Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) – (Google / allAfrica)

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West Africa: Ecowas – Its Formation And Achievements

Richard Alkali

Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) has existed for 33 years. Richard Alkali in this write-up takes a look at the motives behind its formation and how far those motives have been achieved

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was created on May 28, 1975. It is a regional group of 15 West African countries namely, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivore, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and lastly, Togo.

ECOWAS is a mission to promote economic integration, and also was formed to achieve “collective sufficiency” for the member states by means of economic and union, creating a single large trade bloc. The creation of ECOWAS and implementation of the protocol on free movement of persons in practice came as a result of needs identified by the leaders of West African states who recognised in the early seventies that intra-regional integration could be an important step towards the sub-region collective integration into the global economy.

Thus, the treaty signed in Lagos on 28 May, 1975 creating the ECOWAS covered almost all the field of economic activity.

The most important of it all, is the signing of treaty, that outlines the key to removing obstacles to the free movement of goods, capital and people in the sub-region. The treaty simulated efforts towards an homogenous society that once existed in the sub region. It is in that context that the protocol on free movement of persons and the right of residence and establishment of May 1979 was explicit in free mobility of labour. Continue reading “Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) – (Google / allAfrica)”

Private capital flows to Africa rise (ATDF)

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Private capital flows to Africa rise

According to the Financial Times (FT) and the Economist, Africa is no longer the backwater dark continent of the world but rather an emerging location for investor opportunities. The FT suggests that the “continent is at the heart of the latest surge of enthusiasm to hit emerging markets. In their search for yield, investors, bankers and companies are focusing on opportunities in some of the most far-flung corners of the world.” FT quotes two fund managers as saying – “Africa is the largest and most exciting group of the frontier markets and everyone wants to be part of it,” says Richard Segal, fixed income strategist at Renaissance Capital, the Russian investment bank.

“It is a world blissfully unaware of the subprime carnage and the American housing crisis,” says Jeremy Gardiner, director at Investec Asset Management, which manages assets worth about $34bn in Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa has seen substantial economic and political improvements in recent years, fuelled by the current boom in commodity prices and democratic winds that swept across most of the continent in the 1990s. Despite the turbulence of change of the 1990s, widespread debt relief and improvements in economic policy seems to have helped stabilize a situation that was getting out of hand. Continue reading “Private capital flows to Africa rise (ATDF)”

Agflation: Food prices – The end of cheap food (The Economist)

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Food prices – The end of cheap food

Rising food prices are a threat to many; they also present the world with an enormous opportunity


FOR as long as most people can remember, food has been getting cheaper and farming has been in decline. In 1974-2005 food prices on world markets fell by three-quarters in real terms. Food today is so cheap that the West is battling gluttony even as it scrapes piles of half-eaten leftovers into the bin. That is why this year’s price rise has been so extraordinary. Since the spring, wheat prices have doubled and almost every crop under the sun—maize, milk, oilseeds, you name it—is at or near a peak in nominal terms. The Economist‘s food-price index is higher today than at any time since it was created in 1845 (see chart). Even in real terms, prices have jumped by 75% since 2005. No doubt farmers will meet higher prices with investment and more production, but dearer food is likely to persist for years (see article). That is because “agflation” is underpinned by long-running changes in diet that accompany the growing wealth of emerging economies—the Chinese consumer who ate 20kg (44lb) of meat in 1985 will scoff over 50kg of the stuff this year. That in turn pushes up demand for grain: it takes 8kg of grain to produce one of beef. But the rise in prices is also the self-inflicted result of America’s reckless ethanol subsidies. This year biofuels will take a third of America’s (record) maize harvest. That affects food markets directly: fill up an SUV‘s fuel tank with ethanol and you have used enough maize to feed a person for a year. And it affects them indirectly, as farmers switch to maize from other crops. The 30m tonnes of extra maize going to ethanol this year amounts to half the fall in the world’s overall grain stocks. Continue reading “Agflation: Food prices – The end of cheap food (The Economist)”

Agflation : Food prices – Cheap no more (The Economist)

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Food prices – Cheap no more

Rising incomes in Asia and ethanol subsidies in America have put an end to a long era of falling food prices

ONE of the odder features of last weekend’s vote in Venezuela was that staple foods were in short supply. Something similar happened in Russia before its parliamentary election. Governments in both oil-rich countries had imposed controls on food prices, with the usual consequences. Such controls have been surprisingly widespread—a knee-jerk response to one of the most remarkable changes that food markets, indeed any markets, have seen for years: the end of cheap food. In early September the world price of wheat rose to over $400 a tonne, the highest ever recorded. In May it had been around $200. Though in real terms its price is far below the heights it scaled in 1974, it is still twice the average of the past 25 years. Earlier this year the price of maize (corn) exceeded $175 a tonne, again a world record. It has fallen from its peak, as has that of wheat, but at $150 a tonne is still 50% above the average for 2006. As the price of one crop shoots up, farmers plant it to take advantage, switching land from other uses. So a rise in wheat prices has knock-on effects on other crops. Rice prices have hit records this year, although their rise has been slower. The Economist‘s food-price index is now at its highest since it began in 1845, having risen by one-third in the past year. Continue reading “Agflation : Food prices – Cheap no more (The Economist)”

Agricultural crisis to affect twelve million Yemenis (Google Alert / Yemen Times)

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Foreseeable agricultural crisis to affect the livelihoods of twelve million Yemenis
By: YemenTimes Staff

Yemen is still an agricultural based economy, employing almost half the workforce and providing livelihoods for over two-thirds of the population. However, the agricultural sector is facing enormous challenges that obstruct its development, ranging from policy issues, to trade, production, and water issues. This report sheds the light on the recent developments in the Agricultural sector and the outlook for upcoming Years. Yemen’s Agricultural Economy is Shrinking. The contribution of Agricultural to the GDP is falling from 18 percent in 2004 with an expectation to drop to 13 percent in 2007, while production of crops in the country has been decreasing, along with the landmass allocated for agricultural activity, and therefore the Agricultural Sector is also employing less people, and in turn affecting the livelihoods of more than twelve million people. Continue reading “Agricultural crisis to affect twelve million Yemenis (Google Alert / Yemen Times)”

Saving Earth or Saving Profits (Google Alert / Mailstrom)

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Saving Earth or Saving Profits


From an article in December’s Socialist Standardtranslated from a leaflet distributed by socialists in France.
The environment is not under threat from industrial production as such, but from this in the service of profit-seeking

All forms of vegetable and animal life are part of a network of relations called an “ecosystem” in ecology. Normally this system is self-regulating to the extent that, if an imbalance develops, this is rectified spontaneously, either by the restoration of the previous balance or by the establishment of a new balance. The problem is that there’s been the industrial revolution: the pollution of water and the ground due to the massive disposal of toxic or non-recyclable wastes and to the use in intensive agriculture of chemical fertilisers, nitrates and pesticides; the pollution of the oceans due to the increase of maritime traffic, the flow from polluted rivers, the shipwreck of oil tankers (70 alone in 1996!), the discharge of toxic, chemical and radioactive waste, desludging at sea, etc; overfishing; the pollution of the air due to the massive use of fossil fuels, the development of the individual motor car, and the clearance by fire of forests (despite these being the lungs of the planet!); industrial accidents (Seveso (1996), Bhopal (1984), Chernobyl (1986), Toulouse (2001)); the emission of greenhouse gases (CO2) by petrol vehicles and factories, deforestation, leading to global warming and its consequences (rise in the sea level due to the melting of the icepack and of polar and continental glaciers, floods, desertification, storms); acid rain; extinction of living species; introduction of GM organisms; storage of nuclear waste; expansion of towns (where now more than half the world’s population live).

And for a good reason! No State is going to implement legislation which would penalise the competitiveness of its national enterprises in the face of foreign competition. States only take into account environmental questions if they can find an agreement at international level which will disadvantage none of them. But that’s the snag because competition for the appropriation of world profits is one of the bases of the present system. Attempts at international cooperation have already been made: the League of Nations, then the UN, for example, were set up to “maintain” peace. But the 20th century saw the most devastating and murderous wars in history! Continue reading “Saving Earth or Saving Profits (Google Alert / Mailstrom)”

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