United States Agency for International Development Celebrates Contributions of Women in Agribusiness

On December 5, 2017, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and MEL Consulting Limited hosted a “Women in Agribusiness” Summit to highlight the contributions of women in Ghana’s agricultural sector. The event brought together women-led agribusinesses, farmers, processors, business service providers, financial institutions, the Government of Ghana and development partners. In attendance were the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Honorable Otiko Afisa Djaba; USAID/Ghana Mission Director Sharon L. Cromer; and Nestlé West and Central Africa’s Head of Agricultural Services, Fatih Ermis.

The Summit promoted investment opportunities and linked women-led agribusinesses to business advisory service providers and financial institutions. The agenda featured panel discussions on finance and business support for women-led agribusinesses, as well as business-to-business sessions. The event culminated with an awards ceremony honoring women-led agribusinesses and smallholder actors for their contribution to Ghana’s agriculture sector.

“At USAID, we believe agriculture is paramount in driving Ghana’s sustainable economic growth,” remarked Sharon Cromer, USAID/Ghana’s Mission Director. “Our Feed the Future Initiative works to equip individuals and communities by investing in gender-smart solutions. We are linking business service providers to women-led agribusinesses to increase their productivity and access to markets. Fostering broad-based inclusive economic growth means unlocking everyone’s potential, including women, to fully utilize their talents.”

This event was organized through Feed the Future and its partners, with support from USAID. Feed the Future works to increase access to finance for agribusinesses and smallholder farmers and improve agricultural productivity. To date, Feed the Future has unlocked $140 million in private capital for more than 2,400 agribusinesses in the maize, rice and soy value chains. These efforts have benefitted more than 150,000 smallholder farmers in Northern Ghana, 42 percent of whom are women.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Embassy of the United States – Accra – Ghana.

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UN expert group on the use of mercenaries to visit Ghana

A delegation of the United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries will conduct an official country visit to Ghana, from 8 to 15 December 2017.

The Working Group delegation comprising of Mr. Anton Katz and Ms. Patricia Arias, will assess the regulation of private security companies in the country and the measures in place to address the challenges posed by mercenarism and mercenary related activities, including foreign fighters and their impact on human rights.

The delegation will hold meetings in Accra and Takoradi with representatives from relevant Government ministries, members of civil society including non-governmental organizations, private security companies and companies operating in the extractive industry.

The experts will hold a press conference to share their preliminary observations on 15 December, at 12:30 p.m. at the GJA International Press Centre, Accra.

The Working Group will present a full report of the country visit to the Human Rights Council in 2018.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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African economists seek bolder monetary policy reforms to address inequality

African economists attending the 12th African Economic Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, have called for more radical monetary policy reforms and an overhaul of the tax policy regime in most countries in order to guarantee the welfare needs of the local population.

The economic researchers from Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan, who attended a session of the conference to discuss “Macroeconomic policies for the inclusive development,” on December 5, 2017, noted broader reforms were required to secure stability in the foreign currency markets and to curb inflation.

“Consistent monetary policy yields the greatest welfare security to the citizens compared to discretionary monetary policy,” said Peter Wamalwa of the Central Bank of Kenya, presenting a paper on the impact of monetary policy on the prices of assets in an open economy.

Discretionary monetary policy is often based on the knee-jerk reaction of the key policy-makers on matters which have an impact on taxation policy, spending and fiscal activities carried out by the respective Central Banks, often known as the monetary policy decision-making bodies.

Wamalwa said while the monetary policy is often used by the respective Central Banks to correct market imperfections which require urgent intervention, the Central Bank should ensure as a priority that the social needs of the households and the firm are taken care off in order to guarantee economic stability.

“The monetary policy is not effective if the asset prices are not included. The response to the monetary policy is more significant,” said Wamalwa, who insists Central Bank interventions to stabilize the domestic prices should allocate the economy’s resources efficiently and in a socially desired manner.

The African Economic Conference is dedicated to discussions on the kind of economic and political governance reforms that are critical in order to ensure structural transformation takes place in Africa.

Wamalwa said the focus should remain on the effectiveness of the monetary policy in battling key challenges such as inflation and the foreign currency exchange rate policy.

In his paper, Wamalwa did not entirely dismiss the possibility of the Central Banks relying on discretionary monetary policy, saying it has a role to play when policy weaknesses fail to address market distortions which affect prices in an economy in a more negative manner.

“This affords the monetary authority the flexibility to respond to unanticipated price and output changes as well as the dynamic behavior of agents in an economy. This is more relevant to the financial markets where investors make decisions frequently to optimize their portfolio holding,” Wamalwa said.

Speaking during the same session, Saswan Abdul-Jalil, a teaching assistant at the University of Khartoum, Sudan, called for an overhaul of the tax regime in Sudan and broad measures to unlock restrictions which make it much harder for ordinary businesses and individuals to access bank loans.

Terming difficulties in accessing the domestic financial markets due to the government’s increased domestic borrowing and stringent capital controls the “financial repression,” Abdul-Jalil said the capital controls imposed by the government enabled it to borrow at a lower rate domestically.

According to the paper titled “Financial Repression and Capital Controls in Sudan: An Evaluation of Fiscal Effects,” the financial repression causes a bigger impact on the pace of economic growth in Sudan.

“It leads to high cost of domestic borrowing because the commercial banks prefer to lend to the government and its effect is 0.8 percent on the Gross Domestic Product. The capital controls are part of the government’s efforts to raise revenue locally,” Abdul-Jalil argued.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

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President Zuma Extends Condolences on the Passing of Minister Mapisa-Nqakula’s Father

President Jacob Zuma has extended his condolences to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and her family on the sad passing of her father, Mr Douglas Vakele Mapisa.

“We wish to express our deepest condolences to Minister Mapisa-Nqakula and her family at this hour. May they find strength to cope with the difficulty and deep-seated pain that the passing of a parent brings to any household. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mapisa and Nqakula families at this trying time,” said President Zuma.

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

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