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Latest News April 15, 2017

April 15, 2017

news From All Africa

  • IMF Staff Completes Visit to Tanzania

    A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Mauricio Villafuerte, visited Tanzania from April 3-13, 2017 and held discussions with the authorities on the sixth review under the Policy Support Instrument (PSI) program that was approved on July 16, 2014.

    At the end of the visit, Mr. Villafuerte issued the following statement:

    “Economic growth, estimated at about 7 percent, remained strong in 2016. More recently though, the economy has hit a soft patch in the context of slow budget implementation, a slowdown in monetary aggregates and credit to the private sector, and the impact of a drought. These factors are expected to ease in the second half of the year and the growth momentum to strengthen.

    “Rising food prices have pushed headline 12-month inflation to 6.4 percent in March 2017. However, core inflation remains well anchored at 2.2 percent. Good rains in Tanzania’s southern region and easing of drought conditions in its neighbors should relieve pressures on food prices. The external current account deficit is estimated to have narrowed and the Bank of Tanzania’s stock of external reserves remains at a comfortable level.

    “Implementation of the PSI-supported program has been broadly satisfactory. Preliminary data indicate that most targets for end-December 2016 were met except the one on tax revenue that was missed by a small margin. The pace of structural reforms remains slow, but some progress has been made recently towards the implementation of key measures.

    “Revenue collections during the 2016/17 fiscal year have picked up over the previous year, although they are likely to fall short of the ambitious target. The level of government spending is likely to fall well short of budgeted levels because of tightly controlled recurrent spending and delays in securing external financing. Thus, there was a small surplus of about a 0.3 percent of GDP during the first half of the fiscal year, and even with financing constraints easing in the 2nd half of the year, the overall fiscal deficit in 2016/17 is projected to be 2.5 percent of GDP, compared to 4.5 percent in the budget.

    “Liquidity conditions remain tight, but are expected to ease in coming weeks, including through a decision to lower the statutory minimum reserve requirement. Furthermore, as the pace of economic activity has slowed down, non-performing loans of the banking system have risen. The mission welcomed the steps the Bank of Tanzania was taking to modernize the monetary policy framework.

    “The IMF staff team held discussions on how to address these macroeconomic challenges. It welcomed the progress in finalizing non-concessional borrowing agreements, which would help budget implementation. It advised the authorities to resolve the outstanding issues that would allow it to secure a sovereign credit rating. The team commended the authorities’ efforts to reorient toward development spending, but urged them to avoid accumulating new domestic arrears. The team also discussed the broad parameters of the 2017/18 budget, noted that spending levels must be underpinned by realistic revenue and financing assumptions, and urged the authorities to address concerns about the payment of VAT refunds negatively affecting exporting companies.

    “The team noted that for Tanzania to meet its medium-term growth objectives would require a vibrant private sector and that ample scope remained to improve the business environment. The team welcomed the initiation of the national dialogue with the business community, and encouraged the authorities to ensure that regular exchange of views become the norm.

    “The team met with Minister Philip I. Mpango, Governor Benno Ndulu, Permanent Secretary Doto M. James and other senior officials of the government and the Bank of Tanzania.

    “The IMF team thanks the authorities for their hospitality and constructive dialogue during the visit.”

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

    End-of-Mission press releases include statements of IMF staff teams that convey preliminary findings after a visit to a country. The views expressed in this statement are those of the IMF staff and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF’s Executive Board. Based on the preliminary findings of this mission, staff will prepare a report that, subject to management approval, will be presented to the IMF's Executive Board for discussion and decision.

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  • Minister Wharton: UK will stand by people of Ethiopia affected by severe drought

    As the world faces an unprecedented number of humanitarian crises, International Development Minister James Wharton reinforces the UK’s commitment to help those suffering from drought in Ethiopia.

    During his first visit to Ethiopia and at a time when a new drought is hitting 13 million people, Minister Wharton visited the Tigray region to see the lifesaving impact of UK aid and how ongoing support is building resilience and helping recovery from last year’s El Nino induced drought.

    Earlier this year, the UK increased much needed support to Ethiopia to provide around 800,000 people with lifesaving clean water, food and emergency nutrition to malnourished children.

    Minister Wharton also visited Endabaguna refugee reception centre in Northern Ethiopia where he met vulnerable families and children benefiting from UK support. Ethiopia is one of the largest host nations of refugees – with over 800,000 people having crossed the border – with the majority fleeing humanitarian crises in neighbouring South Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea.

    International Development Minister James Wharton said:

    “Millions of people are living in desperate conditions as extreme drought in Ethiopia and worsening humanitarian crises in neighbouring countries are forcing people from their homes, threatening lives and global security.

    “I have seen first-hand how UK aid is providing lifesaving support to vulnerable communities in Ethiopia, as well as refugees, and making a real difference to those who need it most.

    “At the same time, we are helping to boost economic development and private sector investment to create jobs and increase stability in the longer term which is firmly in Ethiopia and the UK’s interests.”

    In the capital Addis Ababa, Minister Wharton met with workers at a British manufacturing firm Pittards who have benefited from UK aid supported skills training to increase productivity, and met with a local entrepreneur whose leather making business has benefited from UK help.

    He emphasised how the UK is strengthening its focus on economic development as a long term solution to povert. This follows on from a visit by the International Development Secretary Priti Patel to Ethiopia earlier this year where she launched DFID’s first Economic Development Strategy at Hawassa industrial park, where UK aid is helping to transform the local economy by creating around 60,000 new jobs.

    Over the last five years, UK aid in Ethiopia has:

    • prevented 4.2 million people from going hungry
    • put 2.5 million children through primary school
    • provided 4.9 million people with access to water and sanitation and
    • enabled 500,000 more women to use modern methods of family planning.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Department for International Development (DFID).

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  • WFP Condemns Killing of Three Workers in Wau, South Sudan

    The World Food Programme was horrified to learn tthat three workers contracted as porters by WFP’s office in Wau, South Sudan, were killed during violence that wracked the city earlier this week.

    The three men – Daniel James, Ecsa Tearp and Ali Elario, all citizens of South Sudan – appear to have been killed on Monday as they tried to make their way to a WFP warehouse, where they worked as porters. Two died of machete wounds and the third was shot.

    “We are outraged and heartbroken by the deaths of our colleagues, who worked every day to help provide life-saving food to millions of their fellow countrymen,” said WFP Country Director Joyce Luma. “Our sympathies and condolences are with their families. Their dedication will not be forgotten, and we call on the South Sudanese authorities to hold those responsible for this unspeakable violence accountable for their actions.”

    WFP learned of the workers’ deaths on Thursday from the company that employed them, which is contracted by WFP to provide loading and unloading services at the Wau warehouse. 

    Distributed by APO on behalf of World Food Programme (WFP).

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  • French Minister of Finance and Economic affairs in Accra

    As part of a regional tour, Michel Sapin, the French Minister of Finance and Economic affairs visited Accra on the 13th of April 2017.

    On this occasion, he had a breakfast meeting with members of the French business community during which he expressed his satisfaction with the growing interest of French companies in Ghana in such fields as retail, power, renewable energy, infrastructure and transport like Air France which opened a new direct route between Accra and Paris last February.

    He said that the investment strategy of those companies on a long-run was indicative of the confidence they have in the future of Ghana. He paid tribute to their social responsibility policy towards development and local populations.

    Mr. Sapin afterwards met with Honorable Yaw Osafo-Maafo Senior Minister. During the meeting, he commended the new government for the policies it is putting in place to consolidate the public accounts and as the same time stimulate economic growth.

    He also backed Ghana’s will to strengthen regional integration. He evoked the French know-how especially in the transport and energy sectors characterized by a sustainable development strategy, vital for addressing the present needs of Ghana.

    The French Minister then visited the New Ridge Hospital, the first “green” hospital in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), designed and built by the French group Bouygues and its American and Ghanaian subsidiaries, in collaboration with APHP (Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Paris, the Public Assistance – Paris Hospitals).

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Embassy of France to Ghana.

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  • South Sudan: New Spate of Ethnic Killings

    Government soldiers and allied militias deliberately killed at least 16 civilians in South Sudan’s western town of Wau on April 10, 2017, in what appears to be an act of collective punishment, Human Rights Watch said today. The attacks were against people presumed to support the opposition because of their ethnicity.

    The killings followed weeks of tensions in the area, where South Sudan’s government has carried out an abusive counterinsurgency operation since late 2015. When the UN Security Council meets to discuss South Sudan later in April, it should condemn these crimes and ask the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan what steps it intends to take to deter further revenge killings in Wau and the surrounding area.

    “The pattern of abuses by government forces against civilians in Wau has become predictable, with soldiers taking revenge against unarmed civilians based on their ethnicity,” said Daniel Bekele, senior director for Africa advocacy at Human Rights Watch. “The South Sudan authorities need to call a halt to the killings, investigate, and bring those responsible to justice.”

    In November, a special investigation commissioned by the UN recommended that peacekeepers should move around in armored vehicles rather than remaining in their bases to better identify threats to civilian lives and prevent rapes on their doorstep. The UN is expected to release an update on steps it has taken to carry out those recommendations on April 17.

    Hostilities erupted on April 8, outside of Wau, when government forces opened an offensive on opposition-controlled areas and opposition groups counter-attacked. The opposition killed two high-ranking government officers, including a prominent member of the Dinka tribe from the neighboring Lakes region.

    On April 10, government soldiers and Dinka militiamen went from house to house in ethnic Fertit and Luo neighbourhoods on the southwest side of Wau, and killed at least 16 civilians, apparently in retaliation for the killing of the two men. Government authorities prevented UN peacekeepers from moving freely around the town, limiting their access to areas where the violence occurred.

    The recent violence displaced nearly 8,000 people, about 3,800 of who sought safety in the Catholic church. Others have moved to a site adjacent to the United Nations’ Mission to South Sudan base, where more than 25,000 people had already gathered under UN protection.

    A 26-year-old Fertit, mother-of-four, who is married to a Luo and was living in the Nazareth neighbourhood, said she was at home preparing a fire when she heard gunshots in the morning of April 10: “The attackers came over to my house. They wore civilian clothes, had their faces whitened with ashes, and carried spears and guns. I lied and told them that my husband was a Dinka and they said they would not kill me because I am their wife. They said: ‘don’t go out in the streets because we are killing people.’ When it calmed down, I went to my neighbor’s house. She had been shot in the eye. Her four children, between 3 and 15, were hiding under the bed. They were killed too. I saw their bodies.”

    Human Rights Watch expressed concern about the possibility of further attacks on civilians, and urged the peacekeeping mission, UNMISS, to increase the number of troops stationed in Wau and to ensure adequate patrols of sensitive areas, such as around the Catholic church and southwest of the city. After Kenyan troops withdrew from the peacekeeping mission in 2016, the contingent in Wau has been short staffed. The UN’s response to the deteriorating situation in Wau will be an important test of the mission’s ability to improve protection of civilians in hostile environments, especially following attacks on bases in Malakal and Juba last year, Human Rights Watch said.

    In Wau, the abuses have followed a familiar pattern in recent years, with hostilities between government soldiers and opposition forces followed by retaliatory attacks by mostly Dinka government forces and militias against ethnic Fertit and Luo civilians.

    In May 2016, Human Rights Watch documented a surge in government abuses against civilians in Wau and surrounding villages beginning in late December 2015, after the government deployed a large numbers of new soldiers, mostly Dinka from the former states of Northern Bahr el-Ghazal and Warrap, to the area. Government soldiers were responsible for a spate of targeted killings and arbitrary detentions and abuse of ethnic Fertit and Luo civilians in February and again in June. The violence and abuses in June forced more than 70,000 to flee.

    South Sudan’s government has taken little action to stop these attacks on civilians. Following each round of violence in 2016, president Salva Kiir appointed investigation committees. The first one visited Wau in March and the second in in early July. A report submitted to president Kiir on August 1 found that at least 50 civilians had been killed on June 24 and 25, more than 100 shops were looted, and tens of thousands of civilians were displaced; but no further criminal investigations or prosecutions were carried out. While the media reported that the army executed two soldiers on July 22 who had been convicted by a military court for the murder of two civilians in a residential area of Wau, no other steps were taken.

    On April 12, President Kiir announced an investigation of the most recent killings. But the government’s track record of investigating these kinds of incidents in Wau and its weak judicial system raise questions about its credibility. Credible criminal investigations and transparent judicial procedures against those responsible are urgently needed, Human Rights Watch said.

    The government forces’ continuing crimes against civilians in Wau and the lack of accountability underscore the urgent need for the hybrid court envisioned in the 2015 peace agreement. Despite the agreement, government soldiers have committed widespread violence against civilians, not just in Wau, but also in Juba, Malakal and the Equatorias, Human Rights Watch researchers found.

    Human Rights Watch has also repeatedly called on the United Nations Security Council to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on South Sudan to reduce harm to civilians by increasing the cost of weapons used to attack them. In December 2016, an attempt to pass an arms embargo at the Security Council failed when eights members abstained. They included Egypt and Japan, which still sit on the Security Council.

    “South Sudan’s military commanders have once again shown they won’t stop the abuse or hold anyone to account, and instead they obstruct peacekeepers from doing their jobs to protect civilians,” Bekele said. “The UN Security Council should make it clear that there will be a price to pay for this kind of obstruction.”

    For more Human Rights Watch reporting on South Sudan, please visit: https://www.hrw.org/africa/south-sudan

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Human Rights Watch (HRW).

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  • President Zuma to Address TACC Easter Service

    President Jacob Zuma will on Sunday, 16 April 2017, address the  Twelve Apostles' Church in Christ (TACC) Easter Service in Umgababa, South of Durban.

    The details of the service are as follows:

    Date:    Sunday, 16 April 2017

    Time:    09h00

    Venue:  Umgababa Church Mission, Umgababa, Durban

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Presidency.

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  • African Governments Must Prioritize Agriculture to Drive Inclusive Economic Growth and Development
    • Stronger political leadership and increased spending on agriculture required for Africa’s economic transformation
    • Côte d’Ivoire to host the Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2017, a high level continental Forum. Smallholder farmers as agribusiness game changers expected to top discussions

    Governments across Africa, private sector actors, donors and development partners  were today urged to step up efforts to accelerate Africa’s path to prosperity, inclusive growth and decent jobs creation by moving from agricultural commitments to action. 

    The call was made at the official unveiling of Côte d’Ivoire as the host of this year’s African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) (https://AGRF.org), hailed as premier continental agriculture gathering, to be held on 4-8 September 2017. The west African nation, a leading agricultural powerhouse and a hub of expertise in improving smallholder farming, will be the first francophone African country to host the annual Forum.

    Chosen for its leadership in placing agriculture at the heart of its economic transformation, Côte d’Ivoire is among a few select African countries that have made the biggest investments in agriculture resulting in sizeable increases in both farm productivity and overall economic performance. These countries provide a shining example of agriculture’s potential to turnaround the continent’s economic fortunes.

    Under the leadership of His Excellence President Alassane Dramane Ouattara, the AGRF 2017 will focus on Accelerating Africa’s Path to Prosperity: Growing Economies and Jobs through African Agriculture.

    Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Côte d'Ivoire, emphasised his country’s commitment to continually improve the agricultural sector which is key to its economic development.

    “Five years of significant investments through the National Agricultural Investment Plan have enabled the country to empower farmers and place them at the heart of Côte d'Ivoire's economic transformation. The first phase of the NAIP contributed to a significant boost in our agricultural production, with more than 17 million tons of food crops in 2015 compared to 11,886 million? Tons in 2012. We are delighted to see that our efforts are being recognized internationally. We are confident that Phase 2 of the NIP, based on a more integrated approach that includes water resources management, health, electricity and education, will help to lift farmers out of poverty and further stimulate our economy. Côte d'Ivoire is committed to developing its agricultural economy, this needs to be consolidated. “

    Agriculture is the backbone of Côte d’Ivoire’s economy and its robust growth is driven by sustained investment in agriculture and smallholder farmers. The sector contributes 26 percent of GDP, 40 percent of all export revenue, close 75 percent of non-oil export revenue and employs close to 60 percent of the population. The 2016-2020 National Development Plan (PND) aimed at guiding the country into emerging nation status by 2020, considers agriculture as a key pillar and specifically calls for an increase in agricultural output.

    Speaking at the launch event in Abidjan, Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), said “Agriculture is now back at the top of Africa’s development agenda as an economic driver for inclusive and sustainable development. After Seizing the Moment at AGRF 2016 and securing political, policy, and financial commitments of more than $30 billion. As agriculture is the surest path to Africa’s prosperity, we now need to harness this surge of support for agriculture and ensure it creates decent jobs and drives economic growth across the continent.”

    Similar sentiments were echoed by the President of the African Development Bank,  Akinwumi Adesina. Highlighting the Bank’s prioritization of the agriculture sector against its $24 billion Feed Africa strategy, Adesina said “AGRF 2017 will bring together stakeholders in the African agricultural landscape to share lessons on countering the challenges being experienced in the agricultural sector across the African continent. The forum, expected to host African Heads of State, ministers, farmer organizations, private agribusinesses, financial institutions, researchers, development partners, and implementing organizations, will provide a platform where delegates can discuss and advance policies, programmes, and scalable investments for the enhancement of agricultural transformation and food security. Through its Feed Africa Strategy, the African development Bank will raise its financing of agriculture to over USD24 billion in the next 10 years”.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF).

    Media contacts
     
    Côte d’Ivoire Ministry of Agriculture
    Mme DOSSO-KONE BATHINE, Conseiller Technique en charge, de la Communication at ctminader@gmail.com/00 225 07 82 42 13*
     
    AGRF
    Nafissatou N'diaye Diouf, Managing Director 54 Communications at ndiouf@54communications.com
    or Tel. No: +22558943396. 
     
    OR
     
    Waiganjo Njoroge, AGRA Global Media Lead at wnjoroge@agra.org or Tel. No: +254 723 857 270
     
    AfDB
    Olivia Ndong Obiang, Principal Communication Advisor at o.ndong-obiang@afdb.org or Tel. No: +225 01 56 05 05

    Note to editors

    About AGRF
    AGRF (https://AGRF.org) is an alliance of partners that care about, commit to and invest in Africa’s agricultural transformation.  These partners include: African Union, African Development Bank (AfDB), African Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), AGRA, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), The MasterCard Foundation, NEPAD, OCP Africa Group, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU), Syngenta, and Yara International.   The AGRF Secretariat is hosted by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), itself an African-led institution focused on putting farmers at the centre of our continent’s growing economies.
     
     

  • Somali drought heightens risk to mothers during pregnancy and childbirth

    Of the 6.2 million people affected by the drought ravaging Somalia, more than 1.5 million are women of childbearing age. UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is particularly concerned about the fate of 607,000 pregnant women across the country who need maternal health services to ensure a safe pregnancy and delivery, including emergency obstetric services. To help address their needs, UNFPA is scaling up its emergency response to help more than 130,000 pregnant women who may require urgent care.

    Somalia already has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with over nearly 1 of every 22 mothers dying from pregnancy related causes. More than 350 000 Somalis are refugees and a further 400 000 are internally displaced.

    “I was struck by the fact that the face of displacement is a woman with her child. The men have stayed behind to tend their farms and livestock while it is the women who have made the arduous and risky trek often for many days to get some relief,” says UNFPA’s Chief of Humanitarian and

    Fragile Contexts Branch, Ugochi Daniels, following visits to drought-affected areas in Somalia this week. “The toll of displacement, drought, and the lack of services on women and girls is immense, and calls for an equally immense response to provide direct medical services and support,” exclaimed Daniels.

    UNFPA provides life-saving reproductive health services across Somalia including referral of complicated cases during pregnancy and delivery, emergency reproductive health kits and medical and psychosocial support to survivors of gender-based violence. UNFPA is appealing to international donors for funding of $24 million for the Somalia humanitarian response for reproductive health and to protect women and girls from gender-based violence (GBV).

    Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

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  • World Book and Copyright Day: Beginning of the term of Conakry, capital of the Republic of Guinea, as World Book Capital (2017-2018)

    World Book and Copyright Day is celebrated every year on 23 April, the date on which both William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes died. On this occasion, publishing houses, bookstores, libraries, cultural institutions and associations of authors mobilize across the world to promote reading, publishing, and protection of intellectual property.

    This year the focus will be on the blind and the visually impaired for whom there is difficulty accessing books and other printed materials, which constitutes an obstacle to their full and effective participation in society. According to the World Blind Union (WBU), among the millions of books published worldwide each year, less than 10% are published in formats that are accessible to the blind. A rate that drops to 1% in developing countries.

    “World Book and Copyright Day is an opportunity to highlight the power of books to promote our vision of knowledge societies that are inclusive, pluralistic, equitable, open and participatory for all citizens,” UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova said in her message given on the occasion of the World Book and Copyright Day 2017.

    In accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, UNESCO advocates for the rights and needs of persons with disabilities and encourages the effective use of accessible, adaptive and affordable ICTs.

    In this context, UNESCO is organizing a conference on accessibility issues, Accessibility, what are the challenges in publishing? (Monday, 24 April, 9 am to 12pm, ROOM II) with its partner Asfored (a French association for professional training and development in the field of publishing).

    The Day also marks the beginning of the term of Conakry, capital of the Republic of Guinea, as World Book Capital (2017-2018). Conakry has been singled out by UNESCO and its partners “on account of the quality and diversity of its programme,” in particular ” its focus on community involvement,” as well as “for its well-structured budget and clear development goals with a strong emphasis on youth and literacy.”

    The city of Conakry, along with the rest of the African continent, will be featured during the celebrations of the Day that will promote African literature at UNESCO headquarters on Monday, 24 April from 1pm to 5:30pm. Workshops, activities, reading clubs, musical performances and roundtables will be organized in the presence of African authors.

    Several publishing houses will join the celebration, including À dos d'âne, Éditions Dagan, L'Harmattan Guinée, Editions Nubia, Michel Lafon Éditions, Présences Africaines and Librairie-Galerie Congo.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

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