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Latest News May 8, 2017

May 8, 2017

news From All Africa

  • IMF Executive Board Approves US$241.5 Million under the ECF Arrangement for Togo

    The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today approved a new three-year arrangement for Togo under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) for SDR176.16 million (120 percent of quota or about US$241.5million) to support the country’s economic and financial reforms.[1] 

    The Executive Board’s decision enables an immediate disbursement of SDR25.17 million (about US$34.5 million). The remaining amount will be phased over the duration of the program, subject to semi-annual reviews.

    The authorities’ ECF-supported program aims to reinforce macroeconomic stability and to promote sustainable and inclusive growth. It aims to reduce the overall fiscal deficit substantially upfront to ensure long-term debt and external sustainability; refocus policies on sustainable and inclusive growth through targeted social spending and infrastructure spending that is financially sustainable; and resolve the existing financial sector weaknesses, especially in the two public banks.

    During the same meeting, the Board also concluded the 2016 Article IV consultation. A separate press release will be issued shortly.

    Following the Executive Board discussion on Togo, Deputy Managing Director Mr. Tao Zhang, and Acting Chair, said:

    “Togo’s economy has shown solid performance in recent years, with sustained growth and low inflation. The country’s growth performance has been underpinned by high levels of public investment to address significant infrastructure gaps. However, this capital spending has also increased public debt and debt service pressures, crowding out needed social expenditures. At the same time, lingering deficiencies in the financial sector have remained unresolved.

    “The new arrangement under the ECF will support the authorities’ efforts towards fiscal consolidation while maintaining space for pro-poor spending. Public financial and debt management will be strengthened and revenue administration bolstered. The two under-capitalized public banks will be consolidated into one healthy institution. Regulation and supervision standards in the microfinance sector will be strengthened.

    “The medium-term economic outlook is favorable, with private sector activity benefiting from stronger infrastructure and an improved business climate. However, further progress will hinge on the authorities’ successful implementation of their ambitious macroeconomic program, as well as pursuing broader structural reforms to improve public financial management and address social needs.”

    [1] The ECF is a lending arrangement that provides sustained program engagement over the medium to long term in case of protracted balance of payments problems. 

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

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  • UNMISS Deploys Peacekeepers to Aburoc to Enable Delivery of Humanitarian Aid

    Peacekeeping troops have been urgently deployed to Aburoc in the Upper Nile region by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to help enable the delivery of much needed humanitarian assistance.

    “The aim is to provide humanitarian groups with the confidence they need to resume the provision of urgent assistance to tens of thousands of people in Aburoc who are fleeing the ongoing violence,” said the Head of UNMISS, David Shearer.

    “This short-term deployment is in response to an immediate need and will provide a light, but robust, temporary peacekeeping footprint in the area.”

    Currently up to 50,000 people are sheltering in and around the town of Aburoc on the west bank of the River Nile after a series of clashes between Government and Opposition forces. The most urgent humanitarian need is to provide drinking water.

    “Without a secure supply of clean water, there is a risk of an outbreak of diarrhoea or even cholera which has the potential to kill thousands of vulnerable people. It is vital that our humanitarian partners are able to get this water and other aid through to alleviate the suffering,” said David Shearer.

    “I also note that the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) has acknowledged UNMISS’ intention to help facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance to the people of the Upper Nile.”

    The peacekeeping troops’ immediate task will be to secure the base from where humanitarians are providing water and other assistance. The road between Kodok and Aburoc will be checked for old landmines by the UN Mine Action Service and cleared as necessary. Protection may also be provided for water trucks using the road if that is required to enable people to move freely.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

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  • More than one million children have fled escalating violence in South Sudan

    More than one million children have now fled South Sudan where escalating conflict is ravaging the country, UNICEF and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, announced today.
     

    “The horrifying fact that nearly one in five children in South Sudan has been forced to flee their home illustrates how devastating this conflict has been for the country’s most vulnerable,” said Leila Pakkala, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. “Add this to the more than one million children who are also displaced within South Sudan, and the future of a generation is truly on the brink.”

    Children make 62 per cent of more than 1.8 million refugees from South Sudan, according to the latest UN figures. Most have arrived in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Sudan.

    “No refugee crisis today worries me more than South Sudan,” said Valentin Tapsoba, UNHCR’s Africa Bureau Director. “That refugee children are becoming the defining face of this emergency is incredibly troubling. We, all in the humanitarian community, need most urgent, committed and sustainable support to be able to save their lives.”

    Inside South Sudan, more than one thousand children have been killed or injured since the conflict first erupted in 2013, while an estimated 1.14 million children have been internally displaced.

    Nearly three quarters of the country's children are out of school — the highest proportion of out-of-school children in the world.

    The trauma, physical upheaval, fear and stress experienced by so many children account for just part of toll the crisis is exacting. Children remain at risk of recruitment by armed forces and groups and, with traditional social structures damaged, they are also increasingly vulnerable to violence, sexual abuse and exploitation.

    More than 75,000 refugee children in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and DRC have crossed South Sudan’s borders either unaccompanied or separated from their families.

    Refugee families fleeing to neighbouring countries in search of shelter and safety are facing a double catastrophe this rainy season, with children most at risk from the health and protection risks associated with inadequate shelter. Much greater support is needed to ensure that every refugee family has somewhere safe to live, as well as urgent humanitarian assistance including food, water, protection, education and medical care.

    UNICEF’s appeal for South Sudan and South Sudanese refugees in the region – which calls for US$181 million to address the acute needs of refugees until the end of the year – is currently only 52 per cent funded.

    UNHCR staff are at the frontline of the crisis, meeting South Sudanese refugees as they flee across borders and providing lifesaving assistance but chronic underfunding in 2017 is putting critical services at risk. The UNHCR funding appeal for South Sudan situation of US$ 781.8 million is only 11 per cent funded.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

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  • The CIO’s new job: no glitch business. CIOs should embrace the role of championing innovation and agility in the business

    The previous wave of digital disruption, triggered by mobile technology, caught most CIOs and organisations off guard.

    10 years ago, hardly anyone owned a smartphone. Today, there are around 2 billion in circulation. What’s more, we use them every day to access Uber, WhatsApp, Instagram and many other services that didn’t exist when the first iPhone was released in 2007.

    Yet we are only at the start of a digital technology revolution (http://APO.af/3Vj1an) that will profoundly change how we live and work in the next five years. With artificial intelligence, FinTech (especially blockchain) and the Internet of Things coming of age, we can expect digital disruption to accelerate in the years to come.

    The previous wave of digital disruption, triggered by mobile technology, caught most CIOs and organisations off guard. Many industry incumbents lost market share to new-age technology companies or experienced declines in brand value and customer satisfaction because they couldn’t keep pace with the demands of a changing customer and employee.

    This time, CIOs should ensure that they’re better prepared. The difficulty is that we don’t really know where the technology will take us. We have a vague sense of the direction, but no clear view of the destination.

    Thriving in a world of unrelenting change

    Against this backdrop of unrelenting change, the only way to survive is to embrace a culture of innovation. Rather than encouraging teams to ‘stick to the rules’, organisations should be ready to experiment, to fail fast, and be able to recover quickly from failure. As futurist Graeme Codrington put it in a recent Sage podcast (http://APO.af/4fPDZL): “The single most important thing you can do to be responsive to change is to experiment – leaders need to create a mindset and a structure that makes constant experimentation possible”

    CIOs are now expected to guide the entire business through new ways of working. After all, an IDC Survey reveals (http://APO.af/L6biVI) that more than 40% of line-of-business executives view the CIO as the Chief Innovation Officer.

    As the people with their fingers on technology’s pulse, they should embrace their role of championing innovation and agility in the business. It’s not as easy as it seems. Aside from the actual technology, they need to start creating an open, collaborative culture where digital natives can grow well. For constant change to work, it also means using today’s open business management solutions and the power of the cloud to quickly and cost-effectively build out new apps and services. And of course, continual upskilling of the entire team (http://APO.af/CBw8lc) will be needed to keep up – this should happen on a daily basis and should be part of the culture – waiting for annual training seminars simply won’t cut it anymore.

    We’re lucky to live in a time where huge technical infrastructures and a massive IT team are no longer necessary to access world-class technology. Deployment is also fast, provided companies are running an open platform that allows them to easily plug in other services and apps via an API.

    IoT on tap

    Do you want to digitise your factory floor processes and machines to increase automation? Well, today, Internet of Things sensors are cheap and open, and it’s easy to provision a software solution from the cloud using nothing more than a credit card. If it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world because you have made no heavy infrastructure investments.

    Today, testing new technologies is easier, faster and less risky than ever before. In fact, the risk today is not experimenting, not trying new things and not failing fast. Companies that are not keeping up with the pace of change could find themselves left behind by a changing world—just think about what happened to Kodak after digital cameras and DVD stores after Netflix. 

    *Sage is a sponsor at the IDC CIO Summit series (http://IDCCIOSummit.com). Johannesburg will take place 10 & 11 May (Keith will be presenting), Lagos, 18 May, Nairobi, 16 June and Mauritius 16 August.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Sage.

    For media queries:
    Ashmika Panday
    Tel: +27 (0)11 803 0030
    Mobile: +27 (0)83 296 1680
    Ashmika@IdeaEngineers.co.za 

    Del-Mari Roberts
    Tel: +27 (0)11 803 0030
    Mobile: +27 (0)72 5958 053
    DelMari@IdeaEngineers.co.za

    About Sage:
    Sage 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. 

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  • Unexplained cluster of deaths – Liberia

    On 25 April 2017, the Ministry of Health of Liberia notified WHO and partners of a cluster of sudden deaths of unknown aetiology in Sinoe County. The event started on 23 April 2017 when an 11-year-old child had been admitted to hospital presenting with diarrhoea, vomiting and mental confusion after attending the funeral of a religious leader on 22 April 2017. The child died within one hour of admission.
     

    As of 4 May 2017, a total of 28 cases including 12 deaths (case fatality rate: 43 %) were reported. Of those, 26 cases including 10 deaths were reported from Sinoe County, all in persons who had attended the funeral. The other two cases, both fatal, were reported from the capital Monrovia in Montserrado County. The first case in Monrovia had attended the funeral in Sinoe County and presented with fever, headache and vomiting on 27 April 2017. He passed away at a hospital in Monrovia. On 29 April 2017, his partner who did not attend the funeral also became ill and passed away the same day. Investigations are still ongoing.

    To date, a total of 21 specimens have tested negative for Ebola virus disease (EVD) and Lassa fever. Samples from individuals (e.g. blood, urine, rectal swab, and others) and environment, including food samples are being further analyzed and tested.

    Public health response

    The Sinoe County Health Team is coordinating the response with the support of WHO, UNICEF, CDC, Africa Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), and other partners. The Rapid Response Team (RRT) and the Incident Management System are activated for the management of the event.

    Cases from Sinoe are being managed in the local hospital in Greenville, the capital of Sinoe County. The initial investigation was conducted by the RRT and active case search is being implemented in the affected and surrounding communities and among people that attended the funeral. In Montserrado County, a total of 42 individuals who participated in the burial in Greenville on 22 April 2017 are being closely monitored. In addition, close contacts of the two cases that died in Montserrado County are also being closely monitored.

    The National Epidemic Preparedness and Response Committee led by the National Public Health Institute of Liberia has also been activated to support the response. National multidisciplinary teams are deployed to the affected county to provide technical support.

    Surveillance is being strengthened through line-listing of cases, contact identification and follow-up, active case search and collection of food and drink samples for toxicology testing. Attendants of the funeral and contacts have been listed and are under follow-up.

    The laboratory analysis is being strengthened. Water testing from the sources serving the affected areas has been conducted and preliminary results ruled out bacterial contamination. Heavy metal and chemical testing is ongoing. The government has requested WHO, CDC, and MSF to support the process of toxicological testing outside the country. Samples are being sent to different laboratories for additional testing.

    Community engagement is being strengthened, with the support of UNICEF, through mass public awareness, local leaders’ mobilization, and community member sensitization. Infection prevention and control measures are being implemented, namely re-enforcement of hand hygiene practices, water points testing and safe burials.

    WHO risk assessment

    At this stage the overall risk of spread of the event is considerate as low. The event is clustered among the participants of the funeral. In addition, there is a sharp decrease in the number of cases and deaths reported since 25 April 2017. These findings are indicative of a point source of exposure. The possibility of a food/ drink/ water contamination event is being actively investigated and the toxicology laboratory test will help to elaborate this hypothesis. A case-control study to identify possible exposures linked to illness is being conducted.

    The efficient and timely implementation of the response to this event is a result of the expertise developed in Liberia following the large outbreak of EVD in 2014. This led to the quick identification of the event, testing and ruling out EVD as a causative agent, identification of contacts and their follow-up and the ongoing collaboration of the country with partners to perform laboratory testing of human and environmental specimen to identify the disease aetiology.

    WHO advice

    WHO recommends the close follow up of the cases and persons who attended the funeral as well as the reinforcement of hygiene and food safety measures in the affected areas. Additionally, WHO supports the ongoing epidemiological and laboratory investigations to identify the aetiological agent of this cluster of cases to guide additional control measures.

    WHO does not recommend any restriction on travel and trade to Liberia on the basis of the information available on the current event.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO).

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  • IMF Hosts Conference on “Managing Capital Flows: Challenges for Developing Countries” in Zambia
    • Participants agreed that capital flows to developing countries are generally beneficial—particularly in the current context of a much leaner environment—by providing an important source of financing for investments and by helping to maintain foreign exchange reserves.
    • Participants agreed that (i) the composition of capital flows matters for financial stability and growth, and (ii) that effectively managing the inflow phase of the capital flow cycle is the best protection against challenges that arise when capital flows reverse.

    On May 5, 2017, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) hosted a conference on “Managing Capital Flows: Challenges for Developing Countries” in Livingstone, Zambia. The Hon. Felix Mutati, Minister of Finance of Zambia, and David Lipton, First Deputy Managing Director of the IMF, opened the conference. Paul Krugman, Nobel laureate and Distinguished Professor of Economics at the City University of New York, delivered a keynote address.

    Capital flows to many developing countries have recently declined because of low commodity prices and weak growth. The conference provided a forum for policy makers to share experiences on how best to reap the benefits from capital flows, while managing the risks.

    Participants agreed that capital flows to developing countries are generally beneficial—particularly in the current context of a much leaner environment—by providing an important source of financing for investments and by helping to maintain foreign exchange reserves. Sound policies and macroeconomic stability were considered key to help reignite high-quality capital flows. Some lessons drawn from the shared experience of participants are that (i) the composition of capital flows matters for financial stability and growth, and (ii) that effectively managing the inflow phase of the capital flow cycle is the best protection against challenges that arise when capital flows reverse.

    Speakers on the program included policy makers and senior officials from Cameroon, Chile, India, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zambia, as well as distinguished academics, economic analysts, and market participants. Also in attendance were senior officials from other developing and emerging market countries. 

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

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  • The European Union celebrates Europe Day 2017 in Liberia in tune with the "eat what you grow, grow what you eat" campaign

    Europe Day, held on 9 May every year, celebrates peace and unity in Europe. This year the European Union Delegation in Liberia has decided that the annual diplomatic reception to celebrate Europe Day will be organised in tune with the “eat what you grow, grow what you eat” promoted by the Ministries of Agriculture and Commerce.

    In practice this means that almost all of the ingredients that will be used for the preparation of the food served at the reception have been sourced directly from Liberian farmers. The chicken for example has been purchased from Ms Anatta of Margibi County, the pork from Ms. Martha Gbanekan of Montserrado County, the cassava from Ms Grace N. Philip of Grand Bassa County and the vegetables from Mr Abraham Gaye of Grand Bassa county and Ms Sam G. Hill of Montserrado County. There will also be innovative products, such as moringa tea and soup prepared by Mama Morris from FTI Community, Bomi County.

    These farmers groups are supported by EU funded projects in agriculture, implemented by BRAC and the Food Security and Livelihood Consortium (ZOA, Action Against Hunger, Welthungerhilfe). Some of them will also be present at the diplomatic reception with their products for display and sampling by the EU guests.

    In presenting this initiative, EU Ambassador to Liberia Tiina Intelmann stated that “This is only a small gesture, but we would like to demonstrate that it is possible to develop a commercially viable agriculture in Liberia. Consuming local products is good for the local economy and for the environment, as they have a much smaller carbon footprint. We hope that the authorities and all our Liberian guests will appreciate this initiative and follow it“. Despite the best efforts of the staff of the EU Delegation, the wines for the event will still have to be sourced from Europe.

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

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  • Secretary-General Appoints Michel Kafando of Burkina Faso as Special Envoy

    United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced today the appointment of Michel Kafando of Burkina Faso as his Special Envoy. Mr. Kafando’s role will include leading and coordinating the United Nations political efforts to promote peace and sustainable development in Burundi. Furthermore, he will provide assistance to the efforts of the East African Community for political dialogue among Burundi role players.
     

    Mr. Kafando brings to the position more than three decades of extensive experience in high-level international diplomacy and politics. From November 2014 to December 2015, he was President of the Transition and Head of State of Burkina Faso. While serving in that capacity, he oversaw the peaceful restoration of democratic rule in his country, following the uprising in 2014. A diplomat with a distinguished career since joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1972, Mr. Kafando served his country as Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 1981 to 1982 and again from 1998 to 2011. From 1982 to 1983, he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

    Mr. Kafando graduated with a Master’s degree in public law from the University of Bordeaux in 1969, and obtained a postgraduate diploma in political science from the Paris-Sorbonne University in 1972 and a diploma in diplomacy from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Geneva the same year. He earned his Ph.D. in political science at the Paris-Sorbonne University in 1990.

    Born in 1942, he is married and has two children. 

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

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