To Fight Corruption, Africa Must Explore Innovative Solutions

28 Mar 2016 by Njoya Tikum

Anti-corruption initiatives must be an integral part of national development plans.
Over the past 15 years, almost every African country - some willingly, others under duress - has embarked on wide-ranging reforms aimed at strengthening state accountability and eradicating corruption. But despite these efforts, corruption persists, as evidenced by multiple indices. Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), which estimates perceived levels of public sector corruption based on expert opinion, reveals that 40 out Sub-Saharan Africa’s 46 States have a “serious problem” with corruption”. The continent’s powerhouses such as Nigeria and South Africa are among them, while Somalia tops the ranking as the world’s most corrupt country. States do not fare any better with their own publics. A 2011-2013 Afrobarometer survey which consulted 51,000 people in 34 African countries, found the continent’s population overwhelmingly skeptical about national anti-corruption measures. 56 percent of respondents stated their country did a "fairly bad” or “very bad" job countering corruption, while only 35 percent said their governments had done “well” or “very well”. The trust deficit between the state and the public is worsened when Anti-Corruption Agencies are seen as set up in response to external pressure, and kept deliberately weak with a lack of qualified personnel and material resources, and funded at the Executive’s discretion … Read more

When China sneezes, Africa should not catch a cold

14 Mar 2016

Trade between China and Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) has increased by an average of 30% per year since 2003. Photo: UNDP China.
China’s economy is slowing down. High economic growth rates averaged 10% between 2004 and 2014. But in 2015, growth declined to 6.9%, the lowest in 25 years. The 3,000 member National People’s Congress (NPC), in its 13th Five-Year Plan, just announced that growth will range between 6.5 and 7% in 2016. China’s slowdown is having unpleasant repercussions for African economies, particularly to the commodity-exporting ones.  Trade between China and Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) has increased by an average of 30% per year since 2003. China is now the single largest trading partner, importing 86% of the region’s metals, ores, oil and gas. The slowdown in China means demand for African’s commodities will decline. China is structurally changing its economy. The plan is to shift from an export-oriented and public investment-driven economy to a domestic demand-driven, modern manufacturing and service-oriented one. China is also cutting back on the excess capacity built around steel making and coal production. According to the Xinhua News Agency, China “entered what policymakers refer to as the “new normal”, a phase of moderating growth based more on consumption than the previous mainstay of exports.” The impact of China’s shift on Africa is already evident. One example is Zambia. … Read more

Timely rejuvenation of the African Peer Review Mechanism?

22 Feb 2016 by

Efforts should be made to include all segments of society in the APRM process. UNDP Photo
David Omozuafoh, Programme Advisor, APRM and Governance Assessment, UNDP Africa Six years before the 2014 Burkina Faso uprising, the country’s African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) report identified “omnipresent weight and domination of the majority, which seems to ‘block’ the democratic system and stifle multiparty politics”. The assessment called on authorities to “provide appropriate responses and solutions to bring about the necessary change”. In South Africa, the 2007 APRM report stated that “xenophobia against other Africans is currently on the rise and should be nipped in the bud.” Dozens of migrants have since lost their lives in attacks. African Union Member States established the APRM in 2003 as a voluntary tool to assess political, economic and corporate governance, and socio-economic development in countries. It seeks to ensure that the policies and practices of participating states conform to African Union standards of transparency and accountability. UNDP has provided financial and technical support to the APRM since 2003 as a singular inclusive platform that convenes different actors from government, civil society and other sectors to look holistically at a country’s status across these governance and development issues and agree on a way forward. Once signed up, countries first grade themselves and then allow a … Read more

The perils of commodity price volatility

19 Feb 2016

While a possible option to to compensate for the fall in commodities' prices, cutbacks in public expenditure will hinder progress towards the sustainable development agenda. Photo: Aude Rossignol/UNDP in Burundi.
Since 2011, the price of oil has fallen by 51%. Copper, coal and iron ore prices have dropped by 38%, 53% and 67%, respectively. Commodity dependent countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are facing serious fiscal and balance of payment deficits, hindering the progress towards the sustainable development agenda. Some countries increased supply of commodities to compensate for the fall in prices. Equatorial Guinea boosted oil exports by 13%, but revenues declined by the same percent. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) increased copper production, but revenues declined by US$360 million. Others cutback on supply in the hope that prices will go up. For example, Angola and Nigeria decreased the supply of oil, but revenues declined by US$5 billion for Angola and by US$26 billion for Nigeria. Chad, Congo and Gabon have cut production, but saw oil revenues decline by over US$2 billion. Zambia experienced a fall in revenues by 23% after reducing copper production. Liberia’s iron ore production declined by a third and its revenues fell by two-thirds. In the short run, there are five options. The first is withdrawing from sovereign wealth funds (SWFs). However, Nigeria’s Stabilization Fund, valued at US$0.5 billion, will not suffice; given its fiscal deficit is … Read more

FGM ban begins a pivotal era for women and girls in The Gambia

18 Feb 2016

Commemorations for the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting are especially significant for The Gambia this year, following the banning and criminalization of FGM/C. UNICEF photo
by Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator in The Gambia In November 2015, the practice of female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) was banned and subsequently criminalized in The Gambia. This marks an important milestone in the country’s journey to end FGM/C and ensure that the fundamental human rights of girls and women are protected and fulfilled. The achievement places The Gambia proudly among 26 other African countries that have banned FGM/C through legislation. And it comes after years of work to raise awareness among individuals and communities, reinforced by intense advocacy with decision and policy makers. As a result, where FGM/C used to be a taboo, the subject is now openly discussed in Gambian homes and communities. The Joint UNFPA/UNICEF programme for the abandonment of FGM/C played a pivotal role in this critical transition for the women and girls of The Gambia. Support from the joint programme allowed for the sensitization and training of traditional and religious leaders, men, women, children, policy makers, law enforcement agents and circumcisers on the health and human rights effects of FGM/C. Once convinced, Islamic religious leaders and scholars became powerful advocates against FGM/C with influence at both the policy and community … Read more

With metal prices down, which minerals will pave Africa’s development?

08 Feb 2016

Plunging metal prices have put a group of lesser known ‘Neglected Development Minerals’ into the spotlight. This week thousands of executives, financiers, prospectors, investors and government officials will descend on Cape Town, South Africa for the 'Investing in African Mining Indaba.' Cape Town is not the centre of African mining, but for a week each year in February, it temporarily becomes the mining capital of the world. Companies pitch their projects, governments pitch the attractiveness of their geological (and regulatory) terrain and civil society organisations make their own pitch, that of caution, at their Alternative Mining Indaba. Over recent years the atmosphere at Indaba has been buoyant. Metal prices began a steady ascent around 2003 and save for a steep, yet brief, dip following the GFC, prices stayed high for more than a decade. The cyclicity of global commodity prices is a widely appreciated phenomena, but the apparent long-term demand for metals by China, and to a lesser extent, India, as part of an ‘Asian Century,’ led many to believe that a ‘super-cycle’ of high prices would last for many years. At his keynote address at Indaba in 2014, development economist, Sir Paul Collier, observed that high metal prices had created a ‘decade of discovery’, arguing that the combination … Read more