WFP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VISITS SOUTH SUDAN

JUBA, South Sudan, March 20, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, accompanied by the United States Ambassador to the UN Agencies in Rome, David Lane, will make a three-day trip to South Sudan from today.

Ms. Cousin and Ambassador Lane are visiting to get an update on the troubling food security situation and to raise awareness of the plight of civilians affected by conflict in the young nation. An estimated 2.5 million people are facing acute hunger, unsure of where their next meal is coming from.

Conflict erupted in South Sudan in late 2013 and has displaced 2 million people, disrupted livelihoods and sharply worsened levels of hunger and malnutrition. WFP fears that food insecurity will only get worse as we move into the lean season without an end to the conflict in sight.

Over the next three days, the WFP Executive Director and the US Ambassador will meet national and local officials, and families directly affected by the conflict.

WFP aims to assist 3 million people in South Sudan this year, including life-saving emergency assistance for the conflict-affected, nutrition support for mothers and children, food assistance for refugees, school meals, and asset-creation initiatives aimed at helping communities improve their food security and resilience.

Ms. Cousin will hold a media briefing before departing on Sunday.

Source:: WFP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VISITS SOUTH SUDAN

Categories: African Press Organization

IMF Staff Concludes Review Mission to Burkina Faso

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina-Faso, March 20, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team, led by Ms. Laure Redifer, visited Ouagadougou from March 5-19, 2015 to carry out discussions with the Burkinabè authorities on the second and third reviews of their economic and financial program supported by the Extended Credit Facility (ECF).1 The ECF arrangement for Burkina Faso was approved by the IMF Executive Board on December 27, 2013 (see Press Release No. 13/542).

Ms. Redifer issued the following statement at the end of the visit:

“The mission reached ad referendum agreement with the authorities on economic and financial policies that could support approval of the second and third reviews of Burkina Faso’s 3-year program under the ECF, which is planned to be considered by the IMF’s Executive Board in May.

“In spite of a difficult economic environment, the transition government is implementing sound macroeconomic policies and preparing the country for elections in October, 2015. Economic activity in Burkina Faso slowed markedly over the course of 2014, with real GDP growth estimated at 4 percent, compared with a five-year historical average of 6.5 percent. This was the result of multiple external shocks and internal sociopolitical developments. International prices for the country’s two main export commodities – gold and cotton – dropped, and tourism and services activities were significantly disrupted by the Ebola crisis elsewhere in the region. Economic activity was also affected by a climate of political uncertainty, which culminated in a socio-political crisis in late October that resulted in a change of government. Meanwhile, inflation declined due to food prices, partly as a result of government subsidy programs.

“These developments caused a large drop in fiscal revenues in 2014, which ended the year at just 80 percent of budget projections. This, plus increases in the public wage bill, obliged a sharp reduction in public investment spending, undermining implementation of the government’s Strategy for Accelerated Growth and Durable Development (SCADD).

“For 2015, these trends are expected to continue, with the compounded effect of exchange rate depreciation increasing import costs. Mining production is expected to decrease in 2015, with some mines ending operations, and delays in new investment. Mining production and revenues are expected to remain far below the boom years of 2012-2013. Similarly, cotton output is expected to drop in 2015, as a result of less cultivation following a fall in international prices in 2014. Important steps are being taken to increase productivity in the cotton sector, which is a main source of rural employment and income.

“Overall, real GDP growth in 2015 is expected to be around 5 percent, lower than previous projections of 7 percent. This will again lead to difficulties in mobilizing sufficient revenues to support investment spending needs. However, the authorities have sought extensive cost-cutting measures in current spending (for example travel and per diems for public servants) to finance an increase in spending for poverty reduction (0.4 percent of GDP), including for health, education, and job creation for women and youth. Moreover, they will continue to replenish food security stocks.

“In late 2014, lower international fuel prices began to reverse some of the long-accrued financial losses of the state-owned oil importing company, Société Nationale Burkinabè d’Hydrocarbures (SONABHY), resulting from fixed retail prices and an elevated cost structure. The transition government lowered retail fuel prices in January and in March. However, at current international fuel prices and with strong depreciation of the CFA in recent weeks, there is no room for further reductions of retail fuel prices without creating losses for SONABHY.

“Building on the success of recent reforms, the authorities committed to numerous immediate measures to boost revenues and combat fraud, in light of the need to boost revenues in the short term. Additionally, measures to improve treasury management, and enhance statistics on economic activity, and contain increases in the public wage bill were also agreed. Following audits of the public state-owned oil importer SONABHY and electricity company Société nationale d’électricité du Burkina (SONABEL), the transition agreed to include in the program medium term reforms that can reduce underlying costs of the two public entities and regularize their financial transactions with the central government. Lowering underlying costs will ultimately provide more scope for improving cost recovery through more flexible prices. These substantial reforms underscore the transition government’s commitment to successfully lead the country to the October elections while implementing sustainable macroeconomic policies.

“For 2016 and the medium term, GDP growth is projected to recover gradually to historical averages, and inflation should become positive but still subdued, at about 2 percent. The overall budget deficit should remain just below 3 percent of GDP, as a function of the spending containment by the transition government. Improvement of external balances will be dependent upon developments in gold and cotton prices and the exchange rate, as well as imports related to an expected gradual pick up in public investment.

“The team met with President Michel Kafando, Prime Minister Isaac Zida, Minister for Finance and Economy Jean-Gustave Sanon, Minister of Agriculture Francois Lompo, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Crafts Hypolite Dah, Minister for Mines and Energy Boubacar Ba, as well as various development partners and the media. The discussions were constructive and candid, and the IMF team thanks the authorities for their hospitality.”

1 The Extended Credit Facility (ECF) is the IMF’s main tool for medium-term financial support to low-income countries. It provides for a higher level of access to financing, more concessional terms, enhanced flexibility in program design, and more focused, streamlined conditionality. Financing under ECF currently carries a zero interest rate, with a grace period of 5½ years, and a final maturity of 10 years.

Source:: IMF Staff Concludes Review Mission to Burkina Faso

Categories: African Press Organization

IMF Staff Holds Review Mission to Tanzania

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, March 20, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Hervé Joly, visited Tanzania from March 5 – 19, 2015. The mission initiated the second review under the Policy Support Instrument (PSI) 1 program that was approved on July 16, 2014. The mission met with Hon. Saada Mkuya Salum, Minister of Finance, Professor Benno Ndulu, Governor of the Bank of Tanzania, and other senior government officials.

Mr. Joly released the following statement at the end of the mission:

“Recent macroeconomic developments have continued to be favorable. Growth is estimated to have been slightly over 7 percent in 2014, while inflation has dropped below the authorities’ target of 5 percent. The recent international oil price decline will provide a boost to the economy in 2015 and help contain inflation. The revised national accounts, which incorporate recent surveys and methodological improvements, suggest that the size of Tanzania’s economy is about 30 percent bigger than earlier thought.

“The nominal exchange rate against the U.S. dollar has depreciated, mainly reflecting the U.S. dollar strengthening relative to most other currencies. The gradual depreciation contributes to maintaining the competitiveness of Tanzania’s exports and benefits farmers and other exporters. Meanwhile the recent decline in international oil prices has contained the impact of the exchange rate depreciation on import costs.

“The IMF-supported PSI program was broadly on track through the end of 2014. Most quantitative program targets for end-December were met; the indicative target on domestic revenue, however, was missed. There has been good progress on the structural reforms supported under the PSI, although a number of measures were implemented with some delay.

“Budget implementation for 2014/15 remains challenging because of a substantial tax and nontax revenue shortfall and some delays in budget financing. These pressures were already highlighted during the first program review and require urgent alignment of expenditure with available resources. To avoid further accumulation of expenditure arrears, it will be important to strengthen the expenditure commitment controls.

“The mission welcomes the steps taken to address the governance concerns raised by the IPTL case. Continued progress will be critical both to sustain the resumption of donor financing and to limit any repercussions on the business environment.

“The accumulation of payment arrears in the public sector needs to be tackled forcefully. This problem has become pervasive with large and growing government arrears to domestic suppliers and pension funds, and persistent arrears of TANESCO, the national electricity company, to its suppliers. It is important that the government now implements measures to settle existing arrears and prevent the recurrence of new ones by tackling their root causes.

“It is essential for preserving fiscal policy credibility that the budget for 2015/16 be based on realistic revenue and financing assumptions. A realistic budget with a moderate deficit is a key prerequisite to avoid the accumulation of new arrears and large mid-year expenditure adjustments, and also to preserve debt sustainability.

“Discussions will continue in the coming weeks to reach final understandings on an economic policy framework that can underpin the completion of the second review under the PSI. The discussion of the second program review by the IMF Executive Board is expected to take place by mid-2015.

“The IMF team is appreciative of the constructive and open policy dialogue and thanks the authorities for their hospitality during the visit.”

1 The PSI is an instrument of the IMF designed for countries that do not need balance of payments financial support. The PSI helps countries design effective economic programs that, once approved by the IMF’s Executive Board, signal to donors, multilateral development banks, and markets the Fund’s endorsement of a member’s policies (see http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/psi.htm). Details on Tanzania’s PSI program are available at www.imf.org/tanzania.

Source:: IMF Staff Holds Review Mission to Tanzania

Categories: African Press Organization

Foreign Minister condemns terrorist attack in Tunis

OSLO, Norway, March 19, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — ‘I condemn the terrorist attack in Tunis today in the strongest possible terms. The attack claimed the lives of many innocent people, and our thoughts and sympathy go to all those who have lost their loved ones, and to the Tunisian people,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

Around 20 people, most of them tourists, are reported to have been killed in the terrorist attack in Tunis, and more than 20 people have been injured.

‘The rise of extremist movements constitutes a significant threat in the region. The attack in Tunis today underlines once again the importance of stepping up efforts to counter extremism and terror. This calls for a concerted effort by the whole international community,’ said Mr Brende.

‘In recent years, there has been a positive democratic trend in Tunisia, despite an unstable security situation in the surrounding region. I hope that today’s terrorist attack will not set back the positive developments in Tunisia,’ said Mr Brende.

Source:: Foreign Minister condemns terrorist attack in Tunis

Categories: African Press Organization

Prime Minister Abe Meets with Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda

TOKYO, Japan, March 19, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On March 14, commencing at 5:05 p.m. for approximately 25 minutes, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Rt. Hon. Anastase MUREKEZI, Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda, who was staying in Sendai in order to attend the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. An overview of the meeting is as follows.

1. Prime Minister Abe expressed his welcome for the first visit to Japan by Prime Minister Murekezi, and expressed his desire to cooperate with the Prime Minister in making the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction a success and to have him see the recovery of Sendai from the disaster. In response, Prime Minister Murekezi expressed his gratitude for the assistance to date from Japan to Rwanda, and stated that he was impressed by the resilience of Japan, which had recovered from the earthquake disaster.

2. Prime Minister Abe stated that he would like to cooperate toward the next TICAD, which is scheduled to be held in Africa in 2016. In response, Prime Minister MUREKEZI stated that Rwanda highly values Japan’s Africa policy through the TICAD process and that he would like to actively cooperate toward its success, and expressed his hopes for further increase in the presence of Japanese companies in Rwanda. The leaders exchanged views regarding cooperation to achieve the reform of the UN Security Council and other issues.

Source:: Prime Minister Abe Meets with Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda

Categories: African Press Organization

Samsung Electronics Africa takes a ‘What If I Can’ step forward

JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, March 19, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Samsung Electronics Africa (http://www.samsung.com/africa_en) took a bold step forward on Saturday, 7 March, with the launch of the new brand campaign called ‘What If I Can’. The initiative is an attempt at shifting the mindsets of normal people to believing they can contribute towards the greater good because they have the power in their everyday routine to change people’s lives and circumstances.

Photo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1839 (Solar Power Generator – Sunrise Secondary School – Diepsloot)

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

‘What If I Can’ is all about the power of a human step. To display this strong message, Samsung collaborated with a UK-based company called Pavegen by laying a 68-tile walkway, situated in Sandton City Johannesburg. These tiles have the ability to collect kinetic motion and store this as energy. In addition, the walkway consists of an interactive data screen displaying a leaderboard of real-time footfall data and providing an immediate visual payback.

Sandton City’s main passage receives a monthly footfall rate of over two million footsteps. The energy stored from shopper footfall will contribute towards benefiting underprivileged communities in Africa, aiming to prove that even the smallest action of movement can make a huge difference to standards of living across the world. To extend participation beyond the Sandton City walkway, Samsung has created a simple step-counting mobile application allowing thousands of ordinary citizens across Africa to power solutions that benefit the less fortunate by simply walking. This application can be downloaded from the Google Play Store and is available on all android devices.

The Campaign runs from March until the end of May. Participants across Africa will compete against each other to take the most steps and Samsung will match every contribution with a further 1000 steps. The country generating the most steps at the end of the first part of the campaign will earn a Samsung Solar Powered Internet School for a deserving community in that country.

Ntutule Tshenye, Director of Public Affairs and Corporate Citizenship at Samsung Electronics Africa, is the face of this brave new approach by the brand to take on very real problems such as connectivity to power the internet for under-served areas across Africa.

“Education relevance and internet connectivity are imperatives to contribute towards future socio-economic growth in Africa,” says Ntutule. “We feel that a consumer facing campaign such as ‘What If I Can’ is both complementary and even gives credit to our innovate solutions such as Solar Powered Internet Schools and Solar Powered Digital Villages that work to empower people by delivering revolutionary solutions designed to overcome local challenges and take communities into the future,” he says.

During the first 20 days of the campaign, the steps taken by participants will be accumulated to reach at least 400 million steps. This will contribute to the installation of a Samsung Solar Power Generator at the recently launched Revolutionary Britehouse Got-Game Digital Hub at the Sunrise Secondary School in Diepsloot.

“Britehouse Got Game is a place of unlimited possibilities, dictated by communities’ own requirements”, says Britehouse CEO, Scott Gibson. “There is no limit to Britehouse GOT-GAME’s potential or what it can bring to the community. Because it is replicable, it reduces the cost, time, and effort needed to make an immediate difference.”

The ‘What If I Can’ campaign is less of a campaign and more of a brand endorsed movement. Samsung is on a mission to raise awareness and use innovation and technology to overcome region-specific problems. This time, we are not only empowering communities to become healthier, better educated and effectively connected, we are also empowering ordinary people to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate around them.

For more information and to see which high-profile people are taking on the challenge to make a difference, follow the campaign on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQFHZTQ0wv0), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/SamsungSouthAfrica) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/samsungsa).

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

About Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (http://www.samsung.com/africa_en) inspires the world and shapes the future with transformative ideas and technologies, redefining the worlds of TVs, smartphones, wearable devices, tablets, cameras, digital appliances, printers, medical equipment, network systems and semiconductors. We are also leading in the Internet of Things space through, among others, our Digital Health and Smart Home initiatives. We employ 307,000 people across 84 countries. To discover more, please visit our official website at www.samsung.com and our official blog at global.samsungtomorrow.com

Source:: Samsung Electronics Africa takes a ‘What If I Can’ step forward

Categories: African Press Organization