Tag Archives: Africa


Why Africa Should Worry Less About Income Inequality

Early this week, the South Africa Daily Maverick published an op-ed titled, “It’s not Zuma that we need protection from, it’s the market.” While the author rightly calls out the role of cronyism in destroying ordinary South Africans’ economic mobility, she doesn’t seem to make a distinction between economic freedom and crony capitalism.

This spotlights a crucial misunderstanding in the ongoing battle against capitalism in South Africa, and across Africa.The values of freedom will continue to take a back seat as anti-market forces demand more state control of the economy against “corporate” interests.

The Benefits Seem Unattainable

How is it that perceptions of the market are so negative on a continent with such a rich tradition of economic freedom?

It can be alleged that the arguments for capitalism have become too utilitarian to appeal to a continent that has been ravaged by the effects of slavery, colonialism, kleptocracy, ethnic genocide, crony capitalism, and extreme poverty. Indeed, in his 1999 book “Development as Freedom,” Harvard Professor Amartya Sen argued,

The discipline of economics has tended to move away from focusing on the value of freedoms to that of utilities, incomes, and wealth. This narrowing of focus leads to an under appreciation of the full role of the market mechanism, even though economics as a profession can hardly be accused of not praising markets enough.”

Read more at FEE Online 

refugee camps

Young Voices Podcast – Kenyan Refugee Crisis

Today’s Young Voices Podcast features Sergio Monreal and YV Advocate Olumayowa Okediran discussing the refugees in Kenya.

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african farmer

Global Food Security Act Leaves African Farmers in the Dirt

The American Congress recently passed the bipartisan Global Food Security Act, a $7 billion dollar project aimed at bolstering efforts to end hunger, malnutrition and poverty across the globe. Sounds noble, but this Act will most certainly not improve global food security, especially in Africa, because it fails to address a fundamental cause of food insecurity in the developing world: US agricultural subsidies.

If President Obama really wants to fix world hunger, he’d do well to truly liberalize American agriculture by removing subsidies for wealthy farmers. It has been well documented by the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and numerous experts that subsidies go against the principles of free trade. They lead to “international dumping” – where products from developed countries are sold to consumers in developing countries at unfairly low prices that force out domestic producers.

Food Dependency

Extensive economic studies show that it is wealthy farmers who benefit from subsidies, not poor ones.

As the global economic order currently stands, African farmers – and their governments – cannot compete with billions worth of American protectionism on essential crops such as tobacco, cotton, corn and rice. Since the 1950s, the IMF and World bank mandated that African governments liberalize their economies with Structural Adjustment Policies in order to qualify for loans. As a result, many of these countries can neither afford to subsidize their own farmers, nor can they put import duties on foreign produce. In other words, they simply cannot stand a chance on the global marketplace.

Continue reading at FEE.

African women

Managing Editor Stacy Ndlovu published in Le Monde Afrique

Last Thursday, Managing Editor Stacy Ndlovu was published in Le Monde in French. Her article titled “Et si l’on trouvait un autre travail pour les exciseuses africaines?” discusses the harmful relationship between traditional African practices, such as female circumcision and early marriage, and limited economic opportunity.

Find the article at Le Monde Afrique here.

DFID-supported camps for refugees from DRC in Uganda. Andy Wheatley/DFID. April 2013

Expelling Refugees Won’t Solve Kenya’s Security Crisis

By November, Kenya will begin repatriation of refugees to Somalia, as it hopes to defeat terrorism and tighten security. Kenya refused all calls not to close down the refugee settlements after it gave way to the fear that the camps may be breeding security threats. About 350,000 refugees live in Dabaab, a network of camps in Kenya’s North Eastern desert, and about 150,000 more live in another camp, Kakuma. By sheer population, Dabaab is the third largest community in Kenya, only behind Nairobi (2,750,547) and Mombasa (799,668). The sheer size of the camp has  created  significant worry since the settlement can only get bigger.

It is understandable that the government of Kenya is putting the interest of the Kenyans ahead of refugees, especially after 214 people were killed during terrorist attacks on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi and Garissa University.  The Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for  both attacks. The government thinks the refugee camps may serve as a breeding zone for terrorists and as centres for smuggling, contraband trade, and illicit weapons proliferation. Thus, the government has committed to expunging the refugees from the country, hoping to resettle them in their native lands.

The President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, stated that his nation is ready to welcome the refugees to help with rebuilding the war-torn country. Nonetheless, turning the refugees out en masse within this short period would be drastic, especially for those who had never been to Somalia, having been born and raised in Kenya. If repatriation is inevitable, it should be undertaken gradually to reduce the shocks that would be felt by the Somalians.

Although the United Nations recently accented to the closure of the camp, the acting director for its High Commissioner for Refugees , Leonard Zulu, said the whole exercise would be a disaster. Notably, several of the refugees have known no other place besides Kenya, as they were born in the camp. The Dabaab camp opened in 1991, and several of the settlers were born and brought up in that camp.

Kenya’s action would make the idea that it recently passed its own laws in 2006 protectingrefugee rights seem ludicrous. Before then, the country was a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee convention which forbade involuntary return of refugees to a country where they face persecution.  Besides reneging on its own guidelines, sending the refugees packing might not make Kenya any safer than it currently is. Continue Reading