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Baccalauréat 2009 Séries G1-G2-H 

Development in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)

The consequences of a two-thirds rise in food prices over the past two years have been food riot, strikes, price controls, export bans and a massive increase in subsidy costs. All this is reversing recent gains in the fight against poverty. The International Monetary Fund has chosen 18 SSA countries that will need additional balance-of-payments and budgetary support in 2009, some good may come out of this, however, as several governments urgently rethink their farm policies, aiming to boost food production.
Farming may be the dominant sector in Sub-Saharan Africa, but productivity is the lowest in the world. The green revolution that helped drive development in Asia is not happening. The region as a whole has enormous farm potential, but fulfilling it will require better institutions and infrastructure. Meanwhile, the role of small-scale farmers is controversial: some experts contend that they have no place in a modern economy; others think that they can be productive with appropriate support.
Development is also blocked by a serious electricity shortage. At least 30 out of the 47 SSA countries have suffered severe energy troubles in recent years.
Booming domestic demand and a lack of new investment are to blame. If all the countries raised their power infrastructure to the standard of the continent's best performers (such as Mauritius), GDP growth per head could rise by an additional two percent annually. Significant investment in new plant and power lines that cross national borders is under way -- often drawing in the private sector - but many projects remain unimplemented and shortages will persist.
Armed conflict and political instability have become less frequent. Even so, there will be opportunities in 2009 as well as problems. The surge in Asian investment in the region, especially from China and India (which are competing for influence and resources in the continent), will continue. Asian economies will take a long-term view of investment, and competition among them will work to sub-Saharan Africa's advantage. The main challenge, as ever, will be to channel the gains into productive purposes, rather than allowing them to benefit a few people.
Another bright spot will be the telecoms sector, especially mobile phones. Africans have as much appetite for communicating as the rest of the world and mobile telephony has enabled them to do without the old-style telecoms infrastructure. The trend will be reinforced by the addition of eastern Africa to the global fiber-optic system in 2009-2010 and the opening of new links up the west coast. Speedier and cheaper connections will boost internal trade and encourage global ties.

Guided Commentary
1) Basing on the text, what have been the consequences of the increase in food prices over the past two years? (2 points)
2) Basing on the text, what does sub-Saharan Africa need in order to increase its productivity? (3 points)
3) What are the opinions of experts on the role of small scale farmers in SSA, according to the text? (4 points)
4) Give the causes for the severe energy shortages in most Sub-Saharan countries? (4 points)
5) What are SSA countries doing to solve the energy shortage, according to the text? (2 points)
6) How could your country benefit from partnership with such countries as China, India? (5 points)

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