Kenya Joins UNCTAD’s Empretec Network

Kenya is poised to join a United Nations-led programme that helps promote entrepreneurship by building capacity for small businesses around the globe.

The official launch of the Empretec programme in Kenya takes place today in Nairobi, in the presence of UNCTAD’s Secretary-General, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, H.E. Adan Mohamed, and Mr. Jack Ma, UNCTAD Special Advisor for Youth Entrepreneurship and Small Business, the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group.

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are key engines of economic growth. They make a significant contribution through outputs, employment, job creation and innovation. In Kenya, such enterprises play a key role in economic development, contributing 33.8% of GDP and 81.1% of employment opportunities, according to the 2016 National MSME Survey. However, 98% of businesses in Kenya are estimated to be in the informal sector, with most run by young people aged between 18-35 and women.

“We thank UNCTAD for the opportunity and support to establish an Empretec Centre in Kenya. The centre will go a long way in developing and promoting Entrepreneurship in the Country. We foresee graduation of many MSMEs from informal to formal enterprises. This will be good for the country,” said Minister Mohamed.

Kenya will be able to derive significant benefits from the integration and skills development of its large, yet unproductive, informal sector. The country’s Vision 2030 strategy, adopted in 2007, acknowledges the need to support the informal sector to raise productivity and distribution, jobs, owners’ incomes and public revenues.

Empretec can therefore play a central role in inspiring entrepreneurship and developing the right skills to start and grow MSMEs, thus stimulating economic growth through job creation, helping formalize businesses, creating opportunities for and thereby empowering disadvantaged groups such as youth and women, and strengthening local productive capacity,” said Dr. Kituyi.

Empretec is UNCTAD’s flagship capacity-building programme coordinated from Geneva, Switzerland, by its Enterprise Branch of the Division of Investment and Enterprise.

The programme focuses on developing countries and economies and transitions. Besides promoting entrepreneurship and enhancing productive capacity, it also seeks to boost the international competitiveness of MSMEs.

The programme is implemented through its National Centres, established in 39 countries. Since its inception in 1988, Empretec has successfully trained more than 420,000 people, helping them to found or expand businesses, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process.

During last year’s UNCTAD XIV conference in Nairobi, Kenya, UNCTAD announced that Kenya would be the fortieth country to join the Empretec network.

The launch ceremony takes place at the end of a six-day Empretec entrepreneurship workshop led by UNCTAD’s international master trainers in cooperation with local counterparts.

Following the Empretec workshop, on 22-25 July UNCTAD will also organize a four-day training-of-trainers workshop bringing together participants from Kenya and other countries in the region. They will go through an advanced learning session, required for them to be certified as national Empretec trainers. The events are hosted by the Kenya Institute of Business Training of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives.

Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

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UN Security Council Meeting on Peace and Security in Africa – Nikki Haley remarks

Ambassador Nikki Haley Delivers Remarks at a UN Security Council Meeting on Peace and Security in Africa

Ambassador Nikki Haley, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, delivered remarks today at a UN Security Council Open Debate on peace and security in Africa. Ambassador Haley highlighted the nexus between humanitarian crises, human rights, and international peace and security on the continent.

“More than 14 million people are at risk of famine today in northeast Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan. This is a crisis that should be leading every newscast and on the front page of every newspaper. The United States will continue to lead in bringing together resources to overcome this crisis. On July 8, we announced an additional $446 million in humanitarian assistance to suffering people from South Sudan, Nigeria, and Somalia, bringing the total for fiscal year 2017 to $1.4 billion. And we thank all the donors and communities hosting the displaced for their incredible generosity. But our ability to provide real relief is hampered by one inescapable fact: armed conflict is the primary cause of food insecurity in South Sudan, Nigeria, and Somalia.”

“The commitment to promoting human rights must precede conflict – and take precedence over politics – in order to secure peace and security. When the nations of the African Group put forward a country like the Democratic Republic of Congo to be a member of the Human Rights Council, it does more than just weaken that body – it adds to the conflict that is causing so much suffering on that continent.”

Distributed by APO on behalf of U.S. Department of State.

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CAR : UN Humanitarian Chief Urges the International Community to Sustain Its Efforts

UN Humanitarian Chief Urges the International Community to Sustain Its Efforts for the Sake of the Central African Republic’s People

United Nations Under-Secretary-General (USG) for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), Stephen O’Brien, concluded today a three-day visit to the Central African Republic (CAR) with a call to the international community to sustain support to avert the risk of a repeat of the devastating large-scale crisis that gripped the country only four years ago.

While acknowledging the tremendous efforts made since the peak of the crisis in 2014, Mr. O’Brien expressed extreme concern at the upsurge of violence in CAR since the beginning of 2017. “This trend puts out at risk the hard-won gains made since 2015 when I was last here,” Mr. O’Brien said. Since January 2014, over 10,000 children have been released from armed groups. In addition, despite a very difficult school year, violence and displacement, children in emergency schools in Bambari and Kaga Bandoro all passed their elementary final exams. “If we do not act now and keep the faith, we will see increasing need and even greater vulnerability of already weakened people. We risk seeing even greater stress on the capacities of humanitarian actors and funding mechanisms.”

During his meetings with the President, the Minister of Planning and the Minister of Social Affairs, international and local humanitarian actors in the field, the diplomatic corps and donor community, he voiced his concern at the “needless rise of violence and its terrible, terrifying and harmful impact on children, women and men”.

“I heard a lot of eye-watering stories during my field visit in Bangassou. Falmata and Amina, two mums of 8 and 3 children had to flee their homes in Tokoyo last May, and are now hosted in the Petit Seminaire site. Their homes were destroyed, they have nowhere to return to. All they ask for is safety and security in their place of origin to be able to start thinking of going home.”

CAR has one of the largest humanitarian caseloads in the world. Nearly 2.4 million people (nearly 1 of 2) depend on humanitarian aid to survive. The daunting challenge of protecting civilians which means keeping children safe, boys from being recruited into armed groups, women from being raped, men and women from being killed and of delivering aid in such a challenging environment – where the safety of humanitarian workers safety is too often put at risk – were also raised by the ERC. “Central African Republic is one of the most dangerous place in the world to be an aid worker today. Since the beginning of the crisis, 24 of them made the most ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives in CAR. I salute their courage and their bravery.”

The UN Humanitarian chief reminded all “parties to the conflict of their obligation under international law to protect civilians and to ensure that their basic needs are met”. Indeed, while in Bangassou, he witnessed the dire conditions in which some 2,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) from minorities are confined at the local catholic church. “Attacks on religious or ethnic grounds constitute a serious setback in CAR. And end has to be put to these unacceptable acts in order to give peace a chance.

I appeal to all parties to engage without any further dialogue and in rebuilding lives of people today and for future generations” He urged. “The UN is here to help, not be a target, or hinder political engagement – just use words and dialogue, not weapons, violence or discrimination” he added.

The visit of Mr. O’Brien took place during an upsurge of violence on a scale that has not been seen since 2014, causing forced displacement and an increase in humanitarian needs. At the same time, the humanitarian response is facing chronic underfunding. The continued deterioration of the situation has brought the humanitarian community to revise its Humanitarian Response Plan, which now requires $497 million, but is only 24 per cent funded.

“I urge the international community to sustain its efforts for the sake of the Central African Republic’s people, and for the sake of peace and the future of this country. Central Africans need all of us to do a lot more to turn words and good intentions into concrete actions and concrete prevention. We must not fail going this extra mile” declared Stephen O’Brien.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

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Burundi : Solar Street Lights Illuminate Bujumbura

  • “By expanding our investments from commercial scale projects to include off-grid additionally, we are positively impacting the lives of millions of people in Burundi and throughout Africa” – Yosef I. Abramowitz, CEO, Gigawatt Global

Downtown Bujumbura just got a little brighter, thanks to an innovative partnership between Mayor Freddy MBONIMPA and Gigawatt Global (, a founding member of United States Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid program.

This week solar-powered ‘light islands’ began appearing in the heavily-trafficked central bus station and nearby marketplace, extending commercial hours and personal safety.

“The city of Bujumbura is very pleased to be working with Gigawatt Global on this important solar street lighting project,” said Mayor Freddy MBONIMPA. “This project will enhance security as well as provide opportunities for economic development to the citizens of Bujumbura. It is the hope and wish of all involved that this project can spread throughout the city, as well as expand to other cities in Burundi within the near future.”

Gigawatt Global is now in discussions to scale the solar-powered ‘light islands’ program throughout the city and in other major Burundian towns. “We are grateful and pleased to work with the city of Bujumbura, and the Honorable Mayor Freddy MBONIMPA to realise this important first step of the solar street lighting project,” said Michael Fichtenberg, Managing Director of Gigawatt Global Burundi. “We intend to expand throughout the capital and to other locations as part of our larger program of green electrification in Burundi, with 40 ‘light islands’ planned in the first phase of the program,” Fichtenberg continued. “Every country in which we develop commercial scale solar fields will receive additional benefits like these ‘light islands’ and rural electrification with mini-grids.”

Gigawatt Global, which provides 100% financing for its projects, pioneered commercial scale solar power plants in sub-Sahara Africa, launching the first one in Rwanda in 2014, which is currently supplying 6% of the country’s generation capacity. Gigawatt Global will complete a 7.5 Mw solar field in the Gitega region of Burundi in the next six months, which will supply 15% of the East African country’s generation capacity. Similar projects are currently being developed in 10 African countries, including Liberia and South Sudan, among many others.

“Over 95% of Burundi’s 11 million people lack access to electricity. Gigawatt Global is honoured to play a role in advancing economic and social development through green power in the country,” says Josef Abramowitz, CEO of Gigawatt Global. “By expanding our investments from commercial scale projects to include off-grid installations, we are positively impacting the lives of millions of people in Burundi and throughout Africa, and are becoming a leading force in green energy projects across the continent.”

The ‘light islands’ project in Bujumbura is produced by a team that includes local members Patrick NZINTUNGA, Gigawatt Global Regional Coordinator, and Deo HUGERE, Gigawatt Global Engineer. The engineering, procurement, and construction components of this project are being carried out by Asantys System. The pilot program is supported by the Energy & Environmental Partnership (EEP), an initiative of the governments of the United Kingdom, Austria and Finland, and with an impact investment from entrepreneur Alex Goldberg.

“God bless the people of Burundi,” says Goldberg. “In Bujumbura, we found a place ripe for innovation and open to economic development.”

As part of Gigawatt Global’s commitment to additional Corporate Social Responsibility, one of its investors, Mark Gelfand, funded and built the STEM Centre (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) at the Université Polytechnique de Gitega.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Gigawatt Global.

Media contact:
Michael Fichtenberg
Gigawatt Global
+972 54 976 0092

Starting in Rwanda and Burundi, Gigawatt Global is a solar and social development enterprise, concerned with empowering Africans.

About Gigawatt Global:
Gigawatt Global is a multinational renewable energy company bringing new sources of green power and social development to Africa. Led by a team of seasoned project developers, financiers, impact investors and solar energy experts, the American-owned Dutch company develops, finances, owns and operates renewable energy installations (solar, wind and hydro) across the African continent.

About Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid:
The USAID Power Africa Initiative’s goal is to enable electricity access by adding 60 million new electricity connections and 30,000 MW of new and cleaner power generation. Power Africa works to bring together technical and legal experts, the private sectors, and governments from around the world to work in partnership to increase the number of people with access to power.

Source:: Solar Street Lights Illuminate Bujumbura, Burundi

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