Nov 042014
 

NEW ORLEANS, USA, November 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Presented today at the 63rd annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASMTH), results of a multi-centre clinical trial in Africa, launched in 2008, to test the efficacy and tolerability of ASMQ fixed-dose combination (FDC) in children under 5 years of age with uncomplicated falciparum malaria showed that ASMQ FDC is as safe and efficacious as Artemether-Lumefantrine (AL) FDC – Africa’s most widely adopted treatment.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/dndi.png

The Phase IV, open-label, randomized, controlled, non-inferiority clinical trial included 945 children under 5 years of age, who were followed for 63 days. ASMQ FDC was administered once a day during three days. The study was conducted in three African countries: Burkina Faso, Kenya, and Tanzania.

Topline efficacy results, based on WHO efficacy analysis parameters (polymerase chain reaction (PCR) corrected):

- Efficacy of ASMQ is non inferior to AL

o Day 28: ASMQ = 97.5% / AM-LM = 94.6 %

o Day 42: ASMQ = 93.6% / AM-LM = 92.1%

o Day 63 : ASMQ = 90.9% / AM-LM = 89.7%

- No concerns of tolerability were demonstrated with ASMQ or with AL

o Very limited cases of vomiting, particularly early vomiting, led to treatment discontinuation in both treatments

o No unexpected adverse effects events were noted

Data in Africa on the combination (AS+MQ non fixed-dose) had previously demonstrated high efficacy, acceptable safety, and tolerability. Obtaining further clinical data on the combination of Artesunate with Mefloquine in children in Africa was recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its Prequalification Programme. ASMQ FDC is one of several recommended ACTs that aim to delay the emergence of resistance to the individual drug components of the combination treatment. The treatment regimen is easier to administer by the fact that the two drugs are combined into one tablet that only requires once-a-day administration over three days (as compared to twice-a-day over three days for AL).

‘The ASMQ fixed-dose combination has proven its importance among tools recommended by the WHO and can now be available to African children suffering from uncomplicated falciparum malaria’, said Dr Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director of DNDi (http://www.dndi.org). ‘Considering that a child dies every 30 seconds from malaria, we hope that governments in affected African countries will now take up this additional treatment option to ensure their populations have access to several ACTs.’

ASMQ FDC was originally developed by DNDi and the Brazilian government-owned pharmaceutical company Farmanguinhos/Fiocruz and was registered in Brazil in 2008. A South-South technology transfer between Farmanguinhos and Cipla, India, was achieved in 2010 to facilitate the implementation of ASMQ FDC worldwide and was pre-qualified by the WHO Prequalification Programme in 2012. ASMQ FDC is currently registered in Brazil, India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam, Tanzania, and Niger, and pending registration in 17 countries in Africa and Asia.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi).

Press Contacts:

Ilan Moss, DNDi Communications Manager, DNDi North America (on-site at ASTMH)

Mobile: +1-646-266-5216 / E-mail: imoss@dndi.org

Violaine Dallenbach, DNDi Press and Communications Manager (Europe)

Mobile: +41 79 424 14 74 / E-mail: vdallenbach@dndi.org

Renee Olende, DNDi Communications Manager, DNDi Africa

Mobile: +254 705 639 909 / E-mail: rolende@dndi.org

Betina Moura, DNDi Communications Manager, DNDi Latin America

Mobile: +55 21 98122 2798 / E-mail: bmoura@dndi.org

Study Funding & Partners

Funding for this study was provided to DNDi by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Switzerland; European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnerships (EDCTP); French Development Agency (AFD), France; Department for International Development (DFID), United Kingdom; Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS), The Netherlands; Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders); and the Fondation ARPE, Switzerland.

Partners in the study include: staff at study sites; study monitors; Data Safety Monitoring Committee (DSMC) ; Cardinal Systems, Paris, France; Epicentre, Mbarara, Uganda; CHUV, Lausanne, Switzerland; and Farmanguinhos, Brazil. Clinical investigators of the study were from the following partner institutions: Centre National de Recherche et de Formation sur le Paludisme, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), Kisumu, Kenya; National Institute for Medical Research, Korogwe, United Republic of Tanzania; Ifakara Health Institute, Bagamayo, United Republic of Tanzania; National Institute for Medical Research, Kilosa, United Republic of Tanzania; Centre for Clinical Research, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), Nairobi, Kenya; and Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, Geneva, Switzerland.

About Malaria

Since the year 2000, remarkable progress has been made in the fight against malaria, with a 42% reduction in deaths globally. The WHO estimates that in 2012 there were 207 million of cases of malaria, and that 627,000 deaths were attributable to the disease, mostly in Africa (90%). Children continue to be the worst affected, accounting for 77% of all deaths, with an estimated 462,000 deaths in African children under the age of five in 2012. Most deaths were due to Plasmodium falciparum, however P. vivax is increasingly recognized as a cause of severe malaria and death.

About ASMQ FDC

- Simple prescription which is easy to use, based on once-daily administration

- Dosage selection of the tablets allows for a simple and adapted regimen for children and adults

- Adapted packaging

- High compliance

- WHO Prequalification in September 2012 (Cipla)

- Registered in Brazil in 2008, India in 2011, Malaysia and Myanmar in 2012, Tanzania in 2013, Vietnam and Niger in 2014

- Currently filed for registration in 17 additional countries in Africa and Asia

About DNDi

The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) (http://www.dndi.org) is a not-for-profit research and development (R&D) organization working to deliver new treatments for the most neglected diseases, in particular sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis), Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, filaria, and paediatric HIV/AIDS. Since its inception in 2003, DNDi has delivered six new treatments: two fixed-dose antimalarials (ASAQ and ASMQ); nifurtimox-eflornithine combination therapy (NECT) for late-stage sleeping sickness; sodium stibogluconate and paromomycin (SSG&PM) combination therapy for visceral leishmaniasis in Africa; a set of combination therapies for visceral leishmaniasis in Asia; and a paediatric dosage form of benznidazole for Chagas disease. DNDi was founded by Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF), Indian Council of Medical Research, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Brazil’s Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Ministry of Health of Malaysia, and Institut Pasteur in France, with the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) as a permanent observer.

Nov 042014
 

EL FASHER (DARFUR), Sudan, November 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The African Union-United Nations Acting Joint Special Representative (JSR) and Joint Chief Mediator a.i. for Darfur, Mr. Abiodun Bashua, today held a meeting with the Dep…

Nov 042014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM and UNDP are today launching a programme in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, on mainstreaming migration into the country’s national development strategies.
Over 4.5 million Mor…

Nov 042014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — An important meeting of experts from Arab States on international humanitarian law is starting in Algiers today under the joint patronage of Algeria’s justice minister and keeper of the seals and of Christine Beerli, vice-president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The meeting brings together government experts from Algeria, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Tunisia, Morocco and other Arab countries along with representatives of the Arab League and experts from the ICRC. Among the topics of discussion will be compliance with international humanitarian law within the region.

“The changing nature of contemporary armed conflict and of the means and methods of warfare highlights the constantly shifting challenges relating to the applicability of international humanitarian law,” said Ms Beerli. “That’s why the discussions that will take place at this meeting are extraordinarily significant.”

International humanitarian law is a set of rules which seek, for humanitarian reasons, to limit the effects of armed conflict. It protects persons who are not or are no longer participating in hostilities and restricts the means and methods of warfare. The rules are set out in the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, to which Algeria has been party since 1960 and 1989, respectively.

“The promotion and teaching of international humanitarian law are growing in importance in the region as 16 national committees for the implementation of international humanitarian law and two regional institutes for training in that field of law – one for members of the judiciary, the other for diplomats – have been set up in Arab countries,” said Dr Chérif Atlam, a staff member of the ICRC’s Advisory Service on International Humanitarian Law with responsibility for the countries of the Middle East and northern Africa.

The meeting, organized by Algeria’s national committee for the implementation of international humanitarian law, the ICRC and the Arab League, is the 10th such event to be take place since 2001. It is being held as part of the observance of the 150th anniversary of the signing in 1864 of the initial Geneva Convention and of the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Algerian revolution.

Nov 042014
 

CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa, November 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The global energy industry is undergoing a seismic shift, in part driven by development of new, unconventional sources of energy, such as shale gas, tight oils, coal seam gas and oil sands.

In turn, this is requiring logistics executives to rethink traditional energy supply chain models and implement a highly integrated approach, to drive down logistics costs and enhance profit margins. This is according to DHL (http://www.dpdhl.com), the world’s leading logistics company, who have released a white paper on the dynamics, challenges and opportunities that are shaping the current energy sector.

The full report is available at http://goo.gl/G2ADfp

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/dhl_logo2.jpg

Photo Jonathan Shortis: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1513

Jonathan Shortis, Vice President – Energy Sector EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa): DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation, says that the need and desire to explore new geographies and develop new technologies to reach and extract unconventional gas reserves has become ever more apparent. “While growth in the conventional energy sector currently hovers around 1 to 2 percent per annum, the unconventional segment is booming.”

The BP Energy Outlook 2030 predicts that shale gas production will triple, and that tight oil production will increase more than six-fold by 2030. Unlike conventional oils though, unconventional extraction demands higher and continuous investment.

In terms of Africa’s energy sector, Shortis says that there has been significant growth in oil and gas exploration and production, on the continent in recent years. “There is no sign of Africa’s exploration activity slowing down, and the continent is expected to continue on its growth path as its attractiveness as an investment destination for the sector becomes ever more apparent due to its untapped resources and potential of new discoveries.”

He adds however that, as in many other parts of the world, the development of unconventional reserves in the region is still in its infancy. “While there is a view that reserves in areas such as North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Libya) and South Africa are substantial, little development has taken place.”

The white paper explains that due to the ongoing shift in geographies of energy production and demand, energy companies are required to adjust their approach to supply chain management.

Shortis explains that from a supply chain perspective, both conventional and unconventional energy companies face an intriguing set of challenges. “Supply chains supporting conventional energy market, are still developing as companies have had to expand into ever more inaccessible and remote locations to support the growth in global demand. In such areas, conventional energy faces the same challenge as unconventional, and that is to establish and maintain a robust infrastructure to support production in undeveloped and/or remote geographies.”

Shortis says that executives quoted in the white paper admit that energy companies often struggle to deal with the complexity of the supply chain and that they are challenged by a lack of visibility and predictability when they are working with multiple stakeholders at numerous drilling locations.

“To address this issue, leading companies are adopting an end-to-end supply chain operating model, instituting a data-driven, integrated solution that connects all stakeholders in the chain. This solution blends state-of-the-art visibility and analytics with best-practice process management to achieve bottom line results,” concludes Shortis.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Deutsche Post DHL.

The white paper, titled Building the smarter energy supply chain, is based on research by Lisa Harrington, Associate Director at the Supply Chain Management Center of the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland. The full report is available at http://goo.gl/G2ADfp

Media Contact:

Megan Collinicos. Head: Advertising & Public Relations, Sub-Saharan Africa

DHL Express

Tel +27 21 409 3613 Mobile +27 76 411 8570

megan.collinicos@dhl.com

DHL – The logistics company for the world

DHL (http://www.dpdhl.com) is the global market leader in the logistics and CEP industry and “The logistics company for the world”. DHL commits its expertise in international express, national and international parcel delivery, air and ocean freight, road and rail transportation as well as contract and e-commerce related solutions along the entire supply chain. A global network composed of more than 220 countries and territories and around 315,000 employees worldwide offers customers superior service quality and local knowledge to satisfy their supply chain requirements. DHL accepts its social responsibility by supporting environmental protection, disaster management and education.

DHL is part of Deutsche Post DHL. The Group generated revenues of more than 55 billion euros in 2013.

For more information: www.dpdhl.com

Stock images available: http://www.dpdhl.com/en/media_relations/media_library.html

Nov 042014
 

ACCRA, Ghana, November 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Vantage Mezzanine (http://www.vantagecapital.co.za), Africa’s leading mezzanine debt provider, today announced it had concluded a transaction with Surfline Communications to provide $30 million (R330 million) of expansion capital to the company together with a fund co-investor.

Logo Vantage Capital: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/vantage-logo.png

Logo Surfline: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/surfline-logo.png

Photo 1: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/141104vc.png

Photo 2: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/141104vc2.png

The funds will be used for the on-going expansion of Surfline’s 4G LTE network in Ghana as well as to grow its product distribution and marketing network. By deploying the first 4G LTE mobile network in Ghana, Surfline is able to offer high-speed internet connectivity (up to 10 times faster than the average speeds offered by the existing mobile network operators) at rates that are competitive with existing internet service providers. Because the Surfline network does not rely on the limited fixed line telecommunications infrastructure in Ghana, the company is able to rapidly roll-out its services across its coverage area.

Surfline was established to provide wireless broadband and related services to the Ghanaian market, including meeting the emergent and largely unfulfilled data needs of Ghana’s businesses, government agencies, professional and academic communities and residential users. The network achieved a very successful commercial launch in August 2014 and is experiencing tremendous growth in its customer base, in both the consumer and corporate/enterprise segments. Just two weeks ago, Surfline was shortlisted for the award of “Breakthrough LTE Development” category by the Africa Communications Awards for its successful deployment of Ghana’s first 4G LTE network. John Taylor, Surfline’s Executive Chairman, has also been listed in the 2014 World Finance 100, which celebrates 100 individuals who have reached the pinnacle of achievement in their field of expertise.

John Taylor said, “Vantage provided us with growth capital in a shareholder-friendly structure that we required to expand the business by supplementing the existing financing in place.”

Yaw Keteku, Associate Partner at Vantage leading their investment activities in Ghana, said “Under John Taylor’s visionary leadership, Surfline has assembled a team of highly-skilled professionals and technical partners who have built a first class communication network to meet Ghana’s ever-growing data demand. We have developed a close working relationship with the Surfline team and we look forward to supporting the business as it grows.”

Luc Albinski, Managing Partner at Vantage, added “We are delighted to announce that we have made our third investment outside of South Africa. Over the last five years, Vantage has reviewed over 600 investment opportunities and we consider Surfline to be one of the most exciting deals we have seen.” The investment in Surfline follows Vantage’s pan-African strategy of focusing on high-growth African markets such as Ghana, Nigeria, the East African Community members and some of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.

Surfline is Vantage’s second investment in Ghana after its $18.5 million (R204 million) commitment to Genser Energy, an independent power producer that is currently commissioning a 30 megawatt power plant, which is expected to come on-line shortly. Mutle Mogase, Vantage’s Chairman, said “Vantage, with the support of its investors, is contributing almost $50 million (R550 million) towards the improvement of infrastructure in Ghana by supporting the rollout of a broadband network and new power generation projects. The developmental multiplier effect of increased power generation capacity and high-speed internet will drive further economic growth in the country.”

Surfline is the eleventh mezzanine transaction in Vantage’s second fund, of which more than 80% of available funds have been invested. More than half of the capital deployed has gone into growth projects such as Surfline. Vantage has commenced the raising of its third mezzanine fund, which is targeted to close by the first quarter of 2015 at $250 million (R2.75 billion).

Oxford & Beaumont Solicitors acted as legal counsel to Vantage on this transaction.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Vantage Capital.

For more information contact:

Luc Albinski

Managing Partner – Vantage Capital

luc@vantagecapital.co.za

Cell: +27 83 390 7703

Tel: +27 11 530 9104

Yaw Keteku

Associate Partner – Vantage Capital

yaw@vantagecapital.co.za

Cell: +27 73 453 6923

Tel: +27 21 418 1130

Notes to Editors

About Surfline

Surfline (http://www.surflinegh.com) is the first mobile telecoms operator to pioneer a 4G LTE network in Ghana. The company is also the only telecoms operator 100% owned by Ghanaians. Surfline was established in Ghana in 2011 and provides Ghana’s fastest mobile internet service to consumers and businesses in the Greater Accra Region, with plans of expanding to other parts of the country soon. Surfline’s vision is to see a Ghana where people and businesses experience true mobile broadband, and the possibilities it brings.

Website: http://www.surflinegh.com

Press Line: +233 50 040 8918

About Vantage Capital

Vantage Capital Group (http://www.vantagecapital.co.za) was established in 2001 with funds under management of $14 million (R150 million) and now currently manages over $450 million (R5 billion). In addition to managing venture capital, mezzanine debt and renewable energy debt funds, Vantage also provides advisory and origination services through its debt capital markets division and makes proprietary investments using its balance sheet capital.

Capital for the Vantage Mezzanine and Vantage GreenX funds has been sourced from over 30 institutions including many leading African pension funds like the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) in South Africa and the Debswana Pension Fund in Botswana, development funders such as the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and the Norwegian Fund for Development (Norfund), and private sector endowments such as the Kellogg Foundation from the United States.

Vantage has offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town and in addition to its home market in South Africa, targets debt opportunities in a number of high-growth African countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia. Mezzanine is an intermediate form of risk capital, which is situated between senior debt, the least risky tranche of the capital structure, and equity, the most risky. It combines elements of both debt and equity thereby providing companies with long-term funding on terms which are less dilutive to shareholders than pure equity.

Website: http://www.vantagecapital.co.za

Nov 042014
 

PARIS, France, November 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — With restyled logos, more dynamic lay-outs and better defined sections, the Africa Intelligence web portal (http://www.AfricaIntelligence.com) has modernised its five confidential newsletters: West Africa Newsletter, The Indian Ocean Newsletter, Maghreb Confidential, Africa Energy Intelligence and Africa Mining Intelligence.

Logo Africa Intelligence: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/ai-indigo.jpg

The new design has been conceived for reading on computers and tablets. Emphasis has also been put on inter-activity, with numerous articles in the newsletters linked to complementary content on the Africa Intelligence portal. The logos have been produced by Aurélien Meunier of the Nooga agency and the lay-outs by editorial design agency Rampazzo & Associés.

The new visual identity of the confidential newsletters is part of a full digital conversion process started 18 months ago by publishing company Indigo Publications. After launching a mobile application in May, a completely new version of the Africa Intelligence portal will be put on line at the start of 2015.

These changes will enable Africa Intelligence to maintain the strong editorial ambition which has been its trademark since 1996, with exclusive information in English and French about the people, business networks and political forces at work in Africa.

The launch of this new formula comes with an attractive commercial offer in the form of an exceptional 40% reduction on the subscription price for 15 days. Free download of the newsletters is also being offered to readers who want to get an idea of their new visual identity (see http://www.AfricaIntelligence.com).

The Africa Intelligence portal is published by Indigo Publications, an independent press group set up in Paris in 1981 by a group of journalists. Often styled “the smallest international press group in the world”, it also edits three other websites, Intelligence Online (http://www.intelligenceonline.com), La Lettre A (http://www.lalettrea.fr) and PresseNews (http://www.pressenews.fr). The group makes no use of advertising or subsidies and draws all its resources from its readers.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Indigo Publications.

Media contact

Elsa Berry, communication / berry@indigo-net.com / +33 1 44 88 57 32

Contacts

Editorial Staff

Maurice Botbol, group publisher / botbol@indigo-net.com

Francis Soler, deputy managing editor / soler@indigo-net.com

Please contact us if you want to receive samples of the new confidential letters.

What has changed…?

West Africa Newsletter (West and Central Africa) still offers its highly informative shorts but also has longer articles, notably on business networks, to help explain complex subjects. It also provides more content through an increase in the number of pages to six.

http://www.AfricaIntelligence.com/LCE/

The Indian Ocean Newsletter (African countries bordering on the Indian Ocean) has more business pages and a new « Behind Closed doors » section and, above all, completely new profiles of influential people and their contact networks in each country in the region.

http://www.AfricaIntelligence.com/ION/

Maghreb Confidential (North Africa) continues to cover business and political news but puts particular emphasis on political and economic decision-makers through the “Negotiators” and “Influencers” sections.

http://www.AfricaIntelligence.com/MCE/

Africa Energy Intelligence retains its oil, gas and electricity sections but adds a “Financing” page and a “Newcomers” section devoted to junior companies making their debuts on the continent, as well as detailed profiles of deciders and their networks.

http://www.AfricaIntelligence.com/AEM/

Africa Mining Intelligence is still organised by mineral type and keeps its Spotlight, Strategies, Who’s Who and Looking Ahead sections, as well as a text-style message at the top of each page intended to intrigue or surprise the reader.

http://www.AfricaIntelligence.com/AMA/

Nov 042014
 

DAKAR, Sénégal, November 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — As part of the joint mission which comprises of the United Nations, the African Union and the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations in West Africa (UNOWA), Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, is pursuing its consultations with all stakeholders involved in the ongoing political crisis in Burkina Faso, with the objective to quickly find a solution that is consistent with the national constitution.

The joint mission met in Ouagadougou with key players of the current crisis, including civil society, political opposition and military hierarchy. Mr. Ibn Chambas also met with the Ghanaian President, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, the current Chairman of ECOWAS.

The joint mission reiterates its call to all to ensure the safety of people and goods.

The joint mission is encouraged by the commitments of the parties to work together for the organization of a transition in accordance with the constitution. In this regard, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General affirmed that the international community will continue to support the efforts of the Burkinabe to find a constitutional solution to the crisis.

Nov 042014
 

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, November 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The African Union Commission has moved a step closer to the planned conduct of the AMANI AFRICA II Exercise and in effect the realization of the African Standby Force following the start of the Strategic Headquarters Training in Harare. The training, which comes at a pivotal moment in the exercise cycle aims to provide participants with a better understanding of Peace Support Operations planning and management and prepare them for the Main Exercise, which is scheduled for April 2015. This simulated exercise will play a significant role in evaluating the readiness of the African Standby Force to respond swiftly to ensuing conflicts unhampered by any heavy political and instrumental burdens.

The European Union Representative, Lt. Col. Anton Gash made this observation quite succinctly in his opening remarks. “We have done a lot of theorizing, planning and scenario development, including quite a number of briefings, but really, this is where the work starts and we are here to construct the working platform for the exercise. A lot of the people seated here today, will on day one of AMANI AFRICA II, be wearing some form of uniform, or a badge, for the civilians that indicates that they are part of the core staff of the Strategic Headquarters. This training therefore must be the most concrete, practical and pragmatic stage of the exercise cycle.” The European Union under the Joint Africa-EU Strategy is supporting the initiative and Lt. Col. Gash reassured participants of the EU’s continued political will to support, Africa, the African Union and the AMANI AFRICA II Exercise.

The two-week Strategic Headquarters Training brings together planners from the AU Commission, with officers drawn mainly from the Peace Support Operations Division as well as participants from Member States, Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms for conflict prevention, management and resolution (RECs/RMs), the European Union and various experts.

The overall objective of the Exercise is to validate the capacity of the African Union to mandate and employ a Rapid Deployment Capability of the African Standby Force (ASF) as a start up operation, and to run a full multidimensional peace support operation.

The exercise, which is one of the main tools deployed to support the development of the ASF will serve to evaluate the state of readiness towards the achievement of Full Operational Capability in 2015. The final field training exercise will be hosted by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which is why it was ideal to hold the Strategic Headquarters Training in Zimbabwe, one of it’s member countries. Speaking during the opening, Brig. Gen. Christopher Chella, Commandant Southern African Development Community (SADC) Regional Peacekeeping Training Centre said, “We are greatly humbled to have been accorded the great honor to host this exercise, on behalf of our continent, and also to host two pre-exercise courses at our Regional Centre of Excellence.” This for us goes to show the immense trust that the AU holds for our region. For this, we are sincerely grateful and pledge to do the very best in our strength to ensure that both courses that we host, and indeed the final exercise itself are a great success,” he added.

When the ASF is finally operational, it will consist of standby arrangements within Africa’s five sub-regions, composed of multidimensional capabilities, including military, police and civilian, on standby in their countries of origin and ready for rapid deployment. The enormous responsibility of directing peace support operations at the continental level falls squarely upon the AU and calls for a coherent and coordinated response to any potential crisis as the Exercise Director, General Iliya observed in his statement. “This aspect of training is very important because this is where the highest direction for Peace Support Operations on the continent takes place. If our Member States are going to place their peacekeepers under our direction, then we must strive to gain the utmost confidence of all the African countries.”

It is anticipated that at the end of the training, exercise participants will be well equipped with the relevant tools to enable them play their respective roles successfully during the Main Exercise in April 2015. During the opening session, participants observed a moment of silence in memory of the late President Michael Chilufya Sata of Zambia followed by a minute’s silence in memory of the many African peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the cause of duty.

Nov 042014
 

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, November 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, today appointed Mr. Edem Kodjo, from Togo, as the AU Special Envoy for Burkina Faso.

Nov 042014
 

BISSAU, Guinea Bissau, November 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved today emergency financial assistance under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF)1 equivalent to SDR3.55 million (about US$5.24 million) for Guinea-Bissau to enable the authorities to meet their urgent balance of payment and fiscal needs. The Board’s approval enables the immediate disbursement of the full amount, which is equivalent to 25 percent of Guinea Bissau’s quota in the IMF.

The IMF financial assistance is aimed at restoring macroeconomic stability. It will help address urgent budgetary and balance of payments gaps, reduce poverty by resuming key government services and strengthen the capacity of the government of Guinea-Bissau. The Board’s approval of the RCF disbursement will also enable the authorities to engage in discussions with development partners’ regarding further assistance.

The newly elected government inherited very difficult conditions. After two years of economic disruption, eroded government revenues, a compression in social spending and accumulated external and domestic arrears, real gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 2 percent and poverty increased markedly. In its first months, the new government started to rebuild government revenues, which, together with renewed donor assistance and the placement of treasury bills in the regional market, allowed for the elimination of almost all salary arrears. Economic activity is projected to gradually recover and grow by 2.5 percent in 2014.

Following the Executive Board discussion on Guinea-Bissau2, Mr. Min Zhu, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, issued the following statement:

“The newly-elected government of Guinea-Bissau is taking action to confront the country’s economic and social challenges. After two years of economic disruption and worsening fiscal imbalances, the authorities have resumed many of the basic government functions, approved the 2014 budget, and cleared most of wage arrears incurred since 2013.

“To maintain macroeconomic stability, the government must continue with a prudent fiscal policy that limits spending to available resources and prioritizes it carefully. Clearing the still outstanding domestic arrears of 2013 and 2014 and all external arrears by year-end will be an important step to support the recovery. Going forward, the authorities should focus on preventing re-emergence of arrears by avoiding extra-budgetary expenditures and improving cash management. In this regard, the reinstatement of the treasury committee and the preparation of cash management plans are steps in the right direction.

“International financial support for Guinea-Bissau needs to be complemented by further efforts to mobilize domestic revenues and strengthen public financial management. Technical assistance from development partners to prioritize fiscal reforms, and boost implementation capacity will be crucial in the period ahead.

“The government’s intention to audit the operations of the national cashew fund is welcome. Abolition of this fund would have an immediate beneficial impact on household consumption. The authorities will need to elaborate more efficient and pro-poor alternatives to support agriculture and the cashew sector.

“The medium-term prospects for poverty reduction and economic development in Guinea Bissau hinge on addressing pervasive economic and political vulnerabilities. In addition to the security sector reform, this calls for structural reforms on a broad front to diversify the economy and improve governance and the business environment.”

1 The RCF provides immediate financial assistance with limited conditionality to low-income countries with an urgent balance of payments need. In this context, the economic policies of a member receiving RCF financing are expected to address the underlying balance of payments difficulties and support policy objectives including macroeconomic stability and poverty reduction. Financing under the RCF carries zero interest (until end 2014), has a grace period of 5.5 years, and a final maturity of 10 years. The Fund reviews the level of interest rates for all concessional facilities every two years.

2 At the conclusion of the discussion, the Managing Director, as Chairman of the Board, summarizes the views of Executive Directors, and this summary is transmitted to the country’s authorities. An explanation of any qualifiers used in summings up can be found here: http://www.imf.org/eternal/np/sec/misc/qualifiers.htm.

Nov 042014
 

DUBLIN, Ireland, November 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Ireland has today cemented its strong relations with Ethiopia with the signing of three bilateral agreements.

During the visit of President Michael D Higgins to Ethiopia, Minister for Development, Trade Promotion, and North South Cooperation, Seán Sherlock, TD, signed agreements on transport, double taxation, and development cooperation.

Speaking from Addis Ababa, Minister Sherlock said:

“The signing of these agreements further deepens our already excellent diplomatic relations.

“The transport agreement will facilitate direct flights by Ethiopian Airlines from Addis Ababa to Los Angeles, with a stopover in Dublin, beginning June 2015.

“This is an important step in opening new markets and will considerably improve business and trade opportunities for Ireland.”

On the double taxation agreement, Minister Sherlock said:

“The double taxation agreement will provide certainty to businesses who want to invest in both Ireland and Ethiopia.

“Each year, Irish exports to Ethiopia are worth €20 million.

“There are huge opportunities for Irish companies in Africa and this is a very welcome development.”

The final agreement signed today will update and modernise Ireland and Ethiopia’s development cooperation.

“Ethiopia has made impressive progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals and through Irish Aid, we hope to help Ethiopia continue this success.” Minister Sherlock said.