|The Courier N° 180 - April - May, 2000 - Dossier: Tropical Forests - Country Reports: Ghana - Italy - Mauritius (EC Courier, 2000, 94 p.)|
ACP-EU Joint Assembly
Abuja, Nigeria, March 20 - 23
"The largest gathering of democratic representatives in Nigeria since the restoration of democracy."
President Olesegun Abasanjo
Less than two years ago, Nigeria was still labouring under a military dictatorship which had massively abused human rights, grossly mismanaged the economy, and diverted a huge portion of the country's wealth into the pockets of a few individuals.
Now a democracy, Nigeria recently hosted the ACP-EU Joint Assembly. At the opening session, President Obasanjo - one of a select band of heads of state who have been political prisoners-declared good governance an overriding priority, and that newly-democratic Nigeria is committed to the fight against corruption.
Other speakers reiterated this theme, including the presidents of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Inside the plenary chamber, optimism prevailed. The president of the Senate spoke of the complete end of military rule in Nigeria. Yet there was also recognition of the challenges facing the country- including the continuous and long-term fall in the ACP countries' share of exports to the EU.
Outside the chamber, Nigeria's many newspapers were filled with discussion and analysis of a host of issues which threaten the momentum of reform.
Recent violence in Kaduna and other centres has highlighted one of the main problems: the difficulty of maintaining good relations between the country's many different regions and traditions, in a period of political transition. The economic difficulties inherited from the military dictatorship do not make this any easier.
Nigeria's route to lasting stability and economic progress will be difficult. The country's new leadership is determined to succeed - and the outside world must be ready to assist them.
(Human Rights Unit, European Parliament)
Pushing forward on Fair Trade
Philip Lowe, Director General DG Development, confirmed at the Fifth Fair Trade Day on 22 February 2000 at the European Parliament in Brussels that Fair Trade is a subject which involves the EU's whole commitment to developing countries.
The European Commission was now trying to develop a more comprehensive and coherent policy through applying the guidelines in its Communication approved in December 1999. Lowe believes it is now time to extend this debate beyond the European institutions and governments to reach the whole of civil society, and to involve the private sector and NGOs more. "Amateurism is not sufficient to succeed," he said.
Professional communication is needed to spread the message about Fair Trade cooperatives and to market Fair Trade issues. If the successes were publicised more, then commercial interest might be aroused.
Support was needed for capacity building and to strengthen institutions and communities to promote micro-credit.
One urgent Fair Trade issue was the new EU Directive on chocolate, debated by the European Parliament in March.
There was intense lobbying on behalf of the 11 million growers of cocoa beans, who see their livelihoods threatened because the new legislation will permit a cut in the cocoa content of chocolate consumed in the EU.
For more information on the Fair Trade Movement, contact:
Ms Brid Owen
EFTA, Director Advocacy and Campaigns
7a rue Edouard Michiels
1180 Brussels, Belgium
tel: (32) 2 333 2594
fax: (32) 332 1888
Health research uneconomic and unfair
Only 10% of the world's population benefits from 90% of the world's annual health budget, estimated at $50 -60 billion. This is known as the "10/90 Gap", and is the subject of a new report published by the Global Forum for Health Research.
Adetokunbo Lucas, of the Harvard School of Public Health, and current chairman, denounces the current duplication of effort and inefficiency in the report's preface: "Yet a reallocation of merely 1 % of global health research spending would provide $500 million for priority research needed by the vast majority of the worlds' population of 6 billion."
Four diseases - pneumonia, diarrhoea, tuberculosis and malaria - account for more than 20% of the disease burden in the world but get less than 1 % of global health research funding.
The Global Forum for Health Research was founded in 1997 expressly to put right the disequilibrium. Its 150 members include representatives of the WHO, the World Bank, many international foundations and cooperation agencies. There are direct links to government policy-makers and private sector companies. Meeting annually, the Forum has a declared aim to make one new product available every five years.
The full text of The 10/90 Report on Health Research 1999 may be downloaded from
African representations of Bible scenes
Father Engelbert Mveng, Jesuit intellectual and painter studies, how the traditions of the B, a Bantu tribe of Cameroon, have been influenced by the ancient Greek and Roman civilisations, tempered by the Italian Quattrocentro and the French Renaissance. Then he incorporates humanist and African symbolism in his paintings of scenes from the Bible.
Simao Souindoula, from the International Centre for Bantu Civilisations, explained Mveng's work to 30 historians, philosophers, anthropologists, sociologists and linguists, who gathered together last January in Praia, Cap Verde, to discuss Latin Humanism and African Humanism.
The Praia meeting was preparing the Continental African input to the conference Globalisation and Latin Humanism held in New York on 1-3 May 2000, supported by the Italian-based Fondazione Cassamarca.
For information contact
Dr Simao Souindoula
Tel. (241) 70 40 96 Fax;
(241) 70 54 09
Cyber Caf l'Africaine
In Yeumbeul, a suburb of Dakar, the project "Y.medias" is creating a centre for training in multimedia and communications. This will provide access to young African information engineers, both new and experienced, to try out the latest equipment and to learn state-of-the art programming. One enthusiastic user claimed "the illiterates of tomorrow will not be those who cannot read but those who cannot use information technology" The cyber cafe is highly popular and here to stay
Business consultancy costs recouped
When small private enterprises and business associations in ACP countries hire consultants to raise their productivity and skills base, or to improve their customer services, they can now get up to half their money back. The EU-ACP Business Assistance Scheme (EBAS) is the brainchild of the European Commission's DG Development and the ACP Group and is aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of existing businesses, particularly in the manufacturing sector.
EBAS will refund up to 50% of the costs of consulting assignments, with a ceiling of €70,000 per application. Any business (except for start-ups or those with state subsidies) may apply. Applications and disbursements will be handled rapidly by Internet, email and fax (12-15 working days for each transaction is the target). They should be submitted to one of the four EBAS regional offices:
· Abidjan for Central and Western Africa,
· Bridgetown for the Caribbean
· Gaborone for Southern Africa
· Nairobi for East Africa.
A central coordinating unit in Brussels will obtain the official approval from the European Commission and pay out the funds.
EBAS was set up in November 1999 and will last three years. An information team is now touring ACP countries to explain the scheme in detail.
Application forms and further details (in English, French and Portuguese) from http://www.ebas.org or contact:
EBAS Project Management Unit
110 boulevard Reyers
1030 Brussels, Belgium
tel: (32) 2 740 0242
fax: (32) 2 740 0249
The poverty point of view
Trade policy potentially has consequences for poverty through its effect on both growth and income distribution. The effect of trade on income distribution has been more firmly established than its impact on growth. This is significant, given that poverty reduction is very sensitive to income distribution. (Poverty Briefing No. 6, December 1999).
Food aid has, with surprising rapidity, become a marginal and uncertain component of aid globally - only 3 - 4% of overseas development assistance (ODA) in 1995 compared with 11% in 1985 - making it difficult for it to have significant food security impacts at an international level (Poverty Briefing Paper, January 2000).
ODI, the Overseas Development Institute, is a leading British think tank on international development and humanitarian issues. Its Poverty Briefing papers present objective information on important development issues, often in cooperation with similar agencies in other European countries. They debate new approaches and offer the recent findings of research and experience. The papers are short (four pages) and may be downloaded from the ODI's website on:
Overseas Development Institute,
Schematic representation of trade policy and poverty linkages
OECD Partnership Report
Partnership not an option but a necessity
The OECD's 1999 Development Cooperation Report, published on 14 February 2000, claims that after more than five years of continuous decline, official development assistance (ODA) rose in 1998 by nearly 10%. This means US$53 billion in real terms. But while this has gone up, the ODA/GNP ratio has fallen to nearly 0.25%, well below the average of 0.33% maintained in the 1970s and 1980s. In dollar terms this means a shortfall of $20 billion dollars.
Despite the Asian crisis, private flows continue to be far larger than public aid flows (see chart). In the aftermath of Seattle, implementation of poverty reduction strategies is now the central priority of development cooperation. Thus sustainable development is displacing the traditional structural adjustment approaches used by major donors.
The OECD notes that an increasing number of developing countries are taking initiatives to establish implementation frameworks for their development based on comprehensive long-term visions and more systematic coordination. The major challenge will be to make these partnerships work.
For a copy of the report contact:
OECD Media Relations,
fax: (33) 1 45 24 80 83
Chart 4. Total net resource flows to developing countries
Major move on malaria
A new drug is needed for malaria, which kills between 1,7 and 2,5 million people annually and infects 300 million. Mosquitos are increasingly resistant to today's drugs. At present the amount of money spent annually on malaria research is equivalent to half the cost of building a jumbo jet. While the pharmaceutical industry sees little commercial interest in developing a new drug, much useful precompetitive research exists that has no commercial outlet.
A new public/private partnership has created a public venture capital fund: New Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV). There is synergy with the WHO's (World Health Organisation) Roll Back Malaria campaign.
MMV is chaired by Louis Currat, Executive Secretary of the Global Forum for Health Research, many of whose partners are involved. The public sector will provide funding ($15 million at first, due to double later) while the private sector will contribute expertise and the results of previous research. A tender was sent out in January to pharmaceutical firms and academic centres, and it is expected that the most promising proposals for funding will be selected before the end of the year.
For more information contact:
Senior Communication Officer
Global Forum for Health Research
tel: (41) 22 791 3450
fax: (41) 22 791 4394