For a democratic theory of Peace...

2011 ended with mixed results in terms of peace, security, development and health. Today, Africa is still one of the most affected regions in the world, facing unprecedented crises, despite the praiseworthy efforts made ​​by local leaders and the world community. Stability is still the greater challenge for most African countries that tried to reduce the gap between global isolation and economic growth.

Instability in Africa is the direct result of a democratic deficit and economic misery

The "Arab Spring", which originated in North Africa has surprised many observers and Medias, it had created a new order in this area. While the fight against terrorism and other new threats are a top priority for Africa in 2012, the concerns and preoccupations of people (the youth generation) aspiring to freedom and to decent and safe living conditions are not taken into consideration. Many African government have failed in that respect, failure that will have an impact on how these countries will move forward and implement proper program (economic and politic) that will erase poverty and offer a better educational system to a young population eager to learn and change their life.

The last dramatic event in Mali and Ivory Coast remind us that despite the fact of not pretending bringing any ready-made solutions and to prevent and overcome these types of sensitive situations, government should appeal to internal political values for democracy, diplomacy and negotiation instead to use military force or repression.
In other words, it is a matter of promoting the theory of peace and democracy which contributes to the respect of citizens’ rights and freedom and to a peaceful settlement of internal conflicts. 

As it was 20 years ago, instability in Africa is still the direct result of a democratic deficit and economic misery.


Making Finance Work in Africa

Over the past few years, the continent has seen vast improvements in services and accountability in its often struggling, un-competitive, heavily bureaucratic financial services sector. Wireless and smart card technologies are also enabling the development of services in previously un-banked areas, helping to stimulate local economies and encouraging investment and tourist spend.

The picture of Africa has an immature market with an underdeveloped infrastructure is now something from the past, as we know, there is great potential for growth, utilizing new electronic banking systems, without having to significantly upgrade the existing infrastructure, and this should push government to support the development of their banking sector.

There are stirrings of change in African finance, some of them vigorous. Strengthened by an extended wave of reforms over the past decade, financial systems in many African countries have begun to diversify their activities, deepen their lending, and increase their reach with new products and new technologies. Financial repression and the practice of directed credit are both much diminished and there has been extensive privatization of state-owned banks. A microfinance movement with deep roots on the continent has strengthened. Links between MFIs and mainstream banks illustrate the adaptation of organizational structures to local conditions.

The persistent failure (until a decade ago) of formal and semi-formal finance to advance, leaving a fragmented and dualistic financial system stubbornly in place, seems to have been overcome. A new wave of intermediaries, many of them market- based, have begun to adopt new approaches that promise to address the special challenges that confront financial development in the region. Cellphone technology is being used for retail payments and for price transparency. Modern technology also underlies the surge of retail lending in several African countries.

General studies have shown that wireless and satellite will provide Africa's best chance of catching up to the rest of the financial world. The world's second biggest continent only has around 3% of the world's phone lines and accounts for a mere 0.1% of the world's Internet users. The costs for setting up wireless connectivity are a fraction of those for setting up the fixed line infrastructure to do the same job.

Today, 60% of the world's leading financial institutions have a wireless strategy and consider mobile or wireless banking as a core element of their service delivery strategy. Wireless represents an answer to clients as banks rationalize branches, and for previously un-banked areas. 

Of course there is still a long way to go. The continued shallowness of finance, and the limited access by small firms and households to any formal financial services, especially in rural areas, mean that this is just a turning of the corner. The environment for financial firms remains difficult and progress has not been as fast as had been hoped. The combination of improvements and unfulfilled potential warrant a new look at African finance.

Strong financial systems are built on good governance, certainly both of the intermediaries and their regulators. But in addition, because all sizable enterprises and all government agencies do business with the financial sector, improvements in this dimension of the financial sector has a pervasive effect on the quality of governance in the business and government sectors as a whole.
Well-targeted direct assistance to improve the productivity of subsistence farming productivity and to reduce disease can make a sizable impact on extreme poverty. But, this just gets the poor to the bottom rung of the ladder. Helping them to the next rungs is the task of microfinance: building the ladder requires mainstream finance.

Reducing absolute poverty in conditions of anemic growth is all but impossible for a market economy. Taking a long-term growth perspective, the major channel for a sustained reduction in African poverty is a transformational increase in the share of the population that is working in the modern sector and with advanced economy productive techniques.

Delivering the infrastructures for the modernization agenda is a demanding agenda, not only because of its technical complexity and the need to respond to changes in the international environment, but also because it lacks the kind of dramatic initiative that helps secure political support.

But persistence and ingenuity will be repaid given the central importance, for achieving development goals, of making finance work for Africa.