Clinton challenges Africa to embrace democracy
August 3, 2012 | 0 Comments
By MATTHEW LEE*
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — In veiled swipes at China’s investments in Africa, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday urged African leaders to embrace democracy and partnerships with responsible foreign powers as a means to improving their living standards and addressing the root causes of extremism on the continent.
Clinton, speaking to university students, lawmakers and diplomats in Senegal’s capital, challenged Africa’s elite to fully respect human rights and she warned of the consequences of rampant abuses, corruption and intolerance that breed contempt and contribute to instability.
“There are still too many places in the region and across the continent where democracy is threatened, where human rights are abused, and the rule of law is undermined,” Clinton said. “Too many Africans still live under autocratic rulers who care more about preserving their grip on power than promoting the welfare of their citizens. Violent extremism, transnational crime and rampant corruption all threaten democracy.”
She said America would stand by African reformers and she indirectly took on China. Beijing has been criticized for ignoring human rights concerns, local laws and environmental regulations as it boosts investment in Africa in search of energy and resources to fuel its exploding economy.
By contrast, she said the United States is committed to “a model of sustainable partnership that adds value, rather than extracts it” from Africa. “The days of having outsiders come and extract the wealth of Africa for themselves leaving nothing or very little behind should be over in the 21st century,” she said.
Without mentioning China by name, she maintained that unlike other countries, “America will stand up for democracy and universal human rights even when it might be easier or more profitable to look the other way, to keep the resources flowing.”
“Not every partner makes that choice, but we do and we will,” she said, calling support for democracy and human rights the “heart of the American model of partnership.”
A senior U.S. official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said the administration believes the US and China, among others, are competing for African resources. Further, administration officials say they think the U.S. is acting more in the interests of the African people by conditioning aid on good governance and requiring American companies to respect local laws and regulations.
Clinton’s comments follow a China-Africa summit last month at which Chinese President Hu Jintao pledged $20 billion in credit to African governments over the next three years to support infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing and small business growth. At the event, Hu commended the hands-off approach of China’s investment decisions on the continent.
China will “give genuine support to African countries’ independent choice of development path,” he said. Hu suggested that human rights conditions and other rules imposed by the West on assistance are unnecessary and burdensome.
Hu also said China and African nations should increase cooperation to “oppose the practices of the big bullying the small, the strong domineering over the weak and the rich oppressing the poor.”
Analysts say China’s growing role is on the minds of American and African policymakers. Clinton’s visit comes as Africans are seeking to redefine their relationship with China to that of “equal partners” and not only resource providers, according to Haroon Bhorat, an economist at the University of Cape Town.
Clinton was in Dakar on the first leg of an 11-day African tour that will take her to at least six other nations, including Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and Ghana. In Ghana, she will attend the state funeral for the late president, John Atta Mills, who died last week.
Her speech coincided with the first major storm of the rainy season, a positive sign in a place where drought is responsible for a food crisis.
Clinton praised Senegal, the only mainland West African country never to have experienced a coup, for its democratic history and recent elections in which a longtime incumbent lost and handed over power to the victor, Macky Sall, whom she met before the delivering the speech.
But she noted that such trends were not necessarily the norm in the region, such as in Mali or Guinea-Bissau where militaries ousted an elected president.
“Leaders who hold on to power at all costs, who suppress dissent, who enrich themselves, their families and their supporters at the expense of their own people — who define democracy as one election, one time — are on the wrong side of history,” Clinton said.
In Mali, long considered a model of West African democracy until the coup, Clinton said the military and members of the ousted government must reach consensus to restore civilian leadership and blunt the threat posed by radical Islamists who are taking advantage of a power vacuum in the north.
“We encourage all parties to set aside their differences and work to restore democracy, preserve the territorial integrity of the country, and reject the appeals of violent extremism,” she said. She added that the U.S. would continue to withhold full development assistance, including security aid, until a democratically elected government is in place.
Guinea-Bissau, where no president has ever served a full-five year term, Clinton said there was a real threat from what she called the “very troubling trend” of drug trafficking. She warned that unless democracy was restored there was a risk that it could become “totally dependent” on Latin American drug traffickers.
In South Sudan, she will congratulate leaders on reaching the one-year mark of the creation of their country after it split with Sudan. But she also will stress the need for the nascent state to resolve its differences with Sudan that threatened to reignite what had been Africa’s longest-running civil war when it ended with a historic peace treaty in 2005.
In Uganda, where the U.S. has sent a small number of special forces troops to help African militaries combat the Lord’s Resistance Army of Joseph Kony, Clinton will return to the security theme.
From Uganda, Clinton will travel to Kenya, where in addition to urging leaders to hold peaceful, free and fair national elections in 2013, she will meet Somali officials and underscore U.S. support for completing a planned political transition later in August.
After a brief stop in Malawi, Clinton then heads to South Africa, where she will continue a strategic dialogue with South African officials, promote U.S. business in the country and pay her respects to former President Nelson Mandela, who recently celebrated his 94th birthday.
She will then attend Mills’ funeral in Accra, Ghana.
*Source AP.Associated Press writers Rukmini Callimachi in Dakar and Bradley Klapper in Washington contributed to this report.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Travel to Africa
July 31, 2012 | 0 Comments
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to Africa July 31 through August 10, 2012. During this trip, the Secretary will emphasize U.S. policy commitments outlined in the Presidential Policy Directive – to strengthen democratic institutions, spur economic growth, advance peace and security as well as promote opportunity and development for all citizens
The Secretary’s first stop will be Senegal, where she will meet President Sall and other national leaders and deliver a speech applauding the resilience of Senegal’s democratic institutions and highlighting America’s approach to partnership.
Next, Secretary Clinton travels to South Sudan where she meets with President Kiir to reaffirm U.S. support and to encourage progress in negotiations with Sudan to reach agreement on issues related to security, oil and citizenship.
In Uganda, the Secretary meets with President Museveni to encourage strengthening of democratic institutions and human rights, while also reinforcing Uganda as a key U.S. partner in promoting regional security, particularly in regard to Somalia and in regional efforts to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army. She will also highlight U.S. support in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The Secretary will then travel to Kenya where she plans to meet President Kibaki, Prime Minister Odinga, and other government officials to emphasize her support for transparent, credible, nonviolent national elections in 2013. To underscore U.S. support for completing the political transition in Somalia by August 20th, Secretary Clinton will also meet with President Sheikh Sharif and other signatories to the Roadmap to End the Transition.
The Secretary continues her trip in Malawi, visiting President Banda to discuss economic and political governance and reform.
In South Africa, Secretary Clinton will pay her respects to President Mandela and participate in the U.S.-South Africa Strategic Dialogue focusing on the partnership between our two countries in addressing issues of mutual concern and our shared challenges on the African and world stage. Secretary Clinton will be accompanied by a U.S. business delegation.
Bharti Airtel reinforces commitment to developing talent in Africa
July 27, 2012 | 0 Comments
NAIROBI, Kenya, July 25, 2012/ – Leading global telecommunications company, Bharti Airtel (‘Airtel’) today announced a partnership with the largest e-learning provider in Africa – The Learning Resources Management Group – to provide an extensive e-learning program for Airtel employees across 17 African countries.
The implementation of this program signals a new dawn of staff development, reinforcing the telco’s commitment to nurture and develop local talent and groom its employees for leadership positions within the company.
“Our people are our main source of competitive advantage,” explains David Ssegawa, Chief Human Resources Officer at Airtel Africa. “We are committed in investing and providing our employees with opportunities to learn and grow within the organization. This latest initiative is in line with our commitment to nurture local talent and develop the capabilities of the workforce. We firmly believe that this initiative will bring in benefits of ‘flexibility and convenience’ which will allow the employees to have access to their chosen courses anytime, anywhere.
He further added, “In addition to the practical benefits it offers, the program will also build a culture of learning and community amongst Airtel employees by facilitating and sharing knowledge and expertise between peers. In the long run, I am confident this will increase both the capabilities and the productivity of our employees.”
Airtel has invested in a comprehensive suite of 500 courses from the Learning Resources Management Group touching on a range of subjects including – Accounting, IT, HR, Customer Service, Leadership and Management skills, amongst others.
Britain and EU to lift sanctions against Robert Mugabe’s allies
July 24, 2012 | 0 Comments
Britain announced a “step change” in its policy towards Zimbabwe, promising to exempt a raft of President Robert Mugabe’s allies from personal sanctions.
By David Blair*
The measures, first imposed a decade ago, ban 112 individuals from visiting the European Union, while also freezing any assets they hold in European banks. The targets include generals, cabinet ministers, businessmen and officials, all of whom are blamed for masterminding political violence, which has claimed hundreds of lives, or looting
Zimbabwe’s shattered economy, which has impoverished millions.
Most of the targeted individuals will be taken off the list and, in principle, allowed to visit Britain and any other EU member state.
A meeting of EU foreign ministers agreed to take this step provided that Zimbabwe holds a “credible” referendum on a new constitution later this year. The restrictions will be eased regardless of whether Zimbabwe goes on to hold a free and fair presidential election in 2013.
Violence has scarred every poll in Zimbabwe for the last 12 years, with militias from Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party hunting down his opponents. At least 200 people were murdered before the last presidential election in 2008, with thousands more beaten, tortured or abducted.
The Foreign Office said that sanctions could be reimposed if the bloodshed were to recur. Mr Mugabe, 88, has promised to contest the next election after 32 years in power.
He currently appears as number one on the sanctions list – and William Hague, the foreign secretary, made clear that he would stay there. Sanctions on Mr Mugabe and a core of his closest aides will remain in place despite Monday’s decision. But more than half the names will be dropped from the list.
Mr Hague said this was justified by “concrete progress on the ground”.
“We have made clear that we would respond to a peaceful and credible referendum in Zimbabwe, due to take place in the Autumn, with a suspension of the majority of EU Restrictive Measures, but not including those on Mugabe,” he said.
This amounted to an “important step-change” in policy towards Zimbabwe, said the Foreign Secretary, with the aim of encouraging “reformers across the political spectrum”.
President Mugabe has formed a coalition with Morgan Tsvangirai, the former opposition leader who now serves as prime minister. A new constitution has been agreed that should make a free and fair election more likely.
But real power still lies in Mr Mugabe’s hands and economic recovery has been held back by his insistence on keeping a punitive law that compels any company owned by foreigners or white Zimbabweans to surrender 51 per cent of its shares.
Although no restrictions apply to trade or investment in Zimbabwe, Mr Mugabe has blamed sanctions for the country’s economic malaise. This propaganda line – however preposterous – has been widely believed. Western diplomats in Harare believe that lifting the restrictions would rob Mr Mugabe of his alibi.
These measures were first imposed at the request of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which helped compile the list of targeted individuals.
Today, however, Mr Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC, wants them to be lifted.
Alex Vines, head of the Africa programme at Chatham House, said the measures had “passed their sell-by date” and become an “impediment to progress”. He added that yesterday’s decision struck the right balance between rewarding progress and maintaining the pressure on Mr Mugabe.
Some individuals have already been dropped from the sanctions list, including Patrick Chinamasa, the Zanu-PF justice minister. He played a key role in undermining the independence of the judiciary by personally hounding Anthony Gubbay, then chief justice, into resignation.
Obama needs re-focus Africa strategy, says Museveni
July 24, 2012 | 0 Comments
The Obama Administration needs to re-focus its strategies to Africa.
Like the independence, Africa leaders, who opted for nationalizing their economies undermining the private sector, the American government is also focusing on software elements, which cannot ensure economic growth.
The President made these observations while meeting a delegation from the Obama Administration on the sidelines of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa recently.
The delegation included; Michael Froman, who is President Obama’s Assistant and also Deputy National Security Advisor; Mr. Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; Ambassador Mike Barrow and Cicely Smith.
President Museveni told the delegation that the Administration focuses on what he termed soft-ware instead of hard-ware factors.
He explained that Africa needs to overcome hardware factors, register economic growth that can generate funds to finance the soft-ware bottlenecks.
President Yoweri Museveni said that many African leaders were impressed by the rapid growth of the former Soviet Union which had transformed from a feudal state into a super power within a very short time without considering the important economic factors.
On the other hand, Mr. Museveni pointed out that countries like South Korea accessed large markets and registered strong economic growth and is an economic power.
He explained that Africa is stagnating because of the conflicting but unproven solutions that have been applied to the continent and the fact that Africans can survive easily.
“Even a fool can survive in Africa which is not possible on other continents”, he said, adding that “Africa’s problem is not over-population because the continent can accommodate more people. What is important is the spacing of the children for the safety of the mothers. The continent can accommodate more people.”
“A lot of time has been wasted on clichés such as Africa needs good governance, foreign aid. These are important but do not lead to economic growth”, he said. The President added that because the software factors cannot be sustained by the African countries, financing them is dependent on foreign aid through NGOs.
“In order to sustain good governance, he said, there is need for heavy investments in the hardware factors, such as construction of more dams to generate reliable and cheap energy, heavy investment in the private sector, construction of modern roads in partnership with government or those that can generate funding for the private investors and modern railway lines.”
Mr. Museveni stressed that there is also need to invest in technology that can ease the transportation of goods. “Technology is needed in the screening of containers, we can also have inter-state inspection at the ports and documentation so that goods move from country to country very quickly”, he said.
The President said that funding should also be invested in health services and education to have a skilled labour group that can work in industries.
Citing Uganda as example, President Museveni said that his government would have done more but time was wasted on debating the need for power with international financiers and the World Bank.
Mr. Museveni dismissed the linkage between economic growth and good governance saying that many African countries that have not had political instability are as backward as those that have gone through instability.
This, he said, means that stability must be linked to industrialization and access to both domestic and local markets.
He defended the retention of the AGOA arrangement saying that it has helped some African countries which had the basics in place.
For example, Mr. Museveni said, South Africa is selling cars to USA and other countries like Kenya. In Uganda, he said, that the country has also benefited.
*Source East African Business Week
The U.S. And Egypt Understand Each Other Better Than You’d Think
July 23, 2012 | 0 Comments
Analysis: The meeting last week between Hillary Clinton and newly elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was between leaders from two countries that not only need each other, but may have a surprisingly similar approach to public life.
By Alain Frachon*
PARIS – They are politely smiling at each other as they sit down on “Louis Farouk,” the faux Louis XVI style furniture typical of Arab palaces. They are sizing each other up, gauging the temperature. The special envoy from the United States has come to greet the first democratically elected Egyptian president.
The scene took place last Saturday in Cairo. On one side of the couch is the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her dark pantsuit; on an armchair next to her is the Islamist Mohamed Morsi, in a stern grey suit and tie. The two could not be possibly more different.
Born in 1947 in Chicago, Clinton embodies a political career shaped by the turbulent 1960s in the United States. She has the career of a baby-boomer who was there on every front: the liberation of women, right to abortion, sexual minority rights and activism against the Vietnam War. She is Jane Fonda gone to law school.
Mohamed Morsi was born in 1951 on a family farm in a small town of the Nile delta. Thanks to a scholarship, this serious and deserving student spent 10 years in California to study and then teach civil engineering. He didn’t come back with a Hawaiian shirt and a ponytail. He remained faithful to the life that he chose at the end of his teenage years. He is an activist in this strange organization that places the Koran at the center of all political, economic, social and family life: the Muslim Brotherhood.
On this 14th of July, in the living room of the Heliopolis presidential palace in a Cairo suburb, the meeting was historic: the representative of America facing an Islamist leader; a paragon of social conservatism and religious fundamentalism facing a progressive Methodist Protestant.
Recent events don’t make the conversation any easier. The United States didn’t wait for 9/11 to be suspicious about political Islam. They supported their ally Hosni Mubarak for 30 years because he kept the peace with Israel. The authoritarian raïs martyred the Brotherhood, many members of which were tortured and imprisoned. The Brotherhood was close to the Palestinian organization Hamas, vilified America and denounced the peace treaty with Israel.
And yet the relations between Washington and Islamism are complicated. In Cairo, Mr. Morsi is in open conflict with the army, which was largely financed and trained by the United States. The military is in charge since Mubarak’s downfall in February 2011. Barely elected with 51.73% of the vote, Morsi is trying to flex his muscles in front of the generals.
The Secretary of State is urging the Brotherhood and the Army, the only two structured political organizations in Egypt, to negotiate. But she is squarely on the elected president’s side. The United States “supports the full transition to civilian rule with all that entails,” she said. Clinton said the United States looked forward “to support the military’s return to a purely national security role.”
The military, the Copts and secularists on the left or the right weren’t exactly pleased, but Washington’s message was crystal clear. If they are freely elected, respect minority rights and the peace treaty with Israel, America will cooperate with the Muslim Brotherhood. And Morsi gave some guarantees.
Closer than you think
At a time when political Islam is emerging as a dominant force in the Arab world – from Rabat to Cairo via Tunis and tomorrow, maybe, Damascus – this July 14 message is important. It isn’t that surprising. America encouraged the “Arab Spring.” It called for elections, and made logical choices. In the past few months, it multiplied contacts with the Egyptian Brotherhood.
Is Washington convinced that the Islamists have converted to political democracy? The real test is still ahead, explains Richard Haass, one of American foreign policy’s great initiators. “In the end, for an individual or for a party, the real proof of attachment to democracy is to accept losing elections, not participating in them and winning,” writes the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. “That means that we don’t content ourselves with an honest vote counting,” he says. “There also has to be equal access to television, to organization rights and funding.”
An American is actually better equipped than a European to understand the ideological profile of a Muslim Brother: the mix of God and politics; free market economics and social conservatism; visceral anti-communism – this is all very familiar to public life on the other side of the Atlantic.
When their strategic interests were in play, the United States never hesitated to develop strong relations with the most Islamist of regimes. The military and oil alliance with Riyadh is the best example. Next to the Saudi Arabian regime, the Muslim Brothers are quite the moderate Islamists, even centrists with lax values!
The strange relation forged with Pakistan is just as paradoxical. Here is an American ally whose army – partially equipped by the United States – is a major political actor who finances and arms Islamist extremists.
Washington has better relations with Ankara, where the Turkish Islamist AKP party has been in control for the past decade. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party came to power democratically and liberalized Turkey, but – is it a bad omen? – his team has looked increasingly authoritarian over the past few months.
The State Department has given much thought to the Algerian precedent of December 1991. The United States had approved a military coup to interrupt the free elections that an Islamist party was going to win. Ten years of an atrocious civil war followed, with tens of thousands of dead and thousands of missing people of whom we still know nothing.
Maybe Mrs. Clinton was thinking of this precedent during her conversation with “Brother” Mohamed Morsi.
*Source LE MONDE/Worldcrunch
July 22, 2012 | 0 Comments
Is China becoming Africa’s new colonial master? Is Beijing sucking away resources to drive its own economic growth, while offering little in return?
Or is such talk the product of fear and envy? Is it a sign of Western anxieties, that China is fast becoming the new power in Africa, building more equal relationships, and undermining Western influence on the continent?
China is certainly a real force in Africa. Just look at the clutch of presidents and the officials from many more parts of Africa who have made the long trek to Beijing this week for the China-Africa Co-operation Forum.
The visitors certainly have incentives to be here. They are being showered with attention, feted at banquets and tantalised with the prospect of preferential loan deals.
But China is extremely sensitive to the charge it’s a neo-colonialist power and is trying hard to refute it.
Ahead of the forum the People’s Daily newspaper, the Communist Party’s main mouthpiece, warned that “a trickle of critics… have struck a chord of dissonance, warning of the ‘new colonialism’ looming on the continent in a veiled swipe at Beijing’s efforts to forge closer ties with Africa”.
The opinion piece, from the official Xinhua news agency which echoes official opinion, said the charge was “biased and ill-grounded”, the relationship is based on “equality and mutual benefit… fact is more convincing than rhetoric”.
“Africa’s exports of crude oil, minerals, steel and agricultural products have played an active role in lifting the Chinese people’s livelihood. Meanwhile, the continent also serves as an indispensable market with great potential for Chinese products,” it explained.
“China also provides Africa with much-needed products and technologies, and a vast market for its commodities,” said Xinhua. “What’s more, Beijing focused on helping build the continent’s productive capacity by improving its infrastructure and boosting the manufacturing sector, rather than involving the so-called “resource-grabbing practice”.
President Hu Jintao picked up the theme at the forum, repeatedly calling this “a new type of China-Africa strategic partnership”.
He said “the Chinese and African peoples have always treated each other as equals… we will… forever be a good friend, good partner and good brother of the African people”.
He, too, had a barrage of facts to show China is bringing benefits to Africa. “China has built over 100 schools, 30 hospitals, 30 anti-malaria centres and 20 agricultural technology demonstration centres in Africa. It has met the pledge of providing $15bn [£9.58bn] of lending of a preferential nature to Africa….China has trained close to 40,000 African personnel…and provided over 20,000 government scholarships” said China’s president.
China’s commerce minister even got poetic, penning an article in the China Daily highlighting the way China is investing in Africa, not just stripping resources from it.
“In Malawi, a landlocked African country, rows of cotton cultivated by local farmers with instruction from Chinese experts are budding; in Ethiopia, a shoe factory built with investment from the China-Africa Development Fund is teeming with local workers; in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a hydropower station financed by credit from China has just been inaugurated,” wrote Chen Deming.
He went on: “In Yiwu, a city in East China, Chinese customers are selecting South African wine at the Exhibition Centre for African Products; at the New Port of Tianjin, a cargo ship loaded with fruit and textile products from Benin is preparing for tariff exemption procedures to enter the Chinese market. These are the encouraging scenes unfolding before us.”
At the forum itself, China has promised $20bn of new loans, reduced tariffs on African imports and help for Africa’s development. All of this is designed to show that China is different from colonial powers.
The English-language mouthpiece, the China Daily, gave space to Sehlare Makgetlaneng from the Africa Institute in Pretoria, South Africa, who wrote: “The West’s claim that China’s relationship with Africa is neo-colonialism… results from the fear its strategic interests will be harmed as a result of structural changes in African countries and China’s growing presence on the continent.”
Despite this media barrage, though, there are still concerns in many parts of Africa that this is not an equal exchange, concerns that the investment deals are opaque and open to corruption, that Chinese infrastructure projects often import Chinese labour rather than developing local skills, that Chinese firms may exploit local workers, that cheap Chinese products undermine Africa’s ability to build it’s own industries, that for all the new roads, railways and ports, this is not a mutually beneficial relationship.
Winning over doubters?
Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga is at the forum. He will be signing deals for new power plants and roads. But before he left Kenya, the PM Press Service said he wanted to talk to China’s leaders about areas where trade has “not worked well.”
“We import a lot of manufactured equipment like tractors, ploughs and harvesters. I feel that we should by now be having a tractor manufacturing plant here in Kenya. There is no reason why we should be importing tractors from China year in year out. These are some of the things we want to engage the Chinese on,” Mr Odinga was quoted as saying.
“We should have a fertilizer manufacturing plant here instead of importing the product from China which causes delays and poor harvests,” he added.
And that may be the key for China, if it can invest more in African factories and businesses, not just infrastructure and buildings, if it can create more jobs in Africa rather than export more Chinese-made products to the continent, if Kenya gets a tractor factory and a fertilizer plant, China may win over many of the doubters
*Culled from www.bbc.co.uk
China, Africa poised to embrace a brighter future for economic co-op and trade
July 22, 2012 | 0 Comments
By Chen Deming *
In Malawi, a landlocked African country, rows of cotton cultivated by local farmers with instruction from Chinese experts are budding; in Ethiopia, a shoe factory built with investment from the China-Africa Development Fund is teeming with local workers; in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a hydropower station financed by credit from China has just been inaugurated.
In the meantime, in China, a country tens of thousands of miles away, African officials and technicians have been invited to Beijing to share China’s development experience and advanced technology; in Yiwu, a city in East China, Chinese customers are selecting South African wine at the Exhibition Center for African Products; at the New Port of Tianjin, a cargo ship loaded with fruit and textile products from Benin is preparing for tariff exemption procedures to enter the Chinese market.
These are the encouraging scenes unfolding before us as China fulfills its commitments on economic cooperation and trade announced at the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2009. At the meeting, which was held amid the rampaging financial crisis, the Chinese government announced eight new measures to advance its practical cooperation with Africa, including development assistance, credit and financing, training and trade promotion. This speaks volume of the determination of China and Africa to weather the challenging times hand in hand. Steered by FOCAC and stimulated by these promotion measures, the two sides have withstood the test of the financial crisis. As a result, the trade and economic cooperation has witnessed faster growth across wider areas in more diversified forms, bringing more tangible benefits to the Chinese and African people.
In terms of trade, the total trade volume between China and Africa hit a record high of $166.3 billion in 2011, growing by 83 percent from 2009. China stands as the unchallenged largest trading partner of Africa. On the back of robust trade, Chinese goods, in greater quantity and with better quality, are welcomed by African people; more and more African specialty goods have been made available to Chinese consumers. Resource commodities from Africa have secured a stable market and higher prices.
With respect to investment, China’s direct investment in Africa had reached $14.7 billion by the end of 2011, up 60 percent from 2009. While the number of investment projects in energy, mining, construction and manufacturing keeps growing, collaboration on finance, aviation, agriculture and tourism has also boomed. More than 2,000 Chinese companies have invested in Africa. In the process, they have not only helped diversify the African economy, and contributed to local tax revenue and job creation, but also found a promising land for their overseas expansion.
In the area of project contracting, Africa has become China’s second largest overseas market. In 2011, the business turnover of Chinese contractors in Africa grew by 28 percent in 2009 to $36.1 billion, accounting for 30 percent of China’s total turnover in overseas markets. The inflow of capital, equipment and technology from China has helped cut cost and steadily improve infrastructure in African countries.
In terms of development assistance, China increased its aid to Africa by more than 60 percent from 2009 to 2011. China built a large number of welfare projects, including schools, water supply and clean energy projects, and trained more than 20,000 personnel in various fields for Africa over the three year period. These programs, tailor-made to meet the needs of African countries, focus on enhancing the welfare of the local people. They are promptly implemented without any political strings attached, contributing to the realization of the Millennium Development Goals in Africa. They are testimony to the friendship between the Chinese and African people.
In the second decade of the 21st century, trade and economic cooperation between China and Africa, while keeping a momentum of robust growth, finds itself standing at a new starting point. Against the backdrop of sluggish world economic recovery and difficulties in reshaping the global economic governance regime, China and Africa face unprecedented challenges in their next step of development. Due to structural imbalances, the complementarity in China-Africa economic cooperation and trade has yet to be realized and much potential left to be further tapped into.
Nevertheless, as developing countries, China and African countries have all managed to keep relatively fast economic growth and enjoyed good prospects. Adequate capital, a strong industrial basis, and sophisticated technologies and equipment of China can be seamlessly matched with Africa’s advantages in resources, markets and labor costs. As China and Africa both need to restructure our economies and transform our growth patterns, there is a pressing need and great potential for the two sides to collaborate on industrial relocation. Africa’s economic integration initiative creates even more opportunities for cooperation with China on a larger scale and at a higher level. In the reform of the global economic governance system, both sides are committed to the principle of active engagement, cooperation and solidarity. China and Africa are spotting new and greater opportunities in our economic cooperation.
The upcoming Fifth Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC will surely usher in a new era of China-Africa trade and economic cooperation. China will adhere to the philosophy and principle of “equality and mutual benefit, cooperation and win-win, and common development”, restructure and upgrade bilateral trade and economic cooperation, strengthen the bond and broaden the basis of shared interests with Africa to solve the “growing pains”. The two sides will work together to tackle external challenges and inject new vitality to the intensified South-South cooperation.
– Reinvent ways of cooperation to enhance the role of Chinese and African economies in the global value and industrial chain. We will continue to expand investment cooperation with Africa, and migrate to Africa industrial chains with which China enjoys a comparative edge, so as to extend the value-added chain for “Made in Africa” products and create more job opportunities for African people. We will deepen cooperation with Africa on infrastructure development to cover pre- and post-construction stages from planning and design to operation and management. With these efforts, we seek to upgrade our bilateral cooperation in quality and efficiency, turn Africa’s potential into development strengths, and share the benefits of the relocation of the global industrial chain.
– Expand scope of cooperation to locate new areas of growth for all-round China-Africa cooperation. We support the two sides to strengthen cooperation on deep resource processing, agricultural development and manufacturing, and explore opportunities for cooperation in finance, commerce, logistics and aviation to create synergy in a wide range of industries. We will actively engage with Africa in its integration initiative by encouraging competent Chinese companies and financial institutions to participate in cross boarder and inter-regional infrastructure projects in Africa, enhance exchange and cooperation between the two sides on regional trade facilitation in Africa, and gradually establish a comprehensive, diversified and multi-layered China-Africa trade and economic cooperation system.
– Focus on improving people’s welfare, and support African countries’ efforts in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. China will remain committed to deepening South-South cooperation, and continue to provide aid to African countries to the best of our capabilities, with a focus on areas that most affect people’s welfare such as the introduction and use of agricultural technologies, healthcare and drinking water. We will also provide more support in such fields as human resources development, vocational training and environmental protection. These efforts are aimed at helping African countries improve their development capabilities and enable African people to benefit more from China’s development assistance to Africa.
– Foster a sound environment and facilitate cooperation between more Chinese and African businesses. We will work to see more investment protection agreements and double taxation avoidance agreements signed and have the existing ones well implemented, and enhance cooperation on consular protection. We will promote more experience and knowledge sharing with our African counterparts in areas including development concept, policies, laws and regulations, and industrial park development. We will encourage companies to fulfill their social responsibilities and pay greater attention to environmental protection and project sustainability. The function of the China-Africa Business Conference and the chambers of commerce of both China and African countries will be fully utilized to provide trade and investment promotion services. We will create a fair, transparent, safe and convenient business and investment environment for Chinese and African companies.
– Support African countries’ positions and safeguard the common interests of developing countries. We will further strengthen coordination with African countries in promoting the establishment of an open and free global trading system. We support African countries’ positions in the Doha Round of negotiations to protect their own interests. We will work together with African countries so that the Doha Round can achieve substantive results in areas of the greatest concern to developing countries, especially least developed countries, and realize early harvest.
Twelve years ago, China and African countries together launched the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which unveiled a brand new page in China-Africa trade and economic cooperation. Today, China will continue working with African countries to consolidate the Forum’s achievements, seize development opportunities, identify breakthrough points for mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation, promote the comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development of China-Africa trade and economic cooperation, further substantiate the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership, and contribute to the economic development of both China and African countries as well as global economic recovery.
*The author is the minister of commerce of China and the honorary co-chair of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of the FOCAC.Piece originally published at chinadaily.com.cn
Building Systems That Change Lives in Rwanda
July 21, 2012 | 0 Comments
By Valerie Alexander *
I spent yesterday and today traveling with President Clinton through Rwanda, a country he first visited in 1998, as president. I was honored to join him on his fourth trip to the country, and to learn of the dramatic change that’s taken place here since that first visit 14 years ago. In Rwanda we see the good that can come when people are given the investment and opportunity they need to secure their own futures – when people’s hard work and good efforts are rewarded with strong systems that yield strong outcomes.
In 1998, Rwanda’s per-capita income was about $268 per year. Today it’s about $1,300 per year – almost a fivefold increase. The country is building stronger systems, and in turn, a culture around the predictability of good results for good efforts.
We can see the success of these efforts in the Clinton Foundation projects we visited yesterday and today, and in the people we’ve met whose lives have been measurably improved by the Foundation’s programs and by the work of our friends and partners.
At the new Butaro Cancer Center in Northern Rwanda, we met local doctors and staff who are not only the sole providers of cancer treatments in the region but also the most innovative. They are building the health infrastructure that’s needed to sustain quality care in the region long into the future. We also met mothers and children who will have futures because of this work – and who will return to their communities to lead healthy, productive lives. I can’t think of an experience more meaningful than meeting people whose lives have been saved or changed by the work we do.
Today we stopped in Kigali to learn about the Human Resources for Health (HRH) program – which is addressing a critical shortage of health workers in Rwanda not by staffing clinics and hospitals with foreign specialists, but by building a local, sustainable education system, in partnership with 13 top-ranked U.S. schools. Currently, Rwanda has only 633 physicians for a population of over 10 million people.
Also in Kigali, we visited the Mount Meru Soyco factory, which is currently under construction. We met with local farmers who will benefit from the agribusiness project through our Clinton Hunter Development Initiative. The lush green landscape – the backdrop to the newly erected steel beams – will become the permanent home for a fully
functioning processing facility soon. And that was an overwhelming sight. Through a translator, I asked a farmer who also serves as president of one of the local cooperatives, what this project means to him and to his family. His wide smile needed no translation. What is taking place is truly a game changer.
I see these projects in photo and video every day. I work alongside our local staff and write about the dramatic impact we’re having on the ground – yet none of that compares to seeing the work firsthand, or meeting the people whose lives have been impacted by our programs. In my official capacity on staff, I have the privilege of communicating the Foundation’s great work to people the world over. Yet over this past week, people have been communicating the Foundation’s great work to me.
* Source www.clintonfoundation.org
The business case for greater integration in Africa
July 20, 2012 | 0 Comments
By Denis Worrall*
The case for investing in Africa has never been easy, and it is not an easy case now. But the fact is that there is a much better understanding of Africa’s diversity and Africa’s circumstances. It is not just seen as one homogenous continent.
There are after all 54 independent countries in Africa and all of them are different, all of them aspire for recognition, all of them want to attract foreign investment, foreign tourists and foreign business. And one further observation. Whereas ten years ago South Africa was the gateway to Africa, with Johannesburg as the equivalent of “the big apple” that New York is to the US, that has changed. Nairobi, Lagos, and Abidjan are as important as Johannesburg in coming into Africa.
Africa’s overall expected growth this year at 5.5% is obviously very impressive compared to the sickly European economy and even the US. The main reasons for Africa’s growth is that it is a source of natural resources and that the price and demand for natural resources has been strongly driven by China and other major developing countries’ phenomenal growth.
The second reason is the quality of Africa’s macro-economic management – which has improved dramatically, as has the quality of economic leadership in African governments. And another explanation for this sustained growth has been that debt levels have been low in Africa.
But for all these reasons, there is no doubt that perceptions of Africa have changed, and with those perceptions is an increasing investment and business appetite. To quote Donald Gips, US ambassador to South Africa: “This rising prosperity in Africa will open new markets for American goods and create jobs in both regions. More and more people understand that the 21st century will be the African century.”
While a strong case can be made for Africa’s changing perceptions in the world and its enhanced economic performance, the fact is that one critical need in Africa is for greater regional integration. In fact Ernst & Young in their excellent Africa report for 2012 Reaching Out concluded that the single biggest priority as far as Africa is concerned over the next decade should be the acceleration of the regional integration process. It goes on to say that: “Simply put, if this process does not intensify, Africa will remain structurally marginalised in the global economy and African countries will struggle to attract a greater share of foreign investment.”
African integration is needed for some obvious reasons:
- To foster inter-African regional trade and manufacturing.
- To encourage infrastructural projects of scale between different countries.
- To facilitate investment of scale across borders; and
- Generally to project a more inviting image to the world and to international investors.
In building regionalism it is not a case of starting from scratch. A regional integration process has been on the agenda for many years. The 1991 Abuja Treaty divided the continent into five regional areas. North Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa, East Africa and Central Africa. This was in preparation for establishing the combined African Economic Community (AEC) in six phases over thirty-four years. The ultimate result ambitiously envisaged would be an economic union with a common currency, full mobility of factors of production and free trade among all countries on the continent. Achieving something like the EU was obviously very ambitious; and while some progress has been made in creating regional blocs, much more needs to be done.
Incidentally, the most advanced regional economic community is the East African Community, which includes Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, with Burundi and Rwanda joining in 2007 to complete its current membership of five countries. The East African Community has established its own customs union, a common market, and according to reports good progress has been made towards implementing the free movement of labour, capital goods and services. This therefore is a market of close to 150 million people, with a combined GDP approaching US$100 billion and an economic growth rate in excess of 6% over the past decades.
The East African Community therefore sets a standard that challenges other regions in Africa. But much more can be done with bilateral agreements between different countries. In this way, the foreign investor interest in Africa will significantly increase.
* http://www.howwemadeitinafrica.com .Source Denis Worrall is the chairman of Omega Investment Research. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Zuma warns on Africa’s trade ties to China
July 20, 2012 | 0 Comments
By Leslie Hook*
BEIJING — South African President Jacob Zuma warned Thursday that the unbalanced nature of Africa’s burgeoning trade ties with China is “unsustainable” in the long term.
The South African leader was addressing the China-Africa Forum in Beijing just after China’s president pledged $20 billion in loans to Africa, doubling the amount Beijing agreed to give the continent three years ago at the same forum.
“Africa’s commitment to China’s development has been demonstrated by supply of raw materials, other products and technology transfer,” Zuma said. “This trade pattern is unsustainable in the long term. Africa’s past economic experience with Europe dictates a need to be cautious when entering into partnerships with other economies.”
Zuma appeared to be referring to the concerns of some African nations about the unbalanced nature of the trade relationship. Two-way trade between China and Africa hit $166 billion last year, with a trade surplus in Africa’s favor due to exports of raw materials such as crude oil and copper. China is a major exporter of cheap manufactured goods to Africa, such as electronics and clothes.
Critics have accused China of taking a neo-colonialist approach to the continent and of exploiting Africa’s natural resources. Many African nations want China to import more than just resources.
China sees Africa as a strategic ally and has pushed for expanded African roles at the United Nations, while encouraging Chinese infrastructure and resources companies to invest in the continent.
China’s investment in Africa — estimated at $15 billion over the past decade — is growing rapidly, and Chinese companies are building infrastructure across the continent, from dams and airports to mines and wind farms. On Wednesday, Nigeria announced the signing of a $1.5 billion railroad project to be built by the state-owned China Civil Engineering Construction Corp.
While he hinted at potential long-term trade issues, Zuma spent much of his speech, which was made in the presence of Hu Jintao, China’s president, praising China’s “steadfast” commitment to Africa. That commitment, he said, “has already been demonstrated with concrete and tangible results particularly in terms of human resources development, debt relief and investment.”
The two nations have close ties, and South Africa joined the “BRIC” group of developing countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China — last year. South Africa has also attracted significant Chinese investment as it seeks to market itself as the gateway to other African countries.
China introduced several measures this week to help rebalance trade ties, including zero tariffs for an expanded range of African products. Beijing also pledged to hold more trade expos to display African merchandise.
Although Chinese companies have invested heavily in Africa, they have not always had a smooth experience. One of the low points came in 2010 when a Chinese mining boss in Zambia shot nearly a dozen local miners during a riot.
Chinese companies have also been caught up in the recent maelstrom of political changes in North Africa, with more than $4 billion worth of projects suspended in Libya after the fall of Moammar Gaddafi and the kidnapping of 29 Chinese workers in Sudan earlier this year.
The triennial China-Africa Forum hosts heads of state and ministers from more than 40 African countries and is a “pageant of China-Africa friendship and unity,” as one Chinese state-run paper put it.
In addition to the $20 billion loan commitment over the next three years, China also vowed to focus on cooperation in agriculture, infrastructure, cultural exchanges and more scholarships for African students to study in China. Chinese scholars say China’s aid to Africa is not mercenary, but instead motivated by historic ties.
“China regained its seat in the United Nations with the help of African countries,” said Zhang Haibin, an Africa expert at the Shanghai Institute for African Studies. “We cannot forget our old friends.”
That certainly seemed to be the case on Thursday, judging from the pomp and ceremony on display at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The normally stoic Hu was effusive in his welcoming speech to the forum Thursday morning.
“Forever we will be the good friends, partners and brothers of Africa,” he said. “We deeply thank the men and women of Africa for their support of China in its development.”
Gwen Chen in Beijing and Andrew England in Johannesburg contributed to this report.
*Source Washington Post
US Senate panel okays renewal of Africa clothing trade benefit
July 19, 2012 | 0 Comments
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Finance Committee voted on Wednesday to renew an expiring trade benefit that has helped create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the African clothing industry over the past industry.
“A timely extension of this provision will help stem the tide of job losses in Africa and it will ensure that U.S. retailers will have the certainty they need to help their businesses succeed and grow,” Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, said.
The landmark African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), first passed by Congress in 2000, allows eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa to ship thousands of goods to the United States without paying import duties.
A provision that expires September 30 waives duties on clothing from most AGOA countries, even if the yarn or fabric is made in another country such as China, South Korea or Vietnam.
President Barack Obama’s administration had hoped to win renewal of the provision ahead of an annual forum with AGOA beneficiary countries in June.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said at that event the delay was already hurting African producers because clothing importers place their orders months in advance. He promised Obama would sign a bill as soon as it reached his desk.
Supporters hope Congress will pass the bill before the month-long August recess.