“Long ago, I could set my calendar with the date the rains started,” the 72-year-old said. Nowadays, “we have to gamble with the rains. If you plant early you might lose and if you plant late you might win. We are at a loss of what to do.”
Paramu Mafongoya, a University of Zimbabwe agronomist, says Vambe’s worries and those of millions of other poor farmers – most of them women – across Africa are a clear sign of the impact of climate change on a continent already struggling to feed itself. Changes have been noted in the timing and the distribution of rainfall on the continent. Zimbabweans say the rainy season has become shorter and more unpredictable, Mafongoya said.
Climate change “is a serious threat to human life,” Mafongoya said. “It affects agriculture and food security everywhere.”
International climate change negotiators meet in the South African coastal city of Durban starting Monday. Their agenda includes how to get African and other developing countries the technology and knowledge to ensure that people like Vambe can keep feeding their families without looking for emergency food aid.
A Green Climate Fund that would give $100 billion a year by 2020 to developing countries to help them fight climate change and its effects was agreed on at last year’s climate talks in Cancun, Mexico. Durban negotiators hope to make progress on addressing questions such as where the money will come from and how will it be managed.
Climate change specialist Rashmi Mistry said her anti-hunger group Oxfam will be in Durban lobbying to ensure that women have a voice in managing the Green Fund, and that their needs are addressed when its money is spent. Most small-scale farmers in Africa are women, and they also are the ones shopping for the family’s food. But tradition often keeps them out of policymaking roles.
Mistry said when yields are low and market prices are high, women are the first to suffer.
“She’s the one usually who will feed her husband first and feed her children first, and she will go hungry,” Mistry said.
Across Africa, said Andrew Steer, the World Bank’s special envoy on climate change, farmers need to triple production by 2050 to meet growing needs.
“At the same time, you’ve got climate change lowering average yields by what’s expected to be 28 percent,” Steer said. He called for more investment in such areas as agricultural research and water management.
Experts already are working on solutions. For example, Africa Harvest, a think tank that uses science and technology to address poverty and improve livelihoods among some of the poorest people in Africa, is working with farmers in an arid stretch in eastern Kenya who were finding it harder and harder to grow their usual crops of corn and beans. Africa Harvest got farmers to switch to sorghum. They have seen bumper harvests as a result because they are focusing on the right crop and the right practices for the climate, said Moctar Toure, chairman of Africa Harvest, who will be in Durban for the talks.
“The way we do agricultural development has to change,” Toure told The Associated Press. “We need to balance the need to increase farm productivity with environmental conservation. We will also work towards broad policy changes in our target countries in order to address endemic problems (affecting women) such as land right security, access to credit and knowledge.”
Experts worry that one consequence of resources becoming scarcer will be more frequent conflict. Already, Zimbabwe has seen aid used as a political weapon. Those who can prove their loyalty to longtime President Robert Mugabe’s party have been seen to be favored when it comes time to hand out seeds or food.
Modern techniques of growing drought-resistant crops like sorghum and millet, staggering planting programs, irrigation and harvesting rain and river water in dams help minimize the risk to farmers. But Zimbabwe’s modern agricultural infrastructure has been disrupted by a decade of political and economic turmoil.
Acute food shortages eased after Zimbabwe adopted the U.S. dollar to end world-record inflation in 2009, but local farm production continues to decline. This month, the U.N. food agency said more than 1 million Zimbabweans needed food aid and poor families, especially households with orphans and vulnerable children, can’t afford much of the food that is available. Most of that food is imported.
Climate change, like the political problems linked to poverty in Zimbabwe, is manmade, though over a longer term.
Scientists say the accumulation of carbon dioxide traps the Earth’s heat, and is causing dramatic changes in weather patterns, agricultural conditions and heightened risks of devastating sea-level rise. Industrialized nations bear the bulk of the blame, since they have been pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for 200 years.
Africa emits only about 3 percent of the total greenhouse gases per year, but its fragile systems and impoverished people are hardest hit by the consequences.
Weather experts say Zimbabwe’s average rainfall has decreased over the decade and October temperatures this year soared to above 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), the highest since 1962.
Harare meteorologist Jephias Mugumbate said rains in January and February – crucial for the ripening of crops – can no longer be relied on.
It was often said drought in southern Africa recurred every 10 years.
“But now it has become more frequent and intensified. Temperatures show an upward trend and instead of being cooler our nights are becoming hotter,” Mugumbate said
Like Vambe, tens of millions of Africans rely on rain-fed agriculture.
Vambe’s corn crop has supported her family for more than five decades. But her yields have been steadily falling.
She walks at daybreak to her nearly bare field 10 miles (15 kilometers) from her home in the impoverished western Harare township of Highfield. She has finished planting her seed with the help of her two grandchildren. The dusty brown soil beckons for rain.
Maize, the nation’s staple food, needs 60 days of moisture to reach maturity.
“The rains have become erratic. We can no longer rely on the seasons,” Vambe said.
She has had to replant on several occasions because of a “false start” to the rainy season.
“This is what has been affecting our yields since 2000. We are no longer getting good yields because the rain comes and goes away,” she said.
In the past, the growing season ended in March and harvests were gathered through April.
“Today, nothing is definite. You get rain in April then our maize rots in the fields,” Vambe said. “If we are not respecting our spirits and if they are angry, there will be no rain.”
Associated Press Writer Donna Bryson in Johannesburg contributed to this report.
This is the first of two articles that examine access to information and communications technology in sub-Saharan Africa.
WASHINGTON, D.C.– Fifty-seven percent of the adult population — or more than an estimated 151 million people — have mobile phones across the 17 countries Gallup surveyed in sub-Saharan Africa in 2010. The percentage of adults with mobile phones ranges from a high of 84% in South Africa to a low of 16% in Central African Republic, signaling the potential for tremendous growth in the industry on the sub-continent.
Mobile telephone subscriptions have grown faster in Africa than in any other region in the world since 2003, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Mobile phone adoption rates have soared in countries such as South Africa, where Gallup surveys show more than 8 in 10 adults now say they personally have mobile phones. But penetration still remains relatively low in several countries where adoption rates have been more sluggish, including Burkina Faso (19%), Niger (18%), and the Central African Republic (16%).
Mobile Phone Owners More Likely to Be Male, Older Than 18
The average mobile phone owner in the 17 sub-Saharan countries is more likely to be male (62%) than female (52%) and older than 18. Those between the ages of 15 and 18, and arguably with the least spending power, are less likely to say they have mobile phones than older adults. On average, 40% of 15- to 18-year-olds in these sub-Saharan African countries have mobile phones, but the percentage climbs to 63% among those aged 19 to 29 and remains higher than 60% for those between the ages of 30 and 45. Ownership drops off after that, with 51% of those 46 and older saying they have mobile phones.
he average mobile phone owner is also more likely to be educated. Across the 17 countries surveyed, 75% of those with at least nine years of formal education have a mobile phone, while 44% of those with up to eight years of formal education have a mobile phone. The highest rate of mobile phone ownership at each education level occurs in South Africa, where 76% of those with up to eight years of formal education have cell phones and 91% with higher education do. The lowest rate of mobile phone ownership for those with lower levels of education is 10% in the Central African Republic and the lowest rate among those with at least nine years of education is 40% in Liberia.
Location, Income Make a Difference in Most Countries
Urban sub-Saharan Africans are more likely to be mobile phone owners. Sixty-nine percent of sub-Saharan Africans living in urban areas in the 17 countries surveyed have a mobile phone, while significantly fewer living in rural areas, 53%, do. However, in Ghana (urban 58%, rural 60%), Nigeria (urban 77%, rural 66%), South Africa (urban 82%, rural 86%), and Zimbabwe (urban 54%, rural 39%), urban and rural dwellers are statistically as likely to have mobile phones.
Not surprisingly, household income and mobile phone ownership are also related. Those with a mobile phone report average per capita household incomes near $1,100 and those without a mobile phone report per capita household incomes lower than $740. This income pattern is present in all countries except Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa, where there is no statistical difference in per capita household income.
Mobile phone access in sub-Saharan Africa ranges widely by country. At the same time, men, those with higher education levels, urban residents, and those with higher per capita household income generally are more likely to have mobile phones. The challenge for the mobile phone industry is to expand from this base to rural and poorer areas, where cost will likely remain an obstacle to growth.
For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact SocialandEconomicAnalysis@gallup.com or call 202.715.3030.
Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in 2010 in Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error ranges from ±3.4 percentage points to ±4.1 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup’s Country Data Set details.Source: Gallup.com
Since 1971 when the least developed countries (LDCs) category was created by the UN, sub-Saharan African countries have dominated the list. Four decades later, with 33 members (only 14 of the region’s 47 countries are not LDCs), sub-Saharan Africa still maintains the biggest regional presence in the group. All parts of the sub-continent are represented. In recent years, two countries from the continent, Botswana and Cape Verde, have graduated out of the category. Analysts say others (including Angola and Equatorial Guinea) have the potential to join them. However, the newly created state of South Sudan is widely expected join the LDCs group.
Africa’s LDCs are a highly diverse group, but most have in common an average growth of around 5 per cent in recent years. Of these countries, oil exporters (Angola, Chad, Equatorial Guinea and Sudan) and mineral producers (the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique and Zambia) benefited most from the surge in demand for commodities, mainly from the emerging economies of China, India and Brazil. Such a trend has led to an increased dependence of their economies on primary commodities, according to the latest Least Development Countries Report of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
One feature of African LDCs is their high rates of return on foreign direct investments, at around 13 per cent. UNCTAD says that investing in LDCs is a smart move. “Rates of return on foreign direct investment … are much higher than on investment in developed, or even other developing, countries.”
* Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia.Africa Renewal www.un.org/africarenewal If you like this article, I’d recommend my book “If I Was Famous, I’d Have a Lot to Say”
Categories: Issues Tags: african economies, botswana, Cape Verde, Cheikh Sidi Diarra, climate change, Democratic Republic of the Congo, ecological damage, least developed countries, sub-saharan africa
What if much of sub Sahara Africa was to become the world’s next business destination? The question might sound odd, yet it is in line with the tone of a UN Conference held in Istanbul last May. For UN Africa Renewal, André-Michel Essoungou reports.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, sharpening her criticism of China, said the world’s second-biggest economy was doing everything to “stifle the Internet” and displaying traits of “new colonialism” in Africa.
Asked today during the recording of a television program in Lusaka, Zambia about whether China was a role model for governance, Clinton answered: “In the long-run, medium-run, even short-run, no I don’t.”
Acknowledging that China, the world’s biggest energy user, has extended its influence across Africa, the top U.S. diplomat said she recognized that while its size accounted for its presence in the continent, she had reservations about its reach.
“We saw that during colonial times, it is easy to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders and leave,” Clinton said. “And when you leave, you don’t leave much behind for the people who are there. We don’t want to see a new colonialism in Africa.”
Referring to China, Clinton said “I believe we are beginning to see a lot of problems that you are going to pay more attention to in the next 10 years.” The audience present during the recording clapped when she concluded by saying “young people will not accept to be told what to do.”
Departing Zambia, Clinton landed later in the day in Tanzania for the second leg of a five-day tour in Africa that ends in Ethiopia.
In a sign of the growing importance of sub-Saharan Africa to the U.S., Clinton is the first secretary of state to have visited Zambia, a former British colony, in more than three decades.
First Since Kissinger
The last was Henry Kissinger in 1976, when he called the colonial era in southern Africa a “thing of the past.”
The U.S. is “concerned that China’s foreign assistance and investment practices in Africa have not always been consistent with generally accepted international norms of transparency and good governance,” Clinton said yesterday at a news conference in Lusaka after meeting Zambian President Rupiah Banda.
“Our country has been with a close relationship with China as early as before our independence” in 1964, Banda told reporters. “We work closely with the Chinese, as with any other country that supported our desire to be independent.”
On her Zambian visit, Clinton addressed the failings of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which gives 37 African countries trade preferences with the U.S. for an array of goods such as textiles. It is primarily used for oil trading, though, doing little to diminish Africa’s reliance on crude as a fuel.
The U.S. Congress will vote on whether to renew the law, which was signed in May 2000 and is set to expire in 2015.
U.S. trade with sub-Saharan Africa still accounts for about 3 percent of total U.S. imports and 1 percent of U.S. exports, a sign that the agreement hasn’t been as successful in fostering more business as the U.S. had hoped. Oil makes up more than 90 percent of the $44 billion generated by U.S. imports from the AGOA countries.
To contact the reporter on this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson in Lusaka, Zambia at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at email@example.com
Categories: Uncategorized Tags: conomic growth, Hillary Clinton, sub-saharan africa, Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum
By PETER WONACOTT
LUSAKA, Zambia—U.S. officials and business leaders have gathered here for a bout of soul-searching on how to lift trade and investment in Africa, underlining a broad recognition that American companies are trailing those from China and India in tapping the continent’s economic opportunities.
The meeting in Zambia has drawn one of the largest U.S. delegations to Africa in years. It includes U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who arrives in the capital Lusaka on Friday. She is the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Zambia in 30 years.
Mr. Kirk said he was “sobered by the reality that we are just at the beginning” of a broader economic ties with Africa.
The focus of the meeting is the African Growth and Opportunities Act, or Agoa, an 11-year-old piece of U.S. legislation that provides preferential access to the American market for more than 1,800 African products. It covers 37 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, with a handful of others disqualified because of coups and corruption.
Many participants say the U.S. needs a new approach to a continent that is projected to grow faster than any other global region over the next five years. They say trade assistance, along with humanitarian aid, together aren’t enough to tap a market with a billion potential consumers.
“America has more medical doctors and Ph.D.s here than businessmen,” says Greg Marchand, who runs a telecommunications and consulting company in Zambia called Gizmos Solutions Ltd. “And we wonder why we aren’t doing a lot of business.”
The U.S. remains the top donor to Africa, disbursing $7.6 billion in 2009, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
China isn’t a member of the OECD, and doesn’t provide detailed breakdowns of aid and investment to Africa. But in 2009, China became Africa’s largest trade partner. In the first 11 months of last year, China’s trade with Africa amounted to $114.81 billion, according to the Chinese government’s White Paper on the topic. U.S. trade with Africa for the period reached $103 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
China has tied much of its trade and investment to Africa with preferential loan deals, often aimed at securing supplies of oil, gas and minerals. Top-ranking Chinese officials regularly visit African countries to cement these agreements.
“The goal of China is mercantilist; they do what they need to do to get access to natural resources,” says Paul Ryberg, the Washington-based president for the African Coalition for Trade, which represents African companies in the U.S. The centerpiece of U.S. economic engagement, Agoa, says Mr. Ryberg “is economic development, creation of jobs and the creation of a middle class to buy our products.”
But while Agoa boosted African exports to the U.S.—10 times from its inception to 2008—it has failed to broaden significantly the trade relationship. Energy exports account for about 90% of sub-Saharan African trade to the U.S., according to a study published last month by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.
That type of trade relationship is seen as too narrow to seize new opportunities linked to Africa’s accelerating economic growth and new consumers.
The International Monetary Fund predicts sub-Saharan Africa—a collection of 47 countries—will grow 5.5% this year and 6% in 2012. Over the next five years, the IMF predicts that average growth of sub-Saharan countries will be higher than other regions. The African Development Bank Group estimates a new consumer class on the continent of 300 million people.
Yet the continent remains burdened by political corruption and poor infrastructure—problems that ratchet up the price of goods, particularly in many landlocked countries. Most African countries rank at the bottom of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business survey.
Companies from China, India and Brazil generally have been less daunted by such challenges. Bharti Airtel Ltd., India’s largest phone company, now operates in 16 African countries, part of a dramatic expansion of Indian investment in Africa. This month, Bharti Airtel said it signed a deal with China’s Huawei Technologies Co. to help manage and modernize its network in Africa.
U.S. officials say American companies, not the government, must pursue African business opportunities. In most African countries U.S. investment lags far behind American aid. In Zambia, for example, the U.S. foreign direct investment was $79 million in 2008, up 3.9% from the year before, according to USTR. Meanwhile, the U.S. Agency for International Development estimated it spent $390 million in Zambia last year, up from $300 million in 2009.
Outside Lusaka, China has invested more than $1 billion in an investment zone near the Chambishi copper belt. The zone includes 14 Chinese companies, mostly mining and equipment makers.
China’s investment in Zambia hasn’t been without its troubles. In March, 600 workers went on strike demanding a 50% pay increase, the latest in a long list of labor disputes. Meanwhile, Zambia’s opposition politicians have accused China of taking away jobs from Zambians and subjecting their country to a new form of colonization.
At the same time, the southern African economy is showing signs of moving beyond its dependence on minerals. Lusaka’s commercial real-estate market is crammed with new tenants, even as new buildings and shopping malls go up.
The 36-year old Mr. Marchand, an entrepreneur from Chicago, says he arrived in 2005 with four laptops, a printer and $100,000 to start his telecom and consulting company. The U.S. government assistance, he says, was minimal. “They issued me a passport.”
At least now the U.S. government is paying attention, says Mr. Marchand, who is also the president of a new American Chamber of Commerce in Zambia. On Saturday, U.S. Secretary Clinton and U.S. Trade Representative Kirk are scheduled to attend the chamber’s opening ceremony.
—Jackie Bischof in Johannesburg contributed to this article.
(CNN) — Hillary Clinton’s weeklong trip to sub-Saharan Africa takes her to a continent hungry for economic growth and political accountability but still shackled by poverty and government corruption.
The U.S. secretary of state will see the effects of that poverty close-up:
– In Tanzania, she’ll meet with women who are victims of gender-based violence.
– In Ethiopia, she’ll visit a hospital where women are suffering from fistula, their internal organs scarred. They’ve been abandoned by their husbands and ostracized by their communities.
She also will see initiatives designed to improve Africans’ lives, such as programs providing mothers and children with nutritional food for the critical 1,000-day period from the start of a woman’s pregnancy until her child’s second birthday.
At her first stop Friday in Lusaka, Zambia, Clinton will speak to the 2011 U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, the centerpiece of the United States government’s trade policy with sub-Saharan Africa. It gives trade preferences to countries of the region that meet criteria on economic, legal and human rights issues.
Eligible countries can export nearly 6,500 products — including apparel, automobiles, footwear and fruit — duty-free to the U.S.
At the forum, government officials, business leaders and civil activists from African countries and the United States will discuss trade, business and investment opportunities in Africa. Clinton will meet with participants in the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, an outreach, education and engagement initiative that aims to give African women entrepreneurs the tools to fight for change in their communities.
“People in Africa are very hopeful,” says Melvin Ayogu, fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative, but when they look at their governments “they often see the politics of impoverishing people to stay in power.”
In Zambia, Tanzania and Ethiopia, Clinton will meet with government officials, stressing U.S. goals of fostering good governance and protection of human rights.
In strategically located Zambia, Clinton will meet with President Rupiah Bwezani Banda, but she also will confer with opposition presidential candidates Michael Sata and Hakainde Hichilema.
In Tanzania, she heads for the State House and a meeting with President Jakaya Kikwete then flies to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for a speech to the African Union.
One of her last events on her trip will highlight a priority issue for Clinton: cookstoves. As the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves notes, cooking is one of the most dangerous activities for a woman in many developing countries.
Nearly three billion people use traditional cookstoves that burn wood and create smoke that causes almost 2 million premature deaths annually — more than twice the number from malaria, according to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. Breathing in toxic fumes, women and children develop pneumonia, emphysema, cataracts, lung cancer and other illnesses.
At a Peace Corps building in Addis Ababa, Clinton will meet with local women who make money selling new, clean cookstoves.
“The next time you sit down with your own family to eat, please take a moment to imagine the smell of smoke, feel it in your lungs, see the soot building up on the walls,” Clinton said in September of 2010. New, clean cookstoves, she said, can save millions of lives.
“The benefits from this initiative,” she said, “will be cleaner and safer homes, and that will, in turn, ripple out for healthier families, stronger communities, and more stable societies.”
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