Archive for April 4th, 2009

Saturday, April 4, 2009

“United Chinese Association”: Keep the Liar Out!

Dalai Lama: causing good patriots sleepless nights

This dangerous JACKAL is completely IRRELEVANT.

The United Chinese Association, which represents 28 organisations, says New Zealand should follow the lead of South Africa, which refused the Dalai Lama a visa in February.

Association chairperson Steven Wong says the Dalai Lama spreads anti-Chinese government lies. He believes the visit could harm ties between New Zealand and China.

Mr Key says the Dalai Lama’s applications will be processed in the usual way, like everyone else.

He says New Zealand is a free and independent nation that can invite whomever it likes.

Radio New Zealand, April 3, 2009

Geez. That’s shameless. Who does Mr Key think he is?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

G20 London Summit – A Difference for Africa?

World leaders are ready to govern together. I think that, in addition, world leaders can now turn to the electorate and say: ‘We have done our fair share, we have committed trillions of dollars by way of fiscal stimulae, we have dropped interest rates to the lowest possible level, we have recapitalized the balance sheets of banks, and now it is up to the banks to continue lending so that there can be renewed economic activity.

(South Africa’s finance minister Trevor Manuel, Channel Africa, April 2, 2009)

Colonial self-portrait

Colonial self-portrait

When the London G-20 summit started presenting its results on April 2 in London, it was the headline on Channel Africa’s radio program, but only among others. Other topics were how Kenyan farming benefits from the expertise of expatriate Zimbabwean farmers, and issues of social norms and practices at South Africa’s national AIDS conference. And on the BBC’s Africa program with Alex Jakana, there was a debate about how useful or counterproductive more financial aid for Africa would be. Simon Maxwell, challenged about how aid only corrupted its recipients, defended the practise:

“One of the calculations (..) that I often do when I go to an African country is to look at the total budget. Never mind the trillions and the billions and the hundreds of this – how many dollars does the country have to spend for each person in the country. And if you do that calculation, you can be very surprised. In the UK, the figure is about 10,000 pounds a year, let’s say 15,000-a-bit-more dollars. In a typical African country, it is probably under a hundred dollars. (…..) And when people talk about aid being unnecessary in Africa, I [ask] myself, why are the people who say that (…) just go to Darfur, and stand in a refugee camp or go to some other places in Zimbabwe, where relief is being handed out, or go to some of the places where roads are being built for the first time, and say: ‘Thank you very much, we don’t want this aid’. And if they do so, that I think they’ll find people will die as a result.”

You don’t find too much of this debate on the internet, and the reason seems obvious – Africa’s access to the internet, and its presence on the internet is almost non-existent. That’s bad for global awareness of African debates, but it doesn’t mean that telecommunication in Africa wouldn’t work. It only works differently.
There is a public, there is a debate, and it is to a large extent created by radio – on FM, and just as often, on shortwave.

When it’s about business rather than about talking, there is the mobile phone. In it’s March 12 2005 edition, the Economist described how it works:

Anecdotal evidence for mobile phones’ ability to boost economic activity is abundant: they enable fishermen or farmers to check prices at different markets before selling produce, make it easier for people to look for jobs, and prevent wasted journeys. Mobile phones reduce transaction costs, broaden trade networks and substitute for costly physical transport. They are of particular value when other means of communication (such as roads, post or fixed-line phones) are poor or non-existent. (…..)
In particular, phones are widely shared. One person in a village buys a mobile phone, perhaps using a micro-credit loan. Others then rent it out by the minute; the small profit margin enables its owner to pay back the loan and make a living. When the phone rings, its owner carries it to the home of the person being called who then takes the call. Other entrepreneurs can set up as “text message interpreters”, sending and receiving text messages (which are generally cheaper then voice calls) on behalf of their customers, who may be illiterate. (…..)
(Economist, March 12, 2005, p. 78)

So if there are global corporations which benefit from investment in Africa, it will be Vodafone, rather than Microsoft. The good news is that expanding telecommunication can be good for the African economies, too – and in most countries, it doesn’t even have to be “one computer per village, per student, per household”, per whatever.

A extra 750 bn dollars for the IMF to help poorer countries (beyond Africa, of course) can make a difference – if the framework is right. African countries need accountable governments. Drying up “safe tax havens” – traditionally also good addresses for embezzled public money – can be of help here, too. But it also takes freer access for African products to the global market – this is exactly where the G-20 need to show a responsible attitude towards those who were not represented at the summit. Pledges “against protectionism” are not enough. After the G-20 summit is before the next Doha Round.

%d bloggers like this: