The Indian Ocean Newsletter
February 01, 2013
Participants attend a session during the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, January 23, 2013. REUTERS/Pascal Lauener
A Somalian delegation went to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos (Switzerland) from 23 to 27 January, for the first time in the country`s history. It was led by the Minister to the Presidency, Farah Sheikh Abdiqadir (member of the Hawiye/Shiikhaal ethnic group). The Somalian delegation attended a satellite meeting during the WEF on collecting funds to aid the reconstruction of Somalia, which was also attended by ministers from Canada, Norway, UK, Qatar, Turkey and Switzerland as well as delegates from the leading international organisations.
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Participants listen a panel session in the Congress Hall the last day of the 43rd Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Keystone/Laurent Gillieron)
Hassan Sheikh goes to Brussels
The Indian Ocean Newsletter
February 01, 2013
The European Union is to step up its actions for training the Somalian military and is preparing for a conference of Somalia`s international donors.
While on a visit to Brussels on 30 and 31 January, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud asked for the training of Somalian servicemen, currently effected at Bihanga Camp (Uganda) by 125 European instructors, to be relocated to Mogadishu. At the end of his meetings with the main EU leaders, he was told that this relocation would take place “as soon as conditions allow it”. Until then, this EU mission under the command of the Irish General Gerald Aherne and which has already trained 3,000 Somalian soldiers, should train battalion commanders, intelligence specialists and extend its sphere of activity into policy and strategy advice on security issues to the Somalian authorities.
Another request from Somalia`s President concerned continuing the system of legal aid and to the whole of the Somalian administration. He also wanted better treatment for the 700 Somalian prisoners accused of piracy, complaining that they were being held in conditions foreign to their culture and did not have access to their families. While the main aim of this trip to Brussels by the Somalian President was for diplomatic recognition, it was also to prepare the conference of international donors for the reconstruction of Somalia, which the EU will hold in the autumn. The preparation for this conference is one of the priorities of the new EU ambassador to Somalia, Michele Cervone d`Urso.
The EU has already begun to disburse part of the €412 million earmarked for Somalia under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF), to finance actions in various areas (such as security, governance and education). What is at stake today is to ensure that these funds can go directly to the Somalian State. To do so, Mogadishu must first sign the Cotonou Convention which governs cooperation between the EU and ACP countries. But for Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the EU must take a qualitative step, going from main source of humanitarian aid to that of driving force and coordinator for the reconstruction of the country, which he calls a “Marshal plan” for Somalia.
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Davos 2013: Cameron Says G-8 Must Address Extremist Violence
By Nicholas Winning
The Wall Street Journal Europe
January 25, 2013
Britain`s Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 24, 2013. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Tackling extremist violence is one of the priorities of the Group of Eight leading nations, following the attack on a gas facility in Algeria in which scores of people were killed, including several Britons, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said on Thursday.
As Western allies put pressure on al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, networks affiliated to the terrorist group have grown in Yemen, Somalia and parts of North Africa -- places that have suffered through "hostage-taking, terrorism and crime," he said in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
"I`ll put my cards on the table. I believe we are in the midst of a long struggle against murderous terrorists and the poisonous ideology that supports them,” he said. “To defeat this menace, we`ve got to be tough, intelligent and patient -- and this is the argument I`ll be making at the G-8.”
There will be a place for military action where necessary, he said, adding that the French were right to act in Mali and he supported their intervention.
Efforts to tackle the narrative of extremist groups should involve diplomacy, aid budgets, political relations and military and security cooperation, he said.
“The G-8 can discuss how we can best divide up some of the work between us -- and how we can partner up with the countries worst affected to overcome this threat and like I say, this will be right up there on our agenda,” he said.
British nationals were urged to immediately leave the Libyan oil hub of Benghazi, the U.K. Foreign Office said Thursday, citing evidence of an “imminent threat to Westerners.”
Mr. Cameron also said that under the U.K.`s yearlong presidency of the G-8 in 2013, the group would focus on advancing free trade, ensuring tax compliance and promoting greater transparency.
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Africa drifting amid depletion and debt
January 15, 2013
Time magazine has heralded the continent`s economic recovery, but reality paints a different picture
As coups, wars and destabilisation continue from West Africa through the Great Lakes to the Horn of the east, what can we expect from the continent`s much-lauded economic recovery?
Hopes are ridiculously high. At the beginning of last month, Time magazine`s “Africa rising” cover story pronounced, “Africa owes its takeoff to a variety of accelerators, nearly all of them external and occurring in the past 10 years:
● “Billions of dollars in aid, especially to fight HIV/Aids and malaria;
● “Tens of billions of dollars in foreign-debt cancellations;
l “A concurrent interest in Africa`s natural resources, led by China; and
● “The rapid spread of mobile phones, from a few million in 2000 to more than 750 million today.”
But with the world economy heading into a “double dip”, a reality check is sorely needed.
For Africa owes its economic decline to a variety of accelerators, nearly all of them external and occurring in the past centuries during which slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism locked in the continent`s underdevelopment, but |several of which - along with climate change - were amplified in recent years:
● “Stagnant overseas development aid - around 60 percent of which is `phantom`, anyhow - to most African countries (except to 14 `fragile states`), with Washington making further cuts in funding to fight HIV/Aids and malaria;
● “Notwithstanding some cancellation of what was mainly unrepayable “Odious” loans to dictators in 2005, a squeeze on low-income African finance ministries actually caused a dramatic rise in debt repayments (from 5 to 8 percent of export earnings);
● “A concurrent looting of Africa`s natural resources, led by China and the West, resulting in the continent`s fast-declining mineral and petroleum wealth; and
● “The high costs of telephony and low internet connectivity have done very little to solve the digital divide.”
Everything argued by Time`s Africa correspondent, Alex Perry, |is dubious. Perry neglects to mention, for example, that capital flight from Africa continues to outpace aid |and investment, amounting to an |estimated $1.4 trillion, according to a recent study by University of Massachusetts economists Leonce Ndikumana and James Boyce.
Indeed, Sub-Saharan Africa loses a net 6 percent of gross national income each year thanks to the Resource Curse. This World Bank calculation is an adjustment of gross domestic product, which measures raw materials stripped from the soil as once-off credits.
More appropriately, we should also consider them as debits because the minerals and petroleum are non-renewable.
According to the World Bank`s 2011 book The Changing Wealth of Nations, even South Africa`s annual “adjusted net savings” was negative R2 150 a person in 2005 (the latest data) with this GDP correction.
In contrast, wealth in resource-based countries Canada and Australia soared because extraction is done largely by home-grown companies that reinvest.
Other telling quotes Time used last month are from pop star Bob Geldof: “The continent has 60 percent of the world`s unused arable land. In the end, we all have to go to Africa. They have what we need.
“And it is in that second scramble for Africa that the continent`s best hopes lie, because if the first scramble for Africa - as historians dubbed the period from the 1870s to 1900 - was a European imperialist carve-up, the second should leave Africa as the big winner.”
More likely, Africans will be the big losers of a Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (Brics) carve-up of the continent`s land, minerals and hydrocarbons. More likely, on March 26-27, the Durban Brics summit will resemble, economically, the political deals of Berlin in 1885.
Moreover, with climate change causing a 2°C average warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that Africa`s crop revenue will fall by 90 percent by 2100. Already 400 000 die from climate change each year, and Christian Aid estimates that 185 million Africans will perish this century.
As the Doha COP18 and Durban COP17 and every other UN climate gathering shows, those with power from Washington and Brussels to Beijing and Pretoria don`t really care. Time`s praise for “Africa |rising” doesn`t even mention climate change.
However, there is growing evidence of Africa uprising. Although outcomes are not yet satisfactory, had citizens not intervened with mass protest, their societies` socio-economic degradation and tyrannical rule would be much worse.
As for South Africa, the Davos World Economic Forum`s 2012-2013 World Competitiveness Report assessed local workers as the most militant anywhere. But can the legitimate critique they share of status quo political economy better fuse with grievances of community groups and environmentalists? Such a “small-a” Alliance - as John Saul has advocated - would provide the only real hope for a durable rising in 2013.
Bond directs the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society.
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