Abu Dhabi: The desert states of the Gulf are changing tack in their multi-billion dollar search for food security. With their farming projects in some of the poorest African nations sometimes arousing local hostility, wealthy Arab investors are turning to those developed countries that comfortably produce more food than they consume. United Arab Emirates-based agricultural firm Al Dahra has chose this path in March, buying eight agricultural companies for $400 million in Serbia, a major food exporter where public attitudes to foreign-owned farming may be less sensitive. Projects in Europe, North America and Australasia tend to be more expensive and offer less scope to build vast estates like in Africa. But they also present fewer political problems and less risk for the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait which all need to feed growing populations.
On 9 January 2005, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was brokered between the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), ending a brutal civil war and marking the conclusion to nearly 60 years of conflict in Sudan. Established through years of negotiation and with significant US support from the Bush Administration, the CPA was a remarkable achievement for peace and development in the region. Upon signing the document, the leader of the SPLM/A, South Sudan’s beloved hero John Garang de Mabior - who had been fighting since 1983 in a bloody war that claimed an estimated two million lives, and resulted in the displacement of over four million - said simply: ‘This peace agreement will change Sudan forever.’ (Sudan Tribune 2005).
Nampula: Rodolfo Razão, an elderly small farmer in Mozambique, obtained an official land usage certificate for his 10 hectares in 2010, but he has only been able to use seven. The rest was occupied by a South African company that grows soy, maize and beans on some 10,000 hectares in the northeast of the country. He got nowhere filing a complaint with the authorities in the district of Monapo, where he lives, in the province of Nampula. And at the age of 78, he can’t wait much longer.
Nairobi: Kenya’s donor relations have shifted, with China and the African Development Bank taking centre stage in funding the huge infrastructure projects going on across the country. China’s increased importance in funding development projects started with former President Kibaki’s government, a trend the current government has picked up, with the Sh1.2 trillion Mombasa- Malaba standard gauge railway line being latest among its many projects. The Chinese are also funding the Sh55 billion new terminal construction at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Washington: China has become a major development partner of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), as its trade, investment, and aid ties with the region have increased remarkably in recent years. China’s real GDP has grown by an average of 10 percent a year in the past decade, and so has its need to import an entire range of products- minerals, farm products, timber, and oil - to satisfy the fast pace of domestic investment, which increased fivefold in the same period. Its investment as a share of GDP increased from 34 percent in 2000 to 46 percent in 2012. China is now the largest single trading partner for SSA. Its stock of foreign direct investment (FDI) reached about US$16 billion in 2011; and China has stepped up its financial assistance to the region, including by announcing a credit line of US$20 billion to Africa during the latest conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2012.
To continue its economic growth and create new and better livelihoods, Africa must transform the productive side of its economy. Ongoing globalization - in trade, finance, and technology - opens up new possibilities for structural transformation, but also new risks as Africa’s integration with the global economy evolves. Climate change is impacting productive sectors and the livelihoods linked to them. Consolidating war-to-peace transition remains imperative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Somalia and others, as they need inclusive growth to reinforce the politics of peace. This is the context within which official development assistance (ODA) must operate and evolve if it is to remain useful.
Nairobi: On December 3, Turkey participated in its maiden African Development Bank (AfDB) board meeting, a symbolic step of the country’s increased focus on the continent. Turkey’s application to officially join the AfDB was approved in 2008 and the country has since been meeting membership requirements. The country will now have a say in the disbursement of AfDB’s billions to African countries for development. “It is especially timely to join AfDB as Turkey enters a new phase of deepening its engagement with Africa,” said Mr Hau Sing Tse, an executive director who represents Canada, China, Korea, Kuwait and Turkey on the bank’s board.
Washington: US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew again has urged Congress to approve reforms for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that will enhance the fund's ability to represent all of its 188 members and make its governing structure reflect today’s global economy. In May, the House of Representatives and the Senate rejected the request as too politically sensitive in the tense budget environment in Washington at the time. U.S. approval is the last step needed for the reform to go into effect, Lew told the House Committee on Financial Services December 12.
Rio de Janeiro: Brazil’s development bank BNDES has opened its third international location to help drum up business for Brazilian companies in Africa beyond the Portuguese-speaking countries. The Johannesburg location follows offices in Montevideo and London, both opened in 2009. “The goal here is to increase the overall portfolio and diversify as well,” said Sergio Foldes, deputy managing director at the bank’s international division in Rio de Janeiro. Beyond the Portuguese-speaking Mozambique and Angola “there are other markets where Brazilian companies can have very good opportunities, and where we can be of great help to them.”
Delhi: This issue really brings me to the concept of a discourse on Southern donors, a concept or a description that we contest because this emerged from the constructs of North-South engagement. But the fact is that there has been a perceptible escalation of development assistance, aid, soft loans, flowing from developing countries to other developing countries as indeed we do.