Jun 10th, 2013 1:33 PM UTC
By Katherine Lay
Is the Open Government Partnership (OGP) taking root in Africa? How can we build on initial successes and meet national commitments to open governance? These were the questions dominating discussion at the OGP regional planning meeting in the coastal town of Mombasa, Kenya, where over 100 government and civil society representatives from 16 countries gathered last week to chart a dynamic African agenda for the Partnership.
Hosted by Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communications and organised by the Kenya ICT Board, the OGP Partnership Support Unit and civil society organisations, the two-day meeting brought together government Ministers, parliamentarians, civil society experts, multilateral agencies and the media to share experiences and spur innovation to build transparent and accountable governments across the continent.
Through a series of panel discussions and thematic sessions on issues ranging from the status of access to information legislation in African countries, to improved processes for public financial management, and technical innovations in e-governance and open data provision, participants critically reviewed and agreed upon necessary national and regional action, including bringing new African members into the OGP, its endorsement by the African Union, and its alignment with the African Peer Review Mechanism.
The OGP is a young initiative, but it is growing fast. Launched in September 2011 by eight founding countries (Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom and United States), the OGP now has 59 participating countries, five of which are African. Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, Liberia and South Africa have all met the OGP’s eligibility requirements and have embraced the Open Government Declaration, developing national action plans through public consultation, and committing to independent reporting of their progress. Malawi, Cape Verde, Uganda, Senegal and Ethiopia are also now eligible for the OGP, and Nigeria, Namibia and Sierra Leone have expressed interest in joining.
The starting point for potential members is government recognition of citizens’ rights to information and to active participation in public governance; indeed, states need to proactively disclose information and citizens need to capture the spirit of demanding it. The next step is commitment by governments and civil society to a collaborative process in overseeing implementation of OGP principles in their countries, as affirmed through joint formulation of a national action plan and delivery of this plan to the OGP Secretariat.
Through these plans, governments and civil society organizations in member countries are now working together to promote transparency, increase civic participation, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. Their plans share a number of common features, with commitments structured around key challenges that all governments face: improving public services; increasing public integrity; effectively managing public resources; creating safer communities; and increasing corporate accountability.
Members’ action plans and progress in opening government – not only to public servants and experts, but to all citizens – was the subject of extensive discussion at the meeting. All participants agreed that action plans can only generate real improvements in governance and development when all citizens are aware of and take ownership of the OGP as an instrument that can change their lives.
The grassroots popularization of the OGP has yet to be achieved, and it is the job not only of civil society organizations, but of governments. Alongside transparent disclosure of information on government activities that is timely, freely available and meets user-friendly open data standards, governments need to mobilize broad-based citizen participation in monitoring and supporting the implementation of OGP action plans.
A government that is genuinely responsive and accountable has nothing to fear from the empowered and energised participation of its people. Extensive public hearings; parliamentary debates; proactive use of social media and open data portals; transmission of OGP-related information through television, radio and print media; and government communication with youth in schools and universities are highly effective mobilisation tools for OGP implementation and citizen feedback.
The key message of the OGP regional meeting is that the OGP has revolutionary potential for Africa. It is a platform for people’s power, giving us the tools, information and participation that we need to take greater control of our own development and to unleash an open governance revolution in Africa and throughout the world. We all have a stake in its success.
May 28th, 2013 6:24 PM UTC
By Dr. Sipho Moyo
As many of you will know, May 25 marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the African Union and its predecessor the Organisation of African Unity. It is now known as Africa Freedom Day.
It was a seminal moment 50 years ago when heads of state from 32 African countries—most of them being newly independent on the world stage—met together in Addis Ababa to chart a unified vision for a free and liberated continent that was still emerging from colonialism. The African Union now counts 54 states amongst its members. This week’s celebrations looked back on 50 years of historic struggle for self-determination and achievement while also acknowledging the very real challenges still plaguing the continent. This was well captured in the 21st African Union Summit’s theme of “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance,” which concluded yesterday.
ONE’s Africa Team was there to take part in this celebration and gathering of all the continent’s leaders. We used the opportunity to engage political leaders and build public support on issues which ONE campaigns on.
Our Agriculture campaign continues to build momentum toward the African Union’s Year of Agriculture and Food Security in 2014. In keeping with the celebratory nature of the week, we worked with the AU Commission (AUC), ACORD and ActionAid to host a panel session in the African Youth Forum on Thursday. We also jointly hosted a press conference with a broad array of African and international media present.
I was joined at the press conference and the panel session by an incredible range of voices, including Dr. Abebe Haile Gabriel, the AUC’s Director for Rural Economy and Agriculture; Sara Yapwa, a Nigerian woman farmer; Mr. Biranchi Upadhyaya, ActionAid’s International Programs Director; Boaz Keizerie, Special Advisor to the Rural Economy and Agriculture Commissioner at the AUC; and Vincent Rapeta, a young South African farmer.
We emphasised that it was important for countries to meet the commitment to allocate 10% of national budgets to agriculture (as laid out in the 2003 Maputo Declaration) to demonstrate accountability. However, the quality of investment and its impact on smallholder farmers is also crucial to track, and my fellow panellists provided each of their unique perspectives.
Dr. Abebe spoke about the importance of African countries developing their rural economies, almost as a precondition to developing agriculture. He said that not only must we provide affordable inputs and resources for agricultural production but also for supporting agro industries as well. This is what’s needed to attract youth in the sector, as the African Union is concerned that youth are not participating sufficiently in agriculture. However, according to Dr. Abebe, the future African farmer will be younger, more educated and possess sophisticated business acumen with access to information and have higher aspirations than today’s farmers.
Sara, the Nigerian farmer, implored governments to keep their commitments. She spoke about the need for farmer’s voices to be included in policy making as they know what hurts most in the risky business of farming. Mr. Upadhyaya further called for a fair deal for small holder farmers and a timetable for African states to meet their Maputo commitments.
Then Vincent, whose full story you can read here, spoke about his own experience of starting a career in agriculture and how he hasn’t turned his back since. He also spoke about the challenges he faces in accessing finance and land while ensuring high quality in his produce. With perseverance he has been able to overcome these challenges and obtain more land for cultivation, but is aware that this is not assured for all young people in South Africa. He mentioned there are times when those who don’t farm—like doctors and teachers—receive land re-distributed by the government. Youth in the audience were inspired and challenged to hear from a youth farmer, as land access emerged as a key issue for them.
On Friday, we joined the Youth Forum again at a plenary with African Presidents from Liberia, Zambia, Senegal, Ethiopia, Botswana, and Senegal along with AUC Chair Mrs. Dlamini-Zuma. The event was an intergenerational dialogue where youth debated with their presidents about the AU’s past, its current challenges and how the AU will provide opportunities for youth to be included in decision-making. The lack of progress on Maputo’s 10% was also raised. It was an energetic dialogue moderated by the BBC’s Zeinab Badawi. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mrs. Dlamini-Zuma called on African leaders to have regular interface with young people at national and continental levels.
All in all, the past week was an incredible opportunity to connect, critically take stock and assess the positive gains made in the economic and political development of Africa over the last five decades. We at ONE are honoured to have been a small part of the celebrations and look forward to the next 50 years of progress.
May 23rd, 2013 2:12 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Our guest blogger today is Vincent Rapeta, a young farmer from South Africa. He is speaking at the African Union Youth Forum in Addis Ababa this week as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations.
I’m Vincent and I come from Limpopo Province in South Africa. I’m 28 and a farmer. I grow maize, butternut squash, watermelon, tomato, beetroot and cabbages. I am a farmer by accident but I’m loving it.
I was raised by a single parent and we were very poor when I was growing up. I think that my mother earned R5000 a year. In today’s US dollars, that is just over $500.
I had dreams of becoming an auditor and fighting corruption but we didn’t have money to send me to university. But I did have an opportunity. I was helping my mother while I was in school on our small plot of two hectares. And after I was done with school, I started helping her full time- that’s how I became a farmer.
Our produce started being noticed for its quality and in 2006, the local Department of Agriculture selected me to attend an agriculture training programme where I learned about soil quality, when to plant certain crops and also special knowledge about growing tomatoes, which are higher value crops. I eventually got my own plot and started expanding the amount of produce we could grow, and began to employ some local people to help me manage my plots and harvests.
In 2010, I went to school again to learn about the business side of farming and best management practices. I learned about finances, communications, labour and best standards for my produce. In 2011, I won the Best Farmer award in Molemole Municipality. I was so excited.
Last year I decided to expand my operation and was able to obtain 20 hectares from the traditional council in my area and another 20 from the municipality. I am now trying to get those plots of land suitable for farming as they are still covered in bush. I’ve had to spend my savings to clear the land and drill boreholes for irrigation, but hope to be up and running by the end of this year.
Farming is hard work. It is very challenging, but so rewarding. I think there are three main challenges for young farmers like me.
First, we need access to land and financial services. I have been very lucky – an elderly neighbour allowed me to farm her plot and I also had my mother’s plot to start from. Not all of my fellow young South Africans without work have been so fortunate. South Africa is redistributing its land but it often goes to people who don’t make a living from it. A doctor will get a few hectares where I live, but then wake up and go to his job.
Banks require security and collateral for loans. Hail can ruin one season’s harvest. I’ve saved and have been able to use this to expand, but we need insurance and loans to help us move forward. When we take the risk, we need government to meet us half way in managing these costs.
Second, we need to challenge the perception that informal sector farmers like myself provide poor quality produce. I was once told by a buyer for a big market that he wouldn’t buy tomatoes from black farmers. And this was a black man telling me this. He would buy spinach and butternut but not tomatoes. So we must try to promote the real quality of food that informal farmers produce.
And finally, we need access to fair markets. As we plan our crop we need to be sure that it will not go to waste. In Limpopo I am lucky that the food bank buys my tomatoes and my income is assured, other youth farmers in the rest of the country don’t have the same opportunities. We need policies that support the development of crop markets so that farmers can increase their harvest, earn more income and improve their families’ lives.
All I can say is that here is so much opportunity in farming. I think young people all over Africa should look to farming to improve their lives and improve our continent. We’re always crying of not having jobs. Well, we can find land. We’re not disabled. Why can’t we just make our own job? Our governments just need to make it easier by building roads that lead to markets and by providing marketing information and training to farmers.
I dream of owning 1000 hectares in ten years where I can have a herd of cattle and provide so many jobs to contribute to poverty alleviation. I know this is possible and with the right policies from government, all of us here will be farming.
May 10th, 2013 12:10 PM UTC
By Dr. Sipho Moyo
In a few weeks, the UK government will host a major international event in London called Nutrition for Growth: Beating Hunger through Business and Science. Happening just days before the 2013 G8 Summit in Lough Erne, it will bring together governments, businesses, scientists and civil society to examine strategies that could improve the quality and quantity of food available to the world’s poorest people.
Back in March I attended a highly energised meeting of African civil society organisations in Ethiopia, who had gathered for Africa’s biggest annual forum on agriculture and where we launched our report A Growing Opportunity. We all agreed an urgent message needed to be sent to the international community before the June summit in the UK.
As a result, ONE together with 36 other African organisations have written to UK Prime Minister Cameron asking his government to ensure that African-led agriculture is at the heart of the Nutrition for Growth event, and specifically the existing CAADP plans.
CAADP stands for the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program. It has already created momentum to reform agriculture in 40 out of 53 African countries and many more are joining. This makes it the single best existing framework that would support the G8 to deliver excellent results from their food security and nutrition investments on the continent.
CAADP will also become the central organising vehicle for the African Union year of Agriculture in 2014. African states have committed themselves become more accountable to their people on accelerated progress in fighting hunger and helping small-holder farmers access better investment, technology and markets to sell their produce.
African leadership, political will and investment is critical to realising the poverty reducing potential of African agriculture. The private sector and international community also has a very important supporting role to play in investing in African-led agriculture.
Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, has said, “Africa has potential, but it cannot eat potential. More coordinated action is needed”.
Rather than re-invent the wheel, the G8 must build on the momentum growing across Africa and fund the agriculture plans already in place.
Apr 29th, 2013 1:49 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Mike Drachkovitch, manager of marketing and external relations at ONE, shares his interview with one of the creators of a magazine and brand that is challenging the accepted understanding of Africa. Photos: AITF.
Part conceptual magazine, part clothing company, AFRICA IS THE FUTURE, or AITF, is more of an ever-evolving creative project in time travel than anything else.
And that’s exactly what its co-founder and creative director, Nicolas Premiere, had in mind. Nicolas was born in France to a French mother and a Congolese father. He and his business partner Patrick Ayamam launched AITF with an important vision in mind: to change the way you think and talk about Africa.
We think he’s done just that.
Tell me about how you came to found AITF and the team behind it?
The first t-shirt with the slogan ‘AFRICA IS THE FUTURE’ was printed in 2002. At this time, I was also exhibiting a series of painted portraits featuring Congolese people I had met a year earlier in Brazzaville. Almost all the models looked at the viewer straight in the eye. It was important for me to show proud Africans who are aware of themselves. Alongside these series of paintings, I worked on different slogans that were inspired by the civil rights movement with updated content. Among all of these slogans, there was AFRICA IS THE FUTURE.
A cultural center organizing one of my exhibitions offered to print my t-shirts for the opening. I chose to print [AFRICA IS THE FUTURE] on 30 t-shirts. But it was two years later when AITF was born. There was another exhibition, another opening, where at least ten friends came with the famous t-shirt which led to the audience talking about the slogan, its meaning and Africa.
My friend Patrick and I were pretty surprised by all the discussions that the t-shirts generated.There were new angles, perspectives and ways to talk about Africa. We wanted this to happen again more widely and more often, so we reprinted more t-shirts! In recent years we’ve generated discussion in ways other than the t-shirts-AITF Magazine is the most recent example of this.
Let’s talk about your homepage. I’m intrigued by the teaser: everything you want to know about AITF but never dared to ask. Then, clicking through, it says: now you know. What was your reasoning behind this?
When we printed the first t-shirts with the slogan AFRICA IS THE FUTURE, we did not want people to be able to clearly identify who was behind this and what for. We did this because we wanted people to use their critical mind to elaborate their own meaning for the slogan.We did not want to interfere with this process. Our only goal was to bring Africa, from an unusual and stimulating perspective, as a main subject of everyday discussions.
Now you know means there is no hidden truth or magical secret behind AITF-it’s a creative work that is crucial but surely not sufficient-we are not the solution. We do not pretend to change the world or Africa.
You also mention on your homepage how AITF questions how the world is told to us and renews the way Africa is represented. In your view, how is that world told to us and what’s the image of Africa you’re renewing?
Until the lions have their own historians, history will always glorify the hunter. My goal is not to compare Africa to lions but to highlight the fact that there is a predominant point of view in media and cultural industry. It has nothing to do with objectivity-it’s global power relations reflected in images.
AITF Magazine, with its fictional content, requires the reader to ask himself questions because everything that normally seems self-evident is reversed. Particularly the traditional image of Africa in the media: poor, sick, plagued by war. By giving Africa the leading role, AITF Magazine places the continent in a position that is nearly the same as the US today.
Your conceptual magazine is published 20 years from now in 2033. Why did you pick 2033?
The main reason the magazine is dated in the year 2033 is to signify that it is not the real world. AITF’s world has its own temporality, its own logic…It’s not a perfect reflection of the real world. Our goal is not to predict the future but if possible, to create tools for thinking about the world differently by swapping/changing preconceived ideas.
What about the Addis Abeba Panthers?
The Adis Abeba Panthers are the greatest soccer team of the world in 2033. For your information, ever since they recruited Etuna Ndakolo, they have won victory after victory. Moreover, Ndakolo has dethroned the old Messi in many records!
Your brand utilises some timeless images and design work. Tell us your creative vision behind the look and feel of AITF.
It’s about the aesthetic of the fifties which corresponds to the post-war economic growth of the US and the worldwide promotion of the American way of life. This time period is a perfect playground because its representational codes are strongly rooted in the collective unconscious and the impact is all the more great when diverted.
How about U.R. Doctors for America – an American child vaccinated in our backyard of Virginia?
Worldwide petroleum resources have been exhausted but the African Energy Group discovered new shale gas fields in America which is good news for Africa. We can not say the same for America because the continent stirs lust. Like deja vu, various civil wars break out in places where a deposit is discovered. Utilities, especially health care and education, are most affected by these troubles.Endemic diseases like meningitis resurface. Touched by the plight of kids and civilians, an association of African volunteer doctors travels to America to rescue them.
What’s your creative process like?
Like every creative project, it’s complex. I can’t tell you exactly, because I do not have a magical formula. I work all the time. I use many notebooks. I read, I listen, I look, I walk, I inhale, I exhale. I try to stay connected with the flow because everything comes from it.
One of the statistics I find most exciting about Africa is that 65 percent of Africans are under the age of 35. I couldn’t help but think that AITF is trying to connect with this up-and-coming, change-making generation. Why?
We connect to the coming generation of the world because they are, by definition, the future.The way we see the world determines what we do in it. This is too important to let only media and cultural industry open the eyes of the youth!
Finally, if you could share a message with ONE members young and old, what would it be?
Think for yourself.
Big thanks to Nicolas for sharing his ideas with us. Check out the website and tell us what you think in the comments below.
Apr 22nd, 2013 1:33 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Dr. K.O. Antwi-Agyei manages the Expanded Programme on Immunisation in Ghana, where he oversees the day-to-day work to ensure vaccines reach children across the country.
Ghana’s health care system has put a lot of its resources into vaccines. Why?
We can see a lot of achievements in reducing child deaths by investing in delivering vaccines. The returns are high, so the politicians and policy makers are convinced that it’s worth investing in vaccines. That is why at least every year within our budget we ensure that we pay for all our traditional vaccines.
Our communities have also been great because they embrace vaccination. They even testify that “Oh, our children used to die from measles. Now with vaccination, we don’t see measles.” And of course, they allow our staff into their homes. There is trust. We can now return to the communities with other vaccination campaigns. It’s marvelous.
What impact have vaccines had on the health of Ghana’s population?
Around 1974, immunisation coverage was around 1.6 percent. Today, well over 90 percent of our population is covered by immunisation services, reducing the burden of disease.
For example, measles used to be the number two killer of children. Now it’s no longer a cause of death for the past 10 years in Ghana. So a lot has been achieved through immunisations.
Last year, you were the first immunisation chief in Africa to simultaneously roll out two vaccines, one protecting children against pneumonia and the other against rotavirus. Why did you decide to do that and, and what was the result?
Our desire to reach the Millennium Development Goal to reduce childhood death was a very big motivating factor. Apart from malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea are the two highest killing diseases. So we thought, if there is no vaccine against malaria now, and there are vaccines against pneumonia and diarrhea, then it’s worth fighting. So we decided to fight the two together. We thought it would be difficult, but not an impossibility. And with careful planning, we could succeed.
How important are Ghana’s community health workers in delivering the vaccines?
They are very important. The front line health workers, they are in touch with the communities. They help improve our public health services, not only through vaccinations but also by treating minor illnesses offering family planning and providing other health-related services.
How does Ghana use data collection to improve immunisation coverage?
Data is used for making decisions. If your data is not good, then of course your decisions will also be faulty, and you won’t be able to achieve your objectives. So a lot of effort has gone into data reporting. We developed tally and register books for the basic level so that they are able to pick the necessary data on children vaccinated, and also on what vaccines have been used. We firmly believe that if you won’t use the data, then don’t collect it. So once we collect the data, we use it. If a region’s coverage is low, we immediately ask, “What is happening there?” We go and investigate and then give us feedback. Then, whatever the error is, we discuss it and correct it.
What is your long term goal for Ghana’s immunisation program?
To reach the top is difficult, but to remain at the top is even more difficult. For Ghana, our goal is to remain as a leader in the area of immunisation and to show our commitment and to develop initiatives which can spread to other areas. Whatever is happening in other countries has a bearing on us. We want to have success stories which can be shared so that together we can get rid of diseases which are killing our children and mothers.
This week is World Immunisation Week. Find out more about how ONE is supporting access to vaccinations.
Apr 10th, 2013 6:09 PM UTC
By Mzwandile Sibanda
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Chris Hani, the South African Communist Party General Secretary and Chief of Staff for the armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe.
A hero to most South Africans, the anti-apartheid activist was tragically assassinated on 10th April 1993. It is truly sad that a man who worked so tirelessly in pursuit of seeing a democratic South Africa never got the chance to see the first democratic general election in 1994. It is in this respect that we honour the legacy of Chris Hani today with a heavy heart.
Chris Hani’s killer, Clive Derby-Lewis, made headlines two days ago by stating that he wanted to personally apologise for his crime. This request has been met with little sympathy from the public and Hani’s family. Hani’s widow, Limpho Hani, has distanced herself from this and asked for people to respect her privacy on this day. Whether Derby- Lewis’s apology is genuine or not, it has been viewed as ill timed, coming days before the 20th Anniversary of Hani’s death. Many feel that it takes away from the day and sparks and ignites the wrong type of discourse on a very emotional occasion for many.
Lindiwe Hani, the daughter of Chris Hani said, “Chris Hani was always my hero, but I did not realise he was the whole country’s hero”.
I would like to add to that – he was not only a country’s hero, he was a continent’s hero too. Rest in peace Chris Hani.
Apr 10th, 2013 1:00 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
This post is by ONE Chief Executive Officer Michael Elliott and was originally published on the Skoll World Forum website.
In 2008, ONE launched its first call for applications for the newly created ONE Africa Award. The award was the brain child of ONE’s good friend and now board member, Howard G. Buffett, who charged us with recognising innovative, dynamic, African-founded organisations, groups and individuals that are engaged in life-changing, innovative efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in their local communities, regions and countries. Five years later, we have been overwhelmed with the depth of creativity, enthusiasm and innovation coming from the continent; awarding the prize becomes more difficult each year.
Through this process, certain applicants have stood out. We’re particularly interested in recognising organisations that can tie direct service delivery elements—let’s say providing pro bono legal knowledge to women fighting for their rights —to innovative advocacy efforts that will result in systemic transformation of their nation’s prospects.
ONE’s unique role is spotlighting these organisations and helping them overcome a common challenge of social entrepreneurship – bringing projects to scale. All too often, a brilliant idea or system stays local when it has potential for a much broader impact at the state, country or regional level. But that’s where an award is useful — along the way, we do identify a number of “finalist” organisations so that we can feature their stories on our websites and social media streams in words, pictures and videos. These organisations often have budgets of only tens of thousands of dollars a year so even if they’re not a winner, we can often raise their profile enough in order to sustain and develop their efforts.
For example, 2011 Finalist Sylva Food Solutions, a Zambian social enterprise, comes to mind. From just an initial review of their application, they seemed like quite a successful catering and processed foodstuff business based in Lusaka. But we quickly learned about their efforts—through very sophisticated advocacy tactics—to change how Zambians ate.
The founder, Sylvia Banda, lamented that Zambians had turned their backs to the local, indigenous foods that surrounded them in favor of Western style foods, often processed so much that these foods lacked nutritional value. What did Sylvia do? She worked to create a market for local foods by engaging the government to do media campaigns on television and radio to promote local foods—even the then-First Lady of Zambia took up the mantle.
When Sylvia realized that she didn’t have enough quality produce to meet rising demand, she went out and recruited new farmers and taught them how to raise and select great produce that she could sell. And then she also worked to create a strong brand image around Sylva Food Solutions so that it is sought out by Zambians and the country’s diaspora. In short, Sylvia and her crew over the course of a few years created an entirely integrated supply chain and market that allows Sylva Food Solutions to scale up and compete successfully.
And that’s just one example. We keep finding social enterprise and civil society organizations all over the continent that have developed smart, effective solutions to development challenges. In 2012, we had two social enterprises make it in our top five finalists. One of the organizations, Muliru Farmers Conservation Group of Kenya, commercialized a traditional medicinal plant in order to tie the conservation of Kenya’s last rainforest to the economic interests of its surrounding human communities. Muliru worked with scientists to determine the extract (camphor) and consumer product specialists to create a range of Naturub® products that are sold throughout Kenya to treat colds and aches.
Just next door in Uganda, we found SOVHEN, a social enterprise that has found a way to manufacture sanitary pads from agricultural waste of bananas in order to help Uganda’s girls stay in school. The manufacturing process employs women from the local communities while another set of women then sell those pads within the communities, creating a social marketing arm for SOVHEN’s “Bana-pads.” SOVHEN also USES student groups to change the image of girls in school by spreading messages about the benefits of girls in schools.
While ONE still campaigns and advocates for the life-saving aid that the developed world sends to many African countries, the ONE Africa Award is a constant reminder to us that Africans are working every day to develop and bend the arc of its future to one of prosperity and opportunity. We know very well that Africa’s transformation won’t come because of what’s done from the outside; its citizens must demand change for themselves, and are increasingly doing so. But we’re still proud to acknowledge and recognize local heroes such as those who compete for the ONE Africa Award each year.
Apr 2nd, 2013 3:31 PM UTC
By Nachilala Nkombo
As ONE launches its agriculture report, the AU remarks that the new focus should be on investments that make a difference to farmers! Nachilala Nkombo, ONE’s Africa Deputy Director, reports from Addis Ababa.
This week, 300 or more people gathered in the African Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa to galvanize momentum around African-led agriculture. In the same hall that African heads of state will make the major decisions that affect the possibilities of increased food production and increased rural income in January 2014, ONE was invited to launch our newest report: “A Growing Opportunity: Measuring Investments in African Agriculture.”
I had the honour of sharing ONE’s findings from this report alongside African policymakers and farmers. Together we urged African leaders to meet their commitments to invest at least 10 percent of their budgets in agriculture. The launch was a major highlight of the Africa Union/NEPAD 9th CAADP Partnership Platform (PP) meeting, an annual conference that convenes policy makers, agriculture experts, donors and small scale farmers to discuss the hot issues affecting agriculture on the continent.
This launch coincided with the 10-year anniversary of the landmark Maputo Declaration by the African Union government to revamp the agriculture sector through increased public investments. In this report, we measured performance of 19 African governments against the benchmarks in this declaration.
The reports highlight both good and bad news from the continent. The good news is that progress is undeniable, and 24 countries are taking steps to reorganise their agriculture sector in line with CAADP standards. Eight African countries are on their way to reaching the goal to halve poverty by 2015, and investment in agriculture is translating into growth in 13 African nations.
The bad news is that the Maputo public financing commitments are off track. While nine countries have made some increases to their national budgets since 2003, only four countries have met the Maputo target to invest 10 percent of national expenditures in the support of agriculture.
These include Malawi, Ethiopia, Cape Verde and Niger. Alarmingly, nine countries reduced their levels of agriculture expenditures during the assessment period. The report also found that donors were off track in terms of fulfilling their full US $22 billion L’Aquila pledge, only half of what was promised has been disbursed since 2009.
After I delivered our findings, it became clear to the audience that there was a need for urgent action by African governments to increase public investments in agriculture, if Africa has to ensure food security and job creation on the continent. The big game-changing moment that all stakeholders at the meeting are looking toward is the January 2014 AU summit that will mark the start of the African year of 2014 agriculture efforts.
An eminent panel of speakers, comprising of the Ethiopian Ambassador to the AU and UNECA H.E Ambassador Kongit Sinegiorgis; the Malawi Agriculture Deputy Minister Hon. Ulemu Chilapondwa; the AU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Economy, Mrs. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime; and a farmer from Nigeria, Sara Yapwa joined me in bringing some home truths to the report .
Ambassador Sinegiorgis was proud to note that Ethiopia has been listed in the report as among those countries that have met and exceeded both the CAADP 10 percent budgetary allocation and 6 percent annual agriculture growth rate. She emphasized the fact that agriculture is part of the country’s long-term plan for economic and social transformation, and called on the other governments to do more to boost agricultural production and agribusiness. “We can find the resources needed to close the Agriculture financing gap,” she said.
Deputy Agriculture Minister Ulemu Chilapodwa attributed his government success on the 10 percent to the decentralization of agriculture services, and the opening-up to NGO involvement in agriculture activities.
I was so proud of ONE to hear Commissioner Tumusiime remark on how good the report was and how important it is for the African Union Commission to have such independent perspectives on the status of Maputo commitments despite having their own internal Maputo review processes.
“I do not think that there are many other meetings of this nature where this would be allowed,” she said. Noting the urgent need to make agriculture in Africa leap further forward, she threw a couple of challenges to the audience, “We need to focus on investments that make a difference to the farmer. We cannot live by tradition, while Africa’s agriculture potential is noted, we cannot eat potential,” she said.
Africa can use the estimated US$ 50 billion it spends annually to import food to finance agriculture and meet the CAADP funding gap holding back progress in agriculture. She pointed out that as agriculture is strategic for Africa, it just needs to be bailed out as other strategic institutions are being bailed out every day in the west.
Sara the farmer wondered why half the $22 billion committed by donors has not yet been received. We want to know where the current money goes. “Is it to overheads or to ‘overlegs’ (farming). For policy to be effective, Sara argued that women have to be involved at all levels of decision making.
“If it is not done with us, it is not for us”, she concluded. This year’s CAADPPP also launched the AU efforts towards the year of agriculture. ONE and its partners will continue to focus its advocacy on the continent on demanding that African leaders live up to their Maputo financing commitments and that they use the year of Agriculture 2014 as a key moment to recommit to a stronger and measurable Maputo, plus 10 programmes of action that will track agriculture financing, as well as the impact of this financing on food security, rural incomes, industrialisation and job creation.
I learnt at this forum that CAADP standards are being used to guide development financing in other regions of the world, it’s for this reason that ONE urges donors to ensure that they don’t miss this opportunity to support the implementation of this African framework that is geared to ensure agriculture success at national levels.
Read our full report here.
Read about CAADP here.
Apr 1st, 2013 6:25 PM UTC
By Katherine Lay
Leaders of the BRICS group of emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – have announced the formation of a multilateral development bank to finance infrastructure projects and drive economic growth.
Assessing the feasibility of a BRICS bank topped the agenda of this year’s BRICS summit, held last week in Durban, South Africa. After a year-long viability study by BRICS Finance Ministers, the bank has received an official stamp of approval and a presidential go-ahead.
Collectively producing 25% of global gross domestic product (GDP), accounting for 43% of the world’s population, and conducting 17% of global trade, the BRICS nations have signaled their intent to rebuild the world’s financial architecture in line with new geo-economic realities and the interests of emerging markets.
The bank’s ownership structure, governance, operational currency and location have yet to be agreed upon. These are highly political decisions that will continue to be negotiated in Ministerial meetings for months – or years – to come. Its financing is a source of widespread speculation. BRICS leaders aim to inject an initial $50 billion of seed capital, but there is disagreement over whether each country should contribute an equal amount of $10 billion or if contributions should vary by the size of their economies.
The bank’s financing model is a contentious issue, as the group is determined to set up an equitable system that does not allow a country to dominate decision-making on the basis of economic clout. The reality, however, is that the BRICS’ economic balance of power indisputably favors China. Its $3.2 trillion in foreign reserves are three times bigger than those of the four other BRICS countries combined. And with a GDP topping $7.4 trillion in 2011, China’s economy eclipses South Africa’s, whose GDP amounted to $408 billion in the same year.
The BRICS’ economic disparities highlight a key challenge that bank detractors have been quick to point out. These countries are struggling to form a common identity. Despite collectively presenting a potential economic counterweight to industrialized Western countries, individually the BRICS countries are very different. Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has likened them to Africa’s “Big Five” – the lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros – and some commentators have questioned whether they can run as a herd or hunt as a pack on the global stage. They do not share similar ideological foundations and frequently operate as competitors in different arenas.
However, since their informal grouping in 2009, the BRICS countries have projected a single frustrated voice in their call for reform of Western dominated international financial institutions. First as the BRIC group and then as the BRICS, with South Africa’s entry in 2011, they have relentlessly urged the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to review institutional voting structures and quota systems to better safeguard the interests of developing countries, and have blamed the West for lax monetary policies that they believe could fuel instability in emerging countries.
The resolve of the BRICS to reduce dependence on these institutions and to ensure a policy mandate that is responsive to the development needs of the BRICS countries has been the driving motivation behind the formation of the bank. According to South African President Jacob Zuma, the infrastructure needs of the BRICS countries amount to $4.5 trillion over the next five years, and directly negotiating loans amongst each other, rather than having to access international capital through institutions whose governance and structure they distrust, has decided benefits for the BRICS’ future development cooperation.
The bank also raises the prospect of massive road, rail and construction projects across Africa, a continent currently in the BRICS investment spotlight. Resource-rich African states hold the promise of fulfilling the fast-growing energy and mineral needs of the BRICS populations, whose consumption patterns are set to skyrocket. Improving infrastructure for the extractive industries on the continent will likely be a priority for the new bank. However, whether African emerging economies and other non-BRICS developing countries will be able to join – and under what conditions – are unresolved questions.
It is essential that BRICS leaders take their time to set up a credible institution that is built on strong foundations and does not fall victim to the same pitfalls that have plagued other development banks. Their efforts may well unify a dynamic bloc of nations determined to introduce a new development financing model and an economic paradigm that works for emerging economies.
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