Thursday, 24 January 2013

China’s influence in Africa

In recent months China have stepped up its influence in Africa. It is important to note that China’s relations have been longstanding and this blog does not attempt to look into previous goings on – but focuses on what is happening now, why it is happening and why it is important.  

Why is China involved in Africa?

It is well documented that China has relations with Africa, which are becoming more and more intertwined – but why? Quite simply – Natural resources – Oil and Natural Gas. China is now Africa’s biggest trading partner, with over 800 Chinese firms involved in Africa, it is thought that trade between China and Africa is at $166.3 billion which is triple the figures seen in 2006. China and Africa set up the FOCAC in 2000 to monitor relations, estimates say that investment could reach $2.1 trillion by 2035.

What’s in it for Africa?
Sinopec, one of China’s largest state owned oil companies, provided Angola with $2 billion from China’s Eximbank to rebuild the country’s railways, state buildings, hospitals and roads. Many African governments believe the investment from China as key for them to gain economic security and develop. However, the investment comes at a price, China is investing to gain access to oil and economic gain. Critics condemn China for providing aid as a bargaining tool and believe China are attempting to elevate the pressure they are facing over Human Rights.

Why are China’s relations with Africa important?

Many African nations suffer at the hands of dictators. The vast majority of the continent is still part of the developing world and therefore relies on aid from developed, mostly democratic nations.
As a result, aid comes from the Western World with demands over human rights, cease fires and control over where the aid goes. China is all too familiar with Western pressure about human rights and makes no such demands on Africa.
China has been accused of exploiting Africa and acting in a “neo-colonialist” manner, as well as actively supported dictatorships. In recent years, Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe seized land from civilians - the land has been contracted out to China to farm. Last year the resultant famine led to a revolt by those who had lost their land - Mugabe fled to China for protection.
The ‘Western-World’ see China as supporting and perpetuating Africa’s problems for its own gain, yet this would not be the first time Africa found itself in such a situation. In the not so distant past, it was the West who took advantage of Africa to colonized and developed. Following Algerian-French war in 1962 Algeria gained independence, yet France walked away with an agreement, which still gave them access to Algerian oil for the next six years. In 1914 Nigeria signed an ordinance, providing BP with sole access to oil exploration. Africa has vast quantities of natural resources that are untouched.  As the developed world expands these resources become more valuable which could be financially extremely beneficial to Africa. However, this in turn will allow Africa to expand increasing its own demand for natural resources - could this mean for the future of the worlds obsession with fuel. 

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Gender in India - Will recent protests help to lower rape and violence against women in India?

Approximately one month ago, several men were arrested for gang raping a woman on a moving bus in India. The 23 year old medical student later died in a Singapore hospital. This week, 5 men were arrested for a similar incident in the Punjab on a 12 year old girl.

This has sparked protests across India about gender issues women's rights.  But will this die down when these key news stories come out of the limelight? Or will it have an impact on the way that women are treated in India today?

Here you can see the protest at India gate in Delhi in December. This publicity on the gang rape of the 23 year old back in December sparked a national cry for justice for women throughout India.  Many people in India are supporting women's rights and more equality. Many campaign for a better justice system through marches and protests. Youths of India's middle class have taken to social media such as Twitter and Facebook to express their outrage. According to Kavita Krishnan, a leading figure in the Delhi protests, it has pushed issues of gender into areas of political debate (CBC News).

Many rape cases in India go unreported due to the stigma associated with being a rape victim. Every 22 minutes a rape is reported in India, so in reality, figures are estimated to be much higher. Perhaps given the recent publicity, more women will become empowered to speak up. However, it is important to remember that India is extremely diverse and contains cultural variations within the country itself.

Despite the mass publicity and protest spurred by the recent rape cases, violence against women doesn't seem to have lowered in India since the publicity of these attacks. According to NDTV, the government is still struggling to respond to the public outcry.

What does the future hold for women in India? Do you think that violence attacks against women will be reduced following the recent protests? Please leave your comments on our blog.


Thursday, 10 January 2013

Recommended Film on civil war in the Congo: Blood in the mobile

We would like to recommend the film 'Blood in the mobile' to anyone with an interest in civil war and the Congo. 'Blood in the Mobile' tells the story of how minerals used in the production of mobile phones are coming from mines in the Eastern DRC, and there is no guarantee that they are not conflict minerals that fund the violence and civil war.  This film highlights issues of both individual and corporate responsibility.

You can watch the trailer here:

To buy the 'Blood in the Mobile' DVD, follow this link.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Kigali Crafts makes 'Lens Of The Day' on Squidoo

Congratulations to Amy Trumpeter and the Kigali Crafts team. The Squidoo lens on Kigali Crafts is 'Lens Of The Day' today. Kigali Crafts is a fair trade company that supports Rwandan genocide survivors in their fight against poverty through fair trade.

If you would like to view the Lens Of The Day, follow this link:

How I set up a Fair Trade Project supporting Rwandan Genocide Survivors

You can find out what Kigali Crafts is all about by watching 'The Alysia Judge Show' on YouTube. 'The Alysia Judge Show' is directed by Grace Jamieson at The TFTV Department, University of York.

Gaining the featured spot of 'Lens Of The Day' on Squidoo will raise interest in international development through fair trade, and, of course, raise interest in the Kigali Crafts project itself. Many thanks to Squidoo for supporting this amazing project.

Friday, 4 January 2013

'Why Poverty' series now available online

If you missed the amazing 'Why Poverty' series of 8 BBC documentaries, worry not The 'Why Poverty' series is now avalable to watch online.  To find out more click here.

'Why Poverty' also contains a series of mini-films that internview people living below the poverty line and exploring poverty related issues all around the world. Below, you can watch the short video of 'Finding Josephine'.  A family who sponsor a child in Uganda go to see the difference that their money actually makes.

What is Poverty?