Declining oil and commodity prices impact states in Africa and the Middle East
2015 is the year that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
were scheduled to reach certain objectives in the reduction of poverty
and the improvement of living standards in so-called developing
In 2000 the United Nations drafted a program to achieve income
increases, universal education, gender equality and other forms of
material advancements. By this year there was supposed to be substantial
gains which could be easily measurable through healthier, liberated and
happier people throughout Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and
In an article published by the London-based Guardian it notes that
“The millennium development goals have targeted eight key areas –
poverty, education, gender equality, child mortality, maternal health,
disease, the environment and global partnership. Each goal is supported
by 21 specific targets and more than 60 indicators.” (July 6)
Statistics indicate that there have been improvements in raising
household incomes and reducing rates of illiteracy and child mortality.
In addition, school attendance for girls and women have increased in
various regions of Africa and Asia making a profound impact on
illiteracy and abject poverty.
With respect to incomes, it was said that in 1990 nearly two billion
people lived on less than $1.25 United States dollars per day. Today the
number of people attempting to survive on such an income has decreased
by more than half says the UN figures yet any analysis of these
statistics must take into account the rising cost of living in various
developing states amid increased access to telecommunications, light
industrial and mining employment.
With the movement of many people from rural and small town areas to
major urban centers, the resources needed to survive inevitably
increase. Consequently, in countries like Nigeria, there are thousands
living underneath bridges in the commercial capital of Lagos despite the
fact that the West African state was designated as having the largest
economy on the continent in 2014.
Channel News Asia in a report on the UN assessments of the social
status of the world’s population said “About 800 million people still
live in dire poverty and suffer from hunger despite the United Nations
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) being the most successful
anti-poverty push in history.” (July 6)
In a statement issued by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon he claims
that “Following profound and consistent gains, we now know that extreme
poverty can be eradicated within one more generation. The MDGs have
greatly contributed to this progress and have taught us how governments,
business and civil society can work together to achieve
transformational breakthroughs.” (July 6)
Nonetheless, growth has been an uneven process across the various
regions and countries, the UN had to admit. Further reference was made
to the fact that any sustainable development agenda must address social
disparity so that qualitative improvements can be made in the lives of
the poorest and most marginalized people.
Consequently, UN member-states are scheduled to draft and ratify a
list of renewed development aims, known as the Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs). This will be the focus of a UN summit in September. The
new goals aim to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.
Moreover, even within those states which have been cited for
phenomenal economic growth since 2000, there are deeper levels of class
For example in West Africa, the states of Nigeria, Ghana and Burkina
Faso, are noted for significant levels of growth prompted by foreign
exchange earnings due to the escalation in the exploitation of resources
such as oil, natural gas and strategic minerals. However, in all of
these states unrest has erupted emanating from the sharp divisions among
the national bourgeoisie and the working masses of proletarians,
students and farmers.
Nigeria is facing one of the worse economic crises since independence
55 years ago. A war of insurgency by the Boko Haram group in the
northeast has interrupted economic activity and fostered widespread
dislocation extending across its borders into Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
In Ghana, a newly-emerging oil producing state, civil servants,
teachers, healthcare workers and petroleum employees have engaged in
strikes and mass demonstrations demanding that the government take
action against inflation triggered by the declining value of the cedi,
the national currency.
Neighboring Burkina Faso witnessed an uprising last October when a
military-turned-civilian dictator fled the country after 27 years of
plunder and political repression against the people at the aegis of
France and the U.S. Unemployment in Burkina Faso is astronomically high
despite the growth in the gold producing sector of the economy making it
the fourth largest exporter of this valuable mineral on the African
These social problems are a by-product of global capitalism which remains the dominant mode of production throughout the region.
Imperialist War, World Capitalism Prompts Dislocation and Underdevelopment
Any serious observer of international affairs in 2015 would have to
acknowledge that in many regions the situation has worsened due to
imperialist war and the decline in oil and commodity prices. In Iraq,
Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Sudan and Nigeria the
conditions have resulted in widespread dislocation and deaths.
The precipitous decline in oil prices during 2014-2015 has created
additional difficulties in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, the
Republic of Sudan and South Sudan, etc. In Nigeria, the incoming
government of President Mahamadou Buhari says that they have inherited a
regime which has no money, where state governments have not paid civil
servants in months while thousands line up for hours in urban areas to
acquire fuel in the largest oil-producing nation in Africa.
Children and women throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia are
heavily impacted due to war and the lack of food, water and other
U.S.-engineered wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan and
Yemen have led to the massive crisis of internally displaced persons
(IDPs) and refugees. Events in the Mediterranean since the beginning of
the year has resulted in over two thousand documented deaths.
There are tens of millions of refugees and IDPs throughout the Middle
East, South-Central Asia and North Africa in response to the conditions
under which people are living in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and other
states. The UN Refugee Agency issued a report several months ago
documenting that approximately 60 million people have been displaced in
recent years, proving to be the worse situation in existence since the
conclusion of World War II.
With the gap between rich and poor widening significantly there can
be no genuine development for the majority of humanity. The activities
of transnational corporation, international finance capital and
imperialist regimes such as the U.S. and the European Union (EU), are
undermining any efforts on the part of the governments and people of the
developing states to improve their social conditions.
Aggressive diplomatic and military actions have not been confined to
the developing states. The war in eastern Ukraine is a direct outcome of
the concerted campaign by the U.S. to weaken, contain and encircle
Russia through destabilization efforts such as sanctions and the
expansion of NATO.
On July 4 the foreign ministry of the People’s Republic of China
accused Washington of unnecessarily raising tensions in the Asia-Pacific
region. Xinhua news agency criticized “the Pentagon’s latest military
report and urged the United States to give up cold-war attitudes.”
“We are dissatisfied with and oppose the U.S. report which has played
up ‘the China threat’,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said
at a daily press briefing in Beijing. The official’s comments came
after the release of the U.S. Defense Department report on July 1, which
said “China’s actions are adding tension to the Asia-Pacific region,”
in reference to Beijing’s land reclamation in the South China Sea.