Mapping the Geography of Political Violence in North and West Africa

By Olivier J. Walther, Assistant Professor in Geography, University of Florida and consultant for the OECD Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC/OECD); Steven M. Radil, Assistant Professor in Geography, University of Idaho and David Russell, consultant for SWAC/OECD

A worrying turn

The security situation in North and West Africa has taken a worrying turn. Within the span of a few years, Mali has faced a military coup, a secessionist rebellion, a Western military intervention, and several major terrorist attacks. In the Lake Chad region, Boko Haram is attempting to revive an Emirate, killing thousands and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee to neighbouring countries. In Libya, the bombing campaign by NATO in 2011 hardly put an end to the civil war that continues to oppose rebels and militias. If the trend observed so far continues, this year will be the deadliest recorded in the region since 1997, with more than 8 300 killed through June.

Despite the multiplication of security studies, the geography of conflict throughout the region is obscured by the large number of belligerents, their divergent political strategies, and a focus on individual countries as the primary context of the continuing violence. While violence remains on the increase, it remains unclear whether violent organisations are intensifying their efforts in particular localities, spreading insecurity to a growing number of regions, or relocating under the pressure of government forces. Continue reading

Africa is the continent of the future. Are democracy and governance up to the challenge?

By Nathalie Delapalme, Executive Director, Mo Ibrahim Foundation

doug-linstedt-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Doug Linstedt on Unsplash

Africa is the world’s youngest continent with around 60% of the population currently under age 25. Between now and 2100, basically two generations only, Africa’s youth population is expected to increase by more than 180%, while Europe’s and Asia’s will shrink by more than 21% and by almost 28%, respectively. By the end of the century, Africa’s youth population will reach 1.3 billion people, double the expected total population of Europe, and will represent almost half of the world’s youth.

If Africa is the continent of the future, youth is the future of the African continent. Undoubtedly, the ability to offer them sound prospects is a key challenge that will shape the future of our shared world. Youth is Africa’s biggest resource. Its eagerness, dynamism, creativity, energy, and ability to make the best use of innovation can drive political, economic and cultural transformation on the continent, provided it is properly harnessed and challenged.

But we are at a tipping point. Too many young people on the continent feel both devoid of proper economic prospects and robbed of political ownership, often still held by leaders who are two or three generations older than their average population. Continue reading

The food economy can create more jobs for West African youth

By Léopold Ghins and Koffi Zougbédé, OECD Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat 

Français suit

IMG_8554
Muhammad Sanyang, General Manager of MBK Farms, Banjul, Gambia.
© SWAC/OECD

Youth employment and job creation loom high on development agendas in West Africa. The issue is also a priority at the continental and international levels: decent work and youth empowerment are priority areas within the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and ‘youth and jobs in the Sahel’ will figure prominently amongst talks at the G7 Summit which begins this Saturday in Biarritz.

Such policy focus is necessary in view of the demographic realities in the region. Although unemployment is low overall, informality remains prevalent, and growing numbers of young people struggle to access attractive training or sources of income. West African economies need to create more and better jobs. Yet, from a policy perspective, how to support decent and inclusive job creation is not always clear. Trade-offs in public resource allocations across sectors and information gaps abound.

In this context, what and where are the opportunities for policymakers willing to address the challenge of decent job creation? Continue reading

The Sahel: responding to emergencies with efficiency

By Abdoul Salam Bello, Senior Fellow, Africa Center, Atlantic Council

sahel-burkina-faso-women-pixabay
Image by Anton Wagner/Pixabay

The situation in the Sahel is concerning as community conflicts add to existing security, humanitarian and development challenges. What is now at hand is an emergency requiring the Sahel countries to respond with a sense of urgency. And not only is a greater and effective State presence necessary, but also improved synergies and coordination amongst stakeholders, including beneficiary communities and the private sector whose role is often overshadowed and underleveraged.

Here’s what we know: security challenges in the Sahel region put additional pressure on governments’ budget. This consequently generates significant macroeconomic and fiscal costs. Mali, for example, almost quadrupled its military spending from USD 132 million to USD 495 million from 2013 to 2018 according to figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Over the same period, Niger increased its military spending by 2.5-fold, from USD 91.6 million to USD 230 million, while Burkina Faso doubled its expenditures from USD 142 million to USD 312 million. Mauritania spent 4.1% of its GDP on security spending in 2016, while Chad spent the equivalent of 5.6% in 2013. Such security expenditures often crowd out social investments. In 2018, for instance, Niger spent 17% of its total budget on security compared to 11% on health. If this trend persists, it would hinder the States’ ability to implement critical social programmes needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Continue reading

Le rôle essentiel des villes dans la coopération transfrontalière, levier de l’intégration africaine

Par Yvan Pasteur, Chef de la Division Afrique de l’Ouest à la Direction du développement et de la coopération suisse

Depuis longtemps, l’Afrique de l’Ouest est considérée comme une région en voie d’intégration. Des études déjà anciennes ont désigné l’espace SKBo, réunissant les régions de Sikasso (Mali), Korhogo (Côte d’Ivoire) et Bobo Dioulasso (Burkina Faso), comme un exemple de dynamisme et de coopération transfrontalières [i]. Pour autant, dans la zone SKBo comme dans d’autres, les potentiels n’ont encore débouché concrètement que sur un petit nombre de projets transfrontaliers. Il faut donc s’interroger sur les causes de cette progression trop lente. Continue reading

Gender and social protection: fighting for equality and against poverty

Sigi-banner-for-blog

By Liévin Feliho, Chief Executive Officer, SOLIHO; Former Government Commissioner at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in France  


This blog is part of a special series marking the intersection between
the 2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI),
the
2019 SIGI Global Report and work on Social Protection


Social-protection-women-poverty

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO)1, only a minority of the world’s inhabitants (45.2%) enjoy at least one social protection benefit today. If this protection amounts to 84.1% in Europe, it is in Africa that the situation is most worrying with only 17.8% of the population covered. It is difficult to have a fair assessment of women’s coverage level since most of the available and disaggregated data only concern benefits provided to mothers with newborns.2 Evidence points to the fact that, regarding social protection also, women are structural victims.

The Protection and Affordable Care Act (‘Obamacare’) promulgated on March 23, 2010 by President Barack Obama and the 2011 report on the Social Protection Floor for a Fair and Inclusive Globalization by the advisory group chaired by Michelle Bachelet, set by ILO with the collaboration of the WHO, have increased awareness around the concept of social protection. After the economic and financial crisis of 2008, these initiatives allowed policy makers from poor countries to more freely defend the idea of institutional solidarity. Indeed, Africans had prioritised social protection since at least the early 2000s3 but poor governance and the conflicting requirements of donors in budgetary matters have failed to bring to fruition their ambitions in the area of social protection and health. So, what does this specifically mean for African women and social protection? Three considerations follow:

Continue reading

Comprendre l’initiative P20 : Une nouvelle approche de la définition de la pauvreté et des moyens de la combattre

dcr-banner

Par Abdoulaye Bio Tchané, Ministre d’État du Plan et du développement, Bénin


Pour en savoir plus sur ce thème:  Coopération pour le développement 2018 : Agir ensemble pour n’oublier personne


(Lire ce blog en anglais)

En tant que décideurs et responsables de l’action publique en Afrique, l’une des questions qui nous posent toujours problème est de définir et d’identifier clairement ce qu’est l’extrême pauvreté, et qui en sont les victimes. Au vu de mon expérience d’ancien Ministre des Finances et d’actuel Ministre d’État du Plan et du développement du Bénin, nos budgets nationaux ont toujours été par essence sociaux. Qu’entend-on par là ? La pression que font peser sur nous la pauvreté, la fragilité et la vulnérabilité nous condamne à gérer l’urgence ; et l’urgence en Afrique revient à garantir la survie au quotidien de nos concitoyens.

Toutefois, en dépit de lourds investissements dans des programmes sociaux, les frontières de la pauvreté ne reculent pas aussi vite que nous l’aurions espéré. Il y a à cela de multiples explications possibles, mais notre mission est de trouver des moyens de résoudre la question – et ce, de façon à atteindre en priorité les plus défavorisés. C’est à cette fin que le Gouvernement du Bénin, en partenariat avec le Gouvernement de la Suisse et l’ONG Development Initiatives, a lancé l’initiative P20 dans le but de remédier à la pauvreté et à la vulnérabilité, et d’honorer notre engagement de ne laisser personne de côté.

Continue reading