The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms Zainab Hawa Bangura visits South Sudan from 5-9 May 2016

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms Zainab Hawa Bangura will undertake a brief visit to South Sudan upon the invitation of the Government. Ms. Bangura is expected to participate in activities that will culminate in the validation and launching of the Implementation Plan of the Joint Communique that she co-signed with H.E President Salva Kiir in October 2014. Special Representative Bangura will seize the opportunity of her presence in Juba to consult with senior United Nations colleagues, meet with relevant national authorities, Civil Society Organisations and Women’s groups and the diplomatic community.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

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Source:: The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms Zainab Hawa Bangura visits South Sudan from 5-9 May 2016

Categories: AFRICA

African countries to accelerate progress on Great Green Wall

Ministers from African countries North and South of the Sahara and their development partners are meeting in Dakar, Senegal, at a High-Level conference organized by the African Union to accelerate progress on the Great Green Wall – Africa’s largest rural development initiative.

“A decade after the initiative started – originally amidst a lot of scepticism and even mockery – today the Great Green Wall stands as one of the most innovative and daring endeavours in human history – a real ‘world wonder’.” said Dr Janet Edeme, Dr. Janet Edeme, Acting Director, Rural Economy and Agriculture Department (DREA) on behalf of Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, AU Commissioner (DREA).

The Conference follows on from the recent Global Climate Summit (COP21) in Paris, where world leaders and key development partners pledged an additional USD 4 billion to the Great Green Wall over the next 5 years.

The renewed commitments offer fresh hope that the bold ambition of the Great Green Wall – to transform the lives of the Continent’s poorest people by restoring the productivity of its degraded landscapes – can now become a reality.

“We all understand that the Great Green Wall Initiative is more than just a green belt: it is a strategy for maximizing the opportunities of the Sahara and Sahel region, through real involvement of communities and local governments”, affirmed Abdoulaye Balde, Senegal Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development. “Our survival now depends on our efforts and convictions.”

“The Great Green Wall Initiative generates a great operational platform for responding to the development conundrum of African drylands”, said Jamal Saghir, Senior Regional Advisor to the Africa Vice President of the World Bank Group. “The World Bank is fast-tracking support to Africa’s climate resilience through the Africa Climate Business Plan—a blueprint that prioritizes World Bank support to interventions that strengthen resilience in Africa.”

The Great Green Wall – a compelling part of the solution

With 46% of African land currently affected by land degradation, jeopardizing the livelihoods of nearly 65% of the Continent’s population – the planned action along the Great Green Wall is certainly timely. In 2015, more than 20 million people in the Sahel were food insecure. Most of the poor and hungry live in rural areas and a major part of their income comes from agriculture.

Moreover, the excess unskilled labour arriving from rural areas can no longer easily be absorbed in cities already at bursting point. To address the lack of opportunities, economic migrants with the resources to do so are undertaking long journeys, frequently under desperate conditions. Many risk their lives in search of a better life on the European continent. Millions more are expected to follow imminently, as climate change amplifies the threat posed by an already declining natural resource base.

“Every day on news stations around the world, we see the impact that land degradation is having in the Sahel”, highlighted Camilla Nordheim-Larsen of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. “Flash floods in Niger, the Boko Haram massacres in the Lake Chad region, food crises in the Horn of Africa, and terrorist attacks in Mali and Burkina Faso. At their root, all of these can be traced back to a cycle of poverty and lack of opportunity that is fuelled by the declining productivity of natural resources.

Amidst these urgent challenges, the Great Green Wall promises to be a compelling part of the solution; by providing people with improved economic prospects, a cushion against climate change, a reason to stay for unemployed youth set to migrate from the region, whilst helping to restore political stability.

“Ghana is not yet part of the Great Green Wall, but we have requested to be part of it because we need to keep out an enemy – climate change. And the private sector should brought in to help create jobs for youth and women”, said Mahama Ayariga, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation of Ghana.

“With increased challenges of climate change, the need for appropriate risk management strategies should be emphasized,” stated Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, in a message to the conference. “Youth employment and inclusive growth, including women empowerment, are critical, particularly in light of urbanization and migration and the dividend that can accrue to Africa from its growing youthful population”, he added.

The way forward

Indeed, since the Initiative’s launch in 2007 by African Heads of State, significant progress has already been recorded. For example in Senegal, more than 11 million trees have been planted, in Nigeria 20,000 jobs have been created in rural areas and in Ethiopia 15 million hectares of degraded land have been restored.

The Conference will take stock of the results achieved and define a way forward to help the Great Green Wall realize its full potential as a lifeline for the Continent’s poorest people, not just to survive but to thrive once more on their ancestral lands.

During the Conference, partners will define a roadmap for how to implement the Paris pledges to boost livelihood opportunities for local communities and establish greater resilience against climate change, whilst sharing knowledge across the Great Green Wall and beyond. At the end of the first day of the Conference, the Ministers already affirmed their commitment to implement the conclusions of the Conference, in the Dakar Declaration.

About the Great Green Wall

The Great Green Wall is an African-led Initiative with an epic ambition: to restore the productivity of degraded lands across the Sahara and the Sahel and transform millions of lives. Its goal is to provide food, jobs and a future for the millions of people who live in a region on the frontline of climate change.

The Great Green Wall brings together African countries and international partners under the leadership of the African Union Commission, including the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), the European Union, The African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN-PACO), the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS), and the World Bank Group (WBG).

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

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Categories: AFRICA

IMF Staff Completes 2016 Article IV Mission to Liberia

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Mr. Carlo Sdralevich, visited Monrovia from April 20 to May 4, 2016 to conduct the 2016 Article IV consultations and initiate discussions on the fifth review of the government’s economic program supported by the IMF under an Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement.

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

“Discussions during the mission focused on recent economic developments, policies for 2016/17 and beyond, and performance under the authorities’ ECF-supported program. There appears to have been no economic expansion in 2015, reflecting the impact of lower commodity prices and lingering effects of the Ebola epidemic. Going forward, the economic outlook is set to remain challenging. Real GDP growth in 2016 is projected to recover to 2.5 percent, buoyed by increased gold production and a rebound in services and construction sectors. However, downside risks are high, particularly in light of the possible deeper-than-estimated second-round effects of the commodity price shock. Over the medium term, economic growth is projected to stabilize at around 6 percent. This is markedly lower than the 8 percent projected before, reflecting the scaling-back of investment and production plans in the mining sector. Inflation is expected to remain at around 7 percent.

“The budget has been negatively affected by the lower commodity prices. Relative to the original budget, revenues for FY2016 have been revised downward by over 3 percentage points of GDP, mainly reflecting lower collection from mining activity. Revenues from the natural resource sector will continue to be weak in FY2017, while on the spending side there will be pressure from election-related costs. In addition, donor support is expected to decline significantly. Against this difficult backdrop, the mission welcomes the government’s intentions to adopt revenue measures, mainly focused on strengthening indirect taxation, to address the shortfall in tax receipts. These resources will allow maintaining a level of expenditures that safeguards social spending to shield the poor and vulnerable, and promote Liberia’s development. However, additional donor support will be needed to finance key unfunded projects items.

“The modest pace of the post-Ebola recovery is affecting the banking sector, which continues to be weighed down by a large volume of non-performing loans.

“The mission also held useful discussions on the fifth review of the authorities’ ECF-supported program. These discussions will continue in the coming weeks.

“During its visit, the mission met with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President Pro-Tempore of the Senate Armah Zolu Jallah, Speaker of the House of Representatives Alex J. Tyler, Minister of Finance and Development Planning Amara Konneh, Central Bank Acting Executive Governor Charles Sirleaf, other high-level government officials, representatives of the private sector, civil society organizations, and the donor community. The team expresses its deep appreciation to the authorities and technical staff for their cooperation and the quality of the policy dialogue.”

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

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Source:: IMF Staff Completes 2016 Article IV Mission to Liberia

Categories: AFRICA

IMF Executive Board Concludes 2016 Article IV Consultation with Zimbabwe and Third Review Under the Staff Monitored Program

On May 2, 2016, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation1 with Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s economic difficulties have deepened. Drought, erratic rains, and increasing temperatures, have reduced agricultural output and disrupted hydropower production and water supplies. Economic activity is severely constrained by tight liquidity conditions resulting from limited external inflows and lower commodity prices. Inflation remains in negative territory, because of the appreciating U.S. dollar—the country’s main currency—and lower commodity prices. Zimbabwe remains in debt distress and the level of international reserves is low. Despite the adverse environment, the authorities have reduced the fiscal deficit in both 2014 and 2015. They have started to rationalize public expenditures by implementing recommendations from the 2015 civil service audit. They are also amending the Public Financial Management and Procurement Acts. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has taken measures to restore confidence in the financial sector. All banks in operations now have capital buffers above the minimum requirements.

Unless the country takes bold reforms, the economic difficulties will continue in medium-term. Given the outlook for the global economy, growth is projected to remain below levels needed to ensure sustainable development and poverty reduction. The current account deficit is expected to narrow, but remain high over the medium term, financed mainly by loans to the private sector.

The authorities have met their commitments under the Staff Monitored Program (SMP) that ended at end-December 2015, despite economic and financial difficulties. The program focused on implementing a limited number of key reforms to show that the country has the capacity to implement the kind of reforms that would be required for a Fund-supported program. The SMP has been a useful anchor in a difficult macroeconomic and political environment.2

The authorities are pursuing a gradual, step-by-step approach to reengaging with the international community. Clearing arrears to the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) is seen as a first step in this process. The authorities presented a strategy to clear their external arrears to the IFIs and reforms plans going forward to creditors and development partners in October 2015. The strategy and reform plans received broad support and, once implemented, should provide positive signals to investors and creditors, and help unlock external flows to finance the authorities’ development plans and private sector-led growth.

Going forward, the authorities intend to: (a) reduce the size of the wage bill to re-orient spending towards priority capital and social outlays; (b) improve debt management, develop a comprehensive public financial management strategy, and strengthen VAT policy and key processes in revenue administration; and (c) improve the business environment, including by a transparent and consistent application of their indigenization policy and a new comprehensive land reform program. The latter would include a framework for land compensation.

Risks to the already difficult outlook stem mainly from prolonged adverse weather conditions, and weak commodity prices and policy implementation in a difficult political environment. Timely implementation of measures to curb the wage bill and continued progress in State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) reforms would be needed to lower employments costs.

Executive Board Assessment3

Directors commended the Zimbabwean authorities for the successful implementation of the economic policies under the staff-monitored program despite difficult domestic and external circumstances. Directors noted that adverse weather conditions and lower commodity prices have taken a heavy toll on economic activity and social well-being. They underscored the importance of maintaining fiscal prudence and pressing ahead with ambitious structural reforms to address impediments to investment, foster private sector-led growth, and reduce poverty, making the best use of the Fund’s targeted technical assistance. Further progress on these fronts, as well as on clearance of external arrears, will pave the way for full re-engagement with the international community, allowing Zimbabwe to regain access to external financing, particularly from the Fund, in support of its development agenda.

Directors agreed that a step-up to a comprehensive and deep economic policy adjustment agenda will be critical to address Zimbabwe’s daunting economic challenges. In this context, they concurred that achieving a sustainable fiscal position requires a significant reduction in the wage bill, while rebalancing the budget toward much-needed infrastructure investment and social outlays to stimulate growth. Noting the relatively high tax-to-GDP ratio, Directors considered it appropriate to focus efforts on base-broadening, increasing non-tax revenue from mineral resources, improving the efficiency of VAT collections, and enhancing tax administration. Further steps are needed to accelerate the reform of state-owned enterprises, strengthen public financial management, and enhance transparency in the mining sector.

Directors welcomed progress in enhancing the resilience of the financial system and reducing nonperforming loans. They encouraged the authorities to continue to strengthen bank supervision and risk management, facilitate financial deepening, and promote financial inclusion.

Directors stressed the importance of stepping up structural reforms to raise potential growth and living standards, and to secure support from Zimbabwe’s development partners. They highlighted the need to implement the indigenization policy in a business-friendly and transparent manner, and to resolve outstanding land issues swiftly. Other priorities include improving the investment climate, tackling corruption, and promoting economic diversification.

Directors acknowledged the difficult and unique debt situation of Zimbabwe. Noting that Zimbabwe continues to be in debt distress, they called on the authorities to pursue a strong debt management strategy, including by limiting non-concessional borrowing to critical growth-enhancing and poverty-reducing projects that would ultimately improve the country’s repayment capacity.

Directors welcomed the comprehensive strategy for normalization of relations with international financial institutions (IFIs). In this context, they urged the authorities to clear all arrears to the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT) and other IFIs. Once arrears to the PRGT are cleared, Directors looked forward to the next stage whereby remedial measures against Zimbabwe can be removed, including the reinstatement of Zimbabwe to the list of PRGT-eligible countries.

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

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Source:: IMF Executive Board Concludes 2016 Article IV Consultation with Zimbabwe and Third Review Under the Staff Monitored Program

Categories: AFRICA

Security Council press statement on South Sudan

The members of the Security Council welcomed the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGNU) in South Sudan on April 29 as an important milestone in implementation of the “Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan” (the Agreement).

The members of the Security Council recalled the thousands killed, the ongoing human suffering and the deteriorating economic situation and called upon the recently established TGNU to work together to fully implement the Agreement and bring an end to the cycles of violence and suffering, including by adhering to the permanent ceasefire, and by urgently creating the transitional institutions envisioned in the Agreement, which are needed to maintain security and build trust between the parties.

The members of the Security Council expressed appreciation for the efforts of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) and the African Union through its High Representative for South Sudan former President Konare to support formation of the TGNU and called on the TGNU to extend its full cooperation and support to the JMEC Chair former President Mogae for implementation of the Agreement. The members of the Security Council stressed the importance of continued and active engagement on South Sudan by the region and the international community to ensure that peace, stability and prosperity are restored in the country.

The members of the Security Council underscored the importance of the TGNU to implement fully the Agreement, including its remaining provisions on governance and elections and on the permanent ceasefire and transitional security arrangements, as well as provisions on humanitarian assistance and reconstruction, resource, economic, and financial management, transitional justice, accountability, reconciliation, and healing, and the parameters of the permanent constitution.

The members of the Security Council underscored the pressing need for accountability for violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law in South Sudan, including ongoing violations and abuses that have been reported since the Agreement was signed.

The members of the Security Council recalled the 2.5 million people displaced from their homes and the 6.1 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, reiterated their grave concern at the dire humanitarian situation in South Sudan and condemned the severe impediments imposed by the parties on the ground to the delivery of humanitarian assistance. They called on the TGNU to urgently remove these impediments to ensure aid reaches those in need.

The members of the Security Council reminded the TGNU of its obligations under the Status of Forces of Agreement with UNMISS and called upon the TGNU to allow UNMISS freedom of movement to implement its mandate to protect civilians, monitor and investigate human rights, support the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and support implementation of the Agreement. The members of the Security Council stressed the need to strengthen cooperation between the TGNU and UNMISS to ensure the safety and security of peacekeepers and other United Nations and associated personnel, including humanitarian personnel.

The members of the Security Council underscored the importance of the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) being allowed to move in South Sudan as necessary for the discharge of its mandate as envisaged under the Agreement.

The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the attack against the UNMISS compound in Bentiu on 25 April, while stressing that attacks directed against civilians, UNMISS personnel and United Nations premises are unacceptable and may constitute war crimes.

The members of the Security Council expressed their alarm at reports of intermittent violence witnessed in several areas of the country. The members of the Security Council called upon all parties to cease immediately all violence.

The members of the Security Council reiterated that they stand in solidarity with the people of South Sudan. The members of the Security Council reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and national unity of the Republic of South Sudan.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations – Security Council.

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Source:: Security Council press statement on South Sudan

Categories: AFRICA

Somalia: UN rights experts raise alarm at growing persecution against trade unionists

A group of four United Nations human rights experts* today urged the Government of Somalia to halt the continuous acts of intimidation and reprisals against members and leaders of two Somali trade unions, and to stop interfering in the unions’ internal affairs and activities.

“States have the obligation to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals, including trade unionists, to associate and express themselves freely,” the experts stressed. “It is crucial that these individuals can exercise their rights without fear of violence, threats or acts of intimidation, smear campaign or harassment of any sort.”

Since 2011, members and leaders of the Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) and the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) have been threatened and intimidated by both anonymous persons and by State officials.

NUSOJ’s Secretary-General, Omar Faruk Osman, and its Organizing Secretary, Abdiqani Sheik Mohamed, have been particularly targeted. In December 2015, Mr. Osman survived an assassination attempt in Mogadishu. The police reportedly opened an investigation, but it has been inconclusive.

Additionally, the human rights experts expressed serious concerns about acts of reprisals against Mr. Osman, that have followed the intervention of the International Labour Organization (ILO) urging the Somali authorities to comply with their international obligation regarding trade unions ‘rights.

They were alarmed at a complaint against him, dated 29 February 2016, accusing him of cooperating with international organizations and trying to harm the reputation of the Somali government.

During the time of the investigation, Mr. Osman will be prevented from traveling, his passport will be confiscated, he will be summoned if he happens to be out of the country and, should he fail to return following the summons, Interpol will be involved in his arrest warrant, the human rights experts pointed out.

“Such actions are particularly disturbing, and we call on the authorities to stop any act of reprisal, to hold the perpetrators of the reprisals and earlier threats accountable without delay and provide protection to Mr. Osman, his family and colleagues,” they urged.

The UN human rights experts noted that FESTU and NUSOJ leaders and members have also frequently been arrested and interrogated on their union and human rights activities, and have faced undue travel restrictions. In addition, the Somali authorities have interfered with the union’s internal affairs and activities, banning for instance the NUSOJ’s general assembly in February 2016.

“The Somali Ministry of Information attempted to designate a State official at the leadership of NUSOJ, and issued a press release on State-own media in which it did not recognize Mr. Osman as the elected Secretary-General of this union,” they said.

The UN human rights experts also expressed serious concern about the threats of reprisals against Mr. Osman, despite assurances made by the Government during the recent mission to the country by the UN Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Somalia, that it would respond to the concerns officially raised by a group of UN experts on 13 April 2016.

The Somali Federal Government has not yet responded to the experts’ communication, but instead issued the threats of reprisals to Mr. Osman shortly after the mission of the Independent Expert had concluded.

“Somalia is not fulfilling its international human rights obligations and the situation for trade unions keeps on worsening despite specific recommendations made by the International Labour Organization’s Governing Body urging the Somali Government to refrain from any further interference in the unions registered in Somalia, with particular reference to the NUSOJ and FESTU,” the experts said.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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Source:: Somalia: UN rights experts raise alarm at growing persecution against trade unionists

Categories: AFRICA

Retreat of African group ambassadors

A retreat of Ambassadors of the African Group on WTO issues, jointly organized by the Permanent Delegation of the African Union in Geneva and the Economic Commission United Nations for Africa (ECA) was held at Chavannes-de-Bogis, Switzerland from 25 to 26 April 2016. This retreat aimed at bringing together the stakeholders of trade negotiations at the WTO, and many experts on trade issues to take stock of the results of the Tenth Ministerial Conference held in Nairobi from 15 to 19 December 2015, with a view to preparing the common position of the African Group as part as the Post Nairobi Programme, and in order to exchange views on the negotiations towards the creation of the Zone of continental free trade Area (CFTA).

This retreat was attended by 125 delegates and representatives of intergovernmental organizations and numerous resource personalities, including Representatives of the African Union Commissioner, UNCTAD, ITC, ECA, the WTO, and the Ambassadors to the WTO of the European Union, the United States, Brazil and China and the Chairman of the negotiating Group on agriculture of the WTO.

Legal issues set out in Part III of the Nairobi Ministerial Declaration, were addressed at length discussed and analyzed by the Ambassadors, Experts of the GA, and lecturers from institutions such as the South Centre, the Graduate Institute, University of Manchester, the Advisory Centre on WTO law (OLAC), and the legal Affairs Division of the WTO. A legal analysis on issues of interest to the African Group in respect of specific elements of the DDA, the legal value of the contents of the Nairobi Declaration and its enforceability was thus conducted.

A number of recommendations were made by the Ambassadors at the conclusion of this important retreat. On issues related to public stocks for food security purposes, domestic support and market access, the Ambassadors recommended continuing negotiations and maintaining Rev.4 as a valid basic document for all the pillars of Agriculture. They also recommended that outstanding issues be addressed as a matter of priority in the forthcoming negotiations before embarking on new issues.

Ambassadors recognised that Nairobi has helped making significant progress on market access and the gradual elimination of export subsidies. However, the cotton negotiations have not resulted in a binding decision regarding the issue of domestic support. In this regard, the African Group recommended to continue negotiations on the cotton issue to achieve a fair and balanced agreement for all players and to deal with the issue of domestic support as a priority for future negotiations. C4 urged the GA to take on the cotton issue and make it a priority in view of the CM11.

The Nairobi Ministerial Conference has not yielded the expected results. In this regard, the ambassadors believe that the Group must set priorities for all areas that have not reached consensus. They stressed the importance of the regional integration agenda as a growth engine and the structural transformation of the continent. In this context, consistency between the agenda of continental integration and multilateral negotiations at the WTO was highlighted. They suggested that a new retreat be devoted to regional integration and reaffirmed their commitment to the establishment of the CFTA by 2017 to better engage African Ambassadors accredited to the WTO in the regional integration agenda.

The Nairobi Final Declaration recognizing both that many member states are determined to go to the end of the Doha Round, while other members are not, considering that new approaches are needed to achieve significant results in multilateral negotiations. The ambassadors believe that African countries need to accelerate negotiations within the WTO, form strong alliances, rely on their own achievements, set priorities and propose solutions based on these priorities. To hope to weigh in the balance of power, more coordination and solidarity between African countries is definitely needed.

Ambassadors reaffirmed the need to maintain Special and Differential Treatment, whilst stressing that it is important for some African countries to maintain subsidies in such sectors as small-scale fishing where the need for strengthening capacity remains a major challenge.

More generally, the Ambassadors reiterated the centrality of the Doha Round objectives, and recommended to work towards the resumption of negotiations for the purpose of obtaining new results acquired outside of Nairobi. They reaffirmed that the DDA remains a reference point as there was no consensus to abandon it. Africa must make its regional integration (CFTA) a top priority for circumventing the detrimental mega agreements. Close cooperation should be established with ECA, ITC, UNCTAD, the Commonwealth, the IMF, World Bank and OECD for the establishment of a statistical database that is essential to any rational study.

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

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Source:: Retreat of African group ambassadors

Categories: AFRICA

Online booking site, Introduces New Features with Brand Relaunch Campaign

Popular Pan-African online hotel booking site, ( has announced the introduction of a range of new features and services as part of a brand relaunch aimed at securing the company’s position as the top platform for online hotel bookings in the region.

Founded in 2014, has fast grown to become the largest hotel bookings deals site in the region, providing group corporate and consumer clients with the finest accommodation options in Nigeria and across other parts of Africa. The brand relaunch campaign with the slogan – ‘Why Pay More’ – kicked off with a new TV campaign featuring Funke Bucknor Obruthe, Creative Director and founder of Zapphaire Events, one of the leading events planning companies in Nigeria. The company made a strategic decision to focus the initial brand relaunch campaign efforts on the hospitality industry in Nigeria, with plans to scale up to other key countries in the region over the coming months.

Nigeria has been identified as one of the fastest growing markets for hospitality in the Sub-Saharan African region. As the country continues to be a favorite business and tourism destination, the hospitality industry has seen investments of over US$3 billion in the last five years alone. The rapid growth of internet and mobile penetration in the region and the changing attitude of the populace to be more trusting of online commerce portend a big opportunity in the hospitality space. Despite these changes and the ongoing modernization of trade in the region, value continues to play a key role when individuals and organizations are to make purchase decisions.

Speaking on the brand relaunch, the Chief Sales and Commercial Officer for the, Mr. Okey Ochulo, remarked that “Over the past months, our brand and acquisition teams at have been working hard to understand the current business and consumer needs in the Nigerian hospitality sector; and then to translate these findings into features and offerings to meet the needs of the industry stakeholders”.

He went on to say, “As part of the relaunch, the brand has introduced a new website that is more intuitive and user friendly. As a result of the changes implemented, users of the platform are empowered to easily locate the best possible hotel deals. With thousands of prescreened hotels to choose from and the top weekly deals highlighted, every visitor to the site would definitely find a hotel to meet their unique needs”.

One of the most exciting new features that would immensely benefit users of the platform is the integration with the Morewardz Loyalty program. With this program, customers acquire loyalty points for every booking they make on the site. Beneficiaries of the loyalty program get a loyalty card that also doubles as a charge card. The loyalty card can be used both to redeem points in the loyalty program and to make regular transactions. Redeemed points can be claimed at any time and converted into a hotel booking or can be used to pay for a variety of other services at any hotel in the network. is the first and only online sub Saharan African hotel booking site to offer a loyalty program to its users today.

In support of the numerous business trips that account for the bulk of hotel stays in the region, the brand also revealed that it has introduced a new package, specially designed to aid organizations with easily securing corporate reservations for rooms and meeting rooms. With this ‘Corporate Edge Package’, companies and organizations can leverage on key partnerships struck by to get even better deals on individual or group bookings.

In the words of Mr. Ochulo, “This relaunch affirms the confidence that we have in the growth potential of the hospitality sector in Africa today. At, we are pleased that we can deliver a one of a kind portal that provides the best hotel deals at top notch convenience to our customers; the platform can be accessed from any internet enabled device ranging from mobile phones to tablets and computers. In line with our commitment to be the leading online hotel booking portal in the region, will continue optimizing its services and platform to provide ‘best in class’ experiences to all our stakeholders and users”.

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

Visit for more information. For questions, inquiries or comments, please call 01-8881111 or email or

ABOUT HOTELNOWNOW.COM ( is Africa’s foremost discount online hotel booking platform, negotiating and providing deep discounts on hotel rooms and bookings. The platform provides options ranging from budget friendly to top premium hotels with special packages created to satisfy personal or business travel needs at a fraction of standard costs.

The company which has its Africa head office in Lagos was founded in 2014 with a vision to help hotel businesses in African to reach a wider geographic audience whilst providing prospective clients with unbeatable value. Today, lists thousands of Nigerian hotels on its platform with a view to scale-up to pan African coverage in the coming months.…why pay more?

Source:: Online booking site, Introduces New Features with Brand Relaunch Campaign

Categories: AFRICA

Towards a better analysis of maritime data

Ensuring law enforcement at sea and a peaceful exploitation of maritime resources, requires among other things, a continuous analysis of maritime data collected from various open sources, and sharing the data at regional level in coordination with the national agencies. Under EU CRIMARIO project, twenty-six participants from Mauritius, and coastal countries of Indian Ocean (Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, Yemen) had the opportunity to develop their skills in maritime data visualisation and analysis, and share their experience.

Maritime data analysis: a shared motivation of attendees and trainers, Mombasa, April 2016

For any State, it is important to ensure the maritime security and safety in its waters and contribute to those on the high seas. The exchange of information between the agencies involved in the maritime domain (Transport, Navy, Police, Environment, Customs, Fishery, etc.) is one of the key elements for improving this security, with the regional cooperation between neighbouring countries representing another key element.

This assessment is shared by the Coastal States of both the Indian Ocean and international partners, including the European Union who launched various projects including CRIMARIO (part of the Critical Maritime Routes programme) to promote the culture of maritime situational awareness with a focus on information sharing and capacity building in maritime data analysis. CRIMARIO is also supporting the regional initiatives, such as the Mombasa Protocol.

The training session, held from 25 to 29 April 2016 in Mombasa, is the second contribution of CRIMARIO to strengthen the regional know-how in maritime data analysis and sharing. This session is complementing the first one, organised earlier in February in Mombasa.

The twenty-six participants, coming from different maritime agencies, received advanced practical experience in utilising common IT tools, for extracting, visualising and analysing data provided by AIS sources (AIS or Automatic Identification System is an automatic tracking system used on ships and by vessel traffic services for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships, AIS base stations, and satellites). The participants learned how to use QGIS, a free and open-source desktop geographic information system (GIS) application that provides data viewing and editing.

They also train on analysis, using statistics and electronic spreadsheet.

They are now able to better visualise the maritime information, and conduct analysis to identify trends. Mauritius attendees belong to the National Coast Guard, while other participants belong to Information sharing centres established under the Djibouti Code of Conduct.

With this, the second practical training session provided under CRIMARIO project this year, they are deepening their knowledge in visualisation and analysis of maritime data.

They were trained using historical data on piracy of year 2012, and historical data about navigation in the Indian Ocean in year 2015. In addition, since piracy is currently suppressed in the region, it is necessary that the ISCs provide an “operational added value” deepening their skills in the comprehensive approach of the maritime domain. Shared experience and development of a shared repertoire of tools and practise are a major element contributing to confidence building and enhancement of a maritime security culture in the region

Mombasa protocol

Four countries, hosting centres related to Information Sharing and maritime training (Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, Yemen), initiated a regional initiative known as “the Mombasa Protocol”, whose objective is to strengthen the existing cooperation instrument (the Djibouti Code of Conduct), set up the framework for a regional governance of the centres of Djibouti and Yemen and propose a long term sustainability mechanism.

Moreover the Mombasa Protocol is paving the way to conclude data sharing agreements amongst littoral states from IO Region encouraging them in the process of information sharing of data other than piracy. CRIMARIO is also supporting the Mombasa protocol as well as any other regional initiative or new mechanism facilitating information sharing and maritime situational awareness.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Mauritius.

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Source:: Towards a better analysis of maritime data

Categories: AFRICA

DDPD Implementation Follow-up Commission to meet in Khartoum

All media are invited to the opening ceremony of the eleventh meeting of the Implementation Follow–up Commission (IFC), established by the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) that will take place on Monday 9 May 2016, at 09:30 hours in the main conference room at Corinthia Hotel on the Nile Street in Khartoum.

The Chairperson of the IFC, His Excellency Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for the Council of Ministers Affairs of Qatar, and UNAMID Joint Special Representative/Joint Chief Mediator, Martin Uhomoibhi will also brief the press on the outcome of the meeting after its conclusion at approximately 12:30 hours.

The Commission, chaired by the State of Qatar, is the major mechanism for monitoring the implementation of the DDPD. Commission membership includes the Government of the Sudan, National Liberation and Justice Party, Liberation and Justice Party and the Justice and Equality Movement-Sudan, representatives of Burkina Faso, Canada, Chad, China, Egypt, France, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, the African Union, the European Union, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and UNAMID, which is also facilitating the meeting.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

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Source:: DDPD Implementation Follow-up Commission to meet in Khartoum

Categories: AFRICA

The United-Kingdom signs a Memorandum of Understanding with Tunisia to support the public Health sector

The UK and Tunisia signed, on 22 April 2016, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote cooperation between the two countries in the field of health.

The MOU was signed by Mr Said Aidi, Tunisian Minister of Health and His Excellency Mr Hamish Cowell , British Ambassador to Tunisia, in the presence of Dr Andrew Murrison MP, the UK Prime Minister’s newly appointed Trade Envoy for Tunisia.

With the signature of this MOU, the UK and Tunisia have committed themselves to work together to help modernize and expand the capacity of Tunisia’s existing health facilities. It also aims to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and skills between the two countries.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of British Embassy in Tunis.

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Source:: The United-Kingdom signs a Memorandum of Understanding with Tunisia to support the public Health sector

Categories: AFRICA

US$7 Million Prize to Fund African Renewable Energy Projects

  • Just three weeks left for entrepreneurs to enter the ACF competition which will see developers across the continent compete for funding and expertise
  • Calling all entrepreneurs and developers of renewable energy projects in Africa

Access Power (, a developer, owner and operator of power projects in emerging markets, today kicked off the countdown for applications to the ACF 2016, the second edition of its successful Access Co-Development Facility (ACF) for renewable energy projects in Africa.

Video about the Access Co-Development Facility in action:

Renewable energy developers have less than one month left to submit their applications for a chance to win US$7million in ACF prize funding. The deadline for applications is the 20st May 2016.

ACF 2016 is a competition dedicated to finding local power project developers with credible renewable energy projects in Africa who need access to funding, technical experience, and expertise to bring their plans to life.

Following the competition’s successful launch last year, the ACF increased its funding from US$5m in 2015 to US$7m for this year’s winners. Up to three successful projects will be selected by a panel of expert judges whose decision will be based on commercial, technical and environmental merits, the local regulatory environment, and capability of the project team.

The winners of ACF 2016 will be announced on Tuesday 22nd June 2016 before a live audience during the Africa Energy Forum in London ( (see Notes to Editors for further details). The winners will enter a Joint Development Agreement with Access Power, which will take an equity stake in the winning projects and fund third-party development costs such as feasibility studies, grid studies, environmental and social impact assessments and due diligence fees. Access Power will also provide technical support, financial structuring and development process management.

Nasir Aku, ACF Program Manager at Access Power commented, “With just one month to go until the application deadline, we want to make sure that all local developers across the African continent are aware of this fantastic opportunity to secure valuable funding and expertise that can turn an idea for a renewable energy project into reality.”

ACF 2016 is leading the way in demonstrating and supporting the type of renewable energy projects that will help meet Africa’s massive and urgent need for electrification.

“Through this unique facility, we hope to encourage innovation and support companies in their efforts to deliver power to places that desperately need it. Last year we received a total of 55 submissions from 18 countries across Africa, including solar, wind, hydro, hybrid and bio-mass projects. The applications are coming in fast so 2016 looks set to build on that success.”

The inaugural ACF in 2015 was won by Quaint Solar Energy from Nigeria and Flatbush Solar from Cameroon. Other competing projects hailed from Cape Verde, Kenya, Madagascar, South Africa, Morocco, Ghana, Rwanda and Tanzania.

One project has already pre-qualified for ACF2016. A 25MW solar project being developed in Sierra Leone by Africa Growth and Energy Solutions (AGES) won the Solar Shark Tank competition at the Making Solar Bankable conference in Amsterdam on 18th February. In a keenly fought contest, three emerging markets developers competed for a US$100,000 grant to support the development of their solar projects, funded by Access Power and Dutch development bank FMO. Part of the prize, subject to terms and conditions, was pre-qualification for ACF2016.

The ACF2016 application form and guidelines are available on Access Power website

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Access Power.

Notes to Editors:

For more information, to arrange an interview or request images, please contact the Access Power media team at or call +44(0)203 727 1885

About ACF 2016

  • The independent judging panel of four judges will include industry and legal experts as well as representatives from multilateral development banks.
  • Following a pre-selection process, a shortlist of applicants will be chosen to present their projects to a panel of judges at the Africa Energy Forum in London on the 22nd June 2016.
  • Applicants must present their projects to the judging panel during the Forum within a given time and take questions from panel members.
  • Panel members will score each project based on the evaluation criteria, using weighted percentages.
  • ACF 2016 submission period runs from 18th February to 20th May, 2016.

About Access Power

Access Power (‘Access’) ( was founded in 2012 with the aim of becoming a leading developer, owner and operator of power assets in emerging and frontier markets. Access has assembled a development team with a track record of financially closing ~30 GW of power projects across the globe. Through its various subsidiaries, Access is currently developing power assets in over 20 countries in Africa and Asia. Access’ portfolio predominantly consists of renewable energy projects with a gross total investment cost of over US$ 1 billion.

For more information, please visit:

Source:: US$7 Million Prize to Fund African Renewable Energy Projects

Categories: AFRICA