By Isabelle Ramdoo
Thursday, Feb. 28th, 2013
After 10 years of negotiations, how can policymakers on both sides revive a flagging relationship?
Trade negotiations between Europe and Africa seem to have stalled. Despite both sides last year celebrating the 10th anniversary of the start of negotiations over economic partnership agreements (EPAs), their attention now appears to have shifted elsewhere.
In crisis-ridden Europe, leaders are stressing the important contribution of trade to jobs and growth for economic recovery in Europe, as they did during the last European council in early February. They call for ambitious, proactive and constructive trade engagements with their “strategic partners”. But, interestingly, these partners are located on the other side of the Atlantic and in emerging Asian economies, as a letter by José Manuel Barroso, president of the European commission to Herman Van Rompuy, president of the council, highlights.
In his address to the commission, Barroso made no mention of Africa or the controversial EPAs, which haven’t been finalised by many, despite 10 long and difficult years of negotiations. And it’s no surprise why: the negotiations have been disappointing. Of the 77 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries negotiating with the EU, only 36 finalised an agreement, of which only 18 are in Africa.
Signals from Africa have not been much better: the continent is increasingly turning east and south, towards emerging markets, and is giving less attention to Europe. Although a few countries remained truly committed to an ambitious trade relationship with Europe, the lastAfrican Union summit, held in January, made no mention of EU-Africa trade. Instead, it focused on Africa’s own domestic economic dynamics, prioritising deeper regional economic integration and increased intra-Africa trade – a logical step and one which Europe itself has followed since the 1950s.
Given the political lethargy, the eurozone crisis that legitimises inward-facing economic politics and new dynamics in Africa, should we conclude that the trade relationship between Europe and Africa is dead? No. Despite all this, there are reasons and ways to resuscitate an ailing trade deal.
The reasons are that both regions remain important to each other: Europe is still the main trade, development and investment partner of most African countries. And despite its relatively low volume of trade with the EU, Africa is nevertheless a crucial source of hard and soft commodities for Europe, and in particular of strategic metals and minerals, essential for its high-tech and green-tech industries. Furthermore, the recent new discoveries of hydrocarbons are of crucial geo-strategic importance – they represent an important alternative, given the difficult political situation in the Middle East, notably with Iran. By keeping trade talks locked in the EPA debates, Europe might accentuate resentments in Africa and therefore miss out on the emerging opportunities. Continued game playing would clearly be counter-productive for both sides.
Develop a partnership of equals
What is needed is a more mature relationship, one that is based on understanding the changing dynamics of both partners and on a real partnership of equals. Europe and Africa have to be clear on their agenda, define their expectations and priorities according to agreed values, principles and interests. The shifting international balance of power places Africa in a better position to revive its partnerships to make them more effective – the challenge will be to translate the new vision into action.
On its side, Europe’s diminishing political clout in Africa implies that it needs to rethink its strategy to become a smarter partner and its engagement with developing countries in Asia or Latin America is proof that Europe can cut its coat according to its cloth. Relationships with Asia and Latin America are more business-like in nature and reflect the priorities and ambitions of each partner. The EU–Latin America and the Caribbean summit, held in January, focused on alliance for sustainable development to promote investment of social and environmental quality. In Asia, the focus is clearly on strategic economic partnerships, with specific relationships nurtured with China, India, Japan and South Korea.
Clear, consistent communications are key
Both partners have to learn to listen to each other and avoid mixed signals and conflicting incentives. Currently, Europe does not have a coherent agenda for Africa: it has different and multispeed approaches to North Africa, South Africa and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. Even towards the last segment, it has different policies as the recent desire tofocus engagement on least developed countries underlines.
Appreciate regional differences
In addition, the limited success of the EPAs should teach policymakers that insisting on comprehensive trade agreements with countries that have different expectations simply does not work. Agreements should instead reflect the real interests and capacity of countries. Botswana is not Guinea. European wonks should be careful in their engagement with North Africa so that political conditionalities do not ultimately backfire on the EU’s relationship with the whole region.
Timing is everything
The moment for change is opportune. The African Union has a new chairperson who has taken up the challenge to lift the continent into a new prosperous era. Beyond gathering her troops to deliver the “African renaissance”, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will have to reboot the collaboration with international partners. The challenge for her will be to balance Africa’s geo-strategic interests to get the most of all partners. For Europe, the challenge will be to plug into the new dynamics and remain relevant. But both sides need to think of a revived partnership that goes beyond trade and effectively support Africa’s structural transformation. It is the harder ask but one that will lead to the most sustainable mutual gains, and is something worth considering at theupcoming EU-Africa Summit, scheduled for the first half of 2014.
Isabelle Ramdoo is the trade and economic governance policy officer at the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM). Follow her on Twitter: @ir_ramdoo
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February 27, 2013
WOOD DALE, Illinois, February 27, 2013 – In a further sign of its commitment to doing business in Africa, a senior executive from global aerospace leader AAR’s (NYSE: AIR) Middle East, Africa and India Operations will participate in a panel focused on technical procurement and supply chain management at the 22nd annual MRO Africa Conference and Exhibition in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
On Wednesday, Rahul Shah, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Middle East, Africa and India Operations, will join the discussion, “Optimizing Technical Procurement and Supply Chain Management,” along with representatives from Kenya Airlines, South African Airways and Air Namibia.
This year, the conference, sponsored by Ethiopian Airlines, is focused on establishing centers of excellence and standardizing aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) capabilities for airline fleets across the African continent. The forum, which opened on Monday, also aims to promote closer technical cooperation between African airlines, as well as develop relationships with aircraft and engine manufacturers, industry suppliers and aviation service and technology firms, such as AAR.
“There are exciting advancements taking place in several African airlines that are poised for complete transformation in the very near term,” Shah said. “As these airlines continue to modernize and add more sophisticated aircraft to their fleets, AAR has the expertise to provide maintenance, repair and supply chain services directly to the airlines and the African aviation industries.”
The annual African aviation conferences are attended by senior government and regulatory bodies, airline and aviation officials; financial institutions; aircraft and engine leasing companies; MRO providers; and other key stakeholders worldwide.
On February 22, AAR Vice President of Government Affairs and Corporate Development Cheryle Jackson joined key government, business and international trade leaders in Washington, D.C., for the “Doing Business in Africa” forum sponsored by the White House Business Council. Jackson was a leader of the breakout session, “How to Get Started in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
AAR is a global aerospace and defense contractor that employs more than 6,000 people in 17 countries. Based in Wood Dale, Illinois, AAR supports commercial, government and defense customers through two operating segments: Aviation Services and Technology Products. AAR’s services include inventory management and parts distribution; aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul; and expeditionary airlift. AAR’s products include cargo systems and containers; mobility systems and shelters; advanced aerostructures; and command and control systems. More information can be found atwww.aarcorp.com.
- AAR Extends Airlift Support in Africa (prnewswire.com)
- AAR Completes the Sale of 10 737-400 Aircraft to MAS from its Joint Venture Portfolio (sys-con.com)
- Medical logistics work for AAR Defense (upi.com)
February 26, 2013
Sector stakeholders were delighted when the new government of Burkina Faso announced the creation of the Ministère de l’Eau, des Aménagements Hydrauliques et de l’Assainissement (Ministry of Water, Hydraulic Planning and Sanitation) in January 2013 . Mrs. Mamounata Belem/Ouédraogo, who heads the new ministry, has a challenging job ahead.
According to news site LeFaso.et , currently only 1% of the rural population has access to sanitation, while the coverage rate at the national level is 3% (these figures are lower than the 2012 WHO/UNICEF-JMP estimates: 6% and 17%, respectively ). It will be impossible for Burkina Faso to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) sanitation targets of 54% coverage for rural sanitation and 57% for urban sanitation in 2015. Even access to safe water, which has a much higher coverage rate, is still way below the targeted level.
 Grégoire B. Bazie, Un ministère plein pour l’eau et l’assainissement : une option judicieuse et pleine de sens, LeFaso.net, 08 Jan 2013
 WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, 2012. Estimates for the use of improved sanitation facilities : Burkina Faso. Available at: washurl.net/dbp8gc
Related web sites:
February 26th, 2013
Addis Ababa — The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has announced that local farmers cooperatives in Ethiopia have begun delivering the largest amount of maize they have ever sold to WFP, enough to support more than 1.8 million people for a month.
Before the planting season last year, WFP signed forward contracts with 16 cooperative unions in Ethiopia for purchase of more than 28,000 metric tons of maize. The first deliveries on those contracts began arriving at WFP warehouses last week. The maize will be used for WFP relief distributions in Ethiopia.
“Our goal here is to support Ethiopia feeding itself,” said WFP Country Director Abdou Dieng. “Buying food for our Ethiopia operation right here in Ethiopia makes sense in cost-effectiveness, and in providing a boost for the local economy by helping small farmers to get closer to markets.”
This is being done under WFP’s Purchase for Progress initiative (P4P), which is financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and implemented in collaboration with the government of Ethiopia through the Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA).
The forward delivery contracts signed with the cooperatives are one approach the P4P pilot initiative is testing to promote small farmers’ access to markets. To support the cooperatives in fulfilling their contracts, WFP provides technical assistance to farmers associations for storage and post-harvest handling and logistical support. Through agreements with local banks, several agricultural cooperatives were able to use their WFP contracts as collateral for loans to buy new equipment and aggregate more maize from their members.
In Ethiopia, WFP buys food grown locally in two ways: It buys from small-scale farmers and farmer cooperatives through P4P, and also buys large quantities of locally grown commodities through its regular procurement tender process.
In 2012, WFP purchased more than 112,000 metric tons of food in Ethiopia, more than any other country on the continent.
About 90 percent of this food has been used directly for WFP operations within Ethiopia. For example, more than 37 schools taking part in the WFP school meal programme in Ethiopia receive food harvested nearby.
Last year WFP assisted more than six million people throughout Ethiopia, including refugees.
By George Jaramba and Salim Changani
February 7, 2013
Despite being some of the most taxed citizens of the world, Kenyans have had little say in the manner their economy is managed. For as long as the country has been independent, the national budget , normally announced in June every year, has dictated the costs of basic commodities and essential services. Weeks before the minister for finance makes the important budget speech in parliament, many unscrupulous traders deliberately create a scarcity of particular commodities whose prices they expect to go up on Budget Day. This unpopular trend has affected the cost of essential commodities such as sugar, cooking oil, maize meal, petrol and kerosene just to mention but a few.
But of crucial concern is the manner the minister prioritizes the issues he wishes the government to spend the most on. In the past, budget allocations have favoured some government departments as opposed to others which are equally in need. The end result in such circumstances has, however, not been very helpful in the general growth of the national economy.
The Constitution of Kenya (2010) has, however, given much impetus to the ordinary citizen to participate in the management and decision-making process in governance socially, economically and politically. Article 174 illustrates this point. It is this constitutional relief that the residents of Kwale County have taken advantage of to come up with their own budget proposals as a means of kick-starting their development agenda.
Dubbed Participatory Budget for local governments (PB), residents of Kwale County in collaboration with representatives of local community based organizations are working in partnership with Fahamu, a nongovernmental organization, to sensitize the communities to develop their budgets at the ward level as a way of ensuring that agenda setting begins at the community level.
Participatory budgeting is a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making, and a type of participatory democracy, in which ordinary people decide how to allocate part of a municipal or public budget.
The practice allows citizens to identify, discuss, and prioritize public spending on projects, and gives them the power to make actual decisions on which projects to undertake as a matter of priority.
Although the concept is yet to be actualized in Kenya, participatory budgeting has worked in other parts of the world including the US, UK, Brazil, South Africa and Senegal. Fahamu is currently piloting the concept in two Kenyan counties, namely Kwale in the Coast and Kajiado in the Rift Valley region.
In September 2012, the Kwale community engaged in a needs assessment process after which the priority areas were identified before electing budget delegates at the ward level. Kwale County currently has 20 wards following the recent boundary demarcations by the Andrew Ligale-led Interim Independent Boundaries Commission. The 20 wards are in Matuga, Msambweni, Kinango and the newly created Lunga-Lunga constituencies.
The ward delegates are charged with developing specific spending proposals which will later be presented to the community for validation. If the community approves of the proposals, the same are to be forwarded to the county government for consideration of implementation.
If implemented, participatory budgeting is expected to raise the social and economic well-being of the two counties. Areas that are expected to benefit significantly include education, health, agriculture, roads and energy sectors.
Kwale and Kajiado participatory budget committees are scheduled to engage individuals seeking elective positions at the county level to sign a charter declaring that they will support and advocate for the implementation of the concept.
The fate of this noble idea now depends on the outcome of the forthcoming elections and whether the elected leadership implements the proposals submitted by the communities.
Various studies have suggested that participatory budgeting results in more equitable public spending, higher quality of life, increased satisfaction of basic needs, greater government transparency and accountability, increased levels of public participation (especially by marginalized or poorer residents), and democratic and citizenship learning.
* George Jaramba is the Ward Delegate elected through the Participatory Budgeting project for Gombato-Bongwe while Salim Changani works with Msabweni Human Rights Watch.