Latest News May 25, 2017

news From All Africa

  • Harnessing rather than suppressing informal trade can give Africa a boost

    Africa's vast but informal cross-border trade can contribute to improving livelihoods and increasing regional integration across the continent, according to a new report presented at a conference here.

    Informal cross-border trading, in which transactions are not compliant with local tax and other rules,  accounts for a large share – between 20 and a hefty 70 percent – of employment in sub-Saharan Africa, and putting it on a regular footing can lift sustainable prosperity and markedly improve prospects for women, says FAO's new publication, Formalization of informal trade in Africa.

    Around half of all intra-African cross-border trade is classified as informal, indicating its large if officially invisible role. Proactive policies that recognize such activity, tapping its potential with the aim of steering it towards proper regulatory status, are to be preferred over heavy-handed approaches to eradicate or seek rents from entrepreneurs, according to FAO.

    “Facilitating formalization is the only viable policy option for Africa's transformation agenda to realize its objectives,” says Suffyan Koroma, FAO senior economist and lead author of the report. 

    “Despite the significant contribution of the informal sector to African economies, the policy makers quite often have no information on ICBT due to lack of quality data, this has hampered the development of supporting policies to the sector,” said Clement Onyango from the Nairobi chapter of Consumer Unity and Trust Society, a non-governmental organization that is co-hosting the conference with FAO.

    A huge role for women

    Informal cross-border trade activity is largely a second-choice option taken by people in the absence of clearly defined formal alternatives. It consists of trade in goods and services, often agricultural in nature, and in times of food crises and other shocks has proven to be more responsible than legal channels.

    Off-the-radar economic activity, not all of it involving international trade, accounts for around 40 percent of GDP in Africa, higher than in Latin America or Asia.

    The trade is rarely illegal. In most cases it is informal because practitioners have poor access to all the appropriate business licenses, administrative skills and knowledge of import and custom-tax laws to act otherwise. While such activity is an important source of household income, practitioners are often prey to corruption and their weak access to credit means their activities are rarely stable or sustainable.

     Women constitute the largest share of such informal traders, comprising more than half in Western and Central Africa and about 70 percent in Southern Africa, the FAO report found.

    Patterns differ by region: In Tanzania, women dominate trade in manufactured products while men handle mostly raw or semi-processed agricultural products, whereas the opposite is the case in Cameroon. Women and men tend to differ in which foodstuffs – fresh produce or commodity staples – they trade as well. Appropriate policies must take such facts into account.

    The Kigali conference is part of ongoing FAO-supported work in the country, along with UN Women and other development partners, aimed at enabling women to benefit more from agri-food chains, a project geared to allowing women small traders access useful information as well as start-up capital.

    Local agricultural produce and livestock account for two-thirds of Rwanda's exports, most of which are informally traded, with the bulk going to neighboring countries, notably the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwanda encourages informal small traders to form cooperatives as a step towards regularization.

    Women trading between the border posts of Kenya and Uganda and between Rwanda and Burundi prefer to use brokers who appear to shield them from what they perceive as unprofessional behavior of customs officials, the report notes.

    FAO, working with Catholic Relief Service, has also organized open-door events on the Rwanda-Congo border where women cooperatives were invited to learn more about the cross-border tax regime directly from custom officials and government representatives.

    “Rwanda has emerged as a model of best practice for cross border trade through its efforts to integrate the informal economy by easing trade channels for small-scale agricultural traders,”said Attaher Maiga, FAO's Representative in Rwanda.

    Policy recommendations

    Aware that “ICBT-blindness” in national and regional trade policies and poverty reduction strategies may be hampering progress, African governments are increasingly making efforts to identify dynamics in the sector. In Uganda, both the Bureau of Statistics and the central bank monitor such flows and the government is discussing whether an approach focusing on quality control and value-added potential so that traders can earn more should take priority over a laisser-faire approach or actions aimed at suppression.

    Key priorities to facilitate the formalization of informal cross-border trading according to FAO, include the simplification of licensing requirements, tax  incentives, fostering partnerships, radio, television and town-hall outreach to participants in the informal economy, and intensifying efforts to tackle official corruption.  

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

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  • South Africa to host SACU-MERCOSUR Official Meeting in Gauteng

    South Africa will host the inaugural Joint Administration Committee (JAC) of the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) in Kempton Park, Gauteng from 25-26 May 2017.  

    South Africa is party to the PTA between SACU and MERCOSUR. The SACU-MERCUSOR PTA entered into force on 1 April 2016. The JAC is responsible for the implementation of the agreement and for resolving any issues pertaining to the implementation of the agreement.

    According to the Deputy Director-General of International Trade and Economic Development at the dti, Ms Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter, the SACU-MERCUSOR PTA was signed on 15 December 2008 in Salvador, Brazil, on the side of MERCOSUR, and on 3 April 2009 in Maseru, Lesotho, on the side of SACU.

    “The PTA is the first trade agreement concluded by SACU as a single entity, following the SACU Agreement of 2002. This agreement is also the first with another developing region, giving meaning to the objectives of South-South cooperation” says Ms Mlumbi-Peter.

    Ms Mlumbi-Peter adds that the Preferential Trade Agreement covers over 1000 tariff lines from each side and the preference margins range between 100% and 10%. In addition, SACU offered a Tariff Rate Quota on four agricultural products (soya beans, soya bean oil and sunflower) to MERCOSUR. The tariff preferences can be accessed from the website link: 

    The agreement is being administered by the South African Revenue Services (SARS) on behalf of South Africa. For any enquiries on clearance procedures under this Preferential Agreement, traders can contact SARS at Tel: 0800 007277, e-mail:

    Distributed by APO on behalf of The Department of Trade and Industry, South Africa.

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  • UNODC launches a national media campaign to fight corruption

    Amid Egypt’s strengthened effort to combat corruption, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in close partnership with the National Coordinating Sub-Committee for Preventing and Fighting Corruption, launched today a national anti-corruption media campaign. The campaign which will be aired intensively, around 650 times daily, through various national and private TV channels during peak times especially in Ramadan. The campaign will inform on a new hotline to report corruption and encourage citizens to stand against and fight corruption. The campaign falls within the framework of implementing Egypt’s Anti-Corruption Strategy and will run until the end of July. 

    The campaign includes four TV Public Service Announcements (PSAs), with each one tackling a different form of corruption. Such forms include goods’ price manipulation to secure greatest gain, and corruption in the education and medical sectors. The campaign also includes a TV jingle to be aired next week. It is aimed at reversing the negative images portrayed in the PSAs and instill positive behaviors instead. In addition, billboards will be installed in the coming weeks, and animated infographics developed soon, with the purpose of providing viewers more information on corruption.

    The campaign is the second National Anti-Corruption Media Campaign developed by UNODC. The first campaign was aired last Ramadan, and attracted more than 55 million viewers. UNODC has been providing technical assistance to Egypt to strengthen its anti-corruption efforts since July 2011 under the project “Supporting Measures to Combat Corruption and Money Laundering, and to Foster Asset Recovery, in Egypt”. UNODC has a fruitful cooperation with the Administrative Control Authority, the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, the Public Prosecutor's Office and the Egyptian Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Combating Unit. Around 55 specialized anti-corruption workshops and training sessions were provided by UNODC to approximately 2,250 officials to build their capacity in preventing and fighting corruption. Legal and institutional anti-corruption topics were also discussed.

    This UNODC project is funded by the European Union and the Government of Canada. 

    Distributed by APO on behalf of UN Information Centre in Cairo.

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  • Africa Day Message

    Today Seychelles proudly joins the rest of Africa in celebrating Africa Day. This is an occasion, for us not only to celebrate, but also an opportunity to take pride in our continent and its boundless diversity.

    On this day, we need to reflect on the promise of Africa. Seychelles reaffirms this and stands in unity with all Africans determined to further our aspirations, and ambitions. These aspirations today are reflected in many things, not least on how Africa can further achieve Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
    Our Continent was built on the fusion of diverse peoples, and we drew inspiration and support from Africa's longing for self-determination, freedom, and unity.

    Africa Day not only marks the anniversary of the birth of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), on 25th May 1963, it also recognizes the need to embrace the values of equality, peace and progress that our forbears dreamt of. We owe it to them, to their sacrifices, and their devotion to steer our continent in the direction so as it may reach its full potential.

    As leaders of the world of today, we are conscious that the lessons of our forefathers are the bridges linking our current generations to the next one, as we are further inspired by the core principles of solidarity, unity and the restoration of pride and dignity.

    In 2017, as we commemorate Africa day, we do so inspired by the theme “Harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in youth”, as a driver for continued sustainable development, progress and advancement of our continent.

    The greatest wealth of nations are its people, and in particular their youth. As a young continent, our challenges should be transformed into greatness through the mobilization of our youth, to not only achieve the success we deserve to have but critically to redefine the future of our continent.

    In Seychelles, our youth are the driving force behind many of our  cross -sectoral achievements. Our vision lies on Seychelles' capability to mobilise the strength and dynamism of our youth, who are already playing pivotal roles in the development of Seychelles and changing the socio-economic landscapes of our nation.

    With strong indications of success not only evident in Seychelles, but across the African continent, we must continue to nurture the energy and spirit of entrepreneurship, of industry and self-empowerment of our young people and in doing so harness the potential of the next generation.

    The theme also reflects on the urgency, to provide platforms, opportunities, support and resources to our youth, to foster their devotion and spirit, to not solely aspire to be leaders of tomorrow, but to be exemplary leaders of the current era. We, as the leaders of the African continent, must lead by example.

    The perceived differences of our continent should never be utilised as weapons of our own disharmony. Our differences should be celebrated as stepping stones, leading to an Africa were unity, peace, stability, development, inclusiveness, respect and tolerance reign.

    In celebrating the strengths, determination and courage of our great continent, let us celebrate Africa day 2017
    Let us celebrate our Youths.
    Happy Africa day.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Seychelles.

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  • GE East Africa Digital Roadshow
    • General electric spearheads a digital transformation with the GE East Africa Digital Roadshow.
    • Investment in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is expected to top $60 trillion during the next 15 years. And by 2020, over 50 billion assets will connect to the Internet.

    General Electric (, the world’s premier Digital industrial company is paving the way for industrial digital transformation in Kenya with the GE East Africa Roadshow which was held at the Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel. The event gathered key players in the digital space including GE Digital experts, Microsoft, Safaricom, iHub and Seven Seas for stakeholder panel discussions on the importance of digital industrial transformation in Africa to unlock the region’s digital future.   

    What is Industrial Data?

    Industrial machines are not known to produce, share and capture data in a manner that can enable companies to understand them better, predict their defects and optimize their performances. GE is leading a whole new sector of technology which consists of enabling machines connect to multiple other applications and platforms, as well as to send and receive massive amounts of data through the cloud/internet, making it possible to understand, operate, improve and service them remotely.

    Why the digital industrial revolution matters for Kenya?

    Industries such as aviation, healthcare, mining, oil and gas, power generation, and transportation represent upwards of 30% of the global economy, and touch the lives of almost everyone on the planet. These capital-intensive industries have long-lived assets such as aircraft, generators, locomotives, and turbines that are mission-critical and require considerable monitoring and service throughout their 20 to 50-year lives. A “big data” platform that brings new value to the wealth of data coming from these assets, their processes, and the enterprises in which they exist, will set the stage for a new wave of productivity gains and information-based services.

    Industrial data is growing twice as fast as any other sector. Yet today, less than 3% of that data is tagged and used in a meaningful fashion. The digital industrial revolution is poised to radically reshape how we produce, distribute and maintain physical assets—from gas turbines to entire manufacturing plants. A growing, regional network of connected assets, designed to apply split-second machine learning to big data, the digital industrial revolution will help local businesses extract valuable insights from assets to transform operations, enable innovation and explore new business models.

    GE is bringing new digital infrastructure solutions to the Kenyan market by connecting software, apps and analytics to industrial businesses, enabling them to operate faster, smarter and more efficiently. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the company is pioneering technologies to help companies capitalize on the Industrial Internet, fuelling productivity and value from existing assets and enabling new business models and growth potential.

    At the event, Getty Melaku the Chief Financial Officer for GE Africa said: “We are excited to bring our cutting edge digital solutions and expertise to Kenyan businesses to optimize operational and business innovations for increased productivity and profit. We see a huge opportunity for Kenya and the continent at large to benefit from the digital industrial revolution and leap-frog existing industrialization models, and quickly improve competitiveness in the global economy”.

    Thanks to technological advances, GE can optimise operations to improve asset performance while keeping costs down. This is why combining software and data analytics with machines’ hardware has become so important, including in Africa.

    “The digital industrial revolution is both a cultural and technology shift and companies that don’t evolve, will fail to deliver critical business outcomes and stunt their productivity gains. Our customers in Africa demand the same equipment performance as the rest of the world and are constantly looking at ways to enhance asset performance. Forty of GE’s Oil and Gas customers in Africa are using Digital solutions to optimise operations,” said Chief Information Officer for GE Africa, Abu Sulemana.

    GE has incorporated learnings from its extensive industrial business processes to release “Predix” the world's first industrial operation system which powers the modern digital industrial businesses. GE is committed to empowering organizations enter a new era of industry digitization. Local businesses will be able to create innovative apps on “Predix” that turn real-time operational data into actionable that can deliver outcomes across many different industries. These outcomes range from the reduction of unplanned downtime to improved asset output and operational efficiency.

    Job creation from industrial digitization

    According to a report by the World economic forum, there is significant opportunity in the electricity sector for digitization to create jobs. Digital initiatives will create up to 3.45 million new jobs between 2016 and 2025 – translating to 10.7% job growth in the electricity industry. Job creation potential is highest in the consumer renewables sector, with energy storage integration creating up to 1.07 million new jobs. New jobs in smart asset planning (925,000 new jobs) and asset performance management (596,000) more than address job loss from automation or more efficient technologies. A significant problem that utilities are facing is an ageing workforce, with a weak pipeline of new talent and a potential productivity gap as new employees are recruited and trained. Digital initiatives go some way in ensuring that experience is captured as the workforce retires, with significant productivity gains expected.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of GE.

    Media contact:
    Annette Mutuku
    Culture Communication Leader, Africa
    GE Global Growth Organization 
    T: +254204215109

    About GE:
    GE (NYSE: GE) ( is the world’s Digital Industrial Company, transforming industry with software-defined machines and solutions that are connected, responsive and predictive. GE is organized around a global exchange of knowledge, the “GE Store,” through which each business shares and accesses the same technology, markets, structure and intellect. Each invention further fuels innovation and application across our industrial sectors. With people, services, technology and scale, GE delivers better outcomes for customers by speaking the language of industry.  

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  • United States Announces Additional Humanitarian Assistance in Response to Famine, Violence, and Forced Displacement

    Today the United States announced more than $329 million in additional humanitarian assistance to provide urgently needed aid to the millions of people affected by food insecurity and violence in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen. This additional funding brings the total U.S. humanitarian assistance for these four crises to nearly $1.2 billion since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2017.

    With this new assistance, the United States is providing additional emergency food and nutrition assistance, safe drinking water, life-saving medical care, and shelter for those who have been displaced, both internally and as refugees, as well as protection for civilians. The United States is also supporting health, sanitation, and hygiene services to help stop the spread of preventable disease – a leading cause of death during food crises.

    Tens of millions of people are in need of humanitarian assistance as a result of the man-made crises in South Sudan, Nigeria, and Yemen – all of which are driven by violent conflict – and Somalia, where ongoing conflict is compounding the effects of severe and prolonged drought. These crises are forcing people to flee within and beyond their country borders, disrupting agricultural production and livelihoods, and severing families from their social support systems. Ongoing violence – including deliberate attacks on civilians and relief workers – continues to prevent aid from reaching those most in need.

    The United States is one of the largest donors of humanitarian assistance in all four crises. The assistance we provide represents the best of America's generosity and goodwill, while improving our national security by strengthening relationships with nations and people around the world. We will continue to work with our international and local partners to provide the life-saving aid needed to avert famine and to support surrounding countries that have been impacted by these crises. We commend the generosity of neighboring countries to receive refugees fleeing these crises, and urge other humanitarian donors to increase their level of support during this critical time of need.

    For more information on U.S. humanitarian assistance for people facing famine, please click here

    Distributed by APO on behalf of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

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  • President Zuma to host the 2017 Africa Day Celebration

    President Jacob Zuma will today, 25 May 2017, host the national 2017 Africa Day celebration at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse, in Pretoria.

    Africa Day is celebrated annually on 25 May within the African continent to mark the formation of the Organisation of African Unity on 25 May 1963 and the African Union in 2002 as well as chart the progress made by the continent since then to advance democracy, peace, stability and socio-economic development.

    The details of the celebration are as follows:
    Date: Thursday, 25 May 2017
    Time: 12h00 (Media to arrive at 11h00)
    Venue: Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse, Pretoria

    Members of the media should send their names ID/Passport numbers or 083 276 1295. Members of the media are also advised to bring along their valid press cards and ID/Passport documents.
    Note as well that nobody wearing jeans, T-shirts and takkies will be allowed into the venue. The dress code is strictly presentable in line with the decorum of the event and the venue.

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

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  • Preparations underway for mass mosquito net distribution to combat malaria in Sierra Leone

    The National Malaria Control Programme of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation have pre-positioned around 4.3 million treated mosquito bed nets ahead of the planned nationwide mass distribution campaign on 1-10 June, 2017.

    Sierra Leone is one of seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa where more than a quarter of the population is infected with malaria at any one time, according to World Malaria Report (World Health Organization 2016), with nearly three in ten Sierra Leoneans suffering from the disease. Malaria contributes to an estimated twenty per cent of child mortality, and is the cause of nearly four in ten hospital consultations country-wide. Pregnant women are at particular risk from malaria, which contributes to high rates of miscarriage, pre-mature births and low birth weights.
    Four in ten children aged 6-59 months tested positive for malaria (via microscopy), according to survey data in the just published Sierra Leone Malaria Indicator Survey (2016). As stated in the Sierra Leone National Strategic Plan 2016-2020, all children under 5 and all pregnant women should sleep under a treated mosquito net every night to prevent malaria complications.
    “Our aim is for Sierra Leone to achieve universal coverage when it comes to mosquito net use by July 2017, with a target of at least 80 per cent of families sleeping inside the treated mosquito nets,” said Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah, Minister of Health and Sanitation. “Sierra Leone has made significant progress in malaria control, with an almost 30 per cent reduction in all new cases between 2010 and 2015, the highest reduction in West Africa.”
    Guy Warrington, British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, said ‘‘We fully support the Government of Sierra Leone in their efforts to ensure more people are protected against malaria. UK aid in Sierra Leone has provided £5.7 million to procure half of the bed nets that will be distributed across the country during this campaign. This will save the lives of women and children in Sierra Leone and is part of our £240 million support to the President's Recovery Priorities. The UK is also committed to tackling malaria on a global scale, our funding makes up 10% of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria’s.”
    The nationwide bed net campaign is being funded by UK aid from the British people (also known as DFID) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, through UNICEF. In designing a robust campaign, the National Malaria Control Programme received strong technical support from the Alliance for Malaria Prevention, the World Health Organisation, the Leadership Management and Government Project, and UNICEF. Nationwide distribution and use of treated bed nets by every family will contribute significantly to the President’s Recovery goals of saving the lives of 600 women and 5,000 children.
    Like the treated mosquito net mass distribution campaign in 2014, this distribution will be an integrated MCH (Mama en Pikin Welbodi) week campaign and will include vitamin A supplementation for children 6-59 months and deworming tablets (Albendazole) for children 12-59 months.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of UNICEF Sierra Leone.

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  • UN Secretary-General's Message on Africa Day

    Africa Day 2017 comes at an important moment in the continent’s endeavours towards peace, inclusive economic growth and sustainable development.

    The international community has entered the second year of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an all-out effort to tackle global poverty, inequality, instability and injustice.  Africa has adopted its own complementary and ambitious plan: Agenda 2063. 

    For the people of Africa to fully benefit from these important efforts, these two agendas need to be strategically aligned. 

    Just last month, we held the first-ever United Nations – African Union Annual Conference, a unique opportunity to strengthen our partnership and establish a higher platform of cooperation.  Our work is based on four driving principles:  mutual respect, solidarity, complementarity and interdependence.

    The UN partnership with Africa is also rooted in a deep sense of gratitude. Africa provides the majority of United Nations peacekeepers around the world. African nations are among the world’s largest and most generous hosts of refugees. Africa includes some of the world’s fastest growing economies. 

    All of humanity will benefit by listening, learning and working with the people of Africa.

    It starts with prevention. Our world needs to move from managing crises to preventing them in the first place. We need to break the cycle of responding too late and too little. 

    Most of today’s conflicts are internal, triggered by competition for power and resources, inequality, marginalization, disrespect for human rights and sectarian divides. Often, they are inflamed by violent extremism or provide the fuel for it. 

    But prevention goes far beyond focusing solely on conflict. The best means of prevention and the surest path to durable peace is inclusive and sustainable development. It is critical to continue building more effective and accountable institutions to address governance challenges, advance the rule of law and promote civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

    We can speed progress by doing more to provide opportunities and hope to young people. More than three out of five Africans are under 35 years of age. Making the most of this tremendous asset means more investment in education, training, decent work, and engaging young people in shaping their future.

    We must also do our utmost to empower women so they can play a full role in sustainable development and sustainable peace. I am pleased that the African Union has consistently placed a special focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment. 

    On this Africa Day, I reaffirm my commitment as a partner, friend and committed advocate for changing the narrative about this diverse and vital continent. 

    Crises represent at best a partial view. But from a higher platform of cooperation, we can see the whole picture – one that recognizes the enormous potential and remarkable success stories throughout the African continent.  

    Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations (UN).

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