Construction of an overpass near the centre of Nairobi, Kenya Photo: Corbis, Getty & Sarah Elliott
The political outlook
The Arab Spring may be the most important geopolitical shift since the end of the Cold War. Attention now turns to the construction of new orders, and the outcomes are far from clear. Survey respondents agreed that expectations are high and emerging governments need to respond to long pent-up demands.
The economic outlook
The International Monetary Fund’s most recent forecast for sub-Saharan Africa anticipates average growth of 5.5 percent in 2012. These projections are in line with the expectations of This Is Africa’s sentiment survey. Only two respondents anticipated growth of under 5 percent, with most predicting levels of 5.5-6 percent.
The private sector’s role in development has seen a renaissance, with donors reassessing their strategies and development finance institutions positioned increasingly as central actors. But stakeholders need to increase coordination to maximise their impact
Against the backdrop of rising prices for hydrocarbon-based energy sources, a growing number of African countries are looking to renewable energy to address the region’s severe power shortage
POLITICS: On the Mend?
The same family and political party have ruled Togo for the past 44 years. In 2005 president Faure Gnassingbé, the English speaking son of president-for-life Gnassingbé Eyadema, was elected in controversial circumstances upon his father’s death.
After many years of political isolation, there are hopes that moves towards a more open political sphere could improve Togo’s international relations
On the back of economic reforms, Togo’s once closed economy is starting toattract a growing number of international investors
Microfinance is touted as a way of lifting people out of poverty, yet its benefits are often assumed rather than proven and new economic trials are putting these claims to the test
Plans to create a “Grand Free Trade Area” covering half of Africa could mark an important step towards strengthening the continent’s international competitiveness, but some suggest it may be overambitious
An unlikely connection
As food prices remain at all time highs, the link between phosphate rock production and global food security may play an important role in avoiding future food crises
Debate is raging about the volume of global phosphate rock reserves, with some arguing production could ‘peak’ within decades
Africa may only have limited exposure to the clean development mechanism, but with the scheme under threat, what does the future of carbon trading hold for the continent?
Could India’s microcredit crunch spread?
The microcredit industry in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is facing a crisis, which analysts say could have knock on effects for microfinance institutions worldwide
Third among equals
The US has talked up the strategic role of its foreign assistance, but the operational realities within USAID suggest that development is still a junior partner in the “3D” approach
Ending the neglect
Tackling neglected tropical diseases could help achieve several of the Millennium Development Goals, but greater awareness and a comprehensive funding strategy is needed
The illusion of strategy
The large scale of Indian corporate forays into Africa masks a relatively small and parochial diplomatic approach from New Delhi. However, the impact of the new wave of investors should not be dismissed
“Wild West” seeks cowboys
South Sudan is likely to become Africa’s newest country in a January referendum, but the differing approaches between development bodies and the private sector towards its many challenges are becoming clear
The Seoul summit of the G20 has ended without any appreciable resolution of the so-called “currency wars”, and its failure to create a meaningful development agenda undermines the evolution of the grouping as a successor to the G8
Dfid means business
The UK’s development agency, Dfid, is to reorient itself to be better able to promote private sector development in low-income countries, and will drastically reform its investment arm, CDC Group
Hans Rosling, Chairman of the Gapminder Foundation
With his tendency to resort to drawing diagrams with every explanation, Hans Rosling, professor of international health at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and the chairman of the Gapminder Foundation, appears to think through every challenge visually.
Speculators under the spotlight
High prices for grain this summer have prompted fears of a fresh food crisis, but the conditions do not appear right for a repeat of 2008
Surpluses threaten farm sustainability
Maize surpluses are exerting pressure through the value chain as farmers fall victim to diminished prices and states come under strain to reconcile affordability with sustainability
The MDGs are often dismissed as idealistic and impractical. However, shifts in geopolitics and the global economy are undermining the dominance of ideology in international institutions, changes which seem to put the MDGs at the heart of a new approach to global development
Co-operatives have a long history in Africa, and after a period of decline in the 1990s are on the rise again, proving especially popular among rural farmers, who are able to group together to share costs and seek out new markets. However, despite this growth and their popularity with foreign donors, the sector remains vulnerable
Brazil aspires to be partner, not donor
Brazil is actively sharing its experience in agriculture with Africa, and there are hopes that this might be a critical contribution towards realising the continent’s elusive ‘green revolution’
Anna Tibaijuka: Exclusive Interview
Africa’s urbanisation must be understood and managed to prevent growing inequalities from becoming a source of conflict, according to Anna Tibaijuka, under-secretary-general of the United Nations and executive director of urban development body UN Habitat.
Quiet streets greeted the African Development Bank’s return to Abidjan, its former headquarters, this May for its 45th annual meetings. The bank left in 2003, precipitated by the deteriorating security situation in the city as Côte d’Ivoire slid into civil war. Today it occupies three buildings in Tunis – a “Temporary Relocation Agency” that has begun to seem less and less temporary. Its dislocation has been frustrating for bank staff and for international partners, but with elections in Côte d’Ivoire repeatedly postponed an imminent return has seemed unlikely.
- Regional integration There is a renewed sense of optimism surrounding regional integration in Africa, as the continent’s governments increasingly turn to the private sector as the main driver of economic growth
- Strength in numbers Comesa’s proposal for a common investment area could act as a spur to cross-border investment
- Reforming Senegal’s customs A public-private partnership has vastly improved the customs clearing procedures at Dakar port
- The rebirth of the East African Community A new report from brewer SAB Miller, “The East African Community: Why this time is different,” gives a cautiously optimistic assessment of the East African Community’s prospects in building a coherent regional economic and political framework at the second attempt.
- Too Big to Fail? The World Bank’s loan to Eskom to build the Medupi coal-fired power plant comes as a relief to both industry and the local population, who have suffered from power cuts. But questions are being asked about its environmental impact and the South African company’s role in the region
- A new chapter for African oil The presence of oil has proved to be a mixed blessing for many countries over the years, but by putting local content policies at the heart of their development plans, governments in sub-Saharan Africa are hoping to make the most of their new found reserves
- Challenging times for MCC individuality Created in 2004 to reduce poverty in developing countries, the Millennium Challenge Corporation has enjoyed considerable independence, something that may be threatened by major reviews of US development assistance
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“There is a regional consensus that the crisis cannot be allowed to affect regional development”
“Africa probably has more resources than any place you can imagine”
“There can never be soft touch regulation. But it has to be regulation that is not arbitrary. The direction needs to be clear”
“Africa has lots of potential – raw materials and young people – but it needs FDI”