UK to double trade support for Ethiopia

The UK has doubled the amount of export finance it is making available to support UK-Ethiopia bilateral trade, the British International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox has announced. Dr Fox made the announcement during a visit to Addis Ababa, where he was accompanied by UK businesses from the infrastructure and energy sectors.

Trade between the UK and Ethiopia is growing and was worth 15.4 billion ETB (£439 million) in 2015. While in Ethiopia, Dr Fox announced that the UK’s export finance available to Ethiopia has increased to 7 billion ETB (£200 million). This means an additional 3.5 billion ETB is available in support – including insurance and lending – for UK companies exporting to Ethiopia and for Ethiopian buyers of UK goods and services.

Earlier in the year the Government announced that after the UK leaves the European Union, Ethiopian companies will enjoy duty-free access to the British market for all sectors except arms, a commitment that will give businesses confidence and certainty for their trade and investment decisions.

During the visit, Dr Fox also visited Ethiopian Airlines, the largest buyer of UK technology, including a recent deal to purchase state of the art Rolls Royce engines for Ethiopian’s new long-haul fleet. And he opened Pittards’ new shoe factory where he saw how an innovative British company has grown rapidly to now employ 1500 Ethiopians.

Dr Fox also held consultations with Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and other ministers on how to further support the long-term foundations for greater trade, including the UK’s concerns at recent unrest and the importance of stability to maintain and attract investment.

International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox said:

“We are sharing expertise and strengthening existing relationships with Ethiopia and the wider region to create the UK’s trading partners of the future. This will produce local economic growth and jobs and also bring benefits back to the UK.”

“Trade and investment between the UK and Ethiopia is worth more than 15 billion birr and as an international economic department we’ll continue to provide support for UK companies to invest in the country, opening up markets and strengthening trade links.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of British Embassy Addis Ababa.

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Somaliland Election: Statement by International Partners

A high level delegation of international partners will visit Hargeisa, Somaliland, on 12 to 14 November 2017.

The purpose of the visit is to demonstrate the partners’ continued engagement and strong encouragement to Somaliland’s democratic transition process and, in that context, to support a peaceful, inclusive, credible and transparent presidential election on 13 November.

The high level delegation is not mandated to observe the elections and will not represent an election observation mission.

The International Partners note the progress in preparation of the election and encourage the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to continue its good work. They also call on the political parties to participate in the election responsibly and peacefully, in respect of the established legal frameworks and procedures, and to provide the NEC with the space and time it needs when the polls close to prepare and declare the result. They further call on all sides to accept the result produced by the votes of the duly registered electorate, and in case of any grievances or contestation, to pursue such matters through the legally mandated institutions and formally established procedures. They also urge all stakeholders to respect the role of the media in informing the public and thus enhancing the transparency and credibility of the electoral process.

The International Partners reiterate that this election represents an opportunity for Somaliland to strengthen its democratic credentials for continued progress for the benefit of all Somalilanders.

This Statement was signed by the following countries:

United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and United States of America.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of British Embassy Mogadishu.

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IMF Staff Completes 2017 Article IV and Extended Fund Facility Second Review Mission to Egypt

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team led by Mr. Subir Lall visited Cairo from October 25 to November 9, 2017, to hold discussions on the 2017 Article IV Consultation with Egypt and the second review of Egypt’s economic reform program supported by a three-year IMF Extended Fund Facility (EFF—see Press Release No. 16/501).

At the end of the mission Mr. Lall issued the following statement:

“The IMF staff team and the Egyptian authorities have reached a staff-level agreement on the second review of Egypt’s economic reform program, which is supported by the IMF’s SDR 8.597 billion (about $12 billion) arrangement. The staff-level agreement is subject to approval by the IMF’s Executive Board. Completion of the review would make available SDR 1,432.76 million (about US$2 billion), bringing total disbursements under the program to about US$6 billion.

“The staff-level agreement on the second review reaffirms the authorities’ commitment to their reform program supported by the IMF. Egypt’s economy continues to perform strongly, and reforms that have already been implemented are beginning to pay off in terms of macroeconomic stabilization and the return of confidence. While the reform process has required sacrifices in the short term, seizing the current moment of opportunity to transform Egypt into a dynamic, modern, and fast-growing economy will improve the living standards and increase prosperity for all Egyptians.

“Egypt’s growth picked up during fiscal year 2016/17, with GDP rising by 4.2 percent compared to the projected 3.5 percent. Meanwhile, the current account deficit narrowed in dollar terms, supported by the increase in non-oil exports and tourism receipts while non-oil imports declined. Reflecting increased investor confidence, portfolio investments into Egypt reached $16 billion this year and foreign direct investment rose by 13 percent. Headline inflation appears to have peaked in July and has been declining since then, supported by the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) prudent monetary policy stance. The budget performance was broadly in line with program projections with a primary deficit of 1.8 percent of GDP. However, the overall deficit exceeded projections by 0.4 percent of GDP and reached 10.9 percent of GDP, mainly on account of higher than expected interest payments. Reflecting the overall strong policy framework and credibility of the authorities’ program, foreign exchange reserves increased significantly to record levels.

“The CBE remains committed to achieve its goal of reigning in inflation which is expected to decline to about 13 percent in the quarter ending December of 2018. Its monetary policy framework is underpinned by a flexible exchange rate regime which has eliminated chronic foreign exchange shortages and the parallel market.

“The government’s aim to achieve a primary surplus in the current fiscal year will help achieve Egypt’s program objective of putting government debt on a firmly downward trajectory over the medium term. This will reduce interest expenditures and create budgetary space for public infrastructure and well-targeted social spending. The mission also strongly supports the authorities’ plans to strengthen public financial management and fiscal transparency, including through enhanced monitoring of state-owned enterprises and publication of financial statements.

“The government is spearheading a comprehensive and ambitious agenda of structural reforms to unlock Egypt’s growth potential. The reform plan aims to create well-paying jobs to meet the rapidly growing population by paving the way for increased private sector-led investment, productivity growth, and enhanced competition.

“Reducing unemployment, specifically among Egypt’s youth, and integrating more women into the labor force are key to Egypt’s economic liftoff and are the strongest and most sustainable form of social protection. We strongly welcome the authorities’ commitment to continue its efforts to expand childcare services to promote women participation in the labor market. Meanwhile, we also support the authorities’ efforts to strengthen social measures through the expansion of the “Takafol and Karama” programs which now reach 2 million families, and enhancing data collection to improve targeting and ensure that the subsidies reach the most vulnerable.

“Egypt’s banking sector continues to remain liquid, profitable, and well capitalized. The CBE continues to strengthen the regulatory and supervisory framework for the banking sector including through implementing Basel rules. We also support the authorities’ aim to promote financial inclusion.

“The team would like to thank the Egyptian authorities, the technical teams at the CBE and the Ministry of Finance, and our interlocutors from the Egyptian government for their candor, constructive discussions, and hospitality.”

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

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Sustainability as a Force for Good

With about 7 billion people living in the world, natural resources have come under tremendous strain globally. Rising temperatures, water scarcity, double burden of nutrition and increasing gaps between the poor and the rich are some of the challenges facing the world.

Some corporate organisations have come to understand that companies must be a part of the solution to these issues. They have realized that these issues do not only affect our communities but also challenge the commercial sustainability of the business. One of these companies is Unilever (www.Unilever.com), a purpose-driven company, whose purpose is simple, to make sustainable living commonplace.

As part of a globally driven approach to integrate solutions to sustainable development into business operations, a number of Unilever Nigeria’s (www.UnileverNigeria.com) brands have adopted social missions, in which the brands help to address social issues. Unilever Nigeria then partners with NGOs or governments to ensure these missions have scale.

In line with Unilever’s commitment to sustainable living, the company is spearheading efforts to help reduce the prevalence of iron deficiency anaemia in Nigeria, especially among women and adolescent girls through Knorr Force For Good programme.

Globally, anaemia is said to affect almost a quarter of the world’s population, that is 1.62 billion people. In Nigeria, almost one in two women of reproductive age and 75% of children under five years suffer from anaemia. 50% of these cases are caused by a lack of iron in the body, which is often diet-related. Some of the early symptoms of anaemia are fatigue and decreased ability to work and people with anaemia are also associated with an increased risk of mortality and cognitive loss in those who survive.

Knorr’s Force For Good includes visiting schools in rural areas where cases of anaemia are prevalent. The programme educates adolescent girls and their mothers on the importance of cooking more iron-rich nutritious meals through the Knorr Green Food Steps. The company, by contributing to efforts to improve the nutritional value of commonly consumed meals, increase the iron intake of the population, hopes to help decrease the prevalence of iron deficiency anaemia in Nigeria.

By the end of 2016, the Knorr Force For Good programme reached 75,000 households (including mothers and daughters) through a four-week behavioral change programme. Knorr is now challenging itself to change the behavior of millions of mothers and teenage girls by making nutritious, iron fortified cooking more desirable and affordable.

A Scientific Study with the University of Ibadan indicated that 41% of respondents from the states visited, Nasarawa, Benue, Kaduna, Abuja and Kogi, had started adding leafy, iron fortified vegetables and iron fortified cubes to their stew.

By end of 2017 the Force For Good programme will have reached 20 million direct and indirect contacts and the aim is to reach 100 million by 2020. One state where the programme has been particularly successful is in Kaduna where Unilever Nigeria has partnered with the Kaduna State Government to empower women and teenage girls through Knorr Force For Good and Women’s Empowerment Shakti. Partnerships like this are vital in helping Unilever Nigeria reach as many people as possible.

The Knorr Force For Good programme is just one of the many interventions that underlines Unilever’s commitment to ensure that “business must be part of the solution.” These brand social missions are integral to Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan, the company’s blueprint for a truly sustainable business, launched in 2010. They are helping to drive the vision to decouple growth from environmental impact while also increasing the company’s positive social impact.

There are three clear goals for Unilever’s vision for sustainability:

  • Improving Health and well-being for more than one billion
  • Enhancing Livelihood for Millions
  • Reducing environmental impact by half

Improving Health and well-being for more than one billion

The Knorr Force For Good programme is one initiative helping people take action to improve their health and well-being.

Others, include the Pepsodent Brush Day and Night Oral Health campaign through which Unilever seeks to tackle poor oral hygiene and tooth decay and improve oral health amongst Nigerians.

Since inception of the Oral Health Schools Programme, Unilever has directly reached over 2.5 million pupils in 4,500 Government primary schools with products (Pepsodent toothpaste and toothbrushes), free educational materials and brand instruction ambassadors. With the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Health the firm further commits to promoting oral hygiene by educating 10 million Nigerian pupils by 2020. Another important example of how corporates can partner with governments to bring their programmes and most importantly their impact to scale.

Enhancing Livelihood for Millions

With the high unemployment rate continuing to grow, Unilever Nigeria’s ambition is to use their business model to create 1 million job opportunities for Nigerian women and youth. The aim is to empower women and youth and ultimately help address unemployment and poverty trends in Nigeria.

A flagship intervention is the “SHAKTI” (with different Nigerian names like Mbuli, Gbemiga, Tallapi) project, an initiative that creates opportunity for women to increase their earnings and improve the quality of their lives through the sales of Unilever products.

Gbemiga registers, trains and provides women in rural communities with capital to begin trading Unilever products to households and small stores within their communities. Working in partnership with non-profit organisations such as the Growing Business Foundation, they have already reached 2000 women across 10 states. These women also undertake basic bookkeeping trainings and workshops on nutrition.

Unilever Nigeria also launched its Customer Development Motorbikes Project as a means of promoting entrepreneurship by operationalizing third-party sub-distributors across Nigeria with two-wheeler bikes. This initiative and the Lipton Push-Cart programme is expected to create more jobs along the company’s supply chain in the months ahead.

Reducing environmental impact by half

Unilever Nigeria aims to cultivate habits that reduce the environmental footprint of its customers. For example, by encouraging the recycling of all packaging and looking at ways to reduce consumers energy and water consumption.

Unilever also looks at its own supply chain and waste generated from the company’s factory sites is reused or recycled, with structures in place to measure real-time consumption of utilities such as water, steam, energy and power, enabling the effective monitoring of resources used per unit, ensuring reduction.

In 2016, Unilever Nigeria awarded a grant to a Nigerian recycling company (that manages the collection and recycling of waste) to extend its waste recovery program to more communities in Lagos and Ogun States. This is aligned with the company’s commitment to continue to conserve the environment, while creating more job opportunities and promoting entrepreneurship amongst young Nigerians.

Undoubtedly, going into the future, businesses that address both the direct concerns of citizens and the needs of the environment and the communities in which they live, work and sell into, will prosper over the long term. They will also contribute to Africa’s economic growth.

In doing what it does, Unilever continues to demonstrate that sustainability can be a true force for good.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Unilever Nigeria.

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