Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Irrelevance of African Union

In Standard three we were taught that Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya are all African countries and members of then OAU, now AU. The recent events in Egypt and even the bloodshed in Libya have brought up the idea that are these countries really Africa's? As of now, Arab League held a meeting condemning the events in Libya, UN security council had a meeting and released a statement about Gaddafi. Surprisingly African Union, has been busy sorting out Laurent Gbagbo's mess and haven't put a single statement about Libya. African Union is rendered irrelevant on these recent issues which enhance the perceived notion of inferior Africans.

Now, it is known that many African leaders fear Gaddafi. The guy funded Charles Taylor and Iddi Amin, maybe many leaders do not want to cross Gaddafi just in case he made out of this mess. But this is the moment for African Union to become what it ought to be. Make a forceful statement against the violence in Libya and condemn Gaddafi's response to his own people. If AU has an ambition to become a respectable body in the global governance, they need to seize this moment. Otherwise, it should cease to exist.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Globalization, Trade, HIV, & Profit

The stark example of how the globe is intertwined. Kenyans are protesting the trade agreement between India and EU. EU is proposing a trade with India (the largest producer of generic ARVs). Currently EU is gunning for "data exclusivity" clause that will delay production of cheaper generic drugs for at least 5 years. Kenyan's movement is aided by MSF which obtain 80% of its ARVs cheaply from India. And as of today, 80% of ARVs purchased by "donors" comes from India.

The World Trade Organisation’s trade agreement — which India must comply with — does not require data exclusivity. The EU wants India to add this optional restriction on drug-safety data for the benefit of European-based drug companies, not for the benefit of India. That’s why, until now, India’s commerce and health ministries have strongly opposed it. So has Brazil, India’s closest economic cousin.

Second, gutting India’s own laws. Astonishingly, even if India’s own patent office determines that a product does not warrant patent protection, data exclusivity could be used to subvert India’s Patent Act. The act’s framers strived very hard to limit patents to truly inventive products. That’s why India’s law does not permit patents on a new drug that offers only modest revisions to an existing drug compound (for example, by altering dosage), which does nothing to enhance therapeutic benefits.

Earlier this month, for example, India rejected Abbott Laboratories’ request for a patent on its HIV drug Kaletra, because it did not consider it inventive. Kaletra is a combination of two earlier HIV medications, lopinavir and ritonavir. Now, as a result, Indian firms can proceed with production of cheaper, generic versions of this critical drug, which attacks HIV-virus mutations that have become resistant to older drugs.

Tragically, if the EU-India agreement is signed, legal decisions like this one will be meaningless. Data exclusivity will impede production of generic drugs for TB, cancer, and other chronic diseases. Unlike patents, however, data exclusivity cannot be challenged under Indian law.

The Europeans are conniving for the clause which even their own influenced WTO refuses to accept and the ramifications of this agreement will have dramatic impact on how we treat HIV patients in low-income countries. It goes to show that even if LICs have perfect policies and leadership, there are somethings that are out of their control. Until we establish some sort of economical sovereignty, we will always be forced to agree into dubious trade agreements--which are quintessential to morer poverty.

Read the rest here

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Children of Men Triumph over The Mighty Barca

Who said you can't beat Barcelona on their own brand of football?

<a href="" target="_new" title="">CL Highlights: Arsenal/Barcelona</a>

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Selling Foreign Aid

In the midst of austerity measures and looming deep cuts from the "donors" budgets. An interesting read to sell foreign aid to the skeptic masses.

So perhaps the public does not need to be persuaded that development matters, but needs instead to be convinced that aid makes a difference. Even so, it seems reasonable to say that we should use every argument at our disposal for aid: we should appeal to the public’s self-interest as well as their moral values, and we should at the same time set out the evidence that aid works.

The most popular critique of aid in recent years, Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo, does not challenge aid on the grounds that the plight of the poor is not our concern. It is a poorly argued book in many other respects, but it would be wrong to accuse Dr Moyo of callous indifference. Indeed, all the famous aid sceptics, from P. T. Bauer to Bill Easterly, explicitly accept development as the objective: they simply question whether foreign aid is a good way to achieve it.

The aid that was used to prop up Mobutu in Zaire during the Cold War may have served a foreign policy interest, but it did little or nothing to reduce poverty and raise living standards in that country. Money used today to buy food aid may be a convenient subsidy for American and European farmers but if we bought the food locally we could feed twice as many people with the same money and at the same time support the growth of sustainable agriculture in developing countries. The more we use aid to support our strategic and commercial interests, the less effective that aid is likely to be in the fight against global poverty, in which we have an important long-term interest.

The above paragraph demonstrate what is really wrong with the current aid structure. Not only the WFP food, the same system is applied in PEPFAR/Global Fund drugs. Effectively (with TRIPs) destroying South's capacity in pharmaceutical industries. Yes, South needs aid, but it shouldn't be used as North's corporates welfare.

The rest of the article.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

RT @Gladwell


Why the revolution will not be tweeted.

by Malcolm GladwellOCTOBER 4, 2010

Social media can

Social media can’t provide what social change has always required.

At four-thirty in the afternoon on Monday, February 1, 1960, four college students sat down at the lunch counter at the Woolworth’s in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina. They were freshmen at North Carolina A. & T., a black college a mile or so away.

“I’d like a cup of coffee, please,” one of the four, Ezell Blair, said to the waitress.

“We don’t serve Negroes here,” she replied.

The Woolworth’s lunch counter was a long L-shaped bar that could seat sixty-six people, with a standup snack bar at one end. The seats were for whites. The snack bar was for blacks. Another employee, a black woman who worked at the steam table, approached the students and tried to warn them away. “You’re acting stupid, ignorant!” she said. They didn’t move. Around five-thirty, the front doors to the store were locked. The four still didn’t move. Finally, they left by a side door. Outside, a small crowd had gathered, including a photographer from the Greensboro Record. “I’ll be back tomorrow with A. & T. College,” one of the students said.

By next morning, the protest had grown to twenty-seven men and four women, most from the same dormitory as the original four. The men were dressed in suits and ties. The students had brought their schoolwork, and studied as they sat at the counter. On Wednesday, students from Greensboro’s “Negro” secondary school, Dudley High, joined in, and the number of protesters swelled to eighty. By Thursday, the protesters numbered three hundred, including three white women, from the Greensboro campus of the University of North Carolina. By Saturday, the sit-in had reached six hundred. People spilled out onto the street. White teen-agers waved Confederate flags. Someone threw a firecracker. At noon, the A. & T. football team arrived. “Here comes the wrecking crew,” one of the white students shouted.

By the following Monday, sit-ins had spread to Winston-Salem, twenty-five miles away, and Durham, fifty miles away. The day after that, students at Fayetteville State Teachers College and at Johnson C. Smith College, in Charlotte, joined in, followed on Wednesday by students at St. Augustine’s College and Shaw Uni

Read more

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Crisis: NECTA 2010 Form IV Results

This simple graph tells the shocking story of the countrywide O Level (Form IV) examination results for 2010 which were recently announced. Half of the students obtained division zero; this number rising to almost 89% as the total in "non-pass" grade. The passing grades (Divisions I to III) are merely 11.41%. Certainly "Is Our Children Learning" is no longer the question here (see 2 previous postings). Question is, what are we doing about it?

Jumla ya waliofaulu (Daraja la I mpaka III)11.41%
Jumla ya wenye Daraja la IV na wasio na Daraja: Yaani "ZERO"

(source is Wanazuoni forum)

Education: "Tanzania Beyond Tomorrow"

The latest Form IV results puts another perceptive on the educational challenges we face and possible remedies. Here are the efforts of Tanzania Education Trust in collaboration with Accenture Development Partnerships...