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.
May 7th, 2013 3:57 PM UTC
By Dr. Sipho Moyo
Africa is a continent in transformation. With almost half of its countries now classified as middle-income, it is fast becoming a hub of global growth. It is also contending with an economic slowdown amongst its traditional trading partners, and an upsurge in economic interest from the world’s leading emerging economies.
Africa’s extractive resources are central to that interest. Growing demand from emerging markets and robust prices mean that African governments can expect resource revenues to continue growing. Over forty African countries are now involved in exploration for or production of extractive resources. Africa is poised as the new gas frontier: the west coast holds over 32 percent of natural gas reserves and countries across East Africa, from Tanzania to Mozambique, are gearing up to pump and export huge new reserves.
In many cases, extractives revenues vastly exceed inflows of aid. In 2010, Africa’s exports of oil and minerals were worth roughly seven times the amount of international aid to the continent. The ongoing global commodity boom offers exciting opportunities for Africa to convert its natural resource wealth into much-needed infrastructure, and to build healthy and educated societies.
The extractive industries in Africa are also closely associated with the so-called “resource curse” or paradox of plenty, where countries with an abundance of natural resources tend to have lower economic growth and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer resources. Oil, gas and mineral exports have frequently led to distorted exchange rates caused by dependence on a single economic sector. Resource-rich countries have also been plagued by weak governance and corruption. This has led many citizens to view their rich natural resource endowments as sources of conflict and suffering, rather than growth and prosperity.
The Africa Progress Panel (APP), a group of influential global leaders, has long been calling on the world to do more to tackle these problems. As the APP’s Chair, Kofi Annan, has emphasised how we need action not just from African governments but also from the foreign companies that pay bribes and distort their accounts for profit at the expense of Africa’s people. Combating corruption is a matter of both political and corporate will.
These issues are at the heart of the APP’s 2013 Africa Progress Report, to be launched this week at the World Economic Forum for Africa. Entitled Equity in Extractives: Stewarding Africa’s Natural Resources for All, the report highlights key challenges plaguing the extractive industries in Africa, and presents a series of policy recommendations geared towards creating a more transparent and equitably managed extractives sector.
The report makes clear that transparency is critical. The international community must demand tougher anti-corruption and transparency regulation from its oil, gas, and mining companies. Donors must support civil society with training and capacity-building to monitor government revenues. And companies need to disclose their final beneficial owners, and their payments to governments. Revenues from oil, gas, and mining companies cannot be a state secret. If a country is serious about using resource wealth for the benefit of its population, then its government must be fully transparent about how much money its resources are making.
Extractive resource sectors can be managed though systems that favor opaque budget management, corruption and environmental destruction, or they can be managed through open processes that are transparent and equitable. The first way cannot sustain our continent’s growth. The second way can truly transform Africa into a global powerhouse of wealth and wellbeing for all.
ONE will be at the World Economic Forum this week – follow @ONEinAfrica on Twitter for all the latest news and views from the event.
Apr 24th, 2013 11:56 AM UTC
By Nealon DeVore
You might have seen her perform it when she closed out the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations here in Johannesburg back in February. Yvonne has recorded this version with Denis Dowlut, Michael Abdul and Themba Mhinga.
World Malaria Day is an important moment to focus global attention on the scourge of malaria. This completely preventable and treatable disease is transmitted by the bites of a specific species of mosquito. Yet as our partners at United Against Malaria note, it continues to kill a child every 60 seconds and causes 655,000 deaths every year—with the vast majority of these occurring across Africa.
ONE is fighting this disease through our campaign for the full funding of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which finances medical treatment and prevention measures for malaria all over the world.
In addition to funding the fight, it is also essential to educate communities at high risk of exposure to malaria on how they can prevent it and seek treatment immediately if anyone in the family shows symptoms. UAM is working with some of Africa’s biggest football stars to raise awareness about malaria, as well as celebrated artists like Yvonne Chaka Chaka to carry the message through music.
And take one minute to sign our petition calling for world leaders to scale up their support for the Global Fund.
Feb 18th, 2013 12:28 PM UTC
By Katherine Lay
Secret deals and confidential contracts have long characterized Africa’s mining industry. Its history is one of quiet hand shakes and signatures attached to the end of a series of legal provisions that only high-powered political and corporate leaders ever get to see.
This is starting to change, thanks to the efforts of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), international finance institutions, and coalitions of civil society organizations working long and hard to break down barriers to public disclosure of contracts in the extractives sector.
Progress is also the result of the growing will of government leaders to improve and make transparent the terms for their countries’ mineral extraction and the management of their mining revenues. Acknowledging that mineral resources are the property of the nation and that citizens have a right to know how their governments are selling their resources, responsible leaders are making state-investor contracts available for public scrutiny.
These leaders are realizing that public disclosure results in more stable and durable contracts, both because they are less subject to citizens’ suspicions and because the incentives for governments and companies to negotiate better contracts are increased. They’re also showing commitment to deterring high-level corruption by providing an incentive for government officials and company representatives to operate within the bounds of the law and to avoid deviating from general contract forms and terms.
One such leader is Guinean President Alpha Condé. Having taken action to put his 2010 electoral promise of mining reform and better resource governance into practice by passing a new mining code in 2011 and announcing a review of all existing contracts, he has scaled up his commitment to the next level. On February 15th, the Guinean government launched a new online database containing all its existing mining contracts – 60 contract documents covering 18 mining projects.
The website was developed with the assistance of experts from the Revenue Watch Institute, the World Bank Institute and Columbia University, who have been supporting the Guinean government in its contract review. The online materials include a searchable summary of contract terms, allowing non-expert readers to find key sections and to understand the obligations for companies and the government.
This is a major step forward for Guinea. One of the first countries to join the EITI, its membership status was suspended in 2009 by the EITI Board when the political and security situation provoked by the military junta made EITI implementation impossible. Less than two years later the suspension was lifted and candidate status reinstated. But the country has continued to face huge challenges, not least a ranking of 154 out of 182 countries on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index and a ranking of 178 out of 185 economies on the World Bank’s Doing Business Index.
However, the Guinean government is now showing genuine commitment to improving its governance record and to assuring investors that it’s taking action to build a stable environment for international business. Its new mining law has set a fiscal regime in place that will allow the state to generate substantial revenues from its mining sector. Through the launch of its online contract database, the government has signaled to the public that it has nothing to hide, that it honors citizens’ rights of access to contracts that may affect them for extensive periods, and that it respects citizens’ rights to influence how resources are used. As envisaged by the Africa Mining Vision, this is a precondition for the successful harnessing of mineral resources for the nation’s economic growth and human development.
In short, if all mineral-rich African countries were to follow Guinea’s example by routinely publishing their mining contracts, and if they were to commit to channeling revenues transparently through the public purse into quality public services, we might see the continent’s realization of the Africa Mining Vision far sooner than we thought possible.
Jan 18th, 2013 9:41 AM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Guest blog post from Malaria No More.
Last summer the Confederation of African Football endorsed United Against Malaria partnership – of which Malaria No More is a key member – as a premier social cause of the most-followed events in Africa: the 2013 Cup of Nations (AFCON) football tournament.
The most revered champions of Africa’s best loved sport talking about malaria during Africa’s most watched public events? A captive audience of 6.6 billion people, most of them living in malaria-endemic Africa? What could be more captivating!
The biggest names in African football and the top political leaders in Africa’s malaria fight signed onto the campaign, and lent their time to record public messages about malaria for their African audience. These include five elite footballers and five African presidents, including football legends Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o, and the first-ever female African head of state, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. TV, radio ads, and billboards were created which feature the players and presidents, targeting policy-makers and decision makers about investments in malaria programs, as well promoting calls-to-action with simple steps to prevent and treat malaria.
Didier Drogba’s Malaria Prevention PSA
To ensure these malaria messages are heard by football fanatics continent-wide, 10 pan-African TV/radio stations, including the biggest radio station in Africa and the official football tournament channel, advertisements in over 10 countries, and 75 billboards in more than 13 countries are helping get the job done.
In addition to the tremendous media support, the campaign launched at the African Union Summit to include more African Heads of State, and a TV spot about the campaign aired during the AFCON Draw and East Africa CECAFA tournament. During the AFCON games, the campaign will be included during AFCON half-times (when football fans are already tuned into watch their favorite footballers), in AFCON sportscasters’ dialogue during televised games, and at the AFCON Final Game’s closing ceremony?
Football stars in malaria prevention billboards around Africa
For Africa’s social media users, a 2-minute quiz is available on the United Against Malaria Facebook page for the chance to win Drogba-autographed swag, like a football or a jersey.
Dec 18th, 2012 4:30 PM UTC
By ONE Partners
What can we do to fight corruption? One of the most frequently asked question Transparency International got when we published the Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 last week.
The question is especially pertinent in Africa, which only has five countries in the top 50 countries on the index, where lower scores indicate a greater perception of public sector corruption in 176 countries. 90% of African countries on the index score less than 50 out of 100, with Botswana in 30th place showing what can be achieved in the fight against corruption, and Somalia in last place warning what happens if you don’t.
Corruption is a daily burden in Uganda, which ranked 130th out of 176 countries, and has recently faced a major aid scandal. The situation is particularly tense in the health sector. Our research has shown that less than half of staff were available at health facilities. The absence of health specialists inevitably exposes people to paying bribes if they want preferential treatment.
Indeed, 24 per cent of health providers we surveyed acknowledged that taking informal payments in exchange for services is common. 44 per cent reported that service users sometimes offer gifts to health workers. (Our colleagues in Zimbabwe face a similar challenge: nurses once fined women for screaming during labour).
The situation is aggravated by the lack of transparency and accountability, making it harder for citizens to tackle the problem. None of the lower level health facilities we looked at had complete financial records, and most facilities did not have updated drug stock registers.
In 2010 we set out to address corruption problems in healthcare and farming by rolling out several development pacts in central Uganda, similar to those tried by our colleagues in India.
We told communities to pick their own development agenda, then asked local politicians to commit to fulfilling that agenda. People were able to pick the issues that matter to them, and clearly described what they expect their leaders to deliver.
Some of the leaders refused, some signed up. Not surprisingly, more of the latter were re-elected than the former.
Photo: A regional politician signs a pact.
After the pacts were signed, citizens set up committees to monitor progress. Politicians and officials now often give the committees access to their offices to get information.
The result was relentless community pressure for better services. The committees personally counted drugs as they were being delivered. The list of drugs received is posted on notice boards. More staff have been hired, more mosquito nets delivered and more people are visiting the health centre. Parents have learnt to monitor budgets, and are now tracking school budgets too.
The people from my village are happy because they can receive all the basic drugs prescribed to them by the physician at no cost and drug shortages have become history in the health centre – A member of the Kyebe sub-county community
Another priority was government funding for subsistence farmers. The government provide funds to support farmers. Under the scheme, local authorities are supposed to use funds from the state to buy seeds and equipment for local subsistence farmers. The problem is they often buy sub-standard seeds and machinery and keep the difference.
We held review committees attended by both local politicians and government representatives. In the past, politicians had always blamed the other for failings. But when they were all in the same room, it suddenly became harder to duck responsibility.
Photo: Transparency International and community members witness the pact signing
We have managed to give farmers more control over the process. The criteria for selecting farmers who receive support was made simpler and more open. More farmers joined the government support programme, having been made aware of their rights and the selection process was made more open.
Our work continues.
In the north of the country, we are now helping citizens report problems in health care by sending SMS text messages. For example, they warned that malaria nets are not being distributed despite the fact that a health centre that recently received a delivery from central government. Read more on this here.
Dec 6th, 2012 1:39 PM UTC
By Malaka Gharib
Malaka Gharib is currently at the GAVI Partners Forum in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where global health and government leaders are gathering to explore ways to accelerate results, innovation, sustainability and equity in the field of immunization.
What do you think one of the biggest issues in vaccines and immunizations is? That’s an easy one, right? Making sure that every country in the world has access to vaccines, of course!
Well, actually, we achieved universal child immunization – way back in 1990. Thanks to collaboration between WHO, UNICEF, countries and suppliers, a system was put in place to bring immunization coverage to nearly 80 percent of the global birth cohort. And it’s a system that’s worked well for a long time.
But now, that system is breaking down. The GAVI Alliance reports that 9 of the 24 countries in which they operate have poor vaccine stock management and vaccine distribution. And more than 20 percent of the GAVI countries’ vaccines go to waste above the expected rate.
It’s not hard to see why. The introduction of new vaccines and increased coverage targets is putting “business as usual” at risk. Since the 1980s, kids need 3 times more vaccine doses per child and there are 2.5 times more diseases to vaccinate against. Looking into the future, experts believe that we’ll need 4 times more fridges (vaccines need to stay cold) between 2001 and 2020.
The conversation now is about how to make the system better, how to make transport of vaccines more reliable, and how to protect and preserve vaccines. The solution that experts are proposing is a clear one: countries need to take ownership of their vaccine supply chain (also called the “cold chain,” since vaccines are temperature-controlled). And they need to be super creative about it, because every country has its own situation and infrastructure – it can’t be a one-size-fits all strategy.
I had the wonderful opportunity to listen to supply chain experts like Michel Zaffran from the World Health Organization, Dmitri Davydov from UNICEF and Dr. Bruce Lee from the University of Pittsburgh, and country health officials from Benin, Tanzania and Uganda discuss this issue at the GAVI Partners Forum yesterday. I was particularly interested in listening to some of the innovative ways that countries were tackling some of the challenges with their vaccine supply chain.
- Hon. Huda Oleru from Uganda’s Parliamentary Forum for Immunization, says that they’re using an SMS tool called U-Report to crowdsource problems with the vaccines distribution system from Ugandan citizens. She says that her team is using the feedback to learn about some of the holes in the Ugandan supply chain – and fix them.
- Dr. Bruce Lee leads the team that developed a software called HERMES, a computational tool to design, plan and manage vaccine supply chains. What’s neat about it is that it can even predict estimated future needs, which will help in reducing vaccine wastage, stock outs and problems with storage. Currently, it’s being tested in Benin, Thailand and Niger.
- The World Health Organization, GAVI, UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are finding that the cold chain itself is a barrier to routine immunizations – and it’s not getting the funding it needs. The world needs to invest more in cold chain hardware, like fridges and packaging. And there’s some cool stuff that they’re looking at on the horizon, including solar-powered fridges and vacuum insulation that lasts for up to 30 days.
ONE members fought hard last year to make sure that world leaders gave GAVI the funding it needed for their pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines – and we succeeded. But now, it’s up to countries to ensure that these much-needed vaccines actually get to the people who need it most. There will be more vaccines to distribute and more people to immunize in the future – and if countries can find the holes now, strengthen their supply chain and invest in technologies, we can achieve GAVI Board Chair Dagfinn Hoybraten’s one wish for the world: “that the children may live.”
Follow @ONEinAfrica and #GAVIPartners for live tweets from the GAVI Partners Forum.
Dec 4th, 2012 7:08 PM UTC
By Malaka Gharib
Find out which of the five finalists will win the 2012 ONE Africa Award tomorrow at 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. EAT, right here on the ONE Africa Blog. I’ll be blogging live from the GAVI Partners Forum in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where ONE is hosting the awards ceremony.
To follow along, simply scroll through the updates in the widget below and refresh every few minutes or so. The updates will not start until 12:30 p.m. EAT. We’ll be on standby to answer any of your questions, so if you have any, please leave them in a comment below.
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