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Monday
Nov062017

Smart Cities Up Close | 2013

 


Story: David South

Design and Layout: Solveig Rolfsdottir

Publication: Southern Innovator Issue 4: Cities and Urbanization

Publisher: United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC)

Date: 2013

Smart Cities Up Close in Southern Innovator Issue 4.

Southern Innovator Issue 4 contents.

Meet Southern Innovator.

Southern Innovator Issue 4: Cities and Urbanization is published by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).

The first five issues of Southern Innovator. The highly influential magazine was distributed around the world and each issue was launched at the annual Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo hosted by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).

© David South Consulting 2017 

Thursday
Jul022015

Caribbean Island St. Kitts Goes Green for Tourism

 

New UNOSSC banner Dev Cha 2013

Going green may sound like the right thing to do but it can also be associated with being a costly burden and boring. But, as one island nation is proving, being green is a great selling point for attracting tourists and investors – especially in a world where many places are grappling with pollution and resource depletion.

St. Kitts, an island located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, is part of the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis and has a population of around 35,000 (stkittstourism.kn).

The country shut down its main source of income, the sugar industry, in 2005. Facing dropping profits, it decided the industry was not worth supporting anymore.

But what would be the replacement source of income and employment? St. Kitts has turned to tourism for the answer. While many other Caribbean islands have long drawn on tourism – along with banking and finance, in some cases – in order to diversify economies away from dependence on agriculture, St. Kitts had not developed this sector. As a latecomer, St. Kitts needed to think about how it could do things differently and stand out from the crowd.

St. Kitts decided to become a regional champion for green tourism and green energy, and to lure tourists to the island by championing its green credentials.

The launch in 2013 of a Euro 1.8 million (US $2.48 million) one-megawatt solar energy farm nearby the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport (http://www.stkittstourism.kn/explore-st-kitts-getting-here-airport.php) – enough to power a few hundred houses – showed St. Kitts was getting serious about going green (http://www.cuopm.com/?m=201302&paged=13).

Joining the new solar farm, an all-green resort is hoping to further boost St. Kitts’ green credentials. The ambitious Kittitian Hill (kittitianhill.com) resort stretches across 162 hectares and includes four hotels, an organic farm and multiple restaurants. In the pipeline is a plan to open film production and editing facilities to lure movie-makers looking for a green film-making studio.

Kittitian Hill is the brainchild of property developer Val Kempadoo (http://www.linkedin.com/pub/valmiki-kempadoo/8/53a/339), who is trying to set a precedent for sustainable resorts in the Caribbean. It is being developed with a mix of foreign experts and local contractors.

The resort boasts organic food fresh from tropical farms and an on-site tropical forest, described as an “edible landscape” offering a bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Around the resort, “Pick Me” signs encourage visitors to pick ripe fruit and sit down and make a meal of it.

The grounds include rare and heirloom fruit trees, and the resort hopes to create a reserve to protect endangered species. To spread the green message, the plants and seeds are shared locally with farmers and others. It is part of a strategy to encourage farmers to produce organic food, avoiding pesticides and chemicals, and to farm animals ethically.

The resort’s green ethos even extends to its 18-hole golf course. Golf courses are notorious water-wasters, but this one has a smart water management system, using organic crops and fruit trees to help keep the soil moist, interweaving a farm throughout the golf course. Caddies will guide golfers to the ripest fruits while they putt their way around the course.

“My vision is to bring together community and culture, along with mindful conservation of natural resources,” said Kempadoo. “This means we can offer our guests an unforgettable experience, while bringing lasting, life-changing benefits to the local people and economy.”

As an added sweetener to get investment coming in, St. Kitts and Nevis offers citizenship to investors in the country. In return, investors can travel visa-free to 120 countries – something that has appealed to investors from around the global South.

“It is important for St. Kitts to be selective and careful about development and focus on high-end rather than high-volume tourism,” Kempadoo told Monocle magazine. “The best asset of this island is its natural beauty, and we want to preserve it.”

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: June 2014

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP's South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South's innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=XhU9BQAAQBAJ&dq=development+challenges+june+2014&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challenges-june-2014-published?qid=be364432-b16e-4e07-a9a5-afee35205b96&v=default&b=&from_search=1

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Thursday
Jul022015

Big Data Can Transform the Global South’s Growing Cities

New UNOSSC banner Dev Cha 2013

The coming years will see a major new force dominating development: Big Data. The term refers to the vast quantities of digital data being generated as a result of the proliferation of mobile phones, the Internet and social media across the global South – a so-called ‘data deluge’ (UN Global Pulse). It is an historically unprecedented surge in data, much of it coming from some of the poorest places on the planet and being gathered in real time.

Big Data will have a profound impact on how the cities of the future develop, and will re-shape the way the challenges and problems of human development are handled.

Estimates by Cisco (cisco.com) foresee 10 billion mobile Internet-enabled devices around the world by 2016. With the world population topping 7.3 billion by then, that will work out to 1.4 devices per person.

Some estimates say 90 per cent of the digital data ever generated in the world has been produced in the past two years. It is also estimated that available digital data will increase by 40 per cent every year (UN Global Pulse). This digital transformation is being accompanied by another trend: the largest migration in human history from rural to semi-urban and urban areas.

This presents an unprecedented opportunity to make this rapid urbanization and social change smarter and more responsive to human needs, and to avoid the failures of the past, from over-crowding to crime, disease, pollution, unemployment and poverty. Some believe data collection can radically alter development by flagging up problems quickly, giving cities the chance to respond and correct negative trends before they get out of control. In short, to build in resilience by way of digital technology.

The latest region to see rapid industrialization and urbanization has been Asia – in particular China, a country that since the 1980s has simultaneously lifted the largest number of people in world history out of poverty and undertaken the biggest migration ever from rural to urban areas.

And now Africa is beginning to follow in Asia’s wake.

Unlike previous waves of industrialization and urbanization, Africa’s transformation is occurring in the age of the mobile phone, the Internet, personal computers and miniature electronic devices capable of more computing power than the computers used during the Apollo space programme (http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/diypodcast/rocket-evolution-index-diy.html). This changes the game significantly.

This 21st-century approach to urban growth is at its most sophisticated, and utopian, in so-called “smart cities.” These are built-from-scratch cities that use the “Internet of Things”, where everything, from lamp posts to garbage bins to roads are embedded with microchips and radio frequency transmitters (RFID chips) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio-frequency_identification) to communicate data in real time. By analyzing this data, cities can be responsive to human needs and mitigate problems – improving waste collection and traffic management, reducing crime and pollution. Services can be customized to residents’ needs and liberate them to spend more time on things that matter such as their own health, family, work and hobbies. Examples of these cities include Tianjin Eco-city (tianjinecocity.gov.sg) in China, Masdar (masdar.ae) in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and Songdo International Business District (songdo.com) in the Republic of Korea.

These experimental smart cities are springing up in the East, and it will be the East – as well as Africa – that will see most of the action going forward. As the global management consulting firm McKinsey noted in its report Urban World: Mapping the Economic Power of Cities: “Over the next 15 years, the center of gravity of the urban world will move south and, even more decisively, east.”

Cities in the global South will be generating the new prosperity of the 21st century. And it is widely accepted that people living in cities have the potential to become very efficient economically while rapidly driving prosperity higher.

The McKinsey report says that “by 2025, developing-region cities of the City 600 (a list gathered by McKinsey) will be home to an estimated 235 million middle-class households earning more than (US) $20,000 a year at purchasing power parity (PPP).

“Emerging-market mega-and middleweight cities together – 423 of them are included in the City 600 – are likely to contribute more than 45 percent of global growth from 2007 to 2025 (http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/urbanization/urban_world).”

The world’s future prosperity is going to be found in the urban, the digitally connected, and the middle class.

Tracking all this digital change is the UN Global Pulse. UN Global Pulse (unglobalpulse.org) was started by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2009 with a mandate to study these changes and build expertise in applying Big Data to global development. UN Global Pulse functions as a network of innovation labs where research on Big Data for development is conceived and coordinated. It partners with experts from UN agencies, governments, academia, and the private sector to research, develop, and mainstream approaches for applying real-time digital data to 21st-century development challenges.

Unlike major technological trends of the past, this one is not restricted to the industrialized, developed world. Through the spread of mobile phone technology, billions of people are now using a device that constantly collects digital data, even in the poorest places on earth.

From an international development perspective, Big Data has five characteristics, according to UN Global Pulse: it is digitally generated, passively produced by people interacting with digital services, automatically collected, can be geographically or temporally traced and can be continuously analyzed in real time.

Sources of Big Data include chatter from social networks, web server logs, traffic flow sensors, satellite imagery, telemetry from vehicles and financial market data.

The key to using Big Data is combining datasets and then contrasting them in lots of different ways and doing it very quickly. The purpose?  Better decision-making, based on an understanding of what is really happening on the ground.

This data exceeds the capability of existing database software. It is either too much, or comes in too quickly, or can’t be handled using current software technology. Tackling this problem is creating a whole new wave of opportunities for those working in information technology.

As technology and processing power continue to improve, the cost of wrestling with this data and putting it to use is coming down.

The data can be analyzed for patterns and hidden information that before would have been too difficult to gather. This approach has been used by big companies such as WalMart (walmart.com), but it has cost them a large amount of money and time.

Pioneers in Big Data include search engine Google, email and search provider Yahoo, online shopping service Amazon and social media service Facebook. Many supermarkets use Big Data to analyze the way customers behave when they are shopping, combining it with their social and geographical data.

But new developments in hardware, cloud architecture, and open-source software mean Big Data processing is more accessible, including for small start-ups, who can just rent the capacity required on a cloud-based service (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing).

In the past, governments and planners had a ready excuse as to why they could not keep on top of ballooning urban populations and the chaos they brought. They could just throw up their hands and say “We do not know who these people are or what to do about them!”

This excuse does not work in the age of the mobile phone. It is now relatively easy to deploy the power of the networked computing inside mobile phones to map urban slums and identify the needs of the people there. Parse that data, and you have an accurate account of what is happening in the slum – all in real-time.

Making sense of all this information is creating its own new industries as innovators, entrepreneurs and companies step forward to chart this brave new world.

Historically, significant improvements in human development have occurred only after large-scale gathering of data and information on the actual living conditions of the population. For example, prototypes of today’s infographics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infographic) – informative visual representations of complex data – were created during the great attempts at tackling poverty and disease in Europe in the 19th century. Today’s masters of this technique include the Swedish doctor, academic and statistician Hans Rosling (gapminder.org), whose dynamic infographics are renowned for changing people’s perceptions of global problems.

UN Global Pulse notes “much of the data used to track progress toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) dates back to 2008 or earlier and doesn’t take into account the more recent economic crisis.

“While this may feed a perception that there is a scarcity of information about the wellbeing of populations, the opposite is in fact true. Thanks to the digital revolution, there is an ocean of data, being continuously generated in both developed and developing nations, that did not exist even a few years ago.”

UN Global Pulse believes Big Data can be used to protect social development gains when crises strike. Rather than undoing decades of good development work and human development achievements, Big Data can help to create agile responses to crisis as it happens.

UN Global Pulse believes the same data, tools and analytics used by business can be turned to help the public sector understand “where people are losing the fight against hunger, poverty and disease, and to plan or evaluate a response.”

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: June 2014

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP's South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South's innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=XhU9BQAAQBAJ&dq=development+challenges+june+2014&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challenges-june-2014-published?qid=be364432-b16e-4e07-a9a5-afee35205b96&v=default&b=&from_search=1

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Thursday
Jul022015

South-South Trade Helping Countries During Economic Crisis

 

New UNOSSC banner Dev Cha 2013

Weathering the global economic crisis is testing the stability of countries across the global South. But many countries are finding South-South trade and catering to their domestic middle classes can lift incomes and maintain growth rates despite the global turmoil.

A decade of boom in global markets as they became more integrated has brought rising incomes and created growing economies in the so-called emerging markets of the global South. Finance and investment from developed countries flowed into the global South and helped bolster growing economies, boosting incomes and bringing millions of people into the middle classes. But since the start of the global economic crisis in 2008, more and more countries in the global South have experienced turmoil, chaos and crisis.

The export-driven model that had served many Asian countries well – creating products for developed Western markets – is being tested by high unemployment in developed economies and declining purchasing power for the Western middle classes. Two trends that have grown in the past 10 years may offer a solution to this economic crisis. One is to build on the growth in South-South trade, and the other is to tap the growing middle classes of the global South by expanding the products and services available to them and further improving their quality of life.

It is well established that one of the key elements to securing sustainable prosperity is a thriving middle class. Middle classes in many countries in the global South are still classified as vulnerable – at risk of returning to poverty if the economy experiences a short-term crisis. Their resilience to an economic downturn needs to be strengthened, and this can be done by improving the quality of products and services available to them.

Building this market can also strengthen domestic job growth and help reduce a country’s dependence on imports.

One country facing up to this challenge is Indonesia. The New York Times recently reported that ports in Indonesia and other resource-exporting countries are quiet, as China’s demand for resources slows.

But while export markets are experiencing a slowdown, investment is going into Indonesia’s agricultural food-processing industry. Agricultural multinational Cargill (cargill.com) is building a cocoa-bean processing plant in the country, and the PT. Suprama (suprama.co.id/en/) instant-noodle factory is running at full capacity to meet the needs of the country’s growing middle class.

Many countries have experienced significant inflows of investment money as a result of stimulus measures led by the United States Federal Reserve (http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/about_12594.htm) to counter the economic contraction caused by the global economic crisis. This money, however, is uncertain and can just as easily disappear as it leaves to chase the next opportunity. Wise countries take measures to avoid being dependent on this fickle and fast investment funding.

Unlike in the Asian Crisis of 1997-1998 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1997_Asian_financial_crisis), many emerging-market countries now have large foreign currency reserves and robust stock markets. They have also built up their middle classes and increased consumption. Trade links with other countries in the global South have grown enormously since the late 1990s. For example, the trade between China and Africa, as announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xi_Jinping) in early 2014, has surpassed US $200 billion for the first time, turning China into Africa’s largest trading partner

Despite a raging global crisis, in many emerging economies domestic spending is holding up and, in some cases, has never been stronger.

China now plays a key role in maintaining global economic demand. According to the global bank HSBC, Chinese growth adds “twice as many dollars to annual global demand as growth in the United States economy and far more than the economies of the European Union.”

An article in The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/13/business/emerging-markets-in-asia-in-a-delicate-limbo.html?_r=0) suggested that global South countries can benefit from these trends by becoming an alternative to China’s “own increasingly high-cost producers of coal, aluminum, and other minerals” – as well as of clothing, shoes and electronics.

China is also in the process of altering its economy, from being the low-wage workshop of the world to an increasingly high-tech, high-value economy with growing science, technology and innovation sectors buoyed by heavy investment in research and development, for example China’s Xi’an Hi-tech Industries Development Zone (xdz.com). As China changes, other countries can step in and replace the industries that no longer find China an affordable place to manufacture their goods.

As an example, the Indonesian vice minister of trade, Bayu Krisnamurthi, announced that the Foxconn Technology Group of Taiwan (foxconn.com), which makes components and assembles devices for the popular Apple (apple.com) computer brand, is looking to set up a large factory in Indonesia.

“The other brands will come in their footsteps,” Krisnamurthi told The New York Times.

Other countries are bucking the crisis trend and using greater freedom to boost economic growth.

Cuba has been able to bounce back with free-market reforms. The Caribbean island has had its ups and downs economically since its revolution in the late 1950s. After the revolution, the country had several decades of impressive human development gains and built up enviable education and health care systems. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the country lost its trade relationships and subsidies and was pitched into a major economic crisis.

During the Cold War, the USSR hoovered up almost all of Cuba’s exports of sugar, nickel and citrus fruit, and sold Cuba two-thirds of its food and 98 per cent of its fuel.

What was termed the “special period” after the collapse of the Soviet Union saw petrol become scarce. Many had to turn to cycling and walking to get around. Factories closed and food production declined.

One estimate by Hal Klepak of the Royal Military College of Canada, reported in The Observer newspaper, found the economy collapsed by 50 per cent in the five years to 1993.

Since then, Cuba has endured significant austerity and has struggled to regain its trade relationships and restore economic growth. Tourism has played a key role in keeping the country going.

And since 2008, various economic reforms have started to shift the economy away from over-dependence on the state and towards a more mixed market model.

Its capital, Havana, is a UNESCO world heritage site and is a popular tourist destination with one of the best-preserved former Spanish colonial architecture in the Caribbean.

When President Raul Castro took over from his brother Fidel, he began to slowly experiment with reforms to test how much market freedom could boost the economy and increase incomes. This has included allowing paladares, or privately-run restaurants, which are now flourishing and benefiting from the steady flow of tourists to the island.

The state now allows people to set up as independent traders in 200 occupations. Some have established entertainment businesses such as paint balling, others are running bars, or bookshops. It is now possible to easily change money in Havana and to find accommodation in private homes. Cash machines are spreading throughout the capital and more and more businesses will accept credit cards.

Registered businesspeople rose from 157,000 in October 2011 to more than 442,000 in 2013.

By being flexible, it is possible to discover new ways to grow economies and increase incomes, even in hard times. And increasing South-South trade is the way to go.

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: June 2014

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP's South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South's innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=XhU9BQAAQBAJ&dq=development+challenges+june+2014&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challenges-june-2014-published?qid=be364432-b16e-4e07-a9a5-afee35205b96&v=default&b=&from_search=1

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

The first five issues of Southern Innovator. The highly influential magazine was distributed around the world and each issue was launched at the annual Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo hosted by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Thursday
Jul022015

Global South Trade Boosted with Increasing China-Africa Trade in 2013

 

New UNOSSC banner Dev Cha 2013

It was announced in January 2014 that China has surpassed the United States to become the world’s number one trading nation, as measured by the total value of exports and imports. This new economic behemoth also continued to grow its trade relationships with Africa.

US exports and imports of goods totaled US $3.82 trillion in 2013, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. China’s annual trade in goods passed US $4 trillion for the first time in 2013 (Guardian).

Zheng Yuesheng, a spokesman for China’s customs administration, told The Guardian that becoming the world’s number one trading nation was “a landmark milestone for our nation’s foreign trade development.”

Significantly for Africa, 2012 was also a record year for China-Africa trade, which reached 5 per cent of China’s total foreign trade and made up 16 per cent of all of Africa’s international trade, according to a new report from South Africa.

Consultancy Africa Intelligence (consultancyafrica.com), a South African-based organization with more than 200 consultants focused on “expert research and analysis on Africa” highlights the achievements of this strong trade relationship – and also some of its threats and weaknesses – in its report.

Trade between China and Africa has surged during the decade since China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) (wto.org) in 2001, rising from around US $10 billion in 2000 to US $198.49 billion in 2012, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce. Ambitiously, it could reach US $300 billion by 2015, announced Cheng Zhigang, secretary-general of the China-Africa Industrial Cooperation and Development Forum (www.zfhz.org) (China Daily).

The World Bank reported South-South trade now surpasses South-North trade, meaning exports from developing countries to other developing countries exceed exports to wealthy developed countries. South-South trade experienced rapid growth in the 2000s, accounting for 32 per cent of world trade by 2011 (World Bank).

South-South trade and investment between Africa and lower-income and middle-income developing countries rose from 5 per cent in the 1990s to almost 25 per cent in 2010 (Consultancy Africa Intelligence). Before the 1990s, over 90 per cent of trade for Africa was with high-income or developed countries.

China is attractive as a trade partner for many reasons. One of them is the strong admiration for its success in lifting millions out of poverty through an aggressive growth strategy and rapid urbanization with big investments in education, science, technology, infrastructure – modern airports, ports, roads and rail – and research and development.

Since 1978, it is believed China has lifted 500 million people out of poverty, out of a population of 1.3 billion people (World Bank). Incomes have doubled every 10 years with average GDP growth of 10 per cent a year, meaning the country has almost reached all the Millennium Development Goals.

Building a trade relationship with China has led to Zambia’s copper mines running again, Gabon’s oil fields being re-explored, and Sudan becoming a major oil exporter to China. Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo and South Africa are all benefiting from exporting commodities to China.

The relationship has not been entirely beneficial, according to the Consultancy Africa Intelligence report. Some African industries, such as textiles, have suffered from competition with cheaper Chinese imports, leading to factory closures and job loses.

Non-commodity exports from Africa to China amounted to just 10 per cent of the trade total. Many of the contracts signed for projects also go to Chinese companies, the report found.

Renewed concern has also emerged over rising debt levels in Africa.

In summary, the report finds a growing trade relationship with China has brought to Africa commodity booms, growing GDP (gross domestic product), and lots of foreign investment. On the negative side of the ledger, there have been job loses due to cheaper imports, rising personal and government debt levels and an over-dependence on minerals for economic growth.

Across Africa, new infrastructure has emerged where it probably would not have come about under the continuing debt burdens from the 1970s and 1980s. The continent has received a shot of energy, but it remains to be seen whether governments can sustain this  economic jolt and make the wise choices that create African jobs and build liveable cities for the 21st century.

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: March 2014

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP's South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South's innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=xIzkBgAAQBAJ&dq=development+challenges+Cheap+Farming+Kit+Hopes+to+Help+More+Become+Farmers&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challenges-march-2014-published

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

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