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by Steven Langdon
Farmers in Niger and other parts of arid Africa are making their own “green revolution” — by expanding the cultivation of “gao” trees, also known as “winter thorn.” Faced with drought and high prices for fertilizer, farmers have grown over 200 million “gao” trees in Niger, providing nutrition to the soil and retaining water from the scarce rainfall.
We provide a detailed discussion of this remarkable success in the agriculture chapter of our new book, “African Economic Development,” published this year by Routledge. Now the Guardian newspaper in the UK has published an update on recent developments, along with illustrations of “gao” trees and their output. The article emphasizes as well the contribution of the trees to countering climate change pressures.
Please see the attached article:
Traditional economic development thinking has emphasized sectoral advances in such areas as agriculture, resources and industry. Just as technological innovation has transformed the dynamics of North American and Asian economies, however, technological change is now bringing remarkable advances to some African countries. Kenya has been a particular example of this process.
Technology hubs have grown, especially in Nairobi, such innovations as internet banking have spread across the country and technological education has grown for young women as well as men.
The following video from PBS provides powerful testimony of how these changes can improve the conditions and opportunities of the poor in Kenya. High tech mapping of the Kibera area in Nairobi, the video shows, provides insight into where services are located — and most needed. Education is also shown as a pathway to new skills and options for poorer Kenyans, including young women.
by Steven Langdon
Mineral developments in many African countries used to give minimal attention to environmental effects. But this has been changing in recent years. Our recent book, “African Economic Development” (published in 2018 by Routledge,) outlines examples from Nigeria, Liberia, Niger and Mozambique; local communities and environmental groups in these cases have worked to counter pollution damage to people and wildlife, drawing support from such foreign institutions as the European Investment Bank and from domestic university scholars.
Now a major Chinese-financed initiative to mine bauxite in Ghana has spurred similar objections from local environmental and community groups. The Ghana government has stressed high economic benefits from the mining project, but protestors point to considerable potential damage to the rainforest ecology in Ghana. Ghana’s famous Kakum National Park, with its tree-top canopy walk amidst huge old-growth trees, is an example of this ecology in the country.
Environmental and community groups have seen success in enforcing punitive payments from petroleum multinational corporations in Nigeria, and have established improved pollution policies in the case of the aluminum smelter operated by BHP Billiton in Mozambique.
What will be the outcome of this new struggle in Ghana? This will be a case to track carefully. See the attached link for more information.
by Steven Langdon
When I was working with the World Bank in Nigeria, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala was one of the most impressive people with whom I dealt. On leave from the World Bank, she was trying to shape more disciplined budgets for the country, so that Nigeria could better develop a more inclusive economy built on its massive oil resources.
It was a difficult task, she told me. But at that point (before she became the country’s Finance Minister) she was hopeful.
Now, after years in that job, Ngozi has written a book revealing just how challenging her task was. Quartz Africa’s Fewi Fawehinmi outlines what Ngozi has written, and draws out the main difficulties she faced in the structure of Nigerian budget-making. Not only did legislators change rapidly in Parliament (leaving few with budget experience,) but the budget depended on assumptions about the world prices at which Nigeria could sell its oil, and these shifted continually while the budget was being considered. Add to that external pressures (Ngozi’s mother was kidnapped to try to get the Minister to change her approach to fuel subsidies in 2012.)
“Nigeria, says Fawehinmi, “remains very dysfunctional in the way it carries out the normal business of government.” Ngozi’s book may help in at least a small way to change that.
[For more, see the following link: https://qz.com/1290954/fighting-nigerian-corruption-might-be-dangerous-but-preparing-a-nigerian-budget-is-hell/ ]