Archive for the 'Africa' Category

Light for Africa?

June 12, 2008

Getting rid of the Three Scourges of humanity lamented in our past Dark Ages- Strife, Famine and Pestilence – is a lengthy and messy process. Big parts of humanity have done important strides on this front and are going further on the rocky road towards what in the West is termed Development. Let’s call it Peace, Prosperity and Freedom. This progress has been strong in Asia. So far, Africa has been considered a hopeless case. Afropessimism is still pervasive. And the news are full of horror stories in Sudan, Somalia, Zimbabwe, to name the worst. Read the rest of this entry »

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Follow-up on EU-African trade matters

December 14, 2007

Since I am not a specialist on these issues, I prefer others to speak:

– FT had an in-depth analysis on where the EU African relationship was going. A little extract below on the regional dimension of EPAs:

“Deals agreed so far between the European Union and former colonies are a long way from the neat pattern it envisaged of regional trading blocs liberalising among themselves and then opening up gradually to Europe. The blocs have splintered and the EU has instead scrambled to sign deals with small groups of countries – which will retain trade barriers against one another – and with individual governments.

The complexity reflects the fact that, as well as negotiating en bloc with the EU, the ACP countries in each region also have to decide how much they want to liberalise with each other. Because their economies are often similar, dropping trade barriers will create losers as well as winners, with the weakest companies going to the wall. Conflicting interests over trade with Europe have also created divisions between and within countries.

In west Africa, for example, Nigeria – one of the most recalcitrant negotiating partners – has little interest in making concessions to retain EU market access since most of its exports are oil and gas, for which there are no shortage of customers. Similarly other nations in the grouping, such as Benin and Mali, are “least-developed countries” that have little to lose as their more generous EU trade privileges will not expire on December 31. The few non-LDC nations in west Africa – Ghana is one – have had to scramble to sign bilateral pacts with the EU ahead of the year-end deadline.

In southern Africa, plans were thrown into confusion when the Southern African Customs Union, itself part of the wider regional grouping, divided. While some of its members – Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia – have signed, South Africa has not.

One African ambassador to the EU says the Commission has been following “divide and rule” tactics. “All along, the EU has been claiming that EPAs [economic partnership agreements] have to encourage regional integration but in the last two weeks it has been pulling apart, dividing regions,” he says. “It is regional disintegration.”

– ECIPE’s Senior Fellow Peter Draper was asked three basic questions after the EU-African summit last week-end: What prospects for EPAs? Will there be higher tariffs for African exporters from early next year? Are there any alternatives to the current EPA conundrum? Here his answers.

EU-African trade conundrum

December 9, 2007

It’s all so terribly fraught, that for a non-specialist like me venturing into EU-African trade relations is a very risky matter.

But here an attempt at a few comments on the EU-African Summit held in Lisbon this week-end. Here an overview. The EU and African nations agreed to engage in a “strategic partnership”Read the rest of this entry »

Slave Trade and African Underdevelopment

December 8, 2007

Vox EU just posted a stunning piece by Nathan Nunn on The historical Origins of African Underdevelopment

His findings:

“According to my calculations, if the slave trades had not occurred, then 72% of the average income gap between Africa and the rest of the world would not exist today, and 99% of the income gap between Africa and the rest of the underdeveloped world would not exist.”

Sarkozy on economic development in Africa

October 9, 2007

Un peu tard, morceaux choisis du Discours de Nicolas Sarkozy tenu à l’Universite de Dakar en juillet dernier. Il a fait un tollé en Afrique, mais été largement ignoré en France/Europe. Accrochez-vous.

Although late, here a few quotes from Nicolas Sarkozy’s speech held in from of students Dakar last summer. The speech sent shockwaves through Africa but was hardly noticed in Europe (A tentative translation of the quotations follows the French version).

“Le drame de l’Afrique, c’est que l’homme africain n’est pas assez entré dans l’histoire. Le paysan africain, qui depuis des millénaires, vit avec les saisons, dont l’idéal de vie est d’être en harmonie avec la nature, ne connaît que l’éternel recommencement du temps rythmé par la répétition sans fin des mêmes gestes et des mêmes paroles.

Dans cet imaginaire où tout recommence toujours, il n’y a de place ni pour l’aventure humaine, ni pour l’idée de progrès.”

 

“Voulez-vous qu’il n’y ait plus de famine sur la terre africaine ? Voulez-vous que, sur la terre africaine, il n’y ait plus jamais un seul enfant qui meure de faim ? Alors cherchez l’autosuffisance alimentaire. Alors développez les cultures vivrières.”

Sarkozy a-t-il de la place pour une idée de progrès dans sa primitive cervelle de co-développeur de l’Afrique?

Africa’s tragedy is that African Man hasn’t yet entered History. The African peasant, who for thousands of years has been living with the seasons, whose ideal of life is to be in harmony with nature, who knows only the eternal return of time, sequenced by the never ending repetition of the same gestures and words.

In this mentality where everything always repeats itself there is no place for human adventure nor for the idea of progress.

(…)

Do you want there no longer to be famines on African soil? Do you want there no longer to be children dying of hunger on African soil? So seek food self-sufficiency . So develop subsistence agriculture.”

Is there any place for progress in the primitive mind of Sarkozy, “Co-Developper” of Africa?