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Opinion & Analysis (1033)

Africa’s Environment Day is celebrated on the 3rd of March each year. It is an important event which contributes to raising awareness of pressing environmental challenges for Africa. It also highlights the importance of environmental sustainability in achieving the continents development goals, and the centrality of the continent in these discussions.
Putting aside all the controversies surrounding President Jacob Zuma’s delivery of the 2015 State of the Nation address, the speech is worth analysing.
On 26 January 2015, President Jacob Zuma provided reasons for referring the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill (MPRD-AB 2014) back to Parliament. The Bill had been shepherded through parliament shortly before the 2014 national elections, and has been on the President's desk since then.
Africa may be rising, but its success is primarily measured by economic growth and development, while discourse on democratisation is far less prominent than at the onset of the new millennium. At the same time, many African states are forging ever-deeper ties with emerging powers that seem to place little value on democracy and human rights.
Saturday, 24 January 2015

Factsheet: China-Africa Relations

China-Africa ties have expanded beyond trade and investment in extractive industries to engagement in telecommunications, infrastructure, manufacturing, finance, media, agriculture and peace and security issues.
Global experience in the last century demonstrated that it is possible for societies to move rapidly from poverty to prosperity. The past decade has seen growing hope that Africa may be on the cusp of emulating these experiences.
It is hoped that African countries will soon be signing a new free trade agreement that will take the continent one step closer to its goal of economic development.
In recent years there has been growing global awareness of the interplay between rights and the development process and a generalised recognition of social determinants of health as a point of entry to re-connect poverty, equality and health.
Q&A with Dr. Zhang Chun of the Shanghai Institute of International Studies and Dr. Abiodun Alao of King’s College London.The scholarly and policy focus on China in Africa is beginning to move beyond the examination of the macro-trends to a more nuanced emphasis on sectoral and bilateral country studies.
Due to the increasing threat of climate change, the key role that energy plays in the interactions between societies and resources towards a sustainable development has gained broad attention. As renewable energy sources (RES) become more competitive in relation to other energy sources, they create another opportunity to attract additional investments in favour of a greener economy.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) can learn from the difficulties faced by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in curtailing the spread of Ebola. The Ebola epidemic has highlighted the need for regional access to medicines in West Africa.
Followers of the discourse around international development will be aware of the important debates that took place at the UN General Assembly during September 2014. The ambitious theme of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly, 'Delivering on and implementing a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda,' has set the scene for the negotiations to be pursued in the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals and other expert committees and related dialogues and working groups on the post-2015 development agenda.
Group of 20 (G-20) Summits are a magnet for expectations. Ever since the grouping was formed in the turbulent early days of the 2008 global financial crisis major stakeholders have pinned many hopes on the ability of the group to steer the globe back to growth.
Sociologist Robert K Merton’s ‘Law of Unintended Consequences’ is the observable phenomenon of purposeful actions having unexpected results, most often negative ones. Mozambique’s 2014 elections have been characterised by continuing tensions between the Government of Mozambique and the Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (RENAMO) opposition political party, which the latter has sought to escalate in the post-election period, and ahead of the final results.[i]
The announcement of a joint agreement between the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Hebei Iron and Steel Group to open a steel mill in Phalaborwa could signal a new stage in the longstanding relationship between South Africa and China. Financed in part by the China Africa Development Fund, the deal reportedly involves the Chinese company taking a 51% share in the joint venture and building a processing plant that will go beyond the mere extraction of resources for export and generate local employment.
Does being an active member of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the instrument adopted by the African Union to improve the quality of governance across the continent, help a country improve its rankings in the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG)?
The 2014 Commemoration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, to be held on Friday 17 October, focuses on the theme: Leave no one behind: think, decide and act together against extreme poverty. It is widely acknowledged that, without collective action from the Global North and South, poverty reduction measures will not work effectively and the gap between rich and poor will continue to widen.
On 15 October 2014 Mozambicans go to the polls to vote in the fifth round of democratic elections to be held in the country since they first took place in 1994. Twenty years after this watershed event, concerns about the sustainability of peace are more urgent than ever.
Understandably, the mining industry is not perceived as a bastion of environmental preservation. That many of the world’s minerals and hydrocarbons are found in pristine environments is an unfortunate but inescapable reality. Guinea’s tier-one iron-ore deposit, for instance, is under one of Africa’s last remaining rain forests.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 3,000 people—so far. It is spreading at an alarming pace, despite the efforts of governments and regional and multilateral organisations to stem the tide.
In June 2014 Botswana’s Okavango Delta was enlisted as the 1000th UNESCO World Heritage Site – a status that underscores the Delta’s global ecological significance and highlights the need to protect and manage this important biosphere. September 2014 also marked the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Permanent Cubango-Okavango River Basin Commission (OKACOM) agreement that commits Namibia, Angola and Botswana, the three riparian states of the River Basin, to a coordinated and environmentally sustainable regional water governance strategy. In 1996 the Okavango Delta was also declared a Ramsar Site, further highlighting its status as a wetland of global importance.
Sub-Saharan Africa is decidedly heterogeneous when it comes to the interests and normative underpinnings that frame each country's interpretation of the notion of security, not to mention the capacity and willingness of individual African states to address the myriad forms of insecurity and vulnerability.
South Africa, a leading economy on the African continent, and China, the largest developing country in the world, have forged a unique partnership. Operating at bilateral, continental and multilateral levels, the governments are actively striving to realise the comprehensive strategic partnership envisaged in 2010.
From Gaza to Syria, Iraq and Ukraine, the existing political order is under attack. The crises in Europe challenge the stability that was the product of post-Cold War settlements, while the post-World War II arrangements in the Middle East are unravelling.
In response to its beheading of two US journalists and the havoc the Islamic State group (IS) has created in the Syrian and Iraqi region, US president Barack Obama recently laid out his vision for confronting IS to his country’s citizenry. He presented a four step strategy which essentially consists of building an international coalition, without involving US 'boots on the ground', that would support the Iraqi military and 'moderate' Syrian rebels in confronting IS and wresting territory back from its control.
It has been nearly six years since Vice President Dick Cheney left Washington when the Bush administration ended. This past week, Cheney offered a stinging rebuttal of President Barack Obama’s strategy against ISIS - in advance of the president’s speech. Just hours before Obama appeared on television, Cheney spoke at a leading conservative think tank in Washington to an audience that was like a convention of the right-wing faithful, hoping to strap on their weapons and do battle once again, one more time.
More than a week has now passed since the ostensible coup attempt of 29 August in Lesotho. This was sold officially as an operation to neutralise elements within the Lesotho Mounted Police Service who were colluding with government supporters to disrupt a protest march the following Monday.
The heads of state and government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) members are ensconced in the resort town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. This is for the annual summit of the regional economic community (17-18 August) that includes countries from as far north as Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The 2014 South African Mining Lekgotla convenes in Johannesburg, on 13-14 August. This comes against the backdrop of unresolved challenges in the mining sector, including the recent protracted platinum strike, inter-union rivalries and violence, service delivery failure in mining communities and the persistent migrant labour system.
For well over a decade, a unique, but flawed global governance initiative, the Kimberley Process, has sought to assure customers that the high prices that they pay for diamonds - stones sold as symbols of love – are not associated with war and bloodshed. But more recently, the increasing production of synthetic diamonds in response to demand in emerging countries is threatening the stability of the entire diamond market.