U.S. House Speaker Pelosi Visits AFRICOM Headquarters in Stuttgart

U.S. Africa Command Home

The Speaker is no stranger to Africa.

“I met my husband at a course called the History of Africa South of the Sahara, and I have been studying Africa for decades,” Pelosi said in a brief interview.

“At long last the United States and the world is treating the continent, and individual countries, with the respect that they deserve,” she added.

At the conclusion of her U.S. AFRICOM engagement, Pelosi said that she was leaving confident “that General Ward and all of those working with him have a respectful attitude to the countries of Africa, want to work with them to develop solutions, and I have confidence that they will succeed.”

Kibaki leaves for China to seek infrastructure deals

President Kibaki has left for China to seek support for a number of projects that Kenya has discussed with the Chinese, including development of a port at Lamu, a rail line from Lamu, a standard guage rail line from Mombasa (existing “Lunatic Express” line is narrow guage), light rail for Nairobi–from Africa Review.

In the May issue of The Atlantic, former New York Times correspondent Howard W. French explores this type of Chinese investment activity in Africa in “The Next Empire”.

“Africa is Back” says IMF Head–Where did it go?

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, IMF Managing Director, had this to say on the official IMF “blog” under the title “Africa is Back”:

In the wake of the global financial crisis, there is a fresh energy in Sub-Saharan Africa–and a broad consensus on the road ahead. Above all, there is the strong sense that Africa’s destiny will be driven by Africans, not by others.

That at least is my initial feeling after two days of dialogue in Kenya with President Kibaki and government officials, civil society leaders and trade unionists, academics and students, and ordinary Kenyans. “Africa is back” is how I described it in a live TV debate in Nairobi with Prime Minister Odinga, Minister of Finance Kenyatta, Nobel Laureate Wangari Mathai, Transparency International’s Akere Muna and my friend, Bob Geldof.

See commentary from Roubini Global Economics

One Recent Study: “African Poverty is Falling…Much Faster than You Think!”

A recent study by Maxim Pinkovskiy of M.I.T. and Xavier Sala-i-Martin of Columbia:

Our results show that the conventional wisdom that Africa is not reducing poverty is wrong. In fact, since 1995, African poverty has been falling steadily. Moreover, contrary to the commonly held idea that African growth is largely based on natural resources and helps only the rich and well‐connected, we show that Africa’s income distribution has become less rather than more unequal than it was in 1995, and therefore, that a great deal of this growth has accrued to the poor.
. . . .
Not only has poverty fallen in Africa as a whole, but this decline has been remarkably general across types of countries that the literature suggests should have different growth
performances. In particular, poverty fell for both landlocked as well as coastal countries; for mineral‐rich as well as mineral‐poor countries; for countries with favorable or with unfavorable agriculture; for countries regardless of colonial origin; and for countries with below‐ or above median slave exports per capita during the African slave trade.3 Hence, the substantial decline in poverty is not driven by any particular country or set of countries.

“Book Bitings”–African book news, interviews, reviews and such

Bringing e-books to Africa

Summertime by J.M. Coetzee, reviewed at PRI’s The World

“Postcolonial Everyman”, Kaiama Glover reviews Chinua Achebe’s The Education of a British Protected Child in the New York Times.

Africa Rising–from Pambazuka

An Evening with Dambiso Moyo“–Guardian

Helene Cooper (The House on Sugar Beach) on the new Liberian surf scene.

Stray Questions for: Alexandra Fuller at Paper Cuts.

FBI charges 22 over alleged attempt to bribe African defense minister

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/mobile/americas/8469117.stm

More details in the FT.

This is good news. People actually getting arrested–and before the fact, rather than years later. Note that this involved efforts to sell “small and light arms”. A good bit of State Department security assistance in places like Kenya is to combat traffic in this type of arms.

Also encouraging is the cooperation of UK authorities with those in the US.