Category Archives: Economics

My Two Kobo

The year 2015 was quite a busy year for Nigeria; perhaps it can be dubbed to be one of the most eventful years for the country’s recent political history. Prior to the year a lot of predictions had been made describing 2015 “a year of distinct quarters”, “a momentous year”, among others. The year however did not fail in living up to the expectations and predictions in terms of activity. There were indeed series of monetary policy statements, government and private sector actions and inactions, as well as a severely charged and intense political atmosphere. While the events of the year can be categorised into various groups in manifold context, it can however be broadly grouped into two categories: The “electoral veil” and the “economic reality”.
The first half of 2015 saw Nigeria focusing more on the general elections, thereby dividing the country along paths of political allegiance and empathy. This indeed veiled a lot of economic shifts occurring both domestically and internationally, which had grave implications for the country. The nation’s attention at the point was rather focused on the ongoing electioneering which in many quarters was perceived as a “make or mar” election and upon which the continued unity and economic progress of the nation wholly rested. Perhaps when oil is controlled for, politics dictated the pace and direction of the Nigerian economy in the first half of the year 2015. The resultant uncertainty effect of this did lead to unprecedented volatility in the nation’s financial market resulting in significant fluctuations across all facets of the fixed income securities.
The continuous downward trend in the governments’ revenue alongside shortage of foreign exchange within the economy led to a sizeable contraction in fiscal abilities which was followed by a substantial slowdown in the nation’s economic growth. As a form of response to these manifestations, the Central Bank of Nigeria employed an array of policy instruments to prevent a looming Naira devaluation, as well as reduce demand for foreign exchange within the economy. Some of these policies included a foreign exchange access restriction placed on a list of 41 items published by the apex Bank, as well as a ban placed on banks from accepting foreign currency deposits from customers among others. However, the acceptance, appropriateness and effectiveness of these policies remain largely debated across board. Despite the measures and instrument utilised by the apex Bank, the nation’s external reserves dipped to a recent all-time low of US$ 29.04 billion by December 2015. This lent some more credits to the critics of the Central Bank of Nigeria in its continuous defence of the country’s currency. While some economic schools of thought believed that a free trading
Naira remains a panacea to the foreign exchange shortage in the economy, the Apex Bank insisted an official exchange rate of 197 Naira to the Dollar, post its February devaluation from 168 Naira to the Dollar. As a matter of fact by the last month of the Year 2015 the Naira had fallen to its lowest ebbs of value in its entire history at that time of 282 Naira to the Dollar in the parallel market.
Basking in the aftermath of becoming the largest economy in Africa, sequel to the rebasing of the nation’s GDP which was done in the Year 2014, electioneering kicked off in the country. This indeed gave an albeit “false” impression of the structure of the economy to quite a lot of Nigerians, which made some sect of the citizenry think the economy was gradually gravitating away from over dependence on oil and gas resources based on perhaps, misinterpretation and miscommunication of the rebased GDP. An understanding of performance of sectors of an economy may however be unable to explain how a developing economy’s service sector would continue to succeed without an initial and sustained success in other tangible sectors. Nigerians however, woke up to the ongoing economic reality that was veiled by the attention given to the election, and failure of political parties to debate and campaign on real issues, when the newly elected regime realised the underlying economic performance and the enormity of job to be done. The economy recorded an average GDP growth of 3.05 per cent in the first three quarters of the year 2015 in comparison to a 6.33 per cent of similar period of 2014. Indeed this weak performance has highly been attributed to the steep decline in the international oil and commodity prices, falling investor confidence as a result of delay in the new cabinet appointment and the governments strong stance on the nation’s currency vis-a-vis the foreign exchange, as well as continued policy inconsistency.
Subsequent quarters have however, seen the country record one of its most felt recession in its recent democratic sojourn. The government and really all Nigerians are looking for a way out. While the government initially failed to accept and come to terms with the economic reality presented by statistical figures, leading to a lot of controversial statements and arguments leaving the everyday Nigerian not necessarily in the dark, but perhaps more confused than in the dark with statements such as “technical recession” “official recession” “economic slowdown amongst others. Just recently the government has agreed that the economy is indeed in recession, the throwing around of terminologies however still continues. Recently an affiliate of the CBN termed the current situation to be a stagflation perhaps one may choose to argue further that what the nation is in, is a bit more than that and dub it is a “contraflation” since it is commonly argued that Nigeria is completely unique in all of its economic phenomenon.
In a bid to come out of the current situation which is been presented as an unexpected predicament to the populace leading to continued trading of blames and advices across board between political parties and loyalist and economic enthusiast on various platforms. Suddenly it appears that Nigeria has become a nation of over 180 million economists. One thing that rather remains a call for more concern is the continuous policy contradictions and dispute between the fiscal and monetary arms of the economy. Whatever happened to the “ISLM” curve propositions in a time like this, when one would expect adequate coordination between both arms, to ensure the right mix of policy to stimulate the economy out of the current situation remains a question that bothers the mind.
It has however become the habit of both arms to communicate concerns to each other via the media, sending out the wrong signal to business owners as well as potential investors. If there is anything more important for the economy today, it is perhaps stability and policy coordination. One would expect the government to have an economic “war room” made up of the both the fiscal and monetary arms as well as the finest and experienced economists which Nigeria certainly does parade perhaps the most decent army of in the developing world, as against the continued trade of words and fancy appearance of officials of both arms in media houses, communicating contradictory views and causing more chaos. It however appears that there is a rather unhealthy relationship between both bodies of the nation’s economy with each trying to shift the blame to the other or at best clear its name in the situation, which will indeed do the country no good than further economic fall, as time is of essence. For example due to this continued media trips the CBN has been castigated on their various policy and forced to shift stance quite a number of times without any rigorous basis or explanation.
While on the one hand a popular rhetoric of criticizing the monetary stance of the CBN for not controlling for the high cost of credit is widely spreading, on the other hand, an understanding of the Nigerian money market and how it has fared over the years may provide an explanation to their continued monitoring of money supply through the various transmission mechanisms available to them in an attempt to keep inflation in check. Understanding that the current inflation experienced in the country is largely cost push type inflation and not originally demand pull, hence a supply deficit, it would be expected that policies to ease availability of credit will be pursued. The current pressure on consumer prices are however more closely associated with structural factors such as infrastructural deficit, shocks associated with energy price hikes and shortages, reform related legacies as well as forex supply deficit to facilitate import based on the high import dependence of the
nation. It however becomes imperative for the fiscal arm to ensure ease of structural cost of production to boost domestic production to enable a reduced pressure on consumer prices and forex demand as well. Perhaps more interesting is some new data put out by the CBN that opines that only about a meagre 100 accounts account for over 40 percent of the credit facilities accessed within the Nigerian financial market of over 40 million account holders. This gives an understanding of the monetary policy stance and context within which it operates.
A careful trace of how the nation got to where it found itself today suggests decades of wasteful spending but primarily the reduction in foreign earnings and government revenue leading to reduction in government expenditure and ultimately a fiscal disequilibrium. If tackling the root cause is anything to go by, forging a way out of this current situation therefore has to not be left to the monetary arm but finding a way to stimulate or substitute for government revenue falls as well as foreign earnings. Indeed various quick fix options have been put on the table by the government to surge up revenue such as the suicidal sale of national assets which perhaps only begs the question but fails to address any fundamental challenge that has brought the nation to its current situation. The discovery of oil accompanied with its resultant sudden gush of “free money” which is similar to that of the foreign aid ineffectiveness scenarios creates incentives for inefficiency and reduces incentives for accountability. This then accords a deleterious shunting of learning by doing process, which is embedded in incremental development process that will engender waste, inefficiency and ineffectiveness. This is so, owing to the natural resource “money gush” that comes in magnitudes that the machineries of governance and the economy is not ready to cope with as seen in the “Dutch disease”. This which explains as when an economy experiences a resource boom, production in the non-traded sector expands at the detriment of the traded sector. This shrinkage in the traded sector would lead to a socially inefficient growth, as seen in the current situation of Nigeria. However it remains fundamental to understand that the word which readily comes to the mind of anyone who has a basic economic understanding when commodity market of any such is mentioned is volatility.
A closer look at the narrative suggesting sale of assets suggests one thing and one thing alone, that there is an assumption in some quarters that the price of oil would pick up soon. Sale of asset at this current point in time where both the oil market and the Nigerian economy is down will only lead to what is often termed on the Nigerian street as “Bad Market” as the
asset will grossly be undervalued. Going further, in the situation where the price of oil fails to pick up and which remains a viable possibility after the proceeds from the initial sales have been expended or in future oil price crashes will the country sell its people or what will it sell this time?
Another viable option which can be easily put on the table is to increase internally generated revenue through increasing taxation base, and giving of targets to agencies. However a careful analysis of this may reveal that this may be doing the nation more evil than good at the current point in time, as the original problem emanates from the fall in government external earnings and not internal. A sudden rise in the level of stimulation of internal revenues in the face of an already contracting economy may possibly end up having an undesirable effect on the living standards of the everyday Nigerian. A classical analogy of a small business producing little home-made products, which can serve as an alternative for imported brands, that hither to, required little or no agency registration, will due to the overzealous drive of agencies in meeting their target be shut out of the market, with outrageous compliance requirements. This indeed will not only worsen living standard for the households whose breadwinners work in such businesses, (which account for a large portion of the under-employed population) as some of them may lose their jobs, but will also continue to put pressure on the exchange rate as there will be no substitute for imported goods. While an increased taxation base and effective and efficient taxation framework remains a welcome idea as it not only increases revenue but it also has potentials to stimulate demand for accountability, the timing however may not be right considering the survival difficulties faced by everyday Nigerians at the moment.
However, any effective roadmap to recovery for Nigeria will be such that addresses the initial root-cause of dwindling revenue as that can insulate the economy against future market busts. This however becomes impossible without massive investments. While alternative revenue sources such as taxation can be adopted after recovery, as its implementation at the moment may only lead to more contraction and worsened living standards, recovery however becomes impossible without initial investment. Indeed all growth models have agreed on the role of investment on capital in key sectors in driving growth, new growth models have also emphasised the role of investment in human capital to transform capital investment to growth. This will not only lead to growth but also reduce dependence on importation thereby easing pressure on the Naira. Perhaps a suitable option available to the government which may eventually become inevitable is to obtain foreign credit from the most friendly
development finance creditors available that will not hold the nation down with too much unfriendly conditionality. With a debt to GDP ratio of less than 12 percent making Nigeria the least debtor nation in the major emerging markets (BRICS and MINT economies). Ostensibly, apart from Russia and Indonesia with debt to GDP ratios 17.7 percent and 27.20 percent respectively as at the end of 2015, Nigeria remains the only emerging market with less than 30 percent debt to GDP ratio. This indeed gives room to incur some more debts, on the premise that it will be judiciously utilised to stimulate domestic production and reduce import dependence to save the Naira. Also comparing of notes by both fiscal and monetary arms to ensure policy coordination and direction thereby restoring confidence in the economy remains crucial.
Incurring of foreign credit however does not hold any solution in itself to solving the current situation as it actually poses a threat to the nation’s future economic prosperity in the absence of good and rigorous economic management philosophy. This and indeed in most serious sense of it can however only be functional if there is a well-articulated plan on REASONABLE investment in critical sectors, devoid of the waste culture that has up till date continued to batter this country. Perhaps if there is anything more disgraceful is the unexplainably high cost of running governance alongside with the waste culture in the country and which has made the country to be the “Nitrous oxide” in the committee of nations. If there is anything that can help in this current situation is putting an eternal stop to this high governance cost as well as its resultant waste habit and the culture that emanates from the free “oil money”. Perhaps if this is checked and the nation looks within the enormous amount going to wasteful government consumption expenditure can be enough to retract the nation to a brighter future. Nigeria as it stands today not only engages in wasteful expenditure but also lacks rigour in thinking process of its people and policy formation. This can however only be so as the education system in itself has not been able to effectively optimise its existence. It therefore becomes sad when employers lament the “unemployability” of Nigerian graduates. However this can only be explained by taking a trip to the Youth Service corps camps and realize the inability of a larger percentage of Nigerian graduates to engage in intellectual discussions and the very basic and utter lack of rigour in their thinking process. More interestingly is the role religion is playing in this whole setting. Religion posits that life is but a mere passage consoling weakling mind of Nigerians, and explaining that contentment is key however this only holds for the everyday Nigerian. While religion in itself is good and contentment is crucial for a happy life, its misinterpretation in nation building can only be explained by snap-shotting the Nigerian economy. Rigour remains a vital word that should be stamped in the hearts of Nigerians in forging a way forward for the nation as can be seen in all prosperous nations today from Malaysia, Norway, Germany, China, Singapore and the rest. The level of rigour that goes into anything will reflect in its output at both micro and macro scale and this is perhaps what Nigeria lacks, hence our continues vulnerability to exogenous variables. For example, the level of rigour that goes into thinking will reflect in the quality of policies that the nation will have. Similarly the lack of rigour to add Value to Oil and other raw material we export (if any, apart from human-beings) hence our continued vulnerability to commodity market busts and import dependence.
Certainly, there are tested frameworks on exiting a recession, however in the face of lack of an economic structure, the performance of these frameworks cannot be guaranteed. A lot of calls have been made towards diversification, but exactly what the nation should diversify to have not been clearly stated. Calls towards going back to agriculture certainly is crucial but this in itself does not secure the Nigerian economy from any international fluctuations and will still leave price stability difficult to achieve, as agriculture in itself remains in the commodity market. As a matter of fact the nature of agriculture that is needed today in Nigeria is such that is machinery intensive. There is need for serious policy coordination to ensure that the economy becomes productive not just in primary products but to ensure that value addition processes are stimulated within the economy coupled with self-sufficiency in largely food and basic manufactured products to reduce pressure on Naira and stimulate job creation. This coupled with favorable incentives targeted at such sectors have potentials to stabilize the economy and reduce unemployment.
While on the one hand there is urgent need for government to find effective channels through which it can reflate the abysmally contracting economy, on the other hand, there is need to control the astronomically rising inflation, as prices in this context tend to have a “roof-sticking” nature, which therefore makes it difficult to control in the “prosperous” future. Evidently, it can be said that the Nigerian economy is in dire times as it deals with these seemingly divergently parallel phenomena. Considering the structure of the Nigerian economy which is unequivocally skewed towards the informal sector, policies however require more rigour than anywhere else to effectively accommodate the informal sector. It indeed remains germane for the government to understand that Nigeria is a fragile state and any economic policy being considered by the government must equally factor in the manifestations of the various dimensions of fragility exhibited in the country into its considerations as the contexts of growth and development in such economies have continued to evolve in recent times.

Laniran Temitope Joseph
Ph.D. Candidate Economics and Development Studies, University of Bradford
Research Associate John and Elnora Ferguson Centre for African Studies, Bradford, and Centre for Petroleum, Energy Economics and Law, Ibadan

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official stance or position of any of the above named institutions.

Annual Peace Studies & International Development Conference: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa

The annual Peace Studies & International Development conference for Africanist doctoral students and early post-doctoral career scholars and practitioners is scheduled to take place on the 11th May 2017 at the University of Bradford in United Kingdom.

The conference theme is: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa.

Conference cluster themes include:

1) Natural Resources and Conflict

2) Transition from Resource Conflict to Peace and Peacebuilding

3) Natural Resources, Demographic Change and Development

4) Conflict, Security, Peace and Development Nexus

5) Regional Integration, Security and Development

6) Africa and the Rest of the World
The conference is open to doctoral students and early career scholars, researchers and practitioners. Potential participants and paper presenters are required to submit an Abstract of 200 – 300 words on or before 15th November 2016 to:              africanistpgrc2017-group@uni.bradford.ac.uk
All shortlisted participants will be required to submit the first draft of their papers at least two months before the conference. The conference is expected to result in a co-edited book (Lead Editor: Professor Kenneth Omeje, Senior Research Fellow, John & Elnora Ferguson Centre of African Studies, University of Bradford). Kindly note that all short-listed participants will be responsible for the full-cost of their participation, including visa, travels, accommodation and subsistence.

For full details on the conference: conference-call-oct-2016-revised-version-1

From a Refugee Camp to Bradford University

[Eritrea's diaspora is one of the largest refugee communities in the world; in Israel (above protest) they are among many immigrants subject to draconian policy and detention]

Tesfalem H. Yemane is a current Peace Sutdies MA at the University of Bradford. Originally from Eritrea, he is a scholar at risk and refugee.

Tafaslem (1)Fear and uncertainty have been the biggest enemies of mine since I left my country in 2010. But now, I find myself sitting in the office of

Professor David J Francis, a man of overflowing and reassuring academic aura. After months of nail-biting wait, I am offered a place at the Division of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford. Going through the memories of the past five years of my life, I whispered, “I should be wary of resting on my laurels now.” For a person of my background, education and hard-work are the only gateways for countless opportunities. I should be grounded!

My life journey is that of many Eritrean youths’. At independence, the country was dubbed by many as the beacon of hope and renaissance in Africa. Its leadership, along with those of Uganda’s Museveni, Ethiopia’s Zenawi and Rwanda’s Kagame, was touted as the new breed in African leadership. In the heat of such euphoria and jubilations, we ostensibly boasted on turning the new nation into ‘the Singapore of Africa’. Those dreams have been shattered and we tuck Professor Gaim Kibreab’s book, ‘Eritrea: A Dream Deferred‘ under our pillows. The book explores the national euphoria at independence and the disappointing disjuncture that has resulted in a dystopian society thanks to the regime’s siege mentality.

In the aftermath of the devastating 1998-2000 Ethio-Eritrea war, the country has turned into a giant prison wherein forced disappearance, extrajudicial killing, arbitrary arrest and severe curtailment of freedom of expression and movement are the norm. There is zero tolerance to dissidence and any legal procedures have been a hard sell to the ‘democratic novices’, to borrow Professor Chandra L. Sriram’s phrase. Under the pretext of existential threat, from its favourite bogey, Ethiopia, the regime has employed a pervasive security apparatus that has virtually controlled every aspect of the citizens’ lives. Eritrea is a society under siege and the dream of making the country a major trading terminus in the strategic part of the Red Sea has been sorely deferred.

The leadership’s anti-intellectual culture has forced many bright minds into exile. The only university that operated with an internationally accredited academic standard was deliberately dismantled in 2006, and with it, the hope of nurturing a mass of critical thinkers in the Eritrean body politic poignantly gone. Accompanied by media concoctions, six sub-standard and militarized colleges were hastily grafted in different parts of the country. And in an invasive manner, parallel party and paramilitary structures were put in place to create a numbing duplication of tasks and tight control of the Eritrean youth.  

A state of a crumbling economy, indefinite military service and the lethargy of oppressive hopelessness have forced the youth to ‘vote with their feet’ and embark on the perilous journeys. It was in this context that I decided to vote with my feet in April 2010, never to set foot again. Because of the regime’s imprudent macroeconomic and impulsive diplomatic decisions, the state of the economy was very precarious in the 2000s. In fact, the brunt and wrinkles of the notorious coupon economy were so humiliating that I was excited to find out basic food commodities were in good supply when I first arrived in Sudan. I spent more than two months in the Hobbesian-like and desolate refugee camp in the periphery of eastern Sudan before I was smuggled to the capital.  

Khartoum, Sudan in 2011.
Khartoum, Sudan in 2011.

While in Sudan, I envied the relative freedom of expression presentin the East African country. I bore witness when many Sudanese took to the streets of Khartoum, rattling, “The people of Sudan are hungry!” in April 2012. Having said this, however, I should be cautious of vindicating the authoritarian government in Khartoum. As oppressive as it is, Khartoum’s strong handedness pales in comparison with Asmara’s.

In Uganda, a country infamously known for its rampant corruption, I bore witness to people taking to the streets to demand their President heed to public concerns and corrupt officials be held accountable. I also noted many newspapers publicising information about corrupt officials, police officers and the government.

My time in China was an eye opening cultural and intellectual ride. Those late night discussions, debates and questions about the merits and demerits of a developmental state and state capitalism shaped my worldview. Those many discussions about the dialectics of Washington Consensus and Beijing Consensus were reconciled by the synthesis of Geneva Consensus during my memorable years in China.

The Bird’s Nest Stadium, Beijing, 2014.
The Bird’s Nest Stadium, Beijing, 2014.

However, there was a downside to such a pleasant experience in China-that I was a refugee in a student’s body. I had to struggle to conceal my story from many of my wonderful classmates; because I did not want to have a different identity. I lacked the emotional and intellectual maturity to come out and share my story and the story of my compatriots. And that was the most painful episode of my amazing time in China.

I also realized the mismatch between the China of Mao as emulated in Eritrea and the current China and its politico-economic policies. The Eritrean regime serenades in the past achievements of the armed struggle while China has moved away from Mao’s disastrous policies. And thanks to the Isaias Afewerki’s short politico-military training in China in the late 1960s, we sing the ‘Red’ song louder than the Chinese do. The Eritrean leadership still dances to Mao’s ‘Great Leap Forward’ and ‘Cultural Revolution’ rhetoric while the Chinese themselves have moved on and started reaping the rewards of Deng Xiaoping’s economic vision.

On Eritrea, I still remain positive that my country will have its Godsend Lee Kuan Yew sooner than later-a leader who rectifies the malaise the nation finds itself in and Professor Alex de Waal is convinced to backtrack his Museum of Modernism tag on the current state of affairs in the country.

 

The Politics of Diversification and Brand China: Alex Vines on the Challenges of African Econimcs

Since graduating from Peace Studies at the University of Bradford in 1995, George has  worked with with Oxfam, The Prince’s Trust and chaired Berneslai Homes, Barnsley’s Social Housing Group. His NGO and UK based charity experience have been used to teach/lecture in FE and HE programmes in London and  in Wakefield and Leeds Met University, in areas such as – Politics, International issues, war and conflict, Public Services, Business behaviour, Sport and global politics, and UK social issues. He  also works  with community groups in Barnsley as part of Barnsley Voluntary Acton supporting the growth of community charities, and social enterprises in South Yorkshire.

Alex_Vines_and_HE_Ellen_Johnson_Sirleaf_(6010787265)
Dr Alex Vines, at Chatham House

Understanding the Politics of Diversification was the central theme of Dr. Alex Vine’s seminar. It includes a shift from centralised state power as displayed by China (but not exclusive to China) in its relationship with Africa over the last two decades to a recognition that any of the emerging powers would benefit from accepting a new relationship model. This “detént” considers that African nations are more sovereign, African economic blocs are welcome, the role of Multinational Corporations (MNC’s) is  to be more equal as they front the extraction of resources in African states, (New African MNC’s emerging?  – Outside of South Africa!). Many of these have only single commodity revenue steam resources including,  Angolan Oil, Zimbabwean Diamonds, Zambian Copper and Mozambique’s ports.

Additionally “diversification” reflects the need for a level of state pluralism. The development of real and influential civil society groups, trade unions, women’s groups and students as well as the encouragement of genuine political liberalisation, a sort of “African Spring” if you may (without  the chaos- but never guaranteed),  reducing the power of African elites doing business with a self-serving state. Underpinning this new paradigm, also includes  the sustained role of the UN, BRICS, the AU and EU as power centres that seek influence, again reducing previously unequal and security threatening single state power relationships, as they advocate an “Africa First” approach to development. New sources of influence create genuine opportunities for debate and transparency in the development dilemma facing Africa today.

These efforts at “equalising” the future unilateral and multilateral relationships with African nations will be key to supporting future wealth distribution, creating a genuine middle class and ensuring taxation, value added economic growth, with new sources of taxation being raised and directed at development internally within African nations.

“The Politics of Diversification”, as Vines suggests is the new “real politic” in Global Politics, played out increasingly by an assertive and powerful China, as the lead “emerging nation” seeking to influence African development. China with its size and leverage leads the pack of emerging nations but as Vines cautions even it is now seeking to modify its position in the world. Downplaying its past as a nasty exploitative neo-colonial player on the African continent, extracting resources at any price to feed an insatiable Chinese economy.

But, as a now, “equal” partner aligning both unilaterally and multilaterally with African nations and global partners offering “real” development partnerships. Therefore improving and supporting the UN’s MDG’s and new Sustainable Development Goals for example, and offering a new focus on pluralism and diversification which actively seeks new partnerships in future African development. Precedents for these collaborations are now being set: Ebola brought many nations together to fight this disease and eradicate its threat to the East Africa region.

These other “partnerships” will seek to include a State that offers more than the same old, same old, of perpetuating elite power. In effect seeking out some level of political liberalisation or semi-democratic characteristics (but without descending into anarchy as we have seen in South Sudan and CAR lately). Including the managing of future MNC’s influence with a focus on taxation and development by these powerful actors.  Civil society influence, including trade unions and women’s groups all seeking to improve development and by proxy security with African states and in key regions also.

This diversification of “input” into future development then allows a more transparent and open process of engagement, with a less unequal focus and opportunities for wealth redistribution. Many African states possess huge amounts of raw material resources but lack the value added strategies on their own to improve wealth redistribution supporting an emerging middle class and in turn managing security within state’s and in regions. Stable countries attract investment, not unstable nations.

Dr. Vines considers that improved governance and transparency within China, or at least a well-publicised crackdown on corruption, and the re-embedding of values advocated by President Xi’s own vision as a “man of the people” has brought him absolute state and party power; this model may benefit African nations.

As China seeks better global relationships (downplaying its human rights record and considering that economic growth seems to be the only real game in town!) and also a recognition that global interdependency  is unavoidable. The latter is therefore much more beneficial than previous exploitative “African” relationships that will only encourage poor media coverage.  Even China cannot prohibit the influence of a social media revolution, where eventual lack of  cooperation with individual states who seek a more equal development  relationship is demanded

This position offers the concept of “brand China” and a new  “Panda” diplomacy in future summits within Africa. China has clearly recognised the West still wants a level playing field in Africa and China’s acquiescence to global standards is “expected” if it wants to play a real “tangible and responsible” part in future development.  This also could reduce the global security issues raised by mass migration, as fairer development  may reduce conflict and in turn help manage migration to Europe and even the emerging nations that have real and growing wealth may now become attractive destinations as the ending of migration is not a real possibility but a redistribution of numbers sought is.

The Politics of Diversification offer a new model where the traditional dominant central power relationship is now diffused and reflects the pluralism of a newly emerging civil society, private sector influence,  an entrepreneur class,  public sector infrastructure, and a confident civil society that offers a balance of power and a new appreciation of the weakness of concentrated power.

Africa’s new  security and development deal can only happen if  cooperation is genuine between actors and a manageable level of political liberalization supports this paradigm shift. Africa can be at the top table but needs to ensure its own house can manage security weaknesses and react quicker to such challenges, including peace building and enforcement, challenging those long term dictators and seek the rule of law as a mechanism and instrument of state building. Transparency and governance will take time, but emerging nations can support this positive narrative and fully benefit from relationships that previously have little colonial baggage and suspicion attached.

Further Reading:

Dr Alex Vines OBE biography, Chatham House

Vines, Africa Looks West Once Again, The World Today

Tanzania Multi-party Politics and Poverty

[Image: CHADEMA-UKAWA rally in Dodoma]

Ananilea Nkya is a PhD researcher on media engagement with development, University of Bradford, UK. Before joining the university, she was Executive Director of Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) for 11 years. The organization advocates and promotes women’s human rights through the media.

Tanzania’s general elections will take place on October 25th. 

After 25 years of single party rule, Tanzania saw the re-introduction of multi-party democracy in 1992. General elections were conducted in five year intervals with the aim of putting into power political leadership that could end poverty among the majority of people. Poverty, along with ignorance and disease have been identified as key enemies of Tanzania since independence (Nyerere, 1979).

In 1995, Tanzania was among 117 countries that attended the World Summit on Social Development and adopted a global plan of action for eradicating poverty by 2015. The UN then defined absolute poverty as a condition characterised by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. It depends not only on income but also on access to services (Gordon, 2005).

Unfortunately, after two decades of multi-party democracy and implementation of the global action plan poverty is still a prominent problem for the country’s growing population. The population has grown from 12.3 million people in 1967 to 44.9 million in 2012 (Statistics and Office of Chief Government Statistian 2013).

Evidence of poverty in Tanzania includes poor child health due to lack of food. UN Tanzania 2014 Human Development Report, estimates that 35 per cent of children below the age five in the country were facing chronic malnutrition making the country one of the 28 poorest countries in the world (Guardian, 2015). A nutritionist from Tanzania central region of Dodoma region, Stella Kimambo observes that malnutrition is a disease because if child miss proper food nutrients during 270 days in the womb and 730 days after delivery it cuts intelligence quotient to between 10 to 15 and that the sickness could never be cured (Magubira, 2015).

Afrobarometer data on lived poverty rates in Tanzania
Afrobarometer data on lived poverty rates in Tanzania

Millions poor in midst of richness

Although millions of Tanzanians are currently languishing in poverty, it is one of Africa’s natural resource rich countries. In 2009 alone gold earned Tanzania four billion dollars compared to negligible foreign currency earned from the mining in 2000 (Mjimba, 2011). By 2010, Tanzania had joined South Africa and Ghana in becoming the three leading African countries exporters of gold (Coulson, 2013).

Tanzania also attracts foreign financial assistance for its annual budgets mainly from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the African Development Bank, the European Commission and the World Bank. Thus, the question is: If in Tanzania huge sums of foreign monies arrive annually and multi-party politics supports governance checks and balances, why are the majority of citizens still poor?

Operating multi-party politics in single party framework

Tanzania adopted multi-party democracy, not by choice, but as an IMF loan condition. A situation shared by many states exposed to hegemonic Bretton Woods’ financial institutions following the developing countries debt crisis in the 1980s (Moyo, 2009). Samuel Makinda observed that multi-party democracy was expected to end authoritarian rule in Africa associated with ‘weaknesses in the structures and performance of public institutions’ (Makinda, 1996:555).

But has multi-party politics strengthened public institutions in Tanzania?

Realities on the ground suggest that a lot needs to be done. Jacques Morisset, a World Bank lead economist for Tanzania in July this year, observed that though some people in the country working in the informal sector earned huge amounts of money, the current level of tax revenues in the country was one of lowest in the world, Therefore ‘‘the problem reflected systemic issues in policy and administration’’ (Aman, 2015).

Not only does the government not collect taxes effectively but its agents also engage in thievery of public funds to accomplish party strategic goals in order to cling onto state power. In 2014, 306 billion shillings (about $204 million US dollars) were dubiously withdrawn from Tegeta escrow account in the Central Bank and no legal measures were taken against the high level public figures involved (Citizen, 2015). Indeed, grand corruption and thievery of public funds occurring in the last ten years saw Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and its government losing public credibility by being branded grand thief (fisadi) (Mtulya, 2015).

Arguably, thievery of public resources is taking a toll because the government re-introduced multi-party democracy before implementing recommendations by commission chaired by Judge Francis Nyalali mandating the establishment of an Independent Electoral Commission and repealing of 40 laws undermining news media and political freedoms (Nyirabu, 2002).

As a result, four general elections were conducted, in 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010. CCM won with landslide victories in both presidential and parliamentary seats. For example, the 2010 elections saw the CCM winning the majority of seats in the parliament as the opposition won only 22 percent or 80 seats out of 357 seats (Coulson, 2013).

The main opposition party CHADEMA accused CCM of manipulating presidential votes (uchakachuaji), and demanded writing of a new constitution which among others, would establish an independent electoral commission before the 2015 elections. Unsurprisingly, it did not happen because although in 2011 President Jakaya Kikwete formed a Constitution Commission chaired by Judge Joseph Warioba which collected views from the citizens countrywide and prepared the Draft Constitution. However, CCM members who constituted more than 80 percent of Constitutional Assembly, refused to endorse the citizens Draft Constitution (Nkya, 2014),

CHADEMA-UKAWA presidential candidate, Edward Lowassa rallies voters
CHADEMA-UKAWA presidential candidate, Edward Lowassa rallies voters

Interestingly, CCM’s refusal to adopt the citizens’ Proposed New Constitution saw four opposition parties- CHADEMA, CUF, NCCR-Mageuzi forming a Union of Citizens Constitution- Umoja wa Katiba ya Wananchi (UKAWA) as a strategy to disrupt the power base of the CCM in elections.

Future possibility of ending poverty

This year’s elections have attracted national and international attention for a number of reasons. Firstly, UKAWA have filled single candidates for Presidential, Parliamentary and Councillorship posts. Secondly, two former Prime Ministers, Fredrick Sumaye and Edward Lowassa, a key CCM founder Kingunge Ngombale Mwiru, former Home Affairs minister Laurence Macha and ambassador Juma Mwapachu are among CCM members who so far have abandoned CCM and are for UKAWA campaign theme change (mabadiliko). Thirdly, arguably, citizens are tired of CCM empty promises.

Therefore, there is cut throat competition between CCM and CHADEMA-UKAWA presidential candidates as well as candidates in junior posts.

CCM presidential candidate, John Magufuli demonstrates fitness for office at recent rally
CCM presidential candidate, John Magufuli demonstrates fitness for office at recent rally
 However, the possibility of eradicating of poverty in Tanzania in the near future depends on the winner of 25 October elections. This is because while CHADEMA under UKAWA manifesto indicates that the coalition will write a new constitution based on the citizens’ proposed constitution, the CCM manifesto contains nothing on the matter.

A new constitution among other developments, will establish an independent electoral commission for conducting free and fair elections. In this way any political party elected in future will work harder to accomplish its promises as well as avoiding corruption and thievery of public funds and resources (ufisadi); practices which undermine efforts to end poverty in Tanzania.

References:

Aman, F. (2015) WB hits govt for poor revenue collection [Medium].Place Published: The Guardian, Updated Last Update Date. [cited Access Date]. Available from: http://www.ippmedia.com/?l=81941.

Citizen, T. (2015) Escrow saga still matters in donor help, says IMF [Medium].Place Published: The Citizen, Updated Last Update Date. [cited Access Date]. Available from: http://www.thecitizen.co.tz/News/Escrow-saga-still-matters-in-donor-help–says-IMF/-/1840392/2585310/-/eli8jb/-/index.html.

Coulson, A. (2013) Tanzania: a political economy. Oxford University Press.

Gordon, D. (2005) Indicators of Poverty & Hunger. In: Expert Group meeting on youth development indicators. pp. 12-14.

Guardian, T. (2015) Human Development Report has invaluable lessons for us [Medium].Place Published: The Guardian, Updated Last Update Date. [cited Access Date]. Available from: http://www.ippmedia.com/?l=83738.

Magubira, P. (2015) Malnutrition takes toll on TZ: expert [Medium].Place Published: The Citizen newspaper, Updated Last Update Date. [cited Access Date]. Available from: http://www.thecitizen.co.tz/News/Malnutrition-takes-toll-on-TZ–expert/-/1840340/2908366/-/xrvxr3/-/index.html.

Makinda, S. M. (1996) Democracy and multi-party politics in Africa. The Journal of Modern African Studies, 34 (04), 555-573.

Mjimba, V. (2011) The nature and determinants of linkages in emerging minerals commodity sectors: a case study of gold mining in Tanzania. In: Unpublished working paper prepared for Making the Most of Commodities workshop.

Moyo, D. (2009) Dead aid: why aid makes things worse and how there is another way for Africa. London: Allen Lane.

Mtulya, A. (2015) How corruption rocked Kikwete’s govt in the past decade [Medium].Place Published: The Citizen, Updated Last Update Date. [cited Access Date]. Available from: http://www.thecitizen.co.tz/News/How-corruption-rocked-Kikwete-s-govt-in-the-past-decade/-/1840340/2763268/-/dhlxm9/-/index.html.

Nkya, A. (2014) ‘Proposed Constitution not people-centred, bears no 50-50 representation’ [Medium].Place Published: The Guardian, Updated Last Update Date. [cited Access Date]. Available from: http://www.ippmedia.com/frontend/?l=73804.

Nyerere, J. (1979) Freedom and development:The Tanzanian experience. In: Coulson, A. (Ed.) African socialism in practice. Spokesman, pp. 27-35.

Nyirabu, M. (2002) The multiparty reform process in Tanzania: The dominance of the ruling party. African Journal of Political Science, 7 (2), 99-112.

Statistics, N. B. o. and Office of Chief Government Statistian , Z. (2013) The 2012 Population and Housing Census:Population distribution by administrative units key findings. Dar es Salaam:

A ‘MOZAMBICAN ECONOMIC PARADIGM’? A CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE ‘7 MILLION’ INITIATIVE

[Image credit: author's photo; beneficiaries of the fund that were victims of irregularities. The mill was broken at the time and they could not afford repairs.]

Roberta Holanda Maschietto has a PhD in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford and is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra. Her research interests include the concept of empowerment and its operationalisation, in particular in peacebuilding contexts, as well as local subjectivities of peace and power.

In 2006 the government of Mozambique introduced for the first time a budget to be allocated to each one of the 128 districts in the country. At the time, the budget had a fixed value of seven million meticais (circa USD300,000), and was called the Local Initiative Investment Budget (Orçamento de Investimento de Iniciativa Local, OIIL), being popularised as the ‘7 Million’. In 2009, the budget was transformed into a fund, the District Development Fund, retaining nevertheless its popular name and core functions.

In a nutshell, the ‘7 Million’ resembles a micro-credit scheme. The fund that enters the district is supposed to be used in the form of credit concession to the poor strata of those economically. Its central objectives are job creation and food production in the districts. The ‘7 Million’ has furthermore a strong empowering appeal: not only does it aim to promote empowerment by investing in local producers who would otherwise not have access to credit, but it also works in connection with the local councils, who have an active role in deciding who will obtain the funding taking into consideration the local needs.

Beneficiaries of the fund: originally, they wanted to invest in wholesale but they changed to redirect the money to the shop they already had.
Beneficiaries of the fund: originally, they wanted to invest in wholesale but they changed to redirect the money to the shop they already had.

The local councils were formalised in 2005 and defined as ‘an organ of consultancy of the local administration authorities’. They should be constituted by prominent people in the communities, such as ‘community authorities, representatives of interests groups of economic, social and cultural nature’ in each territorial rank of the district (1). Whilst having a consultative status, when it comes to the ‘7 Million’ they are the ones entitled to select the projects that will obtain the credit, as they are deemed to know better the needs of the community. Therefore, their inclusion in the process is what guarantees that the process is ‘bottom-up’ and representative of local interests.

In practice, the ‘7 million’ became one of the main political banners of President Guebuza, who referred to it as the ‘Mozambican economic paradigm’ (2). In his speeches, he portrayed the ‘7 million’ as nearly a panacea thanks to which local development has taken place, food production has increased, local communities have been integrated with the national market, jobs have been created, and poverty has been reduced (3). The initiative has even been praised by the African Peer Review Mechanism and portrayed as an example to be followed by other African countries (4). An in depth analysis of the district of Angoche, located in the northern province of Nampula, however, casts doubts about such a successful propaganda.

Focus group with some in the community
Focus group with women in the community

First, the understanding that the local councils are ‘representative of the local communities’ is very problematic. In 2011 there was a big process of reconstitution of the local councils. In Angoche, the process was followed by the district’s technical commission, who was in charge of guaranteeing its transparency and inclusiveness. In practice, many people in the communities admitted not taking part of the selection process — some did not even know about it. Many who did take part, including chosen members of the councils further referred to a ‘pre-selection’ phase where the ‘eligible people’ to the councils — to be voted by the people — were previously selected by a local traditional authority (usually the régulo), contrary to what should have taken place. Furthermore, in some cases, there were reports that members of the opposition ‘refused to take part’ of the selection process. In one case, a member of the technical team admitted they had to re-schedule a new selection process in one of the localities precisely because of the issue of inclusiveness. However, in other cases where reports of bias were reported, nothing was done to correct the process or verify it further.

Besides the problems related to the selection process, many participants in the communities observed that their interaction with the members of the local councils was very weak, or simply did not take place. This was particularly so in the case of women. Some individuals also manifested a feeling of ‘separateness’, as the local councils were portrayed as linked ‘with the structure’, instead of a body that represents the community.

When the ‘7 Million’ was considered, these critical perceptions were often magnified, as many beneficiaries — and people who had attempted unsuccessfully to obtain the fund — reported acts of bribery involving members of the local councils, as well as local authorities. There were also reports of political discrimination, exchange of values and projects inside the council, and, before 2009 — when the fund was disbursed in goods — overpriced products.

Focus group with some in the community
Mixed focus group with the community

Contrary to the positive numbers available in the administration, many of the projects funded by the ‘7 Million’ were found to be ineffective, incomplete, sometimes completely different from the original, and at times also failed. One of the reasons for this was the fact that more often than not beneficiaries obtained a much smaller loan than the one requested. According to members of the local councils, this happened because the fund available is not that big once it is split across the district’s sub-units, and they feel that it is preferable to chose more projects with a small amount (be inclusive) than select few projects with a big amount — even though the latter would be the only way for a project to generate jobs.

Ultimately, the limited success of the ‘7 Million’ is reflected in the very low return rate, which in Angoche, between 2007-2013, stayed at only 4.5%. Yet, the official discourse tends to minimise this issue, noticing that many projects take time (2-3 years) to generate profit. At the same time, the problematic estimates of jobs created are widely publicised, even when there is not long-term and continuous checking if those jobs planned in the project still exist.

It could be argued that Angoche is a very specific case where things did not go so well. Yet, data obtained from the districts of Mogovolas and Moma showed similar problems. Monitoring reports from Center of Democracy and Development Studies (CEDE) regarding other districts also noted the problem of the projects’ sustainability. Finally, one of the rare in depth studies on the matter in the districts of Gorongosa, Monapo and Zavala also cast away any reason for optimism regarding the results of the ‘7 Million’ (5).

The fact that these problems are minimised in the discourse is nothing out of ordinary, as much as politics is concerned. What is worrying is the fact that very little has been done to address these problems. One of the major constraints, in this regard, is the lack of resources to invest in regular monitoring visits and capacity building of all actors engaged in the implementation of the ‘7 Million’. Also, so far there is no proper mechanism for complaint, redress and accountability, which indirectly stimulates the situation to continue as it is. Ultimately, part of the propaganda of the ‘7 Million’ is related to the agenda of decentralisation in Mozambique — giving power to the districts and empowering the local councils. Yet, if these problems are not addressed, they may simply contribute to enhance and further legitimate centralising tendencies at the local level, while disguising them as part of the decentralisation process.

References:

1. Republic of Mozambique. Council of Ministers (2005) Decree No. 11/2005, Regulação da Lei dos Órgãos Locais de Estado (RELOLE). Boletim da República, I Série, No. 23, 2nd Supplemento. Maputo, 10 June.

2. AIM (26 Sep. 2013) Universidade de Columbia: PR Guebuza profere palestra sobre o desenvolvimento rural de Moçambique. [Online] Available at: http://www.minec.gov.mz/index.php?option=com_contentandtask=viewandid=700andItemid=140 (Accessed: 2 June 2014).

3. Guebuza, A. E. (2009) O Combate contra a Pobreza: Concentrando nossas Ações no Distrito. State of the Nation. Maputo, 22 June; Guebuza, A. E. (2009) Os Sete Milhões – Seu Papel na Promoção da Boa Governação e do Desenvolvimento Endógeno. Guebuza’s blog. Available at: http://armandoguebuza.blogspot.pt/2009/10/os-sete-milhoes-seu-papel-na-promoc.html (Accessed: 15 May 2014).

4. AIM (30 Jan. 2014) MARP considera fundo dos “sete milhões” um exemplo para África. [Online] Available at: http://www.portaldogoverno.gov.mz/noticias/news_folder_politica/janeiro-de-2014/marp-considera-fundo-dos-201csete-milhoes201d-um-exemplo-para-africa (Accessed: 23 June 2014).

5. Orre, A. & Forquilha, S.C. 2012. ‘Uma iniciativa condenada ao fracasso. o fundo distrital dos 7 milhões e suas consequências para a governação em Moçambique’, in B. Weimer, org. Moçambique: descentralizar o centralismo. economia política, recursos e resultados. Maputo: IESE, 168-196.

ECOWAS at 40

This contribution is from University of Bradford Economic PhD Researcher and Graduate Teaching Assistant Essa Bah. He is currently investigating relationship between institutions, trade, regionalism and development.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was formed on the 28th of May 1975 with the aim of fostering greater regional cooperation, integration and development through trade and investment initiatives. The 1993 revised treaty also included areas relating to democracy, governance and security. ECOWAS is composed of 15 member states, 5 of which are English speaking, 2 are Portuguese and the remaining 8 are French speaking countries. This difference in colonial history is reflected by the structure of ECOWAS which is divided into two monetary zones. The West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU or UEMOA) comprises of the 7 French speaking countries and Guinea Bissau which is Porguguese. WAEMU was revived in 1994 with the Dakar treaty and they have a common currency ‘CFA’ and a central bank. The CFA is pegged to the Euro and these countries are required to pay part of their external assets into the French Treasury (these figures ranges from 2% to 50% of their revenue depending on which paper you read). Dr. Sene of Anta Diop University believe that WAEMU should break away from the French Treasury in order to gain economic independence and to work more closely with the second monetary zone of ECOWAS.

The second monetary zone (West African Monetary Zone- WAMZ) was created in 2000 with the aim of introducing a single currency’ ECO’ and central bank. The intention is to merge WAMZ with WAEMU in order to have ECOWAS single currency and central bank in the future. WAMZ is composed of the five English speaking countries and Guinea Conakry which is a French speaking. The challenge for WAMZ is how individual countries meet the convergence criteria as this has been problematic since 2000.

To mark the 40th anniversary of ECOWAS, a panel discussion was held in the African Research Institute in London on the 20th of May 2015. The panellists were Arnold Ekpe, Véronique Tadjo and Patrick Smith. The panellists focused on 3 areas: success and future challenges of ECOWAS with particular emphasis on economic, cultural and political matters. It was established that ECOWAS had more success on the political sphere with ECOMOG intervening in conflicts in the subregion. Regarding cultural integration, there is cross border sharing of music mainly due to the interconnectedness of citizens beyond the artificial borders created by colonial history.

Perhaps the greatest challenge facing ECOWAS is how to increase intra-regional trade and investment as well as greater cooperation on other economic and monetary matters. UNCTAD estimated intra-ECOWAS trade at 10.46% in 2013 while Meagher (1997); Golub et al (2009) and Senghor (2009) argued that unofficial trade can be as high as between 30 to 50%. Hence, ECOWAS need to bring this informal trade into the formal economy by building institutions that protects the rights of traders and investors as well as give them necessary support. ECOWAS also need to accelerate merging WAEMU and WAMZ in order to eliminate conflicting policy directions. WAEMU must be ready to break away from the French treasury since it would be difficult to see how WAMZ members would be ready to pay 2% of their national resources to France as a means to protect the CFA.

Further reading:

Africa Research Institute event page, 2015

Global Governance and the Politics of Aid: Behemoth and the Business

[UK MoD- DfID worker checking supplies on a RAF C17 bound for the Philippines (2013)]

The following is a short review of the University of Bradford’s recent symposium Global Governance and the Politics of Aid, held on April 30th to May 1st.

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David Hulme, as the keynote speaker, set the tone for what is clearly the current trend in global governance, development and aid, quoting Lawrence Finkelstein,

Does it really clarify matters, however, or facilitate the research enterprise, to toss them in a hopper along with states, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and Moody’s Investor’s Service? “Global governance” appears to be virtually anything…we say “governance” because we don’t really know what is going on.’  

Hulme also identified tensions between UK DfID-style “results based management”, gettinWEF Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Thabo Mbeki, Tony Blair, Bono, Olusegun Obasanjo - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2005g UK taxpayer “value for money”, and, more globally, increased scope of private investment and, of course, the Chinese. Aid, confusingly is now operating in a “post-aid” world, but perhaps still subject to likes the usual suspects at a “global governance” level (see image). With Bill Gates being campaigned to take on the battle for climate change it seems that if global governance is anything, it is high-level players operating outside the traditional realm of international politics.

This behemoth comes complete with own set of generalized metrics with which most are familiar: Millennium Develop Goals (and whatever “child” this framework will spawn for the future), and the so-called lightening rod rhetoric of a “dollar a day”. The latter is critiqued by many, and notably by Thomas Pogge arguing for the insufficiency of this tool, due to the difficulty of measuring poverty itself. Pogge implicates the World Bank in offering a skewed picture of decreasing poverty,

The World Bank’s own data show that, if they had chosen a more adequate poverty line, perhaps one twice as high at $2.50 per person per day, US dollars of the year 2005 converted at purchasing power parities, then they would have found a slight increase in the number of poor people between 1990 and 2005, the last year for which full data are now available. So it is essential to the World Bank’s upbeat picture that it chooses an extremely low poverty line. As every resident of the US can confirm, you could not have met your basic needs here in 2010 on $1.40 per day or $510 per year.

It seems that in some respects the institutions of the behemoth produce and consume their own “truth” in a high-level, closed-loop space. A space where, as Hulme points out, Bono’s special red card can sooth the souls of western capitalists, so-called “conscience consumers”, buying and spending their way to the delivery the poor and hungry.

According to another symposium participant and presenter, Emma Mawdsley, the business man now reigns supreme in the barracks of DfID, where the simplistic conflation of development and growth means the politics, power, and purse are being increasingly handed over to hedge funds, private public partnerships, and technocrats measuring the poverty of a single life through evidence-based metrics. Yet, Mawdsley holds out some glimmer of hope in face of the inevitability of the business takeover of DfID, with the promise of an injection of new approaches and ideas on the ground. Nonetheless, warnings abound for DfID to mutate into a “export credit agency”, when is ignores emphasis on labour rights of those exposed to this new delivery of aid.

South-South cooperation and the likes of institutions such as BRICS also came under scrutiny. Whilst it is true that China offers its aid, development, and emerging economic power without the pesky strings of human rights guarantees, it is perhaps not a free-wheeling as some would believe. According to participant, and Bradford professor Prathivadi Anand China gives out more than it receives from OECD countries, and deploys various financial-development instruments (lines of credit, infrastructure investment, loans, grants). From 2000-2011, it gave $104 billion in Africa, with Nigeria and Ghana as top recipients, and dominating the sectors of transport, energy and “unspecified” aid. Despite all the fuss made about Chinese neocolonial interests in Africa’s natural resources, it in fact gives more to South America than it does on the rising continent.

chinese-investment-africa

A slice of consensus from the symposium, stemming from Hulme’s critique of NGOs, was that if the above directions of aid and development are in fact true, then it is up to NGOs to engage on a grassroots level politically to fight for rights of aid recipients. This might be the only hope for more participatory methods of development where recipients are treated as constituents in a political climate capable of facilitating of accountability, peace and justice. Some African states themselves are also coming into their own with what the Dean of Bradford’s Faculty of Social Sciences Donna Lee termed “African agency” by utilizing James Scott’s “weapons of weak”. Doing discursive battle with Western donors, African states, she believes are engaging donors with a mimetic challenge, holding up the mirror of norms and preconditions of delivery. If the encroachment of special or corporate interests and the rights of the recipient, it looks like the challenge lies at the feet of those still struggling to feed, clothe, and survive in pressuring governments and NGOs to practice good governance, transparency and grassroots representation.

***Watch this space for audio/visual of David Hulme’s lecture***

References and Further Reading:

Lawrence Finkelstein, ‘What is Global Governance,’ Global Governance 1 (1995).

Nicola Banks, David Hulme, Michael Edwards, ‘NGOs, States, and Donors revisited: Still Too Close for Comfort?’ World Development 66 (2015).

Duncan Green, ‘Book Review of ‘Advocacy in Conflict’ – a big attack on politics and impact of global campaigns,’ From Poverty to Power (2015).

China’s Global Reach graphic

[WEF Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Thabo Mbeki, Tony Blair, Bono, Olusegun Obasanjo - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos (2005)]