Archive for the 'Development and all the controversial stuff around it' 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 »


The tech’ factor. Random comments around the World Bank’s GEP 2008

January 20, 2008

Technology is at the heart of the contemporary globalisation phenomenon and its related controversies. Read the rest of this entry »

High oil prices have upsides. A positive outlook on climate, the future of Porsches and energy policies for Christmas

December 22, 2007


Climate change and energy were the major topics this year. The grand Mass under spiritual guidance by a Nobel Prize Winner Albert Gore – whose carbon footprint is an inconvenient truth – in Bali did the political feel-good job. Russian, Iranian, Venezuelan, Sudanese and other oil country politics were the feel-bad factor in headlines this year. How will 2008 be in this regard?

Let me start with a provocative statement: the current excessively high oil prices are a good, a very good thing. Read the rest of this entry »

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.”

Spotlight on the development aid debate – after the G8 Summit

June 12, 2007


The G8 Summit hosted by Germany in the Eastern German resort Heiligendamm achieved a few interesting things. It patched up rifts between the EU and the US on climate change, and between Russia and the US on missile defence; but not on Kosovo. The rising powers – “the +5” China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico, with yet-blurred power-line contours – were not to be bullied into binding commitments on climate change [Read this and this]. That’s the world of hard politics such as practised by the world’s Powerful.

All this is far away from the Western Antigones – who prefer to “die” than to abide by the raison d’Etat – who held alternative meetings or sit-ins or demonstrated in the fields and streets of Heiligendamm against the Evils of Power. Some were put in cages by a police that learnt to be efficient after violent outbreaks in nearby Rostock the week-end before. Pop stars like Bob Geldorf of course needn’t fear cages. They are calling for more aid to poor countries. They are furious with the G8’s plain committment to finally provide the sums pledged back in 2005 at the Gleaneagles G8 Summit – which they haven’t so far. Only the budget allocated to the fight against AIDS is being increased. All these aid-apostles lost their pacifistic battle at the Dyke of the Saints (literal translation of the word Heiligendamm). In the meantime, Russian President Vladimir Putin turned the world upside down claiming he is the only “true democrat”, along with Mahatma Ghandi. Note: Ghandi was very much influenced by Russian literary-philosophic giant Leo Tolstoy. So Putin is playing two games here – nationalism for domestic use and preudo-identification with the world’s Oppressed for international audiences. Yet Putin needs to upgrade his credentials on non-violence. Also it is the ruthless Chinese who are currently doing the job of providing massive aid to Africa… Africa, conspicuously absent in the whole G8 show.

Development aid. Behind the refusal of the G8 countries to increase the sums dedicated to aid at the G8 not only lies the egoism of the rich and powerful; this refusal represents a different vision on the matter, showing how the ongoing policy debate on aid spills over into political decisions.

For those who have no time to start a degree in development studies, Shalendra D. Sharma in a review written for the journal World Economics this spring (walled for non-subscribers, unfortunately) provides an admirable synthesis of the aid debate at the moment. The title of this review is “Can Massive Foreign Aid Eliminate Extreme Poverty? The Sachs Easterly-Debate”.

Indeed two important economist figures dominate the current debate. On the one hand Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, who initially made himself known by prescribing “shock therapy” market reforms in former Soviet bloc countries in the early 1990s. On the other, William Easterly, from New York University, a staunch free marketeer who does not believe in development aid. Sachs published a book in 2005 entitled The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for our Time. Easterly’s book was published a few months later, The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done so much Ill and So Little Good.


What is the problem? Read the rest of this entry »