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Opinion & Analysis (1025)

If tabloid headlines are anything to go by, the United Kingdom is fighting off the greatest invasion force threatening the island since the Blitz. The invaders this time are migrants and asylum seekers sneaking a ride on lorries, trains and ferries to get across – or underneath – the English Channel.
The Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) between the member states of three African regional economic communities – SADC, EAC, and COMESA – has been heralded as one of the most important developments in African regional integration.
Heads of State and Governments of the member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will be meeting this week in Gaborone, Botswana to further discuss the region’s industrial and infrastructure development.
Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states have been called to produce strategic plans to transition their electricity supply industries towards cost-reflective tariffs by 2019. This was concluded at the 34th meeting of SADC Energy Ministers Conference, recently held in Johannesburg.
Patents and restrictions on intellectual property have become more problematic for developing nations in the last decade. At the centre of the storm is the development and influx of inexpensive generic medicines that developing countries need to treat HIV, TB and other communicable diseases.
While the BRICS’ initial focus when it was established in 2009 was on improving global economic governance in response to the 2008 financial crisis, over the last seven years BRICS co-operation and dialogue has moved into politico-security areas.  
In June 2015, the Department of Mineral Resources gazetted regulations related to hydraulic fracturing or fracking in South Africa offering a framework for the exploitation and exploration of shale gas. It could easily lead one to think that another step has been taken in the direction of the highly controversial question of industrial fracking in the Karoo basin.
During state visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia in later 2013, President Xi Jinping outlined China’s vision of a ‘One Belt One Road’ – running overland from China to Eastern Europe – and a complementary Maritime Silk Road that stretches from Southeast China across the Indian Ocean to Dar es Salaam and onward around the Horn of Africa to the Mediterranean. While this vision remains under development, the engagement is intended as a multi-pronged diplomatic, economic and strategic initiative - as well as one that encourages closer cross-cultural contact – that will intensify China’s relations with Africa. Indeed this raises questions…
The International Conference on Financing for Development held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 13-15 July 2015 brought together world leaders to assess progress on the implementation of the 2002 Monterrey Consensus and the 2008 Doha Declaration on Financing for Development. The goal of the Monterrey Consensus, endorsed at Doha, was ‘to eradicate poverty, achieve sustained economic growth and promote sustainable development as the World advances to a fully inclusive and equitable global economic system’.
South Africa has been facing an ongoing crisis of running out of essential drugs, such as anti-retrovirals for HIV patients. This highlights the need for a regional response to the provision and procurement of pharmaceutical drugs.
Since its institution in 1989, World Population Day on 11 July has drawn attention to the Earth’s rising population, and the demographic and social trends accompanying it. These serious and complex matters address the opportunities and hurdles confronting countries’ development aspirations. Nowhere is this of more profound – even existential – importance than in Africa.
Cuba has officially become the first country in the world to eliminate the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to child. Margaret Chan, director-general for the World Health Organisation (WHO), described the small Caribbean island’s achievement as 'one of the greatest public health achievements possible.'
Heads of state of the BRICS countries will gather in Ufa, Russia, this week for the grouping’s seventh summit, which comes at a particularly challenging time for Russian diplomacy. Precipitated by the conflict in Ukraine, Russia is barred from Group of Seven/Group of Eight processes and increasingly estranged from the West.
Following the tragic killing of striking miners at the Lonmin Mine in Marikana on 16 August 2012, South Africa’s government established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate matters of ‘public, national and international concern’ arising out of the tragic event. Three years on, the release of the Commission’s final report has provoked hostile reactions from many quarters.
Reflecting the broadening of the BRICS agenda since the grouping was formed in 2009, the first ever meeting of BRICS environment ministers was held in Russia in April 2015. The ministers agreed to:
The signing of the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (TFTA) two weeks ago in Egypt between three of Africa’s major economic blocs COMESA, the EAC and SADC is an important development for intra-African trade and investment. By taking the first step towards the establishment of an economic bloc spanning the continent from South to North East, the African leaders have also laid the foundation for the establishment of a sizeable consumer market for international investors. Yet, it hardly received the attention it deserved at the AU’s 25th Summit in Johannesburg from 7 – 15 June 2015.
Ahead of the UN Conference of Parties (COP 21) meeting in December 2015, which it is hoped will deliver a universal, legally binding climate agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol by 2020, Paris is hosting an International Scientific Conference (ISC) from 7–10 July.
Some five weeks ago I attended the BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) Academic Forum in Moscow as part of the South African delegation. The discussions held there provide interesting insights into the future direction of the BRICS group.
[Updated 29 June 2015] Preceding this month's 25th African Union (AU) summit in Johannesburg a meeting of the AU Specialized Technical Committee on Defence, Safety and Security committed again to fully operationalise an African Standby Force (ASF) by December this year. The ASF has been ten years in the planning, and in that time has failed to establish a rapid response tool to deal with conflict on the continent.
As I write this, President al-Bashir has left the country. He should never have risked coming and the South African government should have suspected that something like this might happen.
The focus for this year’s African Union (AU) Summit – being held on 14 and 15 June 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa – is the 'Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063'. The Summit follows on from the launch of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), which encompasses 26 countries in Southern and Eastern Africa, including SADC, the EAC and COMESA.
The global economy loses $50 billion every year as a result of poor management of global fish stocks. That figure doesn’t tell the full story of how overfishing, illegal fisheries and environmental degradation impact the livelihoods of coastal and riparian communities, particularly in developing states.
Every year, the United Nations Environment Programme celebrates the World Environment Day on 5 June to raise awareness about environmental issues, reflect on what has been accomplished and call for sustained action globally.
On the sidelines of this week’s OECD meetings in Paris, South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies and US Trade Representative Mike Froman will try and overcome the protracted dispute between the two countries on chicken exports.
The theme for World Health Day, held on 7 April 2015, was 'From farm to plate – make food safe.' The main motivation for the theme was the alarming amount of bacteria borne diseases across the globe, transmitted by eating food which is contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances.
A few weeks ago, forces loyal to President Pierre Nkurunziza stymied a coup d’état in Burundi. A few months earlier, last October to be precise, the exact opposite occurred when an army officer in Burkina Faso, Lt Col. Isaac Zida, dislodged in a bloodless coup d’état West Africa’s former strong-man and president of that country, Blaise Compaoré.
A new pricing model for the controversial electronic toll collection (e-tolling) on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) was announced by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa last week, which will dramatically reduce user fees but link unpaid fees to driver's licence renewals.
Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country, and one of the 12 fastest growing economies in the world is heading to a general election on 24 May 2015. There is very little to suggest that the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which came to power after a bloody civil war in 1991 should have much to worry about.
The South Atlantic Zone refers to a grouping of countries from Latin America and Africa that fall on the littoral border of the South Atlantic Ocean. This region holds significant strategic and economic potential for countries from both regions. Traditionally, South Africa’s regional foreign policy is classified as either ‘Latin American’ or ‘African’. However, an approach that conceives of South Atlantic Zone countries as a single entity offers an opportunity to bridge this conceptual and geographic divide while providing a framework for deeper multilateral co-operation.
The 68th session of the World Health Assembly is being held in Geneva from 18 to 26 of May. The focus for this year’s Assembly is ‘Ebola: Ending the current outbreak, strengthening global preparedness and ensuring the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) capacity to prepare for and respond to future large-scale outbreaks and emergencies with health consequences,’ and ‘Health in the post-2015 development agenda’.