FCO Press Release: Minister for Africa gives keynote address at Nigerian Centenary

LONDON, United-Kingdom, February 27, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Today Foreign Office Minister for Africa Mark Simmonds gave a keynote speech at the Nigerian centenary celebrations.

The Centenary was attended by Heads of State from across Africa. The Minister was speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister and brought a message from Her Majesty the Queen. He said:

AFRICAN CHOICES IN A NEW NIGERIAN CENTURY

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Thank you, Mr. President. Your Excellencies, distinguished guests: I am honoured to represent the British Government today – and to bring with me warm congratulations and best wishes from Her Majesty the Queen, on Nigeria’s 100th birthday.

It is a particular privilege to join you all as my Prime Minister’s representative, to celebrate this important day and to strengthen and renew the unique ties between Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

I am honoured, Mr President, to speak today of Nigeria and Africa. I am always struck by Nigeria’s youth and vitality. I believe strongly that your country, and the countries represented here today, should be viewed through the lens of promise and ambition. I want to take this opportunity to focus on the great future ahead of Nigeria and its African counterparts face.

It is a future that is closely linked to the achievement of prosperity, stability and democracy. And I believe that, as is the case in Europe, it is the choices African leaders make in these three areas that will determine Africa’s future.

Nigeria’s first Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, said on Independence Day in 1960 that Nigeria’s relations with the UK were “always as friends.” That is as true now as 54 years ago.

Our relationship is rooted in our joint history; in the large and important Nigerian community in the UK; the deep and expanding trade relationship; and our countless educational, sporting and cultural connections.

So it is exciting to recognize, as we stand at the dawn of a new century for Nigeria, that the future brings with it extraordinary possibilities for your country, and for many African nations.

In 1914, the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates and Lagos, brought together peoples, territory and resources that had never before considered themselves as having mutual interests. That brought challenges- and perhaps still does.

But Nigeria’s diversity has brought the Country strength, resilience and a multitude of talent. It has growing international influence as a peacekeeper, as a leader in the African Union and on the UN Security Council. The Country has become the driving economic and political force of its region.

A child born in 1914 in Nigeria, joined a population of just 17 and a half million people. Now, the population is 10 times that figure.

In Nigeria today, more than 18,000 children will be born. In their lives, they could see Africa’s population quadruple; its GDP triple; a world where one child in every three is African.

They could witness extraordinary social, political, and economic shifts, boosting this continent’s global role as never before.

But, they could also suffer from the impacts of climate change and witness unprecedented competition, at every level, and perhaps unsustainable demands on Africa’s resources and environment. They will need productive jobs and will want a political, economic and social voice. Managing these challenges will test the leadership and vision of all those here today.

I believe we share a vision that we want to see realised in our lifetime. It is the vision of independent, thriving and dynamic African countries, overcoming poverty, famine and conflict.

It is the vision of African families raised without disease; economies managed effectively, linked to open markets and providing jobs. It is the vision of African states governed with the consent and participation of their peoples and fundamental rights protected for everyone, regardless of your gender, ethnicity, belief, disability or sexuality.

Whether it is in the tech hubs of Lagos and Nairobi or the scientific innovation in South Africa, energy and ambition can be found everywhere in Africa. This is why the United Kingdom is positive about the bright future for many African nations. This is thanks in large part to the achievements that many African governments have made, over the last decade, in lifting millions of people out of poverty and conflict. I would like to put on the record my admiration for this achievement.

These achievements have brought African countries a long way. But if the vision that I have set out and which I believe we share is to be truly realised, African governments must now allow their countries to flourish. While some African governments are helping their countries to take off, others are yet to make a clear choice between building open governments, institutions and economies, or putting up barriers, oppressing minorities and ruling through fear and violence. I have no doubt about which choice Africans expect of their governments.

In 1914, as Nigeria was being born, Europe stood on the verge of tearing itself apart. Europe’s future was uncertain. Its path towards democracy, prosperity and stability unclear. It was the choices European leaders made that have brought European countries to where they are today. Many of those choices brought success. But, as we sadly know, some of the choices brought terror and devastation to millions.

If African nations are to avoid in the next century the mistakes European nations made over the last 100 years, then ultimately, African leaders – you here today – must make the right choices.

It is no exaggeration that the leaders here today hold in their hands the fate of possibly 1 billion people and their prosperity.

I have been privileged to see the ancient mosques of Timbuktu and to sit on the shores of Lake Kivu. I have been from Addis to Abidjan; from Cape Town to Khartoum. I’ve seen the mosaic of nations, cultures and histories that make up Africa’s richness.

Africa’s variety defies easy categorisation. But I believe there may be a guiding narrative that will critical to Africa’s emergence: three areas in which the success of African governments will not be judged by rhetoric, but by outcomes. They are democracy, prosperity and security.

The first choice is on democracy: African nations will need to direct themselves with determination towards democracy. This is a call from Africans themselves, who – with a smart-phone in their hand and twitter at their fingertips – want to shape and define their future; choose committed leaders and hold them accountable.

By virtue of her scale and energy, Nigeria could lead the way. Next February’s elections will be a vital milestone – Nigeria’s fifth consecutive Presidential election under civilian rule. Mr President, you have committed yourself to ensuring that the elections are free and fair. I am confident Nigerians will accept nothing less. And in doing so, you and your government could be a role model for many other African governments.

Secondly, thanks to the rising African middle class, strong growth rates, and increasing stability, African economies are on the verge of take off. But, to get the wheels off the ground, African economies will need to choose to couple transparent, capable and visionary economic management with investments in infrastructure, education and energy.

At the same time, the journey towards sustainable prosperity can only be fuelled through African governments taking strides to unlock barriers to markets; reducing the cost of doing business; and stamping out corruption.

Here, once again Nigeria is critical to success in the region and beyond. Non-oil growth is still 6%. But there’s potential for much more: genuinely transformational growth, especially if privatisation underway in the power sector delivers what it promises.

But democracies do not flourish nor do economies grow in the midst of instability. So the final area I want to highlight – for Nigeria and elsewhere – is the imperative of providing security for all citizens. Any government has the right, and indeed the obligation to defend its territory and people from terrorism. As it does so, it also has a duty to be the protector of its citizens and their universal and inalienable human rights.

The defence of Africa’s people, and the proportionate use of legal force, are mutually reinforcing. The UK will partner African governments in seeking the eradication of violent extremism. But if we ignore the values that we want our own children to benefit from, we will act as a recruiter for the likes of Boko Haram and Al Shabaab. We must not forget what it is that we defend.

The UK will continue to work with you all on African issues in the UN Security Council. We are partners in the Commonwealth, which African countries continue to join. We want to see a strong, ambitious African Union. We are opening Embassies and High Commissions across Africa, building linkages and strengthening our understanding. And we are expanding our network of trade and investment experts throughout African countries.

UK Aid has been transformative for many African countries, tackling the roots of poverty and conflict and building the foundations for countries that can flourish. Our commitment to working in partnership on development – as here in Nigeria – remains. It is right that my government made a brave decision in 2010, in spite of the UK’s serious economic challenges, not to balance our books on the backs of Africa’s poor.

We are one of Africa’s largest traders. Indeed, in Nigeria we remain the largest investor, and are making strides to meet our ambition to double bilateral trade here, from £4 billion in 2011 to £8 billion this year.

As one of the world’s largest exporters and with our global leadership in education; logistics; retailing; creative industries; hydrocarbons; agriculture; banking; renewable energy; pharmaceuticals; financial services; extractives; research and development; and with businesses that pride themselves on sound ethical governance, the UK has much to offer Africa’s emerging economies.

Some will say we are doing these things out of self-interest. Let’s be clear. It is in the UK interest to promote democracy, stability and prosperity. But it is also in Africa’s interest too. And it’s an indicator of Africa’s importance in the 21st Century that the UK, and many other nations, seeks to build and sustain the partnerships that will take African countries well into the next century.

I want to see Africa, Africans and African nations succeed. There is a bright future for this continent; fuelled by its energy, entrepreneurship and ambition. As Nigeria has shown, much has already been achieved.

Yet, the future journey will not be easy, the challenges will be great. But that opportunity that is at the fingertips of so many African people – with their governments’ help – must be seized. It is about making the right choices. It is about bringing true democracy, prosperity and stability to every one of your citizens.

Last year, we saw the parting of one of the World’s greatest leaders: Nelson Mandela. His death has left a challenge to all political leaders – Africa’s included – to meet the aspirations of our people, to demonstrate the same “servant leadership” that Mandela showed us. To choose transparency, to choose reconciliation, to choose partnership and opportunity for all.

So again I wish Nigeria a happy hundredth birthday. And I look forward to the next century of our partnership, and of Nigerian – and African – success.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

WorldVentures Expands Unique Travel Experiences to Puerto Rico

PLANO (Texas), USA, February 27, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — WorldVentures™ (http://www.worldventures.com), the leading international direct seller of vacation club memberships, with presence in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Botswana, announced its expansion into Puerto Rico today. Known for its beautiful beaches, lively cultural events and music, the all-star island has been on the company’s radar for quite some time. In addition to Puerto Rico, WorldVentures offers its award-winning DreamTrips Memberships and exciting business opportunities for entrepreneurs in 26 worldwide markets.

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

“The expansion of our products and services in Puerto Rico speaks to the tremendous growth our company has experienced in the last eight years,” WorldVentures Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Mike Azcue said. “Puerto Rico is one of the world’s top vacation destinations, so it was only natural for us to envision WorldVentures there to bring personal freedom and fulfillment to those who will join our team.”

WorldVentures now offers Puerto Rican travel enthusiasts the opportunity to purchase an exclusive travel club membership offering superior value. Members of the award-winning vacation club enjoy unique global travel experiences along with discounts on local entertainment deals. This is also an opportunity for aspiring Puerto Rican entrepreneurs who would like to sell DreamTrips Memberships to new travel aficionados in any of WorldVentures’ markets.

Within the last year, WorldVentures has launched in four new markets: Iceland, Poland, Malaysia and now Puerto Rico.

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

About WorldVentures:

WorldVentures (http://www.worldventures.com) is the leading international direct seller of vacation club memberships. WorldVentures is on a mission to help people achieve more fun, freedom and fulfillment in their lives, and to provide its members with premium vacations at reduced prices. WorldVentures combines the power of the Internet with the strength of the direct-selling industry to market its DreamTrips Memberships. WorldVentures is a privately held company based in Plano, Texas, with active Representatives and members in 26 countries.

For inquiries, contact:

Hadas Sasson-Zitomer

Email: press@worldventures.com

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

SECURITY COUNCIL PRESS STATEMENT ON GUINEA-BISSAU

NEW YORK, February 27, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President Raimonda Murmokaitė ( Lithuania):

On 26 February 2014, the members of the Security Council were briefed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, José Ramos-Horta, and the Chair of the Guinea-Bissau Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota.

The members of the Security Council note that the normalization of the political, security, social and economic situation in Guinea-Bissau is dependent on the return to constitutional order through, inter alia, credible elections, as well as on reforms in the defence, security and justice sectors, the promotion of the rule of law, the protection of human rights, the promotion of socioeconomic development, an improvement in the humanitarian situation and the fight against impunity and drug trafficking. They also note that the restoration of constitutional order would facilitate the full re-engagement of international partners.

The members of the Security Council note that the conclusion of the voter registration process is a significant step towards the holding of presidential and legislative elections, and welcomed the efforts of the authorities in charge of the transitional period for its completion, and commend the people of Guinea-Bissau for their commitment to exercise their democratic right in a peaceful manner. They also commend Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Governments of Timor-Leste and Nigeria for providing timely technical and financial assistance for the voter registration process and welcome the intention of ECOWAS to strengthen its mission to assist the authorities in charge of the transitional period in providing security for the upcoming elections.

The members of the Security Council encourage all national stakeholders to maintain the momentum begun with the registration process and to work towards timely elections and to renew their commitment to ensuring a conducive environment in the final weeks before the elections. The members of the Security Council commend Guinea-Bissau’s international partners for their pledges of financial and technical support to the electoral process and urge them to work in close coordination with the National Electoral Commission to ensure the speedy disbursement of their stated commitments in order to facilitate a smooth electoral process, stressing the need for a redoubled effort at enhanced coordination of electoral assistance under the leadership of Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ramos-Horta, in line with Security Council resolution 2103 (2013) and in close collaboration with the United Nations country team.

The members of the Security Council express their concern at the continuing delays in the electoral process and underline that such delays have a negative impact on the country’s social and economic well-being, and on the already fragile security, humanitarian and human rights situation in Guinea-Bissau. They stress the imperative to hold presidential and legislative elections without further delay. They urge the authorities in charge of the transitional period to create a conducive environment for the safe, full and equal participation of all actors including women, in the electoral process.

The members of the Security Council condemn the episodes of violence in Guinea-Bissau, which have contributed to an atmosphere of fear and intimidation among the population. They reiterate their concern about the prevailing culture of impunity and lack of accountability in Guinea‑Bissau. They urge, in this regard, the authorities in charge of the transitional period to take swift action to fighteffectively impunity and promote justiceby ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice.

The members of the Security Council urge national stakeholders, including political parties and their supporters, the defence and security forces, civil society organizations, traditional and religious leaders, women’s and youth groups, as well as the media, to refrain from any action that could hamper the electoral process, to facilitate the conduct of peaceful and credible elections, and to respect the election results as an expression of the will of the people of Guinea-Bissau. They call upon the military to respect the constitutional order, including the electoral process, and to submit themselves fully to civilian control. The members of the Security Council recall their readiness to consider further measures, as necessary, including targeted sanctions against both civilian and military individuals who undermine efforts to restore the constitutional order.

The members of the Security Council express support for the leadership of Special Representative Ramos-Horta and commend his role in facilitating a conducive pre-electoral environment, as well as his proposals for strengthened continued international engagement after the elections for key reforms and the strengthening of State institutions, as well as good governance and inclusive social and economic development.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

The Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations Announces the Construction Award for a New U.S. Embassy in N’djamena, Chad

WASHINGTON, February 27, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC

February 26, 2014

The Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) announces the design/build award, through best value determination, for a new U.S. Embassy in N’djamena, Chad to BL Harbert International of Birmingham, Alabama.

This project includes construction of a chancery, a U.S. Marine Corps residence, two access pavilions, a warehouse and shops, a utility building, and recreational facilities.

Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners of Santa Monica, California is the design architect, and Page of Arlington, Virginia will be the architect of record.

OBO’s mission is to provide safe, secure, and functional facilities that represent the U.S. Government to the host nation and support our staff in the achievement of U.S. foreign policy objectives. These facilities should represent American values and the best in American architecture, engineering, technology, sustainability, art, culture, and construction execution.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

Statement at the Conclusion of an IMF Mission to Benin

COTONOU, Benin, February 27, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission visited Cotonou during February 10-20, 2014 to conduct discussions on the sixth review of the program supported by the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) approved by the IMF Executive Board on June 14, 2010.1 The mission had an audience with Dr. Boni Yayi, President of the Republic of Benin. The mission also held discussions with: Mr. Jonas Gbian, Minister of Economy and Finance, and Mr. Marcel de Souza, Minister of Economic Analysis, Development, and Planning. The mission also met with representatives of the private sector, civil society, and the community of technical and financial partners. Discussions focused on recent economic developments, policy implementation under the ECF, and structural reforms.

At the conclusion of the mission, Ms. Christine Dieterich, mission chief for Benin, issued the following statement:

“Benin’s overall macroeconomic conditions were positive in 2013. According to INSAE estimates, gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 5.6 percent in 2013, largely driven by a favorable harvest and continuous improvement in the activity at the Autonomous Port of Cotonou. Delays in transporting and ginning cotton production during the 2013-2014 campaign represent a risk. However, the government has taken steps to accelerate operations in this sector. Inflation was moderate at about 1 percent, thanks in large part to low food price inflation.

“A cautious fiscal policy continues to be the cornerstone of macroeconomic stability. Despite a significant increase in public investment on the order of 1

Categories: African Press Organization

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