Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Please.. allow Africa toTrade – without impediment !!

African Leaders governing the continent have shown over the past 50 years that feeding and supporting their people is complex, challenging and above all multifarious. The legacy of post colonial Africa left the continent unrecognisable from that of its former past. Changes in tribal line and transfer of power between favoured groups combined with poorly thought-out land redistribution schemes have contributed to Africa in the new millennium; branded the darkest continent in the world.

This new stereotype is notoriously associated with some of the worst human development statistics known to man. With fewer jobs, poor wages combined with increasing numbers of people affected by high Infant mortality rates, low life expectancy, reduced access to clean water, frequent power cuts and increasing numbers of individuals living below the poverty line. The rest of the world must now face the grim reality and accept the awful truth that the average African living on the continent is constantly fighting a battle of survival against all odds.

The reality is that some of the contributing factors towards Africa’s demise are a minefield to explore let alone a platform for finding solution. The World Trade Organisation (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) have always advocated to developing nations as part of their membership and conditionality package for loan agreements, liberalization of industries, institutions and governance is paramount for those wishing to relinquish the clutches of poverty. This involves the opening of markets to international trade by reducing trade barriers and the cutting back of state subsidies to local farmers.

Most commentators around the world would advocate that a 5% increase in world exports including that of developing nations, would generate 7 times what is currently given in Aid. I am of the opinion that Africa needs Trade not Aid. Africa will remain in the abyss, if industrialised nations like Britain and America continue to subsidise their farmers, encouraging overproduction that reduces the unit cost of production resulting in dumping of such goods on vulnerable African markets.

The resulting effect is that local farmers in developing countries in Africa unable to compete will go out of business, leading to a loss of jobs and a nation’s food insecurity. Similarly African goods wishing to trade in developed countries in Europe or the Americas are faced with high tariffs, quota restrictions and limitations on African products that can compete in foreign markets.

Addressing the issue of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), that gives exclusive rights to the creators of the product or service for a number of years, will have a devastating impact on developing nations. HIV patients will be unable to access treatment due to the cost of drugs that’s usually beyond their financial capabilities. Further reducing most African nation’s capacity to harness a healthy workforce, trade effectively and reduce poverty.
Traditional healers from the rural area in Africa usually cultivate herbs to treat variety of illness, providing low cost treatment to Africans who do not have access to hospital treatment. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) should fully recognise and support the (IPR) of traditional healers, whose knowledge of remedies which seeks to preserve and nurture the integrity of the African culture. Failure to protect traditional healers will result in pharmaceutical giants with ample resources developing these drugs to western standards, earning huge profits and then reselling these drugs back to Africans at expensive rate far more than what it would have cost from the traditional healers direct.

The issue of green house gasses that leads to global warming is in my opinion pivotal to Africa trading and eliminating poverty. It is a fact that extravagant lifestyles from developed nations in Europe and America through the use of house hold appliances, to the cars and trucks that are driven have resulted in the release of harmful CO2 gases into the environment. These Gases are having a direct impact on underdeveloped nations in Africa through dramatic climate change that are leading to drought, crop failure and loss of livelihoods. The impact of climate change reduces a nation’s ability to earn vital revenue, reduces a farmer’s ability to sell and forces families into starvation.

However Africa has to be responsible, it must respect its own environment by harnessing biodiversity and new faming techniques, embracing new technologies combined with seeking alternative and cleaner forms of energy from wind, solar or hydro power.

The issue of Gender Inequality has got to be as important as trade. Africa is predominantly an agricultural producing country with women accounting for up to 80% of all food and cash crop trade. The reality is that growing numbers of women lack access to education, unable to own land, faced with credit restrictions and severe limitations in their ability to control their resources or destiny.

Uncomfortable as it may sound the truth is that male quest for dominance with the support of cultural beliefs and local laws are to blame. This problem also extends to decision making within most household where women are not seen as an asset. It is not uncommon for women to be excluded from most forms of Human Development, despite their long hours of work which tends to start at 5am and does not end till 7pm.

Africa must realise and accept that women are the cradle of the continent. The veil of women’s invincible role must be removed. Africa must recognise the roles that women perform ever so magnificently and the work they do in exceptional circumstances. I am hopeful that a change in mindset can funnel both sides of the gender divide to better rewards that can lead to a more prosperous continent.

The World Bank advocates that increased trade raises productivity, growth and ultimately reduces poverty. This will only be possible when practical aspects of trade law and policy matters on market access, anti-dumping, General Agreement on Tariff & Trade (GATT), (IP), environment and labour standards are liberalized through systematic approach of citizen participation. Producers and exporters of goods and services will not be competitive without access to effective banking, accounting and transport systems. Global rules are therefore needed to regulate international trade by championing diversity and protect the rights of government and people. International trade could only have a sustained and positive effect on the lives of poor people, when trade policy needs are addressed at local, national and regional levels.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Augustine Mansare
Our leaders need to be able to make informed choices about what they do and how they govern our nations in Africa. Under the currrent wave of global conditions and the fact that African states simply cannot find the right ideas seems to me that there is a need to redefine Africa's role and context in the current world economic and political agenda... Read More. Perhaps one that goes beyound a mere crises of identity to beginning to recognize that African solutions to AAfrican problems is the best therapy that not only will bring sustained healing but one which will also, realistically, stand the test of time.

Augustine Mansare

Joe© said...

The OP said, "African Leaders governing the continent have shown over the past 50 years that feeding and supporting their people is complex, challenging and above all multifarious."

BOO HOO.

The reason that feeding and supporting their people is "complex" is because those same African leaders are corrupt to the core.

To wit:

a. They don't afford their people anything resembling equal treatment under the law

b. they heavily embezzle contributions of cash and food

c. They have miserably failed to raise an ethical, brave, selfless police and military, largely due to the "do what the fuck we want" attitude (see part a)

d. They have no regard for their women and children

e. They lie to the populace in order to incite riots

Shall I go on?

These African leaders have purposely promoted lawlessness, mistrust, cruelty and starvation- and they want to blame white colonization for this?

They can kiss my white a**.

"The Democrats have a valuable asset in a jealous electorate."

- a good friend

Joe© M/34 MOUNT PLEASANT, Michigan, US

Antoine said...

Joe©, If you look at the history of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East you'll see that the USA has overthrown democracies, installed and sponsored corrupt dictators, and bankrolled conflicts. So how can you be holier-than-thou about those places when your own country has often played a significant role in their problems? When you talk about ethics, you should probably take a good hard look at American foreign policy.

For example, the USA originally saw Col. Khadaffi as an asset because he was anti-communist. So, America helped defeat attempts to overthrow him in the early days of his rule. The CIA also orchestrated the coup against Lumumba, and supported the crook Colonel Mobutu. Washington was also involved in the Angolan Civil War (one of the longest ever). Basically, American governments don't care how brutal or corrupt a foreign government is, as long as it's not left-wing and it's willing to act in America's interest.

Getting back to the point, the unfairness of the trade system only helps to keep poor nations poor and dependent on the aid of richer nations. This aid often comes with strings attached (in order to benefit those wealthier nations), e.g. a poor country being forced to open its markets to subsidized produce.

I'm not saying that African politicians have never done anything wrong. However, if your own country has played a role in the problems of Africa, you have no business being self-righteous

Antoine M/33
London, South East, UK

augustinemansare said...

I cannot agree more with Antoine. Politics have done very litle if anything at all to raise our people out of wanton poverty aided by greed and selfishness of our rulers. Leadst to say, the politicians themselves have turned a blind eye to the sufferings of the masses. It is my opinion that development can only begin to be realized in any country if the politicians and leaders so esires. But sometimes politics makes them turn a blind eye. Like some blogger said, they concentrate more on continuing in power than anything else. The result is widening gaps between rich and poor, underdevelopment and poverty.

kevin Metzger said...

In my view there is much to be said for what Ayo has enunciated in his blog. Fair Trade is more likely to do more for Africa than Aid. The multiple hoops and hurdles that surround raising funds for development projects cannot be of great assistance to rapid development. Also it appears that Aid, these days, tends to bring its own problems, on many ... Read Morefronts, not least moral ones. Often, the Administration costs required to run large aid organisations does significantly affect the actual benefit that the 'aided', often beleagured, country receives. There is also the likelihood that it introduces many expatriates into a foreign system/culture who nevertheless are often remunerated on a higher scale than local staff recruited, if the indegenous people are brought in at top administrative or management levels initially, or at all. I don't mean to be unduly pessimistic - there are a lot of very well meaning people and organisations out there, but there's a serious downside too

Kevin Metzger

Syl Juxon Smith said...

African politicians do not usually evolved from a business or trade background to be able to deal squarely with the issues of both local and international trade and its complexity. We must first of all realise our potentials in assets, natural collateral resoures and human capabilities to promote self realisation to start with confidence to bargain and trade like others. If you look at politics in the west, you can see that main stream decision makers are from an elite business background which empowers them to always get the best out of every bargaining in any given circumstances local or global. Politics is run with a clear perspective in manifestos like exactly a business plan to any business. Until our politics begins to accommodate more businessmen with their ideas and versatility on board, there is no head way for Africa`s and its economy. The world is rule and control by commerce and business. A typical example is the transformation of the middle east in just a 20 year period. Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Dubai to name a few. They used their resources which is only oil and human to develop and propel their countries and living standard of the people. What have we done with our resources, diamonds, gold, titanium, iron ore, copper, coltan to name a few? Suffer, displace the people and destroy the continent with unnecessary and avoidable wars. The salvation and solution is in a home grown module for our economy looking from within using what we already have of value to get what we want in batter, trade and business for the gains of the continent and its inhabitants. You do not need to go to university to learn and understand trade or business or must have a degree or international recorgnition to be a good and astute politician. A good businessman always makes a good politician, but a politician never makes or becomes a successful businessman or statesman. An Home grown solution is the only remedy to an home grown problem.

Syl Juxon Smith said...

Syl Juxon Smith Yesterday at 10:34pm
Exactly that is why our leaders are missing their steps. You made a very salient point of redefining the roles of not only the leaders, but the system as well is very pertinent to the issue. When you give a bad vehicle to a good driver, it can only take you as far as it can. Leaders inherit systems and the bureacratic machinery they are not in control of. Why do the process of democratization through elections continues to do the same thing over and over again by voting in the very same individuals that destroyed one dispensation into another? How can you progress with a non progressive mechanism or a set of people redundant of ideas and positive vision ?

Katib Iscandari said...

There are three things that are major contributing factors to the poor way in which the state of our economy and continent lies today:
• Majority of those that tend to be appointed into office have limited skill set to execute their role effectively and are quick to surround themselves with friends or relatives who know just as much or even less and they tend to relate to their office or ministry as if it is their private home or business. ( when we start to see effective and competent leaders in office running the various ministries efficiently and implementing structured policies then we will see productive changes happening)
• It is my opinion those that are in government should stick to governing the people and realise that they are there to represent the voice, heart and souls of the majority and that it was that majority who elected them into power in the 1st place but most importantly that their position or posting that they carry can be revoked if they show a lack of responsibility to deliver their initial promise and when they are seen to be mismanaging funds etc, they are immediately stripped off that power. (we tend to hold them to such high esteem almost a Godly kind of power as if they are untouchable and when they are caught mismanaging our funds we laugh and smile and accept it as if we approve and turn a blind eye)
• Last but not least we need to educate our brothers and sisters about all that they have and its true value because a vast amount of the worlds raw materials is taken away from our continent and we give it away willingly for peanuts but then it is later resold back to us 100% more. Time we start building factories of our own. Our generation has a major part to play in the revolution and I feel that we now have a once in a lifetime chance to regain the sort of power that we read in our history books about the Mail empire, Egypt & Ghana. We are at a crucial point today with the Global financial crises around us this is the time to put Africa back on course. We have a vast number of us who have been privileged to see and adopt the west whilst still holding on to our roots. Walk into any of the FT 100 companies, Nasdaq or the other financial institutions and you are bound to find 1, 2 or 3 of us (African brothers or sisters) in all the key areas steering the ship.
• We have visionary and the skill set to take it to the next level but we lack the ability to be able to collaborate together for long enough as one and be that mighty force that we should be. “Success is a journey and not a destination” but most of us see it as a destination and once we get to a certain level lose the vision and direction and start to drift. We need to get behind, support and encourage more African owned and run businesses in the continent but also teach the average man to understand and respect the value of what they have so they can negotiate on their own behalf its true value so he or she does not get robbed by their own brother or sister let alone a stranger.

augustinemansare said...

Augustine Mansare
Our leaders need to be able to make informed choices about what they do and how they govern our nations in Africa. Under the currrent wave of global conditions and the fact that African states simply cannot find the right ideas seems to me that there is a need to redefine Africa's role and context in the current world economic and political agenda. Perhaps one that goes beyound a mere crises of identity to beginning to recognize that African solutions to African problems is the best therapy that not only will bring sustained healing but one which will also, realistically, stand the test of time.

Alfred said...

And?

While I agree with both sides, who the hell said life was fair?

I'm all for Africans shunning western aid as there is a movement to do so and I sure as all hell don't believe Duhbya and Joe Biden need to be tossing $8 Billion bucks to fight AIDS in Africa.

They've got oil, diamonds, and plenty of other resources tro sell to fight that with. Time for that continenet to change it up and fast forward about 1500 years to the present time.

Alfred B...With no regard for human life! o SJC-Central Ghetto/La Porte, Texas, US

kofucius said...

"Trade not Aid" that is the battle cry good sir Ayo.

I dislike the fact that the Bush administration as crappy as it was understood that trade is a better method of help for Africa than AID which is all the democrats at times comprehend.

AGOA has not been a failure but I hope Obama will bring some extra intelligence to the AGOA equation http://www.america.gov/st/washfile-english/2006/May/20060519162254WCyeroC0.4757654.html

With Aid comes debt and the good Thomas Sankara said "If we do not pay the debt, our lenders will not die. However, if we do pay it, we will die…"

mohamed boye said...

The picture will always be grim for as long as Africa is the looting ground of these western materialists.

Simple common sense tells that Africa has never been in the books for development but exploitation.A lot of money is portoned for development but over 60% of it remains in the land of the donor enriching them and poor Africans having to pay back and they hide this trick in the always big propaganda of massive corruption in Africa.
My arguments are simple,if Africa is corrupt who taught corruption there?Most African societies never had a money economy before the advent of Europeans and looking at the history of colonialism it was more business exploitation than developing the institutions of governance and progress.Take an example in Sierra Leone,A CROWN COLONY WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1808 AND NOT UNTIL 1924 that effective efforts were made to take western type governance system to the majority of the country beyond 32 miles of the seat of power in Freetown.Less than 20 years later she was granted independence wtih less than 10 trained doctors,less than 1000 trained teachers etc.If she is to become a failed state 30 years after independence and a starving of her economy simply because the government asked for more shares in the resources in 1970,then who is to carry that blame? Africa and most parts of Asia that are today emerging economies started as equals in the 50s but why is Asia more developed today than Africa? The answer is, whilst money was pumped into Asian economies like Malaysia etc,African economies were being exploited by using the heteriogeniety in the tribal make up and lack of nationhood visions to create wars.Africa was the theatre of the cold war as she is now becoming the theatre of the west-east 19th century war for resources.Look at Congo(a country that ha always been at war since independence) ,Dafur,etc and the answers are clear.

Malaysia is today the number one exporter of Oil Palm and palm products from a species developed at Masankay in Sierra Leone SIMPLY BECAUSE SHE GOT THE RIGHT SUPPORT TO DO SO WHILST THE COUNTRY IN WHICH THE RESEARCH WAS DONE WENT INTO A BLOODY WAR FOR DIAMONDS.
Also,if there is more disease in Africa now than in the last 40 years ,why?
Are some of these incedents of disease not mere manipulations by some vested interests to either depopulate Africa or make money on the heads of poor and innocent Africans as most of the drugs are paid for from some fund or the other?


Where is the love?May be the love will from now on surface with an african -american of 50% african pure breed in power at the white house.He has proven one fact ;the slaves shall inherit the earth,Masters shal become servants!
Also if they were as clean as they paint the picture why the economic crisis now?Where is the good management and yet financial collapse is now the order of the day!
Enough of the brainwashing as the principle of "Manifest Destiny" is dead!

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