Davos Notebook

Africa needs to bargain more

africaAfrica is one area we at Reuters is focusing at this year’s Davos (click for our special report)

Kola Karim, chif executive of Lagos/London-based Shoreline Energy International, says moves by Korea, Saudi Arabia and other emerging countries to buy up thousands of hectares of land in Africa to grow food “is sending fears to Africans.”

“Africa needs to ask, are these deals for us? Or for them. There’s a mismatch. We’re talking about countries that lack food. There’s no food for us,” he tells Reuters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

He argues that rejecting capital from these countries was not an answer. Negotiators need to properly use their bargaining power and promote investment — in the form of factories or other steps that create employment — rather than just sell off land.

“We have resources which we can do business with. We can do bargaining with the assets we have.”

Africa feels the heat on climate change

kilimaIt may have contributed less than any other continent to CO2 emissions, but Africa is on the front line when it comes to the impact of climate change.

Just ask Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.

“It is a threat for us,” he told a panel at the World Economic Forum.  “On Kilimanjaro the snow is fast disappearing, sea levels are rising — we have one island that has already been submerged — and we’ve towns around the coast where we have to incur huge costs of adaptation to erect walls.”

In theory, Africa is also in a strong position, given its virgin forests that represent one of the world’s great carbon sinks. But setting up workable offset-trading schemes is easier said than done.  “I can assure you, it is so difficult to access these facilities,” Kikwete said.

Five themes for Davos

Top (L-R): Steve Clarke, Natsuko Waki, Gerard Wynn, Martin Howell
Bottom (L-R): Peter Thal Larsen, Felix Salmon, Ben Hirschler, Krista Hughes

Reuters will have a multimedia team of 20 journalists plus editors and three columnists on site covering the Jan. 27-31 World Economic Forum annual meeting.

This year we are focusing our news coverage around five global themes that are shaping economics, politics and investment opportunities in 2010.  Our in-depth reports will draw on the expertise of our specialist correspondents from around the world to help inform the Davos conversation. These reports will be complemented by on-the-ground coverage, exclusive text and TV interviews, as well as a live blog aggregating the best Davos coverage on the web and on Twitter. We’ll be exploring the probing questions behind efforts to rebuild the world economy and financial system two years after the credit crisis.