Monday, May 24, 2010

blessing or curse ?

Socialist Banner has posted several times on Africa's "oil curse", and Time carries an interesting article that is worth posting extracts from.

Auwal Musa Ibrahim a Nigerian anticorruption campaigner explains that "Our oil powers the world. But in Africa, it creates places in which no longer do people think about how to build a nation, only how they can steal from it."

Nigeria, with close to 3% of global oil deposits, is Africa's Great Shame. The World Bank estimates the country's generals and gangster politicians stole $300 billion in the three decades to 2006.

The days when ordinary Africans stood by as their continent's riches were plundered, by foreigners or by their own rulers, are drawing to a close. But a time when Africa's oil is nothing but a blessing still seems a long way off.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Botswana inequality

In Botswana , Dr Kenneth Dipholo of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has said that the richest 10 percent of the population controls 42 percent of the total national income. The poorest of 50 percent of the population share 17.4 percent of national wealth.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

the world crisis

Chief Economist of the World Bank, Africa region, Dr Shanta Devarajan in regard to the Millennium development goals said “The crisis has put us further off track...the estimated poverty rate in Africa would have been 36 per cent by 2015 but now we re-estimated it to be about 38 per cent.”

Two percentage points is 20 million people. So there is 20 million additional people who will be in poverty as a result of the crisis.

Another 30,000 to 50,000 African babies will die before their first birthday.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Pity Industry

Andy Storey a development studies lecturer at University College Dublin describes himself as "very critical" of Bono, the U2 singer . "His embrace of the powerful neuters what he can say. He is calling for increased aid but, at the same time, he is bolstering and legitimising the very people who are helping to maintain the huge disparity between rich and poor.He is a useful idiot for world leaders who like to look cool when photographed alongside him. And there's something utterly unseemly about Bono's obsequiousness with them."

In her book, Dead Aid, Zambian writer Dambiso Moyo is particularly scathing about Bono's contribution. She objects to how celebrities such as Bono have "inadvertently or manipulatively become the spokespeople for the African continent" and noted in an interview with The New York Times that on the only occasion in which she met Bono, at a party to raise money for Africans, she was the only African there. Moyo's central thesis is that Western aid has made Africa's poor even poorer. She argues that the West's "pity industry" has not only facilitated corruption among the dictators given access to vast sums of unaccountable cash, but aid has also stifled investment and free enterprise. Aid has come to provide 75% of the revenue of some African governments and this has distorted the local economy.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

legal vultures

Socialist Banner has previously reported on the Ivory Coast environmental disaster caused by the company Trafigura. Many of the victims managed to gain a share of £30million compensation for the health affects by the illegal dumping of toxic waste.

But it seems that the multimnational were not the only sharks . The lawyers ,Leigh Day and Co, who represented more than 30,000 victims , poor , uneducated citizens of the Cote d' Ivoire have claimed 105 million pounds legal costs including a £50 million success fee , £20 million more than the compensation reward. Not just that but they have failed to ensure that all the claimants received the money . Only 12,250 of them had cashed their cheques.

Civil litigation experts said that the costs were unusually high. "£105m is a very high figure – I don't think I've ever heard a higher one in over 25 years of practice," said David Greene, head of litigation at law firm Edwin Coe.

Monday, May 10, 2010

escaping into drink

Urbanisation is changing the way alcohol is drunk. Illicit brews smooth dealmaking and reconciliation in the countryside. But in the sprawling city slums, where most of Nairobi’s people live, they are more often a cheap way of blotting out a sense of abandonment.

The Korogocho slum is one of the poorest in Nairobi, Kenya’s teeming capital. Its 120,000 residents occupy a stinking square kilometre by the city rubbish dump. Nearly three-quarters are under 30 years old. Many are alcoholics.

The equivalent of $1 is enough to buy four glasses of illegally brewed chang’aa —and oblivion. Some drink the local special, jet-five, so called because the fermentation of maize and sorghum is sped up with pilfered jet fuel. It can damage the brain. Elsewhere in Nairobi, chang’aa is spiked with embalming fluid from mortuaries.The name, meaning literally “kill me quick”, is well chosen. This and other methanol-based kickers are sometimes fatal: 10ml of methanol can burn the optic nerve; 30ml can kill.

The UN’s World Health Organisation reckons that half of all alcohol drunk in Africa is illegal. Neighbouring Uganda may consume more alcohol per person than any country in the world. Much of this is waragi, a banana gin. Some 100 Ugandans died from toxic waragi in April alone. Botswana, arguably sub-Saharan Africa’s most successful country, serves up laela mmago, meaning “goodbye mum”.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

ivory coast misery

We read that Ivory Coast , once called the "economic miracle" of Africa, with rapid growth in the first two decades after independence from France in 1960, is one of Africa's major agricultural exporters - around 40% of the world's cocoa, and more rubber and cashew nuts than any other country on the continent. But despite these cash crops, Ivory Coast has large regions suffering from malnutrition.

A third of children nationally suffer from chronic malnutrition. A recent survey showed that malnutrition was now at emergency levels among children under two years old in two regions in the north-west, Bafing and Worodougou. Children with malnutrition do not always get the help they need because of the cost of modern medicine, the lack of the health facilities close by. According to the International Monetary Fund, the poverty rate rose from 38% to 49% between 2002 and 2008.

This is not a country facing a famine, but a series of factors has left large numbers of the population struggling to grow and buy enough food.

"The reason why people are malnourished is mainly not due to a lack of food, but mainly due to accessibility issues due to poverty," says Mr Gerard ,country director for the health charity, Merlin. "The food on the market is expensive..."

Once more its a matter of capitalism's principle law "Can't pay - can't have"