Africa gets small scale agriculture fund

A $21.45 million fund has been launched to support microfinance for rural households and to finance smallscale investment in agriculture across Africa. In addition to the financing, technical assistance will also be provided to help microfinance institutions develop new products, improve business planning and develop legal and human resources capabilities. Microfinance institutions can help poor households in rural areas where no formal lending exists by supporting income-generating activities and reducing dependence on external help. Read more here.
Cosmas Butunyi

Decline in competitiveness in many sub-Saharan states

As growth in some sub-Saharan countries hits 6% there is still no large-scale African middle class emerging, while China and Brazil reap benefits of resource imports. Declining competitiveness in parts of Africa is beginning to concern economists. Speaking on Summit TV, Frontier Advisory analyst Martyn Davies believes that there is a continuing decline in competitiveness in many sub-Saharan states, and that growth without productivity and competitiveness is not sustainable. Especially, the continent needs to use the comparative advantage it has in agriculture. Read more here.
Business Day

With new investments, Israel again is looking to Africa

Israel’s development aid to Africa shrunk to its current low levels following the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when most African states severed ties with Israel. That ended a period in which Israel sent some 5 000 experts in agriculture and other fields to countries throughout the developing world. However, there are many Israeli companies in Africa. The Israeli irrigation company Netafim introduced low-pressure, low-cost drip irrigation systems for subsistence farmers, providing them with enough water to raise crops year round. In a Kenyan village called Kitui, small-scale vegetable growers who adopted Netafim’s product saw a 140% increase of harvested yield and a 200% increase in income while saving of water resources. Read more here.
Dina Kraft

A visit to iLEDA Schools for democracy in Malawi

iLEDA Volunteer Amy Eaglestone from the Netherlands visits Idasa’s iLEDA School for citizen leadership for democracy in Malawi. She travelled to the southern African country with iLEDA School head Noxolo Mgudlwa and trainers Auburn Daniels and Lesley Adams. She discovers several development challenges and argues for citizen leadership training.

By Amy Eaglestone
It was raining when my colleagues and I landed on the only flight that day into Lilongwe International Airport in Malawi. It wasn’t the tropical rain that buckets down to offer a short respite from the African heat and humidity, but that European drizzle, that does nothing but make your clothes and hair damp and uncomfortable. So as we ran across the tarmac to the shuttle bus, I mentioned to my colleague that this wasn’t exactly what I was expecting in the heart of Africa.
But to a westerner like me, Malawi met my expectations. The women wear colorful traditional African dresses, they carry heavy buckets of water and other necessities on their heads, food is sold from small stalls or just off the ground along the main roads, the red soil stains everything, coca-cola in little glass bottles is so sweet it makes your teeth stick together, you need a 4×4 to get from one town to the next and the best place in town to eat is the café behind the petrol station. But above all it is where natural beauty, cultural diversity and extreme poverty go hand in hand.

Making Aid Work

Idasa recently hosted the ‘Southern African Civil Society Consultation Workshop & Multi-Stakeholders Consultation on Aid Effectiveness: Catalysing Broad Implementation Of The Accra Agenda For Action (AAA)’. This was one of a series of workshops on the African continent and around the world. Others have been held in the Philippines and Columbia. These workshops are aimed at providing information and building capacity for participation in the aid reform process, ultimately making aid more effective, transparent and democratically accountable in achieving mutually-agreed development objectives. See more here.

Helping Africa Save Itself

By Witney W. Schneidman
originally published in Newsweek, June 2009

Dambisa Moyo, a Zambian-born economist, lays out a brash argument in her book, DEAD AID: that the more than $1 trillion in foreign assistance given to Africa over the past 50 years is the root cause of the continent’s enduring poverty, widespread corruption, civil wars, and isolation from the global economy. Following this logic to its conclusion, Moyo argues that the best way donors could help Africa today would be to phone officials there and tell them all aid will be cut off within five years. Given recent calls by Bono, the economist Jeffrey Sachs, and others to increase aid, Moyo’s thesis is controversial, to put it mildly. And it’s also misleading in several key ways. But it’s worth taking seriously, for it’s already caused a huge sensation in the donor community and among Africans frustrated by the slow pace of development—and eager for ways to speed the process.
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