Friday, June 3, 2011

Big Bag of Africa: Malawi politics, Rwandan agriculture, S. Sudan constitution

Malawi’s politics used to be highly geographic, with each third of the country focusing on one primary party. Between 2005 and 2009, that picture changed dramatically:

The DPP party gained an enormous following, enough that some people have started worrying about single-party democracy. Matt at Aid Thoughts postulates the primary reason for the great upswelling of unity is the national fertilizer subsidy. During the election, parties differentiated themselves mostly be claims of how they would apportion subsidy money. Since DPP had already shown how it (relatively) evenly distribute the money, they were a known entity. Now, is this vote buying, or demand-responsive democracy, or political entrepreneurship, or rampant socialism, or something else altogether?

One of my most-consistently-visited posts dealt with Rwandan agricultural growth prospects being potentially oversold. In the meantime, growth has been good and better than the regional average for five years. Hansl believes the way forward is to invest in irrigation, integrated fertilizer management, diversification of ag products, and most controversially get out of smallholder agriculture:
The relatively high level of land productivity reflects the favorable agro-climatic potential resulting in two harvest seasons, as well as the intensive nature of the predominant agricultural production systems. In contrast, labor productivity remains low compared to these countries, albeit increasing over the last decade. This is related to the fact that Rwanda has the highest proportion of rural population, most of them engaged in labor intensive agriculture. It appears that most opportunities for future productivity gains lie in the area of making agricultural production less labor intensive, in other words less subsistence based.
I commented earlier that the Rwandan hills will make mechanization somewhat difficult.

Comments on South Sudan’s temporary constitution. Primary concerns: it doesn’t say just how temporary, nor how the new process will be more transparent and participatory, nor if there will be term limits which the vice president had spoken in favor of. (HT: Roving Bandit)
Vaguely on the subject of African geopolitics, below the fold is a map of energy connections between African states:

Click for the extremely large version.

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