By Alex Vines, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Alex Vines is director of Area Studies and International Law and heads the Angola Forum at Chatham House. He is also a senior lecturer at Coventry University. The views expressed are his own.
Twenty years ago this Sunday, the United States belatedly recognized Angola. Today, Angola is the second-largest trading partner of the U.S. in sub-Saharan Africa, a country at peace and enjoying one of the fastest rates of economic growth in the world. It is the second largest producer of oil in sub-Saharan Africa and an OPEC member that has allowed major U.S. oil companies to prosper. But all is not well in the relationship.
Angola achieved independence from Portugal in 1975 and immediately became a major battle ground of the Cold War. The U.S. refused to recognize the pro-Soviet and Cuban backed MPLA government, encouraged apartheid South African military incursions and trained and supplied the rebel UNITA forces. At one point, Angola became the second largest recipient of U.S. covert aid after the Afghan Mujahedeen.
Fast forward to today, and the MPLA is still the ruling party, with President José Eduardo dos Santos having been in power since 1979. And, despite the many global suitors, dos Santos said recently that Angola has only four strategic partners: Brazil, China, Portugal and the United States.
By Ben Leo, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Ben Leo is Global Policy Director of The ONE Campaign, an international advocacy organization co-founded by Bono. The views expressed are his own.
GPS recently published a thoughtful piece on how global poverty rates are falling fast. It argued that one country in particular is almost solely responsible for this dramatic trend: China. Meanwhile, it said progress in the rest of the world “has been much, much slower – if there’s been progress at all.”
Here’s the problem. There are 62 other countries across the globe that are also slashing extreme poverty rates at a remarkable pace. And many of them are located in Sub-Saharan Africa. So, the more important question is – how do we accelerate the progress being made in places like Ethiopia and Uganda while simultaneously jumpstarting it in places that are lagging behind, like Nigeria and the Congo?
It’s true that China’s case is remarkable – both in terms of its sheer scale and speed. It has lifted 680 million people out of poverty in a single generation. That’s amazing. It’s every poverty fighter’s dream. But the global story isn’t just about China. It is also about countries like Ethiopia, Uganda, Cameroon, Ghana, and Senegal that are also witnessing dramatic declines in extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.25 a day.
By Bhaskar Chakravorti, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Bhaskar Chakravorti is Senior Associate Dean of International Business and Finance and founding executive director of the Institute for Business in the Global Context at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, host of the 2012 international “Africa’s Turn?” conference. The views expressed are his own.
The countries we most obsess about from the emerging world – the so-called BRICS – met recently in Africa. Many see this as more evidence of an international scramble for the world’s greatest growth opportunity. But here in the United States, you would hardly know it. Instead, when the continent does come up in conversation, it is often in the context of “help,” conflict, misused development aid and woeful political leadership.
But we are at a turning point. The old story of Africa as the final frontier is being replaced by a new narrative: one of economic growth and opportunity. Business, policy and civil society leaders who spoke at our “Africa’s Turn?” conference last October expressed enthusiasm and cautious optimism for its future.
The U.S. perspective of needing to “help” Africa may start to look very dated as the continent experiences self-propelled growth and development led by a growing urban consumer class, enabling technologies such as wireless communications, and an emerging entrepreneurial sector.
By Juan Carlos Botero, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Juan Carlos Botero is executive director of the World Justice Project, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the rule of law. The views expressed are his own.
Africa is at a critical juncture when it comes to the rule of law. Countries like Malawi are achieving independence after decades of dictator rule and conflict and, for the first time, are developing legitimate and democratic governance institutions. It is at this juncture where countries must decide if they will forge ahead into a future of economic, social and political development, or slide backwards into lawlessness and instability.
Malawi found itself at this crossroads in 1994, when the 30-year dictatorship of President Hastings Kamuzu Banda came to an end. Since then, new leaders have fostered a more open government; improved health, education, and environmental conditions in the country; and achieved significant economic growth while decreasing reliance on foreign aid.
By Michael Kugelman, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Michael Kugelman is the senior program associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and lead editor of The Global Farms Race. You can follow him @michaelkugelman. The views expressed are his own.
This week in Washington, the World Bank is hosting its annual conference on land and poverty. The Bank has identified improved land governance as this year’s theme. It’s a wise decision, given that poor land governance in developing world agricultural settings has spawned a destabilizing global trend – one fueled, in part, by financial support from the Bank itself.
In recent years, food-importing regimes from Asia and the Gulf, spooked by high food prices and lacking the land and water resources to grow crops at home, have obtained land overseas to use for agriculture. Private investors from the U.S., Europe, and Asia, recognizing the profit potential of precious agricultural land, have joined this scramble for the world’s soils. Nearly $30 billion in private capital is projected to be invested in farmland by 2015, and pension funds and asset managers have recently joined forces to attract even more capital for farmland financing.
By Bob Geldof, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Bob Geldof is a member of the Africa Progress Panel, chaired by Kofi Annan, and a musician, businessman and campaigner against poverty. The views expressed are his own.
With the U.K. becoming the first G-8 country to spend 0.7 percent of its gross national income on overseas aid, the government’s recent budget was an exciting moment for the international development community.
But with extreme poverty falling all around Africa, and the continent’s mineral resources providing more revenue now than international aid, some observers are asking whether international aid is out of date.
Africa needs trade, not aid, they say. In truth, however, they still need both.
By Dawit Giorgis, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Dawit Giorgis is a visiting fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. The views expressed are the writer’s own.
As Washington has assessed the implications of Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most critical energy chokepoint, a crisis has loomed in another critical maritime energy corridor: the Gulf of Guinea.
The strategic importance of West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea – the stretch of coastline spanning from Gabon to Liberia that includes 15 states which have huge economic importance to the United States and the West – is hard to overstate. For one, the U.S. is expected to import a quarter of its oil from the Gulf of Guinea nations by 2015. Indeed, 70 percent of Africa’s oil production comes from the Gulf of Guinea. And with the recent discovery of offshore hydrocarbon deposits, these numbers are only going to rise.
And yet this crucial naval passage has witnessed an alarming spike in piracy and maritime crime in recent years that rivals the Horn of Africa. Last year, the International Maritime Bureau attributed only 75 attacks to pirates operating in Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, down from 237 in 2011. In the Gulf of Guinea, in contrast, piracy is on the rise, with 58 incidents recorded in 2012. The IMB has raised the alarm that the Gulf will overtake the Horn of Africa as the world’s top piracy hotspot.
For more What in the World, watch GPS on Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET.
By Global Public Square staff
Zimbabwe's finance minister made a remarkably honest disclosure last week. Tendai Biti told reporters that his government had very little money left in its public account, $217 U.S. to be exact; no, not $217 million or billion, $217.
Zimbabwe has made these kinds of headlines before. At one point in 2008, annual inflation hit an estimated 96 sextillion percent. This the number 9 followed by 22 zeros. The Central Bank was forced to print a $100 trillion note which now sells on EBay for a few U.S. dollars.
But once Zimbabweans adopted American currency as legal tender, hyperinflation stopped and the economy stabilized. According to the International Monetary Fund, GDP grew by more 6 percent in 2009 and then nearly 10 percent for each of the next two years.
For more What in the World, watch GPS on Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET.
By Fareed Zakaria
According to the U.S. Treasury, the average ransom for a Western hostage held by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in 2011 was $5.4 million. This sort of terrorism pays richly in this world, not the next.
Moktar Balmoktar leads one of several groups in the region that are loosely affiliated with al-Qaeda. Iyad Ag Ghaly leads another…Ghaly is a larger-than-life figure who has spent long years fighting not for Islam but for the rights of his ethnic group, the Tuaregs. He created Ansar Dine, which means “supporters of religion” when he was passed over for leadership of the main Tuareg rebel movement. Ansar Dine soon became an effective and brutal militia.
What conclusions can we draw from all this? These groups are largely composed of local thugs with longstanding, local grievances that often have very little to do with global Islamic jihad. Terrorism is good business for them.
While their own causes have lost support at home, they have latched on to the al Qaeda brand in the hope of enhancing their appeal and, perhaps crucially, gaining greater global attention.
Watch the video for the full What in the World.
By Charles Robertson, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Charles Robertson global chief economist for Renaissance Capital and lead author of ‘The Fastest Billion: The Story Behind Africa’s Economic Revolution.’ The views expressed are his own.
The rise of Africa’s long forlorn economies – what we at Renaissance Capital have dubbed “The Fastest Billion” – represents the final phase of a global economic transformation that began over 200 years ago as agrarian societies saddled with absolute rulers began their journey through industrialization into the pluralistic middle-class societies increasingly driven by the information age we know today.
For many reasons, Africa largely missed out on this journey. But no longer: while the process will not be complete by 2050, a changing set of global and local realities suggest that Africa is set to be the final beneficiary of this revolution.
Over the past decade, the billion people who live in Africa have experienced the fastest growth the continent has ever seen, and many of its countries (Nigeria, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Guinea) are among the fastest growing in the world. A growing body of evidence backs our view that as Africa’s population doubles to two billion over the next several decades, its GDP will increase from $2 trillion today to $29 trillion in today’s money by 2050.
By Jason Warner, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Jason Warner is a Ph.D. student in African Studies and Government at Harvard University. The views expressed are his own.
No sooner had the U.N Security Council approved an intervention in Mali than a potential coup cropped up across the African continent in the landlocked and impoverished country of the Central African Republic (CAR).
Last December, a group of rebels operating under the banner of Seleka launched a lightning offensive, marching across the country and threatening to overthrow the regime of President François Bozizé for allegedly failing to follow through on promises he made to them during peace accords signed in 2007.
Meaning “coalition” in Sango – one of two official national languages in the CAR – the Seleka insurgency is an alliance of an estimated 1,000 to 3,000 former rebels. In the face of virtually no opposition from the disorganized and poorly trained CAR army, Seleka tore towards the capital of Bangui, occupying numerous towns on its way. For weeks after, it camped outside of the capital threatening an invasion.
By Andrea Lari, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Andrea Lari is the Director of Programs at Refugees International, a DC-based non-profit organization. The views expressed are the writer’s own.
The French military intervention in Mali is just a few days old, and there is plenty of uncertainty about the operation’s strategy and potential outcomes. But one thing is clear: as this campaign escalates, more civilians are being forced to flee their homes – exacerbating a humanitarian crisis that has plagued Mali for more than a year. Governments and aid agencies in the region must be prepared for the worst and take steps immediately to assist this new wave of displaced Malians.
First, Mali’s neighbors must help civilians in the conflict zone get out of harm’s way. Though there is a need to limit the mobility of jihadist groups, there is no excuse for keeping civilian families penned into dangerous areas. Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger all must keep their borders open, and they must help Malian refugees register and get the aid they need.