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The Myth of Africa’s Economic Miracle

Africa is doing better than ever economically, but many regular people remain desperately poor. Kofi Annan on how Africans are being excluded from their continent’s economic miracle—and how to end the crisis.

BS Top - Annan Africa Poverty

People wait outside the United Nations High Commission for Refugees office to seek permission to move to a different camp on August 21, 2009 in Dadaab, Kenya

This is an important year for Africa. The World Cup is putting the continent at the center of global attention. With Africa’s strengths and frailties under greater international scrutiny than ever before, what will the story be?

After major difficulties in the wake of the global financial crisis, African economies are recovering and proving their resilience, in contrast to gloominess elsewhere in the world. The African Development Bank and IMF foresee GDP growth rates of around 5 percent by the end of the year.

Africa’s progress should be measured not just in GDP but by the benefits that economic growth brings to all of Africa’s people.

Trade is growing too, both within Africa and with partners, including the global South. Africa-China trade has multiplied more than tenfold in the last decade. Barely a week goes by without reports of the discovery of more oil, gas, precious minerals, and other resources on the continent.

Climate change is drawing attention to the vast potential of its renewable energy supplies, including hydro, thermal, wind, and solar power. Business activity is increasing.

In short, Africa’s stock is rising, as highlighted by the Africa Progress Report 2010 released today, Africa Day. But the report also asks some difficult questions.

Given our continent’s wealth, why are so many people still trapped in poverty?

Why is progress on the Millennium Development Goals so slow and uneven? Why are so many women marginalized and disenfranchised? Why is inequality increasing? And why so much violence and insecurity?

The good news is that access to basic services such as energy, clean water, healthcare, and education has improved in many parts of the continent. But these basics are still denied to hundreds of millions of women, men, and children. Why?

In trying to provide the answers to these difficult questions, one must be wary of generalizations. Africa is not homogenous; it is raucously diverse. But its nations are linked by common challenges hampering human development and equitable growth: weak governance and insufficient investment in public goods and services, including infrastructure, affordable energy, health, education, and agricultural productivity.

Over the last decade, we have learned a great deal about what is needed. Ingredients include determined political leadership to set and drive plans for equitable growth and poverty reduction. Technical, management, and institutional capacity are vital if policies are to be implemented. Good governance, the rule of law, and systems of accountability are essential to ensure that resources are subject to public scrutiny and used effectively and efficiently.

So what is holding back progress? Lack of knowledge and a shortage of plans are not the problem. Good, even visionary agendas have been formulated by African leaders and policy makers in every field, from regional integration to women’s empowerment. Moreover, we have myriad examples of programs and projects that are making a tangible positive difference in peoples’ lives, across every field.

Given the continent’s vast natural and human resources and the ongoing, often illicit, outflow of wealth, lack of funds is not the barrier either, even though more are needed.

It is political will that is the issue, both internationally and in Africa itself.

Internationally, there are concerns that the consensus around development has been eroded by the financial crisis. Many rich countries are keeping their promises on development assistance, but others are falling badly behind. These shortfalls do not result from any decrease in human solidarity and sympathy. Nor, given the relatively modest sums involved, can they be blamed on budgetary constraints alone.

They stem more from the failure to communicate the importance of putting the needs of the least-developed countries at the heart of global policies.

Efforts must be stepped up to explain why fairer trade policies and stemming corruption are not just ethical or altruistic, but practical and in the self-interest of richer countries.

Africa’s leaders have prime responsibility for driving equitable growth and for making the investment needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. They can help by making the case more strongly for development policies and necessary resources.

The continent now has leaders who stand out as champions of development. We need more of them. Sadly, though, their efforts are overshadowed in the international media by the authoritarian and self-enriching behaviour of other leaders. Africa’s progress should be measured not just in GDP but by the benefits that economic growth brings to all of Africa’s people.

Africa is a new economic frontier. The approach and actions of the private sector, and of Africa’s traditional and new international partners, are crucial in helping overcome the continent’s challenges. There is a real opportunity to strengthen the new partnerships to help achieve development goals, with countries such as China and those in the Middle East, South Asia, and Latin America

African leaders need to have more confidence in their bargaining position, and greater legal and negotiating capacities to ensure that they secure deals that bring benefits to their people. Their partners, including those in the private sector and from the global South, should be held to high standards of transparency and integrity.

Political leadership, practical capacities and strong accountability will be the winning elements for Africa. The international community can play a decisive role in ensuring that the continent is playing on a level field. But Africa’s destiny is, first and foremost, in its own hands.

by Kofi Annan

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May 29, 2010 Posted by | Africa | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Figures on Spain’s Tourist Economy

It has been established in many nations that tourism is one of the biggest industries. Many countries, like Spain, allot national budgets for the improvement of many facilities for tourists. Aside from that, resources are set aside to encourage and invite foreigners to travel and visit the many sights in Spain. The annual expenditure of Spain for travel and tourism alone reaches over $45 billion. There are many ideal qualities of the Spanish region which attract many foreign visitors every year. Among these are the climate, beaches, and historic sites of the country. 

According to the United States Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, in 2005 to 2006, there were about 995,000 travels by US tourists to Spain. Further more, data presented by the National Statistics office of the United Kingdom state that Spain is among the most favorite European places to visit by UK residents. In 2005 alone, there were an estimated 13.8 million UK residents who traveled to Spain for their vacation. It was also detected by analysts that the revenue of Spain from online travel bookings by foreign visitors is showing significant increases over the past years. More and more hotels are now being built in Spain to accommodate the every-growing tourism industry of the country.

The World Tourism Organization (WTO) has its headquarters in the Spanish capital of Madrid. In a WTO report in 2007, there are about 60 million international visitors to Spain every year. Second to France, Spain is known as one of the most favorite world destinations. According to Euromonitor International, not only are UK residents fond of visiting Spain, but also German and French tourists as well, with numbers increasing every year.

As you can see, there are many reasons why Spain should be in your itinerary when you take a holiday with your family. Find out more about the sights and attractions in Spain, and check out the accommodations available.

May 23, 2010 Posted by | Business, Off Topig, Tourist Economy, Travel & Tourism | , , , | Leave a comment

Methanol Economy, From the Backstage

A new type of energy use, often are not found in other energy has been “exhausted” in the beginning only. This is a rule, is the History of energy use.Alibaba methanol net offer of such a group: April 18, 2010, the domestic methanol prices, Fuxin 4,000 yuan per ton, 3,500 yuan per ton in Shandong, Jinan, Guangzhou City in Guangdong is only 2,500 yuan per ton. If you read this group of methanol to lay quotations may be read “Double Dutch” indistinguishable, as in China, North and South regions as different things, different levels of economic development, methanol offer vary greatly. Some experts said that, like methanol and other types of energy, the price is follow the market, the price changes, just illustrating the concept of new energy demand is not the same. But the real concern is not the price of methanol, but methanol as a kind of new energy, and its roles. Statistics show that alcohol has a market economy from the “shadow” reached the “front stage.” Methanol economy, has become one of China’s energy economy, more and more beautiful scenery.

From the energy point of view, the history of mankind in the most “hard” period. This is so, is based less and less pressure on fossil fuels, based on human beings have to strive for a sustainable new energy pressure. Is not it, all renewable energy sources including biomass, geothermal energy, have gradually entered the field of vision of human energy consumption, and even some have become alternative energy sources. A few years ago, some experts suggested a new possible approach to more efficient use of existing oil and gas resources, so that the final out of the human dependence on fossil fuels. This method is based on methanol, this methanol is also a “methanol economy” basis. U.S. energy expert George? A? Aura in his “Beyond Oil and Gas Age: methanol economy” in his book, said, methanol is the simplest, safest, easiest to store and transport of liquid hydrocarbons. At present, it is almost always prepared from synthesis gas derived from the synthetic gas from fossil fuels, mainly natural gas or coal incomplete combustion; methanol is also available from other biomass such as municipal sewage in preparation. In addition, the preparation of methanol or dimethyl ether may also be changed from the oxidation of methane.

Therefore, methanol as a new energy, “shadow” has now hidden in the energy family. The current problem is, even though the concept of methanol had been made, but for methanol as a fuel, methanol production for a description of the analysis of the prospects for their development, but also few people do. Summarized the results of expert studies, methanol’s “look” can be outlined as follows: First, methanol is a convenient energy storage medium; Second, it is a convenient transportation and distribution of fuels, including used in methanol fuel cell; again, it is a synthesis of hydrocarbons and their products use raw materials, including polymers and single cell protein. Scientists generally believe that the source of carbon may eventually come from the air, the air everywhere on Earth, but the energy required can be obtained from the corresponding energy.

Therefore, the methanol “clean” and “quality” to make it in the near future to become human “pet.” In recent years, human beings are very concerned about the survival of the environment, concerned about climate change, methanol just be able to protect the environment, maintain climate stability, help. Called “methanol economy,” is through the recycling of excess atmospheric carbon dioxide, to reduce human beings to the adverse effects of the Earth’s climate, which can effectively curb the trend of global warming.Looking forward to “methanol economy” became an important assistant energy economy, do not forget another of the “heroic”, that is ethanol. For most people, the methanol and ethanol no difference, and even that can give up alcohol and enhance the development and use of ethanol. In fact, scientists study concluded that methanol and ethanol, although very similar in chemical composition, the former is a carbon alcohol, the latter two carbon alcohol, both of which derive from the fiber, but now mainly synthetic methanol way to produce. In industry, through the hydrolysis of ethylene to ethanol production; in agriculture, prepared by fermentation from. Using fermentation to produce ethanol, is quite energy consuming. Preparation of methanol because they do not rely on agriculture, thus reducing fossil fuel use. In contrast, not only can not substitute for ethanol, methanol, instead of good properties as methanol, will be humans of all ages.

Global perspective, the development of more and more obvious economic advantages of methanol. Select from the resources point of view, through the existing natural gas to produce methanol oxidation does not require pre generated synthesis gas; from the resource conservation point of view, can be used on industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, “hydrogenated” cycle of production of methanol; from the use of future prospects see, methanol and dimethyl ether as a very convenient transportation fuel, can be used in the development of the next generation battery; from the side chain, using methanol as raw material to produce ethylene and propylene, which extended for the synthesis of hydrocarbons and products guaranteed.Methanol economy is the solution of human energy needs of a new way. Right now, the development of methanol economy has to have some conditions; to the long term perspective, the development of methanol economy has “epoch making” strategic significance. Establishing and Implementing the CAS Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry researchers recently stressed that the economy is the solution of methanol as a future energy strategy and methods. The judge, in the near future will certainly be confirmed.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Business | , , , , | Leave a comment