Wednesday, 5 August 2009

A sustainable Africa?

"One doesn't have to look far to see that Africa is ripe with opportunities"; Hilary Clinton.

After having been involved in many parts of the third world, the US is now focusing on Africa. After Obama's visit to Ghana, Hilary Clinton is now in Kenya (for her 11 day tour of the continent) trying to promote trade and investment in Africa; which is a GOOD thing.

Free trade and economic development significantly contribute to political stability, poverty reduction (if it's done properly, then not only the elite would take advantage of the growth), better life quality, less corruption, etc. The creation of solid economic grounds is the most viable way to help developing countries reach the stability we have here in the Global North.

But there's one thing that all this economic growth doesn't take into consideration: the environment. As countries focus on their GDP growth and economic data in order to provide a better life for its citizen, they tend to forget about their impact on the environment. Trees will be cut to build plants that would most probably pollute the sky and the surrounding lands. People will be richer and hence boost their consumption which will contribute to more pollution - whether it's with the increasing number of cars (look at China) or because of all the trash that will be generated. Population will grow and will then need more food that should be massively grown deteriorating the quality of the land. And so on...

So my hope is that while the US helps Africa develop itself, they take into consideration these factors and learn from their own mistakes. Not only focus on mass consumption and rapid GDP growth, but manage to have a good mix of environmental regulations and economic development. Hopefully Africa will grow in a sustainable way and show the example to the rest of the world.


  1. AFRICA WORKS! It's a good thing Hilary is going there - as she will keep environment and the issues of sustainable development on the agenda as she did when she visited India earlier in the year.

    Africa is also the continent of Wangari Maathi - the first African woman and environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize ( 2004)She will be keeping a close eye on this visit and the outcomes - if you want a job done properly you need women at the helm.

  2. If USA want to promote trade and investment in Africa, then it should first sit down and agree with other parnters (like Brazil, China, India) and sign the Doha agreement that would boost the trade while taking always under consideration also environmental and social isssues. EU should do the same. For more info on Doha Round and WTO on

  3. You used the phrase 'Global North'. I don't think I can read this blog any more.

    Seriously though - economic prosperity doesn't have to mean environmental decline. But the process towards a free market and economic development must be done with a lot of forethought and very careful planning not to impact on ecosystems. It is the way forward for Africa though.