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Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

Select Diaspora Populations in the United States

July 24, 2014 Comments off

Select Diaspora Populations in the United States
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Diaspora populations often perform essential functions in the economic and human capital development of their countries of origin, and can continue playing a strong role in shaping these countries long after they or their forebears departed.The Rockefeller Foundation and the Aspen Institute have launched the Rockefeller-Aspen Diaspora Program (RAD), a joint venture to better understand diaspora members’ financial and human capital investments and to design an approach to foster further growth in these areas. The Migration Policy Institute has partnered with RAD to produce profiles of 15 diaspora communities in the United States, which is home to nearly 60 million first- or second-generation immigrants.

These profiles address 15 different diaspora populations in the United States, gathering in one place key data and analysis on diasporas from Bangladesh, Colombia, El Salvador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Each profile explores the demographic characteristics of first- and second-generation immigrants in a particular diaspora, their educational attainment, household income, employment patterns, geographic distribution, and remittance volume.

Five longer profiles, focusing on Colombia, Egypt, India, Kenya, and the Philippines, also detail historical immigration pathways and contemporary entry trends, poverty status, active diaspora organizations, and country-of-origin policies and institutions related to interaction with emigrants and their descendants abroad.

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New From the GAO

July 21, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Consumer Finance: Credit Cards Designed for Medical Services Not Covered by Insurance. GAO-14-570, June 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-570
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664256.pdf
Podcast - http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/664738

2. State Department: Implementation of Grants Policies Needs Better Oversight. GAO-14-635, July 21.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-635
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664905.pdf

3. African Growth and Opportunity Act: Observations on Competitiveness and Diversification of U.S. Imports from Beneficiary Countries. GAO-14-722R, July 21.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-722R

National Funding of Road Infrastructure

July 10, 2014 Comments off

National Funding of Road Infrastructure
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report examines the funding of roads and highways in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England and Wales, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, and Sweden. It provides a description of the infrastructure in the jurisdiction, information on the ownership and responsibility of the roads, and taxes or other ways of collecting money to fund the nation’s infrastructure. If applicable, a discussion of reforms or new initiatives is examined.

CRS — Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations (updated)

June 16, 2014 Comments off

Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

This report provides an overview of the key issues for Congress related to Egypt and information on U.S. foreign aid to Egypt.

Managing Transnational Infrastructure Programs in Africa—Challenges and Best Practices

May 28, 2014 Comments off

Managing Transnational Infrastructure Programs in Africa—Challenges and Best Practices
Source: Boston Consulting Group

Transnational infrastructure programs, such as cross-border railway networks and electricity distribution systems, can increase regional trade, prosperity, stability, and integration. That is part of the rationale of the Priority Action Plan of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA PAP), encompassing 51 programs and with an investment need of $68 billion up to the year 2020. Such programs face formidable challenges, however.

The challenges relate to financing, to technical and regulatory alignments (agreeing on the gauge width of a cross-border railway network, for instance, or on national axis-load regulations), and to matters of governance and even human relations. It is obviously very tricky to coordinate a program’s responsibilities and processes across several countries when there is a great diversity of languages, cultures, financial capacities, and political and regulatory environments. Matters are further compounded by national self-interest, as in staffing, and sometimes by a legacy of historical rivalry and mistrust.

The challenges can be overcome, however, through the skillful deployment of established best practices during the program’s various phases. A framework of these best practices is presented in a new World Economic Forum report on the African Strategic Infrastructure Initiative, Managing Transnational Infrastructure Programmes in Africa—Challenges and Best Practices. The report, developed together with The Boston Consulting Group, is a guide for policy makers, sponsors, and managers that aims to facilitate the delivery of transnational programs punctually and cost-effectively.

Free registration required to access report.

African countries need to tap global markets more effectively to strengthen their economies

May 27, 2014 Comments off

African countries need to tap global markets more effectively to strengthen their economies
Source: African Development Bank/OECD

By participating more effectively in the global production of goods and services, Africa can transform its economy and achieve a development breakthrough, according to the latest African Economic Outlook, released at the African Development Bank Group’s Annual Meetings.

Produced annually by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the OECD Development Centre and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), this year’s report shows that Africa has weathered internal and external shocks and is poised to achieve healthy economic growth rates.

The continent’s growth is projected to accelerate to 4.8 percent in 2014 and 5 to 6 percent in 2015, levels which have not been seen since the global economic crisis of 2009. Africa’s economic growth is more broad-based, argues the report, driven by domestic demand, infrastructure and increased continental trade in manufactured goods.

CRS — Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy

May 23, 2014 Comments off

Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Libya’s post-conflict transition has been disrupted by armed non-state groups and threatened by the indecision and infighting of interim leaders. To date, the elected General National Congress (GNC) and the interim executive authorities that it has endorsed have failed to address pressing security issues, reshape the country’s public finances, or create a viable framework for postconflict justice and reconciliation. The insecurity that was prevalent in Libya in the wake of the 2011 conflict has deepened, and armed militia groups and locally organized political leaders remain the most powerful arbiters of public affairs.

At present, potentially divisive political, economic, and social issues are being debated by rival groups in the absence of credible state security guarantees. These issues include the proposed decentralization of some national administrative authority, competing fiscal priorities, the provision of local and national security, the proper role for Islam in political and social life, and concerns about the ongoing exploitation of Libyan territory by terrorists, arms traffickers, and criminal networks. The U.S. State Department now describes Libya as a “terrorist safe haven,” and U.S. military and intelligence officials have warned about threats to U.S. interests emanating from Libya in recent statements and congressional testimony.

CRS — The Lord’s Resistance Army: The U.S. Response

May 23, 2014 Comments off

The Lord’s Resistance Army: The U.S. Response (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony, is a small, dispersed armed group active in remote areas of Central Africa. The LRA’s infliction of widespread human suffering and its potential threat to regional stability have drawn significant attention in recent years, including in Congress. Campaigns by U.S.-based advocacy groups have contributed to policy makers’ interest.

or kill LRA commanders, which since 2012 have been integrated into an African Union (AU) “Regional Task Force” against the LRA. The Obama Administration expanded U.S. support for these operations in 2011 by deploying U.S. military advisors to the field. In March 2014, the Administration notified Congress of the deployment of U.S. military aircraft and more personnel to provide episodic “enhanced air mobility support” to African forces. The United States has also provided humanitarian aid, pursued regional diplomacy, helped to fund “early-warning” systems, and supported multilateral programs to demobilize and reintegrate ex-LRA combatants. The Administration has referred to these efforts as part of its broader commitment to preventing and mitigating mass atrocities. Growing U.S. involvement may also be viewed in the context of Uganda’s role as a key U.S. security partner in East and Central Africa. U.S. security assistance to Uganda, including for counter-LRA efforts, has continued despite policy makers’ criticism of the Ugandan government’s decision in early 2014 to enact a law criminalizing homosexuality.

What Global Health Can Learn from Consumer Companies in Africa

May 22, 2014 Comments off

What Global Health Can Learn from Consumer Companies in Africa
Source: Boston Consulting Group

Many multinational companies have built successful product categories and brands among African consumers by educating shoppers and adapting to local market needs. For instance, Dufil Prima Foods created a $400 million market from scratch in Nigeria by marketing its Indomie instant noodles as nutritious, affordable, and easy to prepare. In South Africa, Nestlé hired distributors to make its products available to consumers at the bottom of the income pyramid.

In contrast, some global health initiatives have had difficulty finding a market in Africa. For instance, an independent evaluation of the Affordable Medicines Facility–malaria found that although the cost of artemisinin combination therapies had come down in some African markets, a lack of availability and awareness among consumers had impeded adoption. Similarly, despite the efforts of many organizations to prevent HIV by providing condoms, condom usage is actually declining in many parts of Africa—a decline attributed to supply issues and inadequate awareness of the related health benefits. Interventions for nearly all diseases and health conditions in Africa—from malaria and HIV to diarrhea and other tropical diseases—have had problems with uptake and impact.

Although global health organizations such as NGOs, government agencies, bilateral organizations, donors, foundations, academic institutions, R&D institutions, and public-private partnerships have greatly improved the living conditions and life expectancy of Africa’s most vulnerable populations, much more still needs to be done—especially in sub-Saharan Africa. The underlying drivers of the global health burden are complicated, but three major factors often hinder the adoption of health interventions: limited awareness of the disease and its prevention or treatment; limited access to prevention or treatment due to distance or stockouts; and a lack of affordability caused by out-of-pocket clinic fees, the cost of products, or the cost of transportation to care providers.

Consumer products companies face similar obstacles, yet many have been able to reach African consumers and win their loyalty and hard-earned dollars. What are these companies doing differently?

Free registration required to access report.

CRS — Nigeria’s Boko Haram: Frequently Asked Questions

May 22, 2014 Comments off

Nigeria’s Boko Haram: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Boko Haram, a violent Nigerian Islamist movement, has grown increasingly active and deadly in its attacks against state and civilian targets in recent years, drawing on a narrative of resentment and vengeance for state abuses to elicit recruits and sympathizers. The group’s April 2014 abduction of almost 300 schoolgirls has drawn international attention, including from the Obama Administration and Members of Congress. Periodic attacks against foreign targets in the region and growing evidence of ties to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a regional terrorist network affiliated with Al Qaeda, have also raised the concern of U.S. policymakers. The State Department named several individuals linked to Boko Haram, including its leader, Abubakar Shekau, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists in 2012, and Boko Haram was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the U.S. State Department in November 2013. The Obama Administration does not currently consider Boko Haram to be an affiliate of Al Qaeda.

USGS — Global Platinum-Group Resources Estimated at More than 150K Metric Tons

May 19, 2014 Comments off

Global Platinum-Group Resources Estimated at More than 150K Metric Tons
Source: U.S. Geological Survey

The first-ever inventory and geological assessment of known and undiscovered platinum-group element (PGE) resources estimates that more than 150,000 metric tons of PGEs may exist in the two southern African countries that produce most of the global supply of these critical elements.

The USGS study identifies 78K metric tons of known PGE resources in South Africa and Zimbabwe and estimates 75K metric tons in PGE resources that may be present, but are undiscovered. This is more than 20 times the total tonnage produced since the 1920s when PGE mining began in these countries.

The U.S. is 90 percent reliant on imports of PGEs which are essential for cleaning automobile exhaust, for manufacturing glass, fertilizer, high-octane fuel, and a variety of chemicals, including cancer fighting drugs. They are widely used in jewelry and electronics such as hard drives, circuitry, and cell phones. PGEs could play a crucial role in fuel cell technology to produce clean energy for cars, homes, and businesses.

CRS — Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy

May 14, 2014 Comments off

Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Libya’s post-conflict transition has been disrupted by armed non-state groups and threatened by the indecision and infighting of interim leaders. To date, the elected General National Congress (GNC) and the interim executive authorities that it has endorsed have failed to address pressing security issues, reshape the country’s public finances, or create a viable framework for postconflict justice and reconciliation. The insecurity that was prevalent in Libya in the wake of the 2011 conflict has deepened, and armed militia groups and locally organized political leaders remain the most powerful arbiters of public affairs.

Gender, Poverty and Environmental Indicators on African Countries 2014

May 13, 2014 Comments off

Gender, Poverty and Environmental Indicators on African Countries 2014 (PDF)
Source: African Development Bank Group

This is the fifteenth volume of Gender, Poverty, and Environmental Indicators on African Countries published by the Statistics Department of the African Development Bank Group. The publication also provides some information on the broad development trends relating to gender, poverty and environmental issues in the 54 African countries.

Gender, Poverty and Environmental Indicators on African Countries 2014 is divided in three main parts: Part One presents a special feature article on “Green growth and poverty alleviation: Risks and opportunities for Africa”. Part Two presents comparative cross-country data on Millennium Development Goals, Gender, Poverty and the Environment; and Part Three provides detailed country-specific data for each of the 54 countries.

Backgrounder: Boko Haram

May 9, 2014 Comments off

Backgrounder: Boko Haram
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

Boko Haram, a diffuse Islamist sect, has attacked Nigeria’s police, military, rival clerics, politicians, schools, religious buildings, public institutions, and civilians with increasing regularity since 2009. Some experts view the group as an armed revolt against government corruption, abusive security forces, and widening regional economic disparity in an already impoverished country. They argue that Abuja should do more to address the strife between the disaffected Muslim north and the Christian south.

The U.S. Department of State designated Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization in 2013. Boko Haram’s brutal campaign included a suicide attack on a UN building in Abuja in 2011, repeated attacks that have killed dozens of students, burning of villages, ties to regional terror groups, and the abduction of more than two hundred girls in 2014. The Nigerian government hasn’t been able to quell the insurgency.

Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision for HIV Prevention: Improving Quality, Efficiency, Cost Effectiveness, and Demand for Services during an Accelerated Scale-up

May 8, 2014 Comments off

Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision for HIV Prevention: Improving Quality, Efficiency, Cost Effectiveness, and Demand for Services during an Accelerated Scale-up
Source: PLoS Collections

With new HIV infections in Sub-Saharan Africa occurring at a rate of 2.3 million each year, this new Collection, featuring research published in PLOS Medicine and PLOS ONE, presents interim results from a large public health intervention of voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) performed by health care practitioners in low-resource settings to prevent new infections.

The Collection examines lessons learned from the scaled-up VMMC program since 2008. Research papers focus on programs in Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Lesotho, identifying strengths and challenges in key program areas, including demand creation, the quality of surgical services, operational efficiencies, data collection and cost controls.

The VMMC program faces challenges at multiple levels, such as maintaining quality of services while rapidly scaling up, generating demand, and resource and capacity constraints. In order to accelerate scale-up and impact, the Collection authors recommendations include increasing program efficiency by identifying and prioritizing those most at risk of acquiring HIV, matching supply with demand, and exploring the role of technology.

Inside Inequality in the Arab Republic of Egypt : Facts and Perceptions across People, Time, and Space

April 8, 2014 Comments off

Inside Inequality in the Arab Republic of Egypt : Facts and Perceptions across People, Time, and Space
Source: World Bank

This book joins four papers prepared in the framework of the Egypt inequality study financed by the World Bank. The first paper prepared by Sherine Al-Shawarby reviews the studies on inequality in Egypt since the 1950s with the double objective of illustrating the importance attributed to inequality through time and of presenting and compare the main published statistics on inequality. To our knowledge, this is the first time that such a comprehensive review is carried. The second paper prepared by Branko Milanovic turns to the global and spatial dimensions of inequality. The objective here is to put Egypt inequality in the global context and better understand the origin and size of spatial inequalities within Egypt using different forms of measurement across regions and urban and rural areas. The Egyptian society remains deeply divided across space and in terms of welfare and this study unveils some of the hidden features of this inequality. The third paper prepared by Paolo Verme studies facts and perceptions of inequality during the period 2000-2009, the period that preceded the Egyptian revolution. The objective of this part is to provide some initial elements that could explain the apparent mismatch between inequality measured with household surveys and inequality aversion measured by values surveys. No such study has been carried out before in the Middle-East and North-Africa (MENA) region and this seemed a particular important and timely topic to address in the light of the unfolding developments in the Arab region. The fourth paper prepared by Sahar El Tawila, May Gadallah and Enas Ali A. El-Majeed assesses the state of poverty and inequality among the poorest villages of Egypt. The paper attempts to explain the level of inequality in an effort to disentangle those factors that derive from household abilities from those factors that derive from local opportunities. This is the first time that such study is conducted in Egypt. The book should be of interest to any observer of the political and economic evolution of the Arab region in the past few years and to poverty and inequality specialists that wish to have a deeper understanding of the distribution of incomes in Egypt and other countries in the MENA region.

AU — The G20: a quick guide

March 26, 2014 Comments off

The G20: a quick guide
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This is a quick guide to basic information about the G20, as well as links to useful summary resources. The G20 background section includes the G20’s history, its members, the hosting system and G20 meeting processes, as well as a brief discussion of selected policy areas. Material on Australia and the G20 includes Australia’s involvement in the G20, Australia’s G20 goals for 2014 and speeches and press releases on the G20. A short list of links provides access to more resources on the G20.

Chinese Engagement in Africa: Drivers, Reactions, and Implications for U.S. Policy

March 17, 2014 Comments off

Chinese Engagement in Africa: Drivers, Reactions, and Implications for U.S. Policy
Source: RAND Corporation

Most analyses of Chinese engagement in Africa focus either on what China gets out of these partnerships or the impacts that China’s aid and investment have had on African countries. This analysis approaches Sino-African relations as a vibrant, two-way dynamic in which both sides adjust to policy initiatives and popular perceptions emanating from the other. The authors focus on (1) Chinese and African objectives in the political and economic spheres and how they work to achieve them, (2) African perceptions of Chinese engagement, (3) how China has adjusted its policies to accommodate often-hostile African responses, and (4) whether the United States and China are competing for influence, access, and resources in Africa and how they might cooperate in the region.

The authors find that Chinese engagement in the region is primarily concerned with natural resource extraction, infrastructure development, and manufacturing, in contrast to the United States’ focus on higher-technology trade and services as well as aid policies aimed at promoting democracy, good governance, and human development. African governments generally welcome engagement with China, as it brings them political legitimacy and contributes to their economic development. Some segments of African society criticize Chinese enterprises for their poor labor conditions, unsustainable environmental practices, and job displacement, but China has been modifying its approach to the continent to address these concerns. China and the United States are not strategic rivals in Africa, but greater American commercial engagement in African markets could generate competition that would both benefit African countries and advance U.S. interests.

Laws on Homosexuality in African Nations

March 17, 2014 Comments off

Laws on Homosexuality in African Nations
Source: Law Library of Congress

The following chart summarizes the treatment of homosexuality in the criminal laws of forty-nine African nations.  The provisions on criminal penalties only include penalties for acts involving adults, as all nations penalize sexual acts, whether homosexual or heterosexual, involving children.  Of the jurisdictions surveyed, only South Africa affirmatively permits same-sex marriage.

CRS — Democratic Republic of Congo: Background and U.S. Policy

March 6, 2014 Comments off

Democratic Republic of Congo: Background and U.S. Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Conflict, poor governance, and a long-running humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) present a range of challenges for international policy makers, including Members of Congress. Chronic instability in the mineral-rich and densely populated east of the country has caused widespread human suffering and inhibited private sector investment throughout the wider Great Lakes region of central Africa. Congolese political actors have displayed limited capacity and will to improve security and governance, while neighboring states have reportedly periodically provided support to rebel groups in DRC.

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