Stories written by Hilaire Avril
Hilaire Avril écrit sur l'Afrique, l'actualité du Développement, et de la Société Civile et Gouvernance internationale pour IPS depuis 2008. Il partage son temps entre l'Europe (Paris, Londres) et le continent. Hilaire Avril has been reporting on Africa, development, governance and civil society for IPS since 2008. He shares his time between Europe (Paris and London) and the continent.

Private Sector Debt Gnawing at Developing Countries

Twelve years after a global campaign successfully advocated the cancellation of some of the world’s poorest countries’ public debt, developing economies are again facing unsustainable debt burdens. Only this time, it is the private sector’s debt in developing economies that is inflating dangerously.

Alvin Mosioma, coordinator of the Tax Justice Network Africa, which advocates fair tax regimes to promote economic and social development. Credit: Tax Justice Network Africa

AFRICA: Emerging Trend Towards Establishing Offshore Tax Havens

As several African governments examine the possibility of setting up their own "offshore" financial centres, the trade name for tax havens, campaigners are calling for transparency and fair tax regimes.

AFRICA: Eco-Labels “Greenwashing” Forest Exploitation

"Eco-label fatigue" is setting in as green logging certification schemes are undermining proper government management of forest resources while "greenwashing" private ownership of these public resources, critics say.

The nonprofit Basecamp Foundation has facilitated the planting of over 20,000 trees in Masai Mara, Kenya. Credit: Ole Bernt Frøshaug, Basecamp Foundation

AFRICA: Responsible Travel Means Not “Haggling Over Wooden Beads”

Tourism as a concern found its way onto the agenda of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro because of its potential for development but also due to its adverse effects on some populations and natural resources, particularly in Africa.

Bruno Gurtner, chair of Tax Justice Network's board, holding the report, next to Dereje Alemayehu, chair of the network's African steering committee. Credit: Tax Justice Network

AFRICA: Billions Lost to State Coffers Due to Tax Leniency

Bad governance and the persistence of the tax avoidance industry allow billions of dollars of profit to be siphoned out of Africa, untaxed, every year.

A gunsmith from the Sudan People's Liberation Army salvages guns seized in Juba, Sudan, in Jun 2010 during a government disarmament campaign. Credit: © Trevor Snapp/Small Arms Survey

AFRICA: Arms Treaty to Rein in Trigger-Happy Rogue Regimes

A half a century after U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower named and denounced the military-industrial complex’s ever-increasing influence on world affairs, the arms trade thrives more than ever, with African states frequently being the destination.

AGRICULTURE-AFRICA: Land Grabs in Poor Countries Set to Increase

After weeks of rumours sparked by the leaking of a draft World Bank position paper on so-called land grabs in poor countries, the international financial institution has officially released its report on the surge in farmland purchases and leasing which have elicited controversy for over two years.

A worker at the African Centre for Biosafety

ENVIRONMENT: South Still Battling to Stop North’s Biopiracy

The United Nations declared 2010 the Year of Biodiversity. But 17 years after the Convention on Biological Diversity was adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the issue of biopiracy is still pitching North against South.

Workers of the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union in Ethiopia sorting coffee beans. Credit: Ethiquable

WORLD: Fair Trade Is Growing But Africans Lag Behind

Despite its minuscule share of world trade, fair trade is a booming business, importing certified foodstuffs and products from all over the world to Northern supermarkets. But there is increasing concern that this growth is yet to benefit poor countries in Africa.

Sebastien Fourmy: "The fundamentals of decision-making at the Bank have been carefully preserved." Credit: Oxfam-Agir Ici

ECONOMY: Africa Has Less Say After Changes in World Bank Voting

The World Bank has described its recent increase of 3.13 percent in the voting power of emerging economies as a reform "to enhance voice and participation of developing and transition countries". But the shift has actually decreased a third of African countries’ share of votes.

Dev Kar: For every one dollar low income countries get in official development assistance, more than 10 dollars go out the back door. Credit:

Q&A: Africa’s Mid-2000s Economic Boom Fuelled Capital Flight

The African continent lost 854 billion dollars due to illicit financial flows during the 39-year period from 1970 to 2008.

Camilla Toulmin: "If I were a small farmer, I would be increasingly nervous, having limited access to water and markets."  Credit: Mike Goldwater/IPS

AFRICA: Land Grabs Continue as Elites Resist Regulation

A year after the purchases of vast swathes of farm land in Africa first drew public attention, transactions remain as opaque as ever.

Xavier Harel: "Hairdryers are being sold to Nigeria for 3,800 dollars apiece or cassette players for 1,400 dollars" Credit: Copyright: DR

Q&A: Exposing the “Clandestine Passengers of Globalisation”

Between 30 and 40 percent of taxes that should be collected by developing countries end up in countries operating as tax havens. Overall, these "clandestine passengers of globalisation" contribute to capital flight from developing countries to the tune of 1,000 billion dollars a year.

WEST AFRICA: Helping Pirates to Plunder the Oceans

West Africa is one of the world’s regions most affected by pirate fishers. Illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing has been devastating local livelihoods and ecosystems for decades. National fisheries management authorities are often helpless to protect their maritime resources.

Raymond Baker: The poor are the hardest hit by illegal capital flight. Credit:

Q&A: "Political Elites Ensure Continuing Flight of Dirty Money"

Illegal capital flight in the form of corrupt, criminal and illicit commercial proceeds out of developing economies could be as high as one trillion dollars a year.

TRADE: France Conned EU’s Controversial Subsidies Scheme

The European Commission is demanding that the French government pays back 500 million euros spent on aid to French farmers. The scheme is in breach of European competition law as it financed competition with France’s neighbours by providing vegetable and fruit producers with hefty subsidies for more than a decade.

WORLD: Fishy Fishing Practices Threaten the Environment

For years, fishing communities along Africa’s 30,000 km-long coastline have been raising the alarm on the depletion of their fish stocks, to no avail. Over- fishing by foreign vessels has been wiping out the livelihood of West African fishers, contributing to desperate migration attempts into Europe.

AFRICA: Western Recipient Governments Cling to Dirty Money

In 2007, the French corruption watchdog Catholic Committee against Hunger and for Development (known by its French acronym CCFD) issued a first report on the colossal sums stolen by corrupt heads of states and hidden in mostly Western secret bank accounts. Figures are hard to come by, given the secrecy that shrouds such looting of public funds.

Gilles Saint-Martin: IMF policies have destroyed African research capacity. Credit:  CIRAD/IPS

Q&A: More Investment in Production Won’t Cure African Food Crisis

The food crisis in African states will not be solved by investment to spur agricultural production because the problem is not food output but poverty that is making food unaffordable for urban Africans.

ENERGY: Africa Will Have to Feed EU’s Artificial Biofuels Demand

Earlier in the decade, biofuels were hailed as the energy panacea, the silver bullet to solve oil shortages and abide by environmental concerns. The European Union recently took the lead in imposing the use of these liquid or gaseous fuels made from plants.

TRADE: EU Forges Ahead With EPAs Despite Global Crisis

Experts agree the current financial crisis is largely due to economic deregulation. But despite the downturn’s dramatic effects on developing countries, the European Union (EU) is still pushing for the trade liberalisation deals called economic partnership agreements (EPAs) to be signed by African governments.

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