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Opinion & Analysis (1026)

In the run-up to this year’s presidential elections in the US, SAIIA’s experts will be providing weekly updates on the key developments, with a view to how the issues at stake might affect South Africa and Africa.
The commanding position that the BRICS economies once held in the post-global financial crises era legitimised their claims for more equitable global governance institutions. Equally, they believed that the development challenges they shared could be addressed through a collective voice in international forums on the back of their strong economic performances.
With 27,000 African savannah elephants a year illegally killed for their ivory, the species is in peril. Now international action at CITES and the closure of domestic ivory markets are attacking the ivory trade at both ends. But we must also give our full support to 'elephant neighbour' communities.
Declining safety and deterioration in the rule of law are holding back progress in governance in Africa. This is according to the latest Ibrahim Index of African Governance.
South Africa has contributed billions of Rands in developmental assistance to the DRC. Yet according to traditional definitions of aid, these contributions do not count. In a new article published by the Mail and Guardian, SAIIA's Carmel Rawhani investigates the controversies around defining aid and why South Africa's contributions may actually surpass those of more wealthy ‘Western’ donors.
The upcoming 2016 World Food Prize will honour contributions in the field of biofortification. With almost one person in four being undernourished in Africa, what do recent experiences tell us about the role that biofortified foods can play in ensuring nutritious and safe food for the continent?
A crucial international wildlife meeting is currently taking place in South Africa. But can these kinds of high-level conferences translate into local actions to protect endangered wildlife such the African elephant? In an article for The Mercury, SAIIA Senior Researcher Yu-Shan Wu discusses the findings of her latest research into the matter.
Partnerships between government and civil society organisations (CSOs) can be volatile if not adequately nurtured, leading to mutual suspicion and questioning each other’s agendas. CSOs in South Africa have recently expressed dissatisfaction about the lack of consultation and implementation of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). This is a voluntary international initiative where government and CSOs work together to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. The OGP will reflect on its first five years in New York on 21-22 September 2016 and the stakes are high for South Africa to lead by example and…
This week the United States (US) hosted African nations for the annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum under the theme: ‘Maximising AGOA now while preparing for the future beyond AGOA'. AGOA, a unilateral development programme offering African countries duty free access for select exports to the US, is set to expire in 2025.
Dozens of wildlife species are endangered, pushed ever closer to extinction by habitat loss and illegal trade. This is an important and disquieting element of the so-called Anthropocene, the proposed geological epoch to describe the current period, in which the earth and its complex systems have been fundamentally shaped by human activity. The illegal wildlife trade, which has been estimated at $7 billion to $23 billion a year, is the world’s fourth-largest form of transnational organized crime.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international regulatory treaty between 182 member states. It was formed in 1973 and regulates the international trade in over 35,000 wild species of plants and animals.
The 11th G-20 Summit in Hangzhou, China closed earlier this week, focusing on the 'New' Industrial Revolution and technological changes, such as big data, robotics, and cloud computing. Innovation has been China’s key area of interest throughout their G-20 Presidency, dedicating many discussions to how new industries could invigorate the global economy.
The international investment landscape has been shifting over the past two decades. Governments are increasingly realising the potential for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to achieve not only economic growth, but developmental objectives as well.
The African Peer Review Mechanism – the continent’s home-grown governance assessment and promotion tool – seems to be slowly turning its fortunes around. On 6-7 September, it will hold a workshop in Sandton discussing how to implement its first ever five year strategy for 2016-2020.
As the full extent of the potential for the world to enter into a Great Depression became clearer in 2008, the G20 Finance meeting was elevated to a Leaders 20, a point that had for some years been advocated by former Canadian prime minister, Paul Martin, among others. Its convening confirmed what many had known for some time – that the G7 was no longer able to manage global crises on its own. The G20 represented most of the systemically important economies whose cooperation and coordination were essential to avert a Great Depression.
The slowdown of the African economy – due to declining Chinese demand for raw materials, unsustainable, uneven growth and the potential Brexit fallout – calls into question the hopeful ‘Africa Rising’ narrative. What is holding back Africa’s development, and what’s being done about it? To what extent is corruption to blame, and is the continent’s 50-year development plan, Agenda 2063, up to the task of tackling it? The latest ‘Panama Papers’ revelations, released late July 2016, have implicated more African countries – 44 out of 54 countries on the continent use offshore financial structures.
When the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) was launched in 1993 by Japan in co-operation with the World Bank, the UN, and the UN Development Programme, it was the first such initiative of one country seeking to deepen its partnership with Africa. From 27-28 August, TICAD will be held for the first time in an African country. This milestone reflects the evolving nature of relations between Japan and the continent, and the more assertive and confident agency of African countries in their interactions with external powers.
On 25 October 2015, Tanzanians elected John Pombe Magufuli as their president – nicknamed "The Bulldozer" for his self-assertive, brash leadership style, and his ability to push through his agenda. His policies have a strong internal focus, including minimising his foreign travel to save costs and asking government officials to do the same. His skipping of summits, has however raised questions about Tanzania possibly missing out on important international opportunities. Ahead of a visit to Rwanda, President Magufuli said, “I don’t like travelling abroad because I am fond of saving and you can't keep pace with other nations in equal…
Three countries in southern Africa have banded together to press for the ban on international trade in ivory to be lifted. South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe have submitted a joint proposal to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). They are asking for permission to trade in ivory without which, they argue, there are no positive incentives to conserve elephants or their habitats.
The already-anxious, West-aligned states bordering Russia are receiving alarmingly mixed messages from their NATO allies. At its summit in Warsaw in July, NATO agreed to deploy a battalion of troops to each of the three Baltic states and Poland to protect them against possible Russian attack.
A telling feature of South African municipal elections is the near seamless manner in which they blend into the country’s national political narratives. Whether this involves appeals to socio-economic transformation, combatting corruption, redistributing land, party brand-loyalty or invoking the images of party leaders – whose names will not appear on ballots on 3 August – an important subtext is that these elections are speaking to something altogether ‘bigger’ than local governance and the management of service provision. Cynics might even consider these polls mere warm-ups as we approach the main tournament of national elections in 2019.
A meeting on the SADC Regional Investment Framework is taking place in Johannesburg this week, to look at, amongst other priorities, investment in regional and global value chains. These discussions will take place against the background of slowing global economic growth and a decline in commodity earnings for African countries.
The Zimbabwean state has provided some of the biggest lessons in humility for political analysts in this century. Its government, headed by the indomitable Robert Mugabe, has failed to ‘definitively fail’ despite every warning since ZANU-PF war veterans began the land invasions that prompted the first wave of crisis in that country in 2001.
The Beitbridge border between Zimbabwe and South Africa, the busiest border post in Southern Africa, has been rocked by unprecedented violent protests since June. The protests largely concern the restrictive trade measures unexpectedly introduced by the Zimbabwean government, which included banning the importation of basic commodities like body creams, baked beans and bottled water.
Africa’s infrastructure financing deficit, estimated to be $100 billion a year, remains persistently large. The resulting lack of investment in energy, transport and water infrastructure on the continent presents a significant barrier to economic growth and development.
The mineral resources minister recently gazetted an amended Mining Charter, which generated a good deal of controversy. Although the revised charter retains the principal target of achieving 26% ownership of mining companies by historically disadvantaged South Africans, it adds the requirement of retaining this level continuously. A further amendment stipulates that workers, through the establishment of employee share ownership plans (Esops), are to be allocated a minimum stake of 5% that counts towards the 26% total black economic empowerment (BEE) equity.
Nearly nine months ago the third India-Africa Forum Summit, and the first that included all African states, was held with much fanfare in Delhi. There, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a range of measures, including extending lines of credit to African nations of up to $10 billion over the next five years, additional grant assistance of $600 million, and a commitment to help train more African peacekeepers in Africa and India.
The drought that has hammered Southern Africa over the past years is a potent reminder (if ever it was needed) of the foundational importance of agriculture to the continent’s fortunes. Agriculture remains a mainstay of Africa’s economy, accounting for around a third of GDP and two thirds of employment.
What many political and financial analysts viewed until a day before the British referendum on a European exit as scaremongering has come to be. The 72% voter turnout resulted in a 51.9% vote to leave the EU and a 48.1% vote in favour of remaining. While it essentially signals a split down the middle of UK voters, a closer look at the results reveals that the majority of voters in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the city of London supported the ‘remain’ vote, while the rest of England and Wales with a few small exceptions voted in favour of ‘leave’.
Who would have thought that the Brexit debate’s rising emotions would have reached their apogee in a horrific killing in the streets of a West Yorkshire town a week before the referendum that will determine the economic and global trajectory of Britain? The stakes are high, but it is equally clear that for all the expert opinions on the foolishness of an exit, many people may well vote with their hearts this Thursday, driven by a rhetoric that plays to bygone days of unmitigated national sovereignty and an imperial Britain that ‘ruled the waves’ and was at the centre of…