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This blog was started in May 2012, one month before the United Nations Rio+20 ‘Earth Summit’ where the green economy was the main theme. The blog so far has had three specific objectives.

In the run-up to the Rio+20 Summit the initial objective was to raise awareness of Africa’s huge green growth potential and role in rebalancing the global economy. Eight posts were published before the Summit and were sent to as many African environment ministries as possible. One post was published in August 2012 appraising the summit and Africa’s position: Africa, Rio+20 and the Green Road Ahead.

The second objective was to examine the case of Ethiopia, following the death of prime minister Meles Zenawi on 21 August 2012. At the time of his death Mr Meles was recognised as 'the voice of Africa' at international summits and conferences and a leader in Africa's green thinking. Four posts on Ethiopia were published between late August and early November 2012 exploring the paradoxical nature of his leadership with a focus on raising awareness of his green legacy and 21st century vision for Ethiopia and Africa.

The third and current objective is to raise awareness of the importance of the green economy in Africa's growth story. 2013 started with unprecedented optimism for Africa’s growth prospects. Summits, conferences, articles, books, blogs, films and other media now proclaim that 'Africa’s Moment' has arrived. But very few even mention the green economy as an essential tool in the process to achieve sustainability and resilience. For this reason the current focus of this blog is a call to action to 'put the green economy into Africa’s growth story'.

Part of this call to action is writing letters to the Financial Times. Not only does the FT have excellent coverage of Africa but it is also seen by many as the 'world's most influential newspaper'.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014


The Financial Times articles mentioned below can be accessed for free by following the links.

On 28 January 2014 the FT published an article by chief foreign affairs correspondent Gideon Rachman entitled “Growth and globalisation cannot cure all the world’s ills”. With this article Mr Rachman questions the accepted trouble-shooting prescriptions that have been used by policy makers for the past twenty years.

YaleGlobal online, a publication of the MacMillan Center, gives a good summary of the article:

“Global leaders and elites, such as those who gathered for the World Economic Forum in Davos, regard economic growth via globalization as the prescription for difficulty or political conflict, suggests Gideon Rachman for the Financial Times. But economic growth, globalization and capitalism do not necessarily curtail inequality, instability, environmental degradation, nationalist rivalries, jihad and the other stubborn quests for power that ignore democratic decision-making. Rachman identifies three areas of the concern: Syria and other places in the Middle East are beyond the fixes of economic rationality. The Chinese-Japanese rivalry intensifies despite the fact that China is “Japan’s largest trading partner and the biggest recipient of Japanese foreign investment” and Rachman points out that “in some respects, China’s growing prosperity is actually driving the increase in international tensions in Asia.” And in Europe and the United States, globalization has enriched many but contributes to wage stagnation and a widening inequality that could lead to more political extremism.” 

            What a coincidence that Gideon Rachman should write on the same day as the FT’s Africa Editor, Javier Blas, reports “UK shifts African aid focus to economic development” with its emphasis on growth.

Mr Rachman’s insights are particularly relevant for African aid because, despite being the world’s fastest growing region (by some accounts) and globalising at a dizzying pace, the benefits are by no means curing the continent of its many political, social and environmental ills, and in many respects are making them worse.

Mr Rachman’s well-argued Comment should therefore act as a signal to Justine Greening, head of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) , to make sure that investments that boost growth are sustainable and inclusive. In the current system this is easier said than done. Economic growth, measured by gross domestic product, has the tendency to have the opposite effect. The only known solution to this conundrum is through investments designed to boost green growth measured by green GDP, a 21st century accounting system not yet recognised in Africa or elsewhere.  

If, as Ms Greening says, DFID’s departure in the way the UK spends its aid budget is “radical”, “revolutionary” and yet “pragmatic”, this is a unique opportunity for her department to live up to those words and direct aid towards Africa’s emerging green economies instead of towards business-as-usual.

Britain has many advantages for supporting green growth in Africa including historical connections, unrivalled knowledge of the continent, leadership in green technologies and a deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, who championed the green economy at the UN’s Rio+20 Earth Summit in 2012.

2013 was the year of “Africa Rising”. With Britain's, and more specifically DFID’s, influence 2014 can be the year of Africa’s Rising Green Economy.

Related posts:

Africa's Green Voice Falls Silent: 2013 London Memorial to Meles Zenawi (30/06/13)

Britain's Role in Unlocking Africa's Green Economy (16/05/13)

A Letter to the FT: Europe's Role in Unlocking Africa's Green Economy (09/03/12)


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