Kenya’s Former PM Says African Continent Harmed By Morocco and Algeria’s Preference for Trade with Europe

Raila Odinga spoke on the relationship between Morocco and Algeria at the 2015 Crans Montana Forum on Africa and South-South Cooperation, held in the Moroccan southern city of Dakhla, located in the so-called Western Sahara.

Odinga said that as a result of the lack of economic cooperation between Morocco and Algeria, the two countries regard Europe as their primary economic partner, and African countries are therefore forced to import both countries’ products from Europe at high cost.

Morocco, he said, is rich in phosphates that are used in fertilizers, while Algeria has high reserves of oil and gas.

“Algeria is one of the largest providers of gas to Europe in a club that includes Russia and Norway. Morocco has almost half the world’s reserves of phosphates which are needed for fertilizer. Yet much of Africa, including my country Kenya, imports fertilizer from Europe. We could easily get it from here,” the former Prime Minister explained.

Odinga said that while the North African states consider Europe as their primary economic and diplomatic partner, they tend to view sub-Sahara Africa with little enthusiasm, especially in trade and diplomatic cooperation. “Hence, the region has products that the rest of the continent is forced to import from Europe at high costs,” Ordiga added.

Talking to Morocco World News, Odinga stated that Sub-Saharan Africa and the Maghreb “have a lot in common,” historically and economically. “But, nowadays, stronger ties between North Africa and Sub-Sahara Africa are essential for fostering economic prosperity on the continent,” he explained.

Trade should be expanded among between the Maghreb, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Europe,” he continued. “Therefore, we are calling on Europe to allow market access to goods coming from Africa to the European market. And then we can reciprocate by importing the European goods,” Odinga told MWN.

“Historically, Africa was just a market for goods coming from Europe, but if you expand the trade, then you have more opportunities,” he added.

Odinga said that that if you create greater opportunities for entry into the continent, more African youth will be gainfully employed. Otherwise, youth might risk their lives in order to get to Europe illegally.

“They won’t have to go to Europe for better opportunities. We can create opportunities in Africa, in both the Maghreb and Sub-Saharan Africa. This is a long-term solution to the problem of illegal immigration to Europe,” Odinga concluded.

Source: Morocco World News

9 Ways Africa Would Be Better Without Foreign “Aid”

Giving alms to Africa remains one of the biggest ideas of our time — millions march for it, governments are judged by it, celebrities proselytize the need for it. According to writer Dambisa Moyo, a former economist at Goldman Sachs and the author of “Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa,” calls for more aid to Africa are growing louder, with advocates pushing for doubling the roughly $50 billion of international assistance that already goes to Africa each year.

 

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Aid Makes the Poor Countries Even Poorer

Over the past 60 years, at least $1 trillion of development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa, according to estimates, but the per-capita income on the continent today is lower than it was in the 1970s. The number of people living on less than a dollar a day, currently more than 50 percent of the population (more than 350 million people), has nearly doubled in two decades. African countries pay close to $20 billion in debt repayments per year, which writer Moyo says is a stark reminder that aid is not free, pointing out that in order to keep the system going, debt is repaid at the expense of African education and health care.

SIERRA LEONE

More Aid, More Conflict

Foreign aid often focuses on the self-interests of the donor, rather than the needs of the recipient, according to an analysis by Erika Lal of Azusa Pacific University. A study conducted at Brigham Young University found that aid contributes to conflict in localized clusters. By looking at foreign aid projects in Sierra Leone, Mozambique and Angola during both conflict period and nonconflict periods, the researchers determined aid is positively associated with conflict.

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Even IMF Warned That Aid Doesn’t Work

In 2005, the International Monetary Fund warned that governments, donors, campaigners and pop stars need to be far more modest in their claims that increased aid will solve Africa’s problems. In a report titled “Aid Will Not Lift Growth in Africa,” the IMF cautioned that “we need to be careful given the chequered history of aid, that we do not place more hopes on aid as an instrument of development than it is capable of delivering.” The report studied duration, type of donor and governance record of recipient and concluded that aid did not boost growth. But despite such comments, no serious efforts have been made to wean Africa off this debilitating drug.

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More Aid Hampers Growth

Rather than pumping aid to African nations, the IMF suggested that governments focus on trading with Africa instead. Raghuram Rajan, the fund’s chief economist and co-author of the reports, and Arvind Subramanian, head of macroeconomic studies, argued that aid contributes to a country’s rising exchange rate, which hampers growth. In addition, increased aid contributes to poor productivity by depressing exports, the IMF research shows.

Mobutu Sese Seko

More Aid, More Corruption

As many observers have pointed out, aid often enables corruption. Jeffrey Winters, a professor at Northwestern University, told the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in 2004 that the World Bank had participated in the corruption of roughly $100 billion of its loan funds intended for development. The African Union has estimated that corruption was costing the continent $150 billion a year, as international donors were apparently turning a blind eye to the simple fact that aid money was inadvertently fueling graft. According to corruption watchdog agency Transparency International, Mobutu Sese Seko, Zaire’s (Democratic Republic of the Congo) president from 1965 to 1997, reportedly stole at least $5 billion from the country while being backed by Belgium.

 50th_Anniversary_African_Union_Summit_in_Addis_Ababa,_Ethiopia

Free Money Keeps Bad Governments in Power

A constant stream of “free” money is a perfect way to keep an inefficient or simply bad government in power, writer Dambisa Moyo points out. As aid flows in, there is nothing more for the government to do — it doesn’t need to raise taxes, and as long as it pays the army, it doesn’t have to take account of its disgruntled citizens. No matter that its citizens are disenfranchised (as with no taxation there can be no representation). All the government really needs to do is to court and cater to its foreign donors to stay in power, with no incentive to seek other, better, more transparent ways of raising development finance.

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How Free Mosquito Nets Can Be Harmful

Even what may appear as a benign intervention on the surface can have damning consequences. Moyo provides the example of the mosquito-net maker in small-town Africa. If he employs 10 people who together manufacture 500 nets a week, typically these 10 employees support upward of 15 relatives each. If a Western government-inspired program generously supplies the affected region with 100,000 free mosquito nets, this promptly puts the mosquito net manufacturer out of business and his 10 employees can no longer support their 150 dependents. “In a couple of years, most of the donated nets will be torn and useless, but now there is no mosquito net maker to go to,” Moyo writes. “They’ll have to get more aid. And African governments once again get to abdicate their responsibilities.”

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The More Aid, the Less Attractive for Investors

The aid culture has left African countries more debt-laden, more inflation-prone, more vulnerable to the vagaries of the currency markets and more unattractive to higher-quality investment. Aid also increases the risk of civil conflict and unrest because of the idleness it creates in young people. The fact that over 60 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is under the age of 24 with few economic prospects is a cause for instability. The stigma associated with countries relying on aid should also not be underestimated or ignored. Moyo writes that it is the rare investor who wants to risk money in a country that is unable to stand on its own feet and manage its own affairs in a sustainable way.

  Rethinking Africa From The Ground Up

Instead of Food Aid, a Better Idea Is Supporting African Farmers

Food aid often kills growth for African farmers. In fiscal year 2013, the U.S.’s Food for Peace provided approximately 1.1 million metric tons of food aid, valued at approximately $1.4 billion, in 46 countries. But the bulk of the aid went to the African continent — in many cases buying American-grown food that has to then be shipped across oceans. As a result, local farmers are often put out of business — instead of the money being used to buy food from farmers within the country and then distribute that food to the local citizens in need.

Sources:

Erika Lal of Azusa Pacific University

IMF report titled “Aid Will Not Lift Growth in Africa, IMF

Writer Dambisa Moyo, a former economist at Goldman Sachs and the author of Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa,

US AID http://www.usaid.gov/what-we-do/agriculture-and-food-security/food-assistance/quick-facts/fiscal-year-2013-food-peace

What Are You Really Saying When You Claim You Want to ‘Help’ Africa?

This Business Called Africa…

… Can be so exasperating!

Often, I receive solicitations:

“Professor, I have applied to volunteer in Africa next semester or next year. I took some of your courses in the past and I really enjoyed them. They were an eye-opener. Studying the literatures and cultures of Africa with you has motivated me to want to go to Africa to spend some time. I have started applying to NGOs, foundations and international charity organizations that sponsor the internships and aid work in Africa. Are you able to write a reference letter in support of my application?”

“Ah, yes, that is wonderful. Sure, I’ll write a reference. But, pray, if indeed you took any of my classes, how come you are still going to Africa?”

“Ouch. I’m sorry, Professor. I want to go to Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya or Malawi in no particular order of preference. Those are the countries I filled in my forms. You did warn us against just saying ‘Africa’ like it is one small basket.”

“Exactly. So, why exactly are you going to the continent?”

“I am going there because I want to help Africa. There is so much to do out there and I want to help.”

“Didn’t you just say you were going to Burundi or Rwanda or Tanzania or Kenya or Malawi?”

“Sorry, again, Professor. I am going to help just one country in Africa.”

“Better. But here is the deal. Your 19- or 20-year-old self is not going to help Africa or any country in Africa. You are too young and too small to be making such grandiose claims about a continent. I have been pouring my intellection and modest gifts into the universities of Canada and the United States since 1998. Yet, it would be presumptuous of me to claim that I came here to help these two countries out – or to help the American continent. You are going to Africa to be helped by Africa. You are going there to be increased.

“Your person will be increased. Your self will be expanded. Your horizon will be broadened and expanded. You will be introduced to new ways of seeing and being. You will encounter alternative narratives of personhood and society. You will encounter and engage different modernities. These are priceless riches you are going to gain from that encounter. Of course, the Burundians and Kenyans of your age bracket you encounter are also going to learn stuff from you. You will enrich them just as they will enrich you. You are going there for a process of exchange. You are not going to help Africa, OK?”

“OK, Professor.”

“Alright. You may come over to the office during my office hours, and I will fill and sign your reference form.”

Part Two

I help international funding agencies evaluate the dossiers of African scholars based in Euro-America who want to go back to the continent and spend some time “giving back.” With the imposition of Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) on many African countries by the IMF and the World Bank in the 1980s, the continent’s best brains moved to European and North American universities. That exodus was labeled “brain drain.” Now, many funding initiatives encourage these scholars to go back to the continent and spend time helping universities with capacity building. “Brain gain” is the buzz word.

I’ve been down that brain gain road myself because an international funding agency sent me to go and spend the 2013-14 academic year at the University of Ghana, helping out with graduate course development and proposal-writing workshops for junior and mid-career faculty. But Ghana also helped me a lot, gave me a lot, developed and enriched me. I came back to Canada a better scholar because of what Ghana taught me.

Now you are evaluating dossiers. And you encounter something like:

“My motivation for going back is because I want to help ameliorate the deplorable condition of Africans all over the world.”

The deplorable condition of Africans all over the world?

This would include my deplorable condition as an African in Canada, no?

And I have only just scolded a Canadian undergraduate for nursing the ambition to go and help Africa. Now an African scholar wants to carry the weight of the deplorable condition of Africans all over the world? I better go and apologize to the student, seeing that African scholars are also going back to help one uniformly deplorable Africa.

I better stop evaluating applications for international agencies before the sons and daughters of Africa damage my health with the reasons they sometimes offer for wanting to brain gain themselves back to the continent!

This business called Africa can be
So exasperating!

Pius Adesanmi is a Professor of English & African Studies at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. His book, “You’re Not a Country, Africa,” won the Penguin Prize for African Writing in the non-fiction category in 2010.