"Africa should avoid copying Europe’s failing experiment" Business Day 30.07.2015

“Africa should avoid copying Europe’s failing experiment” Business Day 30.07.2015

"Africa should avoid copying Europe’s failing experiment" Business Day 30.07.2015GovInn Director Lorenzo Fioramonti discusses the EU crisis from an African point of view: is the EU really the right model of regional integration?

“THE European Union (EU) is generally presented as the most advanced case of regional integration in the world. It has progressed from a system of sectoral co-operation in energy governance among six states in the early 1950s to a multifaceted body of 28 members, with unprecedented powers in areas such as economic and social development, monetary governance, legal affairs and foreign policy.

Its approach to integration has been driven by bureaucratic and economic elites, mostly through technical co-operation among key national departments. There is little doubt that such a top-down approach was a key strength during the takeoff phase of integration, as technocrats managed to forge co-operative mechanisms despite the volatility of politics and the fierce ideological battles of the time. Citizens’ involvement came late, with the first parliamentary elections only in 1979. Albeit marginally on the increase, genuine popular participation in Europe’s affairs has been deliberately kept at bay by its architects. Over time, this has resulted in the populace endorsing a rather utilitarian approach towards the EU: happy to be part of it for as long as the benefits largely outweighed the costs.

Since the late 1990s, however, things have changed dramatically. A continent traditionally marked by progressive social policies, functioning welfare states and high living standards has been turned into a very unequal one, with shrinking budgets to support healthcare and education, but vast resources to subsidise financial markets.” […]

Read the full article on Business Day, 30.07.2015

Drop classification of pupils to treat ‘academic autism’ Business Day 23.06.2015

“In June 1976, SA’s youth led one of the most extraordinary protests against a discriminatory approach to education. Their rebellion reverberated across the world to become the symbol of the struggle for freedom in our country. Yet, almost 40 years later, our education system remains exclusionary and fragmented,” writes Lorenzo Fioramonti in his latest column for Business Day.

Drop classification of pupils to treat ‘academic autism’

“Our national debate on education tacitly assumes that SA is divided into a majority of poorly resourced (public) schools and a few, mostly urban, very well-developed (private) schools. This may be true if we limit our observation to the physical infrastructure of the “good” schools. I have indeed never seen as many rugby fields, Olympic pools, beautiful halls and playgrounds as I have in private schools and some of the best-resourced public schools (most of which are public-private hybrids previously known as Model C).

But if we scratch beneath this flashy surface, we find serious problems with the education model there. First, many of them reinforce pre-existing racial and class patterns. This is not only because of high tuition fees but also because of the values they project. It is common for these schools to expect students to wear expensive uniforms, glorify conspicuous consumption (for instance, by allowing companies to advertise to pupils) and teach children that excellence is the result of competition.”

Read the full article “Drop classification of pupils to treat ‘academic autism’” on Business Day 

Linking up Africa to European Union

In this article for The New Age political commentator and former SA diplomat Tom Wheeler report on his participation to the launch of ESA-SSA (European Studies Association of Sub-Saharan Africa), during GovInn Week 2015.

“It was pointed out that unlike Europe and America, where there are many university departments of African studies, there are few if any of such institutions for European Studies in Africa. The result is often that Europe is dealt in Africa in terms of political rhetoric”

ESA-SSA-workshop-New-Age-Tom-Wheeler-1

 

Water shortages about to put load-shedding in the dark – Business Day 05.05.2015

Business DayThis week on Business Day, South Africa’s leading business newspaper, GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti discusses the upcoming crisis that South Africa needs to address now: water shortage.

“WHILE load-shedding continues, there is an even more worrying prospect ahead: water-shedding. Like the energy crisis, the abysmal state of water in SA is a combination of at least three factors: resource depletion (and contamination), growing demand and inefficient infrastructure.

Rainfall levels are dropping quickly due to climate change. A recent study published by the World Economic Forum says droughts this century will become more recurrent and severe than in the previous millennium. We feel that already. Over the summer holidays, for instance, eThekwini municipality took the unprecedented decision of asking residents and holiday makers to drastically reduce water consumption to avoid systemic cutbacks, given that the Hazelmere Dam had reached dramatically low levels because of prolonged drought.

Besides climate change, we also have a skewed economy that is out of touch with natural equilibrium: it demands more and more water to fuel economic growth, while wasting and contaminating what we have.”

Read the full article on Business Day

Gross Domestic Problem on Italian TV

Lorenzo Fioramonti, GovInn director, interviewed by Sky TV in Italy on his film Gross Domestic Fraud (Presi per il PIL), which won the 2015 edition of the French film Festival de Recherche et Development Durable in Toulouse

Rebooting Democracy Foreign Policy

“Rebooting Democracy” on Foreign Policy 16.03.2015

This week on Foreign Policy  Lorenzo Fioramonti, John Boik and Gary Milante discuss why our current democratic systems may be failing us and what democracy can look like in the near future:

“If forms of government can be likened to operating systems, current variants of democracy are a bit like early, primitive versions of Windows. They are neither optimally functional nor user-friendly — they are buggy, susceptible to malware, and lack desired features.

While our democratic systems have brought us far, they appear incapable of solving complex modern problems like recurring global financial crises,rising inequality, climate change, and various forms of resource depletion. Even the most established democracies are failing to deliver public goods: the U.S. Society of Civil Engineers recently issued a grade of D+ on the condition of U.S. roads, bridges, water systems, schools, and other infrastructure. Not unexpectedly, the approval rating of the U.S. Congress is at a near-historic low of 20 percent.

The versions of democracy attempted by newly democratizing nations have been even less effective. The democratic system imported by the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in 2003-4, for example, was really no different from British mandate arrangements tried in the 1920s. The U.S. occupation provided an illusion of democracy, but with little functionality underneath — like a corrupted version of Windows that shows a static desktop but runs no programs. Several years later, in response to the Arab Spring, democracy transfer failed again.

The most powerful pro-democracy wave since the end of the Cold War resulted in precious little new participatory governance.

The failings were not due to a “clash of civilizations,” as Huntington famously argued. There is nothing inherent to democracy that makes it incompatible with the Arab or any other culture. Rather, the failings resulted from promotion of form over substance — replicating an image of democracy rather than a functional, inclusive, accountable decision-making system that is adapted to local needs. If democratic initiatives in the Arab world and elsewhere are to evolve and mature, it will be because expressions of democracy have markedly improved. We are suggesting that democratic systems are due for a major upgrade, and that new, more flexible versions will allow for community programming — refinement of a system by the very people who use it.”

So, what’s next for democracy? Read the full article on Foreign Policy

 

Le Dessous des cartes

Land Matrix on ARTE (28.02.15)

On 28 February 2015 at 6.30pm (Pretoria time) the Franco-German TV station ARTE will broadcast the documentary,”Terres arables : un marché pas comme les autres” (Arable lands: a market like no other) featuring the data and the work of Land Matrix.

The documentary, avaiable in French and German, is the second part of an investigation on arable lands.
The first episode can be found here: “Competition pour les terres arables” (Competition for arable lands)

Channel Africa SABC

Towards an African passport?

From Channel Africa, SABC

At the just ended 24th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU Summit) held on 30-31 January 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the theme: “Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”, the Executive Council of AU deliberated on and requested the Commission to present detailed roadmaps for implementation of, among other flagship projects, The African Passport and Free Movement of People. GovInn Researcher and Co-Director, Chris Nshimbi, participated in panel discussion on the idea of an African passort on the African Dialogue program on SABC’sChannel Africa, 16 February 2015.

AUDIO: Lorenzo Fioramonti on “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”

Loane Sharp (Economist at the Free Market Foundation) and GovInn Director Lorenzo Fioramonti discuss their divergent views on Thomas Piketty’s highly influential Capital in the Twenty-First Century on 702 Talk Radio.
Listen to the full conversation (broadcast on 15 december 2015) below:

VIDEO Rising economic inequality casts a shadow on the WEF -SABC

Rising economic inequality continues to cast a shadow over the World Economic Forum, says GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti in a live interview on SABC news (22 January 2015).
Oxfam set the tone earlier this week in a report timed to the start of the Davos conference: it estimated that the combined wealth of the world’s richest 1 percent could overtake that of the remaining 99 percent by next year.
Will the WEF do something about it?