Trading And Investing In & Out Africa

ISSUE 66 - VOL 1
OCTOBER 15 - NOVEMBER 14, 2004

Dr. Bienvenu-Magloire Quenum
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Eliminating poor countries'debts had been a constant plea expresed since years by the poorest countries' governments, charities, NGOs and development experts. Those groups arguing the developing world will never succeed alleviating poverty so long as poorest countries' meager financial resources are used to pay back debts - instead of being spent for education and health care programs for their citizens.

Mid September 2004, UK finance minister, Gordon Brown, sent a positive signal about debt relief in favor of African countries declaring UK is prepared to pay off 10 percent of the debt out of its own funds.

Following the path US Treasury Secretary John W. Snow declared, for the first time, on September 30, 2004 before the Bretton Woods Committee, a private group that promotes the IMF and the World Bank that the United States would consider 100 percent debt relief.

The move from UK and the United States was a sharp turnaround from the policy carried out by the two institutions, which, till now, rejected the notion of granting 100 percent debt relief to African countries on the grounds that such a policy would be inequitable. "Total debt cancellation for those countries alone would come at the expense of other borrowing countries,'' the institutions concluded in July 2001.

Unfortunately, other IMF big powers such as Germany and Switzerland do not agree with UK and the United States.

Swiss politicians at the IMF and World Bank 2004's annual meetings (October 1-2, 2004), in Washington, said cancellation would not solve the real problems.

Switzerland's Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz, Economics Minister Joseph Deiss, and Swiss National Bank chairman Jean-Pierre Roth declared on October 2, 2004 they could not support canceling the debt. Merz stated he remains open, but "total cancellation is not a perfect and final solution."

Merz goes further stating that debt relief must be part of a general strategy that is not yet in place, to wean dependent countries from development aid.

He added that canceling debt for the poorest African countries alone "would be an injustice" to other poor countries, which control debt through rigorous economic policies.

On his part, the Swiss Economics Minister declared "progress has already been made" for at least 20 (African) countries through the existing relief program - Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC). "A debt reduction of two-thirds is significant," he said. During the Washington meetings, HIPC, which comes to end, had been extended for two more years.

Germany is holding the same line of reasoning as Switzerland.
Germany's Finance Minister Hans Eichel rejected the proposal of total debt forgiveness for the poorest countries of the world, as suggested by UK's Gordon Brown.

Germany's Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul was more optimistic. She hopes new initiatives in the debt relief debate will come when UK takes over chair of the G7 leading industrial nations in 2005.


Germany's Minister Hans Eichel also said that the most effective help for the poorest countries lies in a successful completion of the Doha round of trade talks. He stated that 'Poor countries must obtain markets for their products, for which trade barriers and subsidies must be dismantled."

Certainly. African nations need trading facilities for African productions to enter the G7 countries markets. However, would that be enough to resolve the problem of the heavy indebtedness that now plagues African countries? The question mark is big and discussed in the following article: Before Trade Comes Production of Goods At Competitive Prices here available.

An excerpt from said article reads as follows: "Before you sell anything, you have to produce it first, at competitive price, to be in the position to sell...Now what Africa has to offer? Only agricultural and mineral bulk commodities: Coffee, cocoa beans, tea, cotton; and mineral productions such as oil, iron, copper, manganese and aluminum ores! (See Figure on above link about The Percentage of Main Exports From African Countries.)

Rare are African countries that have the capability to sell value-added manufactured products on the international marketplace. The few African countries (a dozen countries in total, out of 48 sub-Saharan African countries. South Africa and Mauritius having the lion share), which are in the position to trading such added valued products offer mostly textiles, small tonnage of agribusiness productions and canned food.

Therefore, one sees that granting trading facilities to African countries, at the current state of African economies - that do not produce high-added valued goods and services - would not help resolving the debt problem and alleviate poverty in Africa.


In a previous delivery, it was exposed that refusal to pay back debts would not help African nations attract Foreign Direct Investments. Such a move would be counterproductive; scaring away would be international investors.

No doubt that the initiative from UK brought a new dynamics into the discussion, which is already a progress compared to the blockade of past 10 years. One could expect and hope for some kind of result in the future.

However, as stated by Switzerland's Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz: "Total cancellation is not a perfect and final solution... debt relief must be part of a general strategy that is not yet in place, to wean dependent countries from development aid."

Doubtless, some brainstorming is needed to find the proper formula to making debt cancellation a success to alleviating poverty in African countries.

In the article above mentioned we suggested the following: "African countries should lobby for debts' payment reorientation into equity shares instead of fighting for debt forgiveness or outright cancellation. They should lobby to attract creditors to take participation in projects included in developing schemes."


Say you are heavily indebted and in red for -100 US$; and your creditor agrees to grant you a debt relief of US$ 100. You are no more obliged to pay back for example a monthly settlement of US$ 10 and the interests bore by the loan.

Thus, your account is balanced at zero. However, if you do not have a regular income (the case of most poorest African countries) the debt relief brings you no solace. You are no more in red. But you cannot afford paying household expenses (food, water, electricity), clothing and Medicare. Sometimes you eat only once per day - as people do right now in several African countries. In short, you have a debt relief, but you are still in dire straits making ends meet.

That means the debt relief granted to you has not solve your living problem. You remain a poor person even if you are debt free. That is exactly what would happen if African countries are granted debt relief or cancellation without additional funds to undertake productive projects.

If debt relief is conceived as "Debt Reorientation Into Equity Shares", African countries and their creditors could then partner in carrying out developing schemes that produce riches for all. The crediors taking participation in developing schemes (with their debts package) and providing additional loans to promoting and operating projects in Africa.

That way, creditors would get paid for previous debts and also for new loans they granted to set up joint-venture projects. First they would earn share dividends (based on their participations) and or bonuses when they eventually sell portion of their participation in the joint ventures. Second, through loan repayment and interest gained on loans provided for the operations.

The scheme needs further consideration for implementation procedure. A technical support by international companies for instance would be an asset for the success of the joint venture and a guarantee that loans granted will be paid back.

Contrary to outright cancellation of debts or debts' relief, "Debt Reorientation Into Equity Shares" would establish a win-win partnership between creditors from the North and debtors from the South if implemented within the framework of the developing Strategy exposed here.

You may visit Africabiz InterActive to post comments and discuss about this article.

"CONTRIBUTOR'S GUIDELINES" are available here. We invite you to contribute to AFRICABIZ ONLINE MONTHLY ISSUE - with articles related to "How Africa Could Bridge The Developing Gap".

Many thanks for subscribing to Africabiz. See you here on November 15, 2004.

Dr. B.M. Quenum
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More on Debt Relief Reorientation As Equity Participation

Business Opportunities


With this delivery starts a new series of "Business Opportunities" dedicated to fowl breeding. Over coming months will be discussed all kinds of fowl breeding: poultry, turkey, goose, ducks, ostrich and emu as income building power for African communities.

Indeed, fowl breeding is an economic component to the strategy here exposed that could make an important contribution to boosting the economic development of any African country. It is the provider of animal protein to the populations. It helps set up small breeding farms as well as big cooperative undertaking for villages and regional development.

Therefore for several months to come, starting from this delivery, fowl breeding will be exposed with regards briefs about investment and generated incomes.

1- Poultry Breeding and Genetics
by R.D. Crawford
2- The Dollar Hen: The Classic Guide to American Free-Range Farming.
by Milo M. Hastingd, Robert Plamondon
3- Small-Scale Poultry-Keeping: A Guide To Free-Range Poultry Production.
by Ray Feltwell
4- The Encyclopedia of Farm Animal Nutrition
by M.F. Fuller, et al
5- The Mating and Breeding of Poultry
by Harry M. Lamon, Rob R. Slocum.
6- Modern Livestock and Poultry Production
by James R. Gillespie

7- Success With Baby Chicks: A Complete Guide to Hatchery Selection
by Robert Plamondon.
8- The Classic Guide To Poultry Nutrition:
Chickens, Turkeys, Ducks, Geese, Gamebirds, and Pigeons.
by Gustave F. Hauser
9- The Strange History of The Ostrich
In Fashion, Food and Fortune.
by Rob Nixon
10- Ostrich's Avian Incubation: Behaviour, Environment and Evolution.
by D. Charles Deeming

More on the introduction to fowl breeding

Control Your Desktop


One crucial utility that might show some instability is Microsoft Internet Explorer if you have third parties Adds Ons installed such as Search Tools Bar.

For instance, once XP Service Pack2 installed, some links in webpages stop functioning. Clicking with the mouse produce no page loading.

Sometimes you cannot either highlight a portion of a text in a webpage and make a copy to paste to another application such as NoteTab or Microsoft Notepad.

When you right click with the mouse to copy, the "Paste" signet does not show. Worse, after such failed copying process, if you click on the browser icon in the Taskbar, to reload the browser, the webpage is no more available. You need to close the browser and open it again to access the webpage.

If you are encountering such annoyances, fire up your browser; and on Internet Explorer's Menu do the following:

1- Choose "Tools".
Then: "Manage Add Ons" - A panel will exposed Add Ons entailed on your system.
Highlight them one by one.
Disable and Enable them one by one.
5- Test
and Verify links or any other trouble in a webpage.

More  on trouble after installing Service Pack2

Freebie Of The Month


Microsoft's Windows Media Player and Real Networks' Real Player- are good stuffs. However, they sometimes fail to power DVD if the system used by the computer is a CD/DVD combo and not a "pure" DVD hardware. Forums on the Net are full of posts asking for help about windows not recognizing the DVD if the hardware is a combo CD/DVD.

To enable Windows Media Player and Real Player to "power" DVD movies on some CD/DVD combos, one needs to download and install "Add Ons" - that are not free.

You are no more obliged to shed off 20 to 70 bucks to play DVD movies on your computer if your CD/DVD combo is not recognized by Windows Media Player or Real Player.

There is an excellent Media Player called VLC Media Player that does the job perfectly recognizing CD/DVD combos.
You install it and forget about it because the initial configuration set up by the utility itself during the install process is efficient and works fine. You can though tweak it a bit if you wish through a intuitive configuration interface. The interface of the utility is written in French. However, on the website of the must have media player there is a well documented user's manual in English backed by a thriving Forum.

VLC Media Player deals with various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg - up to the most unheard of such as TST) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can also be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network.

VLC Media Player is available for a wide range operating system: Windows, Mac OS, X BeOS, Debian GNU/Linux, Mandrake Linux, Fedora Core, Familiar Linux, YOPY/Linupy, Zaurus SuSE and Linux Red Hat Linux. Click here to download


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