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African economies capture world attention

African economies capture world attention African economies capture world attention

Young men and women chat along the glittering corridors of the sprawling shopping complex. With state-of-the-art mobile communication gadgets in hand, they go in and out of the malls 65 shops, filling shopping bags with expensive items. There is a large and well-equipped childrens playground at the back. Fully air-conditioned, the mall has 20,000 square metres of retail space, a theatre, restaurants, bars and parking for 900 cars. Welcome to the Accra Mall in Ghana, one of West Africas best - and comparable to any mall in the world.

In Ghana, as in many other African countries, young people are living out the continents economic growth. They are educated and relatively well-off, as seen in their cars, dress and homes. Ghanas economy grew by an impressive 14.4 per cent in 2011, while many African economies are expected to be among the worlds fastest-growing in 2012, according to the World Bank. Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and others will lead the charge.

Undoubtedly Africa is still bedevilled by poverty, with half of its people living on less than $2 a day. However, its economic growth over the past decade has been striking.

A hopeful continent

There is a new story emerging out of Africa: a story of growth, progress, potential and profitability, reports Ernst Young, a US-based business consulting company. Johnnie Carson, the US secretary of state for African affairs, adds: Africa represents the next global economic frontier. Investors had better be aware, advises Mr. Carson, who recently led a US trade delegation to Mozambique, Tanzania, Ghana and Nigeria. Chinas trade with Africa reached $160 billion in 2011, making the continent one of its largest trading partners.

Ten years earlier, in 2000, The Economist saw no reason for hope. It pronounced Africa the hopeless continent, noting problems that included a bloody civil war in Sierra Leone, famine in Ethiopia and political conflict in Zimbabwe. But last December, the London magazine reconsidered: Since The Economist regrettably labelled Africa the hopeless continent a decade ago, a profound change has taken hold. Today the sun shines bright … the continents impressive growth looks likely to continue.

Promising indicators

Africas overall economic indicators have been remarkable. Over the past decade, Africas trade with the rest of the world has increased by more than 200 per cent, annual inflation has averaged only 8 per cent and foreign debt has decreased by 25 per cent. Foreign direct investment FDI grew by 27 per cent in 2011 alone.

Even though projections for overall growth in 2012 have been revised downward due to the political crisis in North Africa, Africas economy will still grow by 4.2 per cent, according to a UN report in June. Sub-Saharan African economies will grow at more than 5 per cent, notes the International Monetary Fund IMF. In addition, there are currently more than 600 million mobile-phone users on the continent, while increasing literacy and improving skills have resulted in a 3 per cent growth in productivity.

Most foreign investors are still cautious about Africa, particularly because of security and infrastructure problems. But there is a steady increase in intra-African investment, which in 2011 accounted for about 17 per cent of total FDI, according to Ernst Young. African entrepreneurs are reaping the benefits. The worlds richest black person used to be the US talk show icon Oprah Winfrey, worth $3 billion. Today, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria, referred to by Forbes magazine as a commodities titan, has amassed more than $10 billion.

Investors dreamland

Several factors make Africa an investors dreamland. McKinsey Global Institute, a think tank, writes, The rate of return on foreign investment is higher in Africa than in any other developing region.

Africas economic growth is driven by a number of factors, including an end to many armed conflicts, abundant natural resources and economic reforms that have promoted a better business climate.

More political stability is lubricating the continents economic engine. The UN Economic Commission for Africa ECA in 2005 linked democracy to economic growth. Good governance is central to improving economic performance and promoting economic progress in Africa, argued Abdoulie Janneh, the ECA executive secretary at the time.

Another important factor is accelerating urbanization. While it may strain social services in the cities, it has also led to an increase in urban consumers. More than 40 per cent of Africas population now lives in cities, and by 2030 Africas top 18 cities will have a combined spending power of $1.3 trillion, McKinsey projects. The Wall Street Journal reports that Africas middle class, currently numbering 60 million, will reach 100 million by 2015.

Still a long way to go

Africas current economic indicators may appear upbeat, but analysts say it is not yet time to celebrate. Ill be cautioning against excessive exuberance, says Donald Kaberuka, president of the Africa Development Bank AfDB. A sustained slowdown in advanced countries will dampen demand for Africas exports, adds Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF. Europe accounts for more than half of Africas external trade, and tourism could also suffer as fewer Europeans come to Africa, denting economies - like those in Kenya, Tanzania and Egypt - that rely heavily on tourism.

The South African central bank also warned in May that the crisis in Europe, which consumes 25 per cent of South Africas exports, poses huge risks. And adverse effects on Africas largest economy will have devastating consequences for neighbouring economies.

Another flashpoint is the resurgence of political crises. Due to the Arab Spring, economic growth in North Africa nose-dived to just 0.5 per cent in 2011. Recent coups in Mali and Guinea-Bissau could have wider economic repercussions. Mali was scoring very well, now we are back to square one, says Mthuli Ncube, the AfDBs chief economist. Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and other countries are militarily engaged in Somalia, which may slow their economies. And Nigeria is grappling with Boko Haram, a terrorist sect in the north of that country.

Africa also faces other headwinds. The 2011 Africa Economic Report of the ECA and African Union warned of Africas jobless recovery, noting that investors are concentrating on the extractive sector, particularly oil, gold and diamonds, which produces few jobs.

Another report, the African Economic Outlook 2012 produced by the AfDB, ECA, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and UN Development Programme reinforces concern about unemployment, adding that about 60 per cent of Africas unemployed are aged 15 to 24 and about half are women. In May, UNDP raised an alarm over food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa, a quarter of whose 856 million people are undernourished.

Talk of a rising African middle class is hasty, the AfDB argues. Defined loosely as those who live on $2 or more a day, most middle-class Africans have daily expenditures of no more than $4, notes the bank. Potential economic shocks could easily throw many families into poverty, below the $2 threshold. High income inequality also clouds the picture. In 2008, for example, just 100,000 of Africas 1 billion people had a total net worth of $800 billion, equivalent to 60 per cent of the continents gross domestic product.

Despite such hurdles, Africas economies do not seem set to slow down. Ernst Young insists that this story has to be told more confidently and consistently. But equally important is the need to ensure that the continents economic growth also creates jobs and helps rescue millions from poverty.

Acclimatised Pakistan ready for India

Acclimatised Pakistan ready for India Acclimatised Pakistan ready for India

When the Pakistan team arrived at their service apartments in Townsville on Friday afternoon, having made the trip from Brisbane, there were five Indian cricketers sitting in the lobby. Had these been senior teams from the two countries, whose players are familiar with each other, there may have been an exchange of greetings. Not between the Under-19 cricketers. As the Pakistanis stood there in their green blazers, with their suitcases and kit bags, waiting to check in, they merely exchanged glances with the Indians. The quarterfinalists sizing each other up ahead of Mondays contest at Tony Ireland Stadium.

These sides have met before, at the Under-19 Asia Cup this year, in two tense contests. During the league phase of that tournament, Pakistan won a match they could have won more easily, by one run. In the final, India had to settle for a tie after dominating most of the chase. Both games were high-scoring contests in Kuala Lumpur; the conditions in Queensland are not as conducive to run-making.

Pakistan came to Australia earlier than most teams, in late July for three one-dayers on the Gold Coast. They won that series against Australia 2-1, a commendable result considering it was their first time here. Their performance in those matches led Australias coach Stuart Law to remark that one could see Pakistan had been playing together for quite a while.

This Pakistan Under-19 squad has been together since January, when they toured South Africa. They then played the Asia Cup and had a camp at the National Cricket Academy before coming to Australia. The captain Babar Azam and coach Sabih Azhar spoke of how the team had been constantly reminded of the different conditions awaiting them, which is why their quick adjustment during the three matches against Australia had been a huge boost for the players.

We are playing as a unit and we have created a friendly team atmosphere, said Azhar. Now they have developed the winning habit.

That winning habit has been on display during the warm-up matches of the World Cup and during the group games. Pakistan won everything, beating New Zealand, Afghanistan and Scotland to finish top of Group B.

The adjustment, however, hasnt been easy. After a long flight to Australia, Azam said most of the players slept for ages to rest and recuperate. When they awoke, they found unfamiliarity all around them. For starters, the adaptors for their mobile phones wouldnt fit into the plug points. They sought out each other and the officials for help and eventually queued up outside an electric supplies shop to buy them.

Theres more. The players are staying in service apartments in Australia, not in hotels, so they were told by the team management that they would have to cook their meals and clean up after themselves. Cooking, I never do at home, said Azam, speaking for most teenage boys on the subcontinent. Weve come here and we had to do it, so its been hard. Sometimes we eat out; sometimes we cook here. First five days we went to McDonalds all the time. We are washing clothes in the machine, washing crockery as well.

After a long flight to Australia, Babar Azam said most of the players slept for ages to rest and recuperate. When they awoke, they found unfamiliarity all around them. For starters, the adaptors for their mobile phones wouldnt fit into the plug points. They sought out each other and the officials for help and eventually queued up outside an electric supplies shop to buy them. Theres more. The players are staying in service apartments in Australia, not in hotels, so they were told by the team management that they would have to cook their meals and clean up after themselves.

Imam-ul-Haq, a top-order batsman and a nephew of Inzamam-ul-Haq, recounted how they set off fire alarms three or four times in their rooms. The first one was his Babars fault, he was just cooking an omelette I think, Imam said. It was the first day, we were very hungry, Usman Qadir, Babar and I. Suddenly the fire alarm went off; we thought wed cause a panic. Usman said, Dont panic, dont panic. We just held a towel near the fire alarm and opened the window. We were relieved and thought we will never cook food again.

But they have cooked; well, some have while the others have eaten. According to Imam, the fast bowlers Mir Hamza and Saad Ali, and vice-captain Umar Waheed are the chefs in the squad. We just want to eat and they cook for us. When we visit their rooms, we clean their rooms after eating and we wash their crockery. So we help them, says Imam. We really enjoyed it because all of us were in one room and we cooked together. Its a wonderful experience because weve been together for five or six months and we had never had this kind of experience.

How well an individual makes these adjustments affects how comfortable he feels in a foreign country and Imam knows it. If youre playing cricket and going out of the country, we have to face these difficulties and responsibilities, he said. If we have a problem in cooking, we cant give that an excuse to our coach.

Their acclimatization issues lasted for about five days and Azam said helping each other get used to how life functions in Australia had helped the team bond. Its like family work, he said. First five days were very difficult, to adjust to all this and play in the World Cup, but our support staff have really helped us. Now all the players have adjusted very well.

Pakistan have been performing like an extremely well-adjusted team. They beat Afghanistan by 109 runs, Scotland by nine wickets and New Zealand by five wickets. Between Pakistans first and second victories, on August 12, India lost to West Indies in Townsville, and from then Azams team has been talking about this quarterfinal clash. They did not really doubt they would top their group and therefore play India, who were likely to finish second in theirs.

They are looking forward to it. That gives me confidence, says Azhar. They are talking about Indian players, talking about strategies.

Both Azhar and Azam believe the exposure their players got during the Asia Cup to the pressures of an India-Pakistan contest will help them handle Mondays quarterfinal better. The boys know the Indian players, said Azam. If we hadnt played against India in the Asia Cup and now suddenly had to face them in the quarterfinal, there would have been more pressure. Not so much now.

Mondays quarterfinal at the Tony Ireland Stadium will be the first time Pakistan are playing in Townsville. Like how they did when they first arrived in Australia, theyll hope to settle in quickly.

Assistant Editor After a major in Economics and nine months in a financial research firm, George realised that equity, capital and the like were not for him. He decided that he wanted to be one of those lucky few who did what they love at work. Alas, his prodigious talent was never spotted and he had to reconcile himself to the fact that he would never earn his money playing cricket for his country, state or even district. He jumped at the opportunity to work for ESPNcricinfo and is now confident of mastering the art of office cricket

Adopted child from Russia sent back

Adopted child from Russia sent back Adopted child from Russia sent back

Have you heard the phrase it takes a villiage to raise a child? Maybe it takes a bunch of people to fail one as well. I would need more info to comment on this situation but have what is available in the news. The mother will be scrutinized internationally, the Russians want to stop adoptions to the US Until a firm agreement is in place. The mother was only the latest to fail this child. She only told the child he was going on an excursion to Moscow. What she did was criminal. Poor kids!

I have friends who adopted from the Ukraine. They were lucky, the children they adopted were fine. The children were under 2 years of age and were still in a very formative stage. BUT, they met others who adopted from the same orphanage who experienced horror stories.

The children put up for adoption are often the ones with problems. The orphanages are underfunded and when these children are in them, the children are lucky to receive basic care much less needed specialized care. There are barely funds to feed and clothe the children and heat the orphanage in the winter and pay the staff of which there are too few to give the children any individual attention. The children were placed in a room with a lot of windows and the staff opened the windows to give them exposure to as much fresh air as possible for a few hours. When the children were taken home, they had literally never left the orphanage building, had never seen the outside world or been exposed to the germs in the air. Initially, they were sickly. They met other Americans who were adopting and kept in touch them. One couple adopted a son with severe disabilities they were not told about. The best care here in the states has not been able to help this child much and the couple have been deeply troubled that nothing has worked.

Granted, sending back the child to Russia by themselves is an awful, AWFUL thing to do. But, you must go into adopting in a well-researched manner. And, there are no guarantees that you will adopt trouble-free children. Lets face it, there is no guarantee of trouble free kids if they are your own!!

Who is to blame? All involved.

The child was sent back with supervision its quite common for American children these days to travel alone on airplanes! and there were people there waiting to receive him, knowing he was coming, etc. I dont think there was a real problem, other than that the child probably didnt have a good start in life in Russia and couldnt adapt to the massive changes that would be needed to come to the United States. When an adult emigrates, they have trouble enough, cant imagine if I were a child going through all that change.

While I dont like or in any way condone what was done with this child, I have to say he could have met much worse fates. Its common sense that kids who are put up for adoption are going to have emotional problems of some sort, because there had to be something that caused them to be given up in the first place. Unfortunately, too many foster homes simply want the government income or a built-in babysitter for the kids they already have. I wish people would be a little more responsible BEFORE bringing a child into this world.

This woman was more than just a foster mother, she was his adoptive mother - she BOUGHT him. I find it disgusting that she would return him, as if he were merely a defective product instead of a human being. If she had given birth to him, it would have impossible to return him.

I dont like the business of buying adopting and selling orphanages children. Parents tend to view themselves as consumers and expect the child to fulfill their perceived needs. In order for the business to survive, orphanages need to move their product and reduce inventory in order to make room for their new and improved products. Most likely, they will do and say anything in order to make this happen. Its my guess they would prefer to sell off the undesirables. Chances are this kid was an undesirable - maybe a little hard to handle. Then again, maybe he wasnt able to adjust to his new home or develop love and respect for his new family.

I especially dont like overseas adoptions. orphaned children placed on the international market - never to be seen again.

I was at a dinner event years ago. A woman was chatting with her friend about the beautiful new baby she adopted from China, as if the child were the latest fashion in handbags. She even said to her friend You just HAVE to get one - as if it were a guarantee to boost some sort of status. I nearly choked on my food.

The day will come when the child will want to know about his/her parents. Doesnt just about everyone want to know about their roots and how they came to be in this world? IMO, knowing your story, your blood, and your roots is a way to strengthen your character and cope with the obstacles you face in life. What do adoptive parents really know about their childs personal roots and history? Why would a child feel any sort of connection or be able to draw strength from an adoptive ancestor?

Isnt family history and genetics important when medical conditions arise? The medical history of adoptive parents does not apply to their children. IF my mother would have given me up for adoption, it would have made it that much more difficult to diagnose me with familial amyloidosis - if not impossible. Even if I would have been successful in finding her, it wouldnt have helped because I was diagnosed five years after she died. Her gravestone carries no information on how she lived - the same goes for my grandmother who also suffered from the disease. I wouldnt have had any firsthand knowledge and experience with systemic amyloidosis. My doctors would not have even considered the diagnosis. I would be even more alone than I already am.

I dont think that this one case should negate international adopting. I personally know a young Christian family the son from the mothers first marriage was in my grade who adopted two adorable little girls from China, who may not have had a decent home otherwise. There are several countries where there simply are not enough willing, decent adults to care for the children. China is a prime example. Giving them a home when none are available in their own country so long as its a good, honest, loving home is not wrong in any way. If the parents and child wish to, they can help the child remain true to her original culture for example: the family I mentioned above now visits China every few years so their daughters can see their homeland. I understand that not every adoptive family is able to afford this, though. Plus, were so full of stubborn pride that, aside from the occasional adoption of an American child, we meaning the government wouldnt allow it to become a habitual occurence.

Oh! I do have to add one more possible viewpoint: after re-reading that hed threatened to kill his adoptive mother and tried to burn down his adoptive grandmothers house, it occured to me that he could emphasis on could; not is, could be sociopathic. There are such children, unfortunately. Either this boy was very messed up in the head before he was adopted, horribly abused after adoption, or he was a sociopath. In the case that he is a sociopath and ONLY in that case, because abuse is not his fault, nor is lashing out out of pain, then and only then would it be his fault. Just thought that was worth mentioning.

Abortion and Older Women

Abortion and Older Women Abortion and Older Women

From the findings of the Family Planning Association, or FPA, it appears that a large number of women who are in their mid-forties or over, dont use contraception, believing that they are not likely to become pregnant because of their age. This is one of the main reasons why a significant number of people in this age group are unexpectedly becoming pregnant.

There is a widespread belief that for women over forty, it is less safe to give birth for both the mother and the child, which is why fewer people in this age group plan on becoming pregnant.

While it is true that women start losing their fertility from the late thirties onwards, becoming pregnant at this age is still a real possibility. Women have become pregnant into their 50s; and even some who have become pregnant in their 60s. Although women between ages 30 and 34 have the highest rate of fertility, pregnancies still occur well beyond those years. According to the findings of the FPA, it seems that women are looking at the highest age for fertility too literally, and overlooking the possibility of becoming pregnant beyond this period in their lives.

The increasing rate of pregnancy among women over forty is accompanied by an increasing abortion rate. Quite surprisingly, the rate of abortion among women between ages 40 and 45 is the same as those under age 16. This trend goes against the common belief that the rate is higher for the age group under 16. The rate of abortion among these two groups currently accounts for approximately 50% of all pregnant women.

There are varied reasons why women choose abortion. One reason that is likely to influence women over forty is anxiety about birth abnormalities. These are more likely among children of an older mother, and women who discover signs of birth abnormalities are apt to make a decision to terminate a pregnancy.

The time in which to have a child is important in a womans life. It is not difficult to understand the many reasons why young people place a great deal of thought into deciding when the time is right to have a child. They may not have completed their education or begun a career, or they may think they are too immature to raise young children.

For women over forty, timing can be an equally important issue. They are likely to already have a family, and may not wish to be raising a child into their fifties.

It is not only young people who are in need of better reproductive health education. Unwanted pregnancies may eventually become higher among middle aged women than the much younger group. There is a slight fall in the rate of teenage pregnancies, but pregnancies among women in their 40s and above is on the rise.

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