Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Africa's Economic Emancipation

Africa's Economic Emancipation
The Post (Lusaka)
OPINIONSeptember 23, 2006 Posted to the web September 24, 2006
By Chishala Francis ChisembeLusaka

The question of Africa growing out of its poverty and realising the wealth of its numerous natural and human resources has always remained a source of nihilism and a cause for pessimism. These negative emotional and mental vibes are as a result of a growing mistrust in African governments that they are incapable of delivering. The common trend in African governments has been a lack of political will in transforming Africa's economy from international donor dependency to a locally driven and generated economy.

There are many vices that have gripped most African political leaders to such a po! int that they are incapacitated in distributing the nation cake equally with the ordinary citizens. Greed, corruption, nepotism and arrogance has led African leaders forget to plan and manage their economy and states. As a result of poor planning, African leaders have willingly danced to the tune of the international donor community and unwisely permitted both rich conglomerates and individuals with wealth to use the world's tax havens and banking systems to siphon sums of money out of Africa.

Africa having attained political emancipation in the last fifty years the expectations were that with this political emancipation economic autonomy would follow, a hope arched in Kwame Nkhruma's philosophy "seek ye first the political freedom and the other freedoms would be added unto you. What has gone wrong in Africa's journey towards a total economic emancipation? It is very important to ponder this question so as to gain insight into the conceptualisation and devising appropriate measures of charting a new path to Africa's economic liberation. Has political liberation failed Africa? Is democracy failing Africa? Then why is it that Africa still needs international donor aid, conditionality and neo-colonialism?

Given the good news of the Jubilee Debt Cancellation and Make Poverty History campaign having succeeded and more aid flowing, what is next in Africa's war of alleviating poverty as per millennium goals? The prophets of doom for Africa argue that even with debt cancellation and receiving aid from abroad, Africa will still remain underproverished. They would purport that continuous assistance to Africa, though well intentioned, will never solve Africa?s problems. They base their pessimism on the presumption that most of the aid given to Africa does not reach the intended beneficially as it ends up in the bureaucratic structures that are ill-functional and inefficient. Though most ?patriotic Africans' would not buy into this pessimism, to some extent it has a point that needs to be considered in order to raise the hope of a total economically liberated Africa.

Africa needs a vibrant civil service with a capacity to deliver. The civil service in Africa lacks the capacity to deliver the national resource and the international donor aid down to the very peasant in society. The civil service is poorly organised primarily because it is intertwined in nepotism at the expense of professionalism. This stultifies the civil service because you would not expect relatives of government officials heading a civil service to perform, though they could be exceptions if such are qualified.

African statesmen, from Nkwame Khruma to Thabo Mbeki and the NEPAD crew, have blown the horn for Africa taking responsibility of its own destiny. Without commitment to this challenge, even with a debt free and elimination of corruption, still Africa would fail to distribute its resources to the poor person. Botswana is isolated as a success story in having the capacity to distribute the benefits of its mineral resources to the very poor person in the rural areas. However, it could be asserted that the way forward for Africa is in political leaders having a political will in the process of developing its own political muscle. The idea is for Africa having to begin looking to itself in redressing and addressing its economic and developmental nightmares.

Some in the West have thought of another intervention, perhaps recolonising Africa with a project of redemarcating Africa's geographical and political boarders into states that have a reason to ethnically exist together. While this is an expression of independent and free thought, the idea is a joke, however it merits some serious thought on the future of Africa as it strikes a point that would make African leaders and intellectuals to start thinking. For instance, Africa needs a revolution in political leadership in order for its future to brighten. Watch out for Liberia's new President, Johnson Sirleaf (just thinking aloud) as an experienced economist, perhaps it is a pointer to a millennium package indicating a new leadership style capable of influencing and effe cting change.

The early 1990's witnessed the shift of African governments from one-party state to multi-party politics. This shifting to multi-party politics had introduced a new, three-tier democratic system that brought together politicians or governments, economic communities (investors) and civil society on the same table in the process of defining national development and interest, the Zambian and South African situation are success stories. The partnership of government, civil society and the economic community is perhaps a good starting point in Africas move towards taking full responsibility in managing its own political and economic affairs. The civil society, as it were, provides for the monitoring and enhancement of good governance. It is the responsibility of governments in Africa to engineer political and economical change; however, the civil society plays a major role especially in reaching the grassroots. What is required is for a commitment by government's in creating an enabling environment that would favour and promote local investments. The government?s role is to create policies that encourage the civil society partner with the economic community in empowering the masses. Through this partnership, the riches and national resources would be able to reach the common person at the bottom of society.

The question to be asked today is whether Africa, after the ushering in of democracy has continued to make progressive steps in the distribution of resources to all. Is there a sign that Africa would achieve economic liberation? With the three tier partnership the future of Africa is bright. Everywhere in Africa, countries have started addressing issues of corruption, though not with a desired speed. The consolation for Africa's success comes when history indicates that even the developed world took years to reach where they are at now. Africa has all the able resources, both natural and human, to mitigate its economic difficulties.What is required is the change of attitude and an assumption of a political aggressivity that would make the civil service to function with vibrancy.

The author is a Zambian Jesuit Scholastic and M.A. Media Studies student at the University of Cape Town
Copyright © 2006 The Post. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 22, 2006

World Bank Careless About Development Goals

Natural Resource Issues Liberia

World Bank Careless About Development Goals
Report Inter Press Service (Johannesburg)
NEWSSeptember 20, 2006
Posted to the web September 20, 2006
By Anil Netto Singapore

Several developing countries are not reaching sustainable development targets fast enough despite numerous international agreements, says a report, launched here amidst criticism that World Bank energy and mining projects were not doing enough to protect the environment and improve the plight of the poor.

The Sustainability Watch 2006 Report, launched by civil service organisations at the annual meetings of the Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stressed that sustainable development was crucial as about three billion people -- almost 50 percent of the world population -- now live on less than two dollars a day. This figure was expected to rise by 100 million by 2015 unless implementation of internationally agreed commitments was substantially improved.

The most critical factor is the market-oriented development frameworks, which promote trade liberalisation and privatisation, said Roy Cabonegro, regional facilitator for Asia of Sustainability Watch, a civil society network in 15 southern countries monitoring promises to improve sustainability. These frameworks do not pay serious attention to environmental constraints, especially in the case of planning for land and natural resource use.

The report also identified four other key barriers to sustainable development. Weak governance failed to produce sufficient economic development and social services to catch up with population growth and led to a reluctance to challenge unfair trade liberalisation regimes.

Institutional constraints led to failures in strategies, in proper monitoring of the interaction between poverty, environment and governance, and in civil society participation. Inconsistent policies, on the other hand, meant that sustainable development principles were often contradicted by other policies that harm the environment.

Many governments also put in inadequate resources to improve sustainable development while loan conditionalities and unsustainable debt further restricted their ability to achieve targets.

"All our environmental indices are going down while economic growth is steadily going up," Cabonegro told IPS.

Reacting to the report, the Bank's chief scientist, Robert Watson, said he largely agreed with the findings but implementing the recommendations to overcome the barriers would be difficult. Finance and other ministers needed to be convinced, he said, adding that it was also a major job to convince the private sector.

"We really have to develop the importance of the poverty-environment-economy link," he stressed, adding that it was crucial to reduce the factors that drive biodiversity loss.

"I am not convinced we can meet the (United Nations prescribed) Millennium Development Goals even with political will," he warned.

One observer at the launch of the report sharply criticised growth-oriented economic development models. "We are so fixated on growth, growth, growth, when it is precisely that growth which harms the environment," she said. In a communiqué on Monday, the Bank's Development Committee welcomed its own progress in developing a Clean Energy Investment Framework, a response to the mandate from the G8 summit in Gleneagles last year. The framework proposes raising 10 billion U.S. dollars for conventional energy technologies.

The Committee said it had found broad support for promoting energy for development, access to affordable energy for the poor, the transition to a low carbon economy and the provision of assistance to developing countries to adapt to climate change. But instead of combating climate change, the framework promotes coal-fired power, nuclear power and large hydroelectric projects, complained nine civil society groups in a statement to mark the release of their report.

The report, 'How the World Bank's Energy Framework sells the climate and poor people short', was released here on Sunday. "In continuing to lend for fossil fuel and dam projects, the Bank has consistently missed the social and environment double dividend that renewable energy technologies could bring," said Peter Bosshard of the International Rivers Network, which works to protect rivers and defend the rights of communities that depend on them. If the Bank was serious about fighting climate change, it has to first stop subsidising the expansion of the oil industry, said Graham Saul of the Washington-based Oil Change International, which works to expose the true costs of oil and promote cleaner sources of energy. "You can't actively subsidise fossil fuels and effectively fight climate change at the same time," he said. "It's a disgrace that public institutions like the World Bank are using aid money to prop up oil companies that are already the most profitable companies in the world."

Other civil society groups have challenged the Bank to prove that its mining projects are reducing poverty and improving people's lives. It called on the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the Bank, to report on poverty reduction and development impacts on a project-by-project basis and to invest in other areas if such projects were found not to be benefiting the poor.

Currently, the IFC reports the impact of the projects it finances on an aggregate, institution or sector-wide basis.

What this kind of reporting ignores is that, unlike profits and losses in a financial portfolio, poverty reduction, environmental damage and impacts on individuals and communities cannot be averaged across the IFC's portfolio, said Nikki Reisch, Africa Programme Manager of the Washington-based Bank Information Centre, which is pushing for public accountability of the Bank's operations. "A farmer who loses his land near a mine in Peru does not benefit when a small business owner in central Europe gets a catering contract with a mining company."

Meanwhile, a couple of activists privately complained that the small and closely supervised designated protest area at the foyer of the official venue was a joke. As the annual meetings drew to a close, Bank group president Paul Wolfowitz paid a courtesy call on activists in the civil society room near the protest area.

One of those who had protested in the area earlier, Sandy Krawitz of ActionAid International, took the opportunity to let Wolfowitz know how she felt.

"I told him how deeply upset we were that our economist, Maria Clara Soares, was detained by Singapore for about 30 hours in a room treated like a criminal and then deported back to Brazil," Krawitz told IPS. "This is a woman who is a brilliant economist who had been a consultant to Brazil and her treatment was absolutely unacceptable."

Wolfowitz, listening intently, expressed deep regret and said he did not have much of a say over the choice of Singapore as the venue. But he did give an assurance that things would be different in Turkey in three years' time, said Krawitz. "We will have to wait and see," she said.

Copyright © 2006 Inter Press Service. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Chinafrica (4) - Watching for PRC Influence in Africa

This article, by Korinna Horta of Environmental Defense, will be published in Spanish in the October 2006 issue of the magazine Ecologia Politica (issue no. 31) from Barcelona. See www.ecologiapolitica.info.

China: A New Scramble for African Resources

Africa is the only continent where the number of desperately poor people continues to grow and social indicators keep worsening. But the continent is not poor. Tens of billions of dollars worth of oil, minerals and other natural resources are being taken out of Africa every year. In a cruel phenomenon known as the 'resource curse,' the countries richest in natural resources are often where corruption, human rights violations and destruction of the environment lead to further impoverishment and sometimes armed conflict. The income from exports generated by extractive industries, instead of contributing to increased well-being, further entrenches rapacious elites that loot their countries' assets. In the process, prospects for democratic development are undermined.

Largely prodded by civil society protests, the G-8 group of top industrialized nations and the institutions they dominate, such as the World Bank, are now regularly including demands for good governance, transparency and a greater focus on reducing poverty in their programs. Unfortunately, their demands have not been accompanied by reforms in their own aid institutions and there has been little progress in improving the quality of their aid. For example, their anti-corruption rhetoric may sound rather hollow given that it is largely limited to lecturing African governments while failing to hold their own multinational corporations and official export-credit-agencies accountable for bribery of foreign officials.

Nonetheless, the greater focus on misappropriation and mismanagement is a welcome and long overdue development that provides a new framework for civil society to hold accountable governments both in the North and n the South. However, the prospect that this new political space might finally lead to the recognition of the rights and needs of ordinary African citizens faces an uncertain future. One major factor in this is the voracious appetite for Africa's resources from a non-G-8 country, China. Chinese president Hu Jintao and other senior officials are frequent
visitors to the continent to secure oil and raw materials for China's rapidly expanding economy, open up new markets for Chinese products and obtain diplomatic recognition for the One-China principle, according to which
Taiwan is part of China.

From Zimbabwe to Sudan, China is deepening links with some of Africa's most oppressive regimes. Zimbabwe, where President Mugabe's attempt to quash opposition forces left millions of people homeless, is a notorious example. In exchange for platinum and gold, China not only supplied the Mugabe government with fighter jets and troop carriers, but Chinese workers also built the president's new home.

Political leaders in Africa have called the West hypocritical for being concerned about the continent's rapidly expanding relationships with China. Their point is understandable given that most Western countries
are keen on trade and investment related to China and because there is little evidence that their own investments in Africa have had a lasting positive development impact. Many African governments like dealing with China because uncomfortable subjects such as human rights, the environment and transparent use of funds are not brought up. This signals that the rights and needs of African populations will continue to be stampeded into the ground with growing
misery and untold human suffering. Africa already supplies about one third of the oil and gas needs of China's energy-hungry economy. Marriages of political convenience now abound. Sudanese oil flows to China, for example, help ensure that China will use its seat on the U.N. Security Council to oppose strongly worded resolutions on the Darfur conflict. Angola, one of China's new energy hotspots, has come under strong criticism by the International
Monetary Fund and others for corrupt oil dealings. Billions of dollars in oil revenues are reportedly unaccounted for while hunger and disease plague large parts of the country's population. In exchange for oil, China is granting the Angolan government several billion dollars worth of credits, some of it for the repair of the country's war-ravaged
railways and other infrastructure. To the bitter consternation of Angola's long suffering people who are desperate for work, construction activities are to be carried out by a work-force brought in from China.

The latest victory of China's charm offensive in Africa took place in August 2006 when the government of Chad cancelled a planned visit by Taiwanese officials and instead signed a cooperation agreement with the Peoples Republic of China. Chad is one of Africa's newest oil exporters and its government had long resented the fact that the World Bank, which had supported the building of the country's oil facilities, imposed - under pressure from international public opinion - the condition that most of the oil revenue be used for anti-poverty programs. Faced with internal power struggles, Chad's dictatorial president Déby would rather use the funds for weapons purchases.
Earlier this year, Déby indicated he no longer felt bound by the agreement with the World Bank. As a result, the World Bank temporarily suspended all funding for Chad and froze the off-shore bank account into which the oil money was deposited. Chad's new relationship with China in all likelihood will serve as an excuse for institutions such as the World Bank not to push hard for real reforms that would benefit ordinary Chadians. The argument already being made elsewhere is that if the World Bank is not involved, then the Chinese will be there and that would be worse. Indeed, Chad now seems to have an alternative not unlike its neighbor Sudan.

Chinese workers and capital are also engaged in controversial large dam projects. An example is Sudan's Merowe dam on the Nile which is set to emulate the mistakes of past large-scale hydropower projects: Tens of thousands of people are forcibly displaced without adequate restoration of their livelihoods while downstream impacts on the ecology of river systems and the communities who depend on them are largely ignored. In Mozambique, China plans to build the Mphanda Nkuwa dam on the Zambezi River whose physical and social consequences are likely to overwhelm a region where neither regional nor national government are equipped to address the environmental and community impacts. As usual in this type of project, rural electrification or other local benefits are not part of the package. Proponents of the large dams argue that there is a trade-off between development and the rights of local people. Yet in most cases the needs of both could be met by small hydropower and other projects designed with the input of local communities.

It is well known that extractive industries, such as oil, gas and mining, as well as the construction of large dams have all too often left terrible legacies of environmental destruction, social disruption and human suffering. Two large-scale international efforts, which were supported by Northern and Southern governments, some sections of industry and civil society organizations, have documented this extensively. These were the World Commission on Dams WCD) which published its report in 2000 and the World Bank-sponsored Extractive Industries Review (EIR) published in 2003.

Both the WCD and the EIR are concerned with making large-scale investments in dams and the extraction of oil, has and mining compatible with poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Both call for transparent and participatory frameworks for decision-making to ensure that citizens and especially directly affected people can influence decisions that will profoundly alter their lives. So far, broad civil society networks in southern and northern countries have worked to put pressure on the World Bank, other northern-based aid organizations and some southern governments into respecting these types of recommendations. That challenge has grown immensely with China's expanding role in a renewed scramble for Africa's resources.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Up at the China Mine

It has recently been suggested that Liberia commit one of their
iron ore mines to the People's Republic of China in exchange for
the development of road network. (I hope that was something more
than a road to and from the mine.)

Clearly, China may be a willing partner. They certainly seem to
have the capital. Who wouldn't trade some roads for millions of
tons of iron ore?

However, we must consider the record. Somebody over at Lands and
Mines might do well to trust but verify at least the following

China's record on modern mining practices.
China's record on mine safety.
China's record on worker relations.
China's record on environmental protection.
China's record on value added sustainable development.

No problem Liberia's experience with recent contract negotiations
has provided Lands and Mines with plenty of lessons learned.

Bureau of Lands and Mines will do everything in its power to
ensure scientific mining practices. As a regulatory body, they
have a reputation to uphold. They have plenty of staff and
inspection/technical capabilities at this time when mining output
is due for a huge increase, and when powerful individuals make
recommendations to issue mining concessions based on wishful thinking.
As for either efficiency or incorruptibility, we will not be let down
again. So let the Chinese come, no problem.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Twilight Time or New Dawn


By now many have seen the Rotterdam/Luxembourg dispatch.

"with the conclusion of the review of the iron ore mining agreement, the Government and Arcelor Mittal will be partners in jumpstarting the economic recovery and development for Liberia."

As it has been all along the release gave few details.... "but Pres. Johnson-Sirleaf is aparently happy, "With this agreement, which is consistent with the principles that attract and sustain foreign investment in Liberia, it is clear to the international private sector that Liberia is open for business."

OK, let's go with it... Now that the Mittel Steel Deal is signed, sealed and delivered. Let's make the best of it. God bless Liberia, green be her fame! (And, reform the mining laws now, holding Mittal accountable, if you please!)


Friday, September 15, 2006

Sharpen Then Cut

I have always enjoyed the aphorisms of Abraham Lincoln. One
bit of country wisdom worth remembering was Lincoln's comment
on chopping down a tree: "If I had six hours to chop down a
tree, I'd spend the first four hours sharpening the axe".

Instead, what do most people do? They take a whack at the
tree, put down the axe, measure the cut, pick up the axe, and
whack the tree in a different spot. As they repeat the
process, they become frustrated and exhausted. Only then do
they think, "I should have sharpened the axe."

In government the same process occurs. The stakes are
usually much higher. If only we would take the time to
sharpen our pencils before we rush headlong toward foolishly
squandering our natural resources.

It is not too late. Maybe we can pause after the first cut.
We can sharpen that axe and work on our first principles. In
Liberia, the Johnson-Sirleaf administration has done just that
with the review of concessions agreements. This is a laudable

The process has been positive in the logging industry.
Executive Order No. 1 canceled all forest concessions of
Liberia and established a Forestry Reform Monitoring Committee.
They have been actively working out new laws, policies and
procedures guiding the forest concessions.

Liberia is showing a strong, positive commitment to serious
governance in the logging industry in order to re-establish its
control over the forestry sector. More can be done but the FDA
and the leadership of the President are proving that they can do
the job. They have come to a full stop after that first cut.
Through a concerted effort, the re-evaluation process will ensure
that the logging industry can advance in a responsible manner
that will benefit the Liberian people.

What about the mining sector? Let us sharpen the pencils and
work for reforms that give the people of Liberia efficient,
effective, transparent and responsible management of the
country's geologic resources.

J. Carl Dealy

Thursday, September 14, 2006

NUSA or Nuisance

The recent news item, "NUSA Supports Mittel Steel Concession Agreement", is somewhat disturbing.

It's the old, we've had it so bad for so long anything will do story. It's the story of get it while the getting is good. Unfortunately, it is also may be the story of what are you going to do with a university education when the bulk of the jobs will go to unskilled and semi-skilled labor. Old Nimba County left with mine waste running through the streams in the shadow of never to be reclaimed gaping erosive scares in Papa's land and businesses that run their short course and fade away with the foreign capital that propped them up for show.

So, the President of the Nimba University Student Association has called on the government of Liberia to finalize the Mittel Steel concession agreement and expressed support for the speedy commencement of the operations of Mittel Steel in the county.

Well, be careful of what you wish for young man. You just might get it.


Chinafrica (3) - Watching for PRC Influence in Africa

Posted on Wed, Sep. 13, 2006
China pouring money into African infrastructure projects

By Shashank Bengali

McClatchy Newspapers


KHARTOUM, Sudan - This summer, the biggest oil refinery in Sudan completed a $341 million expansion that doubled its capacity, boosting exports and the country's domestic gasoline supply.

A few dozen miles away, on a riverbank that once was a trash dump, developers pressed ahead with plans for a $4 billion business complex that they hope will turn Khartoum into a commercial hub for eastern Africa.

Both projects are showpieces for Sudan, which is enjoying an unprecedented economic boom, and neither would have been possible without China. Chinese firms built the refinery and operate it in partnership with the Sudanese government, and are among the lead contractors on the business complex.

This reflects a trend across Africa, where Chinese companies are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into construction projects of all sizes, from refineries and dams to roads and shopping malls.

Over the past decade, China increasingly has turned to Africa to feed its seemingly boundless appetite for natural resources, becoming the continent's No. 3 trading partner. But the $40 billion-a-year-and-growing trade relationship isn't just about oil and precious minerals anymore.

With the United States and other Western countries having all but abandoned big infrastructure and industrial ventures in Africa decades ago, deeming them unprofitable or too risky because of the chronic instability that plagues much of the continent, Chinese companies have swooped in.

Helped by low labor costs, Chinese enterprises are taking on the work that cash-starved African countries need but lack the capacity to do themselves.

Chinese companies have built or agreed to build hospitals and railway lines in war-ravaged Angola, roads and bridges in Sudan and Kenya, dams in Ethiopia and Liberia and telecommunications networks in Ghana and Zimbabwe, along with scores of other projects.

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who just concluded a two-week tour of the continent, told a Congressional Black Caucus legislative conference last week: "One of the striking things about traveling through Africa is everybody says that the United States' absence is as noticeable and prominent as the Chinese's presence."

Analysts say it's unclear whether the Chinese are reaping big profits. But by doing work that the United States and others don't do, China is cementing ties with African leaders while securing support for its own agenda, especially its claim to separately governed Taiwan and its efforts to prevent the island from having diplomatic relations with any countries.

The United States and its European allies have tried to cripple authoritarian regimes such as those in Sudan and Zimbabwe with heavy sanctions, only to find China doing business with them with no political strings attached. Unlike U.S. policy, Chinese investment comes with no conditions on making democratic reforms or promoting human rights.

"The Chinese are operating from a different set of business calculations," said J. Stephen Morrison, the Africa director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a national-security research center in Washington. "They're entering these settings with a strategic political blessing, but they're also entering them as a business enterprise."

"Western countries may think these projects are too small. But China doesn't think they are small," said Shao Weijian, an economic adviser at the Chinese Embassy in Kenya. Last month the Chinese contractor Wuyi secured a $37 million deal to renovate the international airport in Nairobi, Kenya's capital.

Analysts say China's top priority is still energy, and it often uses infrastructure projects to sweeten oil and mining deals. Earlier this year, a Chinese state-owned company agreed to pump more than $2 billion into a major, loss-generating refinery in northern Nigeria - Africa's leading oil producer - in exchange for drilling rights in four sought-after oil blocks.

However, China also is doing business in countries with no known oil reserves. In drought-weary Ethiopia, a Chinese company is at work on a $350 million dam that's expected to provide irrigation and power.

In 2004, there were 450 Chinese investment projects in Africa, the vast majority in manufacturing and services, according to World Bank statistics. Unofficial estimates put the number of Chinese companies in Africa at more than 700. Chinatowns are springing up all over the continent to cater to some 80,000 Chinese nationals.

But the changes may go deeper. Chinese investment is altering the playing field on a continent where Western countries have long controlled the purse strings of development assistance, and by extension the political agenda.

It's over Sudan that China and the United States have been most clearly at odds. The Bush administration says Sudan's Islamic regime is presiding over genocide against ethnic Africans in the Darfur region. Meanwhile, industry observers say China has sold Sudan weapons and military equipment worth tens of millions of dollars, including the helicopter gunships that the government is thought to have unleashed on civilians in Darfur.

Despite international sanctions, Chinese investment has helped Sudan become Africa's third largest oil producer. Of the $2 billion in oil it exports annually, half goes to China.

"In this case where Sudan remains at odds with Washington - and to a significant degree with Europe - over the continued drama around Darfur, the partnership with China is only getting bigger and deeper," Morrison said. "It's only fortifying the confidence that Khartoum has that they can flourish in this period."

Other African countries also are benefiting. Continentwide, the economy grew by 5.3 percent last year and is expected to do better this year, thanks largely to China's investment and its appetite for African raw materials.

During the Cold War, as dueling powers, the United States and China each tried to stake a claim on newly independent Africa by building major public projects. Today many of the stadiums, government buildings and other structures built during that period are ruined, destroyed by conflict or years of neglect.

China's most ambitious project then was the 1,160-mile Tanzam Railway linking Tanzania and Zambia in eastern Africa. Built by Chinese workers who left when it was completed, it's long since fallen into disrepair.

Some in Africa worry that the current wave of investment also will go to waste if builders don't properly train local people. Chinese companies employ many expatriates - one-third of the employees at the Khartoum refinery, for example, are Chinese - with Africans often taking the low-level jobs.

"The potential danger for Africa is this turns out to be a repetition of previous development disasters," said Steven Friedman, an analyst with the Institute for Democracy in South Africa, an independent advocacy group. "In cases where there's not the local capacity to ensure they're maintained, they don't have the development impact they're meant to have."

China says it intends to be in Africa for the long haul. Beijing proclaimed 2006 "the year of Africa" and issued a policy paper in January pledging long-term investment in infrastructure and in training African workers. New deals probably will be announced at a China-Africa summit in November.

In their increasingly frequent visits to African countries, Chinese leaders often speak of one developing country helping another.

Many in Africa have chafed under what they see as patriarchal Western aid policies, which increasingly demand political reforms in exchange for help. Experts say China sees the world's poorest continent not as a problem to be solved but as an investment opportunity.

"I don't get a sense at this stage that the Chinese role is primarily devoted to political influence," Friedman said. "They're far more concerned with the economic dimension."

Resentment is starting to brew over Chinese business practices, however. Disputes over wages and working conditions have roiled Chinese-run copper mines in Zambia, resulting in riots and shootings. Trade unions have come out strongly against China's control of Zambia's economy.

"That's something we'll soon see much more often in other emerging states, a result of massive Chinese economic influence in some of the world's most underdeveloped countries," Ian Bremmer, the president of the Eurasia Group risk-management consultancy, wrote in a note to clients this week.

Perhaps nowhere is China's influence more striking than in flat, dusty Khartoum, where high-rises built by Chinese companies dot the skyline. On freshly paved streets below, slickly dressed oilmen top off the tanks of their Mercedes-Benzes at Chinese-owned gas stations.

"The Chinese are the No. 1 people benefiting from Sudan," businessman Hisham Aboulela said. "The U.S. sanctions have only opened up the market for the Chinese."

A senior American diplomat in Khartoum, who wasn't authorized to speak on the record, said Sudan's rapid economic growth had surprised some U.S. officials.

"I could at a certain point say, `Have we missed an opportunity here?'" the diplomat said.

But the diplomat said sanctions were justified, and downplayed suggestions that China's investment in Sudan directly threatened U.S. interests.

"Are they antagonistic to us? No," the diplomat said. "There is space for increased U.S.-China cooperation in Sudan. Our policy goals are not necessarily in conflict."

Some in the United States are pushing for a change in policy that accounts for China's growing role. Last year, an Africa task force at the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations recommended that the American government enter into partnerships with private companies to compete with China for infrastructure projects.

The task force noted that while U.S. companies are primarily focused on extractive industries such as oil, building infrastructure and industry are necessary for Africa's long-term growth.

Morrison, who served as co-director of the task force, said China might be applying lessons it had learned from its own startling economic rise.

"I think in some ways they're less burdened by our own pessimism about what's possible in Africa," he said. "They've lifted several hundred million people out of poverty in the last 20 years. ... They are less cynical about Africa than we are."

© 2006 KRT Wire and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Little History

Albert Porte, a veteran Pamphleteer and Editor of the Crozierville Observer was the first Liberian journalist to be imprisoned by the Tubman regime in 1946. Porte had joined a group of opposition petitioners who wrote to Tubman criticizing the government’s acceptance of low payment for the Landsdell K. Christie’s Bomi Hills Iron Ore Concession Agreement.

60 years later, it is notable how silent the press is on the latest Iron Ore Concessions negotiations.

Reference: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Conference Report National Conference on Media Law and Policy Reform in Liberia, Monrovia City Hall, October 21 to 23, 2004

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Mango Tree & The Crossing Fee


The Mango Tree and the Crossing Fee: A modern parable of natural resources.
revised: 8/24/2006
J. Carl Dealy

Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a land so rich with natural appeal people would say, "This will last forever."

This is an old story. This is a new story. In the deep green forest, there was a great river. So wide was the river, that you could scarcely see the other side. Next to the river grew a huge mango tree that was a thousand years old if it was a day. This tree was the prize of the forest. A fantastic abundance of mangos hung from its' great branches that stretched far over the water. Even the biggest cotton tree in the forest was jealous.

Because it was so full with mangos, the animals visited the tree often. Never did they use up the supply of fruit. One great Baboon was proud to call it home. His name was Boss. Boss ate and ate. He ate so much he became careless. Quite by accident one day a small piece of the mango fell into the water. Boss watched it fall all the way down to the river below. He was surprised to see a fish gobble it up as soon as it hit the water. This was amusing to Boss. So, he dropped some other small pieces.

The secret of the sweetness of the mango was revealed to the fish.

Boss had so much fun watching the fish eat, he lost interest in everything else. Early the next morning a fish named Big Mouth came and he was hungry for mangos. He had a special talent for eating. He ate the mango pieces with style. "If you bring more mangos then you will see something!" said Big Mouth to Boss.

Boss brought his monkey friend to help; together they tore into the mango tree and dropped small pieces into the river. Mangos fell like rain.

Now they had a show!

The water boiled with fish. Big Mouth brought his entire fish clan to eat. Boss was truly impressed so he gathered more monkeys to help. "Surly with 10 monkeys working we will have these fish jumping for joy," thought Boss Baboon. The other baboons shook their heads and clicked their tongues, saying, "Old Boss has gone crazy this time." However, in their hearts they were jealous of the fun Old Boss was having. By now, Boss had the monkeys stripping fruit from other Mango trees deep in the bush. The fish kept coming.

Then a funny thing happened.

One early morning, after a night of heavy rain, one of the monkeys harvesting Mangos slipped on a branch. Even monkey can slip on a wet mango tree branch. He was lucky and caught hold before falling but he dropped his mango into the water. Big Mouth fish earned his name that day. As soon as the mango hit the water, the great fish opened his big fat mouth and 'gulp' he swallowed the mango whole!

Boss witnessed this calamity of events and straight away, he was rolling on the ground with laughter. He laughed and laughed until he could hardly breathe. "Oh," he said, "this is the most fun ever." Boss Baboon was amazed as he watched Big Mouth's amazing swallowing power. Big Mouth said, "That is nothing, I can swallow other fish, bones and all, sometime even small animals."

Soon Boss had his 10 monkeys threw all the mangos they could find into the river. They held nothing back. Next was their big surprise that was not surprising. The mangos were finished for the season.

Boss sat by the river. He was very sad because he knew that Big Mouth fish and his fish clan would not come around to entertain him for a long time. He would wait and weep for the next mango season to come. Just at that moment, Big Mouth swam by. He saw the poor Boss Baboon and said, "No problem, I will show you more fun." Boss cheered up a little. What is your plan Mr. Big Mouth?"

Jump down from your tree and I can take you across the River to see the other side. Boss said, "no way." "You know us Baboons are land creatures and we don't like to get our fur wet." That is OK, said Big Mouth, surfacing above the water, you do not have to get wet at all.

I will swim close to the surface; you can hold onto my fin and stay high and dry the whole time." "Hmmm," said, Boss. "Come on, the fish said, don't you want to see the big village on the other side of the river? I just hate to see you so sad."

Boss Baboon jumped down and onto Big Mouths' back and away they went.

What a ride. This was more fun then feeding the fish. Together they traveled upstream and downstream. And for the first time in his life, Boss Baboon saw the great village on the other side of the river. Then it was time to return.

In mid-channel, as they approached the mango tree Big Mouth yelled, "Now, bring the crossing fee!" At first Boss thought the fish was joking, but Big Mouth was deadly serious. The poor old baboon was stuck. To add to his humiliation the monkeys saw the whole thing from the tree and laughed. Boss said, you know I do not have pockets, besides you never let me off on the other side." "The only payment I'm after is one baboon heart!" said Big Mouth.

Boss Baboon did not become chief of the great mango tree for nothing, he know he could outsmart this fish. Boss cleared the lump from his throat and said, "I would gladly pay, but my heart is at home. You see us land creatures are not like you fish. When we travel our heart always stays at home." Big Mouth then beached himself on the sand at the base of the mango tree, "All right then hurry up, I'm hungry." Boss was thrown off the fishes back. He was a little shaken. As he brushed the sand from his fur, he replied, "No problem I just have a small job to do, and then I will be right back."

So, Boss brought the hearts of all ten of those ungrateful monkeys to appease Big Mouth. After all, it is smart to be on good terms with such a creature. Surely ten monkey hearts are as good as one baboon heart.

Big Mouth smiled in his big fat fishy way, flashing his big white teeth saying, "That will do, throw them to me." And with a loud snap, that fish swallowed all ten monkey hearts whole. This was another big surprise that was not a surprise. What happened next?

Big Mouth swam away.


Sure Boss Baboon was lucky; his life was spared and he saw the great village. In the end, the monkeys paid the fee. Their hearts were broken. There was no development, and the only growth was Big Mouth's belly! Growth without development is useless.

J. Carl Dealy, EarlyBird Foundation

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve

Located on the borders of Guinea, Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire, Mount Nimba rises above the surrounding savannah. Its slopes are covered by dense forest at the foot of grassy mountain pastures. They harbour an especially rich flora and ...

World Heritage Sites - http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/155


Friday, September 01, 2006

Hey wait for me! Not so fast with the Mittal Steel deal!

- Mt. Nimba toad, Nimbaphrynoides occidentalis
(if he could talk)


The way I see Liberia: What Market Economy does Liberia practice?

The way I see Liberia: What Market Economy does Liberia practice?