In the News: Higher Education in Africa

posted by Akosua Adomako Ampofo

An African Higher Education Summit was recently held in Dakar from March 10-12.  The three-day continental summit focused on revitalizing higher education for Africa’s future. The event provided a forum for discussions on themes such as policy harmonization across African universities, sustainable investment models, diversity, graduate employability, gender, governance, and the role of research. It will also delve into the ways in which Africa’s higher education institutions can be more active players in the fields of Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI).Engaging a wide-range of active stakeholders from across the continent, the summit presented a unique platform for participants to collectively determine a common vision geared towards transforming Africa’s higher education system in the next 50 years. Attendees included heads of state, ministers of education, entrepreneurs, academics and international development partners.

In the News: The U.S. Role in Somalia’s Ongoing Humanitarian Saga

posted by Bangirana Albert, Cilas Kemedjio, and Cecelia Lynch

George Monbiot, in a piece for The Guardian, with the incendiary title of “The careless, astonishing cruelty of Barack Obama’s government,” argues against what seems to be the inhumane currency control measure instituted by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) – a US federal agency tasked to prevent currency inflows into Somalia.

“The US, it seems couldn’t care less if it causes a humanitarian crisis in Somalia, one of the world’s poorest countries” says George Monbiot.

The US treasury emphasizes that such monies could be fueling terrorism in the region. However, with such remittances accounting for almost 50% of Somalia’s GDP – a surmountable percentage sustaining many vulnerable Somalis, such a move could trigger a national humanitarian catastrophe or even perpetuate what the US desperately intends to prevent – terrorism. This is because remittances help pay for not only immediate supplies such as food, but also get money circulating in the economy, which produces jobs for people who would otherwise be unemployed. Continue reading

In the News: On Charity Advertising

posted by Carrie Reiling

golden-radiator-award-2013In an article for Pambazuka, “All that glitters is not gold,” Daniel Bendix critically examines the recent winners of the Golden Radiator Award and Rusty Radiator Award, given by the Norwegian Students and Academics International Assistance Fund for charity advertising. He notes that the awards do not seem to give enough consideration to “the political implications of advertisements and awareness of the historical–political context in which the work of the organizations promoting themselves with the clips are situated.” While he praises these awards for using satire to highlight stereotypes of the global South, he does push against them, noting that they “perpetuate the classical development discourse,” thus eliding the inequalities inherent in aid, as well as the political constructions that created the conditions where aid is seen as necessary.

In the News: Why Volunteer Abroad?

posted by Tanya Schwarz

A recent Op-Doc, titled “An African’s Message for America,” directed by Cassandra Herrman for The New York Times, follows Boniface Mwangi, a Kenyan activist and photojournalist, as he engages with American college students over the issues of volunteerism and humanitarianism abroad. He encourages these young people to work towards the betterment of their own communities, instead of going elsewhere to help “others” in need. We at the CIHA Blog agree that the issue of “going abroad” to “save” others is problematic and needs to be addressed. Why is it that “saving Africa” is so exotic for people? Why are people in Africa (and elsewhere) often portrayed as “the deserving poor,” while those in need in the U.S. are often labeled “welfare queens”?

In the News: Aid for Trade

TripartiteLogo_630posted by Bangirana Albert and Cilas Kemedjio

Jim Redden and Catherine Grant Makokera, in the article “Aid for Trade Vital for Boosting Regional Integration and Development,” discuss the viability of a Tripartite Free Trade Area (T-FTA) that will bring together the three existing regional groupings in Southern and Eastern Africa – the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC) and the Community for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) towards a continent-wide free trade area. They say,

“If well harnessed, aid for trade can provide a significant boost to progress on regional integration and increased trade in Africa.”

We at the CIHA Blog would like to highlight the uncritical way this article addresses the aid for trade business project. We argue that such trade is not by itself a response to African problems but is first and foremost a way for local and global capitalist networks of corporations to increase their dividends. Additionally, we question how the “common good” factor in this equation is always assumed, but never articulated. In short, the problem, in Africa, as elsewhere, is not about productivity. It is about “What to do with this productivity?” or where the common fits in this agenda.