, pop icon Madonna joins the growing list of celebrities putting resources into Africa.
Christian Science Monitor reports that most aid agencies welcome the arrival of celebrities in the world of humanitarian aid, appreciating the press attention that "these A-listers" can draw to development in Africa. Other analysts, however, fear that too many donors preoccupy themselves with projects that make them "look good," rather than promote long term development.
British climate scientists from the Met Office give "one of the most dire forecasts so far" of the potential effects of global warming. Their study predicts that by year one third of the planet will be desert, "uninhabitable in terms of agricultural production," and that already drought-stricken Africa will experience the most severe effects.
While stressing that the findings contain uncertainties, the scientists deem the result "significant" and possibly even an underestimation. According to this Independent article, the study will be "widely publicized" by the British Government at the November UN negotiations on "a successor to the Kyoto climate treaty" in Nairobi. The "Least Developed Countries Report" found that although the world's poorest countries have enjoyed the highest growth rates in two decades, human well-being in these mainly African countries has not improved.
The author of this Foreign Policy In Focus piece argues that the lack of rural communities' participation in governing their natural resources largely accounts for that imbalance. He warns that initiatives such as the UN Millennium Development Project, the US Millennium Challenge and Oxfam International's "Trade not Aid" campaign will not promote development unless they focus on creating accountable countryside democratic institutions.
Ziegler highlights the obvious, but vastly ignored, connection between EU agricultural subsidies and the large flow of African migrants to Europe. While Europe destroys African agriculture by dumping subsidized food, Europeans want their borders closed to poverty-stricken Africans and respond with security measures to a problem which is in fact about "hunger refugees. Rosset holds much higher hopes for the "Food Sovereignty" approach focusing on ending "free trade extremism," improving land access for the poor, and increasing support for family farmers and ecological farming methods.
As Dutch trading company Trafigura Beheer offloaded tons of toxic waste at a landfill near the Ivorian capital of Abidjan in August , the generated fumes killed six people and forced 15, to seek treatment for nausea, vomiting and headaches. The incident illustrates that the practice of Western companies dumping toxic waste in poor countries continues.
As rich countries' consumption of electronic equipment keeps increasing, so does the amount of electronic waste shipped to poor countries for "recycling," but ending up in landfills posing significant health risks to local residents. This powerful New York Times article highlights the experience of a nine-year-old quarry worker in Zambia.
The child labor problem in sub-Saharan Africa not only deprives young workers of their childhood, but also furthers a cycle of poverty where they remain illiterate and sometimes turn to illegal or dangerous activities to survive. The author notes that child labor goes beyond a legal issue, since poverty and disease contribute to the growing incidence of child labor and many families can barely afford to eat.
A first recommendation is a transparent exercise that specifically seeks to map gaps in knowledge across the region.
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This threat is not handled by contesting the diagnosis, or handling the problem as a publicity problem. We have a knowledge problem, and the long-term future of the statistical offices as a provider of statistics for economic governance is at stake. To engage with the problem we need to look wider than at GDP and National Accounts, but seek to engage in global debates on data for development, and take a holistic view of the statistical office.
As I previously discussed in the introduction, this will have to start by co-ordination of global demand for data. The Millennium Development Goals have increased political pressure on the statistical offices. Evaluations of progress toward the targets are based on statistical reports, and donors make funding dependent on completion of these quantitative targets. The positive outcome of this process is that more attention is being given to the statistical office, compared to the neglect of statistical offices during the period of structural adjustment. Currently, more funds are being made available to statistical offices than.
Typically, support has been ad hoc and has been directly linked to particular donor-funded projects. In this way, donors distort data production instead of building up statistical capacity. This stretches current staff and infrastructure resources.
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Statistical officers are richly remunerated with per diem allowances when they are engaged in data collection in the field, but this leaves fewer people and resources for analysis and dissemination back in the statistical offices Jerven, , p. The monitoring of specific projects should be tempered by a realistic assessment of the capacity of the statistical office to deliver information on the basis of which national leaders can confidently govern. The Millennium Development Goals agenda is committing the same mistakes that were committed at independence, during structural adjustment, and during the recent era of poverty reduction.
In each of this eras, targets and policies to reach those targets were identified, but less thought was given to where the information should come from that would measure progress. It might be useful to turn an important development question around. Rather than asking what kind of development we should target, perhaps the question should be What kind of development are we able to monitor?
Jerven, , p. More specifically, we need to re-think the MDG and other donor agendas for data and do a cost benefit analysis — what are the costs of providing these data — and what is the opportunity cost of providing these data? The opportunity cost is often ignored. Local demand for data needs to come into focus. A statistical office is only sustainable if it serves local needs for information.
Statistics is a public good, and we need a good open debate on how to supply this public good. As I have pointed out above there needs to be a shift away from focus on methods towards actual data availability. I would argue that ambitions should be tempered in international development statistics. The international standardization of measurement of economic development has led to a procedural bias.
There has been a tendency to aim for high adherence to procedures instead of focusing on the content of the measures. Development measures should be taken as a starting point in local data availability, and statisticians should refrain from reporting aggregate measures that appear to be based on data but in fact are very feeble projections or guesses. This means that it is necessary to shift the focus away from formulas, standards, handbooks, and software. What matters are what numbers are available and how good those numbers are. Comparability across time and space needs to start with the basic input of knowledge, not with the system in which this information is organized.
In order to provide useful data for economic governance to local policy makers there has be an emphasis on timely data. Thus there is a preference for aggregating data, conducting censuses rather than surveys, and making estimates of levels rather than measuring change. These preferences come at the expense of frequent survey data that tell data users something useful about changes. In practice, this means that funding is available for large one-off data collection projects. Both statistical offices and donors share this preference: the statistical office gets access to per diem funding for data collection, and the donors fulfill globally demanded standards of statistical sophistication.
While recent quotes from Bill Gates and others on the importance of investing in economic statistics are encouraging, and I genuinely think that is a unique chance to put the statistical offices and data need for economic governance higher on the agenda, I will end on a word of caution. I am worried about some trends in the international community. The much noted demands for evidence-based policy has put the cart in front of the horse. In doing so, some data have been supplied that has not had the quality or reliability needed. One perverse reaction from some analysts and organizations may be to circumvent the statistical offices all together.
Larger and irregular surveys with standardized data collection needs that do not serve the needs of local users of data, such as Ministries of Finance and Central Banks, are becoming more popular. There is also a trend, particularly in the scholarly community to turn to using passive, big data. Such as measuring growth from outer space , using satellite data on light emissions or other alternatives Henderson, Storeygard, and Weil, I think the key for survival for the statistical office is to re-find its comparative advantage as an analyzer and disseminator of data.
The statistical office should work as a data broker.
Here the national accounts divisions have, or used to have, a key competence. To calculate GDP one needs to be an omnivore of all types of statistics and data generated by other divisions on the statistical offices, ministries and other key stakeholders such as businesses and infrastructure providers. The capacity to passively and actively collect these data and to analyze and disseminate them — acting like a data broker — should be the key activity, and not field based data collection.
The incentives have to be aligned with such a strategy, and that means shifting financial away from rewarding out of office activities per diems and towards rewarding collation, analysis and dissemination salaries. This is the time for African statisticians to remind the development community that while stakeholders are demanding evidence for policy, we must not forego the opportunity to invest in accountability.
I think it is a mistake to think of data as a technocratic search for facts — it has to be viewed as an exercise in building institutions. The statistical offices and their ability to provide timely high quality data on their economies have long been neglected. This is a chance to set these past mistakes right, and to move beyond a statistical tragedy, to stake a path towards a statistical renaissance in Africa.
African Development Bank a. Statistics Department. African Development Bank b. Chen, S. Klasen Paris21 Discussion Paper Series, 1. Devarajan, S. Review of Income and Wealth , S9-S Gates, B. Project Syndicate, May 6, Henderson, J. Weil Measuring Growth From Outer Space. American Economic Review , 2 : International Monetary Fund World Economic and Financial Surveys. Regional Economic Outlook. Jerven, M. New York: Cornell University Press.
Unused land is plentiful but is often private property. Most African nations have very poor land registration systems, making squatting and land-theft common occurrences. This makes it difficult to get a mortgage or similar loan, as ownership of the property often cannot be established to the satisfaction of financiers. This system often gives an advantage to one native African group over another and is not just Europeans over Africans. For example, it was hoped that land reform in Zimbabwe would transfer land from European landowners to family farmers.
Instead, it simply substituted native Africans with ties to the government for Europeans, leaving much of the population disadvantaged. See Land reform in Zimbabwe. It is estimated [ by whom? There is no consensus on what the optimal strategy for land use in Africa may be. Studies by the National Academy of Sciences have suggested great promise in relying on native crops as a means of improving Africa's food security. A report by Future Harvest suggests that traditionally used forage plants show the same promise.
In addition, most African nations have owed substantial sums of money. However, a large percentage of the money was either invested in weapons money that was spent back in developed nations, and provided little or no benefit to the native population or was directly misappropriated by corrupt governments.
As such, many newly democratic nations in Africa are saddled with debt run up by totalitarian regimes. Large debts usually result in little being spent on social services , such as education , pensions , or medical care. Most African nations are pushing for debt relief, as they are effectively unable to maintain payments on debt without extending the debt payments indefinitely.
However, most plans to forgive debt affect only the smallest nations, and large debtor nations, like Nigeria, are often excluded from such plans. What large sums of money that are in Africa are often used to develop mega-projects when the need is for smaller scale projects. For example, Ghana was the richest country in Africa when it obtained independence. However, a few years later, it had no foreign reserves of any consequence.
The money was spent on large projects that turned out to be a waste of resources:. Another example of misspent money is the Aswan High Dam. The dam was supposed to have modernized Egypt and Sudan immediately. Instead, the block of the natural flow of the Nile River meant that the Nile's natural supply of nitrate fertilizer and organic material was blocked.
Now, about one-third of the dam's electric output goes directly into fertilizer production for what was previously the most fertile area on the planet. Moreover, the dam is silting up and may cease to serve any useful purpose within the next few centuries. In addition, the Mediterranean Sea is slowly becoming more saline as the Nile River previously provided it with most of its new fresh water influx. Corruption is also a major problem in the region, although it is certainly not universal or limited to Africa. Many native groups in Africa believe family relationships are more important than national identity, and people in authority often use nepotism and bribery for the benefit of their extended family group at the expense of their nations.
To be fair, many corrupt governments often do better than authoritarian ones that replace them. Ethiopia is a good case study. Under Haile Selassie , corruption was rife and poverty rampant.
However, after his overthrow, corruption was lessened, but then famine and military aggressiveness came to the fore. In any event, corruption both diverts aid money and foreign investment which is usually sent to offshore banks outside of Africa , and puts a heavy burden on native populations forced to pay bribes to get basic government services.
In the end, foreign aid may not even be helpful in the long run to many African nations. It often encourages them not to tax internal economic activities of multinational corporations within their borders to attract foreign investment. In addition, most African nations have at least some wealthy nationals, and foreign aid often allows them to avoid paying more than negligible taxes.
As such, wealth redistribution and capital controls are often seen as a more appropriate way for African nations to stabilize funding for their government budgets and smooth out the boom and bust cycles that can often arise in a developing economy. However, this sort of strategy often leads to internal political dissent and capital flight. The widespread availability of cheap labor has often perpetuated policies that encourage inefficient agricultural and industrial practices, leaving Africa further impoverished.
For example, author P. O'Rourke noted on his trip to Tanzania for his book Eat the Rich that gravel was produced with manual labor by pounding rocks with tools , wherein almost everywhere else in the world machines did the same work far more cheaply and efficiently. He used Tanzania as an example of a nation with superb natural resources that nevertheless was among the poorest nations in the world. Education is also a major problem, even in the wealthier nations.
Illiteracy rates are high although a good proportion of Africans speak at least two languages and a number speak three generally their native language, a neighbouring or trade language, and a European language. Higher education is almost unheard of, although certain universities in Egypt and South Africa have excellent reputations. However, some African nations have a paucity of persons with university degrees, and advanced degrees are rare in most areas. As such, the continent, for the most part, lacks scientists, engineers, and even teachers.
The seeming parody of aid workers attempting to teach trilingual people English is not entirely untrue. South Africa under apartheid is an excellent example of how an adverse situation can further degrade. The largely black population earlier wished to learn English black South Africans saw it as a way to unite themselves as they speak several different native languages. The greatest mortality in Africa arises from preventable water-borne diseases, which affect infants and young children greater than any other group.