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Latest News April 13, 2017

April 13, 2017

news From All Africa

  • Australian High Commission launches 24 Direct Aid Program projects
    The Australian High Commission in Ghana hosted an event to launch 24 development projects benefiting from funding under the 2016-17 round of its Direct Aid Program (DAP). The event, held at the residence of the Australian High Commissioner in Accra, doubled as a training session for grant recipients. 
    Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, Mr. Andrew Barnes, congratulated participants on being selected to receive funding through the highly competitive DAP, which provides small grants for development projects in a range of sectors including extractives, sanitation, education, and women’s economic empowerment. 
    Mr Barnes spoke about the High Commission’s commitment to supporting “the provision of many life-transforming interventions for some of society’s most vulnerable people – notably people with disabilities, women and children” through the DAP. 
    Mr Barnes said the Australian High Commission’s DAP program had funded a diverse range of successful projects. “The reason these projects have been so successful over the years is that they are organic, home-grown initiatives, implemented by local organisations.” 
    Mr Barnes noted that DAP’s success had seen it grow. “Our DAP budget has increased steadily over the years and is now worth over 1 million Australian dollars [approximately 3.5 million Ghana cedis]”, he reported.  
    The DAP is a development assistance program funded from Australia's aid budget and administered by Australian diplomatic missions around the world. Since the High Commission in Ghana started the program in 2004, hundreds of communities in the High Commission’s nine countries of accreditation (Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo) have benefited from high-quality initiatives funded by the DAP and implemented by local development organisations. 

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Australian High Commission in Ghana.

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  • Declaration by the High Representative F. Mogherini on behalf of the EU on the 15th anniversary of the decision on the border delimitation by the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission

    On this day fifteen years ago, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) communicated its decision regarding the delimitation of the border between the State of Eritrea and the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The EEBC had been established as part of the Algiers peace agreement signed by the leaders of Eritrea, President Isaias Afwerki, and Ethiopia, late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, in Algiers, Algeria on 12 December 2000. The EU signed as a witness alongside Algeria, the United States of America, the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity. 

    The EU remains deeply concerned that the present stalemate continues to put regional stability at risk, with potentially negative implications on international peace and security as well as international trade, and hampers regional cooperation and development. 

    The EU is convinced that the parties have all to gain from a full implementation of the provisions of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission's decision. In this regard, the EU encourages all concrete steps that could lead to finally demarcating the border in accordance with the EEBC decision and to move to a phase of building constructive and peaceful relations. 

    As part of its strong engagement on the Horn of Africa, the EU stands ready to support the process and any measures that will create conditions for a mutually beneficial relationship between Eritrea and Ethiopia in the future.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Council of the European Union.

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  • Vote for small business!

    The party that emerges as the winner of Kenya’s general election, to be held on 8 August, has an opportunity to supercharge job creation and economic growth by adopting policies that help Small & Medium Businesses to thrive.

    That’s according to Nikki Summers (https://goo.gl/y3egeS), Regional Director for Sage in East Africa (www.Sage.com/Africa), the market and technology leader for integrated accounting, HR & payroll, and payment systems. She says that the next government will have a strong framework and foundation to build on, following years of State investment in creating an enabling environment for entrepreneurs and business builders.

    “With GDP expected to expand by around 6% this year (https://goo.gl/eRu4gr), Kenya is on the right track for growth,” says Summers. “Improving the ease of doing business and following sound macro-economic policies will help ensure that this pace of growth continues, also offering an environment where Small & Medium Businesses can flourish.”

    Summers says that Small & Medium Businesses deserve a special place in government policy because they contribute up to 80% of jobs in an emerging economy such as Kenya. As important as large infrastructure projects are, Small & Medium Businesses are the engines of job creation and the most efficient vehicle for redistributing and creating prosperity for the benefit of ordinary people, she adds.

    “The new government should continue to follow the Kenya Vision 2030 (www.Vision2030.go.ke) blueprint, which recognises the crucial role of micro, small and medium business in industrial development,” says Summers. “It should also look at ways of strengthening its various small business funding efforts such as Uwezo Fund (www.Uwezo.go.ke)  and the Youth and Women Enterprise Fund, since access to financing remains one of the most significant challenges for entrepreneurs and business builders.”

    Improving small business survival rate

    According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) (www.KNBS.or.ke) around 2.2 million micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) shut down in the last five years. Some 30% reported that shortage of operating funds was the reason for their closure, highlighting the importance of sustainable financing in ensuring a healthy environment for small businesses.

    “We also believe that technology could play a role in improving the sustainability of small Kenyan businesses and that government could encourage uptake of accounting solutions,” says Summers. “Accounting and payroll software could help entrepreneurs keep more accurate records, comply more easily with government and tax regulations and gain better visibility into financial performance. This could, in turn, improve their financial planning and their ability to manage cash flow.”

    Summers says that the present governments’ policies of entrenching Buy-Kenya-Build-Kenya policy (www.Industrialization.go.ke) in public procurement are also to be welcomed. “The procurement budget is one of the best tools government has to help develop emerging businesses,” she adds. “By giving small businesses preferential treatment in tenders, paying them quickly for work they do, and helping them develop skills, government can help them grow their businesses to the next level.”

    There should also be closer collaboration between small business forums, big business (including multinationals) and government in nurturing the small business sector. “We at Sage would welcome working with other large companies and government to create forums for education, recognising and rewarding small businesses,” says Summers.

    “Mentoring programmes, where business builders can learn from established entrepreneurs and businesspeople, as well as platforms that connect small businesses to big business and government, could all help smaller businesses to grow and thrive.” 

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Sage.

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    About Sage:
    Sage (www.Sage.com) is the market and technology leader for integrated accounting, payroll, and payment systems, supporting the ambition of entrepreneurs and business builders. Today, business builders measure success in strong relationships, partnerships, and communities. It‘s why Sage helps drive today’s business builders with the most intelligent and flexible cloud-enabled software, support, and advice to manage everything from money to people. Daily, more than 13,000 Sage colleagues in 23 countries work with a thriving global community of over 3 million entrepreneurs, business owners, tradespeople, accountants, partners, and developers to champion the success of business builders everywhere. And as a FTSE 100 business, we are passionate about doing business the right way, supporting our local communities through the Sage Foundation. 

    Sage – the market and technology leader for integrated accounting, payroll, and payment systems, powered by the cloud and supporting the ambition of the world’s entrepreneurs and business builders. Because when business builders do well, we all do. 

    For more information, visit www.Sage.com.

  • Berlin Humanitarian Call – Standing Together Against Famine

    Today, representatives from Governments, humanitarian organisations of the United Nations, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Non-Governmental Organisations and local responders came together in Berlin to jointly recommit to responding to the dramatic humanitarian situations in Northeast-Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region, in South Sudan, in Somalia and the wider Horn of Africa, and Yemen in accordance with our World Humanitarian Summit and Grand Bargain commitments and in line with the Agenda for Humanity.

    We are convinced that it is still possible to prevent a greater humanitarian catastrophe through urgent and rapid humanitarian action. We stand together against famine and issue this Humanitarian Call:

    First and foremost, we recall our commitment to the principles guiding humanitarian action: All assistance must be provided in accordance with the humanitarian principles of impartiality, neutrality and independence, on the basis of human need, and disregarding any political, religious, ideological or other considerations.

    We call on donors around the world to act swiftly and to prioritise an increase in their support for coordinated humanitarian assistance in the countries currently facing a severe risk of famine.

    We call on humanitarian partners to scale up their humanitarian assistance in the affected countries, to give maximum support to their experts in responding to these crises and to ensure the effective use of available humanitarian resources. We reaffirm our commitment to stand behind the UN, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and our humanitarian partners who continue to deliver assistance in most critical circumstances.

    We call on the private sector to support humanitarian organisations to the best of its abilities, including through resources, expertise and enabling technology.

    We call on individual citizens to support assistance programmes in these countries to the best of their abilities.

    We call on parties involved in conflict to grant humanitarian workers safe passage and unimpeded access to the affected population. Our assistance must reach those who need it the most, based on the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.

    We call on all authorities to abolish any bureaucratic and administrative obstructions that interfere with the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and in particular to end restrictions of movement within and into their countries.

    We call for increased protection of civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law. We must support and speak out on behalf of the most vulnerable, amidst an intensification of conflict, disaster and shrinking humanitarian space.

    We call on the international community to scale up its efforts to achieve greater stability in fragile regions in the affected countries and to support Governments in their efforts to protect their citizens.

    We call for stronger political commitment on the part of political leaders to prevent crises in the first place and to solve those that have led to this humanitarian catastrophe.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Germany – Federal Foreign Office.

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  • The impending hunger catastrophe won’t be Africa’s last, Red Cross Red Crescent

    The lives and futures of more than 18 million people are at risk in the Greater Horn of Africa and in Nigeria, as a result of one of the worst hunger crisis in recent history. This unfolding humanitarian crisis will be repeated again and again without concerted efforts to build resilience on the continent, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned today.

    “As long as we have conflicts and do not take strong measures to mitigate the effects of climate change, food insecurity will be with us,” said Dr Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, IFRC’s Regional Director for Africa. “As we respond to the risk of imminent mass starvation in Africa, we also need to invest in community-level capacities and systems, so that local communities are prepared for any future shocks.”

    This warning comes at the end of a continental conference of Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders, in Abidjan. The three-day meeting recommended a number of actions.

    Other recommendations included strengthening domestic resource mobilization, increasing country-level policy dialogue with governments, fostering increased community ownership of programmes, and developing innovation centres in communities, while recognizing innovative community-level initiatives on disaster risks reduction.

    “We need to take advantage of modern technologies in our response to current humanitarian challenges. Mobile applications and social media should be used to raise awareness on climate change and to share early warning information about disasters,” said Dr Abbas Gullet, IFRC’s Vice President. “We also need to improve data collection, through technology and capacity building at community level.”

    The meeting also called on governments, donors and humanitarian partners to prioritize and invest in interventions that will finally help break the grim and destructive cycle of African hunger—by strengthening communities’ capacities and skills to better prepare for, and respond to disasters and food insecurity, among other crises.

    “We’ve seen drought and hunger before: in Somalia in 2011 and 2012, in Niger in 2005, in Ethiopia in the 1980s. Not enough was done to prevent those crises from happening, and not enough is being done to prevent a similar disaster from happening in the future,” said Dr Gullet.

    IFRC and member National Societies are providing long-term support to vulnerable communities throughout Africa. Local Red Cross and Red Crescent staff and volunteers are embedded in many of the most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach communities.

    “How many people will die this year? How many will die in future years if we don’t build the resilience of communities alongside our provision of emergency aid?” added Dr Gullet. “We cannot keep saying ‘never again’ unless we are prepared to change the way we respond.”

    Distributed by APO on behalf of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

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  • Central African Republic: Civilians Targeted in Sharply Escalating Conflict

    As conflict spreads and intensifies in the Central African Republic (CAR), civilians are being attacked at levels not seen in years, especially in the east-central area of the country, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) warned today.

    Thousands are being forced to flee for their lives and are receiving little to no humanitarian assistance.

    “Our teams have witnessed summary executions and have found mutilated bodies left exposed to terrorize populations,” said René Colgo, MSF deputy head of mission, who has been leading MSF's work in the Bakouma and Nzako areas of Mbomou prefecture. “Civilians are traumatized and many have fled to the bush where they are surviving on whatever they can find.”

    In the past few months, infighting among parties from the 2014–2015 conflict has resulted in splinter groups and has triggered a conflict for control of territory and resources, especially in the Ouaka, Haute Kotto, Basse Kotto and Mbomou prefectures.

    “What was already one of the most acute humanitarian crises in the world is worsening,” said Emmanuel Lampaert, MSF representative in CAR. “The Central African Republic is spiraling into levels of violence that have not been seen since the peak of the conflict in 2014.”

    The conflict is spreading to areas that had been considered relatively stable for the past two years. In Bakouma and Nzako, rival armed groups are contesting towns and mining areas, with devastating consequences for the civilian population.

    When cities change hands, civilians are the first to suffer. In Bria pediatric hospital, for example, MSF teams have treated 168 people for violence-related injuries since November, including two dozen people with serious injuries from March 24 to 26.

    “The MSF facility in Bria is a rural children's hospital where we mostly treat toddlers with malaria,” said Dr. Katie Treble, an MSF physician working there at the time. “The hospital’s small triage area was overwhelmed with patients, all with severe gunshot wounds. … During this weekend, the whole team—nurses, doctors, health care assistants, cleaners, everyone—had to suddenly function like an adult trauma center in the middle of a war zone.”

    See Also: First-Person Account from Dr. Katie Treble.

    In recent months there has also been an increase in the number of targeted attacks by armed groups against specific communities, which leads to retaliation and a quick escalation of violence.

    “The nature of the conflict is evolving, and traumatized and helpless civilians find themselves trapped in the crossfire, kicked out of their homes, and cut off from their fields and livelihoods,” said Caroline Ducarme, MSF head of mission in CAR. “At the very least all parties need to stop attacking noncombatants and allow a minimum of assistance to reach those in desperate need.”

    According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), half the 4.6 million people living in CAR rely on humanitarian assistance. An additional 100,000 people were displaced between September 2016 and February 2017 due to the renewed fighting, bringing the total number of people internally displaced to over 400,000 and the total number of registered refugees to over 460,000. However, international funding for the UN humanitarian response plan has been sorely lacking.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Médecins sans frontières (MSF).

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  • IMF Staff Completes the Fourth PSI Review Visit to Senegal
    • The macroeconomic performance remained solid in 2016, with GDP growth above 6 percent for the second consecutive year
    • Prudent fiscal policy in line with WAEMU convergence criteria should also help safeguard the Union’s stability
    • Reaching the Plan Sénégal Emergent (PSE) objectives also requires a faster pace of reform to promote private investment, including foreign investment

    A staff team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Mr. Ali Mansoor, visited Dakar from March 30 through April 12, 2017, to engage in discussions as part of the fourth review of the three-year arrangement under the Policy Support Instrument (PSI) approved in June 2015.

    At the conclusion of the visit, the team issued the following statement:

    “The macroeconomic performance remained solid in 2016, with GDP growth above 6 percent for the second consecutive year. Inflation remains low, owing to low international oil prices and an elevated supply of cereal products on the market. The external current account deficit improved due to higher exports and workers’ remittances.

    “PSI program implementation continues to be satisfactory overall. All the quantitative criteria and indicative targets for end-December 2016 have been met. Tax revenue gains combined with a continued policy to streamline public consumption expenditure have helped contain the fiscal deficit within the target set by the program. Significant progress has also been made in meeting structural benchmarks. 

    “The outlook for 2017 remains favorable, with growth once again expected to exceed 6 percent. This will nevertheless require continued fiscal consolidation, strengthened public financial management and enhanced governance, improvements to the business climate, and measures to promote SMEs and social inclusiveness. The discussions between the authorities and the team focused on these particular points.

    “The IMF team welcomes the authorities’ determination to continue pursuing an appropriate fiscal policy through the maintenance of their initial fiscal deficit target of CFAF 349 billion (3.7 percent of GDP) in 2017 to maintain the sustainability of public debt. Prudent fiscal policy in line with WAEMU convergence criteria should also help safeguard the Union’s stability. The team noted that public debt levels at end-December 2016 were higher than expected, owing to a reduction in balances on creditor deposits (comptes de dépôts) and advances that the government has made available to the national postal service (La Poste) over the last few years. The team encourages the authorities to take the appropriate measures to strengthen cash flow management and to prevent publicly-owned companies from imposing a heavy burden on public finances and the economy. The team also calls on the authorities to honor their commitment to privatize SONACOS and reduce the number of public agencies. To reach the growth targets set in the “Plan Sénégal Emergent” (PSE), public expenditure should focus primarily on public investment, including in human capital, and social inclusiveness.

    “Reaching the PSE objectives also requires a faster pace of reform to promote private investment, including foreign investment. Growth driven by public investment alone is not sustainable. In this respect, the team welcomes the progress made in this area, particularly, the law passed on the Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The team has encouraged the authorities to finalize the implementing decrees as quickly as possible, along with the final measures required for the law’s effective implementation, while ensuring that the tax system will make it possible to raise the resources required to implement the PSE. The team also encourages the authorities to speed up the pace of ongoing reforms to promote SMEs, to enable them to play a full role in contributing to strong and inclusive growth, and job creation.  

    “IMF staff will recommend that management request the completion of the fourth review under the PSI, to be taken up by the Executive Board in late June 2017.”

    The team met with the President of the Republic, the ministers responsible for the economy, finance and planning, the civil service, industry and mines, the BCEAO National Director, other senior government officials and development partner representatives. The team wishes to thank the authorities for their hospitality, as well as the close working relationship and climate of openness in evidence throughout the discussions.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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  • Media Invitation – Press Conference for 6 Members of the European Parliament's Committee on International Trade (INTA Committee) to Ghana

    The Delegation of the European Union to Ghana wishes to inform you of the official visit of a 14-Member delegation from the European Parliament including 6 members of the European Parliament's Committee on International Trade (INTA) to Ghana on 20 April, 2017.

    The purpose of the one-day visit is to afford the European Parliamentarians the opportunity to meet with Ghanaian authorities and Members of Parliament as well as relevant stakeholders regarding topics of interests for the INTA Committee.

    Topics of interest to be discussed include the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the Forest Law Enforcement for Governance and Trade (FLEGT).

    The team will arrive from Ivory Coast where they will have similar meetings with the Ivorian authorities.

    On behalf of the EU Ambassador, you are by this email officially invited to a press conference to meet with the team.

    Date: Thursday 20 April, 2017
    Time: 17:30 – 18:00 pm
    Venue: Conference room of the European Union Delegation to Ghana

    Kindly confirm your availability by close of business on 18 April 2017 to Widad-Hashmeena.QUAYE-APPENTENG@eeas.europa.eu.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Delegation of the European Union to Ghana.

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  • Secretary-General Appoints Pramila Patten of Mauritius as Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict

    For the position of Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, the Secretary-General has appointed Pramila Patten of Mauritius, who as practising Barrister at Law has served since 2003 as Member of The Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
     

    Ms. Patten brings solid and diversified judiciary expertise in sexual and gender-based violence as well as women, peace and security notably as Member of the High Level Advisory Group for Global Study on Security Council resolution 1325 on Women Peace & Security (since 2014) and the Advisory Panel of African Women’s rights Observatory, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (since 2010). She served as Adviser, Ministry of Women's Rights, Child Development & Family Welfare (2000-2004); Member of the Advisory Committee of Due Diligence Framework Project (2012-2014); Member of International Women’s Rights Action Watch (1993-2002) and as United Nations Secretary-General-appointed Commissioner of the International Commission of Inquiry into the massacre in Guinea Conakry in 2009. 

    Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations – Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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