Latest News May 17, 2017
May 17, 2017
news From All Africa
- First Responsible and Conflict-Free Artisanal Gold Supply Chain Operational in Eastern Congo
Partnership Africa Canada (www.PACweb.org) today announced the Just Gold project has successfully implemented a system to trace legal and conflict-free artisanal gold in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Just Gold project began as a pilot in Ituri Province in 2015. Today’s announcement is a milestone for the project—moving it from the pilot stage—having proven a successful chain of custody from mine site to exporter.
“After almost two years of testing the Just Gold project with an aim to develop a chain of custody and due diligence system for artisanal gold in DRC, we are excited to share news of our success,” said Joanne Lebert, Partnership Africa Canada’s Executive Director.
“The Just Gold project can now move from a period of testing to implementation and ensuring we have a long-term, sustainable and viable solution for traceable, legal and conflict-free exports of artisanal gold from Congo,” said Lebert. “We look forward to sharing our lessons learned with key actors and to deepening our collaboration with the DRC Government.”
The Just Gold project creates incentives for artisanal gold miners to channel their product to legal exporters—and eventually responsible consumers—by offering fair and transparent pricing and by providing capacity-building, such as technical assistance to miners in return for legal sales. Miners are taught better exploitation techniques and offered Juts Gold project equipment, in return for which any gold produced must be tracked and sold through legal channels.
“Proving that artisanal gold in eastern Congo can be conflict-free, legal and traceable is a major step in responsible sourcing efforts in the Great Lakes region. The government of Democratic Republic of Congo is taking major strides in complying with regional standards and demonstrating how the implementation the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains can contribute to progressive improvements in the sector, supporting artisanal gold men and women miners to enter international markets,” said Lebert.
Partnership Africa Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Minister of Mines Martin Kabwelulu on September 2016, outlining support for the organization’s activities to strengthen natural resource governance. Specifically, the Ministry of Mines recognized the Just Gold project as a system of traceability and encouraged its implementation. Partnership Africa Canada has provided technical support to the Ministry since 2011.
Current activities in DRC include the Just Gold project, capacity building to implement both the International Conference on the Great Lakes (ICGLR) Regional Certification Mechanism (RCM) and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance applicable to high-value minerals, as well as support to civil society for monitoring and reporting on supply chain integrity.
Partnership Africa Canada has also undertaken research and analysis of the artisanal gold supply chain to understand women’s roles in the sector. Through sensitization and outreach, the Just Gold project improves awareness of women’s rights, and their right to access, control and benefit of resources. The project also supports and fosters women’s leadership opportunities through skills-building and training.
Partnership Africa Canada's work in DRC developed from its engagement as a technical partner to the ICGLR, providing capacity-building to implement the six tools developed by the ICGLR's Regional Initiative against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources.
Funding for the Just Gold project and Partnership Africa Canada’s work in the Great Lakes region is provided by Global Affairs Canada. Additional funding for the Just Gold project is provided by USAID through the Capacity Building for Responsible Minerals Trade (CBRMT) project and International Organization for Migration.
Distributed by APO on behalf of Partnership Africa Canada (PAC).
Anna Mayimona Ngemba, Media Consultant
+243 (0) 999958352 / +243 (0) 816947138
Zuzia Danielski, Communications Director
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Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) (www.PACweb.org) is a global leader in developing innovative approaches to strengthen natural resource governance in conflict and high-risk areas. For 30 years, PAC has collaborated with partners to promote policy dialogue and capacity-building—including through the establishment of the Kimberley Process, which earned PAC a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2003.Media files
- Secretary Tillerson meets with Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra, at the Department of State
Public Schedule: Public Schedule: May 17, 2017
05/16/2017 10:26 PM EDT
May 17, 2017
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
MAY 17, 2017
SECRETARY REX TILLERSON
10:00 a.m. Secretary Tillerson meets with Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra, at the Department of State.
(CAMERA SPRAY AT TOP)
Preset time for video cameras: 9:15 a.m. from the 23rd Street Entrance.
Final access time for journalists and still photographers: 9:30 a.m. from the 23rd Street Entrance.
4:00 p.m. Secretary Tillerson meets with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, at the Department of State
(CAMERA SPRAY AT TOP)
Preset time for video cameras: 3:15 p.m. from the 23rd Street Entrance.
Final access time for journalists and still photographers: 3:30 p.m. from the 23rd Street Entrance.
Distributed by APO on behalf of U.S. Department of State.
- Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Côte d’Ivoire
The Secretary-General welcomes the return to calm in Côte d’Ivoire following the unacceptable acts of violence committed by soldiers of the Forces Armées de Côte d’Ivoire (FACI) over the past few days. He commends the Government of Côte d’Ivoire for its efforts to address the unrest and restore security.
The Secretary-General expresses the United Nations continued support to the Government of Côte d’Ivoire in its efforts to sustain the hard-won gains of peace and stability in the country, including with the assistance of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and other international actors.
Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General
New York, 16 May 2017
Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations – Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
- IMF Staff Concludes 2017 Article IV Visit to Botswana
- Positive prospects for the diamond sector could lead to somewhat higher rates of GDP growth in 2017-19. Fiscal projections envisage moderate deficits this year and the next, with surpluses thereafter.
- Tax revenue reforms need to be accelerated to protect public finances against any adverse developments and maintain the country’s track record of sound fiscal management.
- The inflation rate remained low, close to the lower band of the Bank of Botswana’s inflation objective range of 3–6 percent.
A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) led by Enrique Gelbard visited Gaborone from May 1-16 for discussions on the 2017 Article IV Consultation with Botswana. The discussions covered recent developments and prospects and focused on policies to support continued economic stability and promote inclusive growth. At the end of the visit, Mr. Gelbard issued the following statement:
“Following a downturn in 2015, Botswana’s pace of economic activity recovered in 2016, supported by improvements in diamond sales, fiscal stimulus, and an accommodative monetary policy. The rate of inflation remained low, close to the lower band of the Bank of Botswana’s inflation objective range of 3–6 percent, and the trade weighted exchange rate has been broadly stable. Botswana’s exchange rate regime of a managed rate of crawl against a basket of currencies continues to serve the country well and, at the moment, no changes are deemed necessary.
“In the past year, government spending rose in line with the government’s Economic Stimulus Program, but the fiscal deficit fell to about 1 percent of GDP owing to higher revenues from diamonds. The financial sector has remained well capitalized, profitable, and stable, despite a small increase in non-performing loans associated with the liquidation of the state-owned BCL copper and nickel mine.
“Looking ahead, positive prospects for the diamond sector could lead to somewhat higher rates of GDP growth in 2017-19. Fiscal projections envisage moderate deficits this year and the next, with surpluses thereafter. The fiscal profile is predicated on the authorities’ intention to increase tax revenues and slowdown the pace of spending on wages and salaries and on transfers to state-owned enterprises. In this connection, tax revenue reforms need to be accelerated to protect public finances against any adverse developments and maintain the country’s track record of sound fiscal management.
“As the economy finishes its cyclical recovery, and considering the challenges to foster private sector growth and employment creation, the authorities plan to tilt the composition of public spending to favor investment in physical and human capital, a move to be accompanied with steps to improve the quality and effectiveness of such spending. Furthermore, a focus on activities with economy-wide benefits (e.g. cost-effective investment projects, internet connectivity) will be critical in the period ahead. To complement these efforts, the authorities need to proceed with the privatization process and reforms to improve the efficiency and financial viability of government enterprises, reduce bureaucratic procedures for private businesses, and improve education outcomes and the skills of the labor force.
“As envisaged in the latest National Development Plan, the authorities plan to promote economic diversification into selected sectors. In this regard, it would be preferable to focus on a few sectors with growth and employment potential (e.g. tourism in the north of the country) by designing and implementing development strategies with concrete goals, time-bound steps, and monitorable outcomes.
“Delivering on the above policies and reforms will ensure economic stability and pave the way for private sector-led growth and employment creation in Botswana.
“The IMF staff team met with the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Honorable O. Kenneth Matambo, the Governor of the Bank of Botswana, Moses Pelaelo, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Solomon Sekwakwa, other senior government officials, and representatives of the private sector and development partners.
“The IMF team thanks the authorities for their hospitality and constructive discussions.”
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 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.
- The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) signs MoU with China-Africa Development Fund to boost infrastructure investment and growth in selected African countries
At the side lines of the landmark IsDB 42nd Annual Meeting in Jeddah, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) (www.ICD-ps.org), the private sector arm of Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group and China-Africa Development Fund (CADFund) (www.CADFund.com), a Beijing-based private equity firm and subsidiary of the China Development Bank which focuses on Africa.
The envisaged cooperation reflects ICD and CADFund’s goal of developing and establishing a strategic framework that focuses on improving the efficiency and efficacy of resource mobilization with third-party investors interested in participating and investing in the African Islamic Infrastructure Financing Fund (AIIFF). In addition, CADFund plans to work with ICD in the establishment of the AIIFF and/or with the AIIFF (following its incorporation) on promoting and financing infrastructure development projects in Africa.
The MoU was signed by Mr. Khaled Al Aboodi, the Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of ICD, and Mr. Shi Jiyang, President and Chief Executive Officer of CADFund.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Khaled Al Aboodi expressed his strong support for the partnership, stating: “ICD and CADfund share the vision of promoting foreign direct investment, trade, and inclusive economic growth on a continent which is full of potential. By joining forces, we can better combine our expertise and commitment to achieve greater economic prosperity for the benefit of all. Additionally, ICD's commitment to accelerate infrastructure development in Africa and specifically sub-Saharan Africa will bring the at least the basic level of energy, transportation, medical and educational needs of citizens of African member countries.”
Mr. Shi Jiyang said, “It certainly comes as no news that Africa’s rating on the global infrastructure development index is significantly behind. By driving investments targeting infrastructure development projects in Africa, we will not only improve infrastructure and address the huge chasm, but we will also be contributing to economic growth thus further transforming the region. We look forward to a long-term partnership with the ICD.”
Distributed by APO on behalf of Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD).
About the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD)
ICD (www.ICD-ps.org) is a multilateral organization and a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group. The mandate of ICD is to support economic development and promote the development of the private sector in its member countries through providing financing facilities and/or investments which are in accordance with the principles of Sharia’a. ICD also provides advice to governments and private organizations to encourage the establishment, expansion and modernization of private enterprises. ICD is rated AA/F1+ by Fitch and Aa3/P1 by Moody’s. For more information, visit www.ICD-ps.org.
About China-Africa Development Fund
CADFund (www.CADFund.com) is the first Chinese investment fund focusing on Africa, and was announced at the Beijing Summit of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum as one of the Eight Measures for cooperation with Africa. With its aim to encourage, support, and partner up with Chinese enterprises in making investments in Africa, CADFund has so far made investments in a variety of sectors including infrastructure, energy, agriculture and manufacturing.
- Facebook chooses 60 finalists in Bots for Messenger Developer Challenge
Facebook has selected 60 finalists from the hundreds of entries it received from across the Middle East and Africa for the Bots for Messenger Developer Challenge. The Bots for Messenger Challenge is a contest to recognise and reward developers who create the most innovative new bots on Messenger.
Developers, in teams of up to three people, were invited to create bots in three categories: gaming and entertainment; productivity and utility; and social good.
The 60 finalist teams (10 per category in Middle East/North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa) each won a Gear VR and mobile phone, one hour of Facebook mentorship, and tools and services from FbStart (https://Developers.Facebook.com/fbstart), a Facebook program designed to help early stage mobile start-ups build and grow their bots. All student teams who made it to the finals won an additional $2,000.
Facebook will contact the finalists and connect them with a mentor. They will need to resubmit their bots before midnight (GMT) on June 2 to qualify to win. For each region, three runner-up teams (one from each category) will win $10,000 and three months of Facebook mentorship. For each region, three winning teams (one from each category) will win $20,000 and three months of Facebook mentorship.
The 60 finalist teams and their bots can be viewed here: https://MessengerChallenge.Splashthat.com
Says Emeka Afigbo, Facebook’s Head of Platform Partnerships for the Middle East and Africa: “Facebook grew out of a hacker culture and thrives by promoting innovation on new platforms. That's why we launched the Bots for Messenger Challenge, with the aim of rewarding entrepreneurs and developers for harnessing the power of bots to create amazing new services and apps.
“We were overwhelmed to receive more than 1,000 entries over two and a half months for the Bots for Messenger Challenge from developers and entrepreneurs across the Middle East and Africa—each one of them solving a problem in an inventive way or enriching the lives of its target user.”
Distributed by APO on behalf of Facebook.
PR agency for Facebook
- Around 400 people in two communities near Waterloo benefit from DFID funded WASH interventions
Around 400 people from the communities of Masantigie and Malunka near Waterloo in Western Area rural are benefiting from improved health care services as a result of an upgrade to the water supply and sanitation facilities in their peripheral health care unit (PHU) as part of the President’s Recovery Priorities, through funding by UK aid from the British people.
These 400 people in Waterloo are part of more than 150,000 people in Sierra Leone who are set to benefit from improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) under the rural DFID WASH project launched by the Government of Sierra Leone with UNICEF, and funded by UK aid. To date, the construction of 147 out of 175 (84 per cent) sanitation facilities has been completed at PHUs. A total of 58 health care facilities out of 70 earmarked have already been provided with boreholes.
The integrated ‘WASH in PHU’ project is also aimed at improving medical waste management to promote infection and prevention control and reduce hospital infections. To do this, a solar powered water well, toilet, bathroom and laundry have been built at the Masantigie PHU, where Finda Komba works as the MCH Aide in charge: “In addition to the WASH facilities, they even constructed ash and placenta pits for us and these are making our work easier and effective and more patients are coming to the clinic,” she said.
Michael Sami, a project officer at Living Waters International, an NGO that partnered with UNICEF to implement the work in Western Area, said: “Before, patients used to walk about three to four miles to the clinics in neighbouring communities because there were no WASH facilities at the clinic at Masantigie.”
Neighbouring Malunka community has benefited from a bore hole for the first time. The Headman of the community, Sulaiman Sankoh, was highly appreciative of this intervention. “Before, we used to go to the stream to fetch water but now we have water right in the middle of our community; our children are no longer late for school,” said Headman Sankoh. “We also received hygiene education including handwashing with soap as well as health benefits of drinking safe water.”
In line with the President’s Recovery Priorities, the project will see the improvement of vital sanitation and hygiene practices – like use of hygienic toilets and handwashing with soap – in rural communities across eleven target districts. A total of 504 water points will be constructed / rehabilitated in schools, communities and health facilities with UK aid funding. The goal is to reduce the numbers of deaths and illnesses, such as cholera, caused by poor water and hygiene.
Distributed by APO on behalf of UNICEF Sierra Leone.
- President Mugabe supports the African Union Foundation resource mobilization initiative through a donation 300 cattle for auction
The African Union Foundation (AUF), the institution charged with promoting domestic resource mobilisation for African development has received a donation of 300 head of cattle from H.E. President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
The donation was pledged by President Mugabe during his tenure as the AU Chairperson during the 25th AU Summit, held in Johannesburg, South Africa and proceeds from the auction will be used to raise funds to support the initiatives of the AUF.
The 300 cattle will be auctioned in a series of events that will take place nationwide throughout the month of May. The first two auction took place last week, in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city and Gweru – in the midlands – which were transformed into a hive of activity as they hosted the auctions.
Speaking during the auctions, Mr. Dumisani Mngadi, the AUF Chief Operations Officer expressed gratitude to Zimbabweans for this gesture. “With a population of over 1 billion people, Africa needs to take a lead in financing its own developmental programmes.”
Mr. Mngadi further said that, “To develop and realise the vision set out in Agenda 2063, Africans need to finance their own programmes. Institutions like the AU cannot rely heavily on funding from countries outside our continent as the model is not sustainable. We need to be innovative and come up with African solutions to our African challenges. When making the pledge, H.E. President Mugabe reminded us that Africans are cattle people, and that we measure our prosperity by the herd of our cattle. This donation speaks to Africans being innovative and coming up with African solutions to our African challenges. It also explores creative alternative sources of funding. “
Mr. Mngadi added that the proceeds from the auctions will fund the AUF youth and women empowerment programmes such as the project to “Eradicate the hand-held hoe” as a way of transforming subsistence agriculture on the continent through mechanization to ensure that women farmers have higher yields and the African Youth Innovation Project that was unveiled at the African Economic Platform held in Mauritius. In March 2017.
Mr. Mngadi called on other African nations to follow in the Zimbabwean example to resource the AU Foundation.
Leading the auctions on behalf of the Government of Zimbabwe, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Simbarashe S. Mumbengegwi, said Zimbabwean farmers supported the president’s gesture and offered to volunteer cattle from their ranches on behalf of the president.
“President Mugabe takes our (AU) organisation’s interests very seriously and they are very close to his heart. He has always been a strong voice in Africans financing their own organisation and would say ‘whoever pays the piper chooses the tune’. Therefore, as long as outsiders finance our institutions they will dictate the agenda. This donation to the AU Foundation is an indication of how seriously he takes self-financing, said Hon.Mr. Mumbengegwi.
The proceeds that will be generated from the auctions will be presented during the upcoming AU Summit, scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in July 2017.
Distributed by APO on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).
- Didier Burkhalter meets Sudanese foreign minister in Bern
On 16 May 2017 Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter received Ibrahim Ghandour, the Sudanese foreign minister, in Bern. It is the first time since 2005 that a meeting at ministerial level has taken place between the two countries. The meeting covered recent developments in Sudan, the country's role in the region and opportunities for dialogue and cooperation to enable progress in the areas of political reform, human rights promotion and compliance, the management of migration and the protection of migrants.
For years, Switzerland has been delivering humanitarian aid in Darfur and other areas of unrest. It was also active in the process leading up to the ceasefire (Nuba Mountains Ceasefire Agreement), which was negotiated and signed in Switzerland on 19 January 2002. This was the starting point for further negotiations leading to the conclusion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 between the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the government of the Republic of Sudan. Mr Burkhalter said that Switzerland intended to pursue this engagement within a strategy which focuses primarily on food security and the protection of migrants.
During the meeting Mr Burkhalter and Mr Ghandour covered a broad range of topics of bilateral interest. They discussed existing and future cooperation with Switzerland, including humanitarian aid, managing migration and protecting displaced persons, archaeology in collaboration with Swiss universities, and the state reforms needed to increase decentralisation. Mr Burkhalter discussed with his counterpart the need to make progress in these areas and on human rights, and raised the possibility of closer future cooperation at the multilateral level.
Regarding the migration situation, Sudan is an important country of origin, transit and destination for migrants from the Horn of Africa and beyond. It is part of international initiatives which Switzerland supports to fight human trafficking and ensure better protection for refugees in the region. The meeting also provided the opportunity to thank the government of Sudan for having opened an additional corridor to allow humanitarian access to people in South Sudan facing a serious food crisis, and to request access to those in need of humanitarian relief in the regions of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
The ministers ended their meeting with a discussion of the economic reforms under way in Sudan and the ongoing World Trade Organization accession process. There is scope to expand trade relations between the two countries given Sudan's rich natural resources and vast agricultural potential. Switzerland considers it important to have an expanded dialogue with Sudan now that a permanent lifting of the United States' sanctions on the country has become a possibility.
Distributed by APO on behalf of The Federal Council, Switzerland.
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