July 2012 Volume 19 Number 3
Africa: South Africa, Libya,
There are about 1.1 billion Africans in 54 countries; the continent's population growth rate is 2.4 percent or about 240 million a year. Economic growth has been relatively rapid, with African economies expanding by an average six percent between 2000 and 2010. Employment has been increasing by about three percent annually, which is more than the population growth rate but not enough to absorb new job seekers and farmers making the transition to urban jobs.
South Africa. Fewer than 10 percent of South Africans pay income taxes, which are imposed on those earning at least 120,000 rand ($15,230) a year. A third of South Africans receive transfer payments, often $50 to $75 a month. Unemployment remains stuck at about 25 percent of the labor force, and the ANC government, which promised to create five million jobs by 2020, acknowledged that only 200,000 were added in 2011.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions is increasingly disenchanted with the government, although unions are a key pillar of the ANC. Meanwhile, social grants have quadrupled to $13.4 billion a year, more than three percent of South African GDP. Many experts say that social grants help to alleviate poverty but do little to improve the education system so that South Africans obtain the education and training needed to find jobs.
Libya. Sub-Saharan Africans continue to migrate to Libya seeking jobs a year after the civil war that deposed President Kadafi. Per capita income in Libya is $12,000 a year, but few migrants earn that much in a Libya that is still being re-organized. Some Africans are detained and "sold" or "leased" to employers seeking workers.
Somalia. Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991. Somalis in the US send money to their relatives via money-transfer merchants known as "hawalas" that depend on US banks to facilitate the transfers. Some US banks, citing regulations enacted after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, are refusing to deal with hawalas, prompting protests from US Somalis.
DR Congo. The Democratic Republic of Congo may be the worst country in the world to be a woman because of the prevalence of rape used by warring militias to destroy families, HIV and AIDS, and social norms that expect women to support their large families. Some women in eastern Congo are human cargo carriers, cheaper than donkeys or horses because they work for $1 to $2 a day.
Girls rarely get an education because of school fees, and women are poorly represented in political institutions. The Association of Women Carriers in Bukavu is trying to end the practice of women carrying goods that could be carried by animals or vehicles.