Former United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, has castigated corrupt officials and foreign investors for contributing to holding back the development of Africa through their unscrupulous activities.
Mr. Annan observes that while Africa's rich natural resources offer a unique opportunity for a breakthrough in improving the lives of Africa's citizens, the culprits in issue have become a snag.
“After more than a decade of growth, there is plenty to celebrate. But it is time to ask why so much growth has done so little to lift people out of poverty – and why so much of Africa's resource wealth is squandered through corrupt practices and unscrupulous investment activities,” he submits.
He made these remarks when he launched a new report, the 2014 Africa Progress Panel report, Grain, Fish, Money: Financing Africa's green and blue revolutions last week. The report calls on Africa's political leaders to take concrete measures now to reduce inequality by investing in agriculture. It also demands international action to end what it describes as the plunder of Africa's timber and fisheries.
“Africa is a continent of great wealth so why is Africa's share of global malnutrition and child deaths rising so fast? The answer is that inequality is weakening the link between economic growth and improvements in well-being,” he says.
Although average income has risen by one-third in the past decade, there are more Africans living in poverty now – around 415 million – than at the end of the 1990s. New global development goals are likely to aim to eradicate poverty by 2030 – but on current trends, one African in five will still be in poverty when that deadline arrives.
Mr. Annan, who played a central role in shaping the Millennium Development Goals, says: “When countries sign up to the new global development framework, they should pledge not only to meet ambitious targets, but also to narrow the region's indefensible gaps between rich and poor, urban and rural, and men and women.”
The report's authors identify agriculture as the key to growth that reduces poverty. They point out that most of Africa's poor live and work in rural areas, predominantly as smallholder farmers. “Countries that have built growth on the foundations of a vibrant agricultural sector – such as Ethiopia and Rwanda – have demonstrated that the rural sector can act as a powerful catalyst for inclusive growth and poverty reduction.” Mr. Annan notes.
The report calls for a “uniquely African green revolution” that adapts the lessons provided by Asia to African conditions. Africa currently imports US$35 billion worth of food because local agriculture is dogged by low productivity, chronic underinvestment, and regional protectionism. Increased investment in infrastructure and research could dramatically raise the region's yields and the incomes of farmers. Meanwhile, eliminating the barriers that restrict trade within Africa could open up new markets.
While critical of African governments, the Africa Progress Report 2014 also challenges the international community to support the region's development efforts. It highlights fisheries and logging as two areas in which strengthened multilateral rules are needed to combat the plunder of natural resources.
Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing has reached epidemic proportions in Africa's coastal waters. West Africa is conservatively estimated to lose US$1.3 billion annually. Beyond the financial cost this plunder destroys fishing communities who lose critical opportunities to fish, process and trade. Another US$17 billion is lost through illicit logging activities.
”Natural resource plunder is organised theft disguised as commerce. Commercial trawlers that operate under flags of convenience, and unload in ports that do not record their catch, are unethical,” Mr. Annan stresses, adding that these criminal activities compound the problem of tax evasion and shell companies. The Africa Progress Report 2014 calls for a multilateral fisheries regime that applies sanctions to fishing vessels that do not register and report their catches. The report also calls on governments around to world to ratify the Port State Measures Agreement, a treaty that seeks to thwart the poachers in port from unloading their ill-gotten gains.
African political leaders have failed to manage natural resources in the interests of the true owners of those resources – the African people.
Source: Public Agenda
|Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the writers and do not reflect those of Peacefmonline.com. Peacefmonline.com accepts no responsibility legal or otherwise for their accuracy of content. Please report any inappropriate content to us, and we will evaluate it as a matter of priority.|