Category: Africa


Billions That The Poor Won’t Touch

With its two-trillion-dollar economy, recent discoveries of billions of dollars worth of minerals and oil, and the number of investment opportunities it has to offer global players, Africa is slowly shedding its image as a development burden. “While global direct investment has shown some decline – dropping by 18% in 2012 – in Africa, foreign direct investment rose by 5%,” Ken Ogwang, an economic expert affiliated with the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) which has a membership of over 60 businesses, said.

255 Killed And 700 Kidnapped In Car And Drc

During the abduction campaign, the LRA is alleged to have brutally killed adults and children who tried to escape, walked too slowly, or were unable to bear the heavy loads they were forced to carry, HRW found in its investigations in the region. Overall, the report says, the LRA has killed at least 255 adults and children, often by crushing their skulls with clubs. In dozens of cases, the LRA reportedly forced captive children to kill other children and adults. “The LRA continues its horrific campaign to replenish its ranks by brutally tearing away children from their villages and forcing them to fight,” Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior Africa researcher at HRW, said.  In southeastern CAR, the LRA reportedly began large-scale abductions on July 21, 2009 and, to date, has abducted 304 people, including many children. Meanwhile, a similar LRA abduction campaign is reportedly under way in the remote Bas Uele district of Congo. On March 15, 2009, the LRA allegedly attacked the town of Banda, abducting some 80 people. Already, tens of thousands of people are said to have fled the area, leaving entire villages abandoned.  Currently, the UN peace-keeping mission in Congo, MONUSCO, reportedly has 19,000 peacekeepers across the country, of which only 1,000 are in the LRA-affected areas of northeastern Congo – far too few for the scale and geographical breadth of the problem. In fact, there are no peacekeepers based in the Bas Uele district of northern DRC.  

Losses Of $200-400 Billion A Year In Capital Flight

South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said that the continent remains the most competitive in terms of returns in investment, but cautioned on capital flows. Mr. Gordhan dismissed some international investors who describe Africa as a risky place to do business as people who were out of touch with the reality. He also expressed concern over businesses that made super profit, but refused to execute statutory obligation of paying taxes to governments. In this manner, the African people hardly benefit from the wealth produced in their countries. “Businesses have the responsibility to pay taxes, to pay fair taxes,” noted Gordhan. Some representatives of multinationals operating in Africa have also criticized local governments for the lack of clear tax rules, which they say discourages many traders from investing in the continent. African ministers have, however, indicated that the corporations themselves are often opposed to fiscal rules, especially in mining and in the mobile telephone business, two areas showing the highest profits in the last decade.  


In 1950, only 14.5% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa lived in the city. In 1980, this percentage increased to 28% and in 1990 to 34%. It is expected that, by 2020, 50% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa will be urbanized and in 2025, this figure will be at 60%. In 1960, Johannesburg was the only city in sub-Saharan Africa with a population of over one million inhabitants. In 1970, there were 4 cities with over one million inhabitants: Cape Town, Johannesburg (both in South Africa), Kinshasa (in the then Zaire, now Democratic Republic of the Congo), and Lagos (Nigeria).  In the late 80s, Abidjan (Ivory Coast, Accra (Ghana), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Dakar (Senegal), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Durban (South Africa), East Rand (South Africa, is now part of the vast metropolitan area of Johannesburg), Harare (Zimbabwe), Ibadan (Nigeria), Khartoum (Sudan), Luanda (Angola) and Nairobi (Kenya) joined the list. In 2010, it is estimated that at least 33 African cities have a population of over 1 million inhabitants.  In 2015, it is estimated that Lagos will have 23 million people, becoming the third megalopolis of the world after Tokyo and Bombay. The capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kinshasa, which in 1940 had a population of 50,000 inhabitants, has now become the 23rd most populous city in the world, with 10 million inhabitants.  Even smaller cities are rapidly expanding. In Kenya, for example, in 1962 there were 34 cities. In 1999, there were 177. In Malawi, the percentage of urban population has grown from 5% in 1960 to 13% in 1995. Seventy-five percent of the urban population resides in the major cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu, and Zomba. The growth rate of urban population is 5.6% per year.    

A Continent Increasingly Urbanized

This development will have dramatic consequences, particularly because – according to data from UN-Habitat, a United Nations agency based in Nairobi, Kenya which deals with urban settlements – currently, two thirds of Africa’s population lives in urban slums or at least in “informal” conditions, without running water, sewerage, transport systems and adequate sanitation. The agency predicts that, by 2030, the African population will mainly live in urban settings rather than in the countryside. Therefore, there must be a serious prospect of living offered to young people in slums who are uprooted from traditional African culture and likely to fall into the temptation of crime or even terrorism. The rapid and chaotic urbanization is creating serious environmental hazards with serious consequences on the health of the inhabitants of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods. Among the risk factors, we can count contaminated water, lack of sanitation, air pollution, and the proliferation of disease-carrying insects. These problems are exacerbated by the use of chemicals in agriculture and industry. In addition to the diseases that have traditionally affected the African people (tuberculosis, AIDS or malaria), other diseases typical of industrialized countries such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and asthma are also spreading, as a result of pollution.  From the standpoint of urban development, it should be noted that a large number of African cities were developed in colonial times as administrative centers and for trade, not as modern industrial and services centers designed to accommodate a large population. Consequently, several African cities have a structure based on a center with neighborhoods for the wealthy, for businesses, and for the government, surrounded by slums. This presents a challenge for the Church and mission in Africa, where there have long been examples of missionary witness in the world’s poorest slums, like those in Nairobi.  

Reversing The Resources Curse

The theme of the competition among global powers in the hoarding of African resources and the impact of this new “scramble for Africa” on the continent’s development were the focus of the workshop, sponsored by the Institute for International Policy Studies (ISPI) and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The seminar, held in Rome, was attended by several journalists and experts on African issues. The discussion showed that, due to the fact that traditional Western partners in Africa are faced with increasing competition of other powers (ranging from China to India, from Russia to Brazil), African countries can negotiate more advantageous contracts in handing over their natural resources. However, there is still the problem of corruption among the African ruling elite, which undermines the possibility of using the “royalties” of mining concessions to improve the conditions of the population and diversify African economies which are still too dependent on monocultures and the mining sector alone. In several African countries, there is, however, an emerging civil society that is asking its own leaders to give accounts of financial resources gained from the exploitation of minerals and oil. Among the most active in this field are several bishops’ conferences and individual bishops such as Comboni Bishop Michele Russo, Bishop of Doba in Chad, who launched an appeal asking that African resources be used to improve the living conditions of its inhabitants. Africa, a continent in turmoil, whose population has recently exceeded one billion inhabitants, has a huge economic potential, yet untapped. Most of its natural resources, in fact, have not yet been taken advantage of. The arrival of new economic partners could change that. However, as pointed out in the final conclusions of the seminar, including those of South-South cooperation, Africa is likely to remain the junior partner, as it has yet to do some “catching-up,” even in comparison to Asian and South American partners.    

Crime Is A Threat To Peace In The World

Illustrating the report called, “The Globalization of Crime: A Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment,” Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of ONUDC, said “Transnational crime has become a threat to peace and development, even to the sovereignty of nations. Criminals use not only weapons and violence, but also money and bribes to buy elections, politicians and power – even the military.” This situation is particularly acute in West Africa, a region used ever more frequently by Latin American drug traffickers as a transit point towards the rich markets of Europe. “West African countries need help to increase their ability to counter transnational organized crime” says the report. “Recent efforts against the trafficking of cocaine, with the backing of the international community, produced promising results. However the region is still particularly exposed and will continue to face a series of potential threats to governance and stability.” Looted natural resources in Africa include fauna. Every year, between 5,000 and 12,000 African elephants are killed to feed the ivory market (between 50 and 120 kg per year). Some organized crime specializes in the selling of counterfeit medicines in Asia and in Africa. “A good part of certain key drugs tested in South-East Asia and in Africa failed effectiveness tests and many are evidently fake. It is clear that organized crime deliberately swindles consumers in some of the poorest parts of the world often with lethal results” the report says. This, according to ONUDC, can have even more serious consequences: “watered down medicines can feed the reproduction of varieties of medicine resistant pathogenic agents, with global implications.” Somali piracy produces profits of 100 million dollars a year, a conspicuous sum at the local level, but very small at the general level. Somali piracy has made many countries mobilize their navies to protect international shipping along routes passing the Horn of Africa.    

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