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Opinion & Analysis (1004)

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

AGOA: It’s time to move on

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has been the cornerstone of US-Africa trade relations since its inception in 2000. AGOA, which provides sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access to the US market for more than 6,000 product lines, has benefited parties on both side of the Atlantic. But recent developments suggest that AGOA may no longer be best suited to promote economic relations. The US and African countries should now devise an alternative arrangement for when the Act expires in 2025.
Elephants in the wild are under serious threat: Save the Elephants estimates that 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory in Africa between 2010 and 2012.
Has China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) usurped Brics as China’s flagship forum? And if so, what does this mean for future Brics co-operation? These are key questions leaders Michel Temer (Brazil), Vladimir Putin (Russia), Narendra Modi (India) and Jacob Zuma have had to consider at the meeting with their heads-of-state counterpart, China’s Xi Jinping, at the group’s annual summit in Xiamen, China.
In the age of Western powers reorganising their priorities in the global arena, along with their diminishing relative economic and political weight, BRICS’ growing influence cannot be denied.
Global headlines in the run-up to the 9th BRICS summit were dominated by the North Korean missile crisis and the stand-off in Doklam, high in the Himalayas, in Bhutan. The former had a direct bearing on the interests of Russia and China, as they share a border with North Korea, but positioned them on the same side in calling for a de-escalation in tensions between the US and North Korea. In the case of the latter though, it pitted two BRICS members, India and China, against each other.
Although the theme of the 9th BRICS Summit is “A Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future”, there is likely to be some underlying tension among the five member states when they meet in Xiamen, East China’s Xiamen province, from Sept 3 to 5.
In the wake of the North Korean missile fired into Japanese airspace – on the United Nation’s commemorative “International Day Against Nuclear Tests” on the 29 August - an emergency UN Security Council meeting has been called over the escalation of tensions in the Korean Peninsula.
The Southern African Development (SADC) heads of state met in Pretoria to discuss developments in the region, they will do so under new stewardship from Angola and South Africa. Angola will assume leadership of the Organ on Politics Defence and Security Cooperation (OPDSC), while South Africa assumes overall chairmanship.
A South African court has ordered the government to release a permit to the world’s largest rhino breeder, John Hume. The permit will allow him to host a 3-day auction of his stockpiled rhino horn to local buyers.
A decade after the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) was launched; the AU and EU are laying the groundwork to renegotiate their relationship in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, come November. In preparation, 80 civil society representatives from both continents were invited to share views on the focus of the partnership in July in Carthage, Tunisia.
As the 37th SADC Summit kicks off, the longstanding question of how to best spur industrial growth and development in the region is at the top of policymakers’ agendas. Greater integration of countries into global and regional value chains is a key focus area given the summit’s theme: Partnering with the private sector in developing industry and value chains.
''If you are not at the table, you are probably on the menu.''
On 8 August Kenyans head to the polls to elect a president, parliament and local officials. The world will be watching closely as the two main candidates face each other for the second time. Uhuru Kenyatta (55) defeated Raila Odinga (72) in 2013 with 50.5% of the vote against 43.7%. Latest opinion polls agree that this contest will be tight, but differ on who is leading. IPSOS Kenya gauges 47% for Kenyatta and 43% for Odinga. Infotrak has Odinga narrowly ahead: 47% vs 46%. However, given the failures of opinion polls during the Brexit vote and the US Presidential elections…
The rapid expansion of Africa’s cities over the past decades has meant an increasing demand for infrastructure, service delivery and jobs. At the same time African policymakers, urban planners and researchers are clamouring to find innovative solutions to meet these demands. The onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – which will see a fusion of technologies that blur the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres – will compound these challenges and experts need to plan adequately for the disruptions.
As part of the G20 initiatives last week, the World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, or We-Fi, was launched. This was an idea initiated by Ivanka Trump at the April 'Women 20' meeting in Germany. We-Fi seeks to avail over US$1 million to empower women entrepreneurs in developing countries through access to finance, mentorships and technical training, as well as public policy advocacy and reforms on gender equality.
The ANC and the National Party were nationalist movements driven by grievance against the British.
In June, South Africa’s public protector announced there would be a new investigation into the #GuptaLeaks allegations of corruption at the highest levels of government. It’s a symptom of South Africa’s broader problems.
The 12th Summit of the G20 will take place on 7-8 July in Hamburg, representing the culmination of the German presidency of 2017. As expected the German government ran an effective presidency giving substance to the guiding theme, ‘Shaping an Interconnected World’ and building consensus under leading topics of ‘building resilience’, ‘improving sustainability’ and ‘assuming responsibility’.
G20 leaders will launch a Compact with Africa as the major new initiative of their 7/8 July summit in Hamburg, Germany.
Friday, 23 June 2017

Brave new world

We are a far cry from the 1800s and the so-called glory days of the British Empire, but sentimentality over ‘making Britain great again’ fuelled the British vote to exit the European Union (EU).
The Kingdom of Lesotho is a country of extremes: breath-taking beauty and widespread poverty. It’s classified by the UN as one of the least developed countries in the world.
In 2016, one of the defining terms when it came to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) political situation was 'le glissement'. Meaning 'slippage', this word was popularly used to refer to President Joseph Kabila’s efforts to stay in office by repeatedly delaying elections The strategy worked. Kabila’s mandate officially ended in December 2016, yet he is still president and there are still no signs of an upcoming vote.
It’s no exaggeration to say that African elephants are in grave danger. The forest elephant, native to Central Africa, is on the edge of extinction. Savanna elephants, in southern Africa, are being poached at a rate of roughly 27,000 a year.
Meeting his counterparts in Europe on his first overseas trip in May, President Donald Trump failed to reassure them that the military alliance, which has been the backbone of the Atlantic relationship since the end of the Cold War, will receive the same degree of commitment from the US as in the past.
Industrialisation is a key driver of sustainable development. It creates jobs, adds value and promotes trade through greater integration into global value chains. At the same time, entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are critical to every economy by creating jobs and innovative goods, promoting a competitive environment and economic growth, and facilitating income distribution. The South African government recognises the need for entrepreneurship and SMEs’ engagement with industrialisation efforts to address some of the key socio-economic challenges in the country, particularly poverty, inequality and unemployment. However, South African entrepreneurs still face a number of constraints that hinder greater…
In 1979 Iran underwent an Islamic Revolution, surprising ‘experts’ around the world and transforming its country from a United States-supported monarchy to an Islamic Republic. The ideology of the revolution was rooted in teachings spread by Ayatollah Khomeini. His firm belief in the need for jurists who were experts in Islamic law and could act as guardians of the people came to shape not only the revolution but the new constitution, system of government, and the electoral system.
Earlier this year, president Xi Jinping strode the world stage at Davos with his statement that 'We should commit ourselves to growing an open global economy… Pursuing protectionism is like locking oneself in a dark room.'
On 7 May 2017, the French people spoke and elected Emmanuel Macron as their next President of the Republic. Gathering 66.06% of the votes against 33.94% for his opponent Marine Le Pen from the far-right Front National, this second round concludes an unprecedented presidential race in several respects. Beyond the victory of a newcomer in French politics, these elections marked a harsh side-lining of the two main parties – the Parti Socialiste and Les Républicains – as well as the significant rise of populist movements. While France faces a drastically altered political landscape, this election also matters for Africa.
The World Economic Forum on Africa met on 3-5 May in Durban, and discussions included the need to enhance nations’ development through technological advancement.
On 24 March, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its first order awarding financial compensation – on an individual basis – to the victims of the Bogoro village attack in 2003 in the Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The court sentenced Former Congolese warlord Germain Katanga in March 2014 to 12 years in prison (later reduced to eight years), on four counts of war crimes and one count of crimes against humanity for these atrocities. Breaking new ground, a symbolic compensation of $250 has been awarded to each of the 297 identified victims of those…
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