development


Almost half of the top 12 fastest growing economies in the world come from Africa. Ghana has swept from a 4.5% growth rate last year, to an astonishing 20.146% growth rate for 2011, making Ghana the fastest growing economy in the world.

The true size of Africa in perspective, just a reminder of how big Africa is, and how big its potential is as well.

See more information and detail at The True Size of Africa

Ghana is expected to be the fastest growing economy in the world in 2011!

12 Fastest Growing Economies of 2011

For 2010, we noted that none of the top growth countries were advanced economies; only one was G20.

Many people assume that China is the fastest growing country in the world, but that is not the case – it is the fastest growing large economy, and as we will see that is a different thing.

We also took a look at the key trends that are driving the growth figures.
Let’s take a look at the stats for 2011:

Growth rates are much higher this year. The chart tops out at over 20%.

Once again, developed countries do not feature in the Top 12. Almost half of the top 12 come from Africa. Ghana has swept from 4.5% last year, to an astonishing 20.146% for 2011.

One third of the Top 12 are from the Far East; two from the Middle East and one from Central Asia.

The African decade continues to hold sway. 2010 to 2020 is bringing massive development to the continent. As China continues to boom we will see the Chinese offer more large-scale infrastructure development to African governments in return for natural resources and farmland to support it’s vast population. In turn African countries are continuing to challenge old perceptions of corruption and violence through practicing better governance. Chart leader Ghana is one of Africa’s strongest democracies. African countries will continue to veer in favor of increased prosperity. The picture continues to be replacement of Western aid for Africa by Eastern trade with Africa.

The peace and democracy bonanza.
Rounding of our counter-intuitive list is another perfectly intuitive point. Countries like Ghana who are experiencing a new era of good governance will enjoy massive growth increases. Where there is peace and good governance, prosperity will follow as we see these countries making use of their resources more actively and using them to build, rather than wage war.

Check the Ghana Economic Statistics and Indicators.

Ghana is not the only country in Africa that is doing well. From Roubini Global Economics:
African Poverty Is Falling…Much Faster Than You Think.

Many believe:

Sub-Saharan Africa has made little progress in reducing extreme poverty, according to the latest Millennium Development Report. This column presents evidence from 1970 to 2006 to the contrary.

The sustained African growth of the last 15 years has engendered a steady decline in poverty that puts Africa on track to meet the Goals by 2017. If peace is established in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and it returns to the African trend (which is what happened to other African nations that were formerly at war), Africa will halve its $1/day income poverty rate by 2013, two years ahead of the 2015 target.

Moreover, African poverty reduction has been extremely general. Poverty fell for both landlocked and coastal countries, for mineral-rich and mineral-poor countries, for countries with favourable and unfavourable agriculture, for countries with different colonisers, and for countries with varying degrees of exposure to the African slave trade. The benefits of growth were so widely distributed that African inequality actually fell substantially.

Africa: graph of poverty and GDP, 1970-2006

  • Using the $1/day definition of poverty adopted by the Millennium Development Goals, African poverty declined strikingly, from 41.6% in 1990 to 31.8% in 20061.

  • Poverty seems to co-move with GDP almost perfectly.

  • African inequality has also fallen over this period, almost entirely reversing its rise since 1970, but still remaining at a high absolute level

  • Our main conclusion is that Africa is reducing poverty, and doing it much faster than many thought.

    • The growth from the period 1995-2006, far from benefiting only the elites, has been sufficiently widely spread that both total African inequality and African within-country inequality actually declined over this period.
    • The speed at which Africa has reduced poverty since 1995 puts it on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty relative to 1990 by 2015 on time or, at worst, a couple of years late.
    • If the Democratic Republic of Congo converges to the African trend once it is stabilised, the MDG will be achieved by 2012, three years before the target date.

    We also find that the African poverty reduction is remarkably general.

    • African poverty reduction cannot be explained by a large country, or even by a single set of countries possessing some beneficial geographical or historical characteristic.
    • All classes of countries, including those with disadvantageous geography and history, experience reductions in poverty.

    This observation is particularly important because it shows that poor geography and history have not posed insurmountable obstacles to poverty reduction.

    The authors, Maxim Pinkovskiy and Xavier Sala-i-Martin, explain their methodology and provide many more graphs that demonstrate their research and conclusions. View the graphs and read more at: African Poverty Is Falling…Much Faster Than You Think

    In a previous post I wrote about The African Growth Miracle PDF study by Alwyn Young at the London School of Economics, published in September 2009. His study showed:

    … real household consumption in sub-Saharan Africa is growing around 3.3 percent per annum, i.e. more than three times the 0.9 to 1.0 percent reported in international data sources and on par with the growth experienced in other developing countries.

    Measures of real consumption based upon the ownership of durable goods, the quality of housing, the health and mortality of children, the education of youth and the allocation of female time in the household indicate that sub-Saharan living standards have, for the past two decades, been growing in excess of 3 percent per annum, i.e. more than three times the rate indicated in international data sets.

    The thing that delayed this growth and created setbacks is war. It is unfortunate that current US attention to Africa is almost entirely military, preparing for more war. US foreign policy in Africa is military policy. The US is missing the African success boat.   It may be trying to sink it with its efforts at seabasing, its emphasis on military training to facilitate proxy war, and where there is war, partnering with the perpetrators.  I would like to see positive development in US relations with African countries.   For that to happen we need US leadership that can learn, that knows a bit of history, or we need new leadership.

    Nevertheless, this news on economic growth and the reduction of poverty and inequality is wonderful news, something we can celebrate as we prepare for lots of hard work ahead.

     

    Here are AGRA’s agents in Ghana. The result of their efforts, if they are successful, will be small farmers crushed by debt and forced off their land, the land will be depleted by chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and new super weeds and insect pests will flourish. As a friend who has worked with AGRA in Ghana says, if they give you 2000, they make sure to get 4000 back from you (in dollars, cedis, or any currency you name).

    AGRA Watch researchers have mapped AGRA grant recipients and some alternatives to AGRA. The map, which is linked below, covers all of Africa, this is just the Ghana section.

    AGRA Watch Resources

    These are the organizations and individuals in Ghana, marked on the map, who are developing and promoting AGRA’s GMO seeds and chemical agriculture:

    AGRA Grants (blue markers):
    Category: Seed Production for Africa


    Alpha Seed Enterprise
    About, Personnel, Linkages, Approach
    Last Updated on May 26, 2009
    Principal Investigator: Mrs. Felicia Ewool
    Purpose: To provide seeds of newley released hybrid and open-pollinated maize varieties to poor smallholder farmers of the forest and forest-transition maize growing regions of Ghana, as well as educate them on the importance of using improved seeds in an effort to enhance their productivity.
    Amount: $150,000
    Projected Duration: 10/1/2008 — 9/30/2010

    M&B Seeds and Agricultural Services Ghana Limited
    Last Updated on May 26, 2009
    Principal Investigator: Mr. Benjamin Anani Kwaku Kemetse
    Purpose: To enhance farm productivity and increase incomes of smallholder farmers of the Volta region of Ghana through provision of high yielding improved seeds of maize, soybean, cowpea, rice, groundnut and vegetables; and education on the use of these seeds.
    Amount: $149,765
    Projected Duration: 5/1/2009 – 4/30/2012

    Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
    Their website, www.csir.org.gh is not working today; find some CSIR info here.
    Last Updated on May 23, 2009
    Principal Investigator: Mr. Isaac Kofi Bimpong
    Purpose: For use by its Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) to improve drought tolerance of rice through within-species gene transfer.
    Amount: US$35,200
    Projected Duration: 9/1/2007 – 4/30/2009
    AGRA Grants (turquoise markers) :
    Category: Education for African Crop Improvement

    Savanna Seed Services Company Limited
    Last Updated on May 26, 2009
    Principal Investigator: Mr. Patrick Adingtingha Apullah
    Purpose: To avail seed of maize, soybean, sorghum, cowpea, rice and groundnut at an affordable price to resource-poor farmers in three administrative regions of northern Ghana.
    Amount: $149,973
    Projected Duration: 6/15/2008 — 6/14/2010

    University of Ghana
    Last Updated on May 23, 2009
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, Ph.D.
    Purpose: To establish a West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) at the University of Ghana, Legon.
    Amount: US$4,922,752
    Projected Duration: 6/1/2007 – 6/30/2012

    Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
    Last Updated on May 23, 2009
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Richard Akromah
    Purpose: To catalyze the development and adoption of improved crop varieties and production of good quality seed adapted to smallholder farmer conditions in the West Africa sub-region, through supporting ten M.Sc. level training in plant breeding and seed science.
    Amount: US$387,000
    Projected Duration: 9/1/2008 – 8/31/2010

    University of Ghana
    Last Updated on May 23, 2009
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Eric Yirenkyi Danquah
    Purpose: To provide supplementary funding toward the Establishment of a West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) at the University of Ghana, Legon (UGL).
    Amount: US$859,107
    Projected Duration: 6/1/2007 – 5/31/2012

    Cornell University, United States
    Last Updated on May 23, 2009
    Principal Investigator: Professor Margaret Smith
    Purpose: To facilitate the start-up and development of WACCI at the University of Ghana, Legon, to train African agricultural scientists and address critical food security issues facing the region.
    Amount: US$1,696,756
    Projected Duration: 6/1/2007 – 3/31/2012

    AGRA Grants (yellow markers):
    Fund for the Improvement and Adoption of African Crops

    Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Crops Research Institute
    Last Updated on May 23, 2009
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Hans K.Adu-dapaah
    Crop: Cowpea
    Purpose: To improve cowpea yields among poor smallholder farmers by introgression of genes for flower thrips and Cercospora leaf spot-resistance in farmer-preferred varieties.
    Amount: US$184,860
    Projected Duration: 7/1/2008 – 6/30/2011

    Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Savanna Agricultural Research Institute
    Last Updated on May 23, 2009
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Mashark Seidu Abdulai
    Crop: Maize
    Purpose: To develop maize varieties suitable for use by poor smallholder farmers of the Guinea and Sudan savanna zones of Ghana.
    Amount: US$184,480
    Projected Duration: 3/1/2008 – 2/28/2011

    Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Crops Research Institute
    Last Updated on May 23, 2009
    Principal Investigator: Mr. Manfred B. Ewool
    Crop: Maize
    Purpose: To develop higher-yielding, improved hybrid maize varieties for the forest and forest-transition zones of Ghana, for use by poor smallholder farmers.
    Amount: US$185,000
    Projected Duration: 5/1/2008 – 4/30/2011

    Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Crops Research Institute
    Last Updated on May 23, 2009
    Principal Investigator: Joe Manu-Aduening
    Crop: Cassava
    Purpose: To develop improved cassava varieties resistant to common pests and diseases and possessing the main farmer-preferred traits.
    Amount: US$179,845
    Projected Duration: 3/1/2008 – 2/28/2011

    AGRA Grants (red marker):
    Category: Agro-dealer Development

    International Fertilizer Development Center
    Last Updated on May 23, 2009
    Principal Investigator: J J Robert Groot
    Purpose: To create a well-functioning and sustainable input supply system in Ghana in order to increase productivity and incomes of rural food producers in Asante, Brong Ahafo, northern and central regions who account or more than half of the country’s poor.
    Amount: US$2,500,000
    Projected Duration: 10/1/2008 – 9/30/2011

    The result of AGRA’s alien hybrid seeds, alien chemical fertilizers and alien pesticides, will be:

    … smallholders will buy the new hybrid seed, fertiliser and pesticide on credit, eventually be forced off their land to repay their debts and end up in the cities, while large corporate style farms will consolidate smallholder land. (Food First)

    For more information and links on this subject you can read these previous posts:
    Why is Kofi Annan Fronting For Monsanto? The GMO Assault On Africa
    AGRA & Monsanto & Gates, Green Washing & Poor Washing

    I had wondered exactly where AGRA is operating in Ghana and who is involved. This list should provide a start. Here is this list of grants from the AGRA site.

    Those doing the research claim great successes for their products. Most often, the research on effectiveness is funded by the same international corporations that are profiting from the products being researched. All tales of success should be regarded as highly suspect without independent research and verification. Generally the independent research has shown the company funded research and success tales to be highly questionable. Toxic effects have gone unreported and ignored

    AGRA Watch Resources provides much more than this map. They provide a list of links to other organizations watching AGRA, and working for food and trade justice, and an excellent targeted reading list. On the map there are green markers for alternatives to AGRA. Unfortunately, there are not many marked, and none are in Ghana. Readers from other countries in Africa can identify who is AGRA in their own countries using this map.

    The following maps provide an overview of Africa at present. The selection was put together by McKinsey Quarterly, discussing businees opportunities and the future in Africa. The information in the maps is by no means complete, but nevertheless worth a look.  Click on each map to make it large enough to read.

    11 million square miles and more than 50 countries

    Capital cities

    Population by country

    Literacy rates by country

    Major cities on the continent

    Major minerals by location

    Business climate by country

    The maps above are from McKinsey Quarterly where there are slightly more interactive versions.

    In view of the above maps, I thought I’d post the following map again, to help keep things in perspective.

    Map of Africa's geographic size in relation to other countries (click to enlarge)

    The map above comes from Strange Maps.

    Something additional to keep in mind, Alwyn Young of the Department of Economics of the London School of Economics published the study The African Growth Miracle PDF in September 2009. As the abstract says:

    Measures of real consumption based upon the ownership of durable goods, the quality of housing, the health and mortality of children, the education of youth and the allocation of female time in the household indicate that sub-Saharan living standards have, for the past two decades, been growing in excess of 3 percent per annum, i.e. more than three times the rate indicated in international data sets.

    Mr. Young has made this survey based on the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS).

    The DHS data on consumption of consumer durables and housing, children’s health and mortality, the schooling of youth and the allocation of women’s time between marriage & childbirth and market activity, indicate that since 1990 real material consumption in sub-Saharan Africa has been rising at a rate more than three times that recorded by international data sources such as the PWT, and on par with the growth taking place in other regions of the world. This is a miraculous achievement, given that the very real ravages of the AIDS epidemic have deprived families of prime working age adults, burdened them with medical and funeral expenses, orphaned their school age children and directly and adversely affected the health of their infants. And yet, the overall health and mortality of children is improving, their school attendance is rising, and family consumption of a variety of material goods is growing at a rapid rate. (p.58)

    Much of this has gone unnoticed prior to his study.

    For some further reading, Pambazuka has a number of recent stories well worth a look, including:

    MDGs: How far we’ve come and what still has to be done
    Charles Abugre (2010-09-22)
    Africans must not rely on the so-called millennium goals
    Cameron Duodu (2010-09-23)
    African Women Writing Resistance
    Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez, Pauline Dongala, Omotayo Jolaosho and Anne Serafin (2010-09-23)
    World Bank land grab report: Beyond smoke and mirrors
    GRAIN (2010-09-23)
    The global capitalist crisis and Africa’s future
    Dani W. Nabudere (2010-09-23)

    ________

    To regular readers of this blog, apologies for fewer postings in recent weeks.  In July we experienced severe budget cuts at work.  We lost jobs but the workload remains the same.  It is taking more time than I expected to get the work manageable.  I hope to be back to more frequent posting soon.

    Why do you bring your mistakes here?

    Kofi Annan has joined with President Obama, Monsanto, AGRA, and the Gates foundation to promote and execute food aid that replaces bags of wheat, rice and corn (agricultural dumping) with bags of pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers and genetically engineered seeds. The end result will be to starve people in Africa and feed corporations in the US and Europe.

    Kofi Annan and farmers

    Under the guise of “sustainability” the [Gates] Foundation has been spearheading a multi-billion dollar effort to transform Africa into a GMO-friendly continent. The public relations flagship for this effort is the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a massive Green Revolution project. Up to now AGRA spokespeople have been slippery, and frankly, contradictory about their stance on GMOs.

    If you had any doubts about where the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is really placing its bets, AGRA Watch’s recent announcement of the Foundation’s investment of $23.1 million in 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock should put them to rest. Genetic engineering: full speed ahead. (Eric Holt-Gimenez)

    If you have questions about Monsanto’s agenda, here it is in brief:

    At a biotech industry conference in January 1999, a representative from Arthur Anderson, LLP explained how they had helped Monsanto design their strategic plan. First, his team asked Monsanto executives what their ideal future looked like in 15 to 20 years. The executives described a world with 100 percent of all commercial seeds genetically modified and patented. Anderson consultants then worked backwards from that goal, and developed the strategy and tactics to achieve it. They presented Monsanto with the steps and procedures needed to obtain a place of industry dominance in a world in which natural seeds were virtually extinct. (Jeffrey M. Smith)

    Monsanto: No food shall be grown that we don't own

    Kofi Annan is Chairman of the Board of Directors for AGRA. He is convening a conference in Ghana in the first week of September. As detailed in this blog, and by others, both AGRA and USAID top positions are filled with people that come from Monsanto and Dupont.
    Kofi Annan Calls For United Effort To Accelerate African Green Revolution

    African heads of state, industry representatives, the international donor community and farmers will meet in Ghana at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in the first week of September. Delegates will create an action plan on the acceleration of a Green Revolution in Africa.

    Samuel Amoako has reported on this as well: Kofi Annan Hosts Forum On Africa’s Food Security in the Ghanaian Times on August 11.

    It is worrisome that Kofi Annan is connected with AGRA. Maybe he believes that US mechanized and chemical agriculture work well. Most people in the US do, aside from family farmers who see the effects first hand. I have a good friend who works for the US Dept. of Agriculture and thinks this kind of big agriculture really is the best and that Monsanto is a boon to mankind. We have had several heated discussions. In fact Monsanto is destroying land, causing chemically induced human diseases, creating super weeds, super insect pests, and economic havoc in many parts of the US farming areas, particularly in the midwest and the south. There have been countless protests all over India and Brazil. I’ve read many heartbreaking stories, including this comment from Pearl on this blog:

    The farmers of southern Kentucky have been enslaved by Monsanto. The previous generation fell for an ad campaign called “Hi-bred” or “High-Bred”, and the current generation is stuck with fulfilling the contracts their fathers signed. The chemicals that Monsanto has contractually required be applied to those fields have so damaged the soil that the only way to get anything to grow in the fields now is to keep applying more of those blasted chemicals. So even if a person who inherited a contract WANTS to discontinue the agreement with Monsanto when the contract expires, they are unable to do so unless they want to leave the land fallow for many, many, many years. Most farmers cannot afford to do this, as this would mean little to no income for their families for somewhere between 5 to 20 years, depending on how long it would take for the soil to renew itself.

    I’ve always had enormous respect for Kofi Annan, I do not understand his participation in this and it bothers me a great deal. Even though I admire and respect him there are no free passes with a subject like this.

    Genetically modified crops produce less, not more, than conventional crops.

    Alexis Baden-Mayer points out in Dupont, Monsanto, and Obama Versus the World’s Family Farmers that AGRA is basing its programs on myth:

    Most of the world’s food is not produced on industrial mega-farms. 1.5 billion family farmers produce 75 percent of the world’s food.

    The hunger problem is not caused by low yields. The world has 6 billion people and produces enough food for 9 billion people.

    And as I’ve discussed before, the smaller the farm the greater the yield.

    There is an inverse relationship between the size of farms and the amount of crops they produce per hectare. The smaller they are, the greater the yield.

    In some cases, the difference is enormous. A recent study of farming in Turkey, for example, found that farms of less than one hectare are twenty times as productive as farms of over ten hectares(3). Sen’s observation has been tested in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Java, the Phillippines, Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay. It appears to hold almost everywhere. (Monbiot)

    The key to true food security is food sovereignty, and the key to food sovereignty lies in who controls the land. The problems of both starvation and obesity stem from injustice in the way farmland and food are distributed. AGRA policies will poison the land and water, destroy local seeds and seed gene pools that provide the true hope for food sustainability. Local agriculture in most parts of the world has developed seeds that are tough and resistant to local pests, weeds, and local environmental dangers such as droughts or floods. AGRA wishes to replace these seeds with ones that need expensive, continuous, and ever expanding chemical coddling. These chemicals will poison the land, the water, and the people.

    Additionally the Gates Foundation, Monsanto, and other corporate interests are investing in a doomsday seed bank, in which they will own the world’s agricultural gene pool. They are storing seeds from all over the world. In the event of genetic disaster, they will own the surviving gene pool.

    Jonathan Weiner, in The Beak of the Finch describes how chemicals drive the destruction of land and the creation of super weeds and super insect pests:

    Some of the greatest opposition to evolution comes from the farmers of the Cotton Belt, and that is where Taylor is seeing one of the most dramatic cases of evolution in action on this planet.

    … in the year 1940, cotton farmers began spraying their fields with the chemical compound dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, better known as DDT. These first insecticidal sprays killed so many insects, and killed so many of the birds that ate the insects, that in biological terms the cotton fields were left standing virtually vacant, like an archipelago of newborn islands – and out of the woods and hedgerows fluttered [the cotton destroying moth] Heliothis virescens.

    In the next few optimistic years, pesticide manufacturers assaulted Heliothis with bigger and bigger doses of DDT. They also brought out more poisons from the same chemical family: aldrin, chlordane. The aim was nothing less than the control of nature, and pesticide manufacturers believed that control was within their grasp. The annual introduction of new pesticides rose from the very first product, DDT, in 1940, to great waves of chemical invention in the 1960s and 1970s. In those decades, dozens of new herbicides and insecticides were brought to market each year. Heliothis became on of the most heavily sprayed species in what amounted to a biological world war. Through it all, the moths clung to the cotton.

    … The moths have become almost absolutely resistant to all pesticides, from your cyclodienes to your organophosphates to your carbamates, and most of your pyrethroids. …

    “Its an extraordinarily potent example of evolution going on under our eyes,” Taylor says. “Visible evolution.”

    A pesticide applies selection pressure as surely as a drought or a flood. The poison selects against traits that make a species vulnerable to it, because the individuals that are most vulnerable are the ones that die first. The poison selects for any trait that makes the species less vulnerable, because the least vulnerable are the ones that survive longest and leave the most offspring. In this way the invention of pesticides in the twentieth century has driven waves of evolution in insects all over the planet. Heliothis is only one case in hundreds. (from pp 251-255)

    In short, pesticides and herbicides destroy most of the insects, plants, and often other animals in those fields where they are used. But nature fights back. Those insects and weeds that can resist the chemicals initially, breed and grow stronger. They have no competition except from the chemicals, and they quickly evolve immunity, even as the chemicals become stronger and more toxic. Stronger and more toxic chemicals are needed to fight the new insects and weeds, and the destructive cycle continues. The chemicals wind up in the food, and run off into the land and the water, creating an ever increasingly toxic environment for humans and many other plants and animals.

    For the growth of super weeds world wide, see the following charts:

    The vertical axis shows the number of species of weeds that have become chemical resistant, the horizontal axis shows the years. You can see the exponential increase starting about 1970 when Monsanto introduced Roundup, and continuing into 2010. (click to enlarge)

    You can see the distribution, North America, Western Europe, and Australia have already been severely impacted. Africa is a huge new market that has not yet been ruined. You can see why it is so desirable, it is a huge wide open opportunity to Monsanto and other greedy chemical corporations. Most countries in Africa have not yet been touched or biologically recolonized by GMOs and agricultural chemicals. South Africa, which has allowed GMOs, is the most severely impacted to date. (click to enlarge)

    Genetically modified seeds, GMOs, are designed to be used as part of a program involving chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Their effect on farmers is usually to lock them into a cycle of debt, as described by Pearl above, and as experienced and protested in many countries including India and Brazil, as mentioned above. Terminator seeds, also known as suicide seeds or homicide seeds, will not regenerate, so instead of saving seeds, farmers have to buy new seeds each year, as well as investing in more, and more toxic chemicals each year that are necessary to make the GMO seeds grow. This cycle has created death and destruction in many places, including hundreds of farmer suicides in India.

    I’ve heard that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that is certainly the case for the insects and weeds targeted by chemical pesticides and herbicides. Those that don’t die become very much stronger. We have already have super bugs and super weeds, thanks to the efforts of companies such as Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta. Evolution can move very fast, not just fast enough to observe, but fast enough to leave us humans struggling in its wake. Monsanto and the other agricultural chemical companies market each new product as though it is the end of some pest, that evolution stops at this point, and we can just relax. In fact each new chemical is the creator and the beginning of many more powerful threats. And the more powerful the chemical tools we use against these threats, the more those chemicals poison us and strengthen the insects and weeds we are fighting.

    Although they have stopped talking much overtly about this, AGRA and the Gates Foundation speak about “land mobility” which means moving farmers off their farms so the land can be used for large scale mechanized agriculture. But there is no mention of where these people will go and live, and how they will be reemployed. What this means is thousands of displaced people moving to slums around the cities, which will grow and will be filled with unemployed people. This is politically and socially destabilizing. It breeds crime and political violence. This kind of policy also hits women particularly hard, because in western models such as corporate agriculture, their traditional rights to land are ignored. Women are the majority of agricultural workers, and will become even more impoverished and disenfranchised, not that it will bother AGRA or Gates or Monsanto, as they say:

    Over time, this will require some degree of land mobility and a lower percentage of total employment involved in direct agricultural production.

    Family farmers, who produce 75% of the worlds food, will gradually be displaced, driven off their land, and the land will be poisoned and ruined. There will be less food, less healthy food. More people will starve, while more corporations will get fat.

    As Joan Baxter writes:

    Back in the early 1990s when I was reporting from northern Ghana, an elderly woman farmer decided I would benefit from a bit of enlightenment. In a rather long lecture, she detailed for me the devastating effects that the Green Revolution – the first one that outside experts and donors launched in Africa in the 1960s and 1970s – had had on farmers’ crops, soils, trees and their lives. She said that the imported seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and tractors, the instructions to plant row after row of imported hybrid maize and cut down precious trees that protected the soils and nourished the people – even the invaluable sheanut trees – had ruined the diverse and productive farming systems that had always sustained her people. When she finished, she cocked an eye at me and asked, with a cagey grin, ‘Why do you bring your mistakes here?

    For more African farmers perspectives on this subject, see:

    Africa: African Farmers and Environmentalists Speak Out Against A New Green Revolution In Africa PDF
    http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/voicesfromafrica/pdfs/voicesfromafrica_full.pdf

    ________

    The first part of this article was published, text only, on GhanaWeb on September 13. You can read comments there.

    Daniel Volman provides a rundown of US military spending in Africa for the coming FY 2011. President Obama is continuing and expanding:

    … the militarised and unilateral security policy that had been pursued by the George W. Bush administration toward Africa, as well as toward other parts of the world.

    CAMP KASENYI, Uganda - Staff Sergeant Andre Amantine of the 2-18 Field Artillery Regiment out of Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, marches with his students of the Counter Terrorism Course on June 16, 2009 at Camp Kasenyi, Uganda. More than 100 Ugandan soldiers graduated from this CJTF-HOA-supported course, which covered topics such as individual movement techniques, troop landing procedures, land navigation, first aid, identifying improvised explosive devises, and more. (Photo by Master Sergeant Loren Bonser)

    Volman’s figures on FY 2011 Budget Requests by Country

    The 38 million dollars for the Foreign Military Financing programme to pay for U.S. arms sales to African countries includes:
    9 million for Liberia,
    9 million for Morocco,
    4.9 million for Tunisia,
    2.5 million for Djibouti,
    2 million for Ethiopia,
    1.5 million for the Democratic Republic of Congo,
    1.4 million for Nigeria,
    one million for Kenya.

    The 21 million dollars for the International Military Education and Training Programme to bring African military officers to the United States for military training includes:
    2.3 million for Tunisia,
    1.9 million for Morocco,
    1 million for Kenya,
    1 million for Nigeria,
    1 million for Senegal,
    950,000 for Algeria,
    825,000 for Ghana,
    725,000 for Ethiopia,
    600,000 for Uganda,
    500,000 for the Democratic Republic of Congo,
    500,000 for Rwanda.

    The 24.4 million dollars for Anti-Terrorism Assistance programmes in Africa includes:
    8 million dollars for Kenya,
    1 million for South Africa,
    800,000 for Morocco, and
    400,000 for Algeria, and
    14 million for African Regional Programmes.

    A U.S. Air University’s Strategic Studies Quarterly paper (PDF) by Maj Shawn T. Cochran, USAF, includes a description of the difference between creative aid and acquisitive aid:

    Creative aid, even of a military variety, focuses on the socioeconomic development of a recipient without being tied to any specific strategic objective of the donor. It is “not primarily intended to acquire anything, at least not immediately; it is extended in the hope that it will favorably affect the economic and political development of the recipient country.” On the other hand, a donor will utilize acquisitive aid to “win a comparatively specific advantage” or to “acquire” an asset. In further defining the nature of the latter, Liska postulates,

    In the case of acquisitive aid the recipient’s performance substitutes directly for action by the donor. The donor either does not expect to act at all or would have to act “more” or “differently” if he could not anticipate the performance of the recipient. … The case is clearest where military and economic aid are intended to help the recipient maintain an army for local self-defense, so that the United States does not have to participate with troops or need involve only a correspondingly smaller number of troops.

    This passage highlights the basic linkage between security assistance and surrogate force.

    I have not seen much sign of creative aid coming from the US government to Africa for many decades. There is plenty of acquisitive aid. AFRICOM’s partnering is acquisitive aid, security assistance designed to acquire surrogate force. The gift is arms and military training so that African soldiers can fight, suffer and die for US interests, and US soldiers will not have to. But we won’t see creative aid. We won’t see aid that will favorably affect the economic and political development of the recipient country. We won’t see aid that will help develop transportation, or health, or education, or improved sanitation and sewage, or any of the things governments do to earn the consent of the governed and to govern peacefully and prosperously. We see the Africa Command in military photo op aid performing a few of these functions in local isolation. But the money for these is peanuts compared with the money for arms and military training, or even compared with the expense of just moving military equipment from place to place.

    DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania - Tanzanian Sailors practice visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) techniques during an exercise aboard the Africa Partnership Station (APS) East platform USS Nicholas (FFG 47), January 20, 2010. VBSS is just one of a series of maritime training courses being offered onboard Nicholas and the High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) by APS East instructors to members of the Tanzanian Navy. APS East is in Tanzania to participate in maritime and cultural exchanges with the Tanzanian Navy and will visit ports in Comoros, Djibouti, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique and Seychelles to enhance maritime safety and security in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Julian Olivari)

    real household consumption in sub-Saharan Africa is growing around 3.3 percent per annum, i.e. more than three times the 0.9 to 1.0 percent reported in international data sources and on par with the growth experienced in other developing countries.

    School children in Bunkpurugu in Northern Ghana 2005, a very cheerful picture, not directly related to the story, but cheerfully upbeat.

    Alwyn Young of the Department of Economics of the London School of Economics published the study The African Growth Miracle PDF in September 2009. As the abstract says:

    Measures of real consumption based upon the ownership of durable goods, the quality of housing, the health and mortality of children, the education of youth and the allocation of female time in the household indicate that sub-Saharan living standards have, for the past two decades, been growing in excess of 3 percent per annum, i.e. more than three times the rate indicated in international data sets.

    Mr. Young has made this survey based on the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS).

    The DHS data on consumption of consumer durables and housing, children’s health and mortality, the schooling of youth and the allocation of women’s time between marriage & childbirth and market activity, indicate that since 1990 real material consumption in sub-Saharan Africa has been rising at a rate more than three times that recorded by international data sources such as the PWT, and on par with the growth taking place in other regions of the world. This is a miraculous achievement, given that the very real ravages of the AIDS epidemic have deprived families of prime working age adults, burdened them with medical and funeral expenses, orphaned their school age children and directly and adversely affected the health of their infants. And yet, the overall health and mortality of children is improving, their school attendance is rising, and family consumption of a variety of material goods is growing at a rapid rate. (p.58)

    As he points out:

    The paucity and poor quality of living standard data for less developed countries is well known and is motivating expanding efforts to improve the quality of information, as represented by the World Bank’s International Comparison Programme and Living Standards Measurement studies. However, there already exists, at the present time, a large body of unexamined current and historical data on living standards in developing countries, collected as part of the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS). For more than two decades this survey has collected information on the ownership of durables, the quality of housing, the health and mortality of children, the education of the youth and the allocation of women’s time in the home and the market in the poorest regions of the world.

    In this paper I use the DHS data to construct estimates of the level, growth rate and inequality of real consumption in 29 sub-Saharan and 27 other developing countries. These estimates have the virtue of being based upon a methodologically consistent source of information for a large sample of poor economies. Rather than attempting to measure total nominal consumption and marry it to independently collected price indices, they employ direct physical measures of real consumption that, by their simplicity and patent obviousness (the ownership of a car or bicycle, the material of a floor, the birth, death or illness of a child), minimize the technical demands of the survey. While the items they cover provide little information on comparative living standards in developed countries, in the poorest regions of the world they are clear indicators of material well being, varying dramatically by socioeconomic status and covering, through durables, health & nutrition and family time, the majority of household expenditure.

    He provides tables, and far more detail as to his methodology and his findings. You can read the entire economic report here, The African Growth Miracle PDF.

    ________

    photocredit here

    no country has been developed by outsiders. International relationships are simply not defined by sentimentalities but by cold, calculated self-interest. This is a lesson that African leaders refuse to learn. Outsiders might help, but it is the citizens of a country led by an intelligent leader with vision that develop nations.
    Femi Akomolafe

    Map of Ghana's Jubilee Field

    Back in December the Vanguard published an editorial recording a conversation between Professor Dora Akunyili, Minister of Information for Nigeria, and Venezuela’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Enerique Fernando Arrundell. There is much in Mr. Arrundell’s words that Ghanaians should take to heart.

    Lessons from Venezuela
    Dec. 4, 2009

    VENEZUELAN Ambassador to Nigeria, Enerique Fernando Arrundell, could not have offered his advice on Nigeria’s management of its petroleum resources at a better time. The anchor of government’s argument is that higher prices would draw foreign investors to the down stream sector of the industry.

    Professor Dora Akunyili, Minister of Information had solicited Venezuelan investments for our refineries.
    Mr. Arrundell’s response was without diplomatese. He launched a profound lecture on Nigeria’s oil and gas.

    “In Venezuela, since 1999, we’ve never had a raise in fuel price. We only pay $1.02 to fill the tank. What I pay for with N12, 000 here (Nigeria), in Venezuela I’ll pay N400. What is happening is simple. Our President (Hugo Chavez) decided one day to control the industry, because it belongs to Venezuelans. If you don’t control the industry, your development will be in the hands of foreigners.

    “You have to have your own country. The oil is your country’s. Sorry I am telling you this. I am giving you the experience of Venezuela. We have 12 refineries in the United States, 18,000 gas stations in the West Coast. All we are doing is in the hands of Venezuelans.

    “Before 1999, we had three or four foreign companies working with us. That time they were taking 80 per cent, and giving us 20. Now, we have 90 per cent, and giving them 10. But now, we have 22 countries working with us in that condition.

    It is the Venezuelan condition. You know why? It is because 60 per cent of the income goes to social programmes. That’s why we have 22,000 medical doctors assisting the people in the community. The people don’t go to the hospital; doctors go to their houses. This is because the money is handled by Venezuelans. How come

    Nigeria that has more technical manpower than Venezuela, with 150 million people, and very intellectual people all around, not been able to get it right? The question is: If you are not handling your resources, how are you going to handle the country?

    “So, it is important that Nigeria takes control of her resources. We have no illiterate people. We have over 17 new universities totally free. I graduated from the university without paying one cent, and take three meals every day, because we have the resources. We want the resources of the Nigerian people for the
    Nigerians. It is enough! It is enough, Minister!

    Femi Akomolafe (his blog) adds some words of advice:

    There are, however, some fundamental truths that we must begin to tell ourselves. First and foremost is the belief that we can continue to depend on other people’s (especially Western) charities for our development. I have said several times that no country has been developed by outsiders. International relationships are simply not defined by sentimentalities but by cold, calculated self-interest. This is a lesson that African leaders refuse to learn. Outsiders might help, but it is the citizens of a country led by an intelligent leader with vision that develop nations.

    And as I have recounted several times in this very column, our five hundred or so years of “relationship” with the West has been to our utter detriment. We have nothing but slavery, colonialism, and the more pernicious neo-colonialism (aka imperialism) to show for it. We can also throw in the disease of rabid racism that still pervades the Western world.

    And yet African leaders continue to parrot the same inanities about partnering with “developmental partners!”

    In Ghana:

    In the name of “investment,” the Western multinationals will bring in ancient equipment (tax free) to come and set up shop to extract our resources. To attract their “investments,” they are given tax breaks and other packages that made them pay their expatriate staff out-of-this-world salaries and emoluments. They will employ the brute force of our compatriots whilst their planes and helicopters are waiting to ship out our gold and diamonds in their raw state. For this they pay us a pittance in royalty and employ the best PR outfits who will dazzle us with enough razzmatazz to make us dizzy. A few years down the road, the mines are depleted, our land and environment polluted, and our people’s lives wretched. The wily Westerner is already outta the country.

    This is the very sad story that keeps repeating itself year in year out and like mindless children, we seem not to learn any lesson. Since the overthrow of President Kwame Nkrumah’s government in 1966, no government in Ghana has deemed it fit and proper to build a gold or diamond factory in order to add some value to them.

    This has been our sad story and yet our leaders have stubbornly refused to learn a thing.

    There is a law in this country against causing financial loss to the state and it is high time we start to use it seriously and effectively. How on earth can officials of our country, paid from the treasury of mother Ghana, and in this age and time, sign agreements with foreigners to cart away our crude oil unrefined for twenty years! What on earth informed that reckless decision? Who said that slavery is over? And please, what crime is that if not the criminal cause of financial loss to the state of Ghana?

    There is a state-owned oil refinery at Tema that is in perennial struggle to get crude oil from Nigeria, and yet some unconscionable Ghanaians appended their signature to ship our oil to foreign refineries unrefined!

    An international discourse of China-in-Africa has emerged … China in Africa has more in common with the West than is usually acknowledged; … there are nevertheless notable differences between Western and Chinese presences in Africa

    Map of Chinese investment in Africa 2005 (click to enlarge)

    African exports to China (click to enlarge)

    In December Asia Pacific Journal published:

    Trade, Investment, Power and the China-in-Africa Discourse by Barry Sautman and Yan Hairong

    They make a number of interesting points about the nature of China’s involvement in Africa.

    An international discourse of China-in-Africa has emerged, particularly in Western countries with dense links to Africa: the US, UK and France.

    The essence of the discourse then is to cast PRC policies in Africa as promoting human rights violations or “colonialism,” while implicitly comparing them invidiously with high minded US and Western practices. Some PRC activities in Africa do violate the human rights of Africans — not in ways that Western elites claim, but in much the same manner that Western policies do, through disadvantageous terms of trade, the extraction of natural resources, oppressive labor regimes, and support for authoritarian rulers, all common features of the modern world system. These are practices that China’s elites used to denounce, but now come close to extolling as dynamic capitalism. … the path taken by China is “consistent with the logic of market capitalism-liberal trade” and makes China not a colonialist, but “a successful capitalist in Africa.”

    The discourse should not be inverted by arguing that China’s presence in Africa is positive and the West’s negative or that problematic Chinese activities in Africa are justified because abuses are shared with the West. The analysis of China-Africa should invoke neither a “win-win” nor dystopic representations; rather, the trees of China’s behavior should be seen as part of a world system forest and the discourse examined using comparative analysis. Our arguments are threefold: 1) given the world system, it is difficult to assess the pluses and minuses of China-in-Africa as a single phenomenon; 2) as a player in the world system, China in Africa has more in common with the West than is usually acknowledged; 3) there are nevertheless notable differences between Western and Chinese presences in Africa; many derive from China’s experience as a semi-colony, its socialist legacy, and its developing country status, features which together make PRC policies presumptively less injurious to African sensibilities about rights than those of Western states.

    The US Treasury termed China a “rogue creditor.” Africa remains, however, in a Western-created “debt trap,” owing more than $300b and paying significant interest. Yet, as US Africanist Deborah Brautigam has noted, China “regularly cancel[s] the loans of African countries, loans that were usually granted at zero interest [and] without the long dance of negotiations and questionable conditions required by the World Bank and IMF.” …

    OECD researchers have concluded moreover that increased PRC activities in Africa have not deepened corruption among African governments. China’s leaders know corrupt officials will siphon off part of their infrastructure loans, but its packaged loans are less likely than Western aid to being drained by corruption. As a Hong Kong journalist has noted, because China’s loans and aid are tied to infrastructure projects, that is, a large portion of the funds are allocated directly to contractors, “corrupt rulers cannot somehow use it to buy Mercedes Benzes.” A close US observer of PRC activities in Africa has argued that China’s aid is more effective than Western aid because much is used for “hydroelectric power dams, railroads, roads and fiber-optic cables, which have the potential to benefit ordinary people, no matter how corrupt the regime under which they live.”

    Despite promoting a rhetoric of transparency regarding African oil-producers, Western states have not bound their citizens and corporations. Bids for oil blocks in Africa typically feature “signature bonuses,” paid to governments, which often run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Foreign oil firms know host governments skim off large shares of what the companies pay. In a rare instance of disclosure, Western oil firms told the IMF that they paid $400m in 2001 for an Angolan oil tract, but the Angolan government claimed it received only $285m. Presumably the difference went into the pockets of government officials.

    Most multinationals refuse to publish what they pay to secure oil rights. Western governments do not compel oil firms that are their own citizens to make disclosures, but “ask the tiger for its skin” (yu hou mo pi), as the Chinese say, by demanding corrupt governments publicize their own corruption.

    Western policy interventions have not actually diminished the resource curse.

    … oil is capital intensive, creates few jobs, is environmentally damaging and corrupts producing states. People in oil-rich regions, such as southern Sudan and Nigeria’s Niger Delta, receive so few benefits from their patrimony that violent conflict has ensued.

    The China-in-Africa discourse will likely continue to focus overwhelmingly on oil in discussing PRC imports from the continent. American analysts particularly see the US as strategically competing with China for African oil. … The US government estimates African oil production will grow 91% in 2002-2025, while global production will grow 53%. Armed forces in a newly established US Africa Command will have as a main task protecting US access to oil.

    US prominence in taking African oil is accompanied by its backing authoritarian rulers in almost all oil producing states.

    Sautman and Hairong’s article discusses Chinese activities in Africa regarding the textiles and clothing (T&C) industries and also mining, particularly in Zambia. They provide detailed information of T&C in Africa and how it works in different countries.

    If the affordability of PRC imports benefits grassroots African consumers, there are in any case only seven countries that receive a significant share (5-14%) of their imports from China. Basic consumer goods do not predominate among PRC exports, but rather “machinery, electronic equipment and high- and new-tech products.” A UK government study found that in only one African country, Uganda, are basic consumer goods more than a fifth of the value of all goods imported from China and that PRC imports into Africa mainly displace imports from elsewhere and have little effect on local production. The PRC government recognizes that some exports are of poor quality. Many Chinese goods are brought to Africa by private Chinese or African entrepreneurs whom the PRC government does not control. It nevertheless has “in place stringent measures to ensure that its goods meet all the minimum quality standards for exports [and] a ministry to ensure low quality goods are not exported.”

    WB/IMF-mandated structural adjustment programs (SAPs) were the actual gravediggers of African T&C production. The influx of second-hand clothing from developed countries particularly reduced domestic markets for African T&C producers.

    A balance of positive and negative impacts for China’s exports to Africa is not easily drawn. Yet, as to the T&C industry, the balance is less negative than the discourse makes out. Its fixation on Africa’s T&C industry is non-comparative and lacks historical context, as China did not contribute to the steep decline in African T&C through SAPs [structural adjustment programs], while Western states have yet to restrict their used and new clothing exports to Africa.

    Most foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows to Africa come from Europe, along with South Africa and the US. These countries together account for more than half of Africa’s FDI inflows. China had only $49 million in FDI in Africa in 1990 and $600m in 2003. Its FDI stock in 2005 was $1.6b, of $57b in global PRC FDI. In 1979-2000, the most recent years for which figures are available, 46% of PRC FDI in Africa went to manufacturing (15% to textiles alone), 28% to resource extraction, 18% to services (mostly construction) and 7% to agriculture. The PRC has said it will encourage investment in Africa’s industrial processing, infrastructure, agriculture, and natural resources.

    Investments thus also figure in the China-in-Africa discourse.84 Even more than with trade, the discourse is narrowly focused; its primary focus has been on only one investment by one Chinese SOE, among the more than 800 major PRC enterprises in Africa, 100 of them large SOEs. Western media have devoted hugely disproportionate attention to the Non-Ferrous Company-Africa (NFCA) Chambishi copper mine. The upshot of these reports is that “the Chinese” are Africa’s super-exploiters.

    Sautman and Hairong discuss the low wages, no job security, lack of health care and unsafe working conditions for miners in Zambia. Zambian miners had previously enjoyed some health benefits and better wages. The authors point out that the lowered wages, reduced safety, and lack of health care date to the privatization of the mining sector mandated by the World Bank.

    In drawing their conclusions they write:

    The China-in-Africa discourse in the West for the most part insists that Chinese have particularly positioned themselves to exploit Africa and Africans; for example, by supporting authoritarian rulers in countries like Sudan and Zimbabwe. Several Western states, however, directly support despots by providing military assistance and legitimacy. In fact, US assistance to African rulers for purchases of US arms and the training of African states’ military forces has increased significantly under the Obama Administration. China is thus not likely to fare worse than the West in an evaluation of how foreign investments impinge on development and human rights in Africa.

    The modalities of trade examined for development implications commonly involve the import and export of goods. There is also trade in money and people however. Western, but not PRC, banks have traded secrecy and interest to the exporters of 40% of Africa’s private wealth. Western states trade citizenship for the skills of professionals, especially doctors and nurses, trained in, but now largely lost to Africa. These forms of trade likely impinge as much as commodity exchange on Africans’ right to development.

    The main problem with the China-in-Africa discourse is not empirical inaccuracies about Chinese activities in Africa, but the de-contextualization of criticisms for ideological reasons. Some analyses positively cast Western actions in Africa compared to China’s activities; others lack comparative perspective in discussing negative aspects of China’s presence, so that discourse consumers see a few trees, but not the forest. Such analysis reflects Western elite perception of national interests or moral superiority as these impinge on “strategic competition” with China. Many analysts scarcely question Western rhetoric of “aiding African development” and “promoting African democracy,” yet are quick to seize on examples of exploitation or oppression by Chinese interests.

    To comprehensively interrogate Chinese and Western activities in Africa is to question a global system that has in many respects de-developed Africa and into which China is increasingly integrated. Failing that, one is left with little more than a binary between a Western-promoted new “civilizing mission” on behalf of Africans and activities of the “amoral” Chinese, who refuse to fully endorse that mission by not adopting trade and investment practices wholly compliant with neo-liberalism. China, after all, can and does throw this binary back in the face of its proponents by portraying the West as seeking a new tutelage for Africans and China as eschewing the role of intermeddler, while promoting “win-win” trade and investment. So too do many Africans. The popularity of features of China’s presence in Africa, compared with that of the main Western states, goes well beyond elites. The 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Survey asked Africans in ten countries to compare the influences of China and the US in their own countries. In nine of the ten countries, by margins of 61-91%, African respondents said Chinese influence was good. These percentages substantially exceeded those for the US. One important implication of the Chinese presence in Africa then is that Western states and firms may need to engage in greater self-reflection about their own presence in the continent.

    There is much more, I can hardly do justice to this meticulously well sourced article and recommend you read it for yourself: Trade, Investment, Power and the China-in-Africa Discourse.

    “In the long run, it does seem to be both necessary and sufficient to have political and economic liberty to achieve broad based development,”

    Selling bread in Ghana

    A leading development aid skeptic has told a conference of African economists and academics the key to ending poverty in Africa is not better development strategies but greater individual liberty.

    New York University Professor William Easterly stunned a conference dedicated to fostering development in Africa by saying, for the most part, development strategies don’t work.

    Easterly [says] planners and strategists would do better to listen to the crowds of small and medium sized businesses that have traditionally been the engine of economic growth. He says the best plan is to have no plan. “I think way too much effort is wasted on the overall development strategy. Now does that mean there’s nothing professionals and experts can do. No. I don’t say that. What we learned from what we observe in successful development is that they depend not on the wisdom of a single individual but on the wisdom of the crowds. The crowds of entrepreneurs, political entrepreneurs, economic private sectors entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, aid entrepreneurs,” he said.

    He says the main cause of poor performance is that most strategies are designed by foreign experts rather than by the people themselves. “One thing in common to all success is that they are all home grown programs. They did not give power to outside experts. The guidance of the program was homegrown and not driven by foreign experts,” he said.

    … it would be difficult to build a prosperous society in the absence of economic freedom. “In the long run, it does seem to be both necessary and sufficient to have political and economic liberty to achieve broad based development,” he said.

    I haven’t had much time to write or even think lately. Easterly is interesting and his views and experience deserve a lot more attention, certainly more than just these notes here.

    His recommendations appear to address the real question, in the words of Florin Gheorghe in Slumdog engineers of Suame magazine:

    “… what poor people need most is a way to make more money …”

    Easterly’s blog makes interesting reading, check the archives. The blog is:
    AIDWATCH just asking that aid benefit the poor
    Other articles worth a look include:

    The Imperial Origins of State-Led Development
    How the British Invented “Development” to Keep the Empire and Substitute for Racism
    Day of mourning for military Development

    and for a laugh:
    African leaders advise Bono on reform of U2

    h/t africa comments

    Locally made guns

    A photo of a real Makarov gun next to a fake one made by a Ghana blacksmith. (Anna Boiko-Weyrauch)

    Suame Magazine, picture from johnnypayphone.net/labels/ghana.php

    The gun business is creating harm in Ghana and among the neighbors: Locally made guns business flourish in Ghana.

    Blacksmith Sarpong, 35, operates a small shop in Ghana’s second largest city, Kumasi. He is trained to produce cooking utensils, but prefers to make guns as he can earn more money that way.
    When sales are good his shop brings in US$1,000 a week, he said. Foreigners paying better than Ghanaians. “Most of my buyers are from Nigeria or Sierra Leone.”

    Sarpong sells to clients using a gun-runner – most of them are ex-peacekeepers or mercenaries according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime – in a growing clandestine small arms industry, according Ghana’s Deputy Interior Minister, Kwasi Apea-Kubi and confirmed by police officials.

    Small arms proliferation destabilizes West African countries and has increased the intensity and human impact of conflicts in the region, according to regional arms experts.

    Apea-Kubi recently toured the country to ascertain the state of Ghana’s small arms industry and along the way met with hundreds of gunsmiths who “openly admitted to producing guns”, despite that local small arms manufacturing is illegal.

    “We know now that many of the armed robbery cases we are witnessing are being fueled by these small arms,” Apea-Kubi told IRIN.

    Eighty percent of firearms Ghanaian police confiscate are homemade, according to Accra-based NGO Africa Security Dialogue and Research.


    Gun production estimates vary. The National Commission on Small Arms, set up in 2007 to check the manufacture and cross-border movement of small arms, estimates 40,000 Ghana-made guns are in circulation; UNODC estimates 75,000, while Kwesi Aning, head of the conflict resolution department of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in the capital Accra, puts the figure at 200,000.

    “Local production has recently gone through the roof,” Aning told IRIN.

    Blacksmiths have the knowledge and skills to manufacture single-shot pistols, multi-shot revolvers and shotguns, according to UNODC. When IRIN investigated a locally-made pistol sale in Tudu neighbourhood – Accra’s small arms hub – a dealer known only as Musah would not go lower than $130 for a single-barrel shot gun.


    UNODC’s July 2009 West Africa threat assessments report establishes a direct link between trafficked arms and instability in the region, with the chief clients of clandestine arms groups seeking to overthrow or challenge state authority.

    “Instability in Togo, Nigeria, and Côte d’Ivoire has resulted in higher prices of Ghanaian manufactured arms,” Aning said.

    Ghanaian gunsmiths have been invited to teach their gun-manufacturing skills to local blacksmiths in the Niger delta, Aning said.

    However buyers of Ghanaian guns tend to be individuals while established insurgent groups purchase heavier weapons from outside the region, according to UNODC.


    Alternatives

    The government is seeking creative solutions to the problem, the Interior Ministry’s Apea-Kubi told IRIN, as past arrests and detention of guilty blacksmiths have only pushed the trade further underground.

    “We know we have to do something but we don’t want to use force,” he said.

    Interior Ministry officials are consulting gunsmiths across the country to explore how to attract them to alternative – legal – ways of making a living, as well as to examine how to prevent cross-border trafficking.

    Apea-Kubi also hopes gunsmiths will allow their names and locations to be logged on a national database so their activities can be monitored. At least that way the industry will be less secretive, he said.

    But Sarpong is not convinced. “No alternative can give me enough money like what I get selling the guns. They should not waste their time.”

    Armed robbery is a dreadful scourge in Ghana. Recently we lost a young employee, shot to death by armed robbers. He left a wife and two young children. We can make sure the children go to school, but we can’t replace their father. And it has been an ongoing source of sorrow, as he was a good friend and someone who had always been there to help us. There are a number of precautions we take at the house, it is deeply painful to feel that any of them are necessary. This is the main “terrorism” we fear in Ghana, and it is only fueled by the arms trade and increasing militarization in the region. (For some perspective, I have lost more Ghanaian friends to gun violence here in the US over the years, than in Ghana, from a much smaller population of Ghanaians.)

    At the same time I have much sympathy with the blacksmith Sarpong in the article. US$1,000 a week is a fabulous income in Ghana. It would be very difficult to voluntarily give that up. I would certainly find it difficult if I had the skills and was making that money in Ghana.

    From Marketplace:

    Drug dealers and thieves like handmade guns because they can get them under the table and don’t have to register them with the government. But, handcrafted guns didn’t used to be such a problem. Blacksmiths in Ghana have been making them for centuries, mostly for hunting and protecting farmland. When the British came in, they outlawed gun-making — but the demand continued.

    Blacksmith Philip Nsiah lives five hours north of the capital.

    … Nsiah says local guns are cheaper than imported ones, so they’re popular with farmers. He used to sell each shotgun for about $100. Those cheap pistols I saw earlier can go for as little as $4.

    Nsiah trained for years to learn his craft. But then he found out how much harm these guns cause. Nowadays, he helps lead the local blacksmiths’ association, encouraging others to stop making illegal guns.

    Nsiah: I can do any type of gun. If they allow me, I can do it. But since, I know the dangers involved that is why I don’t go in.

    When the crime rate got bad, the police started rounding up blacksmiths. Many stopped making guns, because they didn’t want to be arrested and lose their legitimate business. The crackdown helped. But it pushed the industry underground.

    Now, Police Superintendent Aboagye Nyarko says they’re encouraging blacksmiths to produce something else, like tools to prune cocoa trees and handcuffs for the police.

    Blacksmith Philip Nsiah shows me some handcuffs he made seven years ago.

    Nsiah: But you see, it’s still there rusting. Nobody is buying it.

    But he’s been able to make a living without making illegal guns. He repairs authorized weapons, used by security personnel, he works on cars. And he’s made a tool-shed full of other products — garden shears, hunting traps and gong-gongs, or cowbells for making music and calling community meetings.

    Nsiah says the government hasn’t been effective at promoting these types of alternative products. And without that backing, illegal handmade guns will continue to be the product of choice for many blacksmiths.

    Ghana has enormously talented craftsmen. In general people are inspired by the hope of creating and accumulating for themselves and their loved ones. People in business understand business, understand its potential and its motivations. So businessmen and women should be far better suited to being partners in development than eleemosynary organizations, provided their motives are not entirely exploitive.

    I may sometimes write as if I am anti capitalist, but that is not the case. Capitalism needs the regulation of democratic controls, otherwise it is the same as organized crime, but the hope of accumulation drives all of us. That is why I particularly liked this quote from the following article: what poor people need most is a way to make more money.

    Slumdog engineers of Suame magazine

    As he pours dangerous molten metal from a home-made furnace at a ferocious 600 degrees, a worker flings a skimpy T-shirt around his head for protection. Another worker grabs a chunk of mud and shoves it into the makeshift foundry to plug the flaming lava flow of molten metal.

    None have safety helmets or other equipment. Their neighbours at nearby industrial workshops are wearing plastic flip-flops and shorts. Their welding cables are ripped and exposed, risking a high-voltage shock, and few of the welders wear safety glasses.

    Safety is an afterthought for the 200,000 people in horrific conditions in one of Africa’s biggest industrial slums. Survival comes first, and they need to eat.

    The slum, known as Suame Magazine because of its origins among the artillery-makers at a local armoury, is a 180-hectare cluster of 12,000 repair shops and small-scale metal works on the outskirts of Ghana’s second-biggest city, Kumasi.

    At first glance, it seems like a vast wasteland of tin shacks and wrecked cars and impoverished mechanics, where the dust-choked air is filled with hammering, banging, pounding and shouting.

    But some look at this post-apocalyptic junkyard and see hope for the future. If the small-scale artisans and repairmen can be linked into the supply chain of multinational corporations, could they escape poverty and work in safer conditions?

    That’s the experiment a Canadian group has launched. With a new aid philosophy that aims at business-oriented solutions, the Canadians are marketing the skills and ingenuity of the slum-dwellers, connecting them to foreign investors and helping them bid on valuable contracts that could transform their lives.

    “My heart beats faster just thinking about this,” says Florin Gheorghe, a 21-year-old engineering student at the University of British Columbia who has been immersed in this giant scrapyard for the past seven months.

    “I’ve come to believe that what poor people need most is a way to make more money,” he says. “Many development projects treat the poor as if they were incapable of fending for themselves, just sitting around waiting for whites to give them free food and clothes. It creates dependency and crushes local capacity …. The difference in our business-like approach is the dignity that comes in choosing to live a life that you value.”

    Though the mechanics and metalworkers of Suame Magazine are poorly educated and 98 per cent lack any Internet access to help them seek customers, many are astonishingly skilled.

    Some build entire buses or fuel tankers from scratch, or design drilling rigs or foundries. All they need, the Canadians believe, is a helping hand to market themselves.

    Mr. Gheorghe, supported by a Canadian non-profit group called Engineers Without Borders, arrived at the slum in January to work for its industrial development organization. He put on a suit and tie and began knocking on the doors of multinational companies around the city, giving out his business card and sending a deluge of e-mails to companies around Ghana.

    After weeks of going door-to-door, he and his colleagues began to persuade some companies to award business to slum-dwellers. They won contracts at several major U.S. companies, including Newmont Mining Corp., Coca-Cola, and the cocoa division of Archer Daniels Midland Co.

    Under the first Newmont contract, valued at $30,000, the Suame Magazine artisans and repairmen were hired to build stairways, railways and platforms for massive Caterpillar trucks at the mining company.

    It was followed by agreements on further contracts from Newmont, providing the much-needed prospect of steady revenue for the workers.


    amusement and disdain soon gave way to respect as the mining company saw what the artisans could produce.

    One group of 10 workers earning less than $4 a day were able to double their income when they landed the Newmont deal, with the prospect of further revenue from profit-sharing at the end of the contract.

    The contract helped them learn new skills, including the ability to read computer-aided engineering drawings. And it encouraged them to invest some of their profit in safety equipment. For the first time, they have switched to steel-toed boots and safety glasses, instead of flip-flops and bare eyes.

    “When we went to Newmont, our guys came back flabbergasted at the safety equipment there,” Mr. Gheorghe said. “Now they are always reminding me to put on my equipment.”

    The workers say they’ve benefited from the marketing efforts and the multinational contracts. “We’re getting more experience and more jobs,” one worker said. “Since we started wearing the safety equipment, we don’t get injured any more.”

    George Roter, the Toronto-based co-founder of Engineers Without Borders, says the project in Suame Magazine is an innovative approach that could produce broader lessons for the foreign aid sector.

    “The concept of stimulating business development using demand from international resource-extraction operations could be powerful in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.

    “It’s certainly a contrast to traditional aid-based approaches, and fits well with EWB’s philosophy of development that sees successful African businesses and entrepreneurs as the engine of development.”

    As for Mr. Gheorghe, he is returning to the University of British Columbia this fall to finish his engineering degree after seven months of toil in the slum. But he’s already planning a life of activism. He is convinced that he can find more capitalist innovations to help the developing world.

    “My ambition,” he says, “is to become incredibly rich, and to lift a million people out of poverty. I don’t think you have to be poor to help people.”

    I like Mr. Gheorghe’s ambition.

    There is another story I read recently that may relate to the guns:

    Niger Delta militants training Ghanaians


    A respected legal practitioner and lecturer at the University of Ghana, Law Faculty, Dr. Raymond Atuguba has chillingly revealed that militants in the Niger Delta region, notorious for blowing up oil pipes, kidnapping and demanding huge ransoms and causing unrest in the oil rich Nigerian region have started tripping to Ghana in droves.


    He said, when he visited the Western region a few weeks ago, he discovered that “groups there were already creating linkages with groups in the Niger Delta”. According to him, the people were “preparing to create the same amount of chaos we have in the Niger Delta if we neglect their concerns.”

    Dr. Atuguba stopped short of stating the exact ‘lessons’ the Ghanaians could be taking from the ‘visiting’ militants, but said people were preparing to protect their interest. He remarked that if the security agencies were on their toes, they would have noticed the movement of arms.

    Dr. Atuguba is of the view that the culture and livelihood of the people located at the coast of the region will be greatly affected due to the infiltration of various forms of social vices the region will have to embrace.

    As if making a case for the them, Dr. Atuguba said as a result of the governmental decision to drill oil in their area, “prostitution is going to increase in their community, stealing and contract killings are going to increase in their community, land grabbing has started in their communities such that they can’t even buy a piece of land in their communities to build a house.”

    “You have dislocated the man in his own society and you expect him to sit there and watch you do it …and the politicians will take the money and stuff it in their foreign accounts somewhere…”

    Dr. Raymond Atuguba who is also the director of the Law and Development Associates warned that it will be ghastly to ignore the concerns of those communities. “We should not underestimate it…”he advised.

    I wonder about this. The oil in the west will be offshore, so, other than potential oil spills, the environmental degradation should not be similar to the Niger Delta. There are certainly some in the Western Region who feel agrieved. And there is much potential for them to feel more agrieved. I also get the impression that there are those who want to stir up more trouble over oil in the west. When I asked friends about this they said it was someone trying to make trouble, but I think this was more opinion than information. I wondered when I first read this story whether it might be part of a US Africa Command “information operation”. I don’t have enough information myself to make an intelligent guess. Dr. Atuguba may be trying to do his best for the people of the Western Region.

    Land ownership issues are huge throughout Ghana, and are particularly bad around cities and towns, but hardly limited to the urban areas.

    There are Delta militants across West Africa, and there are certainly some in Ghana, and likely in the Western Region. If they are there in organized groups, they are probably not buying the locally made guns, as the …

    … buyers of Ghanaian guns tend to be individuals while established insurgent groups purchase heavier weapons from outside the region …

    If the militants are visiting the Western Region, it is unlikely they are there to learn gunsmithing, because the skilled practitioners are likely to be in the larger urban areas where there are more customers. The proximity of Ivory Coast, and its recent civil conflicts might be a factor if there are organized militants in the area. I am doubtful about how much organization there is at this point.  People from the Niger Delta are moving away in many directions, to avoid the problems there, and to try and make a living.  Unfortunately some bring criminal training and skills with them.

    The government needs to listen to the people in the Western Region and throughout Ghana. The business model in Suame Magazine working with the Canadians, described above, is something that the government and other organizations interested in development should look at long and seriously. And suggesting people go into another form of business, as with the gunsmiths like Mr. Nsiah or Mr. Sarpong, without assisting them to reach current markets or create new markets, is a waste of time and effort.

    Ruaraka Export Processing Zone, EPZ, near Nairobi.  This is the fifth or sixth hour of production.  The 900 indicates the total number of jeans produced at that time.  But the daily target is indicated on the green papers, which is between 1200 and 1500.  If the EPZ workers do not meet this target by 5pm, they will have to stay until they finish.  They will not be paid overtime because they were supposed to reach the target in 8 hours.  (picture from Pamoja Tunaweza slideshow)

    Ruaraka Export Processing Zone, EPZ, near Nairobi. This is the fifth or sixth hour of production. The 900 indicates the total number of jeans produced at that time. But the daily target is indicated on the green papers, which is between 1200 and 1500. If the EPZ workers do not meet this target by 5pm, they will have to stay until they finish. They will not be paid overtime because they were supposed to reach the target in 8 hours. (picture from Pamoja Tunaweza slideshow, link below)

    In Jendayi E. Frazer’s 4-Point Plan to Plunder and Pillage Africa Sophia Tesfamariam writes a devasting indictment of the AGOA program, the African Growth and Opportunity Act. Tesfamariam has also collected and included some of the most searing criticisms made by a variety of people familiar with the program. She shreds all of Frazer’s points, but AGOA gets the most extensive treatment.

    Almost 10 years since the introduction of AGOA by the Clinton Administration, oil imports to the US from Nigeria, Angola and Gabon still make up over 94% of Africa´s export to the US under AGOA. So who benefited? As we shall see later, the much touted “success” in the textile sectors were a gross exaggeration and in some cases actually reversed development of these sectors and destroyed nascent industries. Many African economists and analysts had reservations about AGOA and I, as a longtime Africa observer, had strong reservations about it and said so. I was actually happy when Eritrea was unceremoniously removed from the list…it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

    I was not alone in my suspicions of AGOA; here are some of the voices that were just as skeptical and critical of AGOA from the very beginning, voices that were ignored and gagged by the likes of Frazer:

    “…African countries are pressured to adopt WTO-like, and even WTO-plus, provisions relating to intellectual property rights protection, investment and financial liberalisation, and labour – all in exchange for some illusory benefits. The AGOA is a US law enacted by the US for the purpose of securing opportunities for US businesses, to the detriment of African economies. It offers no benefits for African economies. The AGOA is a Trojan horse used to trap African governments into giving up their legitimate rights under the WTO…”-(Dakar Manifesto 2001)

    “… we reject on principle the “conditionality” approach, which tramples on the sovereignty of African nations and the democratic rights of its people to shape national policy…”-(Letter signed by 35 Africa based NGOs)

    “…This is a matter over which we have serious reservations… To us this is not acceptable…”- (Former South African President Nelson Mandela )

    AGOA is the “Africa Recolonization Act”-(Congressman Jesse L. Jackson, Jr.)

    “…the only groups targeted for assistance are the multinationals who largely control Africa’s trade and access to rich markets…”-(The Association of Concerned African Scholars)

    “…To argue that AGOA will be the means by which we can penetrate the US market is a delusion. The main effect of AGOA is to link aid to economic reform, [such as] the dismantling of a states regulatory environment. There are no benefits, and the costs include clear manifestations of deepening structural adjustment and deregulation. AGOA is simply another way of undermining Africa´s ability to mobilize domestic resources for development…”-(Charles Abugre, director of the Integrated Social Development Center in Ghana)

    There are several conditions that have to be met to become eligible for AGOA, including one that says that the country has to have a “market-based economy” and has to “eliminate all barriers to US trade and investment”. There is also a provision of AGOA that is not listed amongst the formal conditions for eligibility and is not often mentioned by Frazer and her cohorts. It is the one that says that unlimited duty-free exports of textiles and apparels are allowed only if they are produced with American raw materials. In addition, the President has the authority to suspend duty free apparel if they “cause serious damage, or threat thereof” to the domestic US industry. So Africa, with its unlimited raw materials had to sell in the world market at lower than cost to others who then turn around and sell finished products to Africans who then make the apparel to send to the US. It is actually mind boggling that African leaders actually agreed to do it, essentially destroying their own farmers.

    Since Frazer mentioned Lesotho´s textile sector, let us take a look at Lesotho and three other countries, Madagascar, Namibia, and Uganda to appreciate the effects of AGOA on nascent African textile industries.

    Imagine my shock when I found out that there were over 50 Taiwanese-owned clothing factories in Lesotho, a very small country (the size of Maryland) that is completely surrounded by South Africa. The way Frazer talks about Lesotho, you are led to believe that the people of Lesotho owned the factories that were producing these AGOA eligible products. The Taiwanese sought to take advantage of AGOA and Lesotho´s proximity to South Africa´s good roads, highways and ports to ship million of jeans, T-shirts and other apparel to American stores such as the GAP, K-Mart, J.C Penney at low cost. As for the thousands of new jobs for women, Frazer forgets to tell her readers that the job migration to the capital was a result of the collapse in rural farming which used to be entirely run by women. The men in Lesotho used to earn a good living by going to mine in South Africa, but they have lost their mining jobs because South Africa stopped importing foreign workers, and decided to use mechanized mining, leaving the men in Lesotho without any livelihood. That is how the women of Lesotho became the breadwinners.

    So there was no real increase in overall employment and because only women were being hired at these plants to sew and thread etc. the men were left unemployed and desperate. The situation did not create wealth for the people of Lesotho. Corporate America benefited from cheap labor and transportation costs. As a matter of fact, despite what Frazer wants us to believe about Lesotho, the textile industry in Lesotho was well underway before AGOA ever came into the picture and AGOA may have actually irreversibly stunted its growth and development. The real and serious challenge to Lesotho is what happens to it in 2015 when the initiative ends and Lesotho made products no longer have privilege to enter the United States market.

    AGOA was a nightmare for the people of Namibia, they became victims of the predatory transnational corporations like Ramatex Textile & Garment Factory, a Malaysian company moved to Namibia in 2001 to take advantage of AGOA. The plant turned cotton (imported duty free from West Africa) into textiles for the US market. Herbert Jauch, head of research and education for the Labour Resource and Research Institute (LaRRI) in a 26 March 2008 Report stated that:

    “…A study carried out by LaRRI in 2003 found widespread abuses of workers rights, including included forced pregnancy tests for women who applied for jobs; non-payment for workers on sick leave; very low wages and no benefits; insufficient health and safety measures; no compensation in case of accidents; abuse by supervisors; and open hostility towards trade unions etc…Ramatex used a significant number of Asian migrant workers, mostly from China, the Philippines and Bangladesh. Although the company claimed that they were brought in as trainers, most of them were employed as mere production workers with basic salaries of around U$ 300 – 400 per month which were higher than their Namibian counterparts…”

    In the end, Ramatex, the only beneficiary under AGOA in Namibia, closed its factory leaving hundreds and thousands of Namibians unemployed. Rauch writes:

    “…Ramatex represents a typical example of a transnational corporation playing the globalisation game. Its operations in Namibia have been characterised by controversies, unresolved conflicts and tensions…Worst affected were the thousands of young, mostly female workers who had to endure highly exploitative working conditions for years and in the end were literally dumped in the streets without any significant compensation…Ramatex had shown the same disregard for workers when it closed its subsidiary Rhino Garments in Namibia in 2005…”

    On 19 November 2007 the Namibian paper quoted President Pohamba as saying:

    “…AGOA has not yielded the desired results as far as American investment is concerned despite the incentives provided by African governments to potential investments…”

    The story of Tri-Star in Uganda is basically the same story of exploitation and destruction of nascent indigenous industries, plunder of abundant human and material resources and another example of how African governments have squandered the peoples´ resources in order to curry favor with Washington. Lowery Museveni´s Ugandan government promoted Tri-Star in order to cash in on AGOA. During its operation, Tri Star imported fabric from Asia and then made finished clothing products for US markets, even though there is ample cotton in Uganda. Instead of investing Uganda´s resources on establishing milling factories, the Government of Uganda chose instead to do what was the quickest and best option for US importers. The expectations were high. According to a report published by the BBC in 2004:

    “…The Tri-Star apparel factory in the Kampala suburb of Bugolobi is bright and clean. Large motivational signs urge staff to build the nation. Banners on the wall read “Made in Uganda, sold in USA”…Tri-Star supplies clothes to a range of US companies…There are more than 2,000 workers at the site, stitching clothes to sell to American companies such as Wal-Mart, JC Penney and Target…”

    Judy Auma, a Uganda based Staff Writer for African Executive wrote the following about Tri Star, in a January 2007 article:

    “…The factory, which was launched 5 years ago, received high government support and was viewed as an opportunity for Uganda to exploit USA´s tariff and quota free market. Ugandans were made to believe the establishment would not only nurture a rich and stable market for Uganda´s struggling cotton farmers, but also become a reliable source of employment…Since its inception, the factory has neither bought a single bail of Uganda´s local cotton nor exported a stitch from locally produced fabric. Worse still, it has promoted nearly zero growth in terms of employment and the development of the cotton sector…”

    The company left the country without repaying any of its debts, leaving behind a destitute workforce and an industry struggling to remain afloat.

    What about Madagascar, the other nation that Frazer and company tell us benefited from AGOA? It too has not fared well. A segment of the population, again, only women, may have benefited from its textile sector, but all that is at risk today, not because of anything of their doing but because of political problems in that country that may disqualify Madagascar from the AGOA list. As for AGOA benefiting the Malagasy people, let us take a look at the statistics. A 29 March 2009 Africa Rising report says:

    “…the promised AGOA benefits have not translated to a better life for Madagascar´s people. Madagascar ranks at 143 out of 179 countries measured by the United Nations´ Human Development Index Despite its economic progress on paper, the country ranks 164th in terms of gross domestic product per capital…”

    Reports surfaced in June 2009 about Washington threatening to pull the plug on Madagascar´s AGOA certification. These reports said:

    “…Madagascar could be removed from eligibility for trade preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act due to a recent change in government that the U.S. has determined was “undemocratic and contrary to the rule of law… the State Department has classified the change in government as a coup d´etat and is therefore moving to suspend assistance to the government of Madagascar…”

    Madagascar is a good example of the US State Departments hypocrisy and duplicity. Everyone knows that Ethiopia is by no means a democratic country and that the minority regime has:

    Violated international law and the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commissions´ final and binding delimitation decisions and numerous Security Council resolutions on Eritrea and Ethiopia, it has also violated both the African Union and the United Nations Charters by invading and occupying sovereign Eritrean and Somali territories

    Committed international crimes in Somalia including rape, murder and wanton destruction.

    Violated and continues to violate the human rights of the Ethiopian people by detaining thousands across the country for voting against the regime in the 2005 elections. Thousands more are being held on trumped up charges, including Birtukan Medeksa, a prominent Ethiopian opposition leader and a judge. It should be noted here that Ethiopia is one of the countries used by the Bush Administration in its extraordinary rendition program where prisoners are taken to places like Ethiopia where in secret CIA run prisons they are interrogated and tortured.

    Committed genocides in the Gambela, Ogaden and Oromia regions of Ethiopia. Genocide Watch and other rights groups are seeking a ICC indictment against the regime.

    Yet, the US State Department that is threatening to remove Madagascar from the list for violating one of the AGOA conditions today, has refused to take any punitive actions against Meles Zenawi´s regime that has committed even graver crimes.

    I am in no way suggesting that Ethiopian textile workers pay for the crimes committed by Meles Zenawi and his regime by having their AGOA status revoked, I am however suggesting that the US State Department, if it wants to salvage its fledgling credibility, can “look the other way” and don´t punish the Malagasy textile sector workers for the “coup” in Madagascar, for which they had no part. By the way, Madagascar may turn out to be the only “success” story on AGOA.

    Today, the US State Department´s own Inspector General in his August 2009 agrees with this author and others who were skeptical of AGOA from the get-go. Here is what he said in his scathing Report about Frazer´s Bureau of African Affairs and AGOA:

    “…the economic impact of AGOA has been limited even though most of sub-Saharan Africa is now in AGOA… Many African countries have yet to benefit substantially from AGOA preferences. Poorly developed infrastructure, a lack of affordable credit, weak merchandising, and an inability to meet U.S. phytosanitary regulations are among the many factors that thus far have limited the intended trade promotion and diversification effects of AGOA… The bulk of AGOA exports result from petroleum and other extractive industries. When U.S. imports of African petroleum products are excluded, the sum of trade for which AGOA can make some boast for promoting is relatively small…”

    Johnnie Carson, the new US Secretary of State for African Affairs ought to take a closer look at AGOA and make realistic and non-parasitic recommendations to the Obama Administration.

    ________

    Picture above from the Ruaraka slideshow by Pamoja Tunaweza, scroll down to the bottom of this page to view the pictures, and read what people say about being in or near the EPZ.

    Secretary Clinton is visiting seven countries in Africa this week, Kenya, South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia, and Cape Verde. She is visiting to secure safe profits from Africa for American corporations. She began her trip by addressing an AGOA conference in Kenya.

    Waiting for work in the EPZ

    Waiting for work in the EPZ

    Tuendelee Mbele EPZ Workers Welfare is a registered self-help organization founded in 2004 by workers in Kenya’s Export Processing Zones (EPZ).  EPZs have been set up around the world to provide cheap labour to corporations. In Kenya’s zones, as in those of other countries, national labour standards are not enforced. In Kenya companies get a 10 year tax holiday, exemption from import/export tariffs and no restriction on foreign investment and ownership. When Kenya allowed EPZs in the textile industry, the home-grown textile industry collapsed and workers were forced to take jobs in the zone where conditions are horrendous: harder work, less pay, brutal quota systems, no sick care, no sick leave, no maternity leave, extensive sexual harassment. Workers know what time they begin in the morning, but not what time they end.
    Pamoja Tunaweza, a registered Kenyan CBO (non-profit), is currently delivering an outreach project with a focus on workers, women and teens. EPZs have been set up around the world to provide cheap labour to corporations. In Kenya’s zones, as in those of other countries, national labour standards are not enforced. In Kenya companies get a 10 year tax holiday, exemption from import/export tariffs and no restriction on foreign investment and ownership. When Kenya allowed EPZs in the textile industry, the home-grown textile industry collapsed and workers were forced to take jobs in the zone where conditions are horrendous: harder work, less pay, brutal quota systems, no sick care, no sick leave, no maternity leave, extensive sexual harassment. Workers know what time they begin in the morning, but not what time they end. Photos by Phil Vernon

    AGOA is an act of the US Congress passed to benefit the US. It is not a treaty or an international agreement. In Kenya Steve Ouma Akoth writes that there are a number of subjects which are taboo in discussion of AGOA both for the US and for the countries supposedly benefitting from AGOA. He describes three of these taboo subjects.

    PRECARIOUS AND POVERTY JOBS
    NATIONAL LABOUR LAWS AND PRACTICE
    TRADE POLICIES OF THE US GOVERNMENT AND PURCHASING PRACTICES

    Of the first, precarious and poverty jobs, he writes:

    … for the first time after the industrial revolution, such huge numbers of unorganised labourers, especially women, are coming under the productive sway of large-scale capital.

    Although the zones boast of creating 30,000 jobs, mostly for women, many of the women workers interviewed feel that their jobs are failing to help them and their families work their way out of poverty. So they are struggling and campaigning to turn their jobs into the potential they promise – to be a path for poverty reduction for themselves, their households and their communities.

    Of national labour laws:

    … there has been enormous pressure on the government of Kenya to trade away workers’ rights, in law and in practice, for a place in the global economy.

    Pressure has also been coming from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. The two institutions, which were major sponsors of the EPZs, have advised the government of Kenya to adjust their labour laws to meet sourcing companies’ demands. This conveys an unspoken message: Labour standards should be defined not by governments, but by market forces.

    This creates horrendous conditions for workers, who among other practices are forced to work extensive unpaid overtime. This is slavery:

    Workers are forced to sign-out for official records and then remain locked in factories to meet the ‘targets’.

    And of US trade and purchasing practices:

    The third taboo subject relates to trade policies of the US government and their corporate courtiers who are the sourcing companies from Kenya’s EPZs. Take textiles for instance. Under AGOA, Kenya is expected to attain sustained and competitive domestic production of cotton by 2012. 2012 is the sunset date for the exception under the rule of third party origin. Thus for Kenya to continue exporting apparel products to the US, the cotton used from 2012 must originate from Kenya. The idea of producing cotton domestically is a good one. But this assumes that all cotton producing countries or those with the potential for production like Kenya are collectively governed by the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. This aspiration is silent on America’s trade-distorting domestic subsidies which amount to about US$3.8 billion or 80-90 per cent of total US support for cotton. Domestic subsidies also make up almost all of the European cotton subsidies. The over-subsidy of cotton by the US (held at ransom by big corporations and its domestic farm barons) has been a taboo topic not only in AGOA but also within the WTO circles. During the WTO meeting in 2005, the African Ministers had demanded that 80 per cent of domestic subsidies for cotton be eliminated by the end of 2006, and the rest within a few years. There has been no move on this subject. It is a taboo subject that received not even a mention from the US President Obama during his most recent trip to Ghana.

    Phil Vernon of SOLID and Pamoja Tunaweza, reports regarding the Kenyan EPZs:

    When Kenya allowed EPZs in the textile industry, the home-grown textile industry collapsed and workers were forced to take jobs in the zone where conditions are horrendous: harder work, less pay, brutal quota systems, no sick care, no sick leave, no maternity leave, extensive sexual harassment. Workers know what time they begin in the morning, but not what time they end.

    If you scroll down the Pamoja Tunaweza page, you will find a slide show of pictures revealing more about working and living conditions with the EPZs.

    Steve Ouma Akoth tells us the attitude towards labour of US corporations operating in Kenya, and in other countries under AGOA is simple:

    Make it flexible and make it cheap. …
    The companies’ toolkit includes hiring more vulnerable workers who are less likely to organise – women, often immigrants into the urban centres – and intimidate or sack those who do try to create trade unions and stand up for their rights.

    Firoze Manji writes:

    With China, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Russia and other emerging powers competing for access to Africa’s natural resources, including oil, there is little doubt that the US belligerence during the era of the Bush junta has potentially created conditions favourable to the new players. Clinton’s visit is directly related to seeking to protect and advance American corporate interests in oil and natural resource exploitation in Africa.

    However, as reported by Reuters: China, others shove US in scramble for Africa

    A presidential visit followed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s African tour cannot conceal a stark reality: China has overtaken the United States as Africa’s top trading partner.

    Chinese labor practices also involve horrendous slavery conditions. But these are the way China practices business at home. This is capitalism without democracy.

    In Sudan China focuses on oil wells, not local needs.

    Andrew Small, a China specialist at the German Marshall Fund, a public policy institute, points out that many of Beijing’s worst practices in Africa today stem not from colonialist attitudes, but from China’s own level of development. “Every mining disaster in Zambia, forced resettlement around [Sudan's] Merowe dam,and corrupt deal with government officials, has its counterpart in[China's] Dongbei, the Three Gorges dam, Shanghai, and elsewhere,” he points out.

    “There is an attitude among many Chinese that Africa – like Asia decades before – is primed for a developmental take-off … making it a business and investment opportunity rather than just a benighted part of the world that needs to be saved or solely a repository of natural resources,” he says. “[China] will be in the unusual position of being both a superpower and developing country for some time to come, with parts of the Chinese interior having far more in common with Africa than with the West.”

    True, perhaps, but the colonial comparison itself is meaningless, says Robert Rotberg … the Chinese are stripping thecontinent of raw material as fast as they can and are fairly ruthless about bringing their own laborers for projects and ignoring locals.

    And more from Firoze Manji regarding the breathtaking arrogance of the US Africa Command:

    And that brings us to the third dimension. This visit is also about negotiating for AFRICOM to have greater presence in Africa. It is hardly a coincidence that just as Clinton begins her junket, so AFRICOM announces its MEDFLAG initiative in Swaziland.

    ‘African Command’ does not mean Africans in command, just as the African Growth and Opportunity Act is not about growth and opportunity for Africa, but rather for US corporations. Security is high on the agenda. But it is the security of US corporate interests that is at the heart of Clinton’s agenda, not human security, the security of ordinary people to thrive, to be secure that their children will be safe from impoverishment, secure in the knowledge that they will be able to work; and working, to transform their world to serve the interests of humanity, not the narrow interests of a minority in the North.

    There is no democracy in the institution of the Africa Command, as there is no democracy in the trade practices described above facilitated by AGOA. America’s advantage is as an example and advocate of democracy and human rights. When the US undermines democracy and human rights, as with the labor practices in the EPZs, it undermines its own advantage in Africa. Although Bush did enormous damage to the US brand, it may be possible to recover, but only if the US practices some of the democratic and human rights principles it preaches. Being poor does not mean people are blind or stupid. They know when they are being cheated and abused. As Steve Ouma Akoth points out:

    People who sell their labour have certain inalienable rights. These rights are premised on the fundamental belief that human beings are entitled to a dignified life. Therefore, working conditions must satisfy the minimum requirements of dignified existence. And this is a fundamental principal in the International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions. It is on this logic that ILO prohibits any form of slavery, servitude and forced labour. The practices above and sexual harassment that constitute the trademark of EPZs in Kenya are coming under microscopic scrutiny due to the value attached to human dignity.

    ________

    Added September 18, 2009:

    I made some updates and corrections above as advised by Phil Vernon in the comments. He also recommends reading:

    Manufacture Of Poverty

    Abstract:
    In its advocacy for worker’s rights, the Kenya Human Rights Commission’s research into Women Working in Precarious Conditions in Export Processing Zones confirms the negative effects the conduct and actions of these key non-state actors have on human rights. Hence, justifying the need for monitoring by civil society in this new world order, where private corporations exercise inordinate influence over local laws and policies. With the decline in state authority, focus must therefore be turned to those sectors that have filled the void. The conduct and actions of these non-state actors have a direct impact on human rights ranging from violations of workers’ rights to environmental degradation.

    Commonly hired on short-term contracts – or with no contract at all – women work at high speed for low wages, in unhealthy conditions, and they are forced to put in long hours to earn enough just to get by. Most get no sick leave or maternity leave, few are enrolled in health schemes and almost none have savings for the future. The insecurity of these jobs is not only material: they work under threats of sexual harassment. Traditionally, women are the care-givers in the home – raising children and caring for sick and elderly relatives. Women are still forced to play that role even when they have become cash-earners. Doubly burdened, and with little support from their governments or employers to manage, the stress can destroy their own health, break up their family lives and undermine their children’s chances of a better future.

    The result? The very workers, who are the backbone of export success in many developing countries, are being robbed of their share of the gains that trade could and should bring. The impact falls on poor communities in rich countries, too, where workers employed in competing trade sectors likewise face precarious conditions. Many workers in the Kenyan Textile Industry feel worn-out after several years of hard work.

    Foremost among the neo-colonialists is the United States … with methodical thoroughness and touching attention to detail, the Pentagon set about consolidating its ascendancy, evidence of which can be seen all around the world …

    The general objective … to achieve colonialism in fact while preaching independence. Kwame Nkrumah

    Presidents Obama and Mills in Ghana July 2009 (I particularly like this picture because the two Presidents look so genuinely pleased to greet each other.)

    Presidents Obama and Mills in Ghana July 2009 (I like this picture because the two men look so genuinely pleased to greet each other.)

    This is in large part what Obama was doing when he gave his speech in Ghana. I have put together a number of reactions to President Obama and his speech in Ghana here. As Stephen Gowans writes:

    It should come as a surprise to no one but the weakly naïve and politically untutored that the role of the US president in Africa is to promote and defend the interests of the United States, not Africans. This is so, even if the US president shares the skin color of Africa’s majority. … It is Obama’s goal as representative of US capital to open, and keep open, Africa’s vast resources to exploitation by Western, and particularly US, capital without impediments of corruption, war and pan-African, nationalist or socialist projects of independent development getting in the way. …

    [In Ghana] Obama used his speech to sell two fictions: (1) that Africa’s underdevelopment has nothing to do with colonialism and neo-colonialism, but is rooted in corruption, tribalism and Africans’ blaming others for their poverty; and (2) that Africa’s development depends on adopting institutions that allow foreign capital unfettered access to African markets and resources.

    Salim Lone discusses the meaning and implications of Obama’s visit in What Obama can do for us. Lone allows Obama a bit more benefit of the doubt as to Obama’s intentions. But Lone is a keen observer and no fool, and he realizes the US Africa Command is not going away.

    His visit can help African democracy if he curbs a misguided US belief in security by military force.

    The president’s personal knowledge of and interest in Africa, his charisma and his grassroots support mean that he could be a major player here. This is particularly true since Africa’s low profile among the American political elite allows US leaders a lot of leeway in formulating policy towards it.

    But as Obama devises US approaches to African challenges, he will face difficulties from an unexpected quarter – the US military. George Bush and his war on terror, and his reliance on force as a first resort, gave the military extraordinary power in shaping African policy – symbolised by Bush’s creation of the United States Africa Command (Africom), in the misguided notion that the military approach was the best way to tackle terrorism. Thankfully, African governments overwhelmingly resisted the siting of Africom bases.

    But Africom is a reality, so it is vital that Obama move to curtail one of its most dangerous mandates: its involvement in economic development and humanitarian actions. This risks the militarisation of Africa’s political and social life – areas that remain the best hope for a better Africa.

    People don’t give up power easily or generously. Having acquired premier status in US Africa policy, the Pentagon is unlikely to want to rescind any of that power. Those working on the front lines are building their careers, and have little incentive to cut back. There is also a huge corporate juggernaut driving the policy. As Lone points out, it is vital to curtail the Pentagon’s development and humanitarian mandates. These activities are much more effectively done by civilian organizations. Done by the military, this inevitably militarizes civilian space, the opposite direction from what most people in Africa want, and the opposite direction from good governance and democracy.

    Lone writes that Obama has made hawkish appointments, and has recently decided to ship arms to the TFG government in Somalia, not just continuing, but escalating US involvement in Somali internal affairs.

    This new intervention is a continuation of the ruinous Bush policy in Somalia, which resulted in the militant al-Shabab Islamists – a previously negligible group – emerging as the country’s dominant force after large numbers of Somalis were radicalised by US air strikes and the 2007 invasion by Ethiopia, Somalia’s arch enemy, to topple the popular and moderate Union of Islamic Courts.

    And most critically, Obama must confer with civil society leaders.

    One thing he would consistently hear from our civil society leaders would be that good governance – democracy, inclusion, respect for human rights and the rule of law – is non-negotiable. He would also hear that some of the significant gains made in expanding freedoms in multi-party Africa are being rolled back. This is not surprising, as the strategy of the US war on terror reverted to the cold war model of supporting dictatorial allies, which in east Africa included the Ethiopian and Ugandan leaderships.

    Obama would also hear that there can be no compromise on free and fair elections. In too many countries recently – including America’s close allies Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya, as well as Zimbabwe – elections have been seriously tainted, and have been followed by violence, the loss of liberties and the strengthening of state security organs.

    One of President Obama’s most important priorities for Africa must be to work with and encourage the emergence of a progressive group of African leaders who can become indigenous models for democratic, accountable and inclusive governance – which alone will ensure African, as well as global and American, security.

    If Obama were committed to these actions and goals, as Lone says, it will enhance American as well as African security. Unfortunately, that does not look like the direction Obama is heading. From the East African: US names ‘military’ envoys to Kampala, Dar

    By nominating an advisor to the US Africa Command (Africom) as Washington’s envoy to Kampala and a retired US Army general as envoy to Dar es Salaam, Obama is signalling that security concerns will remain at the top of the US agenda in East Africa, just as they were during the Bush years.

    In statements to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, both nominees put emphasis on fighting terrorism in the countries where they would respectively represent the United States.

    James Shikwati wrote Obama Redefined the “Door of No Return” But…, in which he points out a number of metaphorical doors of no return that Obama spoke about, and other important ones on which he was silent.

    Obama’s hard hitting statements on Africa’s tyrannical leaders, corruption, tribalism and lack of institutions symbolically point at the continent’s self inflicted modern day doors of no return. His emphasis that “…Africa’s future is up to Africans” could be based on the fact that after 500+ years of people on the continent suffering the fate of externally engineered “doors of no return” it is nonsensical to expect salvation from the same (outsiders). It is up to Africans to either shut the door and or turn it into a door of opportunity where one can always “return” a hero.

    The myths such as that propagated in Kenya that some communities are more enterprising and educated than others masks tribalism as another door of no return. If one particular group holds hostage the governance system of a country and goes ahead to award tenders and strategic opportunities to themselves, they subject others to a door of no return.

    President Barack Obama either deliberately or through omission opted to engage in silences in his address to Africa. In pointing out that Kenya had a higher per capita economy than South Korea at the time he was born, Obama failed to discuss who “owned” that economy he refers to. It is one thing to refer to a successful nation and another when one discusses individual citizen’s role in such a success. Kenyans are still struggling 46 years after independence to move out of spectator status (picking flowers, serving as watchmen, cooks – what I refer to as employment economy; while actual wealth is transferred elsewhere) in terms of wealth creation. …

    Gowans give us more about Korea, why it is such a bad comparison:

    “It is easy to point fingers, and to pin the blame for (Africa’s) problems on others,” said Obama, explaining that,

    “Countries like Kenya, which had a per capita economy larger than South Korea’s when I was born, have been badly outpaced. Disease and conflict have ravaged parts of the African continent. In many places, the hope of my (Kenyan) father’s generation gave way to cynicism, even despair.”

    During the years of its rapid economic growth, south Korea did not follow the development path Obama prescribes for Africa today. Instead, it built five-year industrial plans that singled out industries the government would nurture through tariff protection, subsidies and government support. Foreign currencies necessary for importing machinery and industrial inputs were accumulated through foreign exchange controls, whose violation was punishable by death.

    In his speech, Obama created the impression that south Korea developed rapidly because it followed policies the World Bank endorses, while at the same time Africa stagnated, because it didn’t. This is doubly false. Not only did south Korea not follow World Bank policies – in fact, it did the very opposite – Africa has been practically run by the IMF and World Bank since the 1980s. Under their guidance, African living standards have worsened, not improved. Over the same period, the Western world’s financial elite – which exercises enormous influence over the World Bank and IMF – saw its wealth expand greatly.

    Returning to Shikwati’s article:

    On Zimbabwe, Obama got it wrong. Whereas it is true that the West is not 100% responsible for the destruction of the Zimbabwe economy; Obama “silence” here ignores the West’s involvement in land politics and subsequent lack of productivity in this country. The Zimbabwe story might one day turn out to be a clear case of sabotage and an attempt to perpetuate the notion that only particular types of people can be farmers.

    Stephen Gowans tells us more about Zimbabwe:

    Until 2000, land reform moved at a snail’s pace. As part of a negotiated settlement with Britain, the independence movement agreed to a willing buyer-willing seller arrangement, whereby land could only be acquired for redistribution if the owner wanted to sell. This restriction was to remain in effect for the first 10 years of independence. Since most farmers of European origin were unwilling to sell, little land was available to redistribute.

    Eventually Harare was free to expropriate land from farmers who didn’t want to sell. Britain had agreed to help compensate expropriated farmers but renounced the agreement, denying it was ever under any obligation to fund land reform. Since Harare didn’t have the funds to pay for the land it needed for redistribution, it had two choices: Carry on as is, with land redistribution proceeding at a glacial pace, or expropriate the land and demand that expropriated farmers seek compensation from London, which after all, was ultimately responsible for the theft of the land and had promised to underwrite the land reform program. The Mugabe government chose the later course, setting off alarm bells in Western capitals. Mugabe couldn’t be allowed to get away with uncompensated expropriation of productive property.

    Analyses that attributed Zimbabwe’s economic disaster to mismanagement overlooked the reaction of Washington to the Mugabe government’s lese majesty against private property. For not only did the turn of the century mark the beginning of fast-track land reform, it also marked the passage of the US Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA.)

    ZDERA is not a regime of targeted sanctions against individuals, as many believe. Sanctions against individuals do exist, but ZDERA is something altogether different. ZDERA has two aspects. First, it authorizes the US president to “support an independent and free press and electronic media in Zimbabwe” and “provide for democracy and governance programs in Zimbabwe.” This is code for doing openly what the CIA used to do covertly: destabilize foreign governments. Second, it instructs the United States executive director to each international financial institution (the World Bank and IMF, for example) to oppose and vote against:

    (1) any extension by the respective institution of any loan, credit, or guarantee to the government of Zimbabwe; or

    (2) any cancellation or reduction of indebtedness owed by the government of Zimbabwe to the United States or any international financial institution.

    Since ZDERA was passed in 2001, Washington has blocked all lines of credit, development assistance and balance of payment support from international lending institutions to Zimbabwe.

    As bad as ZDERA is, it’s not the only sanctions regime the United States has used to sabotage Zimbabwe’s economy.

    You can find more information and detail in Gowans article.

    Shikwati continues discussing what Obama left out of his speech.

    Obama also deliberately engaged in “silences” when he simply chose to gloss over Western patronage in Africa; governance and talked of “old habits must also be broken” in reference to dependence on commodities as if all this is Africans fault not to engage in value added exports. What is governance for instance, is it government service delivery to its people? Paid for by whom? African countries cannot purport to have good governance if other countries pay for their upkeep. Patronage will continue unless Africans pay for the upkeep of their own governments. A value added relationship with external and African markets is what will translate to positive contribution to governance.

    As to US support for good governance, that is also a myth. As student leader and leading activist of the Progressive Movement for Change Victoria Lakshmi Hamah writes from Ghana:

    The basic goal of US military programmes is to provide for the security of the local political elite and economic hit men and to insulate them from the social consequences of their economic decisions. Its orientation of African military officers will also ensure that there will be no possible rise of nationalist governments that will aim at the nationalization of oil and mineral production. A political elite isolated and insulated from the prevailing social conditions will have no incentive to protect even the existing semblance of democratic culture. The rise of patronage politics and sectarian outlook will mirror a situation of hopelessness where social opportunities are so limited that the great mass of the people have to be dependent on very narrow layer of society. The rise to public power by politicians will depend on US money and intelligence activity than on the existing limited form of popular consent.

    It is important to note that US military and intelligence presence in any part of the world has created and re-enforced the most tyrannical and corrupt regimes of the world. In Africa we know of at least Bokasa, Mmobotu . But it is important not to forget our own history with the United States of America. History and the Present

    Forty three years ago the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the US financed and coordinated the bloody overthrow of the Government of Kwame Nkrumah. Declassified CIA documents establish the fact that the CIA hired Ghanaian military and police officers to carry out the 24 Feb 1966 bloody overthrow of Nkrumah. Analysis of the CIA documents also reveals the incredible: Nkrumah’s head had a price tag!

    As she points out earlier in her article:

    Last year, in Accra, President Bush evaded the question of the establishment of a US military base in Ghana put him by Kwesi Pratt Jnr, editor of an Accra leftwing newspaper—the Insight—with the derogatory ‘baloney’ retort. Available evidence supports the fact that George Bush visited Ghana with a proposal to make the country host the Headquarters of the Africa Command Division of the United States Army.

    and:

    Obama is no doubt a sensation. But the heroism, sensation and public appeal has overshadowed the real character and direction of Obama and the content of the ‘change’ he promised.

    She adds:

    Nkrumah had maintained strong ties with the US and allowed the American Peace Corps into the country. In trying relating to the US Atta Mills must not take label to mean content and should access the real implications of the Obama visit. The cold war conditions that provided Nkrumah with development options also exist today. Yokohama’s end of history theory published after the collapse of the ‘iron curtain’ is itself now history. Islam is new world force. Russia is back! China is reaching to the skies!! The world stage now looks like a multi-polar world.

    President Atta Mills has the obligation to defend Ghana’s sovereignty and independence. After all the US is broke; Ghana can depend on the assistance of other rising powers in the short term to stabilize the economy alongside building the conditions for self reliance both in production capacity and markets in the context of south-south cooperation. In dealing with America we should go beyond the handsome Negro face of the young Harvard graduate; we should analyze within the context of the existing global balance of power and western credit crunch the foreign policy aims of a desperate world power.

    Daniel Elombah writes Obama should apologise to Africa. He points out that Obama made apologies to Europe and apologies to the Arab world when he travelled to France and Egypt, but his words to Africa had a different tone:

    Obama said in Cairo: “Each nation gives life to democracy in its own way, and in line with its own traditions”, but America and the West has not allowed African democracy to evolve on its own. In so many ways and in so many times, they have interfered in Africa’s development – by sponsoring coups (against Murtala Muhammad and Mobutu Sese Seko against Patrice Lumumba); by manipulating elections (Nigeria, 1960’s); by encouraging murder (Abiola); by doctoring census results (Nigeria); by Imposing foreign and harmful policies (IMF/World Bank); and by generally ravaging the continent and bringing about environmental and social degradation (oil exploration in the Niger Delta, Copper and Diamond Mining in Congo).

    Barack Obama said in Ghana: “for far too many Africans, conflict is a part of life, as constant as the sun. There are wars over land and wars over resources”, but what he failed to add was the role of western and American companies in fuelling these conflicts- in the Niger Delta, in Congo, Sierra Leone, Congo and elsewhere.

    As Gowans points out about Obama’s words on conflict:

    As leader of a country currently engaged in three wars of aggression (Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan) and which threatens to escalate its aggressions against Iran and north Korea, one might think Obama would be ashamed to lecture anyone on the importance of resolving conflicts peacefully.

    Returning to Elombah:

    Obama is right when he said: “development depends upon good governance. That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long. That is the change that can unlock Africa’s potential. And that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans”.

    However, let us not forget that at the root of Africa’s predicament are the tri-partite combination of bad leadership, rich countries exploitation of Africa and the imposition of wrong policies by international Institutions.

    Obama has come and gone, the speech is classic and the rhetoric is exceptional. But the best way to test whether he would be different from other American presidents is to explore the question of African strategic interests, or, alternatively, American strategic interests in Africa, and examine the ways in which and the degree to which Obama’s pursuit of American policy is consistent with or diverges from that of his predecessor- George W. Bush.

    For example: Africom was established during George W. Bush’s regime, will the Barack Hussein Obama’s regime continue with Africom? What about the interest of American oil companies in Angola, Equatorial Guinea and the Niger Delta? Will an Obama regime move against their interest vis-a-vis African environmental, economic and political interest?

    In Obama’s speech in Ghana, did he mention anything about Barclays Bank establishing a tax haven in Ghana, warning against such vehicle being used for tax evasion and money laundering – in support of transparency and anti-corruption efforts, to expand cooperation in intelligence gathering and sharing and reigning in the vicarious liability of tax havens and offshore banks.

    Did he talk about pushing the boundaries of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) (passed by the US Congress before his tenure) to have the expanded power to bite both givers and takers of bribes – both American multi-national countries and kleptomaniac African leaders?

    Did he talk about stopping and Withdrawing US Visa from corrupt African politicians – to stop them spending their looted funds in America; Stopping the marketplace for high stakes elite bribery?

    One observer said: To many, the Bush personality was a bit too crude and, in some respects, brutish for the world to accept. Put some colour on him, with a sophisticated and intelligent personality, and now you have the same agenda for Africa, skilfully repackaged in an Obama. The agenda remains the same–imperialistic, exploitative, and, ultimately, deadly–but the general perception is different. It is seductive.

    Africa should not expect too much from Obama. The reason being that those that understand the way things really work in the United States, a change of a person as president do not necessarily signal a change in policy and direction.

    In the United States, the president is less a leader than a manager of policies formulated by corporate elite interests. Thus there is stability of the political system, regardless of who is president. US presidents come and go, but the interests remain constant.

    If, in fact, you want good governance in Africa, developing the military, and emphasizing military to military cooperation is the last thing you should do. Victoria Lakshmi Hamah got it exactly right when she said the role of the military is to protect leaders and ruling elites from the social consequences of their actions. We can see it at work in US allies/clients, Equatorial Guinea, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia. Where democracy and responsive government may begin to grow, the military can be used to crush it. In fact, helping crush democratic movements is one purpose of US military “cooperation.” We have seen it on many continents for many decades. Nkrumah’s words quoted at the beginning above are even more true today than when he wrote them in 1965. He also said:

    IN order to halt foreign interference in the affairs of developing countries it is necessary to study, understand, expose and actively combat neo-colonialism in whatever guise it may appear. For the methods of neo-colonialists are subtle and varied. They operate not only in the economic field, but also in the political, religious, ideological and cultural spheres.

    World Bank/IMF policies have consistently increased the number of unemployed, expanded poverty, and decreased productivity and self sufficiency in Ghana as in most countries. Once again Ghana is caught in that vicious cycle.

    Anti WTO poster from the Thai Labour Campaign 2005, TNC = trans national corporations,  the results listed across the bottom read in English:  Privatisation, No job security, Suppression of union rights, Environmental destruction, State Violence against citizens, Displaced and landless population, De-democratization, Destruction of local culture, Increasing poverty

    Anti WTO poster from the Thai Labour Campaign 2005, TNC = transnational corporations, the results listed across the bottom read in English: Privatisation, No job security, Suppression of union rights, Environmental destruction, State Violence against citizens, Displaced and landless population, De-democratization, Destruction of local culture, Increasing poverty (click image to enlarge)

    An article on Ghana web gives a clue as to what Ghana is up against with loans from the World Bank and IMF, and shows it got into these problems by following the prescriptions of the World Bank and IMF. As an earlier article pointed out. Ghana has been an economic and political success story, but:

    … last year world food and oil prices soared. China’s slashed demand for raw materials is harming much of Africa. Global warming caused a drought that drained the dam powering Ghana’s electricity, requiring crippling oil imports. The last government borrowed to cover these unexpected costs, the currency dropped in value, inflation rose to 20% and credit has dried up.

    Economists at the NGO Oxfam point out that this was not caused by profligacy, but by external events last year. A further source of bitterness: if rich countries had kept their 2005 Gleneagles promises, as Britain did, Ghana would have received $1bn, with no need to borrow at all.


    Every government knows what it has to do to get credit, so Ghana has already said it will lower its deficit from 15% to 9.5% of GDP in one year, steeply cutting public sector costs … an IMF thumbs-down means money from everywhere is cut off.

    And so Ghana needed a loan, and is trapped in the vicious cycle:

    …Public sector labour freeze costs Gov’t 1billion dollars
    Ghana’s, dependence on donor-fundings, and their attendant conditionalities, for the implementation of her fiscal policy year in and out, is beginning to take a heavy toll on the country.

    News about the recent International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s $1billion total financial facility to Ghana for her budgetary support, as approved by its board on July 15, 2009 came just a day after the Attorney General, Hon. Betty Mould Iddrissu had disclosed that Government of Ghana (GOG) owes as much as over $1 billion dollars in judgment debts which have accumulated over the past 10 years.

    She explained that the problem boils down to the fact that, the attorney general’s department lacks the human resource capacity to function adequately as government’s legal advisor in all transactions government enters into.

    According to her, “Ghana lacks the capacity to retain attorneys for all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), so out of frustration, the MDAs hire private legal practitioners to guide them in some of their transactions, some of which bring about legal problems.

    “The department also lacks the requisite manpower to send attorneys to court to defend the state whenever those litigations come up”, she disclosed, adding, “it is a systemic and an endemic problem with the department which has been there over the years”

    For this reason, government is now saddled with such a huge debt including those to CP Construction, Attachment Awards against the government in France, Britain Belgium, USA and Holland.

    It has been suggested that the genesis of the problem of the lack of human resources in the public sector dates back to the late 1980s and 1990s when government was instructed to freeze public sector recruitments in return for World Bank/IMF supported Economic Recovery Programmes.

    This same condition, of freezing public sector employments, is said to have been reaffirmed by the Breton Woods institutions in the current loan agreements, but Finance Minister explains it is government’s own decision to manage public funds prudently.

    However another contradictory condition is also the call on government to establish a Public Sector Reform Ministry as a requirement for further assistance from the World Bank. Opinions are divided as to where manpower would be secured to run such a new ministry if recruitments into the public sector is to remain frozen.

    Although Finance Minister, Dr. Dufuor has told this reporter that the AG’s department has been given the clearance to recruit 20 new attorneys, Financial Intelligence (FI) investigations have revealed that the problem of inadequate manpower is not peculiar to the Attorney General’s Department, but a general problem that has bedeviled the whole of the Civil Service in Ghana.

    Departments such as the Veterinary Department, Extension Services of the Ministry of Agriculture and other government departments have been crying over the years for more personnel to be recruited to beef-up their activities.

    For the Crop Extension Services and Veterinery Services, although their training schools in Kwadaso, Nyankpala, Ohawu, and Pong-Tamale have been churning out well-trained personnel over the years, due to World Bank conditions that were introduced as a result of the Economic Recovery Programme and The Structural Adjustment Programmes, employments of these personnel have remained frozen till date, leaving the departments with the only other option of replacing retiring and diseased staffs.

    The Cocoa Services Division is on record to have attracted a large number of extension officers from the Agric Ministry, while engaging many others who had either completed the Agric Training Institutions as well as some Sixth Form leavers from the early 1990s, and current gains being made in that sector is believed to be as a result of those investments earlier made in human resources.

    Questions are being raised as to whether it is prudent to continue freezing recruitments into the public sector, when evidence has started emerging that it can be costly in the long run as evidenced by happenings at the AGs department.

    If the MDAs can find money to hire the services of private legal practitioners whose legal advice in transactions have proven to be costly to the nation, it would have been better if the state spent money employing full time attorneys for the AG’s department, for onward attachment to the MDAs.

    A senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana Business School, Kwame Gyasi … “it is the public sector which moves the private sector and not the vice-versa, then; there is a problem if you freeze employment in the public sector down here”.

    “Now that the private sector is collapsing, freezing employments in the public sector would not only end up in some costly financial consequences for the state as has happened in the judgment debts, but will also create upheavals”

    Neoliberal free market practices have brought disaster on the western governments of the northern hemisphere. But the World Bank and the IMF continue to impose those policies on the developing countries when they issue loans.

    As one impassioned comment on the article said (all caps are frequently used in the comments):

    IMF AND WORLD BANK SUCCESS STORIES SOON TURN INTO MIRAGES EVERYWHERE. I CHALLENGE ANY IMF, WORLD BANK OR GHANAIAN OFFICIAL TO CITE ONE SIMPLE EXAMPLE OF REAL SUCCESS.

    THE IMF IS THE ACRONYM FOR “I MOSTLY FAIL”, “INTERNATIONAL MONSTER WITHOUT FEELINGS”, “INTERNATIONAL MISMANAGER OF FINANCES”

    THE WORLD BANK (WD) STANDS FOR “WORST BANDIT”, “WORLD DESTROYER”, “WORST DEATH”.

    THEY REJOICE WHEN THEY SEE AFRICANS MARGINALIZED AND IMPOVERISHED. THAT IS WHY THEY PRESCRIBE STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT FOR AFRICANS WHILE THEY EMBRACE RESCUE PACKAGES.

    Ghana does not have the personnel to oversee and regulate contracts because those staff were laid off and reduced, due to previous World Bank/IMF requirements to lay off and reduce staff. Without those public sector legal advisors providing advice and oversight, Ghana incurred expensive judgements.

    At a time when the economy is contracting and losing private sector jobs, it is a huge mistake to also reduce public sector jobs. In fact, public sector jobs help create private sector jobs, particularly in health and education, which often suffer the most under World Bank/IMF requirements and structural adjustments. A healthy workforce is productive, the more healthy, the more productive. And an educated workforce brings business and employers looking for a large available pool of smart, healthy, and well educated people to work for them. A strong public education system, including universities, attracts and creates strong private sector growth.
    But as the earlier article: What Wall Street did to Ghana said:

    Oxfam’s senior policy adviser and economist, Max Lawson, doubts such cuts are needed, just a loan to tide Ghana over. “The IMF is too brutal … demanding balanced books within one or two years. The only way to make such a deep cut is in social spending: teachers’ salaries are the main item.”

    In the West governments are undertaking huge fiscal stimulus programs to repair their economies. But in the developing world those same governments and institutions continue to advocate reductions, restructuring and belt tightening. It looks like the plan is not to help but to prevent developing nations from developing.

    ________

    Note: graphic above from here

    President Barack Obama walks with Ghana President John Atta Mills, right, at the Presidential Palace in Accra, Ghana, Saturday, July 11, 2009. In his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa since taking office.

    President Barack Obama walks with Ghana President John Atta Mills, right, at the Presidential Palace in Accra, Ghana, Saturday, July 11, 2009. In his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa since taking office.

    U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama meet with pregnant women during a tour of LA General Hospital in Accra July 11, 2009.

    U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama meet with pregnant women during a tour of LA General Hospital in Accra July 11, 2009.

    Vendor with Obama memorabilia in Ghana, July 11, 2009

    Vendor with Obama memorabilia in Ghana, July 11, 2009

    I spoke to Ghana today. Everyone is thrilled with Obama’s visit. They loved his speech. Throughout the whole country people were watching and enjoying. At the same time, almost everyone is also adamantly against AFRICOM.

    People were praising how simple and natural Obama is. They said the visit to Cape Coast Castle was very sad. Nobody can visit there without being affected. And everyone admired the way the Obamas interacted with the people they met, including the musicians and dancers performing at the airport to see them off. The whole country was watching and enjoying the visit. There were posters, signs and commerative items everywhere. The coverage has been wildly enthusiastic, but with some well placed and serious skepticism about US motives.

    In his speech Obama included the following:

    We must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans.

    First, we must support strong and sustainable democratic governments. As I said in Cairo, each nation gives life to democracy in its own way, and in line with its own traditions. But history offers a clear verdict: governments that respect the will of their own people are more prosperous, more stable and more successful than governments that do not. This is about more than holding elections — it’s also about what happens between them. Repression takes many forms, and too many nations are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the port authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end.

    In the 21st century, capable, reliable and transparent institutions are the key to success — strong parliaments and honest police forces; independent judges and journalists; a vibrant private sector and civil society. Those are the things that give life to democracy, because that is what matters in peoples’ lives. …


    Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.

    America will not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation — the essential truth of democracy is that each nation determines its own destiny. What we will do is increase assistance for responsible individuals and institutions, with a focus on supporting good governance — on parliaments, which check abuses of power and ensure that opposition voices are heard; on the rule of law, which ensures the equal administration of justice; on civic participation, so that young people get involved; and on concrete solutions to corruption like forensic accounting, automating services, strengthening hot lines and protecting whistle-blowers to advance transparency and accountability. As we provide this support, I have directed my administration to give greater attention to corruption in our human rights report. People everywhere should have the right to start a business or get an education without paying a bribe. We have a responsibility to support those who act responsibly and to isolate those who don’t, and that is exactly what America will do.

    Obama used the word partnership a number of times speaking of:

    This mutual responsibility must be the foundation of our partnership. And today, I will focus on four areas that are critical to the future of Africa and the entire developing world: democracy; opportunity; health; and the peaceful resolution of conflict.

    This last, peaceful resolution of conflict, is how he chose to characterize military partnership. I wondered some about the use of the word partnership throughout the speech. This is a word the Africa Command uses a lot. And I wondered if the use of it repeated in the speech was to soften and blur the definition away from military partnership. Military partnership and the Africa Command have caused ongoing debate and articles in the Ghana news and on GhanaWeb. Obama is very popular, but the Africa Command is not popular at all. Military partnership means, among other things, military proxies, training African militaries to fight for US interests.

    In Obama’s words on military partnership:

    the final area that I will address is conflict.

    Africans are standing up for this future. Here, too, Ghana is helping to point the way forward. Ghanaians should take pride in your contributions to peacekeeping from Congo to Liberia to Lebanon, and in your efforts to resist the scourge of the drug trade. We welcome the steps that are being taken by organizations like the African Union and ECOWAS to better resolve conflicts, keep the peace, and support those in need. And we encourage the vision of a strong, regional security architecture that can bring effective, transnational force to bear when needed. America has a responsibility to advance this vision, not just with words, but with support that strengthens African capacity. When there is genocide in Darfur or terrorists in Somalia, these are not simply African problems — they are global security challenges, and they demand a global response. That is why we stand ready to partner through diplomacy, technical assistance, and logistical support, and will stand behind efforts to hold war criminals accountable. And let me be clear: our Africa Command is focused not on establishing a foothold in the continent, but on confronting these common challenges to advance the security of America, Africa and the world.

    This sounds good, but there are very few specifics and still plenty of reason for skepticism.

    An article in The Scotman sees AFRICOM HQ in Ghana as a done deal:

    Controversial matters such as the impending transfer of US Africa Command’s HQ from Germany to Ghana, heavy narcotics trafficking and burgeoning oil production, are topics for Mr Obama’s talks with Ghanaian president John Atta Mills.

    On development, I tend to agree with Kwesi Pratt:

    What we need in the developing world, is not gifts and not aid. What we need must be fair trade. If we could get equitable prices for our products and so on, we could make it on our own.

    In putting responsibility squarely on Africans, Obama glossed over ongoing interference in African governance by the US and others. Without this interference, arming sides and picking favorites, Africa could work out its own problems. Obama criticised the violence stemming from the recent Kenyan election, but the US actively interfered with that election. If Obama actually intends to back off from this interfering behaviour, I heartily endorse him.

    The Africa Command is wildly unpopular in Ghana, as Kwesi Pratt also said:

    The Cheney report also makes a recommendation for the establishment of military bases in order to protect American interests and American oil. For me these are the two key reasons why the United States and Obama are interested in this. It has nothing to do with democracy, but the preservation of American interests.

    In Ghana, I do not think there’s any possibility of establishing such a presence, [AFRICOM] because it will be resisted

    And NO to AFRICOM has been the overwhelming sentiment expressed in the articles and in the comments published in Ghana news sources and on GhanaWeb.

    As Nii Akuetteh says in the same interview with Kwesi Pratt:

    Currently, a lot of the oil comes from Nigeria and we know that in southeastern Nigeria, where the oil is, there is a lot of agitation, even including some violence because oil companies from Shell to Chevron have been behaving in a predatory manner. Therefore, the oil is an issue, and the establishment of AFRICOM, where twisting arms of African governments to agree to host AFRICOM, has also been going on. I do support Kwesi. He’s been leading the fight in Ghana to make sure that it doesn’t come. I think the democracy factor is one small factor and it is up to us in Washington and around the United States to make sure that it becomes bigger in the calculations of Mr. Obama. So it is up to us to push him. And because he himself has said it, and his staff in the White House also did say that democracy and governance in Ghana is the reason they chose Ghana, our strategy here in Washington is, okay, we will hold them to their words. We will make sure that any agreement they sign, U.S. policy, U.S. aid projects, put the priority on democracy and strengthening civil society.

    And that is what must be done. President Obama has said he values democracy. It was the main theme of his speech. That is the reason he told us he chose to visit Ghana, to recognize and honor its vibrant and successful democracy. But democracy is always fragile. We have seen that in the United States in the last decade. People in Ghana and the US must keep pushing for more democracy, for strengthening civil society, and for the transparency and accountability that makes democracy possible.

    In some ways I worry the Obama visit is honoring Ghanaian democracy by offering Ghana the tools and means to dismantle that democracy. But the symbolic importance and resonance of Obama, that the US has elected a black man, the son of an African, with the name Barack Hussein Obama, as president, cannot be overstated. If he is not all we would wish, we ourselves need to make our democratic ideals and aspirations manifest.

    ________

    Pictures of Obama from GhanaWeb
    Pictures of Obama in Ghana from Yahoo, view as slideshow or gallery.

    ________

    Added July 12, links to stories from GhanaWeb on Obama in Ghana. You can view the comments to the stories for more opinions. Be advised there will be some rude and partisan remarks in the comments to the articles, democracy allows for all opinions to be voiced.

    Text of Obama’s speech to parliament
    Dignitaries savour Obama’s speech
    Obama begins historic visit to Ghana
    Obama in Ghana on first sub-Saharan Africa visit
    Where will Obama Sleep?
    Guests for breakfast meeting to park vehicles at State House
    Obama admits to be a long admirer of Ghana
    Obama lauds La Hospital
    Obama tours Cape Coast Castle
    Oguaa residents step out early to welcome Obama
    Expectant crowd disappointed as security prevents them from seeing Obam
    Africa to shape the 21st century- Obama
    Obama leaves after Ghana visit

    YouTube videos on Obama’s visit:
    Ghana goes Obama-mad in preparation for president’s visit (ITN News)
    Obama’s Ghana Speech – July 11, 2009 (Part 1 of 4, 8:19)
    Obama’s Ghana Speech – July 11, 2009 (Part 2 of 4, 8:39)
    Obama’s Ghana Speech – July 11, 2009 (Part 3 of 4, 8:07)
    Obama’s Ghana Speech – July 11, 2009 (Part 4 of 4, 8:35)
    Welcome song for Obama to Ghana, An All-Star welcome song for President Obama on his visit to Ghana, Africa July 10-11 (4:43)

    Next Page »

    Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

    Join 68 other followers