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The Herald – Zimbabwe
By: Danny Bradlow, William N. Kring and Hadiza Gagara Dagah
African Union (AU) leaders will gather in Niger tomorrow for an Extraordinary Summit to discuss the African Continental Free Trade Area.
They will be meeting at a critical moment for the continent. Many African countries are experiencing uneven growth and rising debt.
All face an uncertain global environment and need the boost that closer and more dynamic continental trade relations could deliver.
In our view the AU leaders should also use their meeting to reinvigorate their efforts to create an African Monetary Fund.
This would be used to encourage African states to engage more actively in regional trade by offering them financial support for managing the risks associated with closer regional integration and expanded intra-regional trade.
Over the past 10 years, most regions have developed regional arrangements that can supplement the help that the IMF provides to countries facing balance of payments problems. Ten years ago, US$100 billion was available through these regional funds.
Today more than US$900 billion is available through these arrangements.
Africa is currently the most prominent gap in the evolving global financial safety net.
The African leaders signed a treaty to establish this fund in 2014.
Unfortunately, progress to set it up has stalled.
So far, the treaty has been signed, but not ratified, by eleven AU member countries.
Fifteen must sign and ratify the statutes for the fund to become operational.
Once operational, it will have a capital subscription of up to US$22,64 billion and the ability to provide member countries with loans equivalent to two times their contributions to the fund’s capital.
Managing the ripple effects
The free trade area offers states new growth and employment opportunities.
But by increasing economic linkages between African states, it could also increase the risk that economic problems in one country can spill over and have a strongly negative effect on growth, trade, investment and employment in others.
For example, both positive and negative developments in the US economy will have a powerful impact on Canada and Mexico. To help mitigate these effects, participants in other regional trade arrangements have established regional financial arrangements.
These provide financial support to their members to manage balance of payments crises.
The evidence suggests that when states have access to this type of financial support, they are less likely to take actions that impede intra-regional trade flows.
For example, the Latin American Reserve Fund, which provides its members with financial support during balance of payments crises, has helped the recipient countries to maintain their intra-regional trade arrangements.
This, in turn, has reduced the risk that the recipient’s problems would cause a crisis in its neighbours.
The failure of an adequate number of states to sign and ratify the African Monetary Fund treaty is an embarrassing challenge to the credibility of the AU’s efforts to promote a more integrated, dynamic, sustainable and equitable African economy.
These efforts have been going on for more than 40 years.
Steps along the way have included the former Organisation of African Unity’s Lagos Plan of Action for Economic Development of Africa signed in 1980 and the Abuja Treaty signed in 1991.
In a policy brief published by the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria and the Global Development Policy Centre at Boston University, we propose three concrete steps to jumpstart the push for the fund.
First, the creation of the fund must be explicitly linked to the success of the free trade area.
The AU leaders can do this by making the case that, just as has happened in other regions, the presence of a regional financial arrangement will support the efforts to boost intra-regional trade in Africa.
It will help participating countries mitigate the balance of payments challenges that greater regional integration may cause.
Moreover, the fund, by quickly providing its members with financial support, can offer them more time to negotiate a larger support package with richer institutions such as the IMF.
In this regard, it should be noted that eight of the AU member countries (Cape Verde, Comores, Djibouti, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles and Somalia) will be able to borrow more resources from the AMF than the IMF.
Second, one AU member state should become the champion for the fund.
This country would become the first country to sign and ratify the fund treaty.
It would lobby other AU member countries to ratify the African Monetary Fund.
It would advocate for the AU to reconstitute the steering committee created in the treaty and provide it with adequate resources.
Since Cameroon is the designated host country for the AMF’s headquarters, it has an incentive to be a champion for the institution.
Finally, the steering committee should develop a plan for overcoming the substantial resource constraints in the region.
This will require balancing the fund’s need for sufficient resources to be credible with the limited ability of some states to contribute.
This could be addressed by negotiating an arrangement in which richer regional countries and institutions contribute a disproportionate share of their capital contributions up-front.
These additional contributions will be reimbursed as poorer countries make their capital contributions.
It’s important to note that the AMF Board of Governors has the authority to extend the period for a country to make its contribution for up to eight years.
To further incentivise small-to-medium sized member countries to contribute capital, they should be allowed to treat their capital contributions as part of their international reserves. Such an arrangement is not unprecedented and was used effectively in South America.
These measures would make an implementation plan more feasible.
Africa has tried valiantly for decades to overcome the substantial challenges hindering the development of robust intra-regional trade.
The free trade area agreement is the most recent of these efforts.
The credibility of the continent’s leaders and institutions will be influenced by its success or failure.
The establishment of the African Monetary Fund would demonstrate the continent’s determination to promote intra-regional trade and development. — Conversation Africa
The Herald – Zimbabwe
Sifelani Tsiko Agric, Environment & Innovations Editor
Wildlife films can be a powerful tool in raising awareness of conservation and environmental issues. Apart from the entertainment value people get, the films can help create debate and inspire a positive change that can help conserve Africa’s wildlife heritage which is under severe pressure from poaching and the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products.
Recently, the University of Zimbabwe faculty of science in partnership with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) premièred ‘‘Sides of a Horn,” a short wildlife film that captures riveting scenes of poaching and the issues that drive it in most African communities rich in wildlife resources.
The film was launched to help bring the story to the global audience through the power of story telling and dialogue.
“This film demonstrates the potential and power of the digital media in fighting wildlife crimes,” says Patience Gandiwa, a senior official of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
“There has been very little investment in the digital media to create messages that promote conservation and make people to appreciate the value of their wildlife heritage.”
The award winning short dramatic film was written and directed by Toby Wosskow from executive producer Richard Branson.
It was filmed in South African townships and is predominantly in Zulu with English subtitles.
The 17 – minute film explores the illegal rhino horn trade, specifically looking at how community and family dynamics are disrupted when two brothers find themselves on opposite sides of the poaching crisis.
“Sides of a Horn is thought provoking. It explores the real issues behind the illegal wildlife trade and makes it abundantly clear that we need to put that much more effort towards protecting this iconic species and ensure that local communities can fully benefit from their wildlife and wild lands,” says AWF chief executive Kaddu Sebunya.
AWF has invested heavily in rhino conservation across the African continent. Some of the projects that AWF has supported include rhino sanctuaries in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya.
In March last year, the last remaining northern white rhino in the world died, leaving the sub-species facing extinction.
Black rhinos, are critically endangered and the AWF estimates that only 5 050 black rhinos remain in the wild today, down from a population of 65 000 in 1964.
The showing of the movie at the UZ generated interest and provoked debate on poaching and wildlife conservation issues.
UZ environmentalist and researcher, Professor Christopher Magadza says poaching still continues unabated in most areas adjacent to game sanctuaries because the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) – a Zimbabwean community-based natural resource management initiative had failed to address individual poverty.
“The system failed to address individual poverty in rural communities,” he says. “Only private conservancies and rural district councils are benefiting. Locals are not benefiting. Yes, clinics and schools have been built, but how do you address the needs of someone who needs food, school fees and clothing or money to get treatment?
“Individual poverty still persists and it has not been addressed by the Campfire initiative. Locals still have no say in how the wildlife is managed. They have no say in how they should benefit.”
Local communities, he says, have been the biggest losers in the conflicts between communities and wildlife resulting in loss of property, crops and life.
The conflicts between the rangers and communities and that between Zimpaks and Rural District Councils has also compounded the problems.
The conflict revolves around hunting quotas and sharing of sport hunting proceeds.
Sebunya says apart from the need to benefit from wildlife resources, greater emphasis should also be placed in taking pride in Africa’s wildlife heritage.
“There is so much obsession about benefits. Benefits from our wildlife should not be about money only. Not all of us are going to benefit. We are not going to benefit or survive if the wildlife and the environment don’t survive,” he says.
“Conservation should not be an end to itself. We need to ask ourselves what is the benefit of the wildlife to our ecosystem. A huge benefit to us is our ecosystem. The wildlife defines who we are as Africans, its part of us.”
He says education, involvement, dialogue and engagement of local communities is critical in all efforts to save the wildlife.
Yolanda Mutinhima, of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network says there was need for youth involvement in wildlife conservation matters as well as improving local participation in wildlife conservation efforts.
“Local people are alienated from being the custodians of their wildlife. They are not benefiting and this tends to drive up poaching,” she says. “Local community participation and you involvement is quite important.”
Zimbabwe and most other African countries are facing an unprecedented spike in poaching and illegal wildlife trade which is threatening to decimate the continent’s rich wildlife resource base.
Poaching is threatening the survival of elephants, rhinos, cheetahs, lions, hippos and a whole list of other animals still found on the continent.
Wildlife crime is now prevalent across Africa with a complex web of highly dangerous international networks. Wildlife and animal parts are being trafficked to various parts of the world.
The poaching of elephants for ivory and other wild animals for their skins and bones has taken on new and deadly dimensions, with poachers using chemicals such as cyanide to poison wildlife.
Countless other species such as turtles, pangolins, snakes and other wild plants and animals are being caught or harvested from the wild and then sold to buyers who make food, pets, ornamental plants, leather, tourist ornaments and medicine.
Tusk Trust, a wildlife organisation, reports that 100 000 elephants were killed in the past few years, leaving a population of about 400 000 — half what it was more than two-and-half decades ago.
Rampant poaching in the sub-Saharan range has resulted in the deaths of 100 000 elephants from 2011 to 2013, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Tanzania’s elephant population plummeted by 60 percent to 43 330 in the five years ending in 2014, according to the Great Elephant Census, carried out by a coalition of wildlife groups while Mozambique lost half its elephants in the same period, falling to 10 300.
Wildlife campaigners say the statistics “underscore the toxic mix of determined criminal gangs, corrupt government officials and a strong market for smuggled ivory in Asia — particularly in China — which has deepened its economic ties to Africa in recent years.”
Another round cyanide poisonings in Zimbabwe killed 14 elephants in September 2015 while 26 more were found poisoned at two sites in the Hwange National Park, according to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
In 2013, cyanide poisoning decimated about 300 elephants in Hwange as poachers placed salt laced with cyanide near wildlife watering holes.
This has had ripple effects on the ecosystem, killing other animals too, including predators feeding off the elephant carcasses.
Zimbabwe has one of Africa’s biggest surviving elephant populations and Hwange National Park is home to half of the country’s estimated 100 000 elephants that are thought to live in this protected area, west of the country. The country has an elephant population of about 100 000 against a carrying capacity of 40 000.
Zimparks authorities blame overpopulation, inadequate funding and manpower for the spike in elephant poaching in conservation spots dotted around the country.
Despite all the woes facing Africa’s wildlife sector, Mr Sebunya said the survival of the continent’s wildlife will depend on whether Africa and its local communities benefit from it or not.
“Africa needs to benefit first and foremost from the sustainable exploitation of its wildlife resources,” he says.
“It is not about stopping the trafficking of wildlife products such as rhino but Africans need to figure out how to benefit from their wildlife.
There must be a benefit from conserving rhinos and elephants, it must be explained.”
The New Times – Rwanda
By: Gitura Mwaura
Globalisation has not been as robust as it should be and has been slowing in the past decade since the 2008 financial crisis.
This has given rise to the term “slowbolisation”, coined to describe the slowing global trade and commerce. It is also seen as temporary, informed by the view that the march of globalisation is inevitable.
There, however, is a contra view worth delving into that sees globalisation as already dead. It is described in the recent book, The Levelling: What's Next After Globalization by Michael O'Sullivan.
“Globalisation is behind us,” O'Sullivan declares in a recent interview with The Economist under its Open Future initiative.
In the book, he describes a world where the unifying influences of globalisation have given way to multipolar hegemonies or multiple centres of influence.
“A fully multipolar world,” he writes, “[will be] composed of three (perhaps four, depending on how India develops) large regions that are distinct in the workings of their economies, laws, cultures, and security networks.”
The three large regions will comprise of America, the European Union and a China-centric Asia. They are projected to increasingly take very different approaches to economic policy, liberty, warfare, technology and society.
It may very well be that O’Sullivan multipolar world will come to pass, but the scenario should provoke the obvious question about Africa’s place in the equation. Should the continent necessarily fall into any of those spheres of global influence?
Why should the continent not become a pole to reckon with in the said multipolar world?
O’Sullivan suggests two broad axes that the continent would have to fulfil to become such a pole.
First, the poles in the multipolar world have to be large in terms of economic, financial, and geopolitical power.
Second, the essence of multipolarity is not simply that the poles are large and powerful but also that they develop distinct, culturally consistent ways of doing things.
The first axis predicates the second, and Africa’s way of doing things has been far from exemplary as evidenced in cycles of conflict and the many dimensions of poverty.
Clearly, Africa is out of the league. Though it is large, it is not powerful and neither does it have economic and financial heft.
To put globalisation aside for the moment, it is true that Africa has been making some gains and that it could do better, as memorably captured by former US President Barrack Obama at the 2016 U.S.-Africa Business Forum in New York.
“We have so much more work that can be done and will be done,” he reminded the gathered African leaders. “The fact [nevertheless] is that, despite significant growth in much of the continent, Africa’s entire GDP is still only about the GDP of France.”
Note his unvarnished comparison of Africa’s entire GDP to France. In 2014, Africa’s GDP was $2.74 trillion. France’s GDP was up at $2.83 trillion.
Africa’s GDP does not appear to have done any better since then, while available 2018 figures suggest it may even have fallen.
This, however, is not to say that Africa has been sitting on its laurels. Tomorrow, 7 July, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) will be launched during the AU Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government in Niamey, Niger.
AfCTA agreement, first signed in Kigali in March 2018, has so far been ratified by 25 countries. Nigeria, the foremost African economy has finally accepted AfCTA’s inevitability and is expected to sign the agreement at the Niamey summit, bringing on board a major West African market.
The continental free trade area rules are now being set with the projection that it will help boost regional trade by 60 per cent within three years. Currently, trade between African nations is only 15.5 per cent.
It is acknowledged that for this to take off, the many outstanding issues affecting intra-regional trade within the regional trade blocs must be done away with, especially in East, West and Southern Africa.
With this, is the acknowledgement that it is the regions that make the continent; and if intra-regional trade doesn’t work the continental market might as well not be there.
Trade will begin among member states that have already ratified the protocol, comprising half the continent.
With this, AfCTA not only globalises Africa but marks its first steps as the vehicle that could yet move Africa’s position higher in a globalised world, as opposed to a multipolar one.
An analysis on “slowbolisation” early this year in The Economist makes a compelling argument why O’Sullivan’s defunct globalisation thesis may not be feasible.
Far from making it easier to mitigate the downsides of globalisation, a regional world would struggle to solve worldwide problems such as climate change, cybercrime or tax avoidance.
Viewed in the very long run, over centuries, the march of globalisation is inevitable, barring an unforeseen catastrophe. Technology advances, lowering the cost of trade in every corner of the world, while the human impulse to learn, copy and profit from strangers is irrepressible.