chapter  8
34 Pages

Conflict, arms and reconstruction

One of the most disturbing reports to emerge in 2007 was a study produced by Oxfam, Saferworld and Iansa that analysed the economic cost of armed conflict to Africa’s development. In a study of 23 African countries, including Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, DRC, Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan and Uganda, the report maintained the total cost of conflict was US$284 billion between the years 1990 and 2005. This figure represented an annual loss of 15 per cent of gross domestic product amounting to an average sum of US$18 billion per year lost by Africa on account of armed conflict. The average annual loss of 15 per cent is an ‘enormous economic burden’ which represents ‘one and a half times average African spending on health and education combined’ (Oxfam 2007). The cost of these conflicts is equivalent to the foreign aid Africa has received over the same period (EISA 2007a). Thirty-eight per cent of the world’s armed conflicts are being fought in Africa and in 2006 nearly 50 per cent of all ‘high-intensity’ conflicts were in Africa. Almost half of the countries on the continent have been involved in some form of conflict since 1990. Table 8.1 outlines the cost of conflict for selected countries. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) suffered more than a decade of foreign invasion and civil war that caused the deaths of around 4 million people and has lost the country 29 per cent of its gross domestic product. At one stage it was ‘occupied by six foreign armies – Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and remnants of the predominantly Hutu rebel forces – is tormented by militias and is unable to meet the most basic needs of its people’ (International Crisis Group Africa 2001: i). For the damage caused by Uganda’s activities in the northeastern part of the DRC, the International Court of Justice ruled that Uganda should pay reparations.