Didier Reynders stresses Belgian commitment to preserve the Virunga National Park in DRC

BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, May 8, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders attended the ceremony for the creation of the Virunga Foundation Belgium at Château Val Duchesse in Brussels, on Thursday 7 May. In the presence of Minister of State François-Xavier de Donnea, trustee of the Virunga Foundation United Kingdom and Emmanuel de Merode, CEO of the Virunga Foundation United Kingdom and director of the Virunga National Park, Didier Reynders stressed the commitment of Belgium to preserve the Virunga Park.

Virunga is the oldest park in Africa and hosts the largest number of mammals, birds and reptiles, but is also the most threatened park in Africa. The massive presence of armed groups throughout the park, increasing population pressure, illegal mining, exploitation of charcoal, illegal fishing, poaching and especially oil exploitation projects are constant threats to the rich biodiversity of the park.

The aim of the new Virunga Foundation Belgium is to promote the reputation of the Virunga National Park, located in the North Kivu, and to contribute to the financing of social projects and sustainable development, in the Park or for the benefit of its active or retired staff, their families and local communities. Didier Reynders emphasized the importance of raising awareness among Congolese and international actors, as well as identifying and denouncing these threats and helping to find alternatives. Belgium supports, through direct or indirect means, projects that contribute to the improvement of living conditions of local communities.

Source:: Didier Reynders stresses Belgian commitment to preserve the Virunga National Park in DRC

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The Philips Foundation commits to innovation that improves the lives of children in need with the launch of the UNICEF Global Innovation Center (GIC)

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 8, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Philips Foundation (http://www.philips.com/a-w/foundation/philips-foundation.html) has extended its partnership with UNICEF as one of the 5 founding partners and steering committee member of the UNICEF Global Innovation Center (GIC). The GIC based in Nairobi, Kenya is designed to build scale and accelerate innovations that will improve children’s lives around the world. The Philips Foundation will also provide UNICEF’s innovation team with consultation and access to Philips innovation processes and solutions as well as the company’s internal network of researchers and designers to solve challenges.

Logo “Philips Foundation”: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/philips-foundation.jpg

Logo Royal Philips: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/philips-1.jpg

“With the Global Innovation Centre and Innovation Fund, UNICEF is building new forms of engagement between businesses and development organizations that bring resources and expertise, to bear on children’s issues,” said Dr. Sharad Sapra, Director of the UNICEF Global Innovation Centre. “UNICEF welcomes the valuable contribution of the founding members of the Global Innovation Centre and Innovation Fund for their willingness to approach partnerships in an innovative way, and for their commitment to improving children’s lives and futures,” he added.

The Philips Foundation is actively engaging in projects around the world that improve people’s lives since it was incorporated as a charitable organization in 2014. The Foundation will link UNICEF’s Innovation team with support at Royal Philips to maximize the strength of their current projects and realize opportunities to scale technology across countries even faster. They will meet this week in a workshop led by Philips Design to bring the GIC committee members together in a collaborative environment to explore the many ways in which each member can engage with innovation opportunities to create the most impactful outcomes for children in the near future.

“Supporting the UNICEF Global Innovation Centre is a natural next-step in our partnership with UNICEF as it allows us to leverage Royal Philips’ technology, innovation know-how and employees in a really meaningful way to bring scale to social innovators in communities around the world in support of children,” said Ronald de Jong, Member of the Executive Committee at Royal Philips and Chairman of the Philips Foundation. “Innovation as a means to improve people’s lives is at the heart of who we are at Philips and we increasingly seek engagement and co-creation with strong partners like UNICEF.”

It is the second project in the Philips Foundation-UNICEF partnership following the Maker Movement project which supports social entrepreneurs to create, prototype and scale-up, low-cost maternal and newborn child health equipment in Nairobi, Kenya. The project also leverages the on-ground expertise of employees at the Philips Africa Innovation Hub in Nairobi (http://www.newscenter.philips.com/main/standard/news/press/2014/20140321-Philips-to-establish-Research-and-Innovation-Hub-in-Africa.wpd) to mentor social entrepreneurs to support infrastructure.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Royal Philips.

For further information, please contact:

Radhika Choksey

Philips Group Communications – Africa

Tel: +31 62525 9000

E-mail: radhika.choksey@philips.com

About Royal Philips:

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) (http://www.philips.com) is a diversified health and well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation in the areas of Healthcare, Consumer Lifestyle and Lighting. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips posted 2014 sales of EUR 21.4 billion and employs approximately 108,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. The company is a leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as male shaving and grooming and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located at www.philips.com/newscenter.

About the Philips Foundation:

The Philips Foundation (http://www.philips-foundation.com) is a registered charity and has been created to help enable lasting social change in disadvantaged communities through the provision and application of innovation, talent and resources. Together with key partners the International Red Cross and UNICEF, the Philips Foundation seeks to identify the challenges where a combination of Philips expertise and partner experience can be used to create meaningful solutions that impact people’s lives. The Philips Foundation has three main program areas: disaster relief, community development and social entrepreneurship. Programs run throughout the world in Philips country locations will also be supported and channeled through the Philips Foundation. The Philips Foundation’s work supports Royal Philips’ ambition to improve the lives of 3 billion people a year by 2025. www.philips-foundation.com

Registered charity in the Netherlands (ANBI), RSIN number 854184788

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF visit: www.unicef.org. To view UNICEF’s 2014 State of the World’s Children on Innovation, visit: http://sowc2015.unicef.org/. Follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/unicef) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/unicef?ref=br_rs).

About UNICEF Innovation

UNICEF Innovation (http://www.unicef.org/innovation/innovation_73197.html) is an interdisciplinary team of individuals around the world tasked with identifying, prototyping, and scaling technologies and practices that strengthen UNICEF’s work. Through our network of 12 Innovation Labs and presence in 190 countries, we build and scale innovations that improve children’s lives around the world. For more information about UNICEF’s work in innovation, visit: www.unicef.org/innovation and www.unicefstories.org. Follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/UNICEFinnovate).

Source:: The Philips Foundation commits to innovation that improves the lives of children in need with the launch of the UNICEF Global Innovation Center (GIC)

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IMF Mission and Senegal Reach Staff-Level Agreement on the Program under the Policy Support Instrument

DAKAR, Sénégal, May 8, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Ali Mansoor visited Senegal from April 24 to May 7, 2015 to conduct discussions with the Senegalese authorities on their economic program, which may be supported by a new three-year IMF arrangement under the Policy Support Instrument (PSI)1. Subject to IMF management approval, the staff-level agreement is expected to be submitted to the IMF Executive Board for its consideration in June 2015. Members of the mission met with H.E. President Macky Sall, Prime Minister Mohammed Dionne and senior government officials, including those in charge of the Plan Sénégal Emergent (PSE), as well as representatives of the banking and private sectors, civil society, and development partners. At the conclusion of the visit, Mr. Mansoor made the following statement:

“The mission is pleased that the Senegalese authorities share the consensus that achieving emerging country status in the economic and social areas will require maintaining a sound macroeconomic environment and accelerating reforms aimed at improving productivity and the business climate. In this context, the Senegalese authorities and the mission have reached a staff level agreement on a macroeconomic and structural program for the period 2015-17 which may be supported by a Policy Support Instrument (PSI).

“This program aims to support Senegal in implementing the Plan Sénégal Emergent (PSE) with the goal of increasing growth and further reducing poverty while preserving macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability. Efforts in this context will focus on increasing tax revenues by broadening the tax base, as well as on rationalizing current expenditures to create fiscal space for financing infrastructure and social expenditures. Particularly close attention will be paid to the quality of expenditure, including investment expenditure, and to strengthening public financing, transparency, and economic governance. Finally, the program will contribute to accelerating structural reforms to foster a more attractive business environment, thereby promoting development of the private sector.

“The program aims to achieve an economic growth rate of at least 5 percent in 2015 compared with 4.7 percent in 2014, while maintaining the inflation rate below 2 percent.

“Sustained efforts to scale back government spending and to improve mobilization of tax revenues will allow for an increase in investment and social expenditures and a concomitant decrease in the budget deficit to 4.7 percent.

“Medium-term targets include increasing the GDP growth rate to over 6 percent, containing inflation below 3 percent, and reducing the budget deficit to 3.6 percent by 2017, with the goal of reducing it to 3 percent by 2018. The current account deficit should continue to decrease from 9 percent of GDP in 2014 to 6.5 percent of GDP in 2017 as a result of export growth.

“Meeting these targets will require rigorous and robust efforts to implement the PSE initiatives and the government’s structural reforms.”

The IMF mission wishes to thank the Senegalese authorities for their gracious hospitality and cooperation.

1 The PSI is an instrument of the IMF designed for countries that do not need balance of payments financial support. The PSI helps countries design effective economic programs that, once approved by the IMF’s Executive Board, signal to donors, multilateral development banks, and markets the Fund’s endorsement of a member’s policies (see http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/psi.htm).

Source:: IMF Mission and Senegal Reach Staff-Level Agreement on the Program under the Policy Support Instrument

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IMF Staff Completes Review Mission to Guinea

CONAKRY, Guinea, May 8, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — An IMF mission led by Abdoul Aziz Wane visited Conakry during April 23-May 8, 2015, to conduct discussions on the sixth review of the authorities program supported by an arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF),i which was approved by the IMF Executive Board on February 24, 2012 for SDR 128.52 million (see Press Release No. 12/57). The mission met with finance minister Mohamed Diaré, central bank governor Lounceny Nabé, planning minister Sékou Traoré, deputy budget minister Ansoumane Condé, and other senior government officials, as well as the banking association. The discussions focused on recent economic developments, growth prospects, and policy implementation, as well as policies and structural reforms for 2015.

At the conclusion of the mission Mr. Wane issued the following statement:

“The Guinean authorities and IMF staff have made significant progress toward understandings on a set of policies that, subject to approval by IMF management and the Executive Board, could be supported by the seventh disbursement under the ECF arrangement of SDR 18.36 million (about US$26 million). The Executive Board meeting is expected to be held in late June 2015.

“In 2014, Guinea was hit by an outbreak of Ebola which claimed numerous lives and inflicted a heavy social and economic toll. As a result, economic growth slowed to 1.1 percent, despite agricultural production growing strongly. Macroeconomic stability was maintained thanks to sound policies helped by stepped up international support to fight the Ebola outbreak. Inflation declined to 8.5 percent in March 2015 and the Central Bank’s international reserves remained at safe levels. The Guinean franc depreciated slightly against the US dollar, but strengthened against the euro. All the performance criteria and indicative targets for end-2014 under the ECF arrangement were met. However several indicative for end-March 2015 were missed, reflecting increased pressure on the budget.

“The authorities continued to implement their structural reform agenda, but difficulties in securing technical assistance have slowed the pace of reforms. They remain committed to the ECF-supported reform agenda aimed at strengthening public financial management, improving the business environment, bolstering the productivity of the public sector, strengthening the electricity sector, and finalizing the transformation of the mining sector’s institutional and legal environment. The mission welcomed the adoption of the draft law on public enterprises that will help control budgetary risks.

“This year will be another difficult one for the Guinean economy, reflecting the Ebola outbreak which is still not fully under control, sharply lower commodity prices, and the political uncertainty ahead of the presidential elections. We expect growth to be nil on average in 2015. Little, if any, output expansion seems likely this year.

“The authorities aim to maintain inflation below 10 percent and reserves at around 3 months of imports. They also intend to maintain an ambitious public investment program to support growth and improve living conditions. However, the recent increase in public sector wages and the significant reduction in pump prices will complicate the achievement of these objectives. The mission encourages the authorities to implement the automatic fuel pricing mechanism and revenue-enhancing measures to contain the fiscal deficit as well as enhance the transparency of the public investment program. The IMF team signaled the importance of additional financial assistance from the international community to support the authorities’ adjustment efforts and essential priority expenditure.

“The IMF team thanks the authorities for their hospitality and for the constructive discussions. The mission would like to express its sympathy for the heavy toll in human life of the Ebola virus; the recent decline in new cases gives hope that the outbreak will be eradicated soon.”

i The ECF is the IMF’s main tool for medium-term financial support to low-income countries. Financing under the ECF currently carries a zero percent interest rate, with a grace period of 5½ years, and a maturity of 10 years.

Source:: IMF Staff Completes Review Mission to Guinea

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Global rate of blindness is declining: in 2014 LIGHT FOR THE WORLD helped more than one million blind and disabled people

VIENNA, Austria, May 8, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — For many years, LIGHT FOR THE WORLD (http://www.light-for-the-world.org) has been contributing to the constant drop of the global blindness rate. When the organisation first started 25 years ago, 0.6 per cent of the world’s population were still blind, whereas today thanks to a global effort, only 0.47 %* are affected. LIGHT FOR THE WORLD not only combats avoidable blindness, but also supports people with various disabilities. In 2014 more than 59,000 children with disabilities accessed different kinds of rehabilitation and assistive devices, with 11,500 also receiving school education. This was only possible thanks to the support of donors, foundations and public institutions, among them Bausch + Lomb, CROMA Pharma, Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung, Fondation L’OCCITANE and Sint Antonious Foundation. The total income rose from 21.1 to 22.5 million Euro (+ 6.6%).

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/l4tw.jpg

Photo 1: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1951

Photo 2: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1952

Photo 3: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1953

Photo 4: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1954

Progress in the elimination of Trachoma

Trachoma is one of seven neglected tropical diseases (NTD) that are on track to be eliminated by the year 2020. LIGHT FOR THE WORLD managed to complete the mapping of trachoma in suspected endemic regions in Ethiopia and Mozambique in 2014. After the completion of the global mapping project which is funded by the UK government, this highly painful and blinding disease will be tackled worldwide by applying a strategy called SAFE. It involves Surgeries, Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness, and Environmental change (access to clean water). Patients who already suffer from trachoma are treated with medication and eye-lid operations.

New eye clinic in Mozambique

In July 2014 the groundbreaking ceremony for a new eye clinic took place in Beira, Mozambique’s second biggest city. The clinic will serve as eye-care hub for two million people in the province of Sofala. Starting from next year, 1,200 eye surgeries will be carried out annually and, most notably, thirty eye-care professionals will be trained every three years.

*Source: www.iapb.org/resources/gbd-numbers-and-prevalence

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Light for the World.

Contact:

Andrea Zefferer, PR Manager LIGHT FOR THE WORLD

T: +447546873619

E: a.zefferer@light-for-the-world.org

Web: http://www.light-for-the-world.org/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lftwinternational

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lftwworldwide

Pictures to download: http://www.light-for-the-world.org/press

About LIGHT FOR THE WORLD

LIGHT FOR THE WORLD (http://www.light-for-the-world.org) is a European confederation of national development NGOs aiming at an inclusive society. We are committed to saving eyesight, improving the quality of life, and advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities in the underprivileged regions of our world. http://www.light-for-the-world.org/

Source:: Global rate of blindness is declining: in 2014 LIGHT FOR THE WORLD helped more than one million blind and disabled people

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Death of American Citizens in Ghana

ACCRA, Ghana, May 7, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The U.S. Embassy in Ghana reports with deepest sympathy that two U.S. citizens have been killed in the Eastern Region of Ghana. We express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victims. The U.S. Embassy in Ghana is in contact with family members and is providing appropriate consular assistance. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment at this time.

We have confidence in the rule of law in Ghana, and urge any residents with information regarding this incident to report it to the Ghana Police Service. We refer you to local authorities for details on the investigation.

Source:: Death of American Citizens in Ghana

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