World Bank Ends Effort to Help Chad Ease Poverty
New York Times, 2008-09-11

[Paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]

DAKAR, Senegal —
When the World Bank agreed in 2000
to help finance a $4.2 billion pipeline
to tap the undeveloped oil wealth of Chad,
one of the world’s poorest and most unstable nations,
the agreement was a novel response to a persistent African quandary:
how to make the continent’s rich natural resources
pay off for its people, not only for its powerful.

The strategy was to use the World Bank’s money and credibility
to persuade Chad to dedicate its earnings from oil
to attacking its poverty by building schools, roads and hospitals.

That experiment ended quietly this week.
Chad repaid the $65.7 million it owed the World Bank
out of national coffers swollen by more than $1 billion a year in oil revenues,
but it had not honored its bargain, the bank said.

“Chad failed to comply with the key requirements of this agreement,”
the World Bank said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The government did not allocate adequate resources
critical for poverty reduction.”

Thus concluded
one of the most ambitious efforts to escape Africa’s “resource curse,”
wherein the wealth of mineral-rich nations gets siphoned by corrupt officials.

Under the plan, the World Bank helped finance
a 665-mile pipeline for an oil consortium led by Exxon Mobil,
linking oil fields in southern Chad with Atlantic Ocean terminals in Cameroon.
In exchange, the government of Chad
agreed to channel most of its royalties into fighting poverty.
An independent oversight board was to approve or deny spending projects
based on their prospects for reducing poverty.

But it never really worked that way.
In May 2005 the board, in a damning investigation,
found that much of the money was being wasted on abuses like
shoddy school desks made of buckled wood,
computers and printers purchased at inflated prices, and
wells, schools and hospitals that were paid for but not completed.

Life has gone from bad to worse for most people in this landlocked country.
According to Unicef, child mortality rose from 1990 to 2006.
Only one adult in four is literate, and 37 percent of children are underweight.

Civic groups and opposition political parties had opposed the pipeline, saying
Chad was too corrupt and poorly governed to manage the gusher of oil money.

“We knew from the very beginning how this would end,” said Antoine Berilengar,
a Roman Catholic priest and anticorruption activist in Chad
who served on the oversight panel.
“Chad is a corrupt country with no real democracy.
The government has simply enriched itself.”

Ian Gary, an Oxfam America specialist in managing mineral resources,
said it was no surprise that the experiment had failed.

“The World Bank made a gamble,” he said.
“It knew the situation in Chad going in,
but it argued it could build the capacity of the Chadian government
and the governance situation would improve alongside the oil boom.
But what we have seen in Chad and in so many other places,
it is that boom and that flow of revenue that undermines governance
rather than improving it.”

Chad’s government repeatedly tried to change the World Bank arrangement.
It argued that the threats it faced from a rebellion and
from the humanitarian crisis that spilled over
from the neighboring Darfur region of Sudan
required it to spend oil money on security.
In 2006 a compromise was reached that gave the government a freer hand,
but the terms were never fully respected.

The World Bank agreement was conceived in the late 1990s,
when oil sold for about $20 a barrel,
making the prospect of building a 665-mile pipeline through deepest Africa
a money-losing proposition.
That has all changed — Chad produces 170,000 barrels a day
and expects to collect $1.4 billion in oil revenues this year.

Michel Wormser, the bank’s director of operations for Africa,
said by telephone that the World Bank
would continue to help Chad invest its oil windfall in fighting poverty.
But he said the demise of the pipeline deal showed that
a nation’s mineral resources could benefit its people only if
“the government is truly committed to sharing these resources
in an inclusive manner.”


Battle to Halt Graft Scourge in Africa Ebbs
New York Times, 2009-06-10

LUSAKA, Zambia —

The fight against corruption in Africa’s most pivotal nations is faltering
as public agencies investigating wrongdoing by powerful politicians
have been undermined or disbanded
officials leading the charge have been dismissed, subjected to death threats
and driven into exile.

“We are witnessing an era of major backtracking on the anticorruption drive,”
said Daniel Kaufmann, an authority on corruption who works at the Brookings Institution.
“And one of the most poignant illustrations is
the fate of the few anticorruption commissions
that have had courageous leadership.
They’re either embattled or dead.”

Experts, prosecutors and watchdog groups say they fear that
major setbacks to anticorruption efforts in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya
are weakening the resolve to root out graft,
a stubborn scourge that saps money needed to combat poverty and disease
in the world’s poorest region.
And in Zambia, a change of leadership has stoked fears that
the country’s zealous prosecution of corruption is ebbing.


Losing the fight for Darfur
By Michael Gerson
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2009-11-13

[My only reason for noting this
is to note the message conveyed by the headline:
That “the fight for Darfur” is one for America to involve itself in.

Other sources I have read claim that it is really hard to tell
who is in the right and who is in the wrong there.
Both sides, as usual, have their own horrible tales to tell
of atrocities committed by the other side.
In any case, it is of very little conceivable impact on
the American national interest.
Yet for some reason there are those in America who,
rather than worrying about
the imbalance between American commitments and American resources,
are urging that America takes on yet more commitments.]

Taint of Corruption Is No Barrier to U.S. Visa
New York Times, 2009-11-17

Several times a year, Teodoro Nguema Obiang arrives at the doorstep of the United States from his home in Equatorial Guinea, on his way to his $35 million estate in Malibu, Calif., his fleet of luxury cars, his speedboats and private jet. And he is always let into the country.

The nation’s doors are open to Mr. Obiang, the forest and agriculture minister of Equatorial Guinea and the son of its president, even though federal law enforcement officials believe that “most if not all” of his wealth comes from corruption related to the extensive oil and gas reserves discovered more than a decade and a half ago off the coast of his tiny West African country....

A failed bombing, an opportunity for Nigeria
By Lekan Oguntoyinbo
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2009-12-30


Why Africa Has Gone To Hell
by James Jackson
Taki Magazine, 2010-01-08

[This article includes the memorable passage:]

[T]he last time anyone laughed out there was over the memorable headline
(relating to the Reverend Canaan Banana and his alleged proclivities).

Yes, Africa Must Go To Hell
by Alex Kurtagic
Taki Magazine, 2010-01-20

Ending the Slavery Blame-Game
New York Times Op-Ed, 2010-04-23

At Front Lines, AIDS War Is Falling Apart
New York Times, 2010-05-10


Nigeria’s subsidies: End them at once!
The Economist, 2011-12-31

PETROL subsidies are thought to cost Africa's second-largest economy $7 billion a year—
and Nigeria's president, Goodluck Jonathan,
says it is a priority for him to get rid of them in 2012.
But most Nigerians think cheap fuel
is the only benefit they get from living in an oil-rich country.
As the prospect of life without subsidies looms,
queues at petrol stations are lengthening, strikes are threatened and tension is rising.

Nigeria churns out 2m barrels a day (b/d)
but imports almost its entire refined-fuel needs,
owing to decades of mismanagement and corruption
that have left its refineries to rot.
Subsidies keep the pump price at $0.41 a litre but if Mr Jonathan has his way,
this could rise to $0.74, in a country where most people live on less than $2 a day.

Successive governments have tried and failed to deregulate fuel imports.
Mr Jonathan may show more backbone.
But despite promises of safety nets to protect the poor
and the need for new infrastructure and for improvements to the ragged electricity supply,
Nigerians fear that the money saved by cutting fuel subsidies
will be swallowed up by political fat cats.

The fuel subsidy drains cash from the state.
The government has revealed that the chief beneficiaries
are the 100-odd companies owned by Nigeria's richest people,
including Oando, the country's largest indigenous private oil-and-gas firm,
which alone netted $1.4 billion.
The subsidies also highlight the tortuous ways of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC),
which has deliberately overestimated the cost of importing refined products
and then pockets what is left over.
The NNPC admitted in parliament that
it could not account for 65,000 b/d of crude oil it should be refining,
worth $7m a day at today's price.

The government's chronic failure to build working refineries has benefited middlemen.
Imported petrol is siphoned off by third parties
who take advantage of the cheap fuel in Nigeria,
then smuggle it over the border to neighbouring countries
where unsubsidised fuel costs three times Nigeria's price.
Billions of dollars earmarked for renovating refineries has vanished over the years.
The country's four refineries barely function:
fine for those with political connections who make fortunes from imported fuel.
If Mr Jonathan stops the scam yet keeps ordinary people calm, it will be a triumph.

See also:
Nigeria’s oil: A desperate need for reform


Thievery Comes After Carnage at Kenya Mall
New York Times, 2013-10-04


Record number of U.N. peacekeepers fails to stop African wars
By Sudarsan Raghavan
Washington Post, 2014-01-03


The United Nations has dispatched a record number of peacekeepers in Africa in recent years,
deploying soldiers to trouble spots such as the Central African Republic and South Sudan.
Yet the “blue helmets” and thousands of other soldiers sent by African regional groups
have failed to prevent fresh spasms of violence.

The peacekeeping forces have cost billions of dollars,
largely paid by the United States and European nations.
But they have been hobbled by weak mandates and a shortage of manpower and equipment.
Some critics also say
Washington, its allies and U.N. officials are at fault in the peacekeeping failures,
for not following through with enough political pressure to prevent crises.

[It's always the white guys fault.]


Ebola virus disease, West Africa – update 25 July 2014
World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa


The Regional Director for the Africa Region, Dr Luis Sambo,
continued his fact-finding mission in the three affected countries....

During the mission, the Regional Director underscored the seriousness of the outbreak
while reiterating that it can be contained
using known infection prevention and control measures.
He observed that the outbreak is beyond each national health sector alone
and urged the governments of the affected countries
to mobilize and involve all sectors,
including civil society and communities, in the response.
He requested the respective governments
to re-deploy adequate and appropriate national staff
and other national resources to the field level
and promote behavioural change while respecting cultural practices.


[If "cultural practices" are a factor in the spread of this disease,
I would think that's a pretty good reason for changing the cultural practices.]

Central African Republic needs more international help as cease-fire falters
by Washington Post Editorial Board
Washington Post Editorial, 2014-08-02

LAST WEEK’s cease-fire between warring Christian and Muslim factions in the Central African Republic was a modest agreement, designed only to halt fighting without charting a road map forward. But it took just two days for the deal to be declared dead by the Muslim militia’s military chief. That all but ensures the conflict, which has displaced almost a million people, will add more casualties to its present death toll of more than 2,600.

The violence has fueled a humanitarian crisis in which most of the Christian-majority nation needs assistance, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development. At least 28,000 children are expected to experience severe malnutrition this year if conditions don’t improve. Since the Muslim-led government collapsed this January, Muslims have fled from Christian strongholds, with 150,000 having left the country altogether.

The cease-fire failed mainly because there were no credible representatives from the warring groups. No effective command-and-control structure exists, making the agreement difficult to enforce among various divisions within the factions. Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza’s transitional government has been unable to restore security. Only 8,000 African and French soldiers are managing what United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called a “state of anarchy.”

This makes urgent the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers, totaling 10,000 military personnel and 1,800 police, who are scheduled to arrive in September. The United Nations must ensure that these peacekeepers deploy on time. Considering that this force will need to manage an entire nation’s law and order, more neighboring and Western countries should also send troops.

Amid the despair, there’s been one positive: The international community has stepped up its involvement. The cease-fire agreement, however brief, would not have been possible without diplomacy by the Congo Republic. The United States has sent $118 million in humanitarian aid and offered tactical support. The European Commission has given $47 million in aid.

But it’s not enough. Less than a third of the U.N.’s goal of $209 million for displaced refugees has been met. The African Union and neighboring countries haven’t made a concerted push for reconciliation between the two sides. Beyond more aid, the United States can leverage the Central African Republic’s neighbors to help support truce efforts and assist the country in rebuilding its institutions.

The experience of Rwanda should have taught the consequences of inaction.
As the cease-fire collapse demonstrates,
the Central African Republic will keep falling down a dark hole without outside help.

[And then? Will the need for "help" ever end?]


African Leaders Are Mute, Even as Their People Die at Sea
New York Times, 2015-04-29

DAKAR, Senegal —

Amid the global cries of alarm over the deaths of African migrants in the Mediterranean has been a notable silence: Where are the impassioned voices of African leaders who, arguably, could be shouting the loudest?

Their citizens are drowning by the hundreds, along with Syrians and Afghans. But there has been barely an anguished word from the continent’s leaders.

The chairwoman of the African Union commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, belatedly expressed “condolences” and called for more “dialogue.” Senegal’s president, Macky Sall, offered a “salute to the memory of the victims.” But beyond such remarks, the relative lack of reaction has been revealing.

“While the West bears some responsibility for this massacre, African leaders, for their part, are standing by, mute, in front of this unprecedented spectacle, which is proof of their failure,” an editorial in the Senegalese newspaper Le Quotidien said last week.

“At least there was a wave of indignation among the Europeans, confronted by these deaths in the Mediterranean,” wrote Le Quotidien. “It’s as though our leaders, who offer no hope to our jobless youth, were telling themselves, ‘So much the better, at least it will reduce the unemployment rate!’ ”

To many, the muted response is an implicit acknowledgment that, at a minimum, Africa’s leaders are not shocked that tens of thousands of their citizens would rather risk death at sea than endure the hardships and limited opportunities at home.

Likewise, human rights organizations are flaying European leaders for closing their doors and holding migrants in overcrowded detention centers, but they are largely silent about the responsibility of the migrants’ home countries.

Yet a solution will have to come as much from Africa as elsewhere.

In the top 10 countries of origin for migrants risking the perilous journey are Mali, Gambia, Nigeria and Senegal, according to the European border control agency. Still, these four West African nations — and thousands more come from other African countries not specified by the agency — are not at war. And, except in the case of Gambia, they are not especially repressive.

Senegal regularly pats itself on the back for being one of Africa’s most successful democracies. Nigeria has a growth rate double that of many Western nations, even after the drop in oil prices. Mali recently emerged from a quasi civil war. And Gambia has a thriving tourist industry, albeit one unfolding in a place under such tight control that it can sometimes resemble a vast open-air prison.

In all these places, many people feel they have so few options that they risk their lives in rickety boats for an uncertain place in an unwelcoming continent, Europe.

The case of Senegal is instructive. After being attacked in the local news media over its silence on the issue, Senegal this week set up a special government office to track its migrants’ plights.

The government said it would help the families of migrants get information about relatives who had been shipwrecked in the Mediterranean.

But for many, the fundamental issue is offering enough opportunity at home to prevent people from risking the journey in the first place.

“If people don’t have livelihoods at all, they are not going to sit and die of hunger; they are going to look for greener pastures,” Ms. Dlamini-Zuma was quoted as saying in Brussels last week. “We don’t have an instant solution, but we are going to be looking at and taking steps, but we can’t say those steps will solve this thing tomorrow.”

Western donors often turn to Senegal as a place on the continent where power is not controlled by a single dominant party, an immovable septuagenarian, a dictator or a general, and where corruption is at least discreet.

But life is not good for most here. Ask a Senegalese citizen how things are going, and he or she will often answer sadly, “Sénégalaisement.”

A recent World Bank report cited “low job creation” and “little progress in poverty reduction.” Only one in five Senegalese citizens works full time, the report said, noting the profusion of young phone-credit vendors and other hawkers who crowd the sidewalks here.

Almost half of the population remains below the poverty line; employment in what the report termed “modern sectors,” like construction and services, actually declined in 2013.

Senegal has a plan for growth, based substantially on public investment. The country already has the highest level of public investment among its neighbors, but also one of the lowest growth rates. Many residents have little hope of a better future, and Senegal’s coast and interior are full of villages where the Mediterranean dead are mourned.

One of the few African leaders to address the issue, President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia, has one of the worst human rights records on the continent. Senegal’s capital, Dakar, is full of refugees from his brutality. Last year, he urged the United Nations General Assembly to investigate “this man-made sinking.”

Far from examining the internal conditions that contribute to such migration, he assailed “the very dangerous, racist and inhuman behavior of deliberately causing boats carrying black Africans to sink,” and he spoke of a “deadly mysterious force” causing “boats carrying young Africans to disintegrate.”


An African Planet?

by Dan Roodt
American Renaissance, 2015-07-10

Africa has become an unprecedented biological, environmental, and socio-political experiment:
It is the scene of the biggest population explosion the world has ever seen.
According to authoritative figures published by UNICEF in 2014,
the number of Africans will grow from 1.033 billion in 2013
to a mammoth 4.2 billion in 2100.
In the next 35 years alone, two billion African babies will be born.
By 2100, half of all children on earth will be African.
These are not simply straight-line projections of present trends,
but the best estimates based on current data and historical precedents.
This population explosion has huge implications not only for Africa but for the entire world.

In the terse language of the UNICEF demographers we learn that:
The future of humanity is increasingly African.
More than half the projected 2.2 billion rise in the world population in 2015-2050
is expected to take place in Africa,
even though the continent’s population growth rate will slow.
On current trends,
within 35 years, 1 in every 4 people will be African,
rising to 4 in 10 people by the end of the century.
Back in 1950, only 9 among 100 of the world’s number of inhabitants were African.
Over the last 60 years, thanks to Western healthcare, better nutrition, and large amounts of aid,
infant death rates declined on the continent,
and its population quadrupled from 200 million in 1950.
The population will quadruple yet again over the next 60 years,
meaning that in the 150 years from 1950 to 2100,
the continent’s population would have increased by a staggering 1,830 percent.

Many European countries have just a few million people.
For Slovaks or Latvians, for example, Germany, with its 80 million people feels like an overpowering presence.
China (1.4 billion), India (1.3 billion), the USA (323 million), and Indonesia (253 million) are also huge.

But Nigeria alone already has a population of 178 million–more than double the size of Germany–
and over the next 35 years 21 percent of all African and 8 percent of world births will be Nigerian.
By 2100, assuming current projections hold,
Nigeria will have a population of 914 million,
and will rival China and India as a demographic superpower.
Other African nations are growing even more rapidly.


European populations in decline

Only a little over a century ago, Europeans were still 25 percent of the world population. In 1950, there were nearly twice as many Europeans as Africans, but in 1996, Africa’s population surpassed that of Europe. In 2010, according to UN figures, the population of continental Europe was 740 million, or only 11 percent of the global population. Even adding the 250 million or so people of European descent in North America, Australia/New Zealand and South Africa/Namibia brings Europeans to no more than 14 percent of the global population–just at a time when we hear of “Africa Rising.”

This term has been used to describe economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa, but applies even more to Africa’s burgeoning population, especially its child population. By 2100, the African population could be increasing by 300 million–the equivalent of the current population of the United States–every 2 years! By that time, blacks would outnumber whites four to one, and even more if we count blacks who have already left Africa.

The following projections show Africa’s population surpassing that of Europe and North America, and approaching that of Asia.