IMF Staff Concludes Staff Visit to Madagascar

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar, March 5, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team led by Mr. George Tsibouris visited Antananarivo during February 18-March 4, 2015. It held discussions with the government on reforms aimed at addressing the macroeconomic pressures, accelerating growth, and achieving a durable reduction in poverty that could be supported by the IMF’s Extended Credit Facility (ECF)1. The mission met with President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, Prime Minister Jean Ravelonarivo, Minister of Finance and Budget Gervais Rakotoarimanana, Central Bank of Madagascar Governor Alain Rasolofondraibe, the Economic Advisor to the President Léon Rajaobelina, and other senior officials, as well as private sector representatives and development partners.

At the end of the visit, Mr. Tsibouris issued the following statement:

“Over the past two weeks, we continued constructive discussions with the authorities on an economic reform program for which they are seeking support under the IMF’s ECF. Discussions focused on an economic strategy for 2015-18 that draws on the National Development Plan and the Presidential Plan of Urgent Actions. The strategy under discussion emphasizes measures to increase revenue mobilization, improve the composition and quality of fiscal spending, and advance monetary and financial sector reforms.”

“Madagascar’s revenue performance remains below its potential. To improve revenue mobilization, the authorities have committed to strong efforts to improve tax and customs administration. They also plan on a range of broad-based reforms, including improved controls, valuation, audits, and use of risk-based management. Actions to broaden the tax base in 2015 will also be taken.

“We welcome the authorities’ commitment to address the root causes of budgetary pressures. Fuel subsidies, transfers to state-owned enterprises, including the loss-making JIRAMA, and the underfunded civil service pension funds weighed heavily on budget execution in 2014. The intention to eliminate fuel-price subsidies is welcome. Going forward, it is critical to strengthen the performance and oversight of state-owned enterprises and pension funds, and to modernize the public sector in general. It will also be important to proceed with the approved strategy for public financial management reform.

“These measures will create room to increase spending on infrastructure, education, health, and social protection programs. Already, the government is reallocating resources to tackle the recent natural disasters. Human capital development is a key policy objective. Infrastructure investment, including in the energy, transportation, and agricultural sectors, is critically needed; their careful prioritization and prudent financing strategies will ensure that debt remains on a sustainable trajectory. Additional support from Madagascar’s technical and financial partners will be important.

“The mission also discussed monetary and financial sector reforms, including the need to strengthen the independence and capital base of the central bank and enhance its internal governance. Going forward, it will be essential to ensure that the foreign exchange market is sufficiently liquid and reflects market conditions. In that context, the central bank should rebuild its international reserves. An action plan on medium-term financial sector reforms will be finalized following the Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) that is expected to be undertaken in 2015.

“The government is creating a more conducive environment for the private sector. To create a solid foundation for private sector growth, it will be important to strengthen institutions and governance. The government has a key role to play by improving the legal and regulatory environment.

“With good progress being made so far, we are determined to continue our discussions with a view to reaching agreement on an ECF arrangement as soon as possible.”

1 The Extended Credit Facility (ECF) has replaced the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) as the Fund’s main tool for medium-term financial support to low-income countries by providing a higher level of access to financing, more concessional terms, enhanced flexibility in program design features, and more focused streamlined conditionality. Financing under the ECF carries a zero interest rate, with a grace period of 5½ years, and a final maturity of 10 years (http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/ecf.htm). The Fund reviews the level of interest rates for all concessional facilities every two years.

Source:: IMF Staff Concludes Staff Visit to Madagascar

Categories: African Press Organization

Minister Flanagan raises Halawa case with Egyptian Assistant Foreign Minister Badr

DUBLIN, Ireland, March 4, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Today Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, met the Egyptian Assistant Foreign Minister, Hisham Badr, in Geneva.

Minister Flanagan raised the matter of Ibrahim Halawa’s detention. He said that he was most concerned about Ibrahim’s welfare and wished to see him at home in Ireland resuming his studies. He referred to Ibrahim’s long period of detention and said that he was in close contact with Ibrahim’s family and, as a father himself, he understood their concerns and their desire to have Ibrahim back home and back at school.

Assistant Foreign Minister Badr undertook to take up the matter upon his return to Cairo and convey Minister Flanagan’s concerns directly to his Government colleagues.

Minister Flanagan said:

“I was pleased to have the opportunity to discuss this case with AFM Badr today in Geneva. I will continue to avail of every appropriate opportunity to communicate to the Egyptian authorities the Irish Government’s wish that Ibrahim be returned to his family and his studies.”

Source:: Minister Flanagan raises Halawa case with Egyptian Assistant Foreign Minister Badr

Categories: African Press Organization

Celebrating 30 Years, High-Level Segment of 15TH Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment Opens in Cairo

CAIRO, Egypt, March 4, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Continent to Define Vision for the Future on Climate, Investment in Natural Capital, Economic Transitions and Development as Deadlines for Culmination of Key Global Agreements Approach

Presidential Audience for African Ministers and Top UN Environment Chief

•    New UN studies show climate adaptation cost for africa could soar and outlines solutions, while continent — including Egypt— stands to reap billions, create jobs by transitioning to green economy

The high-level segment of the 15th Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) opened in Cairo, Wednesday, with delegations from 54 African nations in attendance as well as over 300 participants from around the continent representing policymakers, experts, civil society, businesses and major groups. Also attending the meeting are partner organizations, UN agencies and representatives from the donor community.

President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah El Sisi, received an AMCEN ministerial delegation and UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner, hours ahead of the Opening of the Conference. Egypt presides over the 15th Session of AMCEN for a period of two years, while UNEP acts as the Secretariat.

The meeting comes at a crucial moment as the coming months will determine how Africa’s development and climate change priorities are articulated and reflected in the context of global negotiations, including the UN Climate Change Conference, COP21 and the post-2015 development agenda.

This is the first time the meeting is held in Cairo – the birth place of AMCEN – in thirty years since the inception of the Conference in 1985.

New AMCEN President, Dr. Khaled Fahmy, Minister of the Environment of Egypt, said, “Egypt is proud to host the 15th Session of the AMCEN in Cairo at this important moment in time. The continent stands to determine its development priorities in the context of global negotiations. It is crucial for us to clearly define common priorities and the means to achieve our objectives at the regional and national levels.”

New UNEP studies, launched at the event, show that climate adaptation costs for Africa could soar to reach US $50 billion annually by mid-century. The continent is looking at a combination of internal mechanisms, supported by international cooperation, to meet the cost and implement sound adaptation policies at the national and regional levels.

At the same time, Africa could reap billions of dollars and lower its carbon footprint through the transition to a green economy. Case studies from 10 African countries will be presented, including Egypt, which the UN says could save over US $2.4 billion annually, cut CO2 emissions by 13 per cent, water consumption by 40 per cent and create 8 million new Jobs if it adopts such a transition across diverse sectors.

UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, “On its 30th Anniversary, I extend my warmest congratulations to AMCEN and to Africa’s leadership for having ably steered environmental governance across the continent for the last three decades; inspiring action, pioneering reform and charting a durable path towards sustainability and better lives and livelihoods for all.”

“But there is still work to be done. We need to create the policies and mechanisms that will integrate natural capital valuation and ecosystem approaches in all aspects of decision-making across diverse sectors, if we are to harness the full potential of Africa’s rich natural endowments and to employ the competitive advantage offered as an engine for inclusive and equitable economic growth,” he added.

One of the main objectives of the 15th Session of the AMCEN meeting is to provide a platform for African ministers of the environment to deliberate on how to harness Africa’s natural capital to help the region achieve sustainable development, create jobs for the increasing number of young people and contribute to the eradication of poverty.

The meeting will also offer an opportunity to deliberate on substantive follow up actions related to the first session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), which took place in June 2014 in Nairobi.

Deliberations will take place on priorities including: the post-2015 development agenda and the proposed Sustainable Development Goals; the illegal trade in wildlife and timber; and a roadmap that defines what is at stake for Africa in preparation for the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which will be held in Paris, later this year, and which aims at forging an ambitious international agreement on climate change.

Source:: Celebrating 30 Years, High-Level Segment of 15TH Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment Opens in Cairo

Categories: African Press Organization

Costs of Climate Change Adaptation Expected to Rise Far Beyond Africa’s Coping Capacity Even if Warming Kept Below 2°C / Ambitious Cuts in Global Emissions, Increased and Innovative Adaptation Financing Needed to Spare Continent Worst Climate Chang

CAIRO, Egypt, March 4, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Africa, the continent with warming deviating most rapidly from “normal” conditions, could see climate change adaptation costs rise to US$50 billion per year by 2050, even assuming international efforts keep global warming below 2°C this century, according to a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report.

Released at the 15th African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), Africa’s Adaptation Gap builds on UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report 2014, which showed that the world is not currently headed in the right direction for holding global warming below 2°C. This latest Africa Adaptation Gap report also builds on UNEP’s Global Adaptation Gap Report 2014, which found that adaptation costs in all developing countries together could climb as high as US$250-500 billion per year by 2050.

Produced in collaboration with Climate Analytics and the African Climate Finance Hub, the report says deep global emissions reductions are the best way to head off Africa’s crippling adaptation costs. It also finds that the continent’s domestic resources are insufficient to respond to projected impacts, but would be important to complement international funding for African countries—including meeting the Cancun climate finance commitments by 2020.

“The accelerating rate of climate change poses great adaptation challenges, of which we have been well forewarned,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “The best insurance against the many potential negative impacts of climate change is ambitious global mitigation action in the long-run, combined with large-scale and rapidly increasing funding for adaptation. Investing in resilience and adaptation as an integral part of national development planning can develop resilience to future climate change impacts.”

Africa’s looming climate crisis

Africa is the continent where a rapidly changing climate is expected to deviate earlier than across any other continent from “normal” changes, making adaptation a matter of urgency, the report says.

Warming projections under medium scenarios indicate that extensive areas of Africa will exceed 2°C by the last two decades of this century relative to the late 20th century mean annual temperature. Under a high warming pathway, temperatures could exceed 2°C by mid-century across much of Africa and reach between 3°C and 6°C by the end of the century. This would have a severe impact on agricultural production, food security, human health and water availability.

In a 4˚C world, projections for Africa suggest sea levels could rise faster than the global average and reach 80cm above current levels by 2100 along the Indian and Atlantic Ocean coastlines, with particularly high numbers of people at risk to flooding in the coastal cities of Mozambique, Tanzania, Cameroon, Egypt, Senegal and Morocco.

“This is not just a question of money; millions of people and their livelihoods are at stake,” said Binilith Mahenge, President of AMCEN and Tanzania’s Minister of State for Environment. “Africa’s population will be at an increasing risk of undernourishment due to increasing food demand and the detrimental effects of climate change on agriculture on the continent. Global warming of 2˚C would put over 50 per cent of the African continent’s population at risk of undernourishment. Yet, the IPCC showed that without additional mitigation we are heading to 4˚C of warming.”

“Rising to the challenge and addressing the systemic harm that climate change may cause in Africa, thus undermining the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, warrants leaving no stone unturned in exploring opportunities for supporting adaptation actions and measures in Africa,” he added.

Closing the funding gap

The report explores the extent to which African nations can contribute to closing the adaptation gap—especially in the area of identifying the resources that will be needed.

The evidence suggests that African countries—such as Ghana, Ethiopia and South Africa—are already committing some resources of their own to adaptation efforts. Country-case studies in the report suggest that by 2029/2030, under moderately optimistic growth scenarios, Ghana could for example – based on hypothetical scenarios – commit US$233 million to adaptation financing, Ethiopia US$248 million, South Africa US$961 million and Togo US$18.2 million. However, international funding will be required to bridge the growing adaptation gap even if African nations commit to ways to increase domestic sources. Current levels of international finance, through bilateral and multilateral sources, are not sufficient.

“Because of the magnitude of the challenge, further examination of the potential and the feasibility of mobilizing untapped international, regional and domestic sources should be explored further,” said Mr Steiner.

Scaling up international climate finance under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) may lead to sufficient funding for adaptation, but even in that case, implementation can only reach its full potential if complemented by comprehensive and effective national and regional policy planning, capacity-building and governance.

The promotion of an effective enabling framework for private sector participation in adaptation activities would also be a key contributor to closing the funding gap, the report finds.

Source:: Costs of Climate Change Adaptation Expected to Rise Far Beyond Africa’s Coping Capacity Even if Warming Kept Below 2°C / Ambitious Cuts in Global Emissions, Increased and Innovative Adaptation Financing Needed to Spare Continent Worst Climate Chang

Categories: African Press Organization

Kenya, Zambia, Uganda and Rwanda Ministries gather to address power sector and shape regional infrastructure planning

NAIROBI, Kenya, March 4, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Ministers and senior representatives from four East African countries have recently pledged their support in solving East Africa’s crippling power deficit.

Hon. Joseph Njoroge, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Energy, Kenya, H.E. Hon Christopher Yaluma, Minister of Energy and Minerals, Zambia, H.E. Hon Minister James Musoni, Minister of Infrastructure, Rwanda and Maria Kiwanuka, Senior Advisor to H.E. The President and The President’s Office in Charge of Finance, Uganda will be joined by private power sector decision makers at the Powering East Africa meeting from 25-27th March in Nairobi (http://www.powering-eastafrica.com) to highlight the urgency of the region’s transmission crisis.

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Photo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1807

Key speakers from the World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB), IFC, Barclays, Symbion Power, KenGen, KPLC, UMEME and EEP will address game-changing actions for the power sector including; the critical role transmission must play in East Africa’s industrialisation, the role of power utilities, how best to overcome financing obstacles and how the cost of regional borrowing can be lessened by unlocking the transmission deadlock.

EnergyNet’s Programme Manager Ms Veronica Bolton-Smith said of the recent Ministerial confirmations; “When you consider that Powering East Africa is a targeted meeting for a small number of participants, the presence of four of the most powerful people in the region’s energy sector highlights the need for such focused talks.”

To view the full speaker list for this meeting and latest programme, please visit www.powering-eastafrica.com, or join the debate on Twitter @EnergyNet_Ltd #poweringeastafrica

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of EnergyNet Ltd.

For more information about how to attend this meeting:

Meeting dates: 25-27th March 2015

Venue: Windsor Golf Hotel & Country Club, Nairobi

Contact: Amy Offord, Marketing Manager

Tel: +44 (0)20 7384 8068

Email: pe-a@energynet.co.uk

Visit: http://www.powering-eastafrica.com/

Source:: Kenya, Zambia, Uganda and Rwanda Ministries gather to address power sector and shape regional infrastructure planning

Categories: African Press Organization

Shelter an urgent priority as Red Cross scales up response efforts for flood-affected in Malawi

LILONGWE, Malawi, March 4, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Following two months of constant rains, and with further rains forecast, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is ramping up its efforts to assist more than 46,000 people affected by the worst flooding Malawi has experienced in years.

“The situation is precarious,” said Michael Charles, IFRC’s acting regional representative in southern Africa. “In some camps, family tents that were designed to accommodate six people have been housing 30 individuals. In the larger tents, designed to accommodate between 20 and 30 adults, up to 100 people have crammed inside. Everyone is desperate to find shelter, even if it means living virtually on top of their neighbours.”

From the onset of the flooding, the Malawi Red Cross Society has been assisting in response efforts, conducting search and rescue and distributing emergency supplies to thousands of people. With the scope of the disaster becoming more clear, IFRC has revised its emergency appeal upwards and is now requesting 4 million Swiss francs in emergency funding to support activities related to the provision of shelter, health care, access to clean water and proper sanitation, and reuniting families separated by the flooding.

“When the flooding began in January, the scale of the emergency was still unclear,” said Charles. “Together with the government and other partners, we conducted assessments and now know that at least 230,000 people have lost their homes and are struggling to survive. It is vital that we scale up our activities if we are to safeguard the lives of these vulnerable people and ensure that they survive this flood and future environmental extremes.”

With further heavy rains expected to fall in already saturated parts of Malawi over the coming week, the situation could become worse as more people seek shelter in the temporary camps that have been established along the periphery of the flood waters.

In addition to providing for the immediate needs of 46,712 people, the revised appeal seeks to address the resilience and longer-term development of affected communities. The appeal will be sufficient to help 100 families build more resilient permanent houses as a pilot project for further flood-resistant housing. To date, the appeal is 29 per cent funded.

“Building flood resistant shelter is a key component of the revised appeal,” said Naemi Heita, IFRC regional disaster risk management coordinator. “Malawi experiences flooding every year, and we want to ensure that people are better prepared for future flooding. We also want to minimize the impact the flooding has had on their livelihoods.”

Up to 638,000 people lost their crops during the floods, leaving them unable to feed themselves or their families. To help compensate for this loss, and improve food security and nutrition in affected areas, the Red Cross is distributing root cuttings and seeds of basic food crops, such as cassava and sweet potato, to all households with access to land.

The longer-term impact of the floods on families and communities is also being addressed through the Red Cross Restoring Family Links programme, implemented with support of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which traces missing people and helps reunite children with their parents.

Through the original emergency appeal launched in January, the Red Cross has been providing additional temporary housing to affected people. Volunteers with the Malawi Red Cross Society, many of whom had been left homeless themselves by the flooding, have also been distributing emergency supplies, reaching 15,000 people with life-saving items such as tarpaulins, shelter kits, blankets, jerry cans, safe water, and mosquito nets.

Source:: Shelter an urgent priority as Red Cross scales up response efforts for flood-affected in Malawi

Categories: African Press Organization