LUSAKA, Zambia, December 20, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On December 11, 2013, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation with Zambia. 1
Zambia has achieved strong and sustained economic growth over the past decade due to improved macroeconomic management and increased copper production; however, risks have over the past year increased with rising fiscal imbalances and lower reserve coverage. Robust output growth continued in 2012 at slightly above 7 percent, driven by agriculture and services, but is slowing in 2013 due to a weaker harvest. Expansionary fiscal policies, mainly from spending on subsidies and wages, have raised the projected 2013 deficit to about 8
TUNIS, Tunisia, December 20, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Board of the African Development Bank (AfDB) (http://www.afdb.org) approved on Friday, December 20 the Emergency Power Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project Phase II (EPIRP II) in Zimbabwe. The financing comes in the form of a US $17.52-million grant from the Zimbabwe Multi-Donor Trust Fund (ZimFund) housed in the AfDB.
The objective of EPIRP is to improve the availability and reliability of electricity supply through the rehabilitation of generation, transmission and distribution facilities. This involves specifically the electricity supply to critical social infrastructure facilities and to the inhabitants of the seven targeted areas of Zimbabwe – Kwekwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Masvingo, Mutare, Harare and Hwange. Together these areas have a combined population of 5 million people.
“The EPIRP II is the second energy-sector project financed through the AfDB-administered Zimbabwe Multi-Donor Trust Fund,” explained Alex Rugamba, Director of the AfDB’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department. “We chose to support this project because it is in line with Bank Group’s Strategy for 2013-2022, which emphasizes infrastructure development for inclusive economic growth, including green growth; but also because it aligns with our new Energy Policy, whose objectives include supporting regional member countries to provide modern, affordable and reliable energy services to their populations and productive sectors,” he added.
Phase I of the EPIRP was designed to improve the provision of adequate and reliable electricity in an environmentally sound manner. This will happen through the rehabilitation of the Ash Handling Plant at the Hwange Power Station and the power transmission and distribution facilities in the country. Phase II is designed to further the benefits gained under Phase I interventions and to address issues that are not covered in Phase I. When complete, Phase II will enable full utilization of national produced capacity through restoration of transformer capacity. Utilized installed capacity will rise from 1,237 MW in 2013 to 1,960 MW by 2016 – with due attention to environmental safety and protection.
The key outputs of EPIRP II include: (i) rehabilitated transmission and distribution networks (repaired and replaced cables, overhead lines and transformers and their related accessories); and (ii) rehabilitated or refurbished systems at Hwange Power Plant comprising the Ash Dam for Stage I and Stage II; the Dust Suppression Plant for coal including the Handling Plant of Stage I and Stage II; the Dirty Drain System for Stage I and Stage II; and a replaced Vacuum Cleaning Plant for Stage I and Stage II. The estimated cost of the entire project is US $32.94 million – US $15.42 million for Stage I and US $17.52 million for Stage II. It is expected that Stage I of the Project will be completed by May 2016.
The Hwange Power Plant will have improved environmental quality conditions as a result of the Phase II Project. The target beneficiaries – the general public, industries and institutions – will benefit from increased firm substation capacity, more available and reliable electricity, reduced load shedding, more stable water supplies and the ability to ramp up operating capacity for industry. The percentage of customers with access to firm transformer capacity at transmission level should increase from 32 per cent in 2013 to 63.5 per cent in 2016. This will translate into both economic and social benefits as a result of reduced power outages due to transformer faults.
The political and economic situation in Zimbabwe for the last decade has severely affected all sectors of the economy, including infrastructure. In this regard, the AfDB has identified the rehabilitation of key power sector assets as the fastest and least-costly option for restoring the country’s capacity to increase electricity supply to meet part of the current demand and enhance system stability.
Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the African Development Bank (AfDB).
About the African Development Bank Group
The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (http://www.afdb.org) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 34 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.
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BERLIN, Germany, December 20, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier issued the following statement at the Federal Foreign Office this morning (20 December):
Conditions in South Sudan are such that we had to take emergency measures to evacuate and fly out German nationals living there.
A Bundeswehr plane landed in the capital Juba this morning. The operation is currently underway. The first 55 German nationals are being flown out and will arrive in Uganda shortly. A second flight may follow.
I think this is good news for those waiting for help in South Sudan.
A total of 55 people have been evacuated on the first flight. The vast majority of them are German nationals, the rest French, Swiss and Netherlands nationals. A second flight is planned.
Those who have been evacuated are being taken to Entebbe, where the German Embassy will provide them with assistance.
BERN, Switzerland, December 20, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — In view of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic (CAR), Switzerland has allocated CHF 800,000 for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to protect internally displaced persons. This commitment is in addition to the support totalling CHF 2.7 million that Switzerland has already earmarked for 2013 for the emergency operations of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the World Food Programme (WFP), the UNHCR and Médecins sans frontières (MSF).
Violent acts multiplied in December 2013, causing the massive displacement of civilians. At present 639,000 people are internally displaced, while a further 69,000 have fled to neighbouring countries. In view of the extent of the recent deterioration in the humanitarian situation, Switzerland has allocated an additional CHF 800,000 for the UNHCR’s programme to protect internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the CAR. The aim of this support is to protect particularly vulnerable IDPs, such as women and children, from the risks of violence and exploitation, and to improve their living conditions.
This commitment is in addition to the support totalling CHF 2.7 million that Switzerland has already committed for 2013 to the emergency operations of the ICRC, the WFP, the UNHCR and MSF.
In 2014 Switzerland intends to increase its support for humanitarian organisations active in the CAR. Switzerland will also support NGOs working in the areas of health and protection of civilians. Continued support for Radio Ndeke Luka, through the Swiss NGO “Fondation Hirondelle”, will help ensure that an independent media outlet is able to continue broadcasting even at the height of the crisis. A Swiss humanitarian detachment is closely monitoring the situation in the CAR through regular field missions.
The 2013-2016 Message on Swiss International Cooperation places the protection of civilians in armed conflicts at the heart of Swiss Humanitarian Aid’s priorities. The UNHCR is one of four beneficiaries of Swiss multilateral aid, amounting to CHF 30.5 million in 2013.
GENEVA, Switzerland, December 20, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Upon request of the Malian Government, IOM carried out last week an operation to assist the voluntary return of 163 Malians stranded in Libya for several months.
Most of the stranded migrants in this group had initially left Mali for Algeria. With the money earned working in the Northern African country they jointly bought a boat to make their way towards Lampedusa in late July, an island known as a prime transit point for migrants wanting to enter Europe, particularly those originating from Africa.
On their way to Lampedusa, the migrants got lost at sea until they were rescued by a Gibraltar ship in Libyan national waters and transported to Tripoli.
Migrants were transferred to the Alhamra center in Libya (80 km away from Tripoli), in the wait of returning home.
“The plight of these stranded migrants had been weighing on us for some time, and IOM Tripoli was keen to see them safely home,” says Othman Belbeisi, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Libya.
IOM ensured that the migrants, who lost most of their belongings during their difficult journeys, were returned with as much support as possible. IOM purchased and provided each returnee with clothes and shoes. The eldest of the returnees was 49 years of age, and the group included also four minors. The group was accompanied by an IOM operational escort and an IOM medical doctor from Tripoli to Bamako, the latter to provide support to a migrant suffering from a medical condition.
“I cannot believe that after all these months of struggle, I will be going home to my family,” said one of the migrants expressing his great excitement prior to getting on the plane.
The return of these migrants took weeks of preparation to ensure that the returnees were fit to travel, had the necessary documents and were taken home in a dignified and safe manner.
Upon arrival, the migrants were welcomed by the Malian Government. The General Directorate for Civil Protection (DGPC) in coordination with IOM Mali moved the migrants to a reception center in Bamako where they were provided with food, health and shelter.
After having been registered by IOM and DGPC, the migrants received assistance from IOM psychologists and protection specialists. Telephones were made available for the migrants to contact their families.
Out of the four minors identified within the group, two were reunited with their families upon arrival. The Malian National Directorate for the Promotion of Children and the Family (DNPEF) agreed to temporary guardianship of the two other minors until they are reunited with their families.
Transportation to the final destinations is now being arranged by the Malian Government.
“IOM would like to ensure that the returnees are not made vulnerable to exploitation or additional dangerous journeys, by providing them with economic options and stability to continue their lives,” said Belbeisi. “But we need additional financial support to provide reintegration assistance to the migrants and their families.”
This is also a wish shared by the returnees. “Reintegration assistance would really help us to re-establish our lives. If there is more help in Mali, not many people would leave to look for work,” said one of the returnees on his way home.
IOM works in close partnership with the Libyan Government to assist migrants in need. This important return effort was made possible with funding support under IOM Libya’s programmes which are funded by the Italian Government and the European Union.