Global Readership of TTCSP’s Publications

[av_one_full first min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’]

[av_heading tag=’h3′ padding=’10’ heading=’The Global Readership of TTCSP’s Publications’ color=” style=’blockquote classic-quote’ custom_font=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ custom_class=”][/av_heading]

[av_textblock size=” font_color=” color=”]
In conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania, the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) makes publicly available the Go To Think Tank Indices as well as the Regional and Global Think Tank Summit Reports. To view and download these publications please visit the TTCSP page on the University of Pennsylvania’s Scholarly Commons.

Below is a live representation of the world-wide reach of TTCSP’s publications.

[av_codeblock wrapper_element=” wrapper_element_attributes=”]



Namibia: Beyond the Au-Zn of Foreign Direct Investment (Education, Geothermal Energy, Medicinal Health & Water)

Sand Dunes of NamibiaProfessionals in major capital markets know Namibia for its mineral wealth.  Namibian businesses extract alluvial diamond deposits that contribute more to national GDP than any other resource.   While Namibia is the fourth largest uranium producer, globally, and contributes approximately one-third of Africa’s zinc production, it appears that a lion share of post-production earnings on Namibian on-shore and offshore wealth transfers from the Earth to foreign hands.  Foreign Direct Investment in Namibia seems to have come at a serious cost to local business growth and skills development, although it still represents a sector worth strengthening through diversified investment as we believe Ms. Bernedetter Artivor with the Namibia Investment Centre of the Ministry of Trade and Industry may reiterate were she given the platform to do so.  The labor force suffers with an unemployment rate hovering around 50%, which is troubling considering that a nation larger than Great Britain and twice as large as both Germany and Japan find significant trouble providing opportunities for the willing within a population of 2.3 million.  The colonial legacy in Southern Africa leaves memorable imprints in the civil society of Namibia.  The issues of unemployment must be made apparent when coupled with emigrations that deplete Namibian skilled labor forces to G20 nations.  OECD studies from 2005 & 2006 indicate that approximately half of those Namibian nationals who emigrated to Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States were highly educated individuals.  Approximately half were women, also.  This brain drain has an immeasurable impact upon the socio-economic transformation of Namibia in the long-term.  A UNDP publication in Food Security reported that the food price increases of 2007 and 2008 that hit Namibia disproportionately impacted low-income communities, which does not surprise, but means that a nation with a per capita GDP of under $8,000 is actually in need of regional attention and a supply-side shock to agricultural development.

The Africa Research Team then asks what Namibian think tanks research on diversification of foreign direct investment and the correlated issues that surround extractive industry-led political economy and a foreign-investment driven development strategy.  For example, the Namibian National Agriculture Policy post-1990 places a primary mandate on increasing incomes to real farms and securing food for the population, yet symptoms of malnutrition like stunted growth occurrences in Africa are high in Namibia, particularly as the nation endures a significant season of drought.

  • Namibian Economic Policy Research Unit (NEPRU): Created by the Namibian Constitution in 1990, financial limits led the Namibia Economic Policy Research Unit to close officially in late 2010.
  • Institute for Public Policy Research: This year, researchers Graham Hopwood, Ellison Tjirera, Tracey Naughton and Leon Kufa have addressed issues of corruption within extractive industry as well as the need for transparency and accountability
  • Namibian National Farmers Union (NNFU): The Policy Education and Advocacy Program within NNFU works to incorporate small farmers in the decision-making process about Namibia’s agronomy
  • SWAPO Party Think Tank: Swapo Party Think Tank was enacted into the Namibian Constitution by June 2013. This new think tank of the liberation movement, now governing political party of Namibia, focuses on four key areas:
      1. Political and Diplomatic spheres
      2. Productive and Economic/Financial Sector
      3. Infrastructure development
      4. Social
      5. Governance, Security, Law & Order spheres

Recently, Dr. Hage Geingob, the SWAPO Party Prime Minister (2012-Present, 1990-2002) and former Minister of Trade and Industry (2008-2012), in which the Namibia Investment Centre sat, has been traveling internationally to develop foreign joint ventures in agricultural development.   One deal with Norwegian investors leads Namibia to export beef, while the nation looks east to Burundi for intra-continental trade for Burundian products.  Similarly, Zimbabwe will receive beef from Namibia that would not otherwise reach South Africa due to its restrictions on meat imports with bones from nations that have had Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).  The strategy seems strong – buy low and sell high.  When viewed from a macro lens, there exists within Namibia a great irony that stunted growth impacts cognitive development of Namibian citizens, yet beef overflows for European consumption.  The policy issue seems to leap through the books, the articles, and the websites to shout food sovereignty, rather than food security.  Since there actually appears to be more available food that does not reach citizens, the issue becomes one of ensuring that Namibians reap the benefit of their national capacity even when livestock as a commodity generates foreign currency.

Foreign direct investment in mining | Where are the funds going? Disclaimer: The examples do not reflect the total list of foreign investment in Namibia nor in the the mining sector; they are demonstrative.

Country                        CompanyNamibia-Diamonds

  • Canada:                        Forsys Metals (Gold and Uranium)
  • South Africa:               Namdeb {50/50 – Namibia/DeBeers} (Diamonds)
  • South Africa:               DeBeers Marine Namibia (Diamonds)
  • Ghana / SA:                AngloGold Ashanti (Gold)
  • Russia:                         Sintezneftegaz ZAO (Petroleum)
  • United Kingdom:      Weatherly International plc (Copper)
  • Australia / UK:          Rio Tinto Group (Uranium)
  • United States:            Newmont Mining Corporation (Gold, Silver, Copper)

The former is a stand-alone commodity (a gem) also used for industrial applications and the latter is a necessary component to many of mechanical and chemical engineering processes in the world (copper).  Namibia has them both in abundance and more to the point that they are the primary drawers of foreign capital.  The known trade-off of a nation striving toward self-sustaining sociopolitical and economic development is the following: sell a significant quantity raw materials today in order to capitalize the nation’s wealth and begin infrastructural and intellectual development has led to under-development.   In practical terms, the undercurrent of intellectual exodus occurring in Namibia demands job creation in managerial positions within the key multinational industries of today, which would take place alongside a strategic diversification of industries to provide a new world of jobs in Namibia, which could employ not just Namibians, but others from neighboring nations.  The Africa Research Team would direct its focus toward the education policy of Namibia proposing and reviewing institutions of higher education in Namibia as well as vocational programs promoting agricultural management and chemical engineering.  Namibia’s ~20% ($10 bn Namibian Dollar) allocation toward education makes education the top priority in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.  In global comparison: Brazil (~18%), Ghana (~25%), Japan (~22%), Singapore (~23), United Kingdom (~7%), and the United States (~4%).

So in an environment where the financial priorities are in the right place, what do think tanks have to say about education policy and job creation? As far back as 2008, the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR)IPPR_banner_210 advised in its Namibia Labour Force Survey of 2008 to increase the frequency of studying unemployment so that it serves as a leading, not lagging, indicator for those concerned.  The Africa Research Team looks to see what sectors of the economy the government currently promotes as fields of study in higher education and whether those sectors are in line with future business prospects within Namibia.  For example, is there a strategic aim to strengthen finance and management training to support the initiative to launch the Namibia Financial Exchange?  With the current push within the nation to secure funding for locally-owned businesses through capital markets are Namibian schools preparing Namibians to take up the jobs that will come through new market access or will regional players like South Africa and Botswana be called upon to fill skills gaps?  These unanswered questions are those to which we look at IPPR and future think tanks to address.

Continuing the questions toward education, the research team asks whether any research institutes or civil society organizations are dedicating scholarships for top Namibian scholars in the sciences to study geothermal and alternative energy given large uranium deposits?  Earlier in the year, Namibia welcomed the launch of Namibia Institute for Thorium Energy (NITE), a joint venture that will bring unprecedented research on electrification through an alternative resource called Thorium. Such a venture provides potential for new business growth, so one would look to NITE to source capital for Namibians to gain expertise and to play multiple roles within this global industry.  As Thorium energy is considered, the Africa Research Teams asks whether Namibia has considered utilizing the Namibian sun to establish revenue generating projects such as a solar park to provide electricity to Angola, Botswana, and South Africa while completely subsidizing local use.  Namibia is home to the world’s highest solar irradiation levels, which means basically that the electrifying heat, even with a 17% yield rate, could change the social and economic landscape of Namibia.

indexThe National Botanical Research Institute has published on the edible herbs found in Namibia that are used throughout the Continent for food and medicine as well.  Some of these medicinal plants are succulent plants like the Hoodia tree, Sceletium and Tiger Aloe, and others are water plants like water mint (or its hybrid, peppermint).  Whatever the case be, there is room for growth in the exportation of horticulture.  Is education at the higher education level driving botanical and medical researchers to collaborate in examination of the lasting effects of Namibian native plants?  The potential discovery of the next cancer-preventing agent may rest in indigenous plants of the Namib Desert, but in the meanwhile Namibia could work to secure a sizable market in the the Hoodia, Sceletium, and Aloe trade as well as the global cacti garden industry not only through legislating for indigenous rights, but also through investing in upscale of local businesses through cooperative farming.

Additionally, some international reports indicate that at one point 50% or more of child deaths in Namibia were caused by lack of water, sanitation and/or hygiene.  While NamWater, Namibia’s water utility, provides two significant desalination plants to mines to meet needs there, perhaps a project to desalinate and to irrigate a region north of the Namib Desert and south east as well will prove vital to meet future needs for agricultural development and basic consumption.     Foreign investment in water treatment and water provision stands the chance to gain serious traction when Stockholm International Water Institute issued a mandate month ago for countries to reconsider their national policies relating to water, sanitation and health in meeting local need and international benchmarks like the Millennium Development Goals.  Namibia is known in the water world for water re-use and hosted the International Water Association and others for the Namibian Water Investment Conference last month, which follows a similar conference held in September 2012.  Allocations north of $4 bn Namibian Dollars will be put toward water investments.  Skeleton Coast provided historical challenges to the more adventurous entrepreneurs of the past, but real need in Namibia for better access to water awaits a private-public partnership with a social investment focus to consider seriously how desalination plants can boost supply as well as capture interest from expatriate Namibian professionals seeking to make Namibia a home once more.

Whether it’s through considering how to broaden and deepen the education budget or how to provide better access to water, the think tanks in Namibia and the universities that are likely to educate its staff are called to duty to drive Namibian macroeconomics away from real dependence on a few revenue streams.  The tides of the Atlantic Ocean currently guide investors towards offshore extraction, but the drought of the Desert in the future may require a shift in focus to production of a different sort.  If the sun and the water are the two most readily available non-mineral natural resources, then may we hope that the resourceful Namibian investors harness the sun to illuminate southern Africa and the sea to irrigate a drought-stricken land.

The Democratic Republic of Congo – Without Whom Africa Will Never Be Free

by Rodney L. Smith

“We are going to show the world what the Black man can do when he works in freedom, and we are going to make of the Congo the center of the sun’s radiance for all of Africa.  We are going to keep watch over the lands of our country so that they truly profit her children. We are going to restore ancient laws and make new ones which will be just and noble. We are going to put an end to suppression of free thought and see to it that all our citizens enjoy to the full the fundamental liberties foreseen in the Declaration of the Rights of Man. We are going to do away with all discrimination of every variety and assure for each and all the position to which human dignity, work and dedication entitles him. We are going to rule not by the peace of guns and bayonets but by a peace of the heart and the will. And for all that, dear fellow countrymen, be sure that we will count not only on our enormous strength and immense riches but on the assistance of numerous foreign countries whose collaboration we will accept if it is offered freely and with no attempt to impose on us an alien culture of no matter what nature.” | “The Congo’s independence marks a decisive step towards the liberation of the entire African continent”  – Patrice Émery Lumumba, June 30, 1960  Independence Day Speech

Grunge_Democratic_Rep__Congo_by_pnkrckrThe Democratic Republic of Congo is the second largest country in Africa after Algeria and the eleventh largest, globally.  It is named after the deepest river in the world, the Congo River, which is also the second largest after the Nile River receiving water flow levels that are second only after those of the Amazon.   Sixty percent of the nation is forest, which leads international corporations for timber production.  The Democratic Republic of Congo borders nine countries and is integral to agriculture, commerce, and security for every region of Africa.  Possessing potential to produce enough hydroelectric energy to bring light to the places in literal darkness in rural African villages provides the DRC with incentive to move beyond the stereotypes that plague it.  However, it appears that as with all vital resources in the Congo its namesake river provides immense potential for development as well as unintentional destruction.

NATURAL WEALTH AND THE CORE OF AFRICA  The Democratic Republic of Congo is the wealthiest nation in Africa and in the world.  This is not a bold statement asserted to affirm a nation, but simply a fact that do not reflect in the main national indicator (GDP).  There are factors that preclude the Democratic Republic of Congo from taking its proper place at the global stage, among which political instability, infrastructural underdevelopment, and external intervention place in the rankings.  However, we exclude from the factors any idea of a shortage of resources.    The country is known for copper, gold, silver, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, cobalt, coltan, columbite, niobium (Nb), tantalum (Ta), and tungsten (W) or wolfram, and uranium.  International media and policy analysts frequently focus on the misappropriated wealth of Congo, and in the assessment fingers of blame point towards military and political leadership in the Congo and neighboring nations.   However, what do think tanks in Congo have to say about governance and corruption in the political economy?

The Africa Research Team reviewed the multifaceted utility of Congolese minerals.

Case 1: Coltan, Niobium and Tantalum:  Accordingly, we note that approximately two-thirds of the tantalum used globally enters electronics capacitors and that DRC is a major player in this market.   Niobium and tantalum are of particular interest to all nations that have an airline and military and to every person reading this through an electronic device. Niobium has the highest magnetic penetration depth of any element and is used in semiconductor magnets, which one fines in MRI machines, radars, and advanced weaponry (e.g., coil gun, rail gun). Pacemakers and artificial joints use niobium as well because of the hypoallergenic nature of the element.  Furthermore, niobium is an important raw input to high-strength, low-alloy steel, which draws interest from China, the world’s leading steel producer.  Between eighty and ninety percent of present niobium provisions come from Brazil and Canada, but those markets face steep competition between the major economies of the world.  As such, a stable and investor-friendly DRC will broaden the market for all major consumers.  Similarly, tantalum is the necessary component that enables electronics manufacturers to produce small electronic devices.  Tantalum is used in a variety of industries from its use in surgical appliances and prosthetic implants to drill bits in construction, eyeglasses to camera equipment, jet engines to anti-tank missiles and nuclear weapons.  South Korea and China, number one and two respectively in global sales on smartphones (i.e., Samsung & LG Android phones and Apple iPhones),  trade with Brazil (China) and Columbia (South Korea).  For those in the mining industry in DRC, this trend may alert the nation of the need to stabilize the political economy and to develop infrastructure that facilitates trade at competitive total costs.

mining-in-drc-commdev-courtesyThink Tanks:

  • iPAD DRC, self-described as “the only think tank in the country that focuses on the mining sector”, recently hosted its annual Mining and Infrastructure Indaba in October, which began in 2005
  • Rift Valley Institute has offices based in Kenya, U.K., and U.S., but the independent think tank works with local researchers in DRC to speak to issues there & throughout the Great Lakes Region
  • Friends of the Congo: Filmmaker,Donisha Prendergast, arrived in New York at Fordham University last week to extend the hand of solidarity to Congo Week: Breaking the Silence.  Friends of the Congo is an international organization working in solidarity with Congolese peoples to impact foreign policy to Africa from interest of Congo.

The United States ranked eighth in the world as a global importer of niobium and tantalum in 2010; because the U.S. produces neither niobium nor tantalum of high-grade, it imports 100% of the raw materials for processing and mainly from Brazil and Canada.  In July of the same year, President Barack Obama enacted into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (est. 2010), including Sections 1502 and 1503, which mandate corporate transparency through the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in matters regarding conflict minerals. By 2012, AVX (NYSE: AVX) first produced conflict-free tantalum capacitors, leading a field with competitors like Kemet (NYSE: KEM) and Vishay Intertechnology (NYSE: VSH) to meet the standards of Dodd-Frank.  Meanwhile, China, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, South Korea, France, Thailand, and India outpace the United States in consumption of niobium and tantalum.

minesCase 2: Cobalt-Copper Belt: The world pays attention to the stereotypes that the coltan industry brings to light of trade in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  A similar scenario is true in DRC in the copper-cobalt and diamond extraction business.  In 2013, China offered USD 6.5 billion to the Congolese government for construction of roads, schools, and hospitals in exchange for access to copper-cobalt mines.  Why? While the steel industry requires coltan and its derivatives to create alloys, cobalt is essential to the preparation process of the super-alloys, magnets, hip replacements, rechargeable batteries, and electric-powered vehicles.  More fundamentally, cobalt is the central compound of Vitamin B12, which is necessary for human development.  The U.S. based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX) is the second largest producer of copper in the world. FCX and Swiss-based Glencore International (8th ranked global copper producer) own significant positions in Tenke Fungurume and Katanga Mining Limited, respectively.  A brief survey of the Congolese copper mining industry enlightens researchers to the fact that a majority of Congolese copper wealth transfers hands from international consumer to international investors, and that Congolese concessions place Congolese citizens at the back of the line when the time comes to gain from sales through extraction.

cobalt 2011Think tanks:

  • Katanga Mining Briefing, a part of iPAD DRC, self-defines as the Congolese think tank for the copper and cobalt industry that hosted its second annual conference in October 2013.
  • International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) publishes on the impact of mineral extraction industry to DRC’s bottom line of reducing hunger and malnutrition.
    Open Society Initiative in Southern Africa recently published on the high price of Congolese Gold

The Africa Research Team finds a shortage of Congolese think tanks with accessible works and expresses concern as international organizations drive the current economic policy research and analysis conducted in and on DRC mining.



congo-river-nat-geoDRC is home to the second largest rainforest in the world.  As such there exists within the forest a variety of life unparalleled anywhere.  The ecosystem of the Congolese rainforest is vital to human life it and the Amazon produce almost thirty percent of the Earth’s oxygen and serve as the base environment for natural medicine discoveries.  Deforestation that comes via logging is a danger in the DRC as in neighboring countries like Gabon and Cameroon.  However, a significant amount of deforestation begins with necessity via creation of roads and through subsistence farming by Congolese communities that rely directly upon the forest for food, clothing, and shelter.  Construction of the “Great Inga” dam project on the Congo River may begin in October 2015, which would yield power generation as soon as 2020. The Government is set to sign a treaty, which allocates 2,500 megawatts from the project for South Africa ahead of the 2,300 megawatts allocated nationally.  The two constructed dams, Inga 1 and Inga 2 undergo upgrades.  Inga 3 will be the first step in the Grand Inga project, which intends to produce more than 40,000 megawatts of electricity, making it the largest source of hydropower in the world. The project will establish eight Inga hydro power plants and will flood 170 square kilometers (66 square miles) around the Congo River.

LOGO COMIFAC finalThe Africa Research Teams looks for think tanks focused on the Democratic Republic:

  • Environmental conservation and sustainability – Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC) coordinates the implementation plan for the region and its nine member nations.  Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI) brings together Congolese and international civil society network to promote public policy change and increased cooperation in work.
  • Water Sanitation and Health (WASH) programs – International Crisis Group (ICG) is the South African NGO calling international attention to needs for policy reform
  • Renewable energy electrification
  • Geothermal energy in the Eastern DRC remains largely untapped as Africa’s 5th largest lake, Kivu, is said to produce enough geothermal energy to electrify East Africa.

pfbc logo-cut-EN_207


Eastern DRC: More than simply a UN Catastrophe

Bukavu and Goma, DRC were once communities that welcome international tourism and foreign direct investment.  To the South, Bukavu is an entry into eastern DRC that leads further south/southwest to Katanga, where the world goes for mineral wealth.  In Goma, biochemical research in Africa’s active volcanic soil provides enough reason to stay and to study DRC from a perspective that values its contribution to civil society.  However, today too many people hear of eastern DRC or Kivu provinces, the unfortunate and likely association is to the United Nations and its long-standing peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO or to the civil unrest, intra-Continental war, and ongoing violence that curb sustainable development plans.

pic18 MonuscoChopper_640x280-725391





Think Tanks and Civil Societies Organizations

  • Usalama Project, a part of Rift Valley Institute, uses digital media to explain its role in policy research, analysis, and advocacy in Congo’s armed struggles
  • Life and Peace Institute conducts field research
  • Network for Security Sector Reform and Justice (RRSSJ) issued a report in 2012, Taking a Stand on Security Sector Reform, which focuses on corruption within the Congolese government and military
  • HEAL Africa is more than a hospital that serves those Congolese directly impacted by war in the Kivu regions.  HEAL Africa issues publications meant for policy makers that speak truth to power from the voice of the medical practitioner and provides invaluable research surrounding healthcare provision and statistics of inpatients.

Complex Theory suggests that individuals and organizations in positions of influence and power have approached the issues of the eastern region of Democratic Republic of Congo through the lens of complication vs. complexity.  The former seeks specific remedies to the multiple symptoms of societal ills.  The latter aims to attack the root causes, understanding that without removing the roots, the symptoms will reoccur.  As an example, the Africa Research Team looks critically at the expenditures of the United Nations Organisation Stabilization Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) expressing that the most expensive peacekeeping attributes “complication” to the Congolese terrain, whereas approaching DRC as a complex situation may 1) reduce the overall costs of the Mission and redirect spending to address root issues where possible.  For sure, one topic that the Africa Research Team implores national, regional, and continental NGOs to address in the Africa Think Thanks Summit is ways to direct policy toward the United Nations to yield a shift in focus or strategy in regards to its mission in Congo.  The waste embedded within the billion dollar peacekeeping budget, which serves as emergency relief as opposed to sustainable development, will not be apparent without disaggregation of the fiscal year expenditures.

UN Peacekeeping in Context

The Africa Research Team calls specifically for a research team headed by the African Union to monitor and evaluate the efficacy of large UN peacekeeping units given that it is known that in at least two unrelated cases, the UN presence in conflict zones has exacerbated the local problems through importing foreign military who demonstrate a lack of discipline or in some cases, hygiene.  As a conclusive point, a comprehensive study of the UN in DRC is one step that may carry discussions toward re-appropriating international assistance funds from military intervention to investment.

Nkrumah Calling: Toward a United Future with Common Customs, Markets, & Currency

co-authored by: Breanna Moore, Rodney L. Smith, and Kayla Torrero from the Africa Research Team, International Relations Program, University of Pennsylvania

For at least the last thirty-five years, Africanists and international policy analysts have considered whether economic integration is the necessary next-step toward broader monetary unification in Africa or conversely, whether regional monetary unification is a necessary step toward full economic integration.  The subtlety is significant.  In the former, nations with different agendas will seek to set in place legislation, trade, and educational practices that will gear citizens of cooperating nations with policy to live, work, and exchange peacefully for the good of all.  The latter philosophy compels policy makers to push tirelessly toward the creation of one currency, which will place the fate of large and small nations together and challenge regions to work to get policies and people to recognize the long-term objective of one currency – a stronger economic bloc that can move beyond meeting basic needs and duplication of efforts to attract foreign direct investment.

Flag_of_the_Union_of_African_StatesScholars who look to the Eurozone – established in 1999 to empower smaller European countries with weakened national currencies to thwart the dominance of the USD – bear witness to European economic and monetary union that set clear prerequisites to nations that opt into a Eurozone.  They bear witness to the second stage of a process that begins conceptually from an African leader and scholar. Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah returned from studies in the U.S. and work in the U.K. to Gold Coast to lead its transition into leadership as Ghana and subsequently implement the Union of African States between 1958 and 1963, which included Guinea and Mali.  While this decision was centered around political unification and African independence, it was the ideological prototype for the European Union and the African Union, the latter in which Nkrumah’s role in establishing is pivotal.

In the film, African Independence, University of Pennsylvania Sociology and Africana Studies Professor Tukufu Zuberi interviews former Ghanaian President & former Chair of the African Union, John Kofour, who pays homage explicitly to Osagyefo for his foresight to unify the African continent.  Furthermore, in his own words, Ghana’s first President speaks of freedom:

Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world. I believe strongly and sincerely that with the deep-rooted wisdom and dignity, the innate respect for human lives, the intense humanity that is our heritage, the African race, united under one federal government, will emerge not as just another world bloc to flaunt its wealth and strength, but as a Great Power whose greatness is indestructible because it is built not on fear, envy and suspicion, nor won at the expense of others, but founded on hope, trust, friendship and directed to the good of all mankind.’  – Kwame Nkrumah, I Speak of Freedom (1961)

Today, the African Union continues as the macro level de-facto polity through which foreign policies of member nations are sourced.  What the Africa Research Team looks to determine is what is the state of affairs across regions pertaining to economic integration and monetary unification.  Nineteen percent (19.06%) of Africa’s reported GDP in 2012 came from South Africa, and an additional 13.33% came from Nigeria.  Accordingly, all regional blocs that include these sub-Saharan nations should be considered at a minimum.



Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS):  The West African Monetary Agency (WAMA) works as an umbrella organization to usher in the establishment of a single currency in accordance with the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Programme (EMCP), where the West African Monetary Zone and the UEMOA eventually synchronize and merge two sub-regional currencies into one.  Presently, the single currency seems more distant than present in one scenario, while the second sub-regional currency within ECOWAS utilizes the West African CFA.   Currently, eight of fifteen nations that comprised French-speaking nations use the French Franc-pegged currency.  Since 2000, the remaining seven nations began steps as the West African Monetary Institute to move the region toward a dual currency platform until such time that the two could feasibly be merged into one regional currency.  Plans have preceded implementation, and the second largest economic bloc in Africa continues with powerful, yet unrealized trade potential.  This familiar scenario for the Continent has not gone without notice in Ghana, which is the twelth largest contributor to Africa’s 2012 nominal GDP at 1.93% of the total.  The esteemed former Ghanaian diplomat, Professor S.K.B. Asante, founded The Center for Regional Integration in Africa (CRIA), which was inaugurated in 2013 by President John D. Mahama in Accra with a primary vision to “direct the surge of interest on the subject of economic cooperation and integration into constructive and productive channels and provide programmes and guidelines for action.”  CRIA was originally founded in 2009 according to its website, which suggests that President Mahama’s inauguration served highly to symbolize top-level support for regionalism and Pan-Africanism in the same spirit of Dr. Nkrumah.


CRIA has listed multiple publications addressing African regionalism through the West African perspective, but they also produced  “A Critical Review of a study on the East African Experience of Regionalism in Africa,” which implies that although the EAC is further along the road than ECOWAS in establishing one regional currency for all, the grass is not 100% greener heading from Atlantic Ocean to Indian Ocean.


East African Community (EAC): The East African Community has received significant attention for its leadership in developing a Common Market and Legislative Assembly that are pushing forward with a Customs Union. When compared to the Eurozone, the EAC displays two critical components the serve as precursors to accommodating one currency – 1) an EAC passport or identity card that enables nationals cross-border travel and 2) the EAC common market and customs union, which works to facilitate intraregional trade.  Think tanks within the region like IPAR-Rwanda are actively monitoring the impact of new EAC policies upon the national bottom line.  For example, IPAR-Rwanda issued a policy report on tax incentives provided by the Republic of Rwanda for EAC member nations to conduct business through Rwanda (click here).  The concern is that larger nations may reap the lion share of gains from operating as one consolidated market, which is one that smaller nations may face in regional integration.  In the case of the EAC, notorious and systemic corruption is reported by international investors to organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank as noteworthy. Rwanda emerges as a beacon for investment amidst this background, and it becomes more clear why it’s largest partners in trade are EAC nations with whom it posts a trade deficit.  However, the complexity of encouraging actual trade across national borders bring forth hurdles over which the region will gradually come if it were to at some point trade in divergent currencies for a regional one.  For those wondering if that is merely a dream, it was reported toward the end of September that East African nations have initiated agreements that place the region on a ten-year journey to a single currency, making it the second region to develop such synchronization after ECOWAS.  Legislators will put ink to paper in November 2014 to formalize the journey and to plan proper protocol.

sadcSouthern African Development Community (SADC): In 1980, the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference convened in order to eliminate the economic stronghold of the Apartheid regime within South Africa.  The conference eventually spawned in 1992 into Southern African Development Community (SADC), and SADC carried a focus on integrating development efforts across fifteen member nations.  The fifteen member nations contribute the most to Africa’s GDP with 35.90% of total GDP*, followed closely by COMESA and ECOWAS with 35.82% and 34.24%, respectively.  As of 2010, the GDP of the Southern African Development Community totaled US $575.5 billion with a population of 277 million.  Sadly, Southern African Development Community trade within Africa is the smaller than trade with the Asian Pacific and European Union; the the majority of such intra-continental trade is is intra-SADC trade.  This substantiates the notion that Africa has not begun to tap the well-spring of trade potential that rests within the continent.  It is ultimately that wellspring of wealth that stood second to political liberation in the mind of Kwame Nkrumah before regionalism began.  A customs union with external tariffs may help drive trade inward, and has been suggested by SADC-Secretariat.


In Addis Ababa, the Institute of Security Studies closely examines African regionalism, which they describe as “building blocks to the [African Economic Community]” established in the Abuja Treaty.  In 2008, ISS commented in “Rationalising regional economic communities and implementing the treaty establishing the African Economic Community: The role of Parliaments” Towards a Union Government for Africa, and concluded that the viability of economic regionalism rests squarely in garnering support of national and regional parliaments so that they harmonize policies that facilitate the African Economic Community Treaty.  Since 2008, each region has born witness to practical delays along their proposed timelines due to national or regional obstacles in creating common markets, customs unions, and/or public support for moving forward towards full-scale implementation.

The Southern African Development Community Free Trade Agreement launched August 2008 with about 85% tariff liberalization at zero rates of the merchandise trade flows.  While the minimum conditions were met, maximum tariff liberalization was attained by January 2012 when the tariff phase down process for sensitive products was completed.  Twelve out of fifteen SADC Member States are part of the Free Trade Area, while Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and Seychelles remain outside.  It is important to note that in the Desk Assessment of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan 2005 – 2010, SADC-Secretariat calls for investigation of ways to foster its ‘think-tank’ function in close cooperation with research institutions and resources from member states and other regional stakeholders. Such a new coordinated approach would allow the development of new strategies for the sustainable development of the regional integration agenda.


comesa-logoCommon Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA): COMESA was formed in December 1994 to replace a Preferential Trade Area which had existed since 1981.  Today, COMESA consists of nineteen member nations after late intakes – Egypt (1999), Eritrea (1994), Seychelles (2001), Libya (2005), South Sudan (2011) – replace earlier departures from among the inaugural fifteen nations.  Originally, COMESA slated the year for one common currency to initiate in 2025; however, in 2006, leaders pushed the year forward to 2018.  Between that time, COMESA established a continental Trade Insurance Agency (ATI).  Additionally, the COMESA Monetary Institute launched in 2008 to drive the process of regional monetary unification through 2018.  Central banks throughout Africa are working to harmonise in the advent of utilizing a single currency.  Essentially, steps are in place, but the Africa Research Team looked to Kenyan think tanks for initial inquiry into advocacy to the Central Bank of Kenya, which hosts the Monetary Institute.  The initial inquiry included some of those organizations within the 2012 Global Think Tank Index – Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development, African Centre for Economic Growth (ACEG), Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA Kenya), Inter RegionLOGO Economic Network, Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA), and Regional Centre for Socio-Economic Studies and Development (RECSSAD).  Economic integration is definitely a concern in Kenya.  For example, ACEG is currently conducting a research project entitled “EAC-COMESA-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (FTA) Roadmap”.  KIPPRA addresses regionalism within its Trade and Foreign Policy Programme.  

We highlight Kenyan think tanks only because the Central Bank of Kenya is host institution for the coordination of COMESA Monetary Institute; however, if one looked in South Africa, Egypt, and Tanzania, there are a number of think tanks throughout Eastern and Southern Africa researching and analyzing the trend toward unification.

Conclusion: Upon reviewing the works of various think tanks across sub-regions of Africa, the conclusion found by the Africa Research Team is that the road to one African currency is many years away, but that single regional currencies are visible in the nearer horizon of ten to fifteen years.  The impetus is upon parliaments and regional legislative agencies to create policies that drive African traders toward one another before looking beyond the world’s second largest continent in land and population.


* – GDP: 2004

Diversification of Nigerian Wealth: Strategic Decision or Environmental Necessity?

by: Lily Owei

The first thing that comes to mind when one hears “Nigeria” is oil. This automatic association is reasonable; Nigeria approaches the 100-year anniversary of initial oil exploration and 56 years of extraction beginning in Oloibiri, Bayelsa State.   Oil is perhaps the most defining force in the nation.  The statement may appear to be a strong one; however, with close examination of Nigerian affairs, the influence of oil within the economic, social and political spheres becomes evident.  Nigeria is the twelfth largest producer and fifth largest exporter of crude oil in the world.  Within the continent of Africa, its 2.5+ million barrel-per-day production rate is the highest.    As a result, Nigeria has become overdependent on the resource where oil presently represents 95% of export revenue and accounts for 65 – 80% of total revenue.  These figures reflect of a lack of diversification of the Nigerian economy.  Furthermore, oil is one of the country’s main fuel sources (primarily for transportation), which deepens dependency on this resource. Finally, the vast crude oil and natural gas reserves are often viewed as a “blessing”, but the effects of over reliance and mismanagement (e.g., environmental degradation, volatility and neglect of the agricultural sector, and socio-economic discrimination of ethnic and linguistic minority groups) diffuse the many benefits that the nation as a whole could reap.


Seven thousand oil spills between 1970 and 2000, acid rain from gas flares and stripping away of mangroves have had devastating environmental effects on the Niger-Delta region. Crop growth and fishing reserves are severely affected, leaving local populations in precarious situations. This is where the think tanks dealing with environmental issues come into play. Before looking at the individual think tanks that research and advise policy makers on these problems, it is important to make certain observations. Firstly there are at least forty-nine think tanks in Nigeria, but only two of these focus specifically on the environmental effects. Secondly, one of these think tanks deals exclusively with the Niger Delta region, whereas the other is tasked with researching all environmental problems that plague Nigeria.

bnrccBased on these observations, it is clear that environmental research has not been put on the same pedestal as economic, political and social development.  Moreover, the first of these think tanks is the Nigerian Environmental Study/ Action Team (NEST), whose primary goal is to promote sustainable development. Although it has a focus on environmental degradation, NEST programs broach many subjects.  According to international online service, Eldis, NEST specifically addressed climate change in a 2011 publication series for Building Nigeria’s Response to Climate Change (BNRCC) project.


In 2012, NEST hosted a workshop sponsored by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) per request of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria; the focus of the day was the environmental impact of oil extraction on the Niger Delta Region.  Currently, NEST is the primary research organization implementing the three-year assessment under the leadership of Dr. Chinedum Nwajiuba.

Niger Delta University Logo

The second think tank on the other hand, is devoted entirely to the region. The Centre for Niger Delta Studies (CNDS) is a University-based think tank that aims to disseminate the development challenges of the region, focusing on several topics including environmental degradation and pollution. It publishes a biannual journal entitled the Niger Delta’s Reader’s Digest. Here it is comforting to see that there are numerous articles pertaining to the precariousness of the environment and communities that depend on it.  The Africa Research Team highlights three of the publications from CNDS that are useful to national, regional, and international discussions on oil-driven development and effects of extraction: 1) Oil and Development in the Niger Delta: Past, Present and Future; 2) Impact Assessment of Rural Development Projects in the Niger Delta: The Case of Niger Delta Development Commission and Shell Petroleum Development Company (2005-2011); 3) Effects of Gas Flaring on the Niger Delta Environment: A Climatological Purview

On another note, Nigerian dependence on oil puts the country in a volatile position, as She becomes heavily exposed to price fluctuations determined by the commodities markets more than simply the leaders in government.  Some of these price fluctuations are a result of internal instability as is the case with the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND). This group of militant rebels attacks foreign oil workers and oil rigs while they sabotage oil pipes and most recently, gasoline trucks. These actions severely impact oil prices, leading to fluctuations. Essentially, this group represents a security issue, and this is relevant because it affects Nigeria’s oil export relations. For example, before 2011, 9-11% of US oil was supplied by Nigeria, but by 2012, that percentage decreased to 5% as instability constrains development in the oil sector. This drop resulted in dozens of barrels going unsold. Unless Nigeria is able to combat instability in the region as well as curb corruption and develop its oil industry, it could fall prey to any negative shifts in oil prices. There are several think tanks that tackle this from the angle of economic development and emphasize the need for diversification; however, there are none that tackle the issue of insecurity in the Niger Delta and the country as a whole. One would expect that the restoration of stability to the region would be enough of an impetus for think tanks dealing with insecurity to be active, yet, this is not the case. The reason for this is that there is much more focus on the oil problem from an economic standpoint. One group that has looked at this issue extensively is the Belgium-based International Crisis Group. This think tank prescribes a clear list of recommendations addressed to the Federal Government, which includes solutions like dialogue, encouragement of exploration and production of alternate mineral resources, effective means of distributing oil revenue and security force reform to prevent corruption. Several of these solutions have already been initiated by the Government, such as the dialogue with militants in the Niger Delta region. It is interesting to note that the recommendations deal not only with the issue of insecurity, but propose numerous angles from which to approach the crisis. Finally, in looking at all the Nigerian think tanks, it is clear that several do recognize the need for economic diversification and are conducting research on the best ways to implement such policies.

The last and perhaps most significant effect of over reliance on the oil industry is the neglect of the agricultural sector, which has resulted in increased poverty and food insecurity in rural populations throughout Nigeria. If we were to look at Nigeria’s economic history, we would find that in 1960, its main exports were commodities such as palm oil and cocoa. However, due to neglect, these products are no longer exported in the same amounts. Furthermore, the nation was a large agricultural producer and was largely self sufficient, however under cultivation of the agriculture industry has led Nigeria to import most of its food. There are several Think Tanks that have recognized the importance of agricultural development as a means of improving self-sufficiency and food security. These include the African Centre for Development and Strategic Studies (ACDESS) and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. Both think tanks have a plethora of publications pertaining to agriculture and food security improvement programs. These publications are aimed towards policy makers with the goal of getting them to implement these programs. Both of these think tanks are very active, and are partnered with notable international bodies like the EU, CGIAR and the World Bank. The literature for reform of the agricultural sector is thus available, and at this point, it is up to policy makers to implement measures to improve food security for the entire population.

The Federal Republic of Nigeria has an astounding amount of resource potential.  It does not make sense to witness more than half the population living in poverty with an overall Human Development Index of 0.423 and a Gini coefficient of 48.8 when the abundance of natural wealth continues to generate substantial revenue. It is in countries like Nigeria – where underdevelopment has resulted in degradation of the quality of life for a majority of the citizens – that the collaboration of think tanks with policy makers is so important so as to ensure a redirection toward economic, political and social development from factionalism and cronyism.