Kenya is again in the middle of an economic storm.
While attention has, appropriately, been focused on getting food and medicines to the victims of the famine in the Horn of Africa, many observers are asking about longer-term solutions, especially if droughts such as the current one become more frequent with climate change. One possibility is to expand irrigation.
Currently, only about 4 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s arable land is irrigated; the rest is rain-fed, meaning it is susceptible to droughts and floods. Yet, irrigated land can have yields that are up to five times those of rain-fed areas. It must be the case that the costs of irrigation—capital, recurrent, administrative, political—are sufficiently high to outweigh these benefits. But if you take into account the possibility of more frequent floods and droughts, which would make irrigated land relatively more attractive, does the benefit-cost calculation change?
The dust had hardly settled from South Sudan’s Independence Day celebrations before the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) of South Sudan formerly known as the Southern Sudan Center for Census, Statistics and Evaluation, released the new country’s first estimate of GDP. The long-awaited figures were revealed at a well-attended press conference at the NBS on 16 August 2011.
As uncertainty increases about where the global economy is headed and whispers grow about a “double-dip,” spare a thought for Lesotho.
A small developing country (population less than 2 million), Lesotho is located in one of the most resource-poor parts of Southern Africa. Around 37% of households live on less than $1/day and about half are below the national poverty line. As a small and relatively undiversified economy, heavily dependent on foreign markets, Lesotho is very vulnerable to shocks. It is also ill-equipped to deal with them.
At the recent launch of the book, Yes Africa Can: Success Stories from a Dynamic Continent, someone asked whether there are any lessons for Africa’s newest country, South Sudan. I can think of at least three.
1.It can be done. Yes Africa Can documents a number of countries, such as Mozambique and Uganda, which emerged from civil conflict and sustained above-7-percent GDP growth for over a decade. It also describes the well-known case of a mineral exporter, Botswana, that had the world’s fastest per-capita growth rate (7 percent) from 1966-99. These case studies show that South Sudan, which is both a post-conflict country and an oil exporter, can also succeed.
The quality of service delivery is fundamental for people's wellbeing, especially for the poor. This is why the situation in Cameroon is worrisome.
Indicators for service delivery in Cameroon tend to trail behind those observed in countries at similar income levels; and for indicators such as primary school completion or child mortality, the country does even worse than the average for Sub-Saharan Africa.
La qualité des services publics est fondamentale pour le bien-être de la population, en particulier les pauvres. C’est la raison pour laquelle la situation au Cameroun est préoccupante.
Les indicateurs de prestations de services au Cameroun sont généralement inférieurs à ceux de pays ayant des niveaux de revenu similaire.
Or, à Madagascar, seule 1/5 de la population déclare faire entièrement confiance à la Présidence et les taux sont encore plus faibles pour des institutions comme l’Assemblée nationale (6%) et les Tribunaux (4%).Comment s’attendre à ce que le Gouvernement puisse être performant, à travers sa politique budgétaire, si la vaste majorité des Malgaches ne font confiance ni à leurs institutions, ni à leurs dirigeants ?
Photo: A line of “boda bodas” queuing for fuel along the main road in Juba town
For the past three weeks I have been working in Juba, South Sudan. In a meeting with the government last week, an official said to me, “…we are dreaming, but come July 9th everything will change and our dreams will become reality.”
On July 9th South Sudan will become an independent country, following the longest civil war in African history.
Driving through Juba, one cannot fail to notice the preparations taking place; from the exceptionally clean streets and banners spread across public buildings to the soon-to-be national anthem on repeat on the radio. There is a sense of excitement, longing and hope.
However, tension surrounding the conflict in South Kordofan casts a cloud on celebrations and underscores the risks ahead.
Mineral revenues typically go from the extracting company to the government without passing through the hands of citizens. As a result, citizens do not scrutinize the expenditure out of these revenues as much as they would if it were financed by tax revenues. The net result is misallocation of public spending, slower growth and even slower poverty reduction in many of these mineral-rich countries, such as Cameroon or Nigeria.