News Round-up

Trading With the Enemy
The last decade has seen a remarkable surge in US economic interest in the continent of Africa. Policymakers who once considered Africa the languid backwater of global economics are now rushing in to stake a claim in the continent’s enormous resource endowment. Most of this effort operates with a rhetoric focused on ‘partnership’ and ‘development’, with the vision of using US trade and investment to lift Africans out of poverty.

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, exemplified this attitude by saying, ‘Let’s help each other make Africa all that it can be’. But, a quick look at the trade policy itself shows that this sugary rhetoric of American benevolence and concern for African welfare is deeply misleading. It does little more than cloak an agenda firmly rooted in economic realpolitik

Rwanda Heads to Asia for New Markets
Rwanda is turning its attention to Asia for investment, as the country sets up efforts to fast-track economic growth. According to the International Monetary Fund, Rwanda’s economy can grow by 8.5 percent in 2011, above its projection of seven percent growth. However, this would require additional investment of between US$200mn-US$300mn.

According to the Rwanda Development Board, for the country to achieve its investment targets, it is focusing on attracting investment specifically from new economic powerhouses in Asia. The country has recently sent investment teams to India, Malaysia and Thailand, while it has received delegations of investors from Singapore and China

High Cost of Grain Depriving Benefits to Farmers
Poverty is denying grain farmers in Nyanza and Western provinces the benefits of a storage facility introduced in 2010 by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to stabilise prices. NCPB officials say demand for instant cash has seen growers sell their rice, maize and other cereals directly from the farm at throwaway prices, instead of marketing the produce through Warehouse Receipts.

The NCPB Manager, Lamech Oyugi, said that, although the board has been purchasing paddy from farmers in Ahero Rice Irrigation Scheme, some farmers sell their produce at low prices after milling the rice at a local mill, which also charges extra for milling