May 9th, 2013 4:32 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
ONE US Policy Manager David Hong and ONE Africa Deputy Director Nachilala Nkombo look at the progress made by Grow Africa in the last year.
Today, five African heads of state, four G8 development ministers, and over 100 private sector companies will meet in Cape Town, South Africa at the World Economic Forum on Africa to assess Grow Africa’s work in 2012, the partnership’s first full year in business.
First, here’s a little background. Two years ago, the African Union Commission, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) agency, and the World Economic Forum combined forces to create a new partnership, Grow Africa, which aims to reduce poverty by accelerating private sector investment in African agriculture.
The partnership is led by the organisations above, and includes eight member countries and various stakeholders such as host governments, companies involved in investment, civil society, research institutions, and farmer organisations.
Here at ONE, we’re taking this opportunity to weigh in on Grow Africa’s first annual report. Overall, the initiative made significant progress last year, especially given the small size of its team. ONE hopes for further and more robust reporting in the coming years so the partnership can demonstrate its value and defend its model. Annual reporting gives Grow Africa an opportunity to demonstrate lessons learned over the past year and what challenges lay ahead.
Here are the headlines:
Obviously, there is a lot to commend here. Thousands of smallholders are being incorporated into commercial food supply chains where they’re growing more food and generating more income for their families. If Grow Africa adds further measures to increase transparency and expand reporting of poverty reduction indicators, the partnership could change the game for farmers and businesses.
For more information on Grow Africa’s report and ONE’s analysis, check out this policy brief.
May 8th, 2013 1:25 PM UTC
By Jamie Drummond
Erik Charas is a campaigning journalist in Mozambique. He was recently arrested by local officials for asking government leaders difficult questions about shady deals done in Mozambique’s natural resources extraction sector.
Whether “Africa keeps its promise” to its people, the theme of this year’s World Economic Forum in Cape Town, depends in large part on how Mozambican and other African leaders respond to the probing questions asked by people like Erik.
The stakes could not be higher. Mozambique, like many other African nations across the continent, is discovering and developing vast natural resource reserves and untapping enormous amounts of resource wealth. Resource development offers a golden key to a much desired and heralded “economic transformation”. But the turning of this key depends on ensuring efficient and transparent management of resource revenues and the investment of these revenues into the continent’s physical and human infrastructure.
If Mozambique – like Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and others – gets this right, it could develop more rapidly and, above all, more inclusively, securing a prosperous future for all its citizens. These choices must be made now.
That is why ONE, along with its partners in the Publish What You Pay coalition, have been campaigning hard for transparency in the extractives sector in Europe and North America. We recently celebrated serious progress in this campaign as Europe agreed to mandatory reporting of payments by companies to governments in the extractives sector. It would be wonderful if African leaders now took this further and implemented legislation covering Johannesburg, Nairobi, Accra and other stock exchanges.
We are also supporting our partners in pushing for disclosure of “beneficial ownership” of dodgy shell companies – as lack of clarity around ownership facilitates hiding stolen assets and tax evasion – as well as technical assistance for African revenue authorities, and exchange of tax information conventions.
All these efforts can help authorities and citizens follow the money, and ensure funds hidden from revenue authorities in the murkier parts of the offshore system can be exposed, relocated and taxed accordingly. But it would be nonsense stopping at transparency only offshore.
Transparency of government budgets is equally important, from national to local level, so citizens can track resources and follow the money all the way to results where people live – kids immunised, educated, nourished, wells dug and working, electricity accessed even in remote rural areas, and small farmers properly supported and connected through farm-to-market roads.
With partners we are campaigning across these fronts so that African nations will have more domestic resources at their disposal, through increased revenue collection and economic growth, to invest in the continent’s infrastructure and meet all the promises African leaders have made to their citizens to end hunger, malnutrition, disease and extreme poverty, and to instead spread prosperity.
A new report from Kofi Annan’s Africa Progress Panel on African natural resource governance, being launched this week at the World Economic Forum, lays out much of what must be done to help secure the revenues needed for development on the continent.
Its policy recommendations make clear that African nations should be legislating for transparency in the natural resources sector, and how governments can make better use of those revenues – by channelling them into infrastructure, job creation, health, nutrition and education. If this happens, then the 2 billion African citizens of 2050, and all global citizens around the world, who will by then be relying on Africa for economic and political dynamism and leadership, will look back upon this time – the 50th anniversary of the African Union, and maybe even this very 2013 meeting in Cape Town – as pivotal turning points in the continent’s history.
This way lies the future that leaders such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu envisioned – that the twenty first century will be “the African century”. This way lies the realisation of the African Union’s own charter; of a resilient, vibrant Africa driven and determined by its own citizens.
This way also lies the realisation of Nelson Mandela’s dream – that this could be the generation to end extreme poverty and hunger. But the path towards such visionary progress wont be lit up if the Erik Charas’ of Africa are silenced and intimidated into not asking those probing, revealing, enlightening, questions.
Get the latest news and views from ONE at the World Economic Forum from tomorrow by following @ONECampaign on Twitter.
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
The content of each post and each comment represents the views of that author and does not necessarily reflect the views of ONE. ONE does not support or oppose any candidate for elected office, and any post expressing support or opposition for a candidate is not endorsed by ONE.