IMF Executive Board Completes the Third Review of the Precautionary and Liquidity Line for Morocco

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On January 27, 2016, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed the third and last review of Morocco’s economic performance under a program supported by a two-year Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL) arrangement, and reaffirmed Morocco’s continued qualification to access PLL resources.

The current two-year PLL arrangement in an amount equivalent to SDR 3.2351 billion (about US$5 billion at the time of approval or 550 percent of Morocco’s quota at the IMF) was approved by the IMF’s Executive Board in July 2014. (See Press Release No. 14/368). The arrangement supports the authorities’ program to rebuild fiscal and external buffers and promote higher and more inclusive growth. It will expire in July 2016. Morocco’s first 24-month PLL arrangement was approved on August 3, 2012, with an access equivalent to 700 percent of the quota, and expired in July 2014.

The PLL arrangement has provided insurance against external risks. The Moroccan authorities are treating the arrangement as precautionary, as they did with the 2012–14 PLL arrangement, and do not intend to draw under the arrangement unless Morocco experiences actual balance of payments needs from a significant deterioration of external conditions.

The PLL, which was introduced in 2011, provides financing to meet actual or potential balance of payments needs of countries with sound policies, and is intended to serve as insurance or help resolve crises under wide-ranging situations.

Following the Executive Board discussion on Morocco, Mr. Mitsuhiro Furusawa, IMF Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair of the Board, made the following statement:

“Morocco’s overall economic performance has continued to improve in 2015. Strong policy implementation has helped reduce fiscal and external vulnerabilities and significant progress has been achieved on reforms. In an environment that remains vulnerable to important downside risks, continued efforts to move ahead with difficult but necessary reforms will be key for reducing the remaining vulnerabilities while promoting higher and more inclusive growth.

“Fiscal developments have been positive and consistent with the authorities’ objective to reduce the deficit to 4.3 percent of GDP in 2015. Substantial progress has been achieved on the subsidy reform, while support to the most vulnerable has expanded. Now that the draft legislation on the public sector pension reform has been approved by the government, its timely adoption by parliament and implementation will be key.

“Progress has also been made in upgrading the financial policy framework, including implementing recent Financial Sector Assessment Program recommendations, in addition to implementing Basel III norms and the new banking law. An important further step should be to finalize the new central bank law in order to enhance its independence and extend its supervisory and resolution powers. Preparations for a more flexible exchange rate regime, which will help preserve competitiveness and the economy’s ability to absorb economic shocks, are progressing well.

“Morocco’s external position has improved considerably, owing mainly to strong policies, rising exports in newly developed sectors, lower oil prices, and robust FDI, with reserves reaching a comfortable level. Structural reforms to improve the business climate and enhance competitiveness continue to be a priority in order to build on those gains. The implementation of the National Strategy for Employment will help address constraints in the labor market and reduce unemployment, especially among the youth.

“The arrangement under the Fund’s Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL) remains on track. The PLL, which the authorities continue to treat as precautionary, has provided Morocco with insurance against external risks while supporting the authorities’ economic strategy.”

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

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IMF Executive Board Approves Extension of the Stand-By Arrangement and Stand-By Credit Facility for Kenya

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The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved on January 27, 2016—without an Executive Board meeting[1]—an-extension of both Kenya’s Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) and Arrangement under the Standby Credit Facility (SCF) to March 15, 2016. This extension will provide time to the authorities to finalize fiscal measures for 2015/16 and implement structural measures under the program.

The 12-month SBA/SCF with a combined total access of SDR 488.52 million (about US$687 million) were approved by the IMF’s Executive Board on February 2, 2015 (see Press Release No. 15/29). Following the conclusion of the first review in September 2015, amounts available under the arrangements reached SDR 434.24 million (about US$610.7 million) for the Kenyan authorities to draw on in the event that exogenous shocks lead to an actual balance of payments need. The authorities continue to treat both the arrangements as precautionary.

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

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Press briefing of Commissioner for infrastructure and energy

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Within the framework of the 26th AU Summit, H.E. Dr. Elham Mahmoud Ibrahim, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy at the AU Commission will, on Friday 29 January 2016 at 15:00 hold a press briefing on the following issue:

Infrastructure and its contribution to human rights

The briefing will be held in Briefing Room1, at the new AU Conference Center, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Journalists are invited to take part in the press briefing

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Press briefing of the APR forum

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INVITATION TO THE MEDIA

The African Peer Review Mechanism [APRM] is a Pan-African initiative to improve good governance and promote Socio-Economic Development. The objective of the APRM is to promote the adoption of policies, standards and best practices that enhance political stability, economic growth and sustainable development. (Thirty-five) African countries are currently members of the APRM. The APRM Forum of Heads of State and Government [APR Forum] has completed peer reviews in (17) seventeen countries.

Djibouti is the Eighteenth (18th) Country to be peer reviewed at the Special Summit of the Heads of State and Government Participating in the APRM (APR Forum) scheduled for 29 January 2016 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Within the framework of the 26th AU Summit, H.E. President Uhuru KENYATTA, will be on Friday 29 January 2016: at 18h30 pm hold a Press briefing on the following issues of the Revitalization of APRM.

The briefing will be held at the new Old Plenary Building– Au Headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Journalist are invited to take part in the press briefing

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Press briefing of Director for women, gender and development

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Within the framework of the 26th AU Summit, Ms. Mahawa Kaba Wheeler, Director for Women, Gender and Development, at the AU Commission will, on Friday 29th January 2016 at 12:30, hold a media briefing on the following issue:

Accelerating the implementation of gender equality and women’s empowerment commitments during the African year of human rights

The briefing will be held in Briefing Room1, at the new AU Conference Center, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Journalists are invited to take part in the press briefing

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Press briefing of Director for women, gender and development

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Within the framework of the 26th AU Summit, Ms. Mahawa Kaba Wheeler, Director for Women, Gender and Development, at the AU Commission will, on Friday 29th January 2016 at 12:30, hold a media briefing on the following issue:

Accelerating the implementation of gender equality and women’s empowerment commitments during the African year of human rights

The briefing will be held in Briefing Room1, at the new AU Conference Center, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Journalists are invited to take part in the press briefing

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Press briefing of Commissioner for social affairs

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Within the framework of the 26th AU Summit, H.E. Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, Commissioner for Social Affairs, at the AU Commission will, on Friday, 29 January 2016 at 11:30 hold a press briefing on the following issues:

Migration
Campaign on Ending Child Marriage in Africa, and
African Union support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA)

The briefing will be held in Briefing Room1, at the new AU Conference Center, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Journalists are invited to take part in the press briefing

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Burundi: Satellite evidence supports witness accounts of mass graves

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Compelling new satellite images, video footage and witness accounts analysed by Amnesty International strongly indicate that dozens of people killed by Burundian security forces in December were later buried in mass graves.

Before and after images and video footage clearly show five possible mass graves in the Buringa area, on the outskirts of Bujumbura. The imagery, dating from late December and early January, shows disturbed earth consistent with witness accounts. Witnesses told Amnesty International that the graves were dug on the afternoon of 11 December, in the immediate aftermath of the bloodiest day of Burundi’s escalating crisis. The findings are contained in a new briefing Burundi: Suspected mass graves of victims of 11 December violence.

“These images suggest a deliberate effort by the authorities to cover up the extent of the killings by their security forces and to prevent the full truth from coming out,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

Amnesty International researchers were in Bujumbura when the killings occurred and visited affected neighbourhoods, including Nyakabiga, the next morning. Residents described how the bodies of at least 21 men were left in the streets, homes and drainage ditches. Researchers found large pools of blood where some of the victims had been killed but the bodies had been removed.

Witnesses described how police and local officials scoured Nyakabiga and other neighbourhoods to retrieve the bodies of those who were killed and took them to undisclosed locations.

The mother of a 15-year-old boy who was allegedly shot in the head as he ran to take refuge in an outhouse in the Musaga neighbourhood, told Amnesty International that a pickup truck from the mayor’s office retrieved her son’s body. The men that took him refused to tell her where the body was being taken. “I don’t know where he is or if he’s been buried,” she said.

In addition to the Buringa site, Amnesty International received credible reports of suspected mass graves of people killed on 11 December in several other locations, including Mpanda and Kanyosha cemeteries.

Local sources reported that 25 bodies were buried in five graves at the Mpanda site, and 28 bodies were buried in four graves at the Kanyosha site. It is not known how many bodies might be found at other sites.

The findings follow a report by Amnesty International in December, “My children are scared”: Burundi’s deepening human rights crisis, and come days before African leaders are due to discuss the conflict in Burundi at the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa.

“African leaders gathering at the AU summit must call on the Burundian government to grant international investigators access to all suspected grave sites and launch an immediate, independent and impartial investigation into the killings and why most families were given no opportunity to retrieve and bury their dead,” said Muthoni Wanyeki.

“Families need to know what happened to their loved ones and to be able to bury them in dignity. These suspected grave sites must be secured until proper investigations can be carried out, and any bodies found in them should be exhumed to assess the causes of death.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Amnesty International.

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African Union Leadership Academy to Promote Good Practices towards the achievement of Agenda 2063

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The Administration and Human Resources Management Directorate (AHRMD) of the African Union Commission (AUC) launched the African Union Leadership Academy project today, 28th January, 2016 at the AU in Addis Ababa Ethiopia under the theme: Driving the Africa We Want.

The launch was attended by H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the Commission, H.E. Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the Commission, Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency, Dr. Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of UN Economic Commission for Africa, AUC Commissioners, staff and invited guests.

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in her opening remarks expressed gratitude towards directors, partners and the entire AUC team who foresaw the success of the launch of the AU leadership academy project. Dr Dlamini Zuma further went on to stress the goal of the academy which is to provide a systematic way of training towards the implementation of Agenda 2063. “This project lies at the heart of the priorities and flagship projects of Agenda 2063: The Africa we want” said Dr. Dlamini Zuma.

The AUC Chairperson emphasized the need for capacity building mechanisms such as the leadership academy, since Africa’s greatest resource is her human resources. Dr Dlamini Zuma then went on to add that the African Union leadership academy will become a strategic node, and means to facilitate service delivery and result-oriented program implementation on the continent, as well as provide knowledge-based responses to any challenges.

In her closing remarks, Dr. Dlamini Zuma noted that the launch of this new project will facilitate the development of professional skills of AU staff members for effective policy design and work place efficiency, that will create a high level pan African learning and development agency, driving capacity building solutions to challenges of managing the process of realisation of Agenda 2063 for the continent’s people.

Mr Amine Idriss Adoum, Director, Administration and Human Resources Management (AHRM) of the AUC’, speaking at the launch, underlined the role of the African Union leadership Academy. Mr Idriss said that the academy will not only be instrumental in driving the Commission towards achievement of Agenda 2063, but will also ensure flexibility in the execution of complex duties within the Commission.

Mr. Idriss illustrated that the leadership academy will deliver capacity building mechanisms, knowledge sharing as well as project management. In turn, this will encourage the spread of AU values.

In his closing remarks Mr. Idriss highlighted the importance of the leadership academy, which will go a long way in providing systemic mechanisms for identifying young potential that will be trained to promote good values in Africa and around the world.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Somalia

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The Secretary-General welcomes today’s decision by the Federal Government of Somalia on a model for the electoral process to establish a new, bicameral Federal Parliament in 2016, based on inclusivity and representation.
He congratulates the Somali leadership on this decision, which paves the way to a timely transition at the expiry of the current institutions’ term. He particularly applauds the commitment to representation of women and minority groups, including that women will comprise 30% of the next Parliament, in line with the Mogadishu Declaration of December 2015.

The Secretary-General notes that today’s announcement follows broad-based consultations with Somali regional administrations, parliamentarians, traditional elders, and civil society. This is in itself a signal of Somalia’s progress in peace-building and state building. He urges all parties to support timely implementation of the 2016 process, in a spirit of national unity and compromise.

The Secretary-General reiterates the urgency of establishing a political roadmap towards universal suffrage in Somalia by 2020, to ensure continued momentum in the country’s transition to democracy. He pledges the continued full support of the United Nations to Somalia’s peace process.

New York, 28 January 2016

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations – Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Source:: Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Somalia

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SOUTH AFRICAN TODDLERS PRESCRIBED MIND-ALTERING STIMULANTS, ANTIDEPRESSANTS AND ANTIPSYCHOTICS

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South Africa reports having one of the highest rates in the world of prescribed stimulants for children labeled with so-called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)—a rate even higher than in the U.S.[i] While The New York Times recently reported the prescription of dangerous antidepressants and antipsychotics to children aged two and younger in the U.S.,[ii] South Africa also shows antidepressants are being prescribed to children aged two and younger[iii] and powerful antipsychotics like Risperdal are approved to treat disruptive behavior in children older than 5 with mental retardation.[iv] Wanting South Africa to avoid the epidemic of psychotropic drug abuse of children seen in the U.S., CCHR (http://www.CCHR.org) International has launched a campaign to inform South African parents and teachers about prescribed psychotropic drug risks in children.

As part of the campaign, fliers are downloadable (http://www.cchrint.org/pdfs/prescribed-psych-drugs-harm-sa-children-and-youth.pdf) to be distributed to parents to become better informed and to refuse to sign consent forms for children to be screened for psychological or mental “disorders” through schools. Parents can also download, print, and sign a form to protect their child (http://www.cchrint.org/pdfs/parent-exemption-form.pdf) from invasive school questionnaires that could lead to a referral to a psychiatrist for psychotropic drugs. South Africa adopted an “Integrated School Health Policy” in 2010, which included a mental health program. It likely opened the door to more children potentially being drugged, CCHR says.

Stimulants sales are a $9.9 billion (R150 billion) a year industry in the U.S. and are among the leading drugs of abuse by teenagers. South African students snort and swallow Ritalin to get high. The drug is referred to as “smarties,” “rit” or “kiddie cocaine.”[v] The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says methylphenidate (Ritalin) is “closely related to cocaine.”[vi]

Psychostimulants can cause hallucinations, liver problems, seizures, stunted growth, psychotic or manic symptoms, and suicidal thoughts. Unlike for diabetes, heart problems or medical conditions, there’s no scientific test to prove that ADHD exists, as agreed by many doctors. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has warned governments about the excessive diagnosis of ADHD and the need for alternatives to stimulants prescribed to treat it.

Conflicts of Interest

Another parallel between South Africa and the U.S. is the conflicts of interest—the financial ties between psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies that help fuel the increases in psychiatric drug prescriptions. The South African Society of Psychiatrists Treatment Guidelines for Psychiatric Disorders was written by ten psychiatrists (one of which passed away prior to reporting any conflicts of interest). Six had financial ties to drug companies that manufacture psychiatric drugs.[vii] The Guidelines cite the U.S. psychiatrist Prof. Joseph Biederman from Harvard University whose failure to disclose to the university the $1.6 million (R24.1 million) he made in consulting fees from drug makers was uncovered by a U.S. Senate investigation. According to The New York Times his research helped cause a 40-fold increase (1994 to 2003) in the diagnosis of childhood “bipolar disorder” in the U.S. and the rapid rise in dangerous antipsychotics to treat it.[viii]

The Anti-Drug Alliance of South Africa says many doctors are receiving kickbacks including paid holidays abroad for prescribing certain drugs in the treatment of ADHD.[ix] The South African guidelines, especially relating to ADHD, should be rejected, CCHR says.

The use of Ritalin and other drugs to treat ADHD was reported in January 2014 as soaring among primary school children in Nelson Mandela Bay, Eastern Cape province. A local pharmacist reported an increase of nearly 50% in Ritalin prescriptions over the previous year.[x]

Antidepressant use in the South Africa has increased by 39% over the past four years.[xi] In 2005 the South Africa Medicines Control Council issued a “Drug Alert: Warning” that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressant packaging include a warning of increased suicidality in children and adolescents.[xii]

Despite this, a study published in 2013 shows that in South Africa the average number of antidepressant prescriptions claimed per patient increased with age and infants and adolescents aged 16 to 18 are prescribed the drugs.[xiii] A co-author of a December 2015 study reported about 60 to 70% of people who take antidepressants “experience side effects and some of the side effects are severe suicidal thoughts.” [xiv]

CCHR agrees that parents and children may need help. However, parents are not being given all the facts, especially that there is no medical test to confirm that any mental disorder is a physical “disease.” South African parents have the right to know about safe alternatives for their child and to ask their doctor about non-drug treatments. Download the flier for more information, here (http://www.cchrint.org/pdfs/prescribed-psych-drugs-harm-sa-children-and-youth.pdf).

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Citizens Commission on Human Rights International (CCHR).

Contact: Media Director, Citizens Commission on Human Rights International
Media Dept.: [email protected]

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Power Africa Launches Roadmap to 60 Million Connections and 30,000 MW by 2030

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Today at the Powering Africa Summit, Power Africa partners launched a roadmap to meet President Obama’s goals of adding 30,000 megawatts and 60 million connections across sub-Saharan Africa by 2030.

The U.S. Government committed an initial $7 billion that has leveraged nearly $43 billion in commitments from over 120 public and private sector partners. The Power Africa Roadmap outlines how it will add 30,000 MW by maximizing value from existing transactions, advancing new opportunities for deal flow, and increasing the efficiency of existing generation. It also highlights how Power Africa will add 60 million connections by scaling up grid roll-out programs and intensifying its Beyond the Grid efforts.

“With a robust financial foundation in place and an expanding group of partners committed to producing results, Power Africa is breaking the logjam on energy infrastructure and keeping eager capital flowing to worthy projects,” said U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Gayle Smith. “Building on our progress so far, this Roadmap lays out a clear path to achieving President Obama’s ambitious vision of bringing electricity to 60 million African homes and businesses. And the Power Africa Tracking Tool offers unprecedented insight into the actual deals that will facilitate that success.”

“Sub-Saharan Africa is rich in renewable energy sources-solar, hydropower, geothermal-yet only one in three people has access to power. For those who have electricity, the supply is often unreliable; sub-Saharan Africa loses 2.1 percent of gross domestic product from blackouts alone,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. “We must find solutions-in our partnerships with African governments and the Power Africa initiative-that will give millions of African people the opportunity for a better life with something most of us take for granted: access to electricity.”

“Africa is tired of being in the dark. Lack of electricity puts a break on Africa’s economic growth and development. I applaud President Obama’s leadership and bold Power Africa Initiative,” said African Development Bank President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, who recently launched the Bank’s New Deal on Energy for Africa, which aligns with the Power Africa Roadmap, last week at the World Economic Forum. “To accelerate universal access to electricity in Africa by 2025, the African Development Bank developed the New Deal on Energy for Africa and launched the Transformative Partnership on Energy for Africa. Working together with Power Africa, private sector, development partners and African governments, we will light up and power Africa.”

Also launched today, the Power Africa Tracking Tool (PATT) allows for easy, real-time tracking of transactions across the continent. The PATT provides previously unavailable data that will increase transparency and drive the competitiveness of African markets. The iPhone app and web portal allow for easily accessible information on 45,000 MW in power transactions from stakeholders on the ground. A release of the Android app is planned for February 2016.

President Obama launched Power Africa in 2013-a partnership to help double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, working with African governments, the private sector, and bilateral and multilateral development partners. Since its launch in 2013, Power Africa has helped projects expected to generate over 4,300 MW of new, cleaner electricity reach financial close and is actively supporting an additional 25,000 MW of projects. Over three-quarters of these projects involve clean, renewable technology. From wind parks in Kenya, to solar arrays in Rwanda, and geothermal generation in Ethiopia, Power Africa is putting the continent’s vast renewable resources to work. Power Africa’s aim is to help African governments build cleaner, more climate-resilient power sectors that serve all people.

Power Africa partners will discuss the Roadmap and Tracking Tool in greater detail at EnergyNet’s Powering Africa Summit in Washington, D.C. today and tomorrow. The Summit is convening energy sector leaders from around the world to identify new opportunities for partnership on projects across Africa.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

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Categories: AFRICA