Canada Continues to Support Agricultural Development in Ethiopia / Minister MacKay and MP Armstrong announce two projects that will help boost farmers’ productivity and resilience

OTTAWA, Canada, February 2, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Today, on behalf of the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and Scott Armstrong, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development and Member of Parliament for Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, participated in an event at Dalhousie University to highlight Canada’s continued support for agriculture in Ethiopia.

The event brought together university partners and the student community. Minister MacKay and MP Armstrong took the opportunity to mark the launch of the 25th annual International Development Week by announcing Canada’s contribution to two new projects focusing on agriculture and irrigation training, implemented respectively by Dalhousie University and by Agriteam Canada.

“Our government is proud to partner with Dalhousie University to help Ethiopian agricultural students to participate in market-led and growth-oriented agriculture, either as producers or employees of commercial agricultural enterprises,” said Minister MacKay. “This means increased incomes and better access to food for thousands of families.”

Although major gains have been made in the past decade, Ethiopia still faces chronic food insecurity.

“Canada is recognized in Ethiopia for its leadership in nutrition and its expertise in agricultural development,” said MP Armstrong. “Helping farmers boost their productivity, both through training and irrigation initiatives, helps communities become more resilient to droughts and other difficulties. Increasing the quality and variety of nutrients that farmers produce ensures a balanced and quality diet. By increasing the amount of food grown, and improving the food value chain, we also ensure sustainable economic growth. These efforts are central to poverty reduction.”

“At Dalhousie University we aspire to have not only a local impact but also a global impact,” said Richard Florizone, President of Dalhousie University. “This international development project in Ethiopia, one of the largest in Dalhousie University’s history and the largest for the Faculty of Agriculture, will enable us to make world-class contributions to a global issue by sharing agricultural expertise to support economic growth and alleviate poverty.”

“Canada has been working with development partners in Ethiopia for several decades, and these partnerships have proven efficient in achieving real results in improving food security and reducing poverty,” added Minister Paradis. “Canada engages with accountable, effective development actors, such as Agriteam Canada, Dalhousie University and Mennonite Economic Development Associates, that can best deliver results.”

Ethiopia’s economy predominantly depends on traditional subsistence agriculture, which supports more than 83 percent of the population. Ethiopia is highly reliant on rain-fed agriculture, and its high potential for irrigation is only beginning to be developed.

Quick Facts

• The year 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of Canada-Ethiopia diplomatic relations.

• Canada is an important contributor to the 2012 G-8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition and a key partner in fostering sustainable agricultural development in Africa. The goals of the New Alliance are to increase responsible domestic and foreign private investments in African agriculture, take innovations that can enhance agricultural productivity to scale and reduce the risk borne by vulnerable economies and communities.

• Since the Muskoka Initiative in 2010, Ethiopia has been one of the countries where Canada is focusing its efforts to improve maternal, newborn and child health, including through improved nutrition.

Source:: Canada Continues to Support Agricultural Development in Ethiopia / Minister MacKay and MP Armstrong announce two projects that will help boost farmers’ productivity and resilience

Categories: AFRICA, African Press Organization, Ethiopia | Tags:

IMF Executive Board Approves US$497.1 Million Stand-by Arrangement and US$191.2 Million Stand-by Credit Facility for Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, February 3, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On February 2, 2015, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a SDR 352.82 million (about US$497.1 million) Stand-By Arrangement and a SDR 135.7 million (about US$191.2 million) arrangement under the Stand-By Credit Facility1 (SBA/SCF) for Kenya for a combined SDR 488.52 million (about US$688.3 million or 180 percent of Kenya’s quota).

The one-year arrangements would provide a policy anchor for continued macroeconomic and institutional reforms, and help to mitigate the impact of potential exogenous shocks while these reforms are being pursued, thereby supporting continued strong growth and durable poverty reduction.

The Executive Board’s decision makes available a total of SDR 379.96 million immediately (about US$535.3 million), and the remainder in two equal tranches upon completion of semi-annual program reviews. The authorities plan to treat the arrangements as precautionary, and do not intend to draw on the SBA/SCF unless external shocks lead to an actual balance-of-payment need.

Following the Executive Board’s discussion on Kenya, Mr. Naoyuki Shinohara, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, made the following statement:

“The Kenyan authorities’ prudent macroeconomic policies and major institutional and economic reforms of recent years have contributed to macroeconomic stability, higher growth, and increased external buffers. Nonetheless, the economy remains vulnerable to shocks arising from Kenya’s growing integration into global markets, security concerns, and extreme weather events. In this context, the new arrangements with the Fund provide a policy anchor for continued reforms, and would mitigate the impact of shocks if they materialize, supporting continued strong growth and poverty reduction.

“The planned scaling up of infrastructure investments under the authorities’ economic program will lift Kenya’s growth trajectory by removing bottlenecks to private sector activity and fostering regional integration, provided public debt remains on a sustainable path. In this regard, the authorities’ commitments to containing current spending and mobilizing additional revenue are welcome.

“Continued reforms to public finance management, in particular the full implementation of the treasury single account, the adoption of a borrowing framework for counties, and the close monitoring of contingent liabilities, will be key to containing fiscal risks in the period ahead.

“The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has made remarkable progress in bringing inflation toward the mid-point of its target range, aided in part by falling energy prices. Nevertheless, the CBK should remain vigilant and act as needed to head off any pressure from rapid credit growth and the envisaged scaling up of infrastructure spending.

“The authorities are appropriately taking steps to strengthen the prudential oversight of a rapidly growing financial sector. Implementing prudential guidelines for bank capital, strengthening the CBK’s stress-testing framework, and improving the supervision of expanding cross-border operations will be critical to boost the soundness of domestic banks.

“The authorities should also continue improving the quality of economic statistics, especially as regards the balance of payments, social indicators, and the labor market. More comprehensive and timely data in these areas would facilitate the policymakers’ assessment of Kenya’s progress in reducing remaining vulnerabilities.”

Annex

Recent economic developments

Real GDP growth remains robust, supported by strong credit growth and a dynamic investment environment. The economy expanded by 5.3 percent year-on-year in real terms during the first three quarters of 2014, reflecting strong activity in construction, manufacturing and retail trade. However, poor rains have constrained agriculture growth, and security concerns have adversely affected tourism. Annual growth is expected to remain above 5.3 percent in 2014 reflecting the increase in geothermal energy generation capacity and the commencement of activities related to the Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway project.

Inflation has begun to ease. After exceeding the authorities’ target range (5±2.5 percent) in July and August, headline inflation continued to decline and reached 6.0 percent in December. This reflects lower electricity costs as a result of Kenya’s investment in geothermal power generation coming on stream as well as lower international oil prices.

Strong private inflows and the proceeds from Kenya’s international bond placements lifted international reserve cover. Gross international reserves stood at US$ 8.0 billion (4.4 months of prospective imports) at end-December 2014. In December 2014, the authorities re-opened their June debut sovereign issuance, raising an additional US$750 million split between five-year (US$250 million) and 10-year (US$500 million) maturities, with yields about 100 basis points lower than at original issuance. The current account deficit remains high, reflecting strong capital-goods imports, though mitigated by the decline in oil prices.

Overall market conditions are broadly favorable. The Kenyan shilling remains on a broadly stable path of gradual depreciation vis-à-vis the US dollar, largely reflecting developments in international financial markets. In recent months, however, the interbank rate deviated, at times significantly, from the policy rate, reflecting changes in liquidity conditions, with volatility explained by devolution-related flows of government deposits at the Central Bank of Kenya.

Kenyan banks continue to expand domestic credit, provide access to new borrowers, and increase their operations beyond Kenyan borders. The banking sector remains profitable and well-capitalized, but provisions are lately lagging behind a pickup in NPLs, which moderated slightly in September (5.4 percent of total loans). Credit growth (25 percent) continues to outpace deposit growth (20 percent) reflecting a more intensive use of medium-term mostly concessional foreign currency lines for small and medium enterprises (SME) project financing. Financial inclusion has increased, with 75 percent of the population having access to formal or informal financial services at end-2013.

Program summary

The new precautionary Fund arrangements would provide a policy anchor for continued macroeconomic and institutional reforms, and help to mitigate the impact of potential exogenous shocks while these reforms are being pursued, thereby supporting continued strong growth and durable poverty reduction. The authorities’ economic program focuses on the following policies:

• Maintaining a sustainable medium-term debt path consistent with regional convergence commitments, while preserving fiscal space to implement the ambitious public investment program aimed at (i) supporting economic development; (ii) minimizing vulnerabilities to weather-related shocks; and (iii) reducing infrastructure bottlenecks;

• Taking decisive steps to strengthen public financial management, including to contain fiscal risks from Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and the devolution process;

• Further modernizing the monetary policy framework, to facilitate the transition to a fully-fledged inflation targeting framework;

• Improving financial oversight to address financial sector vulnerabilities stemming from rapid credit growth and fast expansion of cross-border operations by Kenyan banks;

• Upgrading data quality to strengthen policy making, address gaps, and facilitate transition to frontier/emerging market status.

Source:: IMF Executive Board Approves US$497.1 Million Stand-by Arrangement and US$191.2 Million Stand-by Credit Facility for Kenya

Categories: AFRICA, African Press Organization, ECONOMY, Kenya | Tags:

Children’s rights in 12 countries: UN Committee publishes review findings

GENEVA, Switzerland, February 4, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has published its concluding observations on the States it examined during its 68th session from 12-30 January: Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Turkmenistan, Sweden, Mauritius, Gambia, Tanzania, Jamaica, Uruguay, Colombia, Iraq and Switzerland

The concluding observations can be found here: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=825&Lang=en

These findings contain positive aspects of a respective State’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), highlight main areas of concern and detail the Committee’s recommendations. Some of the above States were also reviewed on their record in preventing the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

Source:: Children’s rights in 12 countries: UN Committee publishes review findings

Categories: African Press Organization

Children’s rights in 12 countries: UN Committee publishes review findings

GENEVA, Switzerland, February 4, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has published its concluding observations on the States it examined during its 68th session from 12-30 January: Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Turkmenistan, Sweden, Mauritius, Gambia, Tanzania, Jamaica, Uruguay, Colombia, Iraq and Switzerland

The concluding observations can be found here: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=825&Lang=en

These findings contain positive aspects of a respective State’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), highlight main areas of concern and detail the Committee’s recommendations. Some of the above States were also reviewed on their record in preventing the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

Source:: Children’s rights in 12 countries: UN Committee publishes review findings

Categories: African Press Organization

New Dates for New York Forum Africa 2015: “Invest in the Energy Continent”

LIBREVILLE, Gabon, February 4, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The 4th edition of the New York Forum AFRICA (NYFA) (http://www.ny-forum-africa.com), the world’s leading pan-African business summit, will now take place on August 29-31 2015 in Libreville, Gabon under the High Patronage of His Excellency Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of the Gabonese Republic.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/nyfa15-1.png

The dates have been changed to coincide with the 14th AGOA Forum, the first time this Forum has ever been held in Central Africa. Gabon was chosen as the host nation for the AGOA Forum, which is a US government initiative to expand trade with Sub-Saharan Africa. The NYFA will serve to highlight business and economic opportunities across the whole continent alongside the AGOA discussions about US-Africa trade.

The Gabonese government decided to combine the two global events to capitalise on the presence and reach of thousands of economic and business leaders who will be together in Libreville for days of discussion and debate.

President Bongo said: “We were delighted to be chosen as the host nation for the 14th AGOA Forum; running the two events together was the natural conclusion. While the falling oil price comes at a time of increasing investment into infrastructure projects, it is vital we maintain the economic diversification programmes we have put in place to reduce our dependence on oil revenues. Increasing trade with the West and continuing to attract investment through high-visibility gatherings such as the AGOA Forum and the NYFA are essential.”

More than 1,500 business and political leaders are expected to attend this year’s NYFA. The theme of the Forum is Invest in the Energy Continent; it will focus on the new dynamism in the continent, from entrepreneurs and inward investment, as well as the growing energy sector. Key topics include: economic dynamism; energy sector opportunities; entrepreneurship and enterprise; job creation and economic diversification; education and innovation. The New York Forum AFRICA is the only pan-African business summit to be held in Africa in 2015.

AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act) was signed into law by President Clinton to expand and deepen trade and investment relations between Sub-Saharan Africa and the United States, and to encourage economic growth and development.

Richard Attias, Founder of the New York Forum, said: “Holding the two events together is a terrific opportunity: this will really increase the scope of discussions at the NYFA, giving us access to an unprecedented level of US public sector officials and CEOs, while delivering the quality of content for which the NYFA has become known in its three editions to date.”

The NYFA is composed of vibrant, action-orientated debates and panels, as well as sector-specific breakout sessions and workshops. In addition, the NYFA 2015 will again host the Marketplace, a virtual and traditional meeting-place for participants to book one-on-one meetings with Gabonese stakeholders as well as international corporations, which will increase in size for NYFA 2015.

For more information about the New York Forum AFRICA 2015 : www.ny-forum-africa.com

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Richard Attias & Associates (RAA).

Media contact: media.nyfa@richardattiasassociates.com

ABOUT NEW YORK FORUM

The New York Forum® (http://www.ny-forum-africa.com) was established with the conviction that business has arrived at a crossroads. It is crucial to send a strong optimistic message about the world economy’s future, to work towards redefining corporate governance, to create long-term value, and to re-invent business models through uniting all economic stakeholders.

Our goal focuses on consolidating the link between economic growth and job creation, on the importance of cities as key drivers of dynamism and innovation, on the challenges that are business leaders have to meet within a climate of volatility and uncertainty, and on the special opportunities created by the growth of emerging economies. http://www.ny-forum.com

Source:: New Dates for New York Forum Africa 2015: “Invest in the Energy Continent”

Categories: African Press Organization

Ebola: 1.5 million euros for local health facilities and health prevention in Guinea

BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, February 4, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo releases 1.5 million to UNICEF for the support of local health facilities in Guinea. With this money, the UN organization will support health prevention and community health centers in the most affected region in Guinea.

Currently, our country contributes in several ways to the fight against Ebola in West Africa. Amongst the initiatives, there is the presence of the B-Life Lab, a mobile laboratory for blood analysis in Guinea. This lab, staffed by B-FAST, is able to make rapid blood analysis of potentially infected patients. To get the epidemic under control, it is very important that local communities are strengthened in their capacity to prevent and, in case of contamination, to detect Ebola as soon as possible.

Therefore, Alexander De Croo releases 1.5 million euros to strengthen health prevention and local health facilities in the N’Zerekore region in Guinea, an area with more than one million inhabitants and the epicenter of the Ebola epidemic. With the money, UNICEF will be able to support 3 Ebola Community Care Centers and more than 400 Community Watch Committees in the region. They are the vital link between local communities and health centers. They focus on risk awareness, health prevention, rapid identification of new cases and contact tracing. Communication initiatives will also be developed in consultation with spiritual leaders and local elected officials. The aim is to make people more aware about good hygiene practices as well as to convince them of the benefits of early treatment, and finally to counter stigmatization.

These financial efforts come in addition of the more than 37 million euros that our country already made available to humanitarian organizations in their fight against the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Since the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic in March 2014, 8.921 fatalities have been counted in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone ( figures UNMEER , Feb 3, 2015). A total of 22 334 people have been infected with the virus.

Source:: Ebola: 1.5 million euros for local health facilities and health prevention in Guinea

Categories: African Press Organization