200 decision-makers expected in Lomé (Togo) for the first Africa Best Practices Forum on 26 and 27 February 2015

LOME, Togo, February 17, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Lomé, the capital of Togo, will host the first Africa Best Practices Forum on 26 and 27 February 2015 (http://www.africabestpractices.com). Pan-African bank Ecobank, recruitment agency AfricSearch and company Ellipse Communication are working together, with the support of the World Bank and the West African Development Bank (BOAD), to organise this first forum, which is dedicated exclusively to improving the business framework and environment in Africa.

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

The Africa Best Practices Forum is intended to be both a forum for exchange and a business platform bringing together African and international experts, public and political administration officials, private sector executives and stakeholders so that they can share their experience with reforms that stimulate growth and employment. “This forum will be an arena for discussions among public and private sector decision-makers in Africa. It will deepen a dialogue on the dissemination of best practices, one that is more important now than ever before,” asserts Didier Acouetey, founder of the recruitment agency AfricSearch.

Some 200 people are expected in Lomé. They include Cheikh Hadjibou Soumaré, President of the WAEMU Commission, Christian Adovelande, President of BOAD, Hervé Assah, World Bank representative for Togo, Alioune Sall, Executive Director of the think tank African Futures Institute, Cody Lee, Director of the Singapore Business Federation, Felix Bikpo, Chief Executive Officer of African Guarantee Fund, Jean-Louis Ekra, President of Afreximbank, Amadou Kane, former Finance Minister of Senegal, and Momar Nguer, Africa Director of Total Supply & Marketing. Delegations from Morocco, Rwanda and Singapore will attend.

The subjects addressed during the two-day forum will include legal and administrative reform, government modernisation, creation of an environment favourable to private sector development and integration of multilateral instruments. A special session will be devoted to innovative reforms. Various tried and tested models from around the world will be analysed in a round table. Finally, a session will be dedicated to new financing methods such as PPP, financial markets, private equity, etc.

“Because the level of investment depends on reforms undertaken by African states, there is an urgent need to accelerate these reforms to promote social and economic change, with the private sector acting as a lever,” concludes Arsène Johnson, the forum sponsor.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the Africa Best Practices Forum.

Media contact:

Hervé PANA

Communications and Public Relations Officer

E-mail: infos@africabestpratices.com

Tel.: +228 90 04 80 81

About best practices (http://www.africabestpractices.com)

Africa has experienced immense economic progress over the past decade. Six of the ten economies with the highest growth rates are in Africa, and close to 10% of foreign direct investments worldwide have been directed to the continent. Thanks to a policy of improving the macroeconomic environment and implementing socio-political reforms, two-thirds of African economies have enhanced their business climate, according to the World Bank in its “Doing Business 2015″ report. Among the ten economies showing the strongest growth since the previous edition of this document, which measures the ease of doing business in 189 countries, five are African.

However, Africa still needs to tackle a number of challenges to extend and consolidate this trajectory. Best practices, a set of methods and techniques that have proven effective elsewhere in the world (business and trade law, taxation, legal stability, etc.) are one of the most powerful levers for change.

Register at www.africabestpractices.com

Source:: 200 decision-makers expected in Lomé (Togo) for the first Africa Best Practices Forum on 26 and 27 February 2015

Categories: African Press Organization

Africa Intelligence 2015: a new air of freedom

PARIS, France, February 17, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Leading professional African news portal Africa Intelligence (http://www.africaintelligence.fr) today unveils its new graphic identity with revamped logos, attractive colours, improved ergonomics and smoother navigation. This restyling marks the conclusion of an ambitious digital transition programme started nearly two years ago with the switch to 100% digital publication in April 2013. In May 2014, there came applications for telephones and tablets and, last November, new lay-outs for the confidential newsletters.

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

Screenshot: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1755

The restyling apart, the Africa Intelligence portal, which was set up in 1996, remains faithful to its original values: total editorial independence and exclusive news destined for a high-level professional audience. Its objectives remain the same: better understanding of the issues underlying the exercise of power, analysis of the workings of business networks and exposure of the realities behind the news.

A portal which offers readers total freedom of choice

This new formula enables Africa Intelligence, which is published in English and French, to strengthen the portal’s position by offering a wider choice of modes of access to the information it contains.

Africa Intelligence’s readers come from a wide variety of professional backgrounds. They are spread all over the planet and they all have very different reading requirements. This is why the new portal aims to give them the greatest possible freedom of choice:

• Choice of language, French or English ;

• Access to content by computer, tablet or mobile telephone ;

• Subscription to the whole portal with unlimited access to all five confidential newsletters: West Africa Newsletter, The Indian Ocean Newsletter, Maghreb Confidential, Africa Energy Intelligence and Africa Mining Intelligence. Also included in this subscription are more than 100,000 articles archived since 1992, alerts, special reports, Insiders articles, country channels.

• Subscription to any of the five newsletters individually with access to all its archives;

• Subscription to a country channel for readers who are interested by a single country and want access only to articles about it;

• Purchase of articles individually for those who prefer to pay solely for the articles they read.

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

Contacts :

. Editorial

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

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

Frédéric Lejeal, editor in chief, West Africa Newsletter/ lejeal@indigo-net.com

. Communication

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

About Africa Intelligence

The Africa Intelligence portal is published by Indigo Publications, an independent press group set up by a group of journalists in Paris in 1981. Often dubbed “the smallest international press group in the world », it publishes 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, drawing all its resources from its readers.

Source:: Africa Intelligence 2015: a new air of freedom

Categories: African Press Organization

Zeid urges Libyans to oppose extremism after “vile” murder of Coptic Christians

GENEVA, Switzerland, February 17, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Tuesday said the mass beheading of 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians and apparently another Christian man in Libya was a “vile crime targeting people on the basis of their religion” and urged Libyans to unite against extremists launching attacks based on religious, ethnic, national, racial or political grounds.

“The brutal murder of these men, and the ghastly attempt to justify and glorify it in a video, should be roundly condemned by everyone, in particular by the people of Libya who should resist the urgings of takfiri groups,” High Commissioner Zeid said. “Murdering captives or hostages is prohibited under international law and Islamic law.”

“This is not the first time that Coptic Christians have been targeted in Libya or elsewhere in the region. As described in a report we published last week, UN human rights staff have documented several incidents involving abductions of Egyptian Copts in Libya. In one incident, in December last year, the bodies of three members of a Coptic Christian family were found in Sirte. Churches and other religious sites have also been attacked in Libya over the past three years.”

In their response, Zeid said, the Egyptian air force must ensure full respect of the principles of distinction between civilians and fighters, and civilians objects and military objectives.

The beheading of the 21 men took place against the backdrop of increasing lawlessness amid the armed conflict in Libya. The UN Human Rights report* published last week detailed the rampant violence and fighting in the country, which is badly affecting civilians in general and specific groups in particular – including Coptic Christians, other minorities, migrants, journalists and human rights defenders.

On Saturday, UN staff received reports that the director of the human rights group, the National Commission for Human Rights, Dr. Hadi Ben Taleb, and one of its board members, Mr. Ahmed Osta, had been abducted by the al-Sa’dawi armed group in the Ain Zara neighbourhood of Tripoli. Since then, their relatives and colleagues have received no further information about their fate or whereabouts. Zeid called for the two men’s release, and pending this, for their relatives to be informed of their location.

The High Commissioner urged all parties in Libya to work towards a meaningful dialogue to bring to an end the current conflict, and in particular to engage constructively with the efforts of Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Bernardino León to advance an inclusive political process aimed at addressing Libya’s daunting political and security challenges.

“This is the only solution. The path to a peaceful and prosperous Libya – like anywhere else — involves upholding everyone’s human rights, irrespective of faith, ethnicity or political affiliation. Joining, copying or giving in to groups that glorify blood-letting is akin to buying a one-way ticket to disaster, not just for yourself, but for your relatives and your entire society. Adopting extremist takfiri behavior will simply add layer upon layer of suffering on an already suffering country – as we have seen all too clearly in Syria and Iraq.”

* The full report of the High Commissioner, prepared by the UN Human Rights Office in cooperation with the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) can be found here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session28/Documents/A_HRC_28_51_ENG.doc

ENDS

Source:: Zeid urges Libyans to oppose extremism after “vile” murder of Coptic Christians

Categories: African Press Organization

IOM Highlights Need for Regional Response to Boko Haram Displacement

GENEVA, Switzerland, February 17, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A steady increase in the number of people internally displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria and fleeing to neighboring countries in the Lake Chad region calls for an expanded humanitarian response, according to a recently concluded IOM assessment mission.

About one million people have been internally displaced in Nigeria’s North East, with over 200,000 reported displaced in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

To better understand the regional impact of the crisis, IOM conducted a 15-day assessment mission in the four affected countries in the Lake Chad region between January 23rd and February 6th 2015 to evaluate urgent needs and gaps.

The mission’s findings highlighted the need for additional humanitarian response capacity in Nigeria’s North East, which hosts by far the largest number of displaced people.

The situation is also becoming increasingly worrying in neighboring Niger, Cameroon and Chad. The Diffa and Zinder regions of Niger, Lake Chad and Kebbi areas of Chad, and the Extreme North region of Cameroon have all seen an influx of refugees, returnees, and stranded migrants.

Recent cross-border attacks and the fear of further Boko Haram encroachment are also causing internal displacement in the three neighboring countries.

Mixed caseloads that are difficult to differentiate in the absence of identity documents, a highly volatile and insecure operating environment and the sparse presence of humanitarian actors in some of the worst affected areas are just some of the elements shaping this complex displacement crisis.

“Access is a major issue hindering the humanitarian response, with the security situation deteriorating rapidly,” said Laura Lungarotti, an IOM protection officer based in Geneva. “For example, in Cameroon’s Extreme North, particularly in Logon-et-Chari, reaching the displaced population poses a huge challenge.”

With no end to the fighting in sight, the number of displaced people in the region is expected to increase further. A clear understanding of displacement patterns and numbers will be crucial in a targeted humanitarian response. The mission’s findings confirmed that displacement is concentrated mainly outside camps, putting a huge strain on host communities.

“Internally displaced people (IDPs) and the friends and families hosting them are reaching the limit of their ability to cope with the situation,” said Giovanni Cassani, an IOM Regional Emergency Specialist, on behalf of the assessment team. “These are often poor and disenfranchised communities where basic services and infrastructure are very limited. Many now lack adequate shelter, household items and access to income generating activities.”

These findings call for an increased humanitarian presence in Nigeria’s North East and its affected neighbouring countries. The humanitarian response needs to target displacement holistically and cater for the large numbers displaced in host communities.

IOM already is responding to the crisis by working with national authorities and partners in the affected countries. A key pillar of the response is IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) programme, which was rolled out in Nigeria at the end of 2014 in response to a lack of reliable information on the numbers, locations and needs of the displaced populations in the country’s North East.

“There was a growing need to strengthen the information on displacement patterns at national and regional level and conduct specific needs analysis in order to plan and prioritize urgently needed assistance,” noted IOM Nigeria Chief of Mission Enira Krdzalic. “The DTM project is an essential step toward providing effective assistance to the communities affected by the Boko Haram insurgency and leveraging adequate humanitarian resources.”

The programme is implemented in close coordination with national authorities to reinforce local capacities. DTM data collected so far in five of Nigeria’s most affected states indicates that the great majority (92.4 per cent) of IDPs are seeking refuge in host communities. Such information is critical in planning a humanitarian response that addresses the needs of all affected populations in a timely and efficient manner.

IOM Nigeria has also deployed mobile teams to provide psychosocial support in Borno state to families of the Chibok school girls abducted by Boko Haram last year and other affected communities.

IOM missions in Niger, Chad and Cameroon are now seeking to scale up their response in areas including information management, displacement tracking, direct assistance, including shelter / non-food relief items (NFIs), psychosocial assistance, capacity building of local authorities and the creation of income generating activities to support coping mechanisms of affected people and local communities.

Source:: IOM Highlights Need for Regional Response to Boko Haram Displacement

Categories: African Press Organization

At least 3,800 Migrants Rescued from Mediterranean Since Friday: IOM

GENEVA, Switzerland, February 17, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM teams in Italy reported Tuesday (17/2) that 933 migrants have arrived on the island of Lampedusa during the past 24 hours, bringing to at least 3,800 the total number of survivors rescued from the Mediterranean since Friday (13/2).

In addition to nearly one thousand migrants now being processed in Lampedusa – where the capacity of the reception centre is normally just 400 – almost 300 more either are bound for the port of Pozzallo, on the island of Sicily, or are already in a reception centre there. Three hundred more are en route to the port of Calabria, while 640 rescued migrants are bound for Porto Empedocle, also in Sicily. Late Monday IOM learned that 265 rescued migrants also are bound for Lampedusa.

Italy’s Ministry of Interior reported 3,528 migrants arrived in Italy by sea in January. Totals for February already have topped last month’s arrivals, indicating 2015’s human smuggling season is starting earlier than in years past, with potentially lethal consequences. In 2014 IOM reported 3,279 migrants died attempting to cross the Mediterranean bound for Europe.

It is not yet known how many fatalities may have occurred during what is believed to have been a flotilla of a dozen or more inflatable boats that left Libya last Tuesday, just days after a smaller fleet foundered, killing an estimated 330 migrants, most of them from Sub-Saharan Africa.

As violence escalates in Libya, IOM has called for world governments to act swiftly to face the growing threat to migrants, as over 1,600 people were rescued from unseaworthy boats this weekend.

“This is a very clear signal that the situation in Libya is unravelling,” said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing. “We must stand ready to assist thousands of extremely vulnerable people who need our help.”

IOM yesterday (16/2) reported the rescue since Friday of over 1,600 migrants discovered on multiple vessels just days after some 330 people were reported lost, presumed drowned, the previous weekend. The departures illustrate the humanitarian emergency unfolding across the North African country.

IOM staffers in Sicily and Lampedusa are assisting Italian authorities as they care for the latest victims of criminal Libyan gangs, who reportedly beat and robbed victims, while forcing them into unseaworthy boats on a beach 15 km from Tripoli. One survivor told IOM: “They forced us to leave using guns; they beat many of us and took all our belongings.”

No deaths have been reported in almost a week. But IOM staff may learn of fatalities as they interview the hundreds of survivors due to arrive in Italy during the coming days.

IOM said that the migrants were rescued starting Friday, February 13 by the Italian Coast Guard and other ships patrolling the Mediterranean. Most are from Sub-Saharan Africa, although at least 200 Somali migrants are among the survivors.

Director of IOM’s Coordinating Office for the Mediterranean Federico Soda warned that he expects voyages like these will continue as Libya’s violence worsens.

“Migrants are forced to travel on unseaworthy boats and in dire weather conditions,” Soda said. “Given these circumstances, the (relatively small) number and the kind of ships used at the moment would be unable to rescue a large number of people fleeing Libya.”

Libya’s deepening chaos raises the stakes for Italy and all of Europe as officials across the continent debate the future of the European Union (EU)’s border control policies.

Italy’s Operation Mare Nostrum, in place from October 2013 until late last year, was responsible for the rescue of over 172,000 migrants put out to sea by smuggling gangs in Africa. It has been replaced by an EU programme called Triton, which is administered by the Frontex EU border agency.

“The current system, Triton, patrolling the Mediterranean clearly is inadequate in the face of this situation,” Ambassador Swing added. “It is necessary to establish immediately a rescue system on the high seas that can respond to this emergency effectively to save migrants off Libya’s coast.”

Chilling details still are emerging from the boats that departed Libya over a week ago. “D”, a 20-year-old migrant from Mali, among the survivors arriving in Lampedusa last week, said he witnessed the drowning of dozens of his fellow passengers.

“We left on a rubber dinghy with more than 100 [passengers],” “D” told IOM, explaining how four inflatable vessels departed from a beach 15 km from Tripoli, on Saturday, February 7. “On Sunday, around 11.00 am, our dinghy collapsed. Thirty people fell in the water, while I held on to the boat with another 70.”

“D” explained that he held on until 3.00 pm the next day. “For hours I watched as my fellow passengers died one by one, exhausted by the cold, the waves, and the rain, letting themselves fall in the sea. I saw them drift away, with their hands close to the surface,” he said.

Source:: At least 3,800 Migrants Rescued from Mediterranean Since Friday: IOM

At least 3,800 Migrants Rescued from Mediterranean Since Friday: IOM

GENEVA, Switzerland, February 17, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM teams in Italy reported Tuesday (17/2) that 933 migrants have arrived on the island of Lampedusa during the past 24 hours, bringing to at least 3,800 the total number of survivors rescued from the Mediterranean since Friday (13/2).

In addition to nearly one thousand migrants now being processed in Lampedusa – where the capacity of the reception centre is normally just 400 – almost 300 more either are bound for the port of Pozzallo, on the island of Sicily, or are already in a reception centre there. Three hundred more are en route to the port of Calabria, while 640 rescued migrants are bound for Porto Empedocle, also in Sicily. Late Monday IOM learned that 265 rescued migrants also are bound for Lampedusa.

Italy’s Ministry of Interior reported 3,528 migrants arrived in Italy by sea in January. Totals for February already have topped last month’s arrivals, indicating 2015’s human smuggling season is starting earlier than in years past, with potentially lethal consequences. In 2014 IOM reported 3,279 migrants died attempting to cross the Mediterranean bound for Europe.

It is not yet known how many fatalities may have occurred during what is believed to have been a flotilla of a dozen or more inflatable boats that left Libya last Tuesday, just days after a smaller fleet foundered, killing an estimated 330 migrants, most of them from Sub-Saharan Africa.

As violence escalates in Libya, IOM has called for world governments to act swiftly to face the growing threat to migrants, as over 1,600 people were rescued from unseaworthy boats this weekend.

“This is a very clear signal that the situation in Libya is unravelling,” said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing. “We must stand ready to assist thousands of extremely vulnerable people who need our help.”

IOM yesterday (16/2) reported the rescue since Friday of over 1,600 migrants discovered on multiple vessels just days after some 330 people were reported lost, presumed drowned, the previous weekend. The departures illustrate the humanitarian emergency unfolding across the North African country.

IOM staffers in Sicily and Lampedusa are assisting Italian authorities as they care for the latest victims of criminal Libyan gangs, who reportedly beat and robbed victims, while forcing them into unseaworthy boats on a beach 15 km from Tripoli. One survivor told IOM: “They forced us to leave using guns; they beat many of us and took all our belongings.”

No deaths have been reported in almost a week. But IOM staff may learn of fatalities as they interview the hundreds of survivors due to arrive in Italy during the coming days.

IOM said that the migrants were rescued starting Friday, February 13 by the Italian Coast Guard and other ships patrolling the Mediterranean. Most are from Sub-Saharan Africa, although at least 200 Somali migrants are among the survivors.

Director of IOM’s Coordinating Office for the Mediterranean Federico Soda warned that he expects voyages like these will continue as Libya’s violence worsens.

“Migrants are forced to travel on unseaworthy boats and in dire weather conditions,” Soda said. “Given these circumstances, the (relatively small) number and the kind of ships used at the moment would be unable to rescue a large number of people fleeing Libya.”

Libya’s deepening chaos raises the stakes for Italy and all of Europe as officials across the continent debate the future of the European Union (EU)’s border control policies.

Italy’s Operation Mare Nostrum, in place from October 2013 until late last year, was responsible for the rescue of over 172,000 migrants put out to sea by smuggling gangs in Africa. It has been replaced by an EU programme called Triton, which is administered by the Frontex EU border agency.

“The current system, Triton, patrolling the Mediterranean clearly is inadequate in the face of this situation,” Ambassador Swing added. “It is necessary to establish immediately a rescue system on the high seas that can respond to this emergency effectively to save migrants off Libya’s coast.”

Chilling details still are emerging from the boats that departed Libya over a week ago. “D”, a 20-year-old migrant from Mali, among the survivors arriving in Lampedusa last week, said he witnessed the drowning of dozens of his fellow passengers.

“We left on a rubber dinghy with more than 100 [passengers],” “D” told IOM, explaining how four inflatable vessels departed from a beach 15 km from Tripoli, on Saturday, February 7. “On Sunday, around 11.00 am, our dinghy collapsed. Thirty people fell in the water, while I held on to the boat with another 70.”

“D” explained that he held on until 3.00 pm the next day. “For hours I watched as my fellow passengers died one by one, exhausted by the cold, the waves, and the rain, letting themselves fall in the sea. I saw them drift away, with their hands close to the surface,” he said.

Source:: At least 3,800 Migrants Rescued from Mediterranean Since Friday: IOM

Categories: African Press Organization