Africa update

In: Uncategorized

6 Apr 2007

Recent news on developments related to Africa.

* Economic growth. Africa grew by 5.7% in 2006 after a 5.3% increase in 2005, according to the United Nations’ Economic Report on Africa 2007. Although this growth is relatively strong it should be noted that African economies are starting from an exceedingly low base. The report also makes the point that Africa still depends heavily on the export of primary commodities such as crude oil, metals and minerals.

* Aid. Aid to Africa was static last year and overall aid spending fell according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. This is despite the fanfare around the Gleneagles G8 summit in 2005 when Tony Blair, the British prime minister, extracted pledges from governments to boost aid spending. Although the European Union, including Britain, increased spending both America and Japan spent much less.

It would be naïve to rely on Western governments to promote African government. However, these figures do show the hollowness of their promises on aid.

* Book. On Wednesday evening attended a University of Westminster seminar on The State They’re In given by Matthew Lockwood. The book is ostensibly an attack on the prevailing consensus on African development held by the likes of the British government and aid agencies. It argues that it is in the interests of the West to promote African developmental states, following the East Asian model, to help develop Africa.

Although the book is presented as a critique its conclusions are remarkably similar to the mainstream view. Lockwood sees African corruption as a big problem while ignoring the low horizons embodied in notions such as sustainable development. His book is also endorsed by the likes of Bob Geldof, Duncan Green (the head of research at Oxfam) and Shriti Vadera (an adviser to the British Chancellor).