Tag Archives: Africa

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Can non-Europeans think? – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.

”Why is European philosophy ‘philosophy’,but African philosophy ‘ethnophilosophy’ ?”

 Prominent French philosopher Michel Foucault,he of the discourse concept.

Prominent French philosopher Michel Foucault,he of the discourse concept.

 
Michel Foucault,an important influence on postructuralists in international relations,was opposed to the notion that knowledge is immune from  the workings of power.Instead,he argued that power in fact produces knowledge.All power requires knowledge and all knowledge relies on and reinforces existing power relations.Thus,there is no such thing as ‘truth’ outside of power.Postructuralists examine the concepts that dominate the discourse that is International Studies/Relations.That the dominant concepts are highly contingent on specific power relations.It is worth noting that all the major theories of International Studies/Relations i.e. realism,liberalism,Marxism,social constructivism,and postructuralism- all emerged in Europe in response to specific European problems,postcolonialists reckon.Postcolonial scholars question whether such theories can really purport to explain world politics.It is more likely that they continue to justify the military and economic subordination of the global South by powerful Western interests.{Globalization of World Politics}.

”How can history have a truth if truth in itself has has a history?” -Michel Foucault.

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Sorry, But Africa’s Rise Is Real.

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Sorry, but Africa’s Rise Is Real – By Charles Robertson and Michael Moran | Foreign Policy.

Voters register in rural Kenya.

 

”For years,whenever economic or financial news from Africa managed to wangle its way through the tales of genocide,famine,and catastrophe spun by western correspondents,the response of pessimists has been to write off all growth on the continent as a crude commodity play.” In a retort(Click on the link provided above) to Rick Rowden’s article –The Myth of Africa’s Rise, apparently exploring why the rumours of Africa’s explosive growth have been exaggerated, Renaissance Capital’s Charles Robertson  and Michael Moran reckon that Rowden makes miscalculations in discounting Africa’s rise.That dismissing Africa’s prospects for growth and comparing it with East Asia today is tantamount to comparing Germany in 1840 with Victorian England at it’s height and saying Germany will never amount to anything.Personally,I opine and indeed as development pundits have it that,development is a problematic concept to define and as such Rowden’s view (development is essentially industrial growth) is just but one of the many takes on development.”Africa Rising”,”Africa’s Century’‘ and many other headlines on Africa’s development prospects  are not mere narratives as some intellectual pessimists and cautious optimists claim.Using adult literacy data provided on 51 African country profiles in the December 2012 – January 2013 issue of The Africa Report (http://www.theafricareport.com ),save for Djibouti,Somalia and the Republic of Congo,Africa’s percentage adult literacy averages 66%.  IMF predicts a 5.3% continued economic growth for Africa.This, experts say will continue to attract investment and particularly so if the US and the euro zone continue to face economic woes.

Kampala Convention on IDPs;A first for International Human Rights.

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IDPs4

The African Union Convention for the Protection of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa,otherwise known as the Kampala Convention came into force on 6th December 2012,in conformity with Article 17 (1) of the Convention,thirty days after the 15th party-the Kingdom of Swaziland deposited its instruments of ratification with the African Union.The Kampala Convention was adopted at a Special AU Summit on the 22nd of October 2009 in Uganda’s capital,Kampala.Hailed as a milestone for human rights in Africa and indeed international human rights and humanitarian law,the Kampala Convention is the world’s first legally binding instrument that extensively addresses the plight of IDPs.According to data from  the United Nations High Commission for Refugees,Africa is home to well over to 9.7 million Internally Displaced Persons.That 40% of all the people who’ve been displaced as a result of violent conflict live in this beautiful continent-Africa.In fact,as at the end of 2011,out of 26 million internally displaced persons due to conflict and war world over,a staggering 9.8 million was in Africa.A number which Refugees International say would undoubtedly increase significantly were we to take into account the people displaced due to other multiple causal factors.(natural disasters,unlawfully forced eviction by development projects,Multinational Corporations and private security/military companies.)There are almost four times as many internally displaced persons as there are refugees in Africa.(Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre,IDMC). It is on the premise of this,that African governments ought to domesticate this landmark convention as provided for in Article 3 (2) (a) of the convention.Thus far, only 36 countries have signed the treaty.Out of that,only 15 have ratified and they include:Uganda,Benin,Gabon,Burkina Faso,Chad,Gambia,Guinea Bissau,Lesotho,Zambia,Togo,Sierra Leone,Niger and the Central Africa Republic,Nigeria and Swaziland.Unlike refugees,IDPs do not have a special status under international law.Lets distinguish the two-refugees and IDPs, shall we?Refugees are people who have crossed an international border and are at risk or have been victims of persecution in their country of origin.IDPs on the other hand have not crossed an international border,but have,for whatever reason,also fled their homes.

Under Article 3 (1) of the convention,states are generally obligated to,among other things:

  • prevent political,social,cultural and economic exclusion and marginalisation,that are likely to cause displacement of populations or persons by virtue of  their social identity,religion or political opinion.
  • ensure the accountability of non-state  actors involved in the exploration and exploitation of economic and natural resources leading to displacement.
  • ensure individual responsibility for acts of arbitrary displacement,in accordance with applicable domestic and international criminal law.

The  Kampala Convention  specifically mandates  states inter alia, to:

  • devise early warning systems,in the context of the continental early warning system,in areas of potential displacement,establish and implement disaster risk reduction strategies,emergency and disaster preparedness and management measures and,where necessary,provide immediate protection and assistance to internally displaced persons.
  • take necessary measures to ensure that internally displaced persons are received without discrimination of  any kind and live in satisfactory conditions of safety,dignity and security during displacement.
  • take special measures to protect and provide for the reproductive and sexual health of internally displaced women as well as appropriate psycho-social support for victims of sexual and other related abuses.
  • as much as possible prevent displacement caused by projects carried out by public or private actors and ensure as well that the stakeholders concerned will explore feasible alternatives,with full information and consultation of persons likely to be displaced by projects.
  • enable displaced persons to make a free and informed choice on whether to return,integrate locally or relocate by consulting them on these and other options and ensuring their participation in finding sustainable solutions.
  • establish an effective legal framework to provide just and fair compensation and other forms of reparations,where appropriate,to internally displaced persons for damage incurred as a result of displacement,in accordance with international standards.

In as much as Kenya has an IDP policy that borrows heavily from the Kampala Convention,it remains one of the 36 countries which have signed but are yet to ratify.It is worth noting that countries which have the largest populations of IDPs (close to 6 million combined) – South Sudan,Somalia and DRC haven’t as well ratified the treaty yet.Experiences in Africa and around the world have demonstrated that backing up innovative international agreements such as the Kampala Convention with strong domestic laws is essential to ensuring that obligations laid out in these instruments don’t just exist on paper,but translate into improved practice,writes Brookings Institute’s Fellow, Megan Bradley, on the implementation challenges.Other experts too have duly pointed to the incredible implementation challenges and as such have called for the need to pro-actively engage sub-regional institutions like the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD),the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS),the South African Development Community (SADC), and international financial institutions such as the African Development Bank,and the World Bank.

Indeed,the Kampala Convention,if you may,epitomizes African solutions to African problems.

Kampala Convention(PDF)

Opinion:Why Kenya owes Africa peaceful elections

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Why Kenya owes Africa peaceful elections.(Link)

Click on the link provided above and find out just why Dr.Fredrick Ogenga reckons Kenya owes Africa peaceful elections.

-Kenya

 

The author of the article,one Dr.Ogenga,is the director of Tazama Media Consultants and a Visiting Scholar at

the Institute of the Advancement of Social Sciences’ Sociology Department,Boston University,USA.

Challenging the Frontiers of African Integration.

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SID President Juma Mwapachu New Book On Regional Integration.

Challenging the Frontiers of African Integration:Dynamics of Policies,Politics and Transformation in the

East African Community, a new book on regional integration by Ambassador Juma V.

Mwapachu,Society for International Development’s President,formerly a Secretary General of the EAC is a must

read for the political elite,civil society,private sector as well as scholars and students of integration,says the 6th

Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity,now African Union and  5th Prime Minister of Tanzania,

Dr.Salim Ahmed Salim.

Arguably the foremost proponent of a ”United States of Africa”,an idea ostensibly first put forward in Hail,a

1924 Marcus Garvey poem,Col.Muammar Gaddafi’s cherished dream of a federal United States of Africa in all

its impracticality did resonate with me,albeit only to a certain extent.Today,an integrated Africa however sounds

more like it.Overlooking his leadership shortcomings,Gaddafi who was labelled a ‘Mad Dog’ by the

West,developed Libya without seeking financial aid from western-dominated aid  agencies.Kwame

Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere too were major proponents of African unity.Need I belabour the fact that Africa is

the richest poorest continent?

Africa can feed itself.

    

 

                                             Africa can feed itself.

Published in October this year,a new World Bank report; Africa Can Help Feed Africa:Removing the

barriers to regional trade in food staples proposes that if  countries on the continent remove cross-border

restrictions and embrace more dynamic inter-regional trade,Africa could feed itself.Moreover,Africa could as well

generate an extra US $20 billion in yearly earnings if trade barriers between its countries are done away

with.Increased inter-regional trade trade,the report says,would have farmers meet the continent’s rising food

demand which is set to double by 2020 as rural-urban migration increases.The report also cites more job

creation in services such as distribution,reduction of poverty and cutting back on expensive food imports should

Africa intensify inter-regional trade.Of all African countries’ imported cereals,only 5% come from other African

countries.60% of the world’s remaining arable land is in Africa.About 400 million hectares of this land  remains

uncultivated.Baffour Ankomah reports in the New African May 2012 issue that the development prospects of

Africa are intrinsically linked to the performance of the agricultural sector,and therefore,contrary to the

prescriptions of the economic orthodoxy once called the ”Washington Consensus”,African governments should

get more actively involved in the agricultural sector,if the continent is to achieve overall development.Most

African economies are agro-based.Agricultural labour comprises 59% of the total labour force and 13% of value

added to GDP in 2009.Something to note though:while prioritising Agriculture should be the way

forward,diversifying the economy is an added plus.Removal of trade barriers (price controls,export,import

bans,variable import tariffs and quotas) between African countries to enhance inter-regional trade would also

mean free movement of food between countries and from fertile areas to those where communities are suffering

food shortages.Africa’s staple food production is valued at at least US $50 billion yearly.I couldn’t help but

question why the word ‘help’ was and is in the report title though..As at 2008 an estimated 3.5- 4 million

Kenyans in urban areas were food insecure,about half the same number (1.3 million) in rural Kenya.The

Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture today puts the figure of starving Kenyans at 4 million annually.

Until recently,West Africa saw the greatest amount amount of international interest in exploration and

production whilst the East Africa region saw much less investment and research into its geological potential.All

this has now changed as  potential for oil and gas discoveries across the region  has seen it take the spotlight as being one of the world’s final and

most exciting frontiers for oil and gas exploration.With companies like Royal Dutch Shell,Tullow Oil,ENI,Galp

Energia,Cove Energy and BG Group making inroads into the region,pundits say development of regional

infrastructure for the oil and gas boom would have all and sundry benefit from the available opportunities.

Of course if the dreaded oil curse is avoided.

Reportedly,Africa receives $40 billion in ‘dead’ aid annually.A 5% increase in intra-African trade would give us in

excess of $400 billion per annum.Thus laying emphasis on the need for  African integration.Talk of Africa

transforming Africa.The book as a matter of fact underscores African integration as an effective strategy in

mitigation of poverty and promotion of inclusive economic prosperity.46% of Kenyans  today  live below

the poverty line.According to World Bank Africa,today,there are 22 African countries with a total population of

about 400 million people which have attained middle income status,with most,Kenya included,to follow suit by

2025.That is if  the current trend of yearly GDP growth of 5-6% continues,reckons World Bank

Economist,Wolfgang Fengler.A country becomes a middle-income country when it surpasses the $1000 GDP

per capita threshold.(World Bank). African Development Bank  qualifies anybody with an annual income

exceeding $3,900 (Kshs.331,500) to be in the middle class category.African countries are however way too

dependent on  Western capitalist economies to the extent that they are blind to the economic gains of African

integration thus low intra-regional trade.Thanks to the so-called globalized economy.Today,Africa’s GDP stands

at $2 trillion.Without South Africa and Nigeria,sub-Saharan Africa accounts for a mere 1.3% of world GDP,2.5 if

South Africa and Nigeria are included.So much for redistributive effects of a globalized

economy.

In East Africa’s case in particular,touted as the next frontier for gas and oil exploration, there’s lack of

understanding and knowledge about the integration process by politicians and constituents (citizenry) as

well,writes  SID’s Ahmed Salim in his review of the book as regards some of  the challenges pointed out by

Ambassador Mwapachu.The previous stages of integration(Customs Union,Common Market) too haven’t as fully

been implemented yet.Overlapping membership,poor infrastructure(East Africa is said to have the worst

transport network in Africa) and poorly developed financial markets are the other conspicuous bottle-

necks.Political stability,rather the lack thereof in individual countries,cannot be wished away either.

Regardless of the challenges of African integration,here’s some food for thought:”While we are divided in

European languages (read Anglophone Africa,Francophone Africa,Lusophone Africa etc), the natural

owners of those wonderful languages are busy building a united Europe.” -Julius Nyerere.

Sources:Society for International Development,East Africa.( http://www.sidint.net ),Africa Review http://www.africareview.com World Bank;Press Release No:2013/113/AFR, http://www.eaogsummit.com.

Biggest GHGs Emitters;The Politics of Climate Change

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Infographic: The politics of climate change – Interactive – Al Jazeera English.

Environment Ministers from approximately 200 countries will from today,26th November to  7th of December meet in Doha,Qatar to try and reach a new agreement on emissions at the 2012 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP18) .Up to date,close to 187 countries have ratified the Kyoto Protocol.191 countries had  signed it by September 2011.The Kyoto Protocol came into force in 2005.

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The Kyoto Protocol.

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) commits the developed countries to make an average cut of 5.2 per cent in their greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions from a 1990 baseline. Thus,states negotiated for different national targets.For instance,the biggest carbon dioxide emitter (2010) after China,the U.S.A, pledged to cut by 7 per cent GHGs emissions.However,the U.S.A just  signed the treaty but did not ratify it.These targets were to be achieved by the first commitment period;2008-12.The  European Union which  made a pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 8 per cent in the first commitment has committed to making more cuts under the second commitment period.Russia which negotiated a zero per cent cut below the 1990 levels has since opposed the second commitment period.During last year’s climate talks in Durban,South Africa,nations agreed to extend the timeline of the Kyoto Protocol.Japan and Canada  pledged 6 per cent cuts each.They are also opposed to the second commitment period.Canada,as a matter of fact withdrew from the treaty in 2011.Hence my sensational and seemingly ‘pipe-dream’ argument that until the global environmental regime,under the aegis of the UN or whatever supra-national authority starts penalizing massive environment polluters a la states’ grave human rights violation,it would be a case of two steps forward,three steps back.It also at the same time,sadly,confirms that international law is a law between and among states and certainly not above states.China,the biggest emitter of GHGs which signed as a developing nation wants a second commitment period.

The Kyoto Mechanisms.

For achievement of those percentage cuts of greenhouse gas emissions,three mechanisms were agreed upon:

  • Emissions Trading.Envisages a system where a market in rights to pollute is created.For instance,efficient power plants can sell their permits to emit carbon dioxide to others and a long-term reduction in the number of permits available will mean that the price of carbon rises,alternative power sources become more competitive,and the overall amount of carbon dioxide emitted is reduced.
  • Joint Implementation(JI).Under this mechanism,a developed country can receive credits against its own emissions reduction target by financing projects in another developed country.The argument is that a given amount of money is best spent where it can achieve the greatest reduction in world emissions of greenhouse gases.Countries with very efficient power plants will have an incentive to use this scheme.
  • The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Applies the same principle to relations between developed and developing countries.This has already stimulated a good deal of interest in China and elsewhere because it is a source of new funds and technology transfer.

With many an encomium such as ‘Africa Rising’,’The African Century’  lately,Africa has the opportunity to tread a development path that entails a low carbon footprint.Estimates have it that between $22 to $31 billion per year,is the  the amount of resources required between now and 2015 for Africa to adapt to climate change and go down the low carbon development route.Africa,pundits say,is among the most vulnerable regions to climate change and variability.

Ratification:the procedure by which a state approves a convention or protocol that it has signed.There will be rules in the treaty concerning the number of ratifications required before it can enter into force.

Sources:Al Jazeera,The Globalization of World Politics(5th ed),The New African.