if you hadnt had a chance to attend primary school, how your life would be like today?

on 23 August me and 5 my friends will be doing the Isle of Wight challenge walking 56km along the coast. We are doing this not only to challenge ourselves (we aim to finish this walk Pajong primary school Ugandain about 8-9 hours), but also to raise funds for 350 underprivileged children in Northern Uganda so they can go to school. This is a very grassroots project implemented by Swedish organization Jeremiah Lucas Opira Foundation therefore all donations will go to this project supporting Pajong primary school.

In order to send children to school, parents should pay the school fee, buy school uniforms, textbooks and pay for the school meals. Many simply cant afford it. Therefore initiative like this will try to improve school attendance (particularly of girls) and raise awareness of education as a route to escape poverty.

Please support us and make a donation here on our online fundraising page! Even if it is just a value of a pint or cup of coffee, it can help us to get more kids attending the school, receiving school meals and textbooks. In fact, you may be saving someone’s life.

Giving may make you feel better! Thank you very much!

p.s. currency of the fundraising page is Swedish krona, so 100SEK is about 9GBP or 11EUR or 15USD.

Africa’s storyteller

It was devastating to find out few days ago about the sudden death of BBC presenter Komla Dumor. He was one of my favorite BBC presenters and i always enjoyed his stories about the diverse, rising Africa. I am sharing with you here his TED talk which, i think, captures very well his professionalism, values, charismatic personality, and his approach to balanced story-telling which is particularly important when the story is told about Africa. He’s gone way too early.

R.I.P.

 

market liberalization by coercion?

Apparently the European Parliament has just given an ultimatum to African countries to open their markets by 2014. If they fail to do that, African countries (well, excluding the very least developed countries) will lose the duty-free export rights to the EU.

In my opinion:

  1. That’s blackmailing.
  2. if anyone in EU is truly committed to promote long-term development in Africa, then this will be a straight counter-productive action; moreover, quite few initiatives implemented by European Commission’s DG DEV and DG ECHO may simply be in vain, because economic development will be hindered by free, but unfair trade regime: it will make Africa’s export less competitive and will increase import from developed countries which will put an extra pressure on local markets and local producers.
  3. decision as to what economic policy a country wants to implement is its own sovereign right; forcing another country to adopt free market is intervention in its internal affairs. Right now, when, for example, IMF is telling Tories in UK that they have to stop the nasty austerity cuts, George Osborne is irritated by being told not only what to do, but to do to something which is opposite to what he is doing right now. African countries should also feel free to be irritated and do what is good for them not what they are told to do.
  4. opening of market should not be done just because everyone is doing it or because rich countries have done this or just because WTO or EU say. The question always should be asked – what’s the benefit of it and for whom? If the answer is that it is a road to prosperity and wealth, then this is complete misinformation; no developed country has achieved its prosperity through free market. Accumulation of resources and nurturing of national economies occurred during the long periods of protectionism (and in some cases, as we know – colonialism and slavery). African countries should be allowed to nurture and protect their national economies as long as they need, and only when they feel competitive enough to compete with the rest of the world, markets should be liberalized. It is a prerequisite for long-term development and escape form the trap of dependency. There is no shortcut.

simple math or – again, why tax havens are bad

One does not have to be a master in math to understand this: since 2007 UK government (meaning DFID) has provided development aid to Zambia of around GBP 200 million; since 2007 UK based multinational company Associated British Foods has made profit of its operations in Zambia worth about GBP 123 million and through tax optimization (read – tax havens) has not paid any tax in Zambia. This company which is heavily profiting from the sugar industry in Zambia is an excellent example of how resources are depleted by foreign companies and how disproportionate benefits does the local society gain.

Moreover, if you compare how much UK government is giving to Zambia and how much UK based businesses are gaining from their operations there (above mentioned company, of course, is not the only one operating there and following the same practice), it becomes clear what is the balance of this ‘development assistance’.

Trade liberalization which is a mantra of every neoliberal economist again proves here that as such it is not necessarily making positive impact in a developing country. There are no positive effects of trade liberalization unless foreign companies when doing their business in developing countries do pay their fare share for using local resources. It is not the developing countries which should be thankful for foreign companies coming and working there, it is the foreign companies which should be thankful to those countries for allowing them to operate there.

Tax Justice Network has written a good article on this and Action Aid has launched a campaign to demand UK Government to make an action.

Africa

i think, this map of Africa is one of the best i ever have seen. It shows so perfectly how big it is, how big potential it has, how important it is as a continent and society in a global context. It also makes one realize how wrong it is to make an opinion about Africa or Africans by visiting just few countries or meeting few African people. People way too often tend to think that all Africans, all African countries are the same; but there may be massive differences between one country from another just like France and England will never be the same.

africa