Africa Notes: Famous Africans, Kony 2012, and a Cocoa Map

Famous Africans
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is on Time Magazine’s list of 100 Most Influential People in the World. Other Africans who made the list include: South African Paralympic medalist Oscar Pistorius, Egyptian Samira Ibrahim, Tunisian scholar-politician Rached Ghannouchi, and Gambian Fatou Bensouda, the new head of the International Criminal Court.

Kony 2012
Opinio Juris
has an interesting set online forum on “Kony 2012: The Social, the Media, and the Activism: Kony Meets World.”

The Cocoa Map
The Guardian’s “World of Chocolate” via Business Insider. Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire are the clear global leaders in production, but I must say I hadn’t realized how important Indonesia is to this market.
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Africa Surfing

Surfing in Africa… I never had the opportunity but an ex-roommate and a few friends in Ghana have done so. 

 

 

 

 

Zuma has officially done it

So, Zuma has officially done it.  He is President of South Africa. It will be interesting to see what impact he has.  Will those who threatened to leave South Africa really leave?  Will he be successful with his populist agenda?

I was able to meet him at a lunch at UC Berkeley a little over a year ago where he — appropriately for his audience — made the argument that education would be a top priority.  Will it?

I also wonder about his impact on South Africa’s foreign policy. Mbeki had a clear agenda and goals with respect to the African region.  Will Zuma embrace the African Renaissance?  Will he improve on NEPAD, or let it falter?  Will he continue the agenda of engagement with other major developing countries, most notably India and Brazil?  I will definitely be watching!

clipped from news.bbc.co.uk

Zuma elected South African leader

Jacob Zuma


Jacob Zuma will be inaugurated on Saturday

The leader of South Africa’s African National Congress, Jacob Zuma, has been officially elected the country’s president by members of parliament.

He will be inaugurated on Saturday. The ANC won the general election in South Africa two weeks ago.

Mr Zuma’s government is expected to focus on the faltering economy, fighting crime, poverty and HIV/Aids.

He faced corruption charges, dropped on a technicality just before the polls. He always denied any wrongdoing.

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News and Comment: the G20 and Africa Part 2

The G20 has a lot of issues on its plate and at the top of the list, obviously, is the on-going financial crisis.  I have already commented on the problems African countries face in getting their voices heard. On that point, Africa may have an ally in Pope Benedict who, recently returned from his Africa travels, noted the problems of adequate representation from those “who suffer most from the harmful effects of a crisis for which they do not bear responsibility”. The Pope suggests states rely on the UN and associated institutions. Jeffrey Sachs has also jumped on this bandwagon, noting that while South Africa will be present “South Africa by itself represents South Africa”.  And we all know that South Africa is not a “typical” African country (if there is such a thing).

On the point of South Africa, it might be useful to remember that President Motlanthe himself may not be in the strongest position to represent his country’s interests, given all the recent upheaval within the South African political system and the temporary nature of his position as President.

NGOs, such as Oxfam, are trying to use their influence to encourage the G20 to commit to aiding Africa as it deals with the crisis. Duncan Green, head of research for Oxfam, highlights their main requests of the G20 in a recent blog post. He comments as well on a leaked copy of a G20 communique, obtained by the Financial Times.  Indeed, the way these conferences usually go, it is likely that at least some of the major decisions have already been negotiated ahead of time. Which leaves one to wonder whether adding an African voice at this point could make a difference.

The World Bank has published figures (reported on BBC News) that somewhat echo the gloomy global economic forecasts of the IMF and OECD.

The forecast predicts that developing countries will need $1.3tn in external financing to repay debt and cover balance of payments problems, and may fall short.

The idea that African countries, in particular, could be major losers in this crisis has been underscored by a number of analysts and commentators including Egypt’s finance minister, Oxfam’s Duncan Green (commenting on the case of Zambia), and Kofi Anan (who argues that the crisis “hits Africa twice”).

Other G20 news:

Apparently, protestors see the G20 meeting as an opportunity to demonstrate their unhappiness with a wide range of global issues, from the financial crisis to the “siege of Gaza” to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  While I understand their frustrations with global leadership on these matters, I don’t think it helps their cause to get into fights with the British police.  Apparently, these frustrations are being vented worldwide.

China is trying to exhibit its leadership potential as well.  This has included lobbying for a new “super-sovereign reserve currency to replace the U.S. dollar”, the provision of advice to rich countries, and lobbying to stop states from moving towards trade and investment protectionism.

The Chinese are not the only ones worried about protectionism. Pascal Lamy, head of the WTO, has warned that moves towards protectionism may further impact the already troubled Doha round of trade negotiations.

News and Comment: South Africa does what China wants?

The BBC (see below) is reporting that the South African government may be bowing to pressure from China in its decision to block the Dalai Lama’s entry. If true (and what other reason could there be?), it is yet another signal that doing business with China carries its own conditions.  And if South Africa cannot stand up to such pressures, what other African states can?

clipped from news.bbc.co.uk

South Africa ‘blocks’ Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama was due at a peace conference this week

The South African government has defended its decision to deny entry to the Dalai Lama, amid charges it is bowing to pressure from China.

The Tibetan spiritual leader was due to attend a peace meeting in Johannesburg this week, along with fellow Nobel laureates Desmond Tutu and FW de Klerk.

But the authorities have not granted an entry visa, saying the invitation did not come from official channels.

Archbishop Tutu has threatened to pull out of the conference over the issue.

Speculation is rife in the local media that the government caved in to pressure from Beijing.

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