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South Africa in Africa: the dilemmas of foreign policy and human rights

30 Sep 2016 02:30:02 GMT

The Centre for Confl ict Resolution (CCR), Cape Town, South Africa, and the Johannesburg-based Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) hosted two public dialogues in Cape Town, one on 11 April 2016 on “South Africa in Africa: National Interest Versus Human Rights?”, and another on 30 June 2016 on “South Africa in Southern Africa: ‘Good Governance’ Versus Regional Solidarity?” Both events were held at the Centre for the Book in Cape Town.

The main focus of the public dialogue “South Africa in Africa: National Interest Versus Human Rights?” was to discuss South Africa’s obligations to the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) generally, and its specific obligations towards arresting Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes by the ICC. Following the adoption by the United Nations (UN) Security Council of resolution 1593 in March 2005, several investigations resulted in two warrants being issued by the ICC for the arrest of al-Bashir in March 2009 for war crimes, and, in July 2010, relating to charges of genocide, both committed in Sudan’s Darfur region.

The following four key recommendations emerged from the two public dialogues:

  • African and other governments need to work closely with the UN and the ICC to sequence the administration of justice in cases such as Sudan in ways that do not undermine the pursuit and consolidation of peace
  • the South African government should not lose sight of its domestic human rights challenges, particularly in relation to violence, crime, and xenophobia; and Tshwane should give these problems as much priority as its outward-looking foreign policy
  • South Africa, through SADC, should put in place a five-year implementation plan for greater regional industrialisation projects that build strong partnerships to promote socio-economic development and reduce human rights abuses
  • Southern African governments must honour their commitments enshrined in SADC, the AU, the UN, and other international legal documents to promote human rights more effectively across the sub-region



Policy briefing: SMEs and GVCs in the G20: implications for Africa and developing countries

09 Sep 2016 02:28:34 GMT

Increasing the participation of developing countries in global value chains (GVCs) is now an accepted G20 priority. However, there is disagreement over how multinational corporations (MNCs), which drive GVCs, can be persuaded to incorporate small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from developing countries into the GVCs they co-ordinate. The choices range from conscious industrial strategies oriented towards coercive measures designed to force MNCs to integrate SMEs into their value chains, to facilitative approaches designed to attract MNCs to invest and, over time, incorporate domestic suppliers into their value chains.

Nonetheless, there is consensus on the key constraints that inhibit the growth of SMEs in general, and their inclusion into GVCs in particular: transaction costs; access to network infrastructure; and the capacity of firms and supporting institutional arrangements. Accordingly, this brief offer a high-level framework of recommendations for G20 states’ consideration.

Recommendations:

  • transaction cost reductions: G20 states should support the ratification and implementation of the WTO TFA and capacity-building initiatives in African countries designed to help their SMEs access logistics supply chains and the host states to reduce regulatory compliance costs; and task the Financial Services Board with investigating ways to reduce trade finance costs for SMEs
  • network infrastructure establishment: Building on the outcomes of the Brisbane summit, development partners should leverage Aid for Trade and broader external funding support for infrastructure development in Africa
  • capacity to participate in GVCs: G20 states should build support mechanisms to assist African SMEs, particularly medium-sized companies with the capacity to export, to integrate into GVCs, such as helping them to build capacities to meet international standards. Support for SME representative institutions, to enable their participation in international economic governance forums, should also be prioritised



SMEs and GVCs in the G20 implications for Africa and developing countries

09 Sep 2016 02:15:15 GMT

Increasing the participation of developing countries in global value chains (GVCs) is now an accepted G20 priority that features prominently on the Chinese government’s agenda for the 2016 summit. However, there is disagreement over a simple question: how can multinational corporations (MNCs), which drive GVCs, be persuaded to incorporate small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from developing countries into the GVCs they co-ordinate?

The debate over this question is first explored in broad outline. It comes down to a decision by each country on whether it wishes to utilise GVCs in its growth strategy and, if so, what measures it wishes to adopt to promote the incorporation of its firms into MNCs’ GVCs. The choice ranges from conscious industrial strategies oriented towards coercive measures designed to force MNCs to integrate SMEs into their value chains, to facilitative approaches designed to attract MNCs to invest and, over time, incorporate domestic suppliers into their value chains where it makes business sense to do so.

Next the paper turns to the analyses and prescriptions being proffered by key international institutions in relation to the evolving G20 agenda on including SMEs in GVCs. What clearly emerges is consensus on a number of key constraints that inhibit the growth of SMEs in general and their inclusion into GVCs in particular. These can be summarised in three broad areas:

  • transaction costs (import tariffs; border procedures; logistics; trade finance)
  • network infrastructure (information and communications technology [ICT]; transport; energy); and
  • capacity (of firms, to meet GVCs’ standards; and of supporting government institutions)

 




Exploring the determinants of welfare distribution in Tunisia and Egypt using a welfare generation model

08 Sep 2016 11:59:54 GMT

The Tunisian revolution quickly sparked a wave of major uprisings in the region, starting from Egypt and spreading to other countries, such as Libya and Syria among others. Not surprisingly, the fuel of uprisings in these countries finds its main sources in inequality, in its various dimensions. Still, inequality patterns in the region are also different.

Countries such as Morocco and Tuni sia show relatively high inequality levels, while others, such as Egypt, show moderate to low inequality levels. Despite this, little is known about the sources of the differences in household welfare distribution across the MENA region countries.
 
The present paper intends to identify the main driving factors of the distribution of welfare in Tunisia and Egypt. The authors present a regression-based method to compare the labour market and demographic characteristics in both countries, as well as their impact on the distribution of consumption expenditures. For this, they develop a welfare generation model to generate estimates for the contribution of different demographics and labour characteristics for each country to welfare. This allows the authors to capture differences in both returns in employment and demographic characteristics. This paper presents the welfare generation model and its estimation results. These suggest that the most relevant factors in explaining the distribution of welfare are similar in Tunisia and Egypt. Some specific characteristics, such as education and regional characteristics have a different impact in each country.





Climate change adaptation and resilience in Africa: recommendations to policymakers

06 Sep 2016 12:02:22 GMT

The principal objective of this advisory booklet is to assess the status and make recommendations that African governments should consider when dealing with climate change and resilience in Africa. Through the cooperation between NASAC and the German National Academy Leopoldina, top African scientists with expertise on this topic agreed to look at the adaptation question using both geographical and sectoral lenses. The consultative process included a joint workshop with the Cameroon Academy of Sciences supported by the Cameroonian Ministry of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development, the Pan-African Parliamentarians Network on Climate Change and the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance.

This policymakers'€™ booklet focuses on why climate change adaptation and resilience is crucial for Africa. It further elaborates, through key messages, how climate change impact can be addressed through targeted policy actions and interventions specific to water, agriculture and food security, fisheries, coastal and urban zones, and human health. Adaptation to climate change remains a key concern and priority of all NASAC stakeholders from governments and policymakers to scientists and civil society; regional and international organisations. It is, therefore, our hope that the implementation of the proposed actions will specifically provide Africa’s policymakers with a platform to work together to enhance climate change adaptation capacities and thus improving the resilience of people within the continent.




Effects of climate change on the social & environmental determinants of health in Africa: what can communities do to strengthen their climate resilience

31 Aug 2016 10:55:08 GMT

The highest burden per capita of climate-sensitive diseases such as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoeal diseases and malnutrition is found in the African region. These diseases already represent the main cause of death among children under five in Africa, 6 and climate change is expected to cause an overall net increase in the risk of such diseases.

In this paper, the authors present current evidence on how climate change impacts on social and environmental determinants of health and the link between these determinants and the vulnerability of local communities. They outline proven community-based interventions that local populations in developing countries can scale-up and take ownership of in order to strengthen their resilience to climate-sensitive diseases and conditions, including in the context of climate-induced disasters. Furthermore, this paper serves as a guide for countries to develop community-based Health Adaptation Programmes to climate change (c-HAPs).



Tools and tactics for the LGBTI community in the Middle-East and North Africa | security in-a-box

24 Aug 2016 12:14:42 GMT

Tactical Tech have created a guide: Tools and Tactics for the LGBTI community in the Middle-East and North Africa (MENA). This is the first in the series of Security in-a-box Community Focus guides, which aim to further integrate digital security into the context of particular communities and human rights defenders.

This guide was created specifically for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual and Intersex individuals and human rights defenders in the MENA region, and was written in collaboration with human rights defenders from the community. The guide was written and published in the context of continuous and determined legal, religious, social, economic and digital marginalisation and harassment of the LGBTI community in most of the region.

The guide explores common threats, such as entrapment, extortion, harassment, and unauthorised access to devices and then links to the tools and tactics which can help LGBTI persons in the MENA region to stay safe.

The guide includes all the existing chapters of the Security in-a-Box toolkit (created in collaboration with Frontline Defenders), as well as testimonies of human rights defenders from the community, examples and accounts of attacks, and additional chapters on Risk Analysis and Safer Use of Internet Cafes and LGBTI dating sites.




Supporting Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex human rights defenders in the digital age

24 Aug 2016 02:55:58 GMT

The widespread diffusion of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) has empowered activists and minority communities to spread information, campaign, build communities and challenge injustice in new and powerful ways. The LGBTI activist community has been no exception to this, as the increased potential for communication beyond established social channels, less confined by social norms and geographic isolation has facilitated LGBTI people’s expression and development of identity and ability to join forces to challenge the dangers and injustices faced by the community. 

However, the spread of ICTs have also created new opportunities for antagonists to subject human rights defenders’ to entrapment, control, intimidation and harassment. This has led to the need for an awarenessraising and capacity-building effort in order to strengthen Human Rights Defenders’ (HRDs) capacities to react against emerging threats to their wellbeing from the digital space. Over the past decade, Tactical Technology Collective (Tactical Tech) has been at the forefront of this movement. Working with actors in the field of Human Rights, including Front Line Defenders, Tactical Tech’s effort has spawned the development of a range of toolkits and guides, awareness-raising and training initiatives in order to build capacities among HRDs in terms of their wellbeing, the security of their communities and the safeguarding of their information and privacy. 
 
This article details the development and content of the first such materials to be developed with this in mind – a digital security guide for the Arabic-speaking LGBTI community – the first version of which was launched in September of 2013



Developing beans that can beat the heat

23 Aug 2016 10:51:15 GMT

In Africa and Latin America, the production of beans ( Phaseolus vulgaris ) is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts, which include higher temperatures and more frequent drought. Within the last 15 years, CGIAR researchers have registered key advances -€“ particularly the development of drought-tolerant and disease-resistant varieties -€“ that will help make production more resilient in the face of future threats.

Just within the last few years, however, climate modeling has suggested that, over the next several decades, higher temperatures will become the primary threat to bean production. According to recent projections, the area suited for this crop in eastern and central Africa could shrink up to 50% by 2050. Affecting mainly lowland areas, heat stress will pose a particularly serious problem for bean crops in Malawi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo), followed by Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya. Across Latin America, the situation is also dire. Bean production in Nicaragua, Haiti, Brazil, and Honduras, as well as Guatemala and Mexico, would be most impacted.

In response to this concern, CIAT researchers have recently identified elite lines that show strong tolerance to temperatures 4°C higher than the range that beans can normally tolerate. Many of these lines come from wide crosses between common and tepary beans ( Phaseolus acutifolius ), a species originating in the arid US Southwest and northwestern Mexico. This document reports findings from research conducted over the last year, which confirm heat tolerance in selected bean lines and show their potential for adapting bean production in Africa and Latin America to future climate change impacts.




Witness protection: facilitating justice for complex crimes

18 Aug 2016 03:43:52 GMT

Responding appropriately to complex transnational and international crimes requires a multifaceted approach that includes a robust criminal justice response. Witness testimony is a crucial part of this. Witnesses, and often their family members, can face significant danger given their crucial role in obtaining a conviction. Africa has seen situations where witness intimidation and harm have led to case dismissals and acquittals. Ultimately, justice fails in these circumstances. Obstacles such as insufficient funding, shortage of skills and weak political will must be addressed.

Recommendations:

  • Governments should promote greater understanding of the pivotal role of witness protection services among policymakers and legislators in governments, where such services do not exist
  • Governments should undertake costing exercises to provide legislators with an understanding of the cost implications for envisaged new witness protection services, and to allocate adequate annual budgets
  • Governments should pass domestic witness protection legislation to create independent witness protection services that
    can address the needs of witnesses in a holistic way
  • Governments should seek technical support from experienced external organisations and other governments to design witness protection legislation and systems
    Governments should explore the range of approaches to managing the costs of witness protection, e.g. incremental implementation of services and prioritising witness protection based on the level of the potential threat



Does less engaged mean less empowered? Political participation lags among African youth, especially women

18 Aug 2016 03:34:19 GMT

The African Union (AU) Assembly declared 2009 - 2018 the "African Youth Decade" and released an action plan to promote youth empowerment and development throughout the continent, including by raising young citizens' representation and participation in political processes. The latest results from Afrobarometer surveys in 36 countries reveal a wide gap between the aspirations set forth in the AU policy framework and the reality of youth political engagement in Africa today. The data show that African governments and development partners have considerable work to do to achieve the goal of increased civic and political participation among youth, particularly young women. African youth (aged 18-35) report lower rates of political engagement than their elders across a variety of indicators, including voting in national elections. Young citizens are also less likely to engage in civic activities such as attending community meetings and joining others to raise an issue. While these findings are consistent with research on age differences in voter turnout in advanced democracies, the survey further finds that youth engagement levels have declined over time despite the introduction of regional and national youth empowerment policies. Key findings:political engagement is generally lower among African youth than among their elders, particularly in terms of voting. Two-thirds (65%) of 18- to 35–year-old respondents who were old enough to vote in the last national election say they did so, compared to 79% of citizens above age 35slightly more than half (53%) of African youth report being “very” or “somewhat” interested in public affairs, while two-thirds (67%) say they discuss politics with friends or family at least “occasionally.” Compared to their male counterparts, young women report significantly less interest (48% vs. 60%) and discussion (61% vs. 74%)attendance at campaign rallies is the most popular form of pre-electoral engagement among young Africans: One-third (33%) say they attended at least one in the previous year, compared to 37% of older citizens. The gender gap in participation in rallies averages 10 percentage points and is largest in East Africa (14 points) and West Africa (13 points)African youth are less likely than their elders to participate in civic activities: Less than half (47%) of 18- to 35–year-olds say they attended community meetings at least once during the previous year, while 40% joined others to raise an issue (vs. 57% and 47% for older citizens). Young women’s participation also lags behind that of their male peers on these measures of civic activism (by 9 percentage points, on average), particularly in West Africa and North Africa (both by 14 percentage points)not quite half (48%) of youth say they contacted political or community leaders during the previous year to discuss an important issue, with lower reported engagement levels among young women than men (43% vs. 53%)youth participation in demonstrations and protest marches is lower than in more conventional forms of civic and political engagement, but higher than among their elders: 11% of young survey respondents say they attended at least one protest in the previous year (vs. 8% older citizens). Again, women report lower participation levels than their male peers (8% vs. 13%)comparison over time in 16 countries shows that youth engagement levels have declined since 2005/2006 across most of these indicators, particularly interest in public affairs and measures of civic activism (both by 9 percentage points)[...]



Low social and political returns to education in the Arab World

18 Aug 2016 02:26:48 GMT

The policy discussion in the Arab world has rarely focused on the social and political returns of education, areas of keen interest in more democratic countries. This is unfortunate. The evidence uncovered in the author's recent research, and summarised here, is that the social and political returns to education are in fact much lower in the Arab world than in the rest of the world – in other words, educated Arabs are much less emancipated by their education on political and social values compared to their global peers. This means that unless policymakers start focusing on reforming the type of education Arab youth receive, it will remain difficult to foster more open societies in the Arab world.

Arab societies urgently need to start looking at how to improve education systems, not just in ways to improve the marketability of individuals, but as importantly, to improve their social and political impact on society, such as by strengthening a sense of community, beefing up values of civic engagement, inculcating democratic prin - ciples, supporting gender equality, and promoting social tolerance.




The African Union: regional and global challenges

18 Aug 2016 01:38:08 GMT

The Centre for Confl ict Resolution (CCR), Cape Town, South Africa, hosted a three-day policy research seminar in Cape Town, from 27 to 29 April 2016, on the theme “The African Union: Regional and Global Challenges”.The meeting was convened with about 30 prominent African, Asian, and Western policymakers, scholars, and civil society actors to reflect critically on the historical mission, achievements, challenges, and prospects of the African Union (AU) in a changing regional and global environment.The following 10 key policy recommendations emerged from the Cape Town policy seminar:the AU Commission should engage more strategically with African civil society, think tanks, the private sector, and the philanthropic sector in order to implement its mandate more effectively. There is an urgent need to revisit Adebayo Adedeji’s 2007 five-year review of the AU Commission in order to implement its main findings on reforming the AU’s institutions and accelerating regional integration and economic development efforts in Africa. Key parts of the 2013 Olusegun Obasanjo Report on alternative sources of funding for the AU should also be implemented to ensure a sustainable source of future financingthere is an urgent need to sanction non-performing AU staff members and to implement results-based management at the AU Commission in Addis Ababa. Recruitment, retention, and training of personnel should be greatly improved. There is also a need for better coordination between the AU’s Department of Political Affairs and its Peace and Security Department. The AU Commission must further strengthen its administrative and financial management capacity to be able to absorb and manage donor fundsthe AU’s continental early warning system needs greater coordination with the mechanisms of sub-regional bodies such as IGAD, ECOWAS, and SADC. Furthermore, African leaders must provide greater financial and political support to the APRM, strengthening its capacity and restoring its previous consistent fundingthere is an urgent need to create institutionalised mechanisms for regular consultation and coordination between the AU’s Peace and Security Council and the organs of the RECs; this must include the increased participation of civil society and parliaments in decision-making to promote greater synergy and complementarity between the policies and initiatives of the AU and the RECs in this arearegional integration in Africa should take into account the configuration of interests in member states, and put in place mechanisms to compensate groups that may lose out from integration. There is an urgent need to cultivate a national entrepreneurial class to drive socio-economic development across Africa. The continent also needs more “Afrocrats” – young, highly competent officials with a strong commitment to Pan-Africanism, similar to many of the EU’s “Eurocrats”the AU needs to rationalise relations between the RECs and the African Economic Community in light of the multiple membership of the former. It might also be necessary to create a smaller grouping of African states in which conditions for entry involve sound economic and political performance, resulting in greater aid and investment for its membersin line with the Common African Position devised by the AU, five key principles should underpin relations between the AU and the UN: promotion of collective security in the context of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter; support for African ownership and priority-setting; fostering a partnership on the basis of consultative decision-making, division of labour, and burden-sharing; mutual respect and adherence to the principle of comparative advantage; and establishment of a division of labour underpinned by the conc[...]



The State of Biodiversity in West Asia: a mid-term review of progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets

16 Aug 2016 04:17:22 GMT

Global Biodiversity Outlook-4 (GBO-4), the mid-term review of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 , published by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), provides a global assessment of progress towards the attainment of the Plan’s biodiversity goals and associated twenty Aichi Biodiversity Targets, but contains limited regional information.

This second edition of the State of Biodiversity in West Asia report builds on and complements the global GBO-4 assessment, serving as a near mid-term review of progress towards the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 for the West Asia region specifically. This report draws on a set of regional indicators, information from fifth national reports to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), other government reports, case studies and published literature, to provide a target by target review of progress towards the twenty Aichi Biodiversity Targets. As much as possible, global indicators for the Aichi Biodiversity Targets have been broken down to regional level and additional analyses of existing global information have been undertaken.

The key messages about the state of biodiversity in West Asia, and the pressures upon it, which have emerged from this assessment are:

  • available biodiversity and ecosystem service information for the region is limited, which has made the reporting task challenging, and in many cases data are too poor and fragmentary to allow robust conclusions
  • the major drivers of biodiversity decline have seen a rapid increase, including urban expansion, the spread of intensive agricultural systems and cultivation of marginal land resulting from considerable population growth. Such changes necessitate reliance on resources imported from elsewhere in the world, meaning that West Asia’s ecological footprint is growing sharply and now exceeds the global average
  • the volatile political situation in parts of the region means  conservation work has been unable to proceed in the countries or areas experiencing significant internal and international conflicts and political instability in recent years
  • protected areas networks in West Asia are limited in both coverage and management effectiveness
  • wildlife crime linked to hunting is a continuing problem with ineffective enforcement of regulations and legislation
  • water scarcity, driven by rapidly rising demand, is threatening the survival of the region’s wetland habitats
  • multiple anthropogenic and climatic pressures are interacting to threaten the integrity of marine ecosystems
  • the region is likely to be one of the hardest hit by the direct and indirect impacts of climate change such as sea level rise, sea temperature rise, increasing water scarcity and ground water salinity, and desertification



The State of Biodiversity in Africa: a mid-term review of progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets

16 Aug 2016 04:05:56 GMT

Global Biodiversity Outlook-4, the mid-term review of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 , provided a global assessment of progress towards the attainment of the Plan'€™s global biodiversity goals and associated Aichi Biodiversity Targets, but contained limited regional information. This report builds on and complements the global GBO-4 assessment. It is the second edition of the State of Biodiversity in Africa report and serves as a near mid-term review of progress towards the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 for the African region.

This report draws on a set of regional indicators, information from fifth national reports to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), other government reports, case studies and published literature, to provide a target by target review of progress towards the twenty Aichi Biodiversity Targets. As much as possible, global indicators for Aichi Biodiversity Targets have been broken down to regional level and some additional analyses of existing global information have been undertaken. However, limitations in data have meant that some datasets which do not extend past 2011 have been included to illustrate that relevant information exists, but that further efforts to update this information.

The key messages about the state of biodiversity in Africa, and the pressures upon it, which have emerged from this assessment are:
  • overall, biodiversity in Africa continues to decline, with ongoing losses of species and habitats
  • ongoing loss of biodiversity in Africa is driven by a combination of human-induced factors
  • Africa’s freshwater ecosystems and their biodiversity are especially threatened
  • Africa continues to experience deforestation and forest degradation
  • the negative impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems are exacerbating the effects of all these pressures
  • nonetheless the report identifies a number of important responses which have taken place since 2011
  • African countries are working collaboratively to address particular Aichi Biodiversity Targets
  • there is a growing portfolio of international support for African countries to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets
  • African countries are using ecosystem service valuation and investment in REDD+ to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets
  • many African countries have already achieved their 17% terrestrial protected area targets, and many others are working towards this target on land, as well as on the 10% marine protected areas target on the sea
  • Africa is making increasing use of ecosystem-based conservation and restoration of natural resources



The state of governance in Africa: what indices tell us

21 Jul 2016 11:53:54 GMT

Governance is notoriously difficult to measure – yet numerous global indices attempt to do so. This paper tracks the governance progress of 52 African countries through various indices. A total of 17 of these states have undergone a holistic governance review by the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). Another 17 have joined the APRM, but have not yet been reviewed. The remaining 18 are not members and thus are used as independent variables to determine whether the APRM makes a difference.

Since the APRM does not provide ratings or rankings in its reports, this paper uses data from the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance to track progress (or lack thereof) between 2003 (when the APRM was established) and 2015 (the most recent set of data available at the time of writing). Supporting data from Freedom House’s Freedom in the World Index, The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index and the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index is used where necessary.

Arguably, by voluntarily acceding to and undergoing the review, APRM member states have demonstrated the necessary political will to reform. How have they fared since the year of inception of the APRM? The paper concludes that overall, APRM members have performed better than non-members. But whether a state has actually undergone the APRM review or merely joined the mechanism does not seem to make much of a difference. Progress has also often been mixed, and economic achievements have sometimes come at the expense of political freedoms.




Demographic changes and fiscal policy in MENA countries

21 Jul 2016 02:50:43 GMT

Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region countries have unique demographic characteristics. Within the MENA region, Arab countries have higher fertility and population growth rates and a significantly younger age structure than other ountries and regions. This can be a “demographic gift or a demographic curse” depending on whether the high population growth and fertility can be transformed into economic growth.

In this study, the author examines the links between demographic change and fiscal policy in MENA countries, focusing specifically on the economic impacts coming from the conflict between social security and education, which are two of the most government programs in any country. The paper is unique as it incorporates a political economy model of education given expected increases in social security spending in the background. Labor movements and growth results are expected to depend significantly on the return to education. A sensitivity analysis on the parameter that shows the return to education spending reveals that MENA countries would suffer significantly from a lower return to education. 

 
This scenario highlights the importance of returns to education for the growth results in the MENA region. It is also important to note that the MENA region could potentially experience significant positive economic growth if it can maintain a high return to education and also attract more capital, despite a rising fiscal burden coming from the social security system. 



The African Union: regional and global challenges

21 Jul 2016 01:39:30 GMT

The Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR), Cape Town, South Africa, hosted a three-day policy research seminar in Cape Town, from 27 to 29 April 2016, on the theme “The African Union: Regional and Global Challenges”. The meeting was convened with about 30 prominent African, Asian, and Western policymakers, scholars, and civil society actors to reflect critically on the historical mission, progress, problems, and prospects of the African Union (AU) in a changing regional and global environment.Policy recommendations The following 10 key policy recommendations emerged from the Cape Town policy seminar:the AU Commission should engage more strategically with African civil society, think tanks, the private sector, and the philanthropic sector in order to implement its mandate more effectively. There is an urgent need to revisit Adebayo Adedeji’s 2007 five-year review of the AU Commission in order to implement its main findings on reforming the AU’s institutions and accelerating regional integration and economic development efforts in Africa. Key parts of the 2013 Olusegun Obasanjo Report on alternative sources of funding for the AU should also be implemented to ensure a sustainable source of financingthere is an urgent need to sanction non-performing AU staff members and to implement results-based management at the AU Commission in Addis Ababa. Recruitment, retention, and training of personnel should be greatly improved. There is also a need for better coordination between the AU’s Department of Political Affairs and its Peace and Security Department. The AU Commission must further strengthen its administrative and financial management capacity to be able to absorb and manage donor fundsthe AU’s continental early warning system needs greater coordination with the mechanisms of sub-regional bodies. Furthermore, African leaders must provide greater financial and political support to the APRM, strengthening its capacity and restoring its previous consistent fundingthere is an urgent need to create institutionalised mechanisms for effective coordination between the AU’s Peace and Security Council and the organs of the RECs; this must include the increased participation of civil society and parliaments in decision-making to ensure complementarity between the AU and the RECs in this critical arearegional integration in Africa should take into account the configuration of interests in member states, and put in place mechanisms to compensate groups that may lose out from integration. There is an urgent need to cultivate a national entrepreneurial class to drive socioeconomic development across Africa. The continent also needs more “Afrocrats” – young, highly competent officials with a strong commitment to Pan-Africanism, similar to many of the EU’s “Eurocrats”the AU needs to rationalise relations between the RECs and the African Economic Community in light of the multiple membership of the former. It might also be necessary to create a smaller grouping of African states in which conditions for entry involve sound economic and political performance, resulting in greater aid and investment for its membersin line with the AU’s Common African Position, five key principles should underpin relations between the AU and the UN: promotion of collective security in the context of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter; support for African ownership and priority-setting; fostering a partnership on the basis of consultative decision-making, division of labour, and burden sharing; mutual respect and adherence to the principle of comparative advantage; and establishment of[...]



India and Africa - collaboration for growth

14 Jul 2016 02:39:16 GMT

The nature of India’s relationship with Africa is clearly evolving into a wider, deeper engagement that, while clearly in India’s advantage, also offers significant potential benefits to its African counterparts. This overview of Indian/African economic collaboration is a joint piece of work from KPMG and the Confederation of Indian Industry.  It specifically looks at:

  • infrastructure
  • energy and natural resources
  • agriculture
  • healthcare

An important caveat pertaining to India’s economic relations with Africa, is that they are not confined to the BRICS and India’s reach in Africa extends beyond the alliance. The surge into Africa is driven mainly by the Indian government, but the private sector has not been lagging and significant economic linkages have arisen due to the interventions of the private sector from India.

The overall conclusion is that Indian-African trade and economic relations are likely to continue to grow, even in the wake of massive increases over a relatively short period of time with no current indication that the relationships are likely to cool anytime soon. While global conditions dictate events, the fact that Indian-African trade and economic relations continued to grow even through periods of some economic crisis suggests potential that has yet to be fully exploited.




Hot, hungry and starved of investment: supporting smallholders to build a climate-resilient agricultural sector in southern Africa

28 Jun 2016 04:41:42 GMT

As the African Development Bank meets in southern Africa, one of the strongest and most sustained El Niño events on record, turbocharged by climate change, is causing severe drought, failed harvests and a hunger crisis across the region. This is being made worse by record high temperatures as a result of global warming. Women farmers are on the front line of climate change, yet are also the region’s first line of defence against food insecurity. With smallholder agriculture being critical to both food security and inclusive growth, governments, supported by donors and international organisations, must urgently implement plans to better support smallholder farmers and increase resilience. This paper outlines the current situation in the region and presents recommendations to help work towards this.

 

Recommendations for the African Development Bank include: invest in infrastructure for small-scale producers and processors, especially women; resist the attraction of large-scale PPPs; and champion funds for adapting to climate change. Recommendations for national governments include: tailor public spending to help women and smallholder farmers diversify away from maize and enter high-value chains; strengthen land tenure rights for smallholders and women; promote responsible private sector investment in smallholder and women farmers; and invest in sustainable agriculture that is resilient to climate change. 




CBA and gender analysis practitioner brief

27 Jun 2016 03:38:32 GMT

The brief is the third in a series of practitioner briefs which document ALP learning on community based adaptation approaches in ways that are useful to practitioners, development actors and decision-makers. This brief will be of particular value for project or programme teams, local and national government staff and civil society practitioners who are designing or starting up programmes which aim for adaptation and resilience to climate change and sustainable outcomes by climate vulnerable men and women in Africa. The brief is useful across a wide range of programmes and sectors where gender equality is a critical outcome, for example in – adaptation, community economic development, development planning, sector based development, climate smart agriculture, women’s empowerment, disaster risk reduction and social protection.




Lessons and Pitfalls of Transitions to Democracy

24 Jun 2016 02:14:35 GMT

The struggles over institution-building that followed the spread of uprisings across the Arab region in 2011 underscore the importance of elite bar - gaining in shaping the direction of regime change.

To understand why elite compromise occurs, we need to turn to more structural factors. Elite resources and strategies are themselves shaped by structural conditions such as the relative weight of societal groups prior to the overthrow of incumbent dictators. The economic and political contexts – that is, the factors that constitute “structure” – shape the interests and goals of elites and, hence, their propensity to make concessions to political rivals and to work together productively.

Summary points:

  • when elites agree to compromise during regime transitions, democratization is more likely to succeed. Human agency is therefore central to successful democratization; however, it cannot be divorced from structural factors, such as class or economic interests, which incentivize elites to compromise in the first place
  • leadership plays a key role in guiding transition processes and can even help to break deadlocks between ideological opponents
  • politicized ethnic or religious cleavages can pose serious obstacles to democratic transitions, but external incentives and shared economic interests can help to overcome the serious obstacles they pose
  • when existing patronage networks remain strong, elite defection and, hence, the likelihood of authoritarian breakdown is reduced. Conversely, when authoritarian rulers either face dwindling resources or do not co-opt key political and economic elites with patronage, their incumbency is threatened
  • the nature of democratic transitions shapes the subsequent quality of democracy. Transitions that are “pacted” among elites may result in relatively smooth transitions to electoral democracy but they tend to permit political and economic elites to maintain their privileges, leading to less inclusive democracy
  • the most vociferous opponents of economic liberalization may not be the marginalized mass publics but rather well-connected elites who benefited under authoritarian rule. Forging a more inclusive political and economic system is challenging, in no small part because it is difficult to dislodge authoritarian coalitions even after democratic transitions have ostensibly occurred



Empower young women and adolescent girls: fast-track the end of the AIDS epidemic in Africa

23 Jun 2016 12:04:44 GMT

"To be effective, any health and development agenda needs to focus on the root causes of the gender gap, and the AIDS response is no different."This report was produced to guide regional and global advocacy and inform political dialogue, particularly within discussions and planning being shaped as part of the African Union Agenda 2063 and the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, in order to consider actions needed to achieve the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030. The report centres on the understanding that this requires taking action to target the root causes of young women and girls' vulnerability, largely arising from harmful gender norms and inequality.The report offers five key recommendations:Women's agency, participation and leadership: By empowering women as political and social actors, institutions and policies can become more representative of diverse voices, including those young women and girls. This should include young women living with and affected by HIV being part of policy and decision-making bodies and ensuring women's participation in humanitarian situations.Strategies to reduce intimate partner violence and reduce vulnerability to HIV: "Strategies and action implemented at the community level to address intimate partner violence are critical to reducing young women's and adolescent girls' vulnerability to HIV." One example given is the Raising Voices SASA! kit, which was designed to inspire and guide community mobilisation to prevent violence against women and HIV. "Community activists spearheaded a wide range of activities in their own neighbourhoods designed to decrease the social acceptability of violence by influencing knowledge, attitudes, skills and behaviours on gender, power and violence."Scaling up social protection and cash transfers to reduce poverty and girls' vulnerability to HIV: According to the report, in the context of comprehensive social policies and programmes, "households affected by HIV are an appropriate target for cash transfer programmes that aim to alleviate poverty. Cash transfers can achieve multiple simultaneous outcomes, including declines in early marriage and teenage pregnancy."Strategies to keep girls in school and comprehensive sexuality education: Evidence shows that education contributes to a higher level of knowledge about HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights, lowers exposure to gender-based violence, and increases women's and girls' chances of being financially secure and independent. As well, "when young women and adolescent girls have access to comprehensive age-appropriate sexuality education before becoming sexually active, they are more likely to make informed decisions about their sexuality and approach relationships with more self-confidence."Scaling up and integrating HIV with sexual and reproductive health services: "A massive scale-up of comprehensive and youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health and HIV services for young women and adolescent girls should be planned and rolled out, taking into consideration rapid population growth. " This would include condom programming designed to reach young people, removing barriers around reproductive health services such as parental and spousal consent, and ensuring access to youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services.The report concludes that "Fast-tracking the end of the AIDS epidemic by 2030 requires strong political leadership and commitment to stop new [...]



mHealth compendium, volume five

21 Jun 2016 02:58:35 GMT

This fifth volume of the mHealth Compendium, produced by the African Strategies for Health Project for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is a collection of 41 case studies submitted by various implementing partners which document a range of mHealth applications being implemented mainly throughout Africa, but also in other regions of the world. The majority of case studies focus on maternal, newborn and child health issues and HIV/AIDS, with some also looking at mHealth used to address tuberculosis, Ebola and malaria.

The case studies in this compendium have been organised into five programmatic areas where mHealth is being implemented: 1) Behaviour Change Communication; 2) Data Collection; 3) Finance; 4) Logistics; and 5) Service Delivery. Each two-page case study includes an introduction to the health area or problem; a description of the mHealth intervention highlighted; a description of any important results or evaluation findings; lessons learned; and a conclusion. In addition, the second page includes a summary of the geographic coverage, implementation partners, and donors, as well as contact information for the implementing partner and donor.




mHealth Compendium Special Edition 2016: Reaching Scale | The HIV/AIDS Network - Africa

21 Jun 2016 02:49:21 GMT

The mHealth Compendium Special Edition 2016: Reaching Scale presents ten in-depth profiles of mHealth programmes that have grown in scale over time.  This edition follows on from a series of five mHealth Compendiums which were produced by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Africa Bureau project, African Strategies for Health (ASH), to help USAID missions, governments, and health implementing organisations access information on a range of mHealth example programmes. The series (see Related Summaries below) features over 150 case studies of mHealth programmes and applications being implemented mainly throughout Africa, but also in other regions of the world.

Each case study includes details of the process, challenges, and lessons learned in growing an mHealth programme. The featured programmes are: 

  • Airtel Insurance - The Airtel/MicroEnsure partnership aimed to introduce millions of emerging consumers in Africa to their first health insurance products by offering simple cover, for free, aimed to establish trust through transparent, reliable operations. It then offered products for customers to increase options, creating a path to greater health insurance coverage
  • Aponjon - Aponjon (meaning “dear one(s)” in Bangla) aims to help to substantially reduce maternal and newborn deaths by improving health-seeking behaviours and preventive care among pregnant women, new mothers, and their families
  • cStock - This project uses mobile technology to improve community health supply chains for life-saving commodities in Malawi by using a  combination of mobile technology, user-friendly dashboards, and quality-improvement teams
  • iCCM - Integrated Community Case Management is used in hard-to-reach areas to complement facility-based services. Health surveillance assistants use a mobile application to assist in providing health services to children under five years
  • Kilkari Mobile Academy, & Mobile Kunji - This programme scaled up free mobile health education to 1 million community health workers and 10 million women in partnership with the Government of India
  • mHERO - MHero is a two-way, mobile phone-based communication platform that uses basic text messaging, or SMS, to connect ministries of health and health workers. mHero operateson simple talk-and-text mobile devices—no smartphone or tablet required
  • MomConnect - The MomConnect technical solution has a number of linked elements that enable pregnant women in South Africa to receive information about their own health and also that of their infants. Women can both ask for more information and supply feedback to improve the quality of health care
  • mSOS - The mobile SMS-based disease outbreak alert system (mSOS) enhanced  event-based disease surveillance and response efforts in Kenya through SMS reporting and web portal dashboards
  • RapidSMS Rwanda - This programme is designed to track the first 1000 days of life, preventing unnecessary mother and newborn deaths. The overarching goal in instituting RapidSMS was to make each pregnancy “everyone’s business”
  • U-Report - U-Report has been used as a focused mHealth application, specifically providing real-time mobile counselling and conducting coordinated polls on AIDS among adolescents and young people



China and the African Regional Economic Communities: transforming multilateral cooperation

17 Jun 2016 03:16:11 GMT

Recently, China has increased its economic, political and military co-operation with the African Union (AU). The diversity of members within the AU makes the continental approach more complicated for both Chinese and African actors. This is largely due to the AU’s lack of instrumental capacity, resulting from its financial and structural weakness, as an inter-governmental actor. This policy brief highlights an alternative platform through which co-operation could be fostered. African Regional Economic Communities (RECs) increase the bargaining power of African states, without losing the instrumental capacity of implementing and monitoring policies effectively. China’s engagement with the RECs would not only nurture regional integration, but also enhance China’s co-operation with Africa as a whole. In the following briefing, it is argued that increased co-operation with regional organisations is necessary as China’s bilateral and continental engagements face institutional, political and economic challenges. The RECs need to move to the forefront of the Sino-African dialogue in order to satisfy Africa’s aspiration for global markets and China’s interest in increased political, economic and cultural co-operation. Given the aforementioned issues, the following recommendations should be considered by both African and Chinese actors in order to harmonize trade policies:the AU needs to reorganise its functions and rationalise the issue of subsidiarity: (1) The AU develops substantive policy targets for its member states, but provides (2) the RECs with discretion to take the appropriate procedural measures to meet the objectives. This requires increased autonomy for the RECs and a binding legal mechanism for member states to implement the specified policiesthe RECs need to receive increased financial backing from the AU, the African Development Bank and member states to be able to co-ordinate regional policy implementationgiven Africa’s cultural, political and economic diversity, the AU should limit itself to target setting and monitoring, as well as sharing of best practicesChina could invest its expertise in regional organizations to develop a more decentralised system of governance that bridges the bilateral and continental approachesthe AU, the RECs and China need to develop a framework that provides sectorial monitoring to the varying levels of governance. For example, while the AU maintains authority over security-related matters, the RECs are in charge of trade agreements. It is this kind of rationalization process that is absolutely imperative, as three levels of governance, without clear procedural norms, creates problems of accountabilitymilitary interventions, mediation and peacekeeping missions should still remain in the hands of the AU that may, however, delegate the regional communities to take actionChina needs to maintain its close ties to the AU, especially with regards to security-related mattersthe RECs also overlap in membership, which creates an increasing web of complexity. Thus, a clear structured separation and formulation of the regions is necessarythe RECs need to identify their comparative advantage in terms of industry (energy, textile, mining, manufacturing, service), develop a continental supply chain, harmonise their trade policies in this regard and engage China strategically. This would simplify China[...]



Raising the bar on sustainable development: Renewable energy and environmental standards in FOCAC VI

17 Jun 2016 03:05:05 GMT

The 6th Forum on China - Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) is taking place at a time when Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) are high on most international development agendas. Two important aspects of this agenda include environmental protection and the promotion of renewable energy. This policy briefing examines the promotion of renewable energy and the importance of environmental standards in Africa, within the China-Africa relationship.
 
Recommendations:

  • African governments should assist local African business in benefitting from funding opportunities available through China-Africa forums such as FOCAC. This can be achieved by identifying bankable projects which fit into national development plans
  • it will be beneficial for African states to continue reducing regional trade barriers such as tariffs. The reduction of trade barriers will assist in the development of renewable energy industries by encouraging the flow of renewable energy products between countries allowing industries to benefit from neighbouring countries. This will prevent the duplication of industries between countries and reduce costs in a capital intensive industry
  • the Chinese government need to make the Guidelines on Environmental Protection for China’s Outbound Investment compulsory. At present companies can voluntarily implement them thus gaps in implementation remain. By making these guidelines policy, companies will be forced to comply
  • African governments need to implement adequate environmental legislation and policy, especially through EIAs, in order to strengthen law enforcement where it is lacking. For example, in Kenya



China's economic slowdown: assessment and implications for Africa

17 Jun 2016 02:52:46 GMT

Three decades of average double digit growth has helped propel China into the world’s second largest economy with global economies increasingly reliant on China to drive economic growth. As China transits from an investment-based economy to a consumer-based economy, its de-mand for raw materials is declining, affecting commodity prices, impacting on commodity sellers and exerting pressure on currencies around the world. With China’s position as Africa’s biggest trading partner, fears persist that the economic slowdown in China is being widely felt in Africa due to the huge trade volume between China and Africa, thus exposing African econo-mies to spillages from the Chinese economy.

This policy brief examines the current state of the Chinese economy and its impact on African economic growth and recommends a blend of poli-cy measures aimed at curtailing the impact of the Chinese slowdown on Africa's economy.

Given the demographic estimation of Africa’s population growth, with a projected estimate of the labour force (20-65 years) exceeding the rest of the world combined by 2035 (Bloomberg, 2015), China’s economic slowdown can create opportunities for African economies with its comparative labour advantage and abundant resources if properly addressed. Africa's destiny is dependent on its economic structure and more importantly, how it readjusts to China's shift towards a new regime.

To ameliorate the impact of the slowdown, the following measures are suggested:

  • Africa's policy-makers should undertake and implement deep structural reforms for the transformation needed for increased productivity and growth in all sectors of the economy with particular emphasis on agriculture
  • Africa can be a major beneficiary of China’s outsourcing if it undertakes reforms and invest in infrastructure. In Ethiopia, Chinese investment is creating a new global hub in the leather and shoes sector due to cheap labour, availability of raw materials and favourable government policies
  • Africa can take advantage of China's transition by selling goods and services to China such as the Western Cape provincial government’s “Project Khulisa” strategy of promoting the province’s wine and fruits to new markets like China
  • African economies can consider engaging in currency devaluation as suggested by the IMF. A weaker currency will have the effect of reducing demand for import goods in favour of domestically produced goods, and boost exports, which in turn will reduce unemployment and set in motion economic growth. Devaluation, however, has inflationary tendencies
  • African economies should move towards diversification from primary commodities to accelerate economic growth. Botswana’s decline in diamond sales and the government’s response in creating a number of economic hubs in education, innovation and agriculture to diversify the economy away from diamonds is helping to mitigate commodity shocks and enhancing economic growth
  • finally, African economies should undertake energy subsidy reforms by cutting fuel subsidies to align domestic prices with international prices. Fuel subsidies have been noted to divest an economy of scarce resources critical to other priority sectors and delay the adoption of energy efficient technologies



Review of laws policies and regulations governing labour migration in asian and arab states.pdf

15 Jun 2016 02:57:34 GMT

This publication is meant to serve as a ready reference on the country-specific legal protections that exist for women migrantworkers in source and destination countries in the programmeme countries of un Women’s Asia & Arab states Regional programmeme on Empowering Women Migrant Workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Lao PDR, nepal, Philippines. In addition, destination countries and territories such as Bahrain, Hong Kong SAR, uAE, singapore and Thailand were included.

It endeavors to compile existing legal provisions for departing and returning migrants in countries of origin and measures for access to justice for women migrant workers in destination countries.  Evidence  and/or  information  on  the  implementation  status  of  the  existing  laws  were  included as far as current data and information would allow.

It also sought to provide examples of and recommendations for gender sensitive and rights based legal measures that could be adopted to empower women migrant workers to effectively enjoy their rights.

This  publication  was  intended  as  an  aid  to  the  enhancement  of  policy,  programmemes  and  development actions aimed at increasing the protection of women migrant workers; advocating with regional bodies e.g. South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and Association of  South  East  Asian nations  (ASEAn)  and  Governments  for  appropriate  protective  measures  for  women migrant workers; assisting non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Governments in reporting to the un Committee on the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); helping inform migrant civil society, including NGOs/migrant workers associations;  and,  developing  guidelines  for  recruitment  agencies  and  employers  regarding minimum employment standards.




Patterns of veiling among Muslim women

09 Jun 2016 01:20:50 GMT

Understanding why women veil today is a challenging question as it is probably connected to multiple phenomena. The literature – both qualitative and theoretical– suggests a range of hypotheses about why women veil. This paper exploits a unique source of data, the Gallup World Poll, and is the first cross-country empirical investigation of veiling patterns in Muslim-majority countries, complementing a rich literature on veiling from other disciplinary perspectives. The authors find evidence of links between veiling and religiosity, age, education levels, marital status, support for political Islam, and employment status. On the basis of these correlations, we discuss possible reasons for why women veil. These include: to conform to religious beliefs, as a sign of obedience to the patriarchal bargain, to increase their mobility outside the home, to protect against the threat of violence, and to signal their support for political Islam.
 



Rising powers, lowering emissions?

02 Jun 2016 09:21:40 GMT

The importance of ensuring that African countries can meet their rising energy needs in a low-carbon way that also benefits the poor, is widely accepted. The so-called ‘rising powers’, such as China, Brazil and India are already investing in energy infrastructure in Africa, and these countries could support transitions to low-carbon development since they are currently some of the world’s largest investors in solar, wind, hydropower and biofuels.Yet, critically, the energy needs of poorer groups are not currently shaping policy and investment decisions and so energy access considerations are not being adequately addressed where low-carbon energy transitions are emerging. Northern donors have a role to play both as knowledge and financial brokers between rising powers and African countries, and in targeting investment towards small-scale and community-managed renewable energy systems, which would directly help the poor majority that are off-grid.Policy recommendations: The need for a rounded view of technology development and diffusion: the research suggests the need to shift away from a narrow focus on the transfer of technology hardware from Northern to Southern countries towards a more rounded view of technology development and diffusion if access, capacity and innovation are to be more meaningfully nurtured. This means learning lessons from transitions in practice and the role of a multiplicity of actors and ecosystems of finance in bringing them about. Assumptions about the role of the state, technology transfer, finance and the potential of market mechanisms often fail to take into account local realities and need to be revisitedCombine renewable energy investment with a strategic, inclusive approach for off-grid populations:there is clearly much to do in ensuring that inclusive priority-setting processes help to respond to the energy and technology needs of the vast swathes of the population that are currently off-grid. Donors can add substantial value by targeting those social groups, regions, projects and technologies that governments and the private sector are not interested in. For example, the UK could focus investment on small-scale and community-managed renewable energy systems that would directly help the poor majority that are off-grid in places like Mozambique to achieve a degree of energy access and security. This would ensure that investments, jobs and training stay in those communities and that technologies and projects are appropriate to local needs and settings. Mobilising investment for renewable energy is a worthy goal, but it needs to be combined with a strategic approach to meeting the energy needs of all groups in societyNorthern donors have a vital role as knowledge and financial brokers between African countries and rising powers:given shifting geo-politics, while Northern donors are often not the primary actors, they can also seek to play a role as knowledge and financial brokers between rising powers such as China and African countries, seeking to steer aid and investment towards lower-carbon and more pro-poor interventions, and through the conditions they attach to the money they provide to multilateral institutions they can indirectly shape energy trajectories towards j[...]



Strong public support for ‘watchdog’ role backs African news media under attack

02 Jun 2016 04:11:56 GMT

More than 100 journalists have fled tiny Burundi to escape repression and danger, according to Reporters Without Borders – a dramatic illustration of the impact of a “deep and disturbing decline in respect for media freedom at both the global and regional levels” (Reporters Without Borders, 2016).

If a free press is a pillar of a free society, Africa marks World Press Freedom Day 2016 (May 3) amid growing concerns that this pillar is under attack by governments determined to silence critics. Free-press champions report growing numbers of journalists who have been harassed, intimidated, arrested, tortured, or exiled (Media Foundation for West Africa, 2015a, 2015b; Amnesty International, 2016). Freedom House (2016) says global press freedom has “declined to its lowest point in 12 years.” Some states have enacted repressive laws to censor journalists, often citing as justification a need to fight violent extremism (Egypt, Ethiopia, and Kenya) or to stop publication of “false, deceptive, misleading, or inaccurate information” (Tanzania) (CIPESA, 2015, p. 5) that could undermine “national unity, public order and security, morality, and good conduct” (Burundi) (International Centre for Not-for-Profit Law, 2015, p. 13). Beyond government repression, threats to media freedom come from violent non-state actors (such as extremist groups in Nigeria and Mali), influence-wielding officials, and even self-censoring journalists (Cheeseman, 2016). The net effect is to erode journalistic independence and muzzle the media “watchdogs” that are supposed to help ensure government accountability (Freedom House, 2015a).

These attacks on media freedom can also be seen as part of broader attempts to restrict space for civic activism. For instance, Tanzania’s and Nigeria’s cybercrime acts of 2015 have been criticized for disregarding issues of freedom of expression, granting excessive powers to the police, and affording only limited protections to ordinary citizens (Article 19, 2015; Sahara Reporters, 2015). Most recently, Uganda temporarily shut down social media and slowed the Internet during its presidential elections in February 2016, ostensibly for security reasons “to stop so many (social media users from) getting in trouble because some people use those pathways for telling lies” (BBC News, 2016). This trend of using state power to limit civic space has also been criticized in Burundi, the Republic of Congo, Egypt, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Niger, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Association for Progressive Communications, 2016).

If a media under attack needs public support at its back to safeguard its independence, Africa’s citizens offer such support – up to a point. In Afrobarometer’s latest surveys in 36 African countries, a majority (54%) of citizens say they support an independent media free from government interference. But this support varies significantly by country, and has weakened slightly since 2011/2013. And it leaves a robust four in 10 (42%) who believe that a government “should have the right to prevent the media from publishing things that it considers harmful to society.”




Sticks rather than carrots to induce more formality

02 Jun 2016 02:37:42 GMT

Formalization has many potential benefits for the government, firms, workers, the economy and society. Decisions by firms to move into the formal economy depend on their cost/benefit calculations. Using legal enforcement, inspections and fines may be more effective at getting firms and workers to move into the formal economy than making it easier and cheaper to register; but they are not mutually exclusive, and policymakers should use an integrated approach. Policymakers should follow development policies such as upgrading skills, encouraging microfinance and reform of social security coverage to encourage formalization.

Summary: 

  • formalizing informal firms and employment has a number of potential benefits for the government, firms, workers, the economy and society.
  • these include: increased tax revenue; more efficient reallocation of resources; increased output and income for firms and the economy; decent working conditions for workers; orderly work and business environments; and improved morality for society
  • reforms to encourage firms to register and formalize can come in the form of both inducements such as better information and lower costs (carrots) and legal enforcement (sticks)
  • research shows that better enforcement policies, inspection and fines may have a larger impact than reducing the costs of registration, simplifying the rules and regulations and disseminating information on registration procedures. However, the two are not mutually exclusive
  • policymakers should use an integrated strategy to bring informal workers and entrepreneurs into formal channels of protection, support and responsibilities with registration, while preserving their resilience and dynamic potentials
  • wider development and growth policies are important to help firms and workers move into the formal economy. They should also include skills training programs for upgrading skills of workers and entrepreneurs, microfinance and reforms for extension of social security coverage. 



Regional integration for Africa: Could stronger public support turn 'rhetoric into reality'?

31 May 2016 04:22:20 GMT

Regional integration has been a development strategy for Africa for decades. The African Economic Community’s founding treaty in 1991 provided a framework targeting full political and economic integration by 2019. Many African countries have signed on to foster political and economic cooperation. The promotion of social and cultural development, economic integration and trade, and free movement of persons and goods are fundamental principles for continental and regional organisations, including the African Union (AU), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and regional economic communities (RECs), with the ultimate goal of creating a unified continental market.

Despite this emphasis, Africa’s record on regional integration has not been impressive. Fragmented regulations, high trade tariffs, complicated customs procedures, and disjointed transport and energy infrastructure continue to prevent the continent from turning “rhetoric into reality” in a powerful pan-African market (Ibrahim, 2016).
As calls to action, the AU’s Agenda 2063 (African Union Commission, 2015)) and the AfDB’s Regional Integration Policy and Strategy 2014-2023 (African Development Bank Group, 2015) lay out blueprints for moving forward on integration, with an initial focus on trade and market integration, free movement of people, and infrastructure development. A new Africa Regional Integration Index, launched in 2016 by the AU Commission, the AfDB, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, is designed to jumpstart progress and track it through independent, high-quality data (African Union Commission, 2016).

If progress depends in part on public support for integration, survey data on public attitudes might make a useful contribution on this issue. In its latest round of surveys, Afrobarometer asked citizens in 36 countries four relevant questions: whether they prefer free or restricted cross-border movement of people and goods, how easy or difficult cross-border movement currently is, whether governments should assume a regional role in protecting democracy and human rights or instead respect their neighbours’ sovereignty, and how helpful they think the AU and RECs are to their countries.

Findings suggest limited support for integration, with wide variations by country and region. On average across 36 countries, a majority of Africans favour free cross-border movement of people and goods, but this is not the majority view in 15 of those countries. Meanwhile, only one in four citizens say it’s easy to cross international borders.

When asked to choose between respecting national sovereignty vs. a regional role for states in protecting free elections and human rights in neighbouring countries, most Africans emphasize national sovereignty. And while a majority of Africans consider the AU and RECs at least “a little bit” helpful to their countries, this is not the case in all countries, and about three in 10 citizens don’t know enough about these organisations to have an opinion.




Directory of research on ageing in Africa 2004-2015

27 May 2016 12:08:48 GMT

The number of older persons in Africa is growing rapidly: between 2015 and 2030 the number of people aged 60 years or over in the region is projected to increase by more than 63 per cent (United Nations, 2015). Accordingly, the situation of older persons in Africa, in particular with respect to their well being, is a matter of growing concern among researchers and policymakers alike. This report provides an extensive directory of research on ageing in Africa covering the period 2004-2015, updating the Directory of Research on Ageing in Africa: 1995-2003 prepared previously by Dr. Paul Kowal for the World Health Organization. The Directory aims to profile, promote and encourage research into the health and needs of people aged 50 years or over in Africa, and to enable the use of evidence for policy. Such evidence is essential to enable countries undergoing rapid demographic and epidemiological transitions to develop appropriate policy responses and to monitor the implementation and impact of those policies.

The Directory includes descriptions of research activities submitted by primary investigators, with minimal editing. The submissions were summarized according to how the research results addressed the policy directions of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA), and the research methods that have been applied. Taken as a whole, the Directory demonstrates the growing body of rigorous and in-depth research into ageing across Africa. While not all research on ageing in Africa has been included here, a review of the updated Directory indicates that research has been less active in some countries, and that some high-priority areas of research remain under-investigated. The process of creating the Directory revealed the difficulty of identifying research on ageing in Africa through searches of high-impact peer reviewed journals or standard bibliographic search engines. Much of the published research evidence on ageing in Africa presented in this Directory was identified through detailed internet searches or through the direct contributions of research collaborators.




Space, soil and status: insights from the APRM into the governance of land in Africa

23 May 2016 04:22:44 GMT

Land is central to Africa’s fortunes, and thus has occupied a prominent place in the inquiries of Africa’s home-grown governance review system, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). This paper interrogates what the APRM’s reports from 10 participating countries have had to say on the land issue.

Land is recognised, by the APRM and by the continent’s governments and supranational authorities, as a key issue for Africa’s future. It is critical for both agricultural and nonagricultural development, and to accommodate human settlement. The key, overarching challenge concerns tenure security. Land in Africa tends to be held through hybridised arrangements, in which formal, statutory systems exist alongside customary or other informal systems. The former place landholding, in theory, under a clearly defined legal order, which in turn makes it suitable as collateral for business endeavours and an asset to be leveraged for developmental purposes. This has led to calls for the formalisation of land titles across the continent. In practice, however, the weaknesses of the continent’s state system make this a doubtful prospect at present.

This paper argues that a better option, at least as an interim measure, would be to strive for an adaptation of the continent’s informal systems of landholding, with a view to giving them a degree of legal force.

However, this will only deal with part of the land governance challenges facing the continent. Land is an issue that spurs passionate emotions. It is often a proxy for issues of citizenship and belonging. Any solution will need to be sensitive to this and cannot be based solely on economic criteria. The constraints on female landholding require that some traditional practices be confronted. Conflict over land and landed resources – or conflict that has a severe impact on the use of these – needs to be tackled with strong, capacitated action by the state and society.

This suggests that a comprehensive resolution of issues surrounding the continent’s land ultimately demands that the capacity of the continent’s states be improved. They must be able effectively to establish and implement productive land governance systems, as well as the legal systems, agrarian support and security apparatus required to support and uphold them.




Access to information and implications for healthy ageing in Africa: challenges and strategies for public libraries

13 May 2016 12:19:15 GMT

The elderly people are of intrinsic value to societies. Their health is Africa’s wealth. Unfortunately, Africa has serious health burden raging from diseases, poverty ignorance that hardly support healthy ageing. Development indicators from World Health Organization and the World Bank provide glaring evidence that Africa countries are far behind other regions of the world in health conditions of the citizens.
 
This paper discusses the benefits that accrue from having a healthy old age population. Such includes poverty reduction, stress free ageing, assisting in taking care of young ones. It examines the role of information in enhancing healthy ageing in Africa. The paper identified public libraries as very important institutions to take up the challenges of provision of adequate and timely health information for the elderly citizen in Africa. While it acknowledges the challenges public libraries in many African countries face, it also provided strategies the libraries could adopt to perform this onerous task. Several recommendations were made; namely, adequate funding of public libraries, employment of librarians with translations skills, ICT application in public libraries, among others.
 
The paper concludes that African countries should reposition their public libraries to facilitate the provision of relevant information that would support healthy ageing.



Africa economic brief - aging population challenges in Africa

13 May 2016 12:12:04 GMT

This brief describes trends in population ageing in Africa relative to those in economically advanced countries. It highlights the key drivers of the phenomenon, both globally and in the African context more specifically.

The brief also analyses country-specific trends and demonstrates the reasons why the proportion of population 65 years and older is growing in many countries across the continent. Ageing is highly correlated with long-term physical and mental disability, and a number of long term chronic conditions and will likely increase personal care requirements.

Furthermore, most socioeconomic indicators for the elderly in Africa are low, and in many countries poverty rates among the elderly are  significantly higher than the national average.




On the development of the mobile based agricultural extension system in Tanzania: a technological perspective

13 May 2016 01:42:02 GMT

The growth of African science and technology has been hampared by a multitude of problems. From the continent’s late start in the race to setting up and obtaining universities with research quality fundamentals to equipment acquisition, lack of capacity, limited research and development resources and most importantly the increasing absence of international research partnerships. The lack of a strong international research partnerships for the African university and research community, the fact that most African universities and research communities are new, most of them less than 50 years in business have exberted the expected academic growth of the African university and research.

With all these problems, two solutions are fundamental: a development of a strong government backed funding policy for the African university and research community and strong international partnerships and research infrastructure to support a culture of both applied and fundamental research to drive the badly needed indigineous innovations and development of a knowledge pool of skills for development. Without these, the African university and research will continue to be deligated to the tail end of the world class universities and research communities. This paper focuses on the building of an African international research infrastructure to bring the continent beyond today’s internent to a smart future.




Liberation technology: mobile phones and political mobilization in Africa

06 May 2016 04:44:05 GMT

Can digital information and communication technology (ICT) foster mass political mobilization? The authors use a novel geo-referenced dataset for the entire African continent between 1998 and 2012 on the coverage of mobile phone signal together with geo-referenced data from multiple sources on the occurrence of protests and on individual participation in protests to bring this argument to empirical scrutiny. They find that mobile phones are instrumental to mass mobilization during economic downturns, when reasons for grievance emerge and the cost of participation falls. Estimated effects are if anything larger once we use an instrumental variable approach that relies on differential trends in coverage across areas with different incidence of lightning strikes. The results are in line with insights from a network model with imperfect information and strategic complementarities in protest provision. Mobile phones make individuals more responsive to both changes in economic conditions – a mechanism that the authors ascribe to enhanced information – and to their neighbours’ participation – a mechanism that we ascribe to enhanced coordination. Empirically both effects are at play, highlighting the channels through which digital ICT can alleviate the collective action problem.




The political and economic dynamics of foreign aid: a case study of United States and Chinese aid to Sub-Sahara Africa

05 May 2016 12:05:44 GMT

The foreign aid arena as it pertains to the African continent has traditionally been dominated by the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, however over the last three decades non-traditional donors such as the China, South Africa and Brazil have emerged in the donor field. The increasing importance of non-traditional donors has meant that the economic and political stronghold of Western and OECD countries in sub-Sahara African (SSA) has gradually ebbed, due to increased competition amongst donors on the continent. Specifically, as the economic and political reach of the United States (USA), the second largest bilateral donor to SSA has diminished, amongst the group of emerging donors, China has become the largest contributor of aid to SSA countries. There appears to be a political - economic dynamic that points to the existence of two competing reasons underpinning the foreign aid trend in SSA. Using a comparative approach, this study examines the determinants of aid allocation by China and the United States
to SSA countries.

The study finds that both donor motives and recipient need are factors in US and Chinese aid allocation to SSA. Additionally, the study finds differences in US aid allocation determinants pre and post China’s entry into SSA’s aid field. Furthermore, evidence of income and population bias is observed for both donor countries.




China's development finance to Africa: a media based approach to data collection

29 Apr 2016 11:54:33 GMT

How big is China’s aid to Africa? Does it complement or undermine the efforts of traditional donors? China releases little information, and outside estimates of the size and nature of Chinese aid vary widely. In an effort to overcome this problem, AidData, based at the College of William and Mary, has compiled a database of thousands of media reports on Chinese-backed projects in Africa from 2000 to 2011. The database includes information on 1,673 projects in 50 African countries and on $75 billion in commitments of official finance.

This paper describes the new database methodology, key findings, and possible applications of the data, which is being made publicly available for the first time. The paper and database offer a new tool set for researchers, policymakers, journalists, and civil-society organizations working to understand China’s growing role in Africa.
The paper also discusses the challenges of quantifying Chinese development activities, introduces AidData’s Media-Based Data Collection (MBDC) methodology, provides an overview of Chinese development finance in Africa as tracked by this new database, and discusses the potential and limitations of MBDC as a resource for tracking development finance.




China's foreign aid in 1978

29 Apr 2016 10:47:20 GMT

1978 saw inportant changes in Chin'a foreign aid programme. It cut aid to its two largest recipients, Vietnam and Albania. At the same time, China reqested aid from the United Nations for the first time, and negotiated loans from other countires, although it appeared contradictory that China was continuiing to give foreign economic assistance whilst soliciting aid for itself. This paper provides an overview of the Chinese aid situation in 1978, including its involvement in aid to Africa.




China - Africa factsheet

22 Apr 2016 03:29:39 GMT

China-Africa ties have expanded beyond trade and investment in extractive industries to engagement in telecommunications, infrastructure, manufacturing, finance, media, agriculture and peace and security issues. This factsheet provides historical background and an overview of contemporary relations between China and Africa.

In particular it looks at:

  • the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (2000-present)
  • the global financial crisis and beyond
  • public diplomacy / media 
  • overview of trade and investment statistics
  • China and Africa’s peace and security



The foreign policies of African states in the age of democracy and human rights

22 Apr 2016 03:01:45 GMT

The establishment of the AU in 2002 created opportunities for an ambitious democracy and human rights agenda in the foreign and continental policies of African states. The Constitutive Act of the AU sets the normative basis for integrating various global instruments and protocols, including the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The African Governance Architecture and the African Peace and Security Architecture were intended to provide a substantive institutional basis to advance human rights through good governance and democracy. While progress has been made to advance human rights, this has been far too modest when measured against the ambitions that African states and continental institutions put forth in 2002.
 
This policy brief argues that this is the result of persistent and strong sovereignty norms, including an inability by African states to integrate diplomacies of human rights, democracy and good governance as pivotal identities in their foreign policies.
 
Recommendations:
 
  • to retain credibility, the AU should embrace a global partnership with civil society and countries that have done well in protecting human rights. This is crucial for capacity building, information sharing and lesson drawing, while allowing for the coaching and mentoring of struggling states
  • Africa’s smaller states that have done well in protecting human rights should adopt diplomacies and external identities that diffuse democratic norms
  • Pivotal states such as South Africa, even in times of domestic crisis, should continue to advocate an agenda of human rights and good governance. Peace diplomacy cannot be realised if it is not rooted in a sound conception of human rights as indispensable to a stable and prosperous Africa



Learning by doing: China–Africa co-operation and state learning

21 Apr 2016 02:00:52 GMT

The view that ‘Africa should learn from China’s development’ has been expressed throughout Africa, from the chairperson of the AU through senior government officials to analysts, scholars and ordinary citizens. China’s 40-fold increase in GDP and its lifting of 500 million people out of poverty in the last 35 years are reason enough, but China has also established itself as a major presence in infrastructure development across Africa. 

 
This paper argues that for Africa to blindly adopt Chinese policies, like the development of special industrial zones, is the equivalent of importing finished goods, rather than developing the skills for production. It is not the static outcomes of Chinese policies that African countries should study, but the processes and institutions by which China devises, adapts and evolves those policies



Chinese businesses in Africa: perspectives on corporate social responsibility and the role of Chinese government policies

07 Apr 2016 03:19:31 GMT

China’s business engagement in developing countries has grown rapidly in the past decade through direct investment, contract projects and trade. China was the third-largest foreign investor in the world between 2012 and 2014, and approximately 80% of its investments flowed to developing countries in 2014. Chinese companies are also eagerly bidding for - and winning - contracts for infrastructure and service projects at an unprecedented rate, particularly in developing countries. For example, 80% of newly signed and completed projects undertaken by Chinese companies in 2014 were located in Asia and Africa.

This discussion paper research aims to understand the role that Chinese policies and guidelines play in governing Chinese companies overseas, through exploring the experiences and perceptions of representatives in those companies. The paper presents the key findings of fieldwork in Mozambique, Kenya and Uganda during August–September 2015, including a survey and interviews with fifty-eight Chinese personnel working for Chinese companies in these locations. Findings revealed a complex governance matrix influencing the environmental and social performance of Chinese companies in Africa, in which Chinese policies play only a relatively minor role.




Diversification of Middle Eastern economies is more a political than an economic challenge

07 Apr 2016 02:34:15 GMT

Shifts in the global economy have lead to rapid development across the world, but the Middle East has been largely left behind. The causes of this apparent malaise are a series of interlinked issues comprising economics, politics, and geopolitics. Specifically, this has entailed, among other factors, barriers to adopting a more representative political system, the absence of broad economic diversification, and a lack of intraregional trade. For there to be substantial development in the Arab World, a new political settlement will likely need to be accepted. For such a settlement to be accepted, the interest of elites need to be taken into account and regional linkages need to be strengthened and capitalized on, in addition to securing the assent of regional and global powers in the process.




The effect of exposure to political institutions and economic events on demand for democracy in Africa

07 Apr 2016 01:23:39 GMT

Understanding why people demand democracy is important to an evaluation of the prospects for democratic stability. Most researchers examining this question have added national-level variables to multi-level regression models of survey data.

This paper contributes to the investigation of why people de mand democracy by adding new individual - level variables related to individual exposure to political institutions and economic conditions. Its two main questions are: Does exposure to democracy increase the legitimacy of democracy? Is people’s demand for democracy influenced by the past economic performance of their countries?

Regression analysis results show no evidence that national economic performance is relevant for demand for democracy. However, exposure to democratic institutions–measured as the num ber of years lived under either democracy or non-democracy – has a statistically significant, though substantively small, effect on demand for democracy. Overall, the results allow some optimism that as people live under democracy, they internalize its core values and improve its chances of consolidation.




Language, education, and citizenship in Africa

07 Apr 2016 01:07:36 GMT

African states are known for their linguistic diversity. Few have spread a single official language widely through their education systems. The preservation of many local languages seems a benefit in terms of minority rights, but some fear that fragmentation may inhibit national cohesion and democratic participation.

This article examines language competence of individuals in 10 states in Africa, highlighting distinctions in types of education systems. It also assesses their attitudes about citizenship and democracy, using Afrobarometer survey data. It shows that immersion systems appear much more effective in spreading a standard language, but that national sentiment has very little to do with proficiency in this official language. It also reveals that citizens armed with literacy in local languages tend to be more participatory, more demanding of greater accountability in government, and more critical of authoritarian rule.