Africa – April 2007 Round-Up

shoe-shine kids (courtesy:

A little late, and not really having done my homework, but here are some stories that caught my eye during April in the African blogosphere…

  • The ever-interesting Ethan Zuckerman shares a paper he has written about social activism and mobile technology in the developing world. A must-read for anyone interested in the new technological frontiers of global civil society – also check – cellphones for civic engagement. He also has a beautiful piece on where he works these days. A must-read for all of us global souls, especially when we are stuck in our homes… (ok, this hasn’t got much to do with Africa per se, but I still liked it…!)
  • Africa is gearing up to produce its own essential drugs, reducing reliance on the West for lifesaving medicines for disease such as malaria and tuberculosis, the African Union said Wednesday – reports Yahoo News. This is surely good news for those fighting against the current TRIPS agreement, but the problems of access, distribution and resources for medical R&D remain. Who is going to pay the bill? And how long will it take before the ineffective AU and the oft-too corrupt African bureaucracies get their act together to share the productivity burdens? Maybe there is scope for a well managed and restricted alliance with private sector providers, like in the case of ASAQ?
  • The Pope steps into the debate on Africa deploring the plundering of its resources. A direct attack against the West and China, or rebuke of African leaders? I am afraid I’ll have to wait for someone else to read it…
  • Greg Houle reviews an article by the New Yorker’s Philip Gourevitch about Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe’s current situation, and like Philip asks himself: how much more contempt by their leaders will Zimbabweans have to endure? Quite a lot, it seems…
  • Commenting on a recent UNDP report (.pdf), Sociolingo wonders: Why Is Africa Constrained from Spending Official Development Assistance? Answer: because the IMF is still obsessed with safeguarding macro-economic stability at the price of expansionary economic policies and reaching the Millennium Development Goals. Fair enough, it’s their job to do so, but why is everyone else – who (according to Rodrik) should have learnt the lessons from the 1990s (.pdf) – letting them do it? Where are the bilateral donors? And especially the World Bank?
  • And finally, my mate Paul mulls over fair trade, Ethiopian coffee growers, Starbucks and the recently-launched Light Years IP website, an initiative of the Coffee Trademarking and Licensing Project, which aims to demonstrate how IP tools can help poor countries capture intangible value of their products to increase and secure export income. Well worth keeping an eye on…

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