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?

Redistribution the only way to stop the downward spiral – Business Day 21.01.2015

Business Day 21.01.2015This week on Business Day, South Africa’s leading business newspaper, GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti -drawing conclusions on Piketty’s research – discusses why redistribution is the only way to tackle inequalities in South Africa and worldwide: will the WEF listen?

“One does not need a doctorate in economics to recognise that SA is one of the most unequal societies in the world. We see it every day, when we drive through our cities and across the country, when we go shopping or take our kids to school.

While inequality is a fact of life (we are different people, with different capacities, interests and aspirations), it becomes a social malaise if it exceeds certain levels. And each society should democratically decide which degrees of inequality are acceptable.”

“Such a level of inequality also reinforces violence, frustration and crime.

In SA and elsewhere, economic growth has been employed as a magic wand to avoid a serious debate on inequality. The belief that the economy can grow infinitely and at a sustained pace has been comforting to the ruling elites, as this means the pie will continue expanding without the need to redistribute its shares.

Indeed, allowing the rich to become richer has been often presented as a precondition for the economy to excel for the benefit of all.

Nowhere has this been as evident as in the justification of the stellar salaries of top managers of private and public corporations.

The reality, however, is that this “trickle-down” vision of economic development is largely a dogma, as Piketty has now confirmed with his data.
Moreover, he finds no correlation between the pay cheques of “super managers” and the performance of the companies they lead.
In his view, the only thing that explains these skyrocketing salaries is the fact that managers can easily influence the scale of their remuneration, often with the support of complacent boards of directors, while common workers cannot.

Read full article on Business Day

World needs a new Bretton Woods with Africa in the lead – Business Day 27.11.2014

This week on Business Day, South Africa’s leading business newspaper, GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti reflects on the need to redefine the economic system and the very definition of economic progress.

“After the 2007-08 global economic collapse, we have not yet seen one major reform. Both bail-outs and quantitative easing (a cryptic term to hide the fact that governments have resorted to the old-fashioned, Zimbabwe-esque remedy of printing money out of thin air) have done exactly the opposite: they have condoned business-as-usual practices, providing an incentive for the financial sector to continue speculating.”

Our leaders make public appeals for more growth, but fail to specify what “type” of growth they want. While in the postwar period the world could have been satisfied with economic growth at all costs — most countries had been destroyed by the conflict and the future was simply about rebuilding — the new century has brought some critical reality checks. The planet is in pain, unbridled economic growth has increased inequalities in many countries and environmental damage has become a concern not only for tree-huggers, but for anybody interested in social and economic stability.

Read the full article on Business Day. 

Creative ideas on migration will open the doors to growth -Business Day SA-

“South Africa is the destination of many workers from the rest of Africa and from the rest of the world. We know that about 7% of SA’s workforce is foreign. More than 38% of workers in gold mines are non-South African citizens and more than 22% of mine workers in all sectors hail from Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique.

Data are sketchy and grossly underestimate the phenomenon. Many migrants are employed in informal positions, with precarious jobs, both in terms of safety and social security. Most undocumented migrant workers are poorly captured by official statistics. By all means, migrant workers are a fundamental factor in SA’s economic development. But how supportive and reliable is the present administrative and legislative framework?

What we need is a simple and clear framework to allow citizens of neighbouring countries to seek work and business opportunities in SA. We may even want to consider experimenting with free movement, for instance, within the Southern African Customs Union. In the European Union (EU), where free movement is a reality, most people have not relocated to other countries. As they benefit from clear arrangements that allow them to return regularly to their home country, they need not relocate permanently.”

In his regular column on Business Day, Lorenzo Fioramonti discusses how South Africa could transform its position of African immigration hub into an economic opportunity.

Read the full article on Business Day