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UNHCR: Africa set to conclude one of its longest-standing refugee situations
October 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

200Delegations from Rwanda and 11 major host countries in Africa, the African Union and UNHCR met today to agree on the final steps to end one of the world’s longest-standing displacement situations. This is the concluding phase of a comprehensive strategy to solve the situation of Rwandan refugees who fled their country between 1959 and 31 December 1998. The meeting’s participants have agreed on a timetable to help former refugees who wish to return to Rwanda by December 2016 and to intensify local integration efforts for former refugees who have developed close links with their host communities by the end of 2017. “This is a beacon of hope, showing that even in today’s world with multiple conflicts and growing displacement, it is possible to resolve refugee situations”, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk said. The strategy to end the Rwandan refugee chapter has four components: voluntary repatriation to Rwanda, local integration or legal alternatives in countries of asylum, retention of refugee status for those still in need of international protection and, finally, the cessation of refugee status. In June 2013, UNHCR recommended that refugee status could be ceased for Rwandans who had fled their country before 31 December 1998. “African countries have set an example to the world by looking at local integration as a real possibility for tens of thousands of Rwandan former refugees”, Türk observed. Participants called on the international community to support this final phase of the process, to ensure that remaining former refugees can successfully integrate in Rwanda or be productive members of society in their former country of asylum. In the wake of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the armed clashes in the northwest of the country in 1997 and 1998, more than 3.5 million Rwandans became refugees.  All but 48,000 have now found a solution that allowed them to close the refugee chapter of their life. Most of them returned to Rwanda and others were able to remain in a different capacity in their former country of asylum.  In addition, there is a large group of Rwandans living in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Some 24,000 have been registered, but Government pre-registration estimates stand at nearly 250,000 people.  Biometric registration is expected to be completed by the end of January 2016 and that will give a better idea of how many people are involved and what the best solution would be for them. Delegations from the main countries hosting Rwandan former refugees namely Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, the Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbawbe, as well as from Rwanda and the African Union  participated in this meeting together with UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection. *Source APO/UNHCR]]>

Read More transforms how online recruitment is done in sub-Saharan Africa
October 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

Quality jobs, top employers, innovative career advice and tools, built in virality and gamification, and a matching technology to ease up the search for perfect candidates [caption id="attachment_21160" align="alignleft" width="300"]WorkinAfrica makes it easy for professionals to grow professionally and find the perfect job according to their needs, dreams and skills WorkinAfrica makes it easy for professionals to grow professionally and find the perfect job according to their needs, dreams and skills[/caption] WorkinAfrica  is an effective and innovative recruitment platform specialized in finding, growing and connecting the right people with their dream jobs, considering all relevant factors from the company’s organizational culture fit, to the expected skills match, right timing and motivation. “We are determined to bring on board the best jobs and best candidates and build an environment where professionals find the best support to easily develop their career.” Adrian Vasilescu, Project Director, WorkinAfrica. WorkinAfrica is For Job Seekers WorkinAfrica makes it easy for professionals to grow professionally and find the perfect job according to their needs, dreams and skills. Not only that job seekers can apply for jobs, but they are presented with a lot of valuable insights that help they grow professionally towards a successful career. Besides this, an embedded Salary Calculator makes it possible for anyone to receive a full report about how well they are paid compared to peers in the their field of activity. Tests, quizzes and contests spice up the platform and the integrated gamification tool makes the process more fun and engaging for them. WorkinAfrica is For Employers Employers will find the best matching candidates much faster and easier, as WorkinAfrica is able to recommend the best candidates for their roles in a matter of seconds. The intelligent technology screens and analyses all the resumes in the database (thousands in the first month only!) and provides a top of suites candidates for any job they post. “Our goal is to offer the most stable and effective job platform in sub-Saharan Africa. We believe in the power of this recruitment solution to take online recruitment in sub-Saharan Africa to the next level.” Adrian Vasilescu, Project Director, WorkinAfrica To make it even more effective, employers can create customized newsletters to promote their jobs to highly targeted audiences. This enables them to reach a specific professional profile to which they can advertise their jobs and receive valuable applicants. And, if you are an NGO looking to hire a great team, WorkinAfrica offers all this for free. Try now to see how you can drastically improve your recruitment! Or contact us to get a tour of the platform – *Source APO]]>

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African and European farm machinery distributors join forces to support AGCO brands in Zambia
October 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

A Joint Venture between Barloworld and BayWa will be responsible for sales and support for AGCO’s Challenger and Massey Ferguson brands of farm machinery 200 (3)Your Agriculture Company (NYSE:AGCO), a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, reports that a new Joint Venture company formed between South Africa’s Barloworld and Germany’s BayWa has been appointed as its national distributor for Zambia. The Joint Venture between Barloworld and BayWa will be responsible for sales and support for AGCO’s Challenger and Massey Ferguson brands of farm machinery. Barloworld Agriculture is AGCO’s largest distributor in Africa and BayWa AG its largest distributor worldwide. They will each hold a 50% stake in the new venture. The Joint Venture combines the expertise and dedicated resources of Barloworld and BayWa in support of AGCOs Sustainable and Inclusive Mechanization Strategy in Africa. “We are delighted that these two leaders in agricultural equipment distribution have joined forces to support us in serving the Zambian market where we are making major investments in infrastructure and people, and creating key partnerships to help drive agricultural development forward across the full spectrum of farming.” says Nuradin Osman, AGCO Director of Operations for Africa and the Middle East. Barloworld Agriculture was established in 2002 and is AGCO’s distributor for South Africa. It is part of Barloworld Handling, a division of global industrial brand distributor Barloworld Limited. BayWa is a group with worldwide operations in the core competencies of trading, logistics and supplementary services in its core segments of Agriculture, Energy, and Building Materials. BayWa Group is also one of the largest agricultural traders worldwide. The head office of the parent company, which was founded in 1923, is located in Munich. The international activities focus on Europe as well as on the US and New Zealand. Smart Farming & Internationalisation Agri-Services develops solutions for process-driven farming and is also expanding international agricultural sales and equipment business. “Barloworld Agriculture’s existing AGCO distribution network combined with our strong African know-how provides the Joint Venture with a strong operational platform,” says John Blackbeard, Chief Executive Officer of Barloworld Handling, Inc. “Together with BayWa, we look forward to providing region-specific resources and solutions to the agriculture value chain in Africa.” Commenting Roland Schuler, member of BayWa’s Board of Management responsible for BayWa Agri Services business unit, said: “In markets like Zambia where agricultural operations are so varied, the use of modern technology that is geared towards the needs of the market is instrumental in improving productivity. This is exactly where BayWa and Barloworld can contribute their experience from successful mechanisation projects on farm operations of all sizes.” As part of AGCO’s significant investment in Zambia, the company has established a 150ha Future Farm near Lusaka to develop leading-edge agriculture for Africa. Among its major activities, the AGCO Future Farm provides education and training on integrated agricultural solutions, offers hands-on experience with new technology appropriate to local markets and seeks to establish new agricultural standards for crop establishment, nutrition and protection. AGCO (NYSE: AGCO) is a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural equipment. AGCO supports more productive farming through a full line of tractors, combines, hay tools, sprayers, forage equipment, grain storage and protein production systems, seeding and tillage implements and replacement parts. AGCO products are sold through five core equipment brands, Challenger®, Fendt®, GSI®, Massey Ferguson® and Valtra® and are distributed globally through a combination of approximately 3,100 independent dealers and distributors in more than 140 countries. Founded in 1990, AGCO is headquartered in Duluth, GA, USA. In 2014, AGCO had net sales of $9.7 billion. *APO]]>

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Joint Communique by the AUC, OSAA, ECA, and UNIDO-Africa Must Industrialize
September 29, 2015 | 0 Comments

200 (2)Africa has seen remarkable economic growth since the turn of the millennium. It has become the second fastest growing region in the world and continues on this path despite the persistent global economic slowdown. There is still need to accelerate annual economic growth to more than 7% to effect real economic transformative growth. To be sustainable and inclusive, this progress must now be accompanied by structural transformation, which remains the only option to lift the people of Africa out of poverty. To fully benefit from its rich natural resources and to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend, Africa must industrialize. Heavily investing in the training and education of women and youth is indispensable. In order to achieve inclusive and sustainable industrialization, we must embark on a skills revolution particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goal 9 recognize the centrality of inclusive and sustainable industrialization for development. African leaders made a bold statement towards inclusive growth and sustainable development in their own Common African Position on the post-2015 development agenda and the African Union’s 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration, culminating in the Africa Agenda 2063, and its First Ten Year Implementation Plan. Many African countries have already proceeded to formulate national strategies to take advantage of the current global momentum for fostering inclusive and sustainable industrial development. In this context, the African leaders attending the High-level event on “Operationalization of the 2030 Agenda for Africa’s Industrialization” called upon the international community to raise its financial support in line with Goal 9 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and to back industrial and infrastructural projects underpinning this development, especially as articulated under Aspiration 1 of the Africa’s Agenda 2063, which calls for a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development. In particular, they called upon the private sector to recognize Africa’s export and domestic market potential, and invited foreign investors to substantively increase their commitments to the continent. They also called upon international organizations to provide industrial policy advice and technical cooperation programmes to enable African countries to implement their strategies and to forge stronger regional and inter-regional cooperation. They emphasized the urgency for all countries to promote structural transformation, technological change and innovation. Regional Economic integration, intra-African trade, increased foreign direct investment and official development assistance, and South-South and triangular cooperation will be fundamental pillars of this process. UNIDO’s new Programmes for Country Partnership, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the African Mining Vision and the Action Plan for the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa (AIDA) are promising mechanisms for mobilizing multi-stakeholder coalitions to promote industrialization. As also witnessed during the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, and the adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, emphasis should continue to be placed on inclusive economic growth and sustainable industrial development. Now that the world has adopted the 2030 Agenda, we invoke all stakeholders to join forces and form a new global partnership for its implementation, particularly for the most vulnerable countries in Africa, including for the LDCs, the LLDCs and the SIDs. We need to seize this historical moment and take substantial steps collectively to achieve the transformative agenda of inclusive and sustainable industrial development for the benefit of all countries and their populations on the continent. The AUC, OSAA, UNECA and UNIDO fully commit themselves to support Member States in their calling upon the General Assembly to pass in 2016 a resolution for a Decade of African Industrialization 2016-2025. *AUC]]>

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AUC Chairperson joins world leaders to commit to gender equality and women's empowerment
September 29, 2015 | 0 Comments

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (R) and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (L), head of the African Union Commission UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (R) and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (L), head of the African Union Commission[/caption] World leaders have voiced overwhelming support and committed to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment aimed at achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The African Union Commission Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, joined global leaders and delegates to make commitments at a meeting co-organised by UN-Women and the People’s Republic of China in the margins of the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York. In her remarks, the AU Commission Chairperson said the AU places a central focus on achieving gender parity and women’s empowerment in its Agenda 2063. She pointed out that in Africa, the year 2015 is the year of women’s empowerment and development toward Agenda 2063. She noted that during the last Summit of Heads of State and of  Government, a Gender Scorecard was developed to track progress made in achieving gender equality. Dr. Dlamini Zuma committed to refining this tool in the future by including more indicators. The Chairperson noted that while Rwanda is leading the world with the highest number of women represented in Parliament, 22 countries have at least 30% of women in Parliament, while 14 countries have 30% of women ministers, with Cape Verde leading Africa with the highest representation of women ministers. During the gathering, Chinese President Xi Jinping, among others, announced a donation of $10million USD to UN-Women to finance development and training projects aimed at promoting gender parity and women’s empowerment. While leaders announced various contributions and donations, some of the world leaders expressed political will and determination in advancing the course for women’s empowerment and gender parity. President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya said progress for women is progress for us all, and the whole world stood to gain from gender equality. Holding 20 years after the Beijing declaration and platform for action to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, the meeting was attended by UN Member States, Non-Governmental Organisations, the private sector and partners. *APO]]>

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AUC signs MOU with partners on the implementation of the African Water Vision 2025
September 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

Tumusiime Rhoda Tumusiime Rhoda[/caption] Within the framework of partnership meeting for implementing the African Water Vision 2025, the African Union Commission (AUC), through its Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture (DREA), signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with CLTS-Foundation, Water Aid, Water and Sanitation for Africa (WSA), Sustainable Sanitation Design (Susan Design), and Norges Vel. It was took place on 21 September 2015 at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The AUC and the partner organizations signed the MoU on different areas of collaboration to facilitate the realization of the Africa Water Vision 2025 through revitalizing efforts to create an enabling environment for international cooperation to achieve the 2025 vision. H.E Mrs. Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Commissioner for the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, AUC stated that strategic ways of sanitation management is on top of the African leadership agenda. While emphasizing the sound implementation of the MoU signing, Mr. Bai-Mass Tall representing the  President of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), also said that water and sanitation issue should be priority equally to other matters around the continent. The meeting discussed issues related to the AU Water and Sanitation Initiatives that were presented by the Commission and which include: (i)- the Kigali Action Plan (KAP) that is in progress and already championed by the Government of Rwanda; (ii)- the  Operation 2M4M as scaling up of the KAP to all AU member States, that will allow massive interventions for access to water supply facilities  to 110 million Africans, and sanitation facilities to 220 million Africans; (iii)- the African Clean Village Programme for large sanitation communities led total sanitation to 250 million Africans mostly in rural areas in Africa; and (iv)- the Pan African Productive Sanitation Programme that aims at developing mechanism for private sector involvement for large scale interventions for reusing waste in agriculture and energy in order to contribute to better solve problem faced by: energy, water resource management, infrastructure, industry, climate, and air pollution sectors. The meeting was attended by AUC Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture; AMCOW President; development partners; diplomatic corps; and AUC staffs. While the importance of this kind of partnership has been stressed by the Representative of the African Development Bank (AfDB) to successfully approach the holistic problems of water and sanitation in Africa, call was made to development partners to give equal attention and strengthen support to development issues including water supply and sanitation on the continent. For H.E Mrs. Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Commissioner for the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, the pursuit of the Africa Water Vision 2025 is not an option especially given the need to unleash Africa’s development. *APO/AUC]]>

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Anzisha Prize celebrates 5 years – announces 2015 finalists for $75,000 African youth entrepreneurship award
September 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

The 12 finalists were selected from an impressive initial pool of 494 young entrepreneurs anzisha-1African Leadership Academy , in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation , is proud to announce 12 accomplished young entrepreneurs as finalists for the 2015 Anzisha Prize . The Anzisha Prize team scoured far and wide in an extensive search for African entrepreneurial talent between the ages of 15 and 22. The 12 finalists were selected from an impressive initial pool of 494 young entrepreneurs, up from 339 applications in 2014. The Anzisha Prize is proud to have attracted applicants from 33 African countries, with finalists from Zimbabwe and Ethiopia identified for the first time. Applications were also received from a diversity of sectors, with agriculture having the most applicants. Now in its fifth year, The Anzisha Prize will be celebrating these outstanding young people during Global Entrepreneurship Week joining the worldwide festivities. Finalists for the Anzisha Prize win a share of US$75,000 and access to ongoing support to scale their enterprises and expand their impact. The 12 finalists will be flown to Johannesburg for the 2015 Anzisha Week taking place from 12 – 18 November 2015 during which they will receive intensive training from African Leadership Academy’s renowned Entrepreneurial Leadership faculty and engage with industry leaders as mentors. A panel of judges from across the entrepreneurial sphere will deliberate to select the grand prize-winners at a gala function to be held on the evening of 17 November 2015. The finalists will grow the pool of Anzisha Fellows to 57 and receive ongoing support in the form of business consulting, professional development training and access to broader networking opportunities to accelerate the growth of their ventures and impact. For the first time ever, the Prize is delighted that finalists have been selected from Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. Farai Munjoma, 18, provides courseware and career guidance to other youth in Zimbabwe. Hidaya Ibrahim, 21, co-founded an education venture that organizes capacity building activities for students to increase their critical thinking, analytical research and writing skills. Hidaya is among five female finalists, with four others originating from Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, and Rwanda. alaThis year’s finalists have started ventures in a diversity of sectors including agriculture, technology, youth empowerment, education, and fashion. The large number of applicants in agricultural ventures reinforces the notion that Africa’s young entrepreneurs are focused on sectors that drive economic value in the African context. Says Grace Kalisha, Manager for the Anzisha Prize, “Entrepreneurship has significant potential to drive economic growth and improved livelihoods for African youth. We are proud to be celebrating and supporting these inspiring young leaders during Global Entrepreneurship Week, making them part of the global entrepreneurship narrative.” The 2015 finalists are: 1.         Blessing Fortune Kwomo, 19, Nigeria. Co-founder of De Rehoboths Therapeutic Studio which extends home-based health care through tailored family action plans for treating illness and addressing root causes to empower families to live healthier within the context of their surroundings/ circumstances. 2.         Chantal Butare, 21, Rwanda. Founder of Kinazi Dairy Cooperative (KIDACO) offering market access to 3,250 farmers through 10 milk collectors. Chantal packages and sells the milk for cattle owners in the community who have received cows in a government program, but have no market access. 3.         Chris Kwekowe, 22, Nigeria. Founder of Slatecube, an e-learning platform that allows learners to study ICT-related course work and be certified at their convenience, with 200 active users on the platform this year. 4.         Daniel Mukisa, 21, Uganda. Co-founder of Transporter Company, provider of delivery services in Kampala using own branded fleet of  30 motorbikes, carrying out around 150 deliveries daily for corporate clients. 5.         Fabrice Alomo, 22, Cameroon. Founder of MyAconnect, which is a web platform that aims to ease trade in Africa by digitizing what and how people buy, sell, and pay, through four user-friendly applications, with 128 companies currently utilizing the platforms. 6.         Farai Munjoma, 18, Zimbabwe. Co-founder of Shasha Iseminar, providing access to courseware content, past examination questions and answers, and career guidance to high school age kids. He also offers school fees contribution to kids from revenues earned, and carries out projects at orphanages. 7.         George Mtemahanji, 22, Tanzania. Co-founder of SunSweet Solar, which designs, plans, organizes and brings solar energy to rural Tanzania.  One of his projects was the construction of the largest solar energy system in Kilombero, at Benignis Girls Secondary School of Ifakara. 8.         Hidaya Ibrahim, 21, Ethiopia. Co-founder of Qine Association for Promoting Education Quality, an education venture that organizes capacity building activities for students to increase critical thinking, analytical research and writing skills, and convenes educational sector players for unique consultation on the quality of Ethiopian education. 9.         Karidas Tshintsholo, 20, South Africa. Co-founder of Push Ismokol’, a clothing brand that employs six people in the Ekangala township of Pretoria, with significant pent up demand due to savvy marketing techniques. 10.       Mabel Suglo, 22, Ghana. Co-founder of Echo Shoes, foot-wear business specializing in designing and making shoes from recycled waste, producing 30 pairs of shoes a month, and engaging persons with disabilities in the production process. 11.       Sirjeff Dennis, 21, Tanzania. Founder of Jefren Afgrifriend Solutions (JAS) Poultry farming, raising 1,500 broiler chickens a month, and selling100 150kg bags of organic fertilizer a month. 12.       Vanessa Zommi, 19, Cameroon. Co-founder of Emerald Moringa Tea aimed at managing diabetes in her community by providing products which contain key antioxidants, currently producing 15 kg of output per month. mastercard-foundation-1“Given the continued success of Anzisha at identifying a diverse pool of finalists that is representative of the potential and promise of Africa’s young entrepreneurial talent, The MasterCard Foundation is pleased to celebrate five years of the Anzisha Prize and continue in its partnership with African Leadership Academy until 2020. I am excited to welcome this year’s finalists to the Anzisha community” says Koffi Assouan, Program Manager for the Youth Livelihoods Program at The MasterCard Foundation.     The Anzisha Prize is delivered by African Leadership Academy in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation. Through the Anzisha Prize, the organisers seek to catalyse innovation and entrepreneurship among youth across the continent. African Leadership Academy (ALA) seeks to transform Africa by developing a powerful network of entrepreneurial leaders who will work together to achieve extraordinary social impact. Each year, ALA brings together the most promising young leaders from all 54 African nations for a pre-university program in South Africa with a focus on leadership, entrepreneurship and African studies. ALA continues to cultivate these leaders throughout their lives, in university and beyond, by providing on-going leadership and entrepreneurial training and connecting them to high-impact networks of people and capital that can catalyse large-scale change. The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa. As one of the largest, independent foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion in order to alleviate poverty. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by MasterCard when the Foundation was created in 2006. *APO]]>

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Adesina assumes office as 8th President of the African Development Bank Group
September 3, 2015 | 0 Comments

“We must light up and power Africa – as a Bank we will launch a new deal on energy for Africa” [caption id="attachment_20403" align="alignleft" width="640"]Dr. Akinwumi Adesina Dr. Akinwumi Adesina[/caption] Former Nigerian Agriculture Minister Akinwumi Adesina formally assumed office as the 8th elected President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) on Tuesday, September 1, 2015. At a ceremony in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, he took the oath of office administered by Zambia’s Finance Minister and Chair of the Board of Governors, Alexander Chikwanda. “I, Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, solemnly declare and undertake … that I will abide by the provisions of … the … Bank, and discharge my duties … with loyalty, discretion and conscience.  So help me God,” he swore, to sustained applause by the large audience. Adesina said that the AfDB had risen to its present level through the efforts of many great men and women, including members of the Board of Governors, the Board of Directors, the past Presidents of the Bank, and the dedication of its staff over 50 years. “Future generations will look back on your work with respect and admiration. We have a sacred duty to honour your hard work by building upon the solid foundation that you have created.” Under his presidency, he said, the Bank will expand opportunities and unlock potentials for countries, women, youth, the private sector – and the continent as a whole – with a view to ushering in a new wave of growth and development shared by all. Growth has to be shared, he said. “The sparkle in the eyes of the fortunate few is drowned by the sense of exclusion by the majority. Hundreds of millions of people are left behind. …. Africa can no longer be content with simply managing poverty. For our future and the future of our children, we must eliminate it. “We must integrate Africa”, he said. “Grow together, develop together. Our collective destiny is tied to breaking down the barriers separating us. “We will build stronger partnerships for impact – from the private sector, civil society and academic institutions, multilateral and bilateral development agencies. We will advance Africa’s priorities, as envisaged by the Founding Fathers of the Bank. We will be a strong voice for Africa, positioning and building support for Africa in the global environment,” he emphasised. “We must light up and power Africa”, he said. “Energy is the engine that powers economies.” He promised that the Bank will launch a New Deal on Energy for Africa. “Africa is blessed with limitless potential for solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal energy resources. We must unlock Africa’s energy potential – both conventional and renewable.” He also stressed the need to develop the private sector to drive the industrialization of the continent, create employment for the young, empower the rural population and women, and lift millions out of poverty. Adesina made it clear that “Africa must feed itself,” stating that it was inconceivable that a continent with abundant arable land, water, diverse agro-ecological richness and sunshine should be a net food-importing region. Africa has 65% of all the arable land left in the world, which can help meet the food needs of 9 billion people on the planet by 2050. This is a huge untapped potential,“but Africa cannot eat potential”. He laid down five priorities that will drive the Bank’s work as it implements its current 2013-2022 Strategy: “Light up and Power Africa. Feed Africa. Integrate Africa. Industrialize Africa. Improve quality of life for the people of Africa.” “Our Bank staff processes and systems will be shaped to deliver on these critical imperatives. We will become sharply focused on measuring the results of our lending operations on the lives of people. No longer will we judge ourselves simply based on the size of our lending portfolio, but on the strength of Africa’s growth and development and the quality of improvements in the lives of the African people. We will be more than a lending institution. We will build a highly competitive, world-class, knowledge-driven Bank, to provide top-notch policy and advisory services to countries and the private sector. We will become a true development institution with measurable impacts on the lives of Africans,” he said. He ended with a call to action: “Let us rededicate ourselves to a greater Africa. An Africa with prosperous, sustainable and inclusive growth – one that is peaceful, secure and united, regionally integrated and globally competitive. A continent filled with hope, opportunities, liberties and freedom, with shared prosperity for all. An Africa that is open to the world, one that Africans are proud to call home.” Nigeria’s Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, spoke on the need to consider other paradigms for Africa development, and to focus on good governance, climate change and the empowerment of women. 06a0741a-501d-48c4-a029-95673c57f859-2060x1236Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, reminded the audience that the African continent currently faces multiple challenges including security, market volatility, and youth unemployment. He said he was convinced that President Adesina would be able to tackle these challenges, given his experience and proven leadership. Among those who attended the ceremony were Cape Verde’s former President Pedro Pires, Côte d’Ivoire’s Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan, former Nigerian Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as well as a large delegation of governors, legislators and business-people from Nigeria. Minister Chikwanda had called the occasion “a historic changing of the guard for the African Development Bank, the pride of Africa.” Adesina was elected as the 8th President of the AfDB on May 29, 2015. Seven other candidates had also applied for the job. His predecessors are: Donald Kaberuka (Rwanda), 2005-2015; Omar Kabbaj (Morocco), 1995-2005; Babacar N’diaye (Senegal), 1985-1995; Willa Mung’Omba (Zambia), 1980-1985; Kwame Donkor Fordwor (Ghana), 1976-1980; Abdelwahab Labidi (Tunisia, 1970-1976); Mamoun Beheiry (Sudan), 1964-1970.  *AFDB]]>

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Report: Africa is projected to have just one low income country by 2050
September 3, 2015 | 0 Comments

Large infrastructure gaps, climate change, high speed of urbanization, and a youthful and rapidly growing population will influence the future pace of growth. African-infrastructureMost African countries that today are considered low income will transition to middle income within 15 years, and all but one will be middle income by 2050, according to the Annual Trends and Outlook Report (ATOR), released today. The ATOR, released by the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS), a program facilitated by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), examines the current and future trends that are likely to shape the trajectory of African economies. As the second-fastest growing region in the world, Africa has enjoyed robust economic growth in recent years. However, that progress has not been enough to make up for the lost decades of economic stagnation that preceded the recent recovery. And secondly, the benefits of this growth have not trickled down to the wider population. Today too many people experience poverty and food scarcity. “While the recent growth performance is encouraging, African counties still face major challenges in terms of reducing poverty and eliminating hunger and malnutrition,” said Ousmane Badiane, IFPRI Director for Africa. “This report shows that policymakers need to continue to refine policies, improve institutions and increase investments to sustain and accelerate the pace of growth as well as its inclusivity or broadness—and the outcomes of their decisions can be the difference between persistent poverty and future shared prosperity for many of Africa’s most vulnerable populations.” The report found: •    Africa south of the Sahara is projected to experience more sustained economic growth in GDP per capita between now and 2030 and 2050. •    By 2050, climate change will result in a 25% increase in cereal prices compared with a no climate change scenario. •    Trends that are likely to influence the trajectory of African economies include: o    more volatile food and energy prices; o    rapid urbanization, increasing incomes, and the rise of a middle class; o    rapid increase in a young population entering the labor force; o    greater climate variability; and o    agriculture as the largest source of employment. •    African diets are changing in response to rapid urbanization and the rise of a middle class. Fifty percent of Africa’s population is projected to live in urban areas by 2020. Processed food now represents a significant share of food purchases, even for the rural poor. Diets have also diversified beyond grains into horticulture, dairy, livestock, fish, and pulses. •    Structural change in Africa is now contributing to productivity growth. Africa’s informal goods and services sector (e.g., home goods and handicraft production, and food staples processing) is emerging steadily, and must play a major role in future growth and industrialization. •    Industrialization in Africa has been weak, and has contributed little to Africa’s recent growth. A new industrial strategy needs to focus on investing in infrastructure, especially energy, transport, and water supply. “As envisaged under the African Union Malabo Declaration, transforming African economies will need ensuring that future growth is broad based and inclusive, especially of women and youth, a critical component of the Africa We Want as depicted in the Africa Agenda 2063,” said Her Excellency Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission (AUC). ”This is a sure way for wealth to be created and jobs to be generated,” she added. The report was released today at the ReSAKSS conference organized by AUC and IFPRI in Addis Ababa. Read the report on the ReSAKSS website]]>

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WATCH: Akon’s Lighting Africa project on track
September 3, 2015 | 0 Comments

Arthur Chatora*

Businessman and hip-hop artist Akon says his ‘ambitious’ Lighting Africa’ project is bearing fruits with roots in 14 countries

Senegalese born hip-hop musician and entrepreneur Akon says his goal of bringing electricity to 600 million people across Africa through hisLighting Africa project is on track. [caption id="attachment_20384" align="alignleft" width="300"]Akon says his goal of bringing electricity to 600 million people across Africa through his Lighting Africa project is on track. Photo: David Monfort Akon says his goal of bringing electricity to 600 million people across Africa through his Lighting Africa project is on track. Photo: David Monfort[/caption] Akon who recently attended the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in July hosted by Kenya along with U.S. President Barack Obama spoke to the BBC and said his original ambitious goal was to target a million people. “We accomplished that in less than six months and now we are currently in 14 countries. I think it will be possible in the next seven years from now”. The project has a 10-year plan to electrify as much of Africa as possible and the respective governments are participating. Akon says the target can be met. Asked how his organisation chooses which country to provide the service, the artist-cum-businessman said they provide the service where it’s mostly needed after conducting research and meeting the respective presidents and the energy portfolio ministers. The energy ministry “gives us a scope of what’s necessary, what’s needed and what’s urgent [and] we come up with a plan and propose what works for that country, ” Akon said. Akon says the selected countries are not expected to provide any initial capital. “We come with the pre-financing…[We] finance a project and then allow them to pay in instalments. So that way they can utilise that money [allocated energy budget] in areas that it’s actually needed outside of electricity,” Economic growth in Africa continues to be affected by unreliable energy and persistent power cuts. Akon noted that the erratic energy supply on the continent hinders manufacturing and job creation and there cannot be any meaningful development without reliable energy supply. “All Africans have to come together, we have to unite. Pull all our resources into building Africa, even to the point [where] we have to start banking in Africa because we have to build our financial economies,” Akon said. Check out his video interview with BBC Africa: *Source thisisafrica]]>

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At least 50 dead' in Shebab attack on AU base: Western sources
September 3, 2015 | 0 Comments

An African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) soldier stands guard close to destroyed vehicles following a suicide attack which targeted a convoy of African Union troops on September 8, 2014 (AFP Photo/Abdulfita Hashi Nor) An African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) soldier stands guard close to destroyed vehicles following a suicide attack which targeted a convoy of African Union troops on September 8, 2014 (AFP Photo/Abdulfita Hashi Nor)[/caption] Nairobi (AFP) – At least 50 African Union soldiers are believed to have been killed and another 50 are missing after Shebab militants overran a military camp in southern Somalia on Tuesday, according to Western military officials.

The attack on the camp in Janale, 80 kilometres (50 miles) southwest of Mogadishu in the Lower Shabelle region and manned by Ugandan troops, now ranks as one of the deadliest yet against AMISOM troops.

“It is assessed that at least 50 AMISOM troops died,” said a briefing note sent to diplomats by Western military officials and seen by AFP. It said that in total around 100 soldiers were “unaccounted for” after the attack.

Somalia’s Al-Qaeda affiliate, which has recently lost a string of key bases in the face of an AMISOM offensive, said the attack was revenge for the killing of seven civilians by Ugandan troops at a wedding in the town of Merka in July.

The number feared dead matches that claimed by a Shebab spokesman, although the AU force — which numbers over 22,000 and also includes troops from Ethiopia, Kenya, Burundi and Djibouti — has said it has not yet counted the dead.

“Given the complex nature of the attack, AMISOM is currently verifying the number of casualties and extent of the damage,” said a statement issued late Tuesday, more than 12 hours after the assault.

– No air support –

Western military sources said the attack began with the destruction of two bridges, cutting the camp off. A suicide car bomber rammed the base followed by an estimated 200 Shebab fighters who overran the camp.

AMISOM said its troops “undertook a tactical withdrawal” as the attack began, and the briefing note said the soldiers did not have any air support.

“Low cloud and landing restrictions prevented air support by UN contracted support helicopters,” said the briefing note.

It also said Kenyan and Ethiopian jets as well as US drones “were unavailable at the time of the attack” while AMISOM tanks and artillery located in Janale had been redeployed elsewhere.

The report highlights the challenge that AMISOM faces in holding territory seized from the Islamists, who frequently melt away into the bush in the face of conventional offensives and subsequently strike back with guerrilla assaults — where their objective is only to inflict casualties.

Witnesses said the Shebab took over the camp, looting weapons stores and loading corpses onto trucks.

[caption id="attachment_20361" align="alignright" width="300"]AMISOM has said the camp was manned by soldiers from Uganda, and the number feared dead matches that claimed by a Shebab spokesman (AFP Photo/Mohamed Abdiwahab) AMISOM has said the camp was manned by soldiers from Uganda, and the number feared dead matches that claimed by a Shebab spokesman (AFP Photo/Mohamed Abdiwahab)[/caption]

The group has previously gathered the bodies of dead soldiers for use in propaganda videos.

“They were collecting dead bodies, I saw nearly 30 soldiers killed during the fighting,” said local resident Hussein Idris.

The Shebab is fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu, which is protected by AMISOM.

In June, Shebab fighters killed dozens of Burundian soldiers when they overran an AMISOM outpost northwest of Mogadishu. The militants also stage frequent suicide attacks inside the capital.

But the AMISOM force has also made significant gains against the Shebab, pushing them out of several strongholds in the southwest of the country.

*Source AFP/Yahoo ]]>

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AU Launches Internet Exchange Point in Mauritius: “Keeping intra-country internet traffic within the country”
September 1, 2015 | 0 Comments

logoThe African Union Commission (AUC), through the Infrastructure and Energy Department, in collaboration with the Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation today officially operationalized the Internet Exchange Point in Mauritius. After the launch H.E. Dr. Elham Ibrahim, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, paid a courtesy call to H.E. Bibi Ameenah Firdaus Gurib-Fakim, President of the Republic of Mauritius. H.E. Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy congratulated H.E. President of Mauritius on her recent appointment that happened during the AU year for women for empowerment. She further briefed the President on the AU Agenda 2063, the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa and the African Internet Exchange System Project. Through the African Internet Exchange System (AXIS) project, the African Union Commission has extended capacity building support to facilitate the establishment of internet exchange points in 30 Member States including Mauritius. Following the capacity building support, the following twelve Member States have since set up their Internet Exchange Points (IXPs): Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Congo Republic, Cote D’Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Liberia, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles and Swaziland. “The Government of Mauritius has adopted Vision 2030 as the country’s economic blue print and the ICT sector is expected to drive the economy. I therefore wish to thank the African Union Commission for supporting the operationalization of the Mauritius Internet Exchange Point, said Mr. Jugdish .D. Phokeer, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation.” An Internet Exchange Point (IXP) is a neutral physical infrastructure whose purpose is to facilitate the exchange of Internet traffic between different Internet Service Providers (ISPs) within a given territory, thereby keeping local Internet traffic local to that territory “Africa is currently paying overseas carriers to exchange intra- continental traffic on our behalf. This is both costly as well as an inefficient way of handling exchange of local Internet traffic. I look forward to the advancement of the internet exchange point in Mauritius to be able to put its potential at the service of citizens in Mauritius and Africa.” Said H.E. AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy.” A recent impact assessment on the African Union supported internet exchange point in Namibia indicated an estimated cost saving of USD 1.8 Million and reduction of latency from 300ms to 2ms. For the Serekunda internet exchange point in Gambia, an estimated cost saving of USD 100,000 and reduction of latency from 100ms to 2ms. The launch was officiated by Mr. Jugdish .D. Phokeer, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation and H.E. Dr. Elham Ibrahim, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy and attended by Senior Ministry Officials, and Leaders of the Industry. For more information on the African Internet Exchange System Project of the African Union, visit *APO]]>

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Propaganda or proper journalism? China’s media expansion in Africa
August 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

By James Wan*

Chinese media in Africa tends to take a different approach to other news organisations. This could be because of censorship, or it could be because Chinese media follow a different philosophy of journalism.


A newspaper vendor in Nigeria. Photograph by The Commonwealth.

A newspaper vendor in Nigeria. Photograph by The Commonwealth.

From huge infrastructure projects to ubiquitous cheap goods, evidence of China’s presence across Africa today is unavoidable. But over the past few years, there is one area in which China’s deepening footprint on the continent has been particularly notable − turn on the radio, switch on the TV, or check out the newsstands, and China’s expansion into Africa’s media is clear to see.

Chinese journalists have been present in Africa for a long time, but as the China-Africa relationship has flourished, there has been a concerted effort from Beijing to build its media agencies in Africa and around the world so they can compete with the likes of the BBC, CNN and Aljazeera. As many Western media houses have been cutting back on foreign reporting budgets, Beijing in 2009 allocated $7 billion to increasing China’s state-owned media presence around the world.

The effects have been impressive, not least in Africa. On television today, CCTV Africa’s host of programmes provide up-to-date coverage on a wide range of issues; stories from Xinhua feature frequently in national newspapers across the continent;  China Daily Africa rolls off the press once a week; and China Radio International confidently rides the African airwaves.

As many of these strides were first being made, many on the continent and beyond raised concerns about what they saw as the rise of Chinese “propaganda”. Beijing was clear about its desire to create a more positive view of China in Africa, and some feared that Chinese media would just churn out uncritical stories about China and the continent and that its reporters would be prohibited from covering controversial issues.

Now that these media organisations have settled in their environments years later, however, most journalists who have been working for them − the vast majority of whom are African − deny that this has been the case.

“I can guarantee you that we have been 100% in control of our own editorial content,” says Beatrice Marshall, the anchor of Talk Africa, CCTV Africa’s flagship news analysis show.  “Are there any red lines? Up until this point, absolutely not.”

Similarly, media experts who have conducted content analyses of Chinese media since their expansion on the continent note that they have covered several contentious issues and offered critical views, at least up to a point.

“If you look at Chinese news agencies in the early 1990s, there was no room at all for criticism of certain African leaders,” says Bob Wekesa, a research associate at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, and expert on Chinese media. “Nowadays, they increasingly don’t shy away from this, though they might not go the whole hog. China still operates under a communist system in which criticism is not really appreciated and there are still no go zones.”

Wekesa’s study of Talk Africa, for instance, found that the show has not avoided controversial stories such as mining strikes in South Africa, political turmoil in Egypt and conflict in South Sudan. But his analysis also suggested that the activities of Chinese and African governments in attempting to address problems are almost always framed in a positive light.

Part of this may be down to the Chinese media’s stated goal of improving perceptions of China and the continent, an objective perhaps facilitated by African journalists who, if not directly influenced by Beijing, self-censor their stories to an extent. But according to some theorists, while it may be true in some cases, this reading as a whole may be overly reductive – the usual criticism of Chinese state-owned media being little more than propaganda may be missing an important point. Rather than simply being constrained, they suggest, Chinese media may also have a different philosophy of journalism to begin with.

“There are a lot of superficial opinions of Chinese media in the West in the same way that there are many superficial opinions of Western media in China, but the reality is more complex,” says Zhang Yanqiu, director of the Africa Communication Research Centre at the Communication University of China. According to her, the Western media typically adopts a kind of “watchdog” role, while Chinese media is closer to what she calls “constructive journalism”.

“Constructive journalism can be both positive and negative, but the purpose is to find solutions,” explains Zhang. “The idea is to give a new kind of balance and shine a new kind of light on the continent. Instead of just reporting on the situation, it asks ‘ how can we help them?’ The Western media may be telling the truth, but if you are telling the truth and things are just getting worse and people are afraid of travelling to Africa, for whose good is this?”

Constructive journalism therefore attempts to be more “solutions-based”, something that Marshall claims is at the heart of CCTV Africa’s ethos.

“When you look at Western media, a lot of the time their strategy is to be combative,” she says. “But what we want to do is say ‘this is the issue, this is the challenge, and this is how it’s being solved’ rather than getting people to argue.”

It is for this reason, she says, that CCTV Africa focuses on a wide range of developmental issues and why in its coverage of the run-up to the 2015 Nigerian elections, for instance, it focused on security measures put in place to help people vote rather than the securitythreats that might prevent them from voting. “It may be the same story, but the difference in framing is important,” she says.

The extent to which this approach is paying off in terms of attracting viewers varies across different African nations, but researchers have typically found that most viewers remain sceptical of Chinese state-owned media. Additionally, while sympathetic to the Chinese approach, Wekesa suggests “the people who seem to appreciate the positive or constructive journalism of Chinese media most are those who are in power and certain elites with close business interests with the Chinese.”

However, while Chinese media still struggles to present itself as credible to many audiences, it may already be changing Africa’s media landscape for the better, albeit indirectly.

“Both Western and Chinese media are problematic for different reasons, but there is also a lot that each can, and is, learning from the other,” says Wekesa. “For me, the ideal would be a mix of the more adversarial Western approach with the more constructive Chinese approach, and I think there is evidence of them being influenced by one another already.

“Ultimately, this can only be good for Africa and for Africa’s media.”

*Source African Arguments .James Wan is the editor of African Arguments. He is a fellow of the Wits University China-Africa Reporting Project. Follow him on Twitter at @jamesjwan.

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Foreign investment isn’t necessarily good for Africa, but here’s how it can be
August 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Jostein Løhr Hauge*

Africa is the fastest growing region for FDI in the world. This is a great opportunity for the continent – if it can be harnessed correctly.

From Carrefour to Coca-Cola, more and more foreign companies are eyeing up Africa with great interest.

A mine in Johannesburg. Photograph by Paul Saad.

A mine in Johannesburg. Photograph by Paul Saad.

In 2014, for instance, the world’s biggest yoghurt company, Danone, bought a 40% stake in East Africa’s largest milk producer, Brookside Dairy Limited, giving it access to 140,000 milk farms across the region. Danone also plans to raise its stake in Morocco’s Centrale Laitiere, which commands a 60% share of that country’s dairy market.

Elsewhere, Huajian Group, the Chinese footwear manufacturer that opened a factory in Ethiopia in 2012, continues to thrive. It is now Ethiopia’s largest footwear producer and accounts for over half the country’s footwear exports. It employs 4,000 workers, but expects to provide 30,000 jobs by 2022.

These are just two leading examples of companies tapping into Africa’s growing potential as a place to do business, but they are far from unique. Since the 1990s, advances in ICT and lower trade and investment barriers have made corporations more internationally mobile. And in Africa, cheap labour, land and raw materials; a reversal of low or even negative growth rates; and less burdensome business regulations have helped make certain countries on the continent ideal places to set up new facilities or buy up existing ones.

Global brands such as Tesco, Walmart and Nestlé and many more have made big strides on the continent.

In fact, Africa is now the fastest growing region for foreign direct investment (FDI) in the world. From 1990 to 2013, FDI inflows in Africa increased 19-fold from $3 billion to $57 billion.

This trend, and FDI in general, is typically seen as a good thing for low-income countries. And especially in Africa, where most countries have small stocks of savings, attracting FDI in order to grow the economy and create jobs can be crucial.

However, less talked about is the fact there are also plenty of challenges with FDI – foreign investment is not necessarily positive for the countries involved.

One of the main effects of the globalisation of investments in the last 20 years has been the increase and consolidation of transnational corporations’ power. From 1990 to 2013, total assets of foreign affiliates skyrocketed from $4 trillion to a gargantuan $97 trillion. Moreover, it has been the case since the early 2000s that in practically every global industry, just a handful of firms account for 50% or more of that sector’s international market share.

This expansion and consolidation among transnational corporations has also taken place almost entirely in the West. Of the top 100 companies in the world, only seven are not from high-income countries – six from China and one from Brazil.

This trend is all well and good for the huge companies involved – and usually for the economies of the countries in which they are based. But the problem with the expansion of powerful multinationals is that it can allow a small number of actors to capture larger shares of profits over larger markets. They do this so easily particularly because they have dominant technologies (often fortified by strong intellectual property protection) and brand name recognition.

These increasing profits of big multinationals are increasingly knowledge and skill-based. This knowledge has been accumulated through years of experience in the industry, and thus acts as a natural barrier to entry. But multinationals are also careful not to share the most profitable parts of their knowledge.  For example in Africa, foreign companies may outsource their low-paid low-value activities but keep their innovative capabilities and technology-creating activities at home, meaning the potential gains for the FDI-receiving African country will be highly limited.

Making investments pay

Fortunately, however, much of the power to ensure FDI benefits Africa lies with African governments themselves. And they have plenty of lessons to draw from countries that have been successful in exploiting FDI (such as China and Singapore) as well as countries that have been less so (such as Mexico).

Ensuring FDI benefits the long-term future of one’s country is hugely complex, but these are three factors that can play an important role.

Firstly, identifying the ‘right’ industries and companies is crucial. Countries have done best when looking to industries that have the greatest potential for generating economy-wide productivity growth given domestic constraints (e.g. whether the country has the right kinds of infrastructure and skills) and global conditions (e.g. how fast demand for the product is expanding).

For example, in Ethiopia, the government’s decision to focus on footwear manufacturing has made sense. The industry has low technological barriers to entry, uses cheap and unskilled labour (of which Ethiopia has plenty) and can easily access and utilise leather from the country’s huge livestock population.

In this endeavour, Ethiopian officials have also done well to attract Chinese companies that have sound technological knowhow and years of experience in the international market.

Secondly, countries have done well when they have induced foreign firms to create linkages with the domestic economy. This is something Mexico failed to do after economic liberalisation in the 1990s. The country opened up massively to foreign investors and became one of the world’s leaders in assembly manufacturing, but these companies largely remained in an “enclave economy”. Knowledge was not spread and few sustainable benefits spilled over into the broader economy.

Several policy measures can be implemented to ensure this fate is not repeated in Africa. One is the requirement for joint ventures, which give domestic partners access to their foreign partners’ high-level technologies and managerial skills. Conditions can also be imposed to encourage technology transfers and ensure R&D happens in the host country (even if that can only be at low levels to begin with).

Thirdly, it is important that African governments not just think about the physical production of goods but also producer services such as design, marketing and branding. This is where global brand names, such as Nike, actually make most of their profits these days.

This may sound like an impossible task for most African countries, but Sammy Ethiopia, a company specialising in hand-woven textiles and garments, has shown that it is possible. Its products are spun, woven, dyed and embroidered using techniques stemming from old Ethiopian traditions, but also designed and branded by the company. The company then exports its products to high-end retailers in Australia, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Although it’s questionable whether an operation like this can be duplicated with more modern techniques – Sammy Ethiopia’s products are largely marketed based on the fact that they are hand-made – it demonstrates the possibility of a successful ‘Made in Africa’ brand.

FDI can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can crowd out opportunities for domestic companies to advance and deliver more benefits to foreign corporations than home or host countries. But on the other hand, with an active state that guides the investments to productive uses, FDI can be hugely useful in plugging investment gaps and contribute to technological and economic spillovers.

*Source African Arguments.Jostein Løhr Hauge is a PhD candidate at the Centre of Development Studies, University of Cambridge. He tweets as @haugejostein.

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August 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

newsletter-special-brazzaville-2015-englishThe 11th Edition of the African Games is scheduled to take place on 4th to 19th September, 2015, in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. This edition will mark the 50th Anniversary of the African Games, since the 1st edition in 1965 that was also hosted by the Republic of Congo. Approximately 7000 athletes from 50 African countries will converge back to the birth place of the African Games in Brazzaville to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the African Union in the spirit of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance.

This edition is also a milestone for the AU as it is the first one under the auspices of the African Union as the owner of the Games, following the dissolution of the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA) as well as the integration of the functions of the SCSA into the AU. The integrated functions of the SCSA include the ownership, coordination and organization of the African Games.

The opening ceremony will take place on 4th September, 2015, and will be presided over by H.E. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, and attended by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, H.E. Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, Commissioner for Social Affairs and H.E. Martial de Paul Ikounga, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology. The African Games will be preceded by the Bureau Meeting of the Specialized Technical Committees on Youth, Culture and Sport and a Sub-Committee of the STC Ministers of Sport on 3th September, 2015.

During the games, the AU will rally the continent around the spirit of Pan-Africanism through its key message i.e. “I am African, I am the African Union” and through its 50 year Agenda 2063 development framework. Agenda 2063″ is an approach to how the continent should effectively learn from the lessons of the past, build on the progress now underway and strategically exploit all possible opportunities available in the immediate and medium term, so as to ensure positive socioeconomic transformation within the next 50 years. The agenda will assist the continent achieve its vision, i.e. an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.

“Because of the power of sport, we see this event as an important milestone on the road to achieving the objectives of our continental vision and action plan, which Africa has christened Agenda 2063: the Africa We Want”, said AU Commission Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

SOURCE African Union Commission (AUC)

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The West Africa Region Consults on the Common African Position On The World Humanitarian Summit
August 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

Picture.....1_0ABUJA, Nigeria, August 27 Senior Officials dealing with humanitarian and forced displacement issues from Member State and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) of the West Africa Region convened in Abuja, Nigeria, today 26th August 2015, for regional consultations on development and consolidation of the Common African Position on the first ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), due to be held in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2016. Organized by the African Union Commission, through its Department for Political Affairs, the three-day West Africa consultation is a part of series of AU regional consultations that aims to stimulate discussion among RECs and Member States on the emerging issues within the global and regional humanitarian landscape. The outcomes of the consultations will be consolidated into an African Common Africa Position to be presented in the WHS 2016. In her keynote address, AUC Commissioner for Political Affairs H.E. Dr. Aisha L. Abdullahi said that the political process involving regional consultations set up by the AU is an opportunity for the African countries to openly discuss humanitarian issues facing the continent at large as well as finding possible solutions to remedy them as a collective. “Africa’s consensus on a future humanitarian agenda should not be a mere narrative for the Istanbul Event, but should offer opportunity for real change in creating a system which is relevant, effective and fit for the future” the Commissioner added. Recalling the continent’s pursuance to realize its own Agenda, Vision 2063 as well as its fundamental values, the Commissioner called for the Common African Position to be anchored on Ideals of Pan-Africanism and Shared Values, which emphasize Solidarity of States and commitments undertaken in various global processes, including in post 2015 development Agenda and Sendai Framework, among others. Speaking earlier, H. E. Ambassador Lamine Baali, Chairperson of the PRC Sub-Committee on Refugees, Returnees and IDPs said, in his welcoming remarks, that the consultation is primarily to reflect and dialogue on the humanitarian situation in the West Africa region and to come up with important strategic issues affecting this region that need to be highlighted in the common African position. He underlined the challenges facing by the region, which include: conflicts, displacements, terrorism and its humanitarian effects, poverty and underdevelopment, the Ambassador said that these challenges indicate the need to establish a link between humanitarianism and peace and security as well as humanitarianism and governance, and a link between relief and development, added that the search for durable solutions must remain at the center of the African common position. In her remarks Hon. Federal Commissioner for Refugees, H.E. Hadiza Sani Kangiwa hailed the African Union in efforts aimed at finding durable solutions. Informed the meeting that the Federal Government of Nigeria had signed and ratified the African Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Refugees. While emphasizing the role States to assist people in need, she pointed out that attention should be focused on building people’s resilience and capacity to achieve self-reliance. Over three days, the West Africa Regional Consultation will consider a number of issues on the Common African Position on WHS as well as the humanitarian situation in West Africa Region. The meeting will reflect on, among others, the humanitarian consequences of Boko Haram insurgencies, ebola epidemic, the emerging issues in the regional humanitarian landscape, and the link between humanitarianism and development, governance, peace and security, humanitarian financing, humanitarian Partnerships, including the role of Diaspora and Civil Society in humanitarian action. The Regional Consultations are aimed at implementation of Executive Council Decision Ex.CL/Dec.817 (XXV), which called on AU Commission, in close collaboration with the PRC Sub-Committee on Refugees and IDPs, to establish an African Common Position that will be presented at the WHS and to report its progress to the Executive Council at each Ordinary Summit leading up to the WHS. The world humanitarian summit comes at a time when the AU is pursuing its own humanitarian agenda and Vision 2063. However, it also comes at a time when the Africa is faced with growing challenges. It is therefore time for Africa to seize the moment, to not only reaffirm its leadership role on humanitarian issues on the continent, but to unequivocally bring to the global agenda her concerns. *Source AU]]>

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First two projects of Africa Climate Change Fund approved to support climate finance readiness in Africa
August 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

downloadThe newly established Africa Climate Change Fund (ACCF) has approved its first two projects in the past month. One will support Mali with preparatory funding to advance its low-carbon, climate resilient development agenda, and the second will strengthen data and information on climate change vulnerabilities and opportunities for 54 African countries. A grant of USD 404,000 from the ACCF will support the government of Mali to develop strategic programmes for a climate resilient and green economy in two key sectors, to elaborate a strategy for financing its transition to green and climate resilient growth, and to attract private sector investment in this transition. It will furthermore strengthen the capacity of the Malian Agency for Environment and Sustainable Development (AEDD), the executing agency for the project, in the management of climate finance. The project is aligned with the Malian Government’s vision to create a green and climate resilient economy, reaffirmed by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in 2014 in a communiqué of the Council of Ministers. The ACCF grant is expected to be complemented by support from other funders including the Green Climate Fund’s readiness programme in order to advance a coordinated, programmatic approach to preparing the ground to achieve its ambitious goals. After the approvals, Aboubacar Diabate, Director of the Malian AEDD, said, “Our sincere thanks to the AfDB for the confidence in Mali through our agency. We are proud to be the first country chosen to receive funds from the Africa Climate Change Fund and are committed to honour the terms of the agreement. These grants will support essential activities and lay the foundation for the promotion of a green and climate-resilient economy. It will strengthen the existing strategic partnership with the AfDB, as well as improve the mobilization of climate finance on a large scale.” A second grant of USD 420,000, to be executed by the AfDB, will enable up-to-date information on climate change vulnerabilities, greenhouse gas emissions, and opportunities for climate change adaptation and mitigation to be produced for 54 African countries, tailored to the specific information needs of each country. It will further develop a global platform for sharing and updating the information in the profiles, and provide training for staff of economic and planning departments in African countries to understand and apply the data. The project will equip African countries with strengthened data and capacity to strategically plan for long-term climate change interventions and to access international climate finance. Both projects are aligned with the Bank’s Strategy 2013-2022 which focuses on the twin objectives of inclusive and green growth across the continent, as well as with its Climate Change Action Plan 2011-2015. “The approval of the first two projects marks a significant milestone for the ACCF, which is an important instrument in helping African countries to access climate finance to enable a transition to climate-resilient, low carbon development,” said Alex Rugamba, Director of the Bank’s Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Change. About Africa Climate Change Fund The Bank-managed ACCF was established in April 2014 with a EUR 4.725 million contribution from Germany with the objective to scale up climate smart development in African countries by increasing the mobilization of international climate finance. It provides support for activities ranging from strengthening capacity of African institutions to access and manage climate finance, to developing impactful projects and programs that will attract climate finance from the Green Climate Fund and other sources. According to the Secretariat of the ACCF, there are a further 20 projects in the ACCF’s pipeline that are currently undergoing appraisal, and there are plans attract further funding and scale the ACCF up to a multi-donor trust fund in the coming months. *Source AFDB]]>

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AfDB unveils plan to empower African Women in Agriculture
August 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

downloadThe office of the Special Envoy on Gender (SEOG) and the Department for Agriculture and Agro-industry (OSAN) of the African Development Bank (AfDB) launched a new report, “Economic Empowerment of African Women through Equitable Participation in Agricultural Value Chains” on Thursday, August 27 at its headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The event gathered high-level participants, including stakeholders from both the private and public sectors from the countries and sectors examined by the report – cocoa, coffee, cotton and cassava sectors in Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Nigeria, respectively. “This report prepares the ground to empower women, to take a leading role in the business of farming and agricultural value chains, regionally and globally”, said Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank. Agriculture in Africa is poised to remain one of the most important economic sectors, accounting for around 25% of the continent’s GDP. Over 60% of its citizens rely on agriculture for some form of income. To transform the sector, the economic empowerment of women through boosting their productivity and raising their participation in commercial and higher value-add activities in agriculture is central. Women make up almost 50% of the agricultural labour force in Sub-Saharan Africa. A total of 62% of economically active women in Africa work in agriculture, making it the largest employer of women. In some countries, such as Rwanda, Malawi and Burkina Faso, over 90% of economically active women are involved in agriculture. “African women feed the continent and they can feed the world, too. But we must close the wide gap in wages and agricultural yields between men and women if Africa is to achieve full economic transformation,” said Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, the AfDB’s Special Envoy on Gender. The report highlights five major constraints that can limit women’s productivity and full inclusion into the agricultural economy: lack of access to assets, lack of access to financing, limited training, gender-neutral government policy, and time constraints due to heavy domestic responsibilities. The report highlighted three broad areas for action that could begin to address the specific constraints women face in each focus country:

  • Grow the number of large-scale agribusiness entrepreneurs by providing access to financing and training, and improving regional and global market links.
  • Make sure women are remunerated by setting them up as co-owners, improving productivity, and providing training in core business skills.
  • Increase women’s access to niche markets by producing and marketing women-only products.
The role of women is largely limited to the unskilled parts of production: few own the land on which they work, they are rarely remunerated for their labour and often do not control the income generated from the sale of agricultural produce. For example, in Côte d’Ivoire, the report estimates women account for 68% of the labour in cocoa production, but receive only 21% of the income. Similarly, in Ethiopia, women account for 75% of the labour in coffee production and receive only 34% of the income. This report will help to identify areas that the African Development Bank (AfDB) and its partners could target to empower women economically through agriculture as the Bank implements its Gender Strategy (2014-2018). *Source AFDB]]>

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Nigeria, Africa’s top remittance recipient Nation to host RemitAfrica2015
August 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

More than 200 delegates and 65 industry stakeholders from more than 25 countries are expected to attend the remitAfrica2015 event in Lagos – Nigeria 150825bMobileMoneyAfrica  will host the RemitAfrica conference  on Nov 04 – 05 in Lagos, the economic capital of Nigeria, Africa’s largest remittance nation. Remittance providers and stakeholders such as money transfer operators, financial services providers, financial technology providers, vendors, agent network operators, mobile financial services providers, regulators and stakeholders from the supply and demand side of the remittance industry will be meeting at the REMITAFRICA2015. The formal market for international and cross border money transfer to Africa is still young and faces typical emerging markets challenges when compared to more established markets. A competitive market space is required to foster technology innovation, access and drive the expansion necessary to reduce cost and reach underserved areas. According to a recent report by the World Bank, the growth of remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to slow to 0.9 percent in 2015, amounting to $33 billion. Globally, it is expected to reach $586 billion in 2015, though at a slower growth rate of 0.4% due to economic conditions and is expected to accelerate again to reach an estimated $636 billion in 2017. Africa has made great strides in mobile technology adoption and penetration; however, despite the pervasive coverage of such mobile networks across Africa, technological innovation has yet to drive down costs in remittance markets. The barriers to cost-reduction, challenges and opportunities in the African remittance market, improving efficiency at the last mile, the role of non- bank financial institutions and the emergence of digital remittances such as mobile money, online transfers and crypto-currencies in lowering remittance cost for Africans are some of the subject matter areas to be considered at the conference being held at the prestigious Lagos Oriental hotel, Nigeria. First round of speakers from leading providers such as TransferTo, Xpressmoney, sendcashglobal, Ecobank, Ericsson, cash4africa, moneygram, Mahindracomviva, inpay and other industry leaders have been confirmed. Interested delegates, sponsors and speakers can apply via the event website, *APO]]>

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Artificial Intelligence Catches Fire in Ethiopia
August 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

Christina Galbraith* [caption id="attachment_20123" align="alignleft" width="320"]Young Ethiopian with robot whose AI software was created in his country. (courtesy of iCog Labs) Young Ethiopian with robot whose AI software was created in his country. (courtesy of iCog Labs)[/caption] Ethiopia has come a long way from its nightmare past of famine and war. It still has splendid 12th century rock churches carved into the ground, the plateaued Simian Mountains, the ancient city of Gondar and of course, the human ancestral fossil Lucy, its oldest hominid ambassador. But now computer science is thriving in its capital, Addis Ababa. And Ethiopian artificial intelligence R&D is on fire. The driver for this unexpected artificial intelligence (AI) industry sector is the autocratic government’s massive multi-billion dollar, ultra-high tech, industrial plans and its fervent development of higher education to support them. Today, there are over 30 official universities and 130 or so polytechnics, most of them emphasizing technology. Many of them are in the capital and, in 2012, the Ministry of Science and Technology established its own university and a $250 million dollar tech park nearby. Despite all the tech glitz, however, Ethiopia’s economic reality remains grim. Less than 2% of citizens have access to the Internet. Only 34% of Ethiopian children get as far as the equivalent of 9th grade. Early adult literacy is approximately 35%, child labor at 27%, girl marriage an appalling 41%, and the country still ranks near the bottom of the UNDP’s World Index for quality of life. But in Addis Ababa, education rates have soared above national averages. With 70% of the population under the age of 29, an urban sub-culture of keen young, software engineers is emerging. Among its best private sector opportunities are to program for the outside world. And program they do, at a fraction of the cost elsewhere. Today, the Ministry of Trade and Industry identifies more than 700 companies in computer technology and 95 software businesses serving customers worldwide. At the hub of this tech growth is an AI group, iCog Labs, co-founded in 2012 by a young Ethiopian roboticist, Getnet Aseffa Gezaw, and an American AI pioneer, Ben Goertzel. With a team of twenty five Ethiopian software engineers, iCog pursues full-on ‘Strong Intelligence,’ the conviction that computers can potentially emulate the entire human brain, not just aspects of it. The ambitious lab has a bold mission: to create software that not only simulates the brain, but pushes the envelope of what the brain can do. The lab also focuses on a host of practical applications for clients around the world, including humanoid robots for Hanson Robotics, makers of the renowned Robot Einstein; AI-driven automated pill dispensers and elder-care robots for a Chinese company, Telehealth; and mapping the genetics of longevity for two Californian corporations: Age Reversal Incorporated and Stevia First. iCog also delves into ‘deep learning’ algorithms for vision processing and object recognition (used in drones, satellites and security systems), machine learning algorithms to predict patterns in everything from agriculture to electricity consumption, and algorithms that react to English and a host of African languages. iCog’s humanitarian work includes developing software for AI tablets for children–distributed to Ethiopian villages–with games that help children teach themselves elementary coding, mathematics and English. The endeavor builds on One Laptop per Child’s initiative which earlier distributed thousands of tablets to rural children to help them learn computer programs in the language Squeak. iCog recently doubled its office space and has collaborated with Addis Ababa Institute of Science and Technology to form the first post-graduate AI program in the country. It is also a major contributor to the OpenCog foundation, the largest open-source AI group in the world, co-founded by Goertzel and based in Hong Kong. Other labs are laying a foundation for AI developers to work in Ethiopia’s native Amharic language. EthioCloud created the first advanced Amharic code programming language, which runs on Microsoft’s .NET and C# platforms. The company also developed an optical character recognition program to convert Amharic paper documents into editable text and an Amharic text-to-speech conversion system. The government is zealously inserting robotics and advanced algorithmic intelligence elements into a variety of mega-industrial projects, part of its massive, big brother-sounding 5 year Growth and Transformation Plan. In part, it has to maintain the multi-billion dollar flood of foreign investment on which it relies to stay in power. And given that it sits on a goldmine of minerals and clean energy potential including ample geothermal power, it is ardently soliciting sophisticated technology partnerships from countries like China, India and Saudi Arabia, aiming to become a major exporter. Current AI ventures and supporting infrastructure projects, which will all be Ethiopian-operated, include a $1.4 billion mobile phone deal for Ethiotelecom to install network-quality-assessing robots in moving vehicles for mobile calls; advanced Chinese-built QoS (quality of service) ambient intelligence for the communication networks in its massive $4 billion electric Light Rail project, the largest in East Africa; French/US machine-learning self-diagnostic intelligence software to support the Blue Nile’s $5 billion Grand Renaissance Dam, the largest hydro plant in Africa (which will also come with its own tech park); cement loading robots, quality assessment robot technology and a robotics lab for Dangote Cement, the largest cement plant in East Africa; and self-diagnostic intelligence for power grids of the Ethiopian Electric Corporation and the Ashegoda Wind Farm, the largest in Africa. The stage is also ripe for AI to go into other mammoth projects including a $4 billion US-Icelandic geothermal plant, one of the world’s largest; two deep space telescope observatories coupled with multi-billion dollar satellite plans; integration of intelligence into the country’s own fleet of locally manufactured drones; and factory robotics into its rapidly growing, $10 billion dollar industrial tax free zone, primarily for Chinese companies seeking to outsource labor from $30 a day per worker in China to $1 per day in Ethiopia. Today, the country has become Africa’s 3rd largest recipient of foreign investment and its largest recipient of developmental aid. “Technological leapfrogging” is a term that proudly buzzes around the ministries and tech community of Addis Ababa and other African cities: the notion that advanced technology in developing nations can help them bypass the bureaucracy of older systems elsewhere. The concept is hugely attractive, but if basic human conditions don’t improve, all this high-tech, artificially intelligent economics will end up as just artificial, neocolonial circuitry hubris. The country needs rapid progress in health, education, representation, labor rights, and private sector GDP growth (now the 6th lowest in the world). It needs to end the forced relocation of entire communities, with little to no compensation, to accommodate the government’s mega-plans. These real challenges still starkly face what could be one of the most promising economies in Africa. Ethiopia has a uniquely rich history of pioneers. It is the presumed birthplace of Homo sapiens as well as Africa’s oldest independent country, and the cradle of culturally-advanced, fiercely-independent kingdoms dating to the 8th century BC. It is one of first 24 members of the United Nations and the first African country to join the League of Nations, the protector of some of the most important heritage sites and a multitude of record breaking scientists, Olympians and marathoners. If the Ethiopian people can progressively claim their country, they may help mankind leap from Homo sapiens to homo cyborg and beyond. *Source Huffpost]]>

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South Sudan's Kiir signs peace deal despite doubts
August 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (L) shakes hands with Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni (R) after signing a peace agreement to end 20 months of war in the world's youngest nation, August 26, 2015 in Juba (AFP Photo/Charles Lomodong) South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (L) shakes hands with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni (R) after signing a peace agreement to end 20 months of war in the world’s youngest nation, August 26, 2015 in Juba (AFP Photo/Charles Lomodong)[/caption] Juba (AFP) – South Sudan President Salva Kiir signed a deal Wednesday to end 20 months of war in the world’s youngest nation, but added a list of reservations that raised doubts about whether peace would take hold.

The signing ceremony was held in the capital Juba under the threat of UN sanctions if Kiir failed to put his name to the accord, which had already been signed by rebel leader Riek Machar.

At least seven ceasefires have already been agreed and then shattered within days — if not hours — in South Sudan, which broke away from Sudan in 2011.

“The current peace we are signing today has so many things we have to reject,” Kiir said at the ceremony, attended by leaders of neighboring Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda.

“Such reservations, if ignored, would not be in the interests of just and lasting peace.”

The United States, the key supporter of South Sudan’s statehood, welcomed the signing and said the peace deal should be implemented as it stands.

“We do not recognize any reservations or addendums to that agreement,” said US National Security Advisor Susan Rice in a statement from Washington.

On the eve of the signing, the UN Security Council had ramped up the pressure on Kiir, threatening “immediate action” if he failed to sign or signed with reservations.

But the council on Wednesday gave Kiir until September 1 to get fully behind the peace deal as it weighed a possible arms embargo and targeted sanctions.

The United States last week presented a draft UN resolution on those punitive measures, which would go into effect September 6.

“The deadline for (Kiir) is September 1,” said Nigerian Ambassador to the UN Joy Ogwu, who chairs the council this month. “He has room to play.”

Tens of thousands of people are estimated to have died in a war marked by ethnic killings and rape that have fueled one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

The deal was brokered by the regional eight-nation IGAD bloc, along with the UN, the African Union, China, Britain, Norway and the United States.

The accord commits both sides to end fighting and implement a “permanent ceasefire” within 72 hours, but both the government and rebels accused each other of launching attacks against the other on Wednesday.

– Revisiting the deal –

The deal gives the rebels the post of first vice president, which means that Machar would likely return to the job from which he was sacked in July 2013, an event which put the country on the path to war later that year.

Fighting erupted in December 2013 when Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of planning a coup, unleashing a wave of killings that has split the country along ethnic lines.

At the ceremony in Juba, the government released a list of concerns to be addressed for the peace accord to take hold.

“It is not a Bible, it is not the Koran, why should it not be revisited?” Kiir said of the deal.

“Let us give ourselves time and see how we can correct these things.”

[caption id="attachment_20118" align="alignright" width="300"]South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar, a former vice president, signed a power-sharing peace deal on August 17, in line with a deadline to do so (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker) South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar, a former vice president, signed a power-sharing peace deal on August 17, in line with a deadline to do so (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker)[/caption]

The government cited concerns over provisions on the makeup of a monitoring commission tasked with policing the deal and on the demilitarization of Juba that would give greater powers to the rebels.

Despite Kiir’s reservations, regional leaders welcomed the accord. “This is the day the people of South Sudan have been waiting 20 months for,” said Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

“This was not a just war, it was an unjust war. It was a wrong war, at a wrong place, at a wrong time — and the sooner you finish it the better,” said Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

Under the deal, Museveni has 45 days to withdraw troops that he had sent to South Sudan to shore up Kiir’s forces.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the signing and said the challenge now before South Sudan’s leaders was to implement the peace deal.

“The road ahead will be difficult,” said Ban.

Some 2.2 million people have been driven from their homes in the conflict. About 200,000 terrified civilians are sheltering at UN bases.

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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China signs deal with Africa's richest man, Aliko Dangote
August 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

_85202993_85202992A Chinese state-owned engineering company has signed a deal worth $4.3bn (£2.8bn) to build factories for a Nigerian cement company run by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote.

China’s Sinoma will build seven plants across the continent and one in Nepal. The new factories will add around 25 million tonnes to the firm’s existing cement capacity of 45 million tonnes. Mr Dangote’s company also produces food, fertiliser and is investing in oil refineries. He is keeping a close eye on China’s economic problems and the ensuing lower oil price. “Of course we are affected,” he said, “but we are not badly affected because we are not 100% in oil. “We are a fully diversified company. So today if oil is doing [badly] it doesn’t mean we are doing [badly] and that’s the good thing about diversification.” Africa’s economies have been hit hard by the fall in commodity prices but many are seeing a boom in infrastructure, for which cement is vital. *Source BBC]]>

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East Africa's election fever
August 26, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Joseph Warungu*

[caption id="attachment_20087" align="alignleft" width="300"]Yoweri Museveni is hoping Ugandans will back him to lead for a fourth term Yoweri Museveni is hoping Ugandans will back him to lead for a fourth term[/caption]

In our series of letters from African journalists, Joseph Warungu notices that as election fever sweeps across East Africa, politicians are peeping across the borders to see if there are lessons to be learnt from their neighbours:

In Tanzania, campaigning for the October general election began on Sunday. In Uganda, President Museveni and his National Resistance Movement are getting ready to battle it out with the opposition in the run-up to elections in 2016. While Rwandans are taking initial steps to change their constitution to increase the presidential term limit to three, across the border in Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza is faced with dangerous tensions stirred up by his recent re-election. Here in Kenya, elections are still two years away, but it already feels like campaign season has begun. With all this election activity, it’s inevitable that the five countries comprising the East African Community (EAC) – Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi will learn lessons from one another – both good and bad. For example, President Nkurunziza of Burundi learnt from Rwanda that it’s OK to seek a third term of office if the first two were short and sweet. But unlike Rwanda, where they’re planning a national referendum on the issue, Burundi’s leader forgot to ask the people if they were OK with it. Meanwhile in Uganda, President Museveni can’t see what all the fuss is about. By his thinking, if the people love you, it’s fine to clear away any obstacles that might prevent them from expressing that love, like for example, term limits, which were removed from Uganda’s constitution a decade ago. In Tanzania, the opposition has decided to learn a big lesson from Kenya. [caption id="attachment_20089" align="alignright" width="300"]Has Burundi's Pierre Nkurunziza (l) picked up tactics from Rwanda's Paul Kagame (r)? Has Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza (l) picked up tactics from Rwanda’s Paul Kagame (r)?[/caption] After trying and failing many times to remove President Moi and his ruling Kanu party from power, the Kenyan opposition figured that if they rallied behind only one presidential candidate, Kanu would fall. And sure enough in 2002, all the main opposition parties threw their weight behind Mwai Kibaki, under the national rainbow coalition. Kanu came tumbling down and President Moi went into retirement. Now, it’s Tanzania’s turn to try the same tactic. After weeks of discussions, the main opposition parties, who adopted the umbrella name of Ukawa, have finally agreed to support only one presidential candidate. His name is Edward Lowassa, a former prime minister in the ruling CCM party. Until recently, he could still be heard singing the ruling party’s praises, only to have a change of heart and join the opposition when his presidential ambitions in the CCM were frustrated. Mr Lowassa appears to have learnt survival skills from Amama Mbabazi in Uganda. Like Mr Lowasaa, Mr Mbabazi is also a former prime minister. Just as Mr Lowassa was a close ally of Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete, Mr Mbabazi had been the right-hand man to Uganda’s President Museveni since the 1970s. And like Mr Lowassa, Mr Mbabazi was dropped as prime minister. So for both men, when their thirst for power could not be quenched within the party, they decided to seek a refreshing drink from outside. Mr Mbabazi has now said he wants to run for president as an independent candidate in the Ugandan elections, although his arrest in July while preparing to go and canvass support showed that any campaign he attempts is likely to be fraught with challenges. As its name suggests, the ruling National Resistance Movement in Uganda has a habit of resisting things. And people. Next door in Kenya, there’s lots of talk about what’s going on in Rwanda. Both countries are going to the polls in 2017. One Kenyan on social media, who opposed moves to clear the way for President Kagame’s third term, found himself personally rebuked by the Rwandan leader. Kenyans rushed to defend their insulted compatriot, using the hashtag #SomeoneTellKagame to launch their rebuttals. [caption id="attachment_20090" align="alignleft" width="300"]Tanzania's Edward Lowassa (r) has abandoned the bright green colours of the CCM to join the opposition Tanzania’s Edward Lowassa (r) has abandoned the bright green colours of the CCM to join the opposition[/caption] Rwanda has welcomed Kenyan expertise in many sectors of its economy, but politics is one lesson it’s not too keen to learn from its neighbour, which has had its own serious problems when it comes to running elections. So, however much East Africans are listening to one another, it seems as though there are still many who are happy to ignore their neighbours and continue doing their own thing. *Source BBC]]>

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Eyeing the stars: Ethiopia's space programme
August 26, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Karim Lebhour*

Entoto (Ethiopia) (AFP) – High above the crowded streets of Addis Ababa, among fields where farmers lead oxen dragging wooden ploughs, sits Ethiopia’s space programme.

[caption id="attachment_20083" align="alignleft" width="300"]Reflective one-meter telescopes are pictured at the grounds of The Entoto Observatory and Research Center, on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker) Reflective one-meter telescopes are pictured at the grounds of The Entoto Observatory and Research Center, on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker)[/caption]

Perched on the top of the 3,200-metre (10,500-foot) high Mount Entoto, two metal domes house telescopes, each a metre in diameter.

Operational for only a few months, the specialized equipment — the first in eastern Africa — has propelled Ethiopia into an elite club of African countries to have embarked on a space programme.

For Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation, the programme is aimed to give it a technological boost to aid the country’s already rapid development.

“Science is part of any development cycle — without science and technology nothing can be achieved,” said Abinet Ezra, communications director for the Ethiopian Space Science Society (ESSS).

“Our main priority is to inspire the young generation to be involved in science and technology.”

ESSS, funded by Ethiopian-Saudi business tycoon Mohammed Alamoudi, was set up in 2004 to promote astronomy.

– ‘People said we were crazy’ –

It has a bold mission: “To build a society with a highly developed scientific culture that enables Ethiopia to reap the benefits accruing from space science and technology.”

But its supporters have had a tough ride to set it up.

For the past decade, a handful of enthusiasts — including Solomon Belay, director of the observatory and a professor of astrophysics — battled with the authorities to convince them that in a country that is still one of the poorest in the world, where malnutrition is still a threat, the exploration of space is not a luxury.

Ethiopia strongman Meles Zenawi, who died in 2012, considered them to be dreamers.

“People said we were crazy,” said Belay. “The attention of the government was to secure food security, not to start a space and technology programme. Our idea was contrary to that.”

T [caption id="attachment_20084" align="alignright" width="300"]A model satellite is seen at the Entoto Observatory and Research Center, on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker) A model satellite is seen at the Entoto Observatory and Research Center, on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker)[/caption]

he space observatory is, above all, a symbol.

The $3 million (2.7 million euro) centre houses computer-controlled telescopes and a spectrograph, to measure wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation.

It allows the handful of astronomy and astrophysics students at the University of Addis Ababa to train on site, rather than taking expensive trips abroad.

“Being poor is not a boundary to start this programme,” Solomon said, adding that by boosting support for science, it would help develop the country.

“Engineering and sciences are important to transform our (traditional) agriculture into industry.”

– Rocket launch – The site here at Entoto, often hidden by clouds during the rainy season and close to the lights of Addis Ababa, struggles to compete with the world’s major observatories, including the far larger Southern African Large Telescope in South Africa.

But Ethiopia has plans, including to build a far more powerful observatory in the northern mountains around Lalibela, far from city lights.

With the authorities now won over that Ethiopia should invest in space science, the government hopes to launch a national space agency — and to put an Ethiopian satellite in orbit within five years, for the monitoring of farmland and to boost communications. “We are using space applications in every day activities, for mobile phones, weather — space applications are fundamental,” said Kelali Adhana, the International Astronomical Union chief for East Africa, based in Ethiopia. “We cannot postpone it, otherwise we allow ourselves to live in poverty.” At Ethiopia’s Institute of Technology in the northern town of Mekelle, scientists plan to test the first Ethiopian rocket to go more than 30 kilometres into sky, although that it still far from the 100 kilometre frontier, beyond which the Earth’s atmosphere gives way to space proper. Ethiopian astronauts however, remain far off — even if in a country that lays claim to be the birthplace of humankind, with the remains of the ancient hominid Lucy in Addis Ababa, the prospect of conquering space is an attractive one.

“We are in no hurry to go to deep space,” said Belay.

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) receives US$50 million from the Islamic Development Bank for project financing
August 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

The funds will be used to finance projects located across the numerous African IDB member countries [caption id="attachment_20071" align="alignleft" width="300"]Andrew Alli, PDG d’AFC Andrew Alli, PDG d’AFC[/caption] Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) is pleased to announce its acceptance of a US$50 million 15 year line of financing, with a 13 year six month repayment period, from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). The funds will be used to finance projects located across the numerous African IDB member countries.  The projects will be structured in a way that is compliant with Islamic Finance, focusing particularly on infrastructural and agricultural projects that promote the economic and social development of the communities concerned. This is AFC’s first Islamic finance borrowing and is the result of several years of increasing cooperation and collaboration between the two institutions.  AFC initiated discussions in 2009 and a Memorandum of Understanding was later signed with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), the private sector arm of the IDB Group. Building on this groundwork a team from the IDB visited AFC in 2014, following the reaffirmation of AFC’s international credit rating of A3/P2 by Moody’s and based on several more years’ track record in landmark project financing and development. AFC’s involvement in projects such as the Bakwena Toll Road, a transport infrastructure development which has connected South Africa’s industrial heartland to the nearest deep water port in Mozambique, were instrumental to the success of the corporation’s application. Andrew Alli, President and Chief Executive Officer of AFC, commented on the announcement: “As AFC’s first Islamic Finance loan, this agreement represents an important step for the corporation.  The Islamic finance sector is responding to high demand and rapidly expanding, with a large number of Islamic finance institutions establishing operations here as a result of Africa’s significant Muslim population. There is enormous growth potential within this industry. “We intend to fully utilize the loan and capital to fund and develop projects within IDB member countries, several of which are also member states of AFC.  It is with loans such as these that AFC can continue to improve the quality of the continent’s infrastructure and with it help to boost Africa’s economic growth.” As well as providing important financing for the corporation’s activities, AFC’s agreement with the IDB establishes an important, intercontinental relationship, which will hopefully lead to further collaboration between African and Middle Eastern institutions in the future. afc-1AFC, an international investment grade multilateral finance institution, was established in 2007 with a capital base of US$1 billion, to be the catalyst for private sector infrastructure investment across Africa.  With a current capital base of US$2.9 billion, AFC is now the second highest investment grade rated multilateral financial institution in Africa with an A3/P2 (Stable outlook) rating from Moody’s Investors Service. In May 2015, AFC successfully concluded a debut US$750 million Eurobond issue which was 7x oversubscribed and attracted investors from Asia, Europe and the USA. AFC’s investment approach combines specialist industry expertise with a focus on financial and technical advisory, project structuring, project development and risk capital to address Africa’s infrastructure development needs and drive sustainable economic growth. AFC invests in high quality infrastructure assets that provide essential services in the core infrastructure sectors of power, natural resources, heavy industry, transport, and telecommunications. AFC has become the benchmark institution for private sector power project development and investment in Africa. *Source AFC/APO]]>

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August 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

9896283744_637bd09d94_cThe Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma today held wide ranging discussions with a high level delegation from the United States, aimed at enhancing relations and cooperation between the USA and Africa. This is the fourth such meeting to be held between the two sides. In the meeting, attended by several US senators, house representatives and representatives of the private sector, as well as Commissioners of the AUC, Dr Dlamini Zuma briefly updated the visiting delegation on the key possible areas of enhanced cooperation. Top of the agenda was health, where the Chairperson spoke of the need for the continent to strengthen its health systems. She observed that the Ebola outbreak that took the lives of thousands of Africans provided valuable lessons for the continent for the future and has also contributed to the development of an experienced corps of health workers. However, she added that the long term solution to strengthening African health systems is to strengthen its economies. On peace and security, Dr Dlamini Zuma noted that the AU is using its peace and security architecture in conflict prevention, as well as intervening where conflicts break out. The continent, she said, has taken a decision to silence the guns so that as to develop a culture of resolving conflicts through dialogue and engagements. But, the Chairperson indicated the need for adequate and sustainable resources to execute its mandate of restoring peace. “Our biggest contribution to peace and security are the men and women on the ground. There is no lack of solidarity and determination from Africa. But we lack resources and equipment. What would be ideal is to have more predictable and sustainable resources”, she informed the visitors. Another critical factor brought up for discussion was the development and mainstreaming of youth and women in Africa. “If we don’t pay attention to youth it will be at our own peril”, Dr Dlamini Zuma cautioned, adding that the AU is concentrating on developing higher learning and skills development. She also called for more access to finance and resources for women engaged in agriculture and agro processing. The AUC Chairperson noted the use of clean energies as an area of potential cooperation between the USA and Africa, especially at this time that the continent is pushing for more development and prosperity. In order to avoid being big polluters, she said the continent should be assisted to leapfrog the use of fossil fuels and adopt renewable energy instead. The blue economy was another area brought up in the discussions, with the Chairperson saying that the continent has launched an African decade of oceans. African women, she said, have launched an organisation of women in maritime so as to be part of the development. The Chairperson also took time to explain that African Union summits offer immunity to those who attend, in the same way that pertains to delegates to the United Nations general assembly meetings. This remark was by way of explaining the attendance of the Sudanese President Mr Omar Al Bashir at the last AU summit held in Johannesburg in June this year. Other issues discussed in the meeting related to good governance, democracy and human rights, the fight against corruption, wildlife management, free movement of people and goods across the continent, infrastructure, climate change and reform of the United Nations to ensure that Africa gets permanent representation on the Security Council. In response, the head of the US delegation Senator Chris Coon expressed his appreciation for the time taken by the AUC leadership to discuss such a broad range of issues. The US ambassador to the African Union Mr Reuben Brigety attended the meeting. Apart from the Chairperson, the AUC delegation consisted of the Commissioner of Political Affairs Dr Aisha Abdulahi and the Commissioner of Social Affairs Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko and other senior members of the Commission. *AU]]>

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Senegal jails seven men for 'being gay'
August 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

Gay rights campaigners in Africa wants to see homosexuality decriminalised across the continent Gay rights campaigners in Africa wants to see homosexuality decriminalised across the continent[/caption]

Seven men have been jailed for six months in Senegal, after they were found guilty of homosexuality.

A court in Dakar heard police caught the men having sex during a raid. The mother of one of the accused told the authorities her son was gay, but she failed to show up as a prosecution witness at the trial. Homosexuality is banned in the west African country. It is punishable by up to five years in prison and fines of up to $2,500 (£1,500). Defence lawyer, Abdoul Daff, said the mother’s failure to appear in court should have caused the case to collapse. “There was neither material evidence nor testimony in order to corroborate the claims,” he added. “So, we take note of this and we will see what to do next.” Where is it illegal to be gay? Senegal’s population is more than 95% Muslim, and people in same-sex relationships are often forced to hide their sexuality. Gay rights activist Djamil Bangoura from the group Prudence said he was disappointed by the verdict. “It is such a pity to see these Senegalese men condemned in front of everyone just because they are gay,” he added. During a recent trip to Kenya, US President Barack Obama called on African nations to ensure gay men and women are treated equally. Homosexuality is illegal in 38 countries on the continent and is punishable by death in Sudan, Mauritania, Somalia and northern Nigeria. *Source BBC]]>

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From Claudio Oben Comes “The Portrait”
August 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

Claudio Oben Claudio Oben[/caption] Fans may know him more as a talented actor and Claudio Oben’s  stock may soar even higher when his talents as producer go public with the world premiere of “The Portrait,” on September 5th in Largo, Md. Ahead of the premiere, the multi-talented , hardworking actor, and producer found time to answer a few questions from PAV on his latest film ,and perspectives on the African movie industry. Your latest movie “The Portrait” is set for its world premiere in the days ahead, can you tell us about this latest production “THE PORTRAIT” is a story about learning to love, appreciating our partners and the little things they do for us. What message did you seek to send to your audience with The Portrait?  The message I wanted to pass across with this film was for us to remember that we don’t know what tomorrow holds so, lets hold on tight to those we love, other than live with regret. Can you walk us through the cast of the film? Yes we have a very concentrated cast with the lead actress being Berlinda Nahbila who played Lucy, Kyle Burgess who played Jason Anthony, Debbie Hartner who played Jessie Anthony, and finally Winstina Taylor who played Dr. Taylor. 11750648_10207029929725046_1345309253277514036_nWhat were some of the challenges that you face in the production of The Portrait?  The main challenges producing “THE PORTRAIT” was mainly funding because being an independent filmmaker gets challenging getting locations, paying the actors and the entire management of the film. Claudio Oben is better known as an actor, how did you transition into production?  It was a fun transition for me because I have always been fascinated about how the craft of filmmaking goes. So that alone fuelled my obsession to get into production.   What is your overall take on movies produced by Africans, the talent is there, the market is there but people feel there is something still missing, you are a professional in the setting, what is still missing?  In a few words, what is missing in the industry this far is support and financing.  Support in the sense that we can do all the films but if we don’t the basic support from the community, them the question is why are we making these films. And for the financial aspect, making these films are becoming more expensive so the financial support from sponsors and potential executive producers so we can make these films the way the public wants to see them.   As you become more established in the movies what lessons have you learned and what advice do you have for aspiring actors and actresses seeking to make a break through? Make every scene you are offered or you have to play your first and your last because you never know who is watching or who will catch interest in you craft. And never ever let anyone tell you, you can’t do it. Any additional information on the world premiere, where to get tickets and any other side events that would accompany the event? 10972_10202538264688934_6067543207882278629_n The event will be filled of fun I guarantee you. We will have various performances to say the least, from super talented artist in the DMV area. For the rest you will have to come attend to see for yourself. What next for Claudio Oben after The Portrait?  Two things: “CAPTIVE” the series and “WHO KILLED MARY JANE?” Good luck Sir and thanks for the interview It was great talking with you and hope to see you at the premiere.   The link to purchase the tickets is below:]]>

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Angola will host the Meeting of the Ministers of Finance and Governors of the Central African Banks, the African Caucus
August 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

african-caucusFrom 27–28 August in Luanda, the Republic of Angola will host the Meeting of the Ministers of Finance and Governors of the Central African Banks, the African Caucus, with the aim of strengthening the voice of the continent’s representatives on important issues relating to the socio-economic development of the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs). The meeting being held at the Talatona Convention Centre is an important opportunity for the African leaders, represented by their Ministers of Finance and Planning and Governors of the Central Banks, to jointly present in a coordinated and organised way the major and current concerns affecting the economies of the African continent, namely the building of infrastructure and industrialisation of production processes. Hosting an event the size of the African Caucus in Angola should help our country to strengthen its relationship with international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank, with the aim of mobilising support for the financial needs of the country’s development. On the other hand, holding the forum in Angola will improve the country’s visibility, making way for new opportunities for diversifying the economy. The subjects that stand out on the agenda in the six panels are the General Vision of the Regional Economy, Economic Transformation and Diversification, Discussion on the 2015 African Caucus Memorandum and the Financing of Regional Projects connected to infrastructure. Personalities like the Ex-President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, and other individuals connected to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the World Bank (WB) and the African Development Bank (AFDB) have been invited to speak on the topics above. Angola was formally designated as the leader of the African Caucus Group in 2015 at the event that took place from 3–4 September 2014 in the Friendship Hall Conference Centre in Khartoum, Republic of Sudan. Founded in 1963 as the African Group of Governors of the World Bank Group and the IMF, the Caucus aims to strengthen the voice of the Governors of the African Continent on important issues relating to the socio-economic development of the African Region, within the Bretton Woods Institutions (World Bank and International Monetary Fund). *APO/Ministry of Finance Angola]]>

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2015 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum in Gabon
August 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

2006_0606_agoa2_250On August 24-27, the United States and Gabon will co-host the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum in Libreville, Gabon.  Recently reauthorized by the U.S. Congress for an additional ten years, AGOA has been the cornerstone of the U.S. government’s trade policy with sub-Saharan Africa since 2000.

The theme of this year’s Forum is “AGOA at 15:  Charting a Course for a Sustainable U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment Partnership.”  The 2015 Forum will celebrate the recent reauthorization and the important role of women, civil society, and the private sector in promoting trade, expanding inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and generating prosperity. 
Representatives from the private sector, civil society, and the U.S.-sponsored African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) will participate in Forum activities from August 24-25.  Ministerial plenaries will follow on August 26-27, bringing together senior government officials from the United States and the 39 African beneficiary countries. 
A trade exhibition will run throughout the official program.The U.S. delegation will be led by U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman and include senior officials from the U.S. Departments of State, Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Labor, Transportation, Treasury, and Transportation, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, as well as the National Security Council, Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the United States African Development Fund.  Members of Congress from both parties will also attend the Forum.
*Source State

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