Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
The Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC) and the the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) have united to create an even larger Free Trade Zone across Africa!
Read more about the zone here. The photo map is from the same BBC article.
-- updated: 11.44pm --
I had a conversation about the zone with two friends, and we decided there were two things at play here: (1) Foreign business, ie: business done with territories outside Africa, is likely to decline because of cheaper inter-African trade; (2) At the same time, African countries become less dependent on financial support from foreign governments and institutions.
What is needed is a balance between successfully reducing inter-African trade restrictions and a healthy injection of investment capital from abroad.
Let's see how this plays out. I'm hoping Tanzania keeps it up when working with the EAC.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
The United States, Russia and NATO have become increasingly involved in the MV Faina hijacking, and it seems (at least to me) that piracy in Somalia has been gaining much attention over the last couple of weeks.
Since code of international law is murkier on water than on land, it seems these pirates have found an effective source of income. There's a couple of things to think about here.
1) What incentive do the pirates have in hijacking ships and demanding random? Can anything be done to assist their households in gaining self-sufficiency through legitimate work or education?
2) Who do the pirates work for? If they are working for themselves, then point number 1 is appropriate. If they work for conglemorates, what is being done about the source, ie: the leaders, of these piracy groups?
3) Why does Somalia need the surveillance and counter-terrorist abilities of three, very powerful groups, ie: the US, Russia and NATO?
4) If Somalia is being seen as a concentrated area for this kind of activity, can policy makers establish secure boundaries (both literally and figuratively in terms of law) around Somalia's coast?
These are just food for thought that have driven me to follow the issue through these past few weeks. It may well be that some of these pointers have been addressed over years before today, and agreements just haven't been reached (which sucks, because then you get Ukranian ships hijacked with an $8 million price tag).
Having said this, the policy-shaping realm seems to be changing forevermore. Yes the US economy is heavily involved, but so are other factors, such as an increasingly restless generation that is always settling in different places in the world, or the ease with which people can communicate cross-culture/boundary/background.
Just my Sunday thoughts.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
So reads a sentence in a report posted on http://www.mareeg.com/ (read the full report here).
"Failed African State"... and since when has there been a Book of Rules Defining a Successful State and a Failed State? Since when do we have standards by which every country must prosper? Since when do we define "failed" as being in a situation of flux, or political or economic instability? Since when does having borders, a capital and a functioning government still mean that you may be a "failed state"?
Since when? I'm serious. I'd like to know, because apparently, I missed that boat.
If you claim to be a journalist on the internet, or if you claim to be a journalist anywhere for that matter, the least you can do is provide an objective perspective in your articles. I don't care about your thoughts, or the thoughts of people you work with. At the end of the day, your news gets out to other people who may not be able to tell between apples and oranges, let alone "successful" states from "failed" ones.
Bottom line: Don't write about what you don't know. And if you do, make an effort to represent the 9.5 million or more people that live in Somalia justly by learning about the country before making a fool out of yourself.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Let's instead try to assume that this is truly a life-threatening crisis (and in some ways, it might be), and that the Fed is doing what it can to protect its civilians. National security, is what they are calling it.
$700 billions dollars... Just to put things in context: The richest country in Africa by Gross National Product (using Purchasing Power Parity) is South Africa, and their GDP in 2006 was just under $600 billion. Compare this to Tanzania, which had just under $30 billion as their GDP in 2006 (click to view source).
Word. So the Fed is pledging a "rescue" with a cost that adds up to being higher than any African country's GDP. I don't think I have to get into how else $700 can be used, especially in terms of sustainable economic development ventures, or even immediate humanitarian aid.
And you know what struck me as amusingly infuriating this morning? The fact that the world will never see so much money (again, $700 billion... that's NINE zeros) flow into sustainable development ventures in one go. But when there is a military crisis, such as the "pirates" in Somalia (and ask me someday how I think this is really a stand-off between Russia and the US to project their physical power), there is always money pumped into supposedly preemptive measures... again, in the name of National Security.
That is all. I mean, seriously.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
And the US Navy apparently has a USS Howard set up (amongst other vessels) to "monitor" the situation. Hmm...
There's more here: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/09/30/africa/pirates.php