Friday, June 30, 2006

Is Africa's Economy Really getting Stronger?

"The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates Africa's economy grew 5% last year, and Africa is expected to do even better this year and next." This quote from an article from the Economist seems promising for African development, but the author is responsibly skeptic about the recent up swing in Africa's economy. Recently, foreign interest in Africa has increased due to Africa's growing oil production. Also, foreign debt relief and aid has increased, in part due to more trust in African government responsible spending. But, one must not jump to conclusions that Africa is on its way to economic stability. As the article points out, Africa's economy has had upswings in the past, and they were partly due to commodity prices, weather conditions and increased aid, but Africa cannot control these factors. So although it might look promising for Africa, one must be weary of the causes of the recent economic upswing. Also, one must not forget, despite overall improvements, African governments still have yet to provide efficient schools, roads, healthcare and other basic needs that they could be providing. The article ends by making a good point that, "despite improvements here and there, it [Africa] still sorely needs accountable and honest governments that people can freely eject when they fail. The current economic upturn, from a very low base, offers a rare chance for governments to build for the future while the going is a bit better. Hold your breath." The level of skepticism in the article is the proper way to handle Africa's recent growth. It would be naive to assume Africa is rapidly on its way to sufficient government and economic development. We can be happy that things in Africa are looking somewhat better, but we should not jump to conclusions, for a lot still needs to happen in terms of African development.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

African Union Seems Likely to Pass Election Charter

African Union foreign ministers met today in Banjul, Gambia to discuss a potential charter that would make it easier for power to change hands through the ballot box. The charter comes in response to certain African leaders who routinely change the constitution so that they can remain in power long after the constitutional term limit ends. Ironically, one of the AU leaders, Omar Bongo, has been president of Gabon since before many of the participants in the summit were even born. Nevertheless, if passed, it "...would condemn any unconstitutional change of power, as well as any refusal to accept defeat and hand over power after losing an election." This is certainly a huge issue in Uganda, and hopefully the charter will be passed so that an honest election can take place in which the people truly choose their leader, rather than a leader choosing himself time and time again through constitutional amendments. It is good to see a desire for more political accountability coming from the leaders themselves.

Transcorp will help economy in both Nigeria and all of Africa

Transnational Corporation of Nigeria or Transcorp is quickly developing into a key factor for economic growth in Nigeria, and all of Africa. Nigerian President, Obasanjo said that the need for a functional platform for the projection of Nigeria's economic growth and the potentials that it possesses was the key reason for the establishment of this project. Transcorp was started in Nov. of 2004 as part of the response to the economic reforms being undertaken by the Obasanjo administration. its main design was to mobilize Nigeria's capital on a very large scale for investment projects with foreign investors. Obasanjo launced transcorp in July of 2005 and left it open for all Nigerians to invest in it. This is a very important oppurtunity for Nigerians and all Africans in the case of mobilization. It is said that all of Africa's problems start with the government's that run the respective countries. But now you have a President willing to help out not only his nation but the continent economicly, and the chance to move just a bit closer to modernization is there. Transcorp is a very positive and important element of Nigeria and Africa moving closer to modernization.

Peace accepted by Joseph Kony

In an earlier blog posting by Gildeasean it stated that the president of Uganda Yoweri Museveni has sent to a team to offer peace to rebel leader Joseph Kony and that it would be interesting to see what the results would be. On June 28th Kony leader of Lord's Resistance Army has stated in response that he wants to talk peace. It is unsure how much Kony will be willing to support his claim. Kony has also said that he is innocent of any crimes against humanity even though he has been accused of child kidnapping and the mutilation of innocent citizens. This appears to be a positive step towards stability and peace in this region. Time will tell if any positive actions will come from these talks of peace or just a distraction as the fighting continues.

Rich nations falter on Africa promises: Bono

Recently, U2 front man Bono has outed some of the richest countries in the world, for not following through on a promise they made about about a year ago to provide aid in several areas to various African nations. Bono and his partner Bob Geldof (the two are founders of Live 8, one of the world's biggest and most star studded concerts) have used their fame to form a group named Debt, Aids, Trade, Africa group, or DATA. A DATA conducted report on the progress of this promise showed that they were making way on areas regarding debt and AIDS, but nothing is happening with trade. Bono claims this is because of a "lack of ambition, or sense of urgency". Bono also went on to say that although they were combatting AIDS, the donors only spent half of what they were able to. So far the only country on track with their goal in 2010 is France.

Uganda to Become Oil Producing Country

The Ugandan Investment Authority (UIA) director has met with investors from Kuwait to explore different options associated with extracting oil from Lake Albert. Large amounts of oil deposits were recently discovered there, and Uganda is now eager to become an oil producing nation. Uganda continues to pursue foreign investments in a number of areas, but adding oil to an already growing economy could do great things for the GDP in coming years. It is also good that the oil has been discovered in a time when Uganda has been making legitimate strides with stabilizing its economy. Hopefully it will be a clean start with as few complications as possible to ensure the most profit for the country. Different businesses will soon begin bidding for contracts to develop the proper infrastructure.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Museveni sends delegator, peace may be in sight

The President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, has sent a team to Juba, delegating an offer of peace with Joseph Kony. The delegation comes from the Southern Sudan President Salva Kirr to get a team to talk to Kony. This hopefully is the preliminary step to talking peace with the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army. This the peace talks can be held, it can end the 20 year long war between the LRA and the government of Uganda. Kony has gone on record saying that he is a human, and not the animal that the government portrays him to be. In response to the 33 counts in two crimes of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the ICC, Kony says, "I'm a freedom fighter who is fighting for freedom in Uganda," Kony said. "I am not a terrorist." It is interesting to hear Kony's point of view in the whole matter, and it will be interesting to see the developments in this issue, and hopefully peace can be reached.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Nigeria continues to strive for democracy

This was a very interesting article to me in the sense that I have just finished writing my country project on this subject. The article speaks about a conference held on the subject of how Nigeria can keep moving forward to the goal of democracy. They article touches on the election held on June 12, 1993. How it ran so smoothly with no religious problems and a winner was found fairly. But the main important thing that I got from the article is that the worry in Nigeria is that the military dictatorship that had plauged the nation for so long has the chance of returning. That the country is still in poverty and that there are two types of people in Nigeria, rich and poor. The rich keep getting richer and the poor keep on getting poorer. Nigeria has been its own nation for 46 years now and it is still not free. This article caught my attention in the sense that Nigeria is attempting to move in the correct direction. The leaders there are smart and know what it takes to reach a successful democracy and are doing what they can to achieve just that.

Congo: Will Starvation and Violence ever End?

In the small village of Aveba in the mineral-rich Ituri district in eastern Congo, death and rape are no stangers. Rebels from Uganda, Rwanda and even the Congolese army itself loot these villages for all they're worth. And when there's nothing left in the village to steal or eat anymore, these militias and bandits remain in the countryside and prey upon aid convoys for food, medicine and money. These greedy militias have battled government troops over control of lucrative industries like diamond and copper mining, and the war has been going on since 1998! Are these rebel insurgencies ever going to end? When will the international community step in? The UN has recently put more 'blue helmets' into the Congo to stabilize the country for the up coming elections this July. But the UN peacekeeping forces cannot stay there forever. The former rebels and government soldiers fused into a national force under the Lusaka peace agreement of 1999, and has been anything but helpful. Congolese people cannot seem to over come the burden of tribalism, and its clashing with nationalism. The people of the DRC need a common cause to unite behind, like they could have in 1960 when it gained independence or in 1997 when the Mobutu regime was toppled. But these elections this July and the optimism of the Congo's President Joseph Kabila offer new hope, and a new cause to rally behind. What Laurent Kabila did not seem to understand, but ought to become crystal clear to Joseph Kabila, is that the current crisis of the state can be checked only with a legitimate and responsible government.

Movie Stars can use their international popularity for good causes

Brad Pitt is one of the most famous actors in Hollywood today. This has made him both rich and well known. While many actors are perceived as selfish, Pitt has done his best to change this notion. He has used the fact that paparazzi follow him everywhere to good use. He has had them follow him to Africa! In doing this Brad Pitt and his girlfriend actress Angelina Jolie have both illustrated the dire situation in Africa while providing aid themselves. Pitt and Jolie have been put in the spot light and instead of abusing it to their own good they have put it to good use. The two have accepted the responsibility that comes with being in the spot light and have used it to not help themselves, but to help the needy people of Africa.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Is an End to the War in Northern Uganda in Sight?

The United States has said that it will do anything it can to help end the war in Northern Uganda. Apparently, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is at its weakest in a long time, and it seems like an ideal time to stop the war either militarily or through a settlement. Whether the United States will actually take action remains to be seen, but it is great to hear that an end may be near. Cooperation will need to come from the Democratic Republic of Congo, however, because LRA rebels currently remain in its territory.

"Operation feed yourself Uganda" set to launch in July

The Executive Director of the Uganda Investment Authority, Dr. Maggie Kigozi has approved "Operation feed yourself Uganda." This is a three year project that will assisst in approving Uganda's agricultural status. It will be a 32 acre pieces of land in Kakuuto sub-county, Rakal district. The operation will be organized by many different organizations from throughout Europe. One being the International Relief Friendship Foundation (IRFF). The UK rotary has provided 72m punds for international projects. However, the project is still in jeopardy as IRFF chief of Europe, Trevor Davies says that it can be challenged by the Uganda Government and the Rakasi district. However, like Kigozi has stated if the operation is launced it will greatly in improve modernisation of agriculture, the National agriculture Advisory development services and the Rural Food Security Programme. I feel that it is extremly important for this to be approved. The biggest problems that face people of Africa is modernizing like the rest of the world has. Having the right resources to feed an entire nation is something that Uganda and most of Africa has not had. This project is a step in the right direction for Uganda and will really help improve the hunger problem throughout the nation. Kigozi is right in that this project may take time but if launced in July as it is set to do, will set Uganda in the right direction in improving their hunger problem and modernisation.