State failure looms: Zenawi

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is warning that half of Africa’s nations may become failed or failing states over the next decade if their governments don’t address the global financial crisis and climate change.
US news service Bloomberg reports the pugnacious premier as saying African leaders should unite to demand a financial recovery package for the continent. Compensation should also be sought from industrialised nations for the effects of global warming. Reuters described this as a “vulnerability fund”.
“It`s likely that the coming decade or so will be very dark indeed for Africa,” Meles said. “Our prospects are not bright at all.”
Zenawi`s comments come as the International Monetary Fund warns that Africa`s economic growth may slow to 3.4 percent this year, from 5.2 percent, amid expectations that economies such as the US, Japan and Britain will suffer their deepest recessions since World War II.
Rising global temperatures have intensified the effects of droughts, floods and storms in Africa, scientists say. Soil damage partly caused by climate change may plunge the continent, home to 1 billion people, into chaos as food production declines, according to the International Center for Tropical Agriculture.
“We have to recognize the dire consequences of what is unfolding before our eyes,” said Meles. “Our continental organizations should be seized with this matter in a much more effective and serious matter.”
Meles added that Africa should take a more aggressive stance in seeking compensation from rich countries that have spent billions of dollars bailing out their financial systems. The world`s biggest financial companies have suffered losses of more than $1 trillion since the outbreak of the US subprime mortgage crisis in 2007.
“The coming decade is likely to be a period of structural transformation and the associated pain of transition,” he said. “The fate of countries and continents is likely to be determined by how well and how fast they adjust to the transition. Those who lack these resources and capabilities are likely to suffer and may even fail.”
Reuters also reports the African Development Bank (AfDB) will triple its lending to African countries to help the continent fight the impact of that crisis.
AfDB President Donald Kaberuka told an African Union (AU) summit in Ethiopia the bank would take four steps to support vulnerable nations, including a $1.5 billion emergency liquidity fund and a $1 billion trade finance facility.
“Africa has gone through two decades of structural adjustment and hard work,” he said. “For the last six years we have begun to bear the fruit. Now suddenly (we’re suffering) this crisis, which is not of Africa’s making.”
The bank will also set up a board to push for closer regional economic integration and cut red tape that slows funds from reaching low-income countries.
Kaberuka said the Tunis-based AfDB lent about $5.2 billion last year.