Government of Sierra Leone/Abu Dhabi, UAE; Solar Park Freetown (6MW) – winning project of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) / Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) financing facility (IRENA /ADFD)

The Government of Sierra Leone represented by the Ministry of Energy/Abu Dhabi, UAE, March 09, 2016 is pleased to announce that Sierra Leone has made a number of critical steps to commence the implementation of the Solar Park Freetown Project. These important steps include, the ratification of the ADFD Loan by the Sierra Leone Government, establishment of a working Project Implementation Unit (PIU) at the Ministry of Energy in Sierra Leone, and the recent re-appointment of the UAE based Advanced Science and Innovation Company (ASIC) LLC as the Project Manager and Lead of the Solar Park Freetown Project and the EPC, Mulk-OGI both as Consortium. The progress made in these areas was notified to ADFD and IRENA during meetings held on the sidelines of the 2016 World Future Energy Summit (WFES), where the Government of Sierra Leone, Ambassador to the UAE and the Ministry of Energy PIU met with ADFD and IRENA representatives and the Project Manager, ASIC.

“….Mr. Speaker, this Honourable House has ratified the Agreement between my Government and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development for the installation of 6MW solar power park in Newton and its environs….”

H.E. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, statement read out to Sierra Leone parliament, Sierra Leone Telegraph, 13th, December 2015.

It was further discussed, that due to the falling world solar prices, the Project Consortium will try to include non-revenue generating assets such as an additional extension of road and grid-power infrastructure, incl. a necessary extension of the 161KV grid power line, distribution networks, and a substation as part of the total project cost, which will significantly and further benefit the Government and the people of Sierra Leone.

The landmark 6MW Solar Park Freetown Project which won the first prestigious International Renewable Energy Agency and Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (IRENA/ADFD) financing facility, will provide clean Renewable Electricity to urban and western rural districts around the capital, Freetown. This is a landmark Renewable Energy Project in West Africa, adding valuable and needed clean electricity to the grid, as well as important power infrastructure and international know-how to Sierra Leone.

Solar Park Freetown Project is specially designed to include a number of institutional and critical human resource arrangements for sustainable management and international best practices of the project facility, in order to provide a most efficient implementation of sustainable Renewable Energy and knowledge transfer, for Sierra Leone’s particular geographic and socio-economic situation.

“…On behalf of the Government and People of Sierra Leone, we would like to extend our gratitude to IRENA for coordinating the selection process, the ADFD for extending USD 9 million as part funding to the Government of Sierra Leone and to ASIC and Mulk-OGI that will lead the Project Management and EPC of the Project respectively. This important project will place Sierra Leone on the global map of sustainable Renewable Energy and provide valuable knowledge transfer and necessary supporting infrastructure, and further strengthen the existing cordial relationship between the Governments of Sierra Leone and the United Arab Emirates….”

H.E. Henry Macauley, Minister of Energy, Republic of Sierra Leone

The ASIC General Manager also highlighted the important role that the Sierra Leone Diplomatic staff in the UAE, H.E. Ambassador Siray Alpha Timbo, Ambassador of Sierra Leone to the UAE, and Bahige Annan, Consul General of Sierra Leone in Dubai, as well as H.E. Ambassador Henry O. Macauley, Minister of Energy of Sierra Leone, and Dr Patrick Tarawalli, Technical Adviser / Head of the PIU, has played in making this project a reality;

“… Because of the critical support and knowledgeable advise from H.E. Amb. Henry Macauley, Minister of Energy, and Dr Patrick Tarawalli, Technical Adviser and Head of the PIU, this Project has built a strong foundation and platform to provide sustainable electricity to Sierra Leone for generations to come. We also wish to thank H.E. Amb. Siray Alpha Timbo, Ambassador of Sierra Leone to the UAE, and Bahige Annan, Consul General of Sierra Leone in Dubai, whose professional and smooth coordination has greatly facilitated the speed and coordination between all project components, enabling a professional project delivery….”

Filip Matwin, General Manager of Advanced Science and Innovation Company (ASIC) LLC

After the successful official kick-off meetings in Abu Dhabi with all the Project stakeholders, the Solar Park Freetown Project Team at the Ministry of Energy, Key Stakeholders and Consortium had an official Kick-off and ground breaking of the project in Freetown, Sierra Leone on March 9th, 2016.

The ASIC-MULK-OGI team, in assistance of the PIU of the Ministry of Energy, assessed the site in Newton Freetown and prepared a step by step plan for the ‘on the ground’ project implementation. The team further made calculations and assessment on providing an extended Power supply and the construction of a 161KV Transmission Line and substation, all which will be included in the overall Project delivery cost and is a necessity for successful connection to the main grid.

“Mulk-OGI an associate company of Mulk Renewable Energy, a global EPC entity, is extremely pleased to be part of the Solar Project in Freetown, Sierra Leone. We look forward to the exciting challenge ahead of executing the EPC contract at the earliest. We extend our profound thanks and gratitude to IRENA, ADFD, the Ministry of Energy of Sierra Leone, the PIU, His Excellences The Ambassador to UAE and Consul General to UAE, and ASIC for their support in winning and procuring this project” remarked Khurram K Nawab, MD Mulk-OGI UAE.

During the visit to Freetown, ASIC-MULK operational team together with the PIU outlined a road map of the the next high level steps in moving ahead with the project efficiently. Some of the immediate next steps of the road map were also discussed including the finalization of the Project Master plan, the selection and sourcing of local contractors, on site mobilization of EPC workforce, and the setting up of a Project camp at Newton, which will host the workforce and provide capabilities of onsite liaison with the PIU, government and the local community.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Ministry of Energy, Republic of Sierra Leone.

About the Ministry of Energy, Republic of Sierra Leone

The Ministry of Energy is the project implementing Agency of the Government of Sierra Leone. The Minister and the Head of Administration (Permanent Secretary) have delegated this assignment to a Project Implementation Unit (PIU).

About Advanced Science and Innovation Company (ASIC) LLC

Advanced Science and Innovation Company (ASIC) LLC is based in Abu Dhabi, UAE and acts as a commercialisation vehicle for a number of innovative science and technology projects and products and its operational deployment on the ground. ASIC’s core expertise is in the sourcing, development, commercialization and project management of sustainable Science and Technologies that have a significant impact on the world.

www.asic.ae

About MULK-OGI

Mulk-OGI (Oasis Gulf Investment), is a company affiliated to the Sharjahbased diversified conglomerate Mulk Holdings International (
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Source:: Government of Sierra Leone/Abu Dhabi, UAE; Solar Park Freetown (6MW) – winning project of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) / Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) financing facility (IRENA /ADFD)

Categories: AFRICA

IMF Staff Completes Review Mission to Malawi

A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Oral Williams, visited Lilongwe March 9–23, 2016 to conduct discussions on the seventh and eighth reviews under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement.1

At the end of the mission, Mr. Williams issued the following statement:

“Regarding program performance, the authorities have demonstrated a concerted effort to put the program back on track. Program targets on net domestic financing and net domestic assets of the Reserve Bank of Malawi for end December 2015 were met. However, the buildup in net international reserves fell short of the end-December program floor owing to lower-than expected export revenues and some smoothing of the excessive volatility in the foreign exchange market. On the structural side, reforms in the financial sector were carried out as planned. Improvements in public financial management (PFM), in particular bank reconciliations, are gaining momentum but this needs to be sustained.

“The prolonged adverse effects of the El Niño-induced drought, a strengthening dollar, and lower-than-expected export receipts have hit the economy hard. The drought has also placed an estimated 2.8 million people at risk of food insecurity which is being addressed by the authorities and the donor community. Real GDP growth which fell sharply to 3 percent in 2015 is expected to be within 3–4 percent range in 2016, depending on the improvement in weather conditions. Rising food prices and a sharp depreciation of the kwacha contributed to annual inflation increasing to about 25 percent at end-December 2015. Inflation has since fallen slightly to 23.4 percent in February 2016 and non-food inflation has been on a clear declining trend, suggesting that the appropriate adjustments in monetary and fiscal policies are having their intended effects.

“Commitment to the flexible exchange rate regime and the automatic fuel pricing mechanism have helped Malawi to respond to external shocks. The kwacha which depreciated by more than 35.6 percent from July 2015 to early March 2016—a trend mirroring that of neighboring countries—has begun to stabilize. This in part reflects efforts by the central bank to absorb excess liquidity from the banking system, greater fiscal discipline, and the advent of the tobacco season.

“The mission reached understandings to ensure that recent improvements in macroeconomic policy implementation are sustained. Restoring macroeconomic stability by bringing inflation—which has been stuck above 20 percent since mid-2012—down to single digits, remains the most important policy challenge in the near term. The revised fiscal framework recently approved by parliament is sufficient to meet the end-June 2016 program target on net domestic financing. Prudent fiscal policy, when combined with a tight monetary stance to maintain positive real interest rates, should place inflation on a downward path. Discussions also focused on measures to ensure that the PFM reforms envisaged under the program are fully implemented. The mission welcomed the authorities’ efforts to strengthen commitment controls over spending, by requiring Ministries, Departments, and Agencies to provide detailed fiscal reports before receiving additional allocations.

“Discussions also focused on the broad parameters of the FY16/17 budget in order to guide policy implementation. In doing so, the mission emphasized the need to exercise restraint on the wage bill which now accounts for about 34 percent of revenues. It also underscored the need to mobilize domestic revenues in line with Malawi’s sustainable development goals by broadening the tax base and strengthening tax compliance.

“Based on progress to date, it is anticipated that a request to complete the seventh and eighth reviews under the ECF-supported program could be submitted for consideration by the IMF’s Executive Board in May 2016. The mission would like to thank the authorities for their hospitality and constructive cooperation.

“The mission met with President Arthur Peter Mutharika, Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Charles Chuka, other senior government and RBM officials, a broad range of national stakeholders outside government, as well as representatives of Malawi’s development partners.”

1 The ECF is a lending arrangement that provides sustained program engagement over the medium to long-term in case of protracted balance of payments problems. The arrangement for Malawi in an amount equivalent to SDR 104.1 million (about US$ 144.4 million) was approved on July 23, 2012 (see Press Release No. 12/273).

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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IMF Staff Completes Review Mission to Seychelles

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff mission led by Wendell Samuel visited Victoria during March 9‒22, 2016 to conduct discussions on the fourth review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF)1 arrangement with Seychelles.

At the conclusion of the visit, Mr. Samuel issued the following statement:

“Macroeconomic outcomes in 2015 were positive and all end-December 2015 performance criteria were met. Real economic activity expanded by about 5 percent, somewhat higher than potential GDP growth. However, slowing growth or recession in a number of key tourism markets could weigh on economic developments in 2016. Meanwhile, inflation continued on a downward trend supported by the low commodity prices and the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS) tight monetary policy. The balance of payments strengthened on the back of robust tourism arrivals and the low international commodity prices, allowing the CBS to continue accumulating foreign reserves. Fiscal discipline resulted in the government exceeding the fiscal primary surplus target in 2015. The 2016 budget approved by the parliament in December 2015 was in line with the understanding reached during the previous mission.

“In light of the widespread concern over progress in poverty reduction and growing inequality, President James Michel has announced a number of measures, including minimum wage and pension increases as well as income tax cuts, in the State of the Nation Address in February. The IMF mission estimates that the announced measures would entail substantial fiscal costs—around 3 percent of GDP on a full-year basis.

“It is important that policies to ensure that the economic benefits from years of strong fiscal consolidation are shared more widely do not undermine macroeconomic stability. The mission therefore recommends that proposed increases in pension and minimum wages, together with income tax cuts, be accompanied by offsetting measures to avoid putting pressure on the balance of payments, inflation, and public debt. The mission had constructive discussions with the authorities on possible responses to counterbalance the expansionary impacts of the initiatives announced in the State of the Nation Address. These discussions will continue in coming weeks.

“The mission met with Vice President Danny Faure, Minister of Finance, Trade, and the Blue Economy Jean Paul Adam, and Governor of the CBS Caroline Abel, as well as other members of the government, and representatives of the private sector.

“The mission thanks the authorities for their hospitality and the candid and helpful discussions. Mission staff looks forward to an active and continued dialogue with the aim of maintaining macroeconomic stability and achieving inclusive growth in Seychelles.”

1 The Extended Fund Facility under the Extended Arrangement is an instrument of the IMF designed for countries facing medium-term balance of payments problems because of structural weaknesses that require time to address. Assistance under the Extended Fund Facility features longer program engagement—to help countries implement medium-term structural reforms—and a longer repayment period. (Seehttp://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/eff.htm). Details on Seychelles’ Extended Arrangement are available at www.imf.org/seychelles.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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UNMISS Weekly Press Briefing Transcript – 23 March 2016

Near verbatim transcript

Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media, and welcome to the United Nations weekly press briefing broadcast live on UN radio Miraya from UN House, in Juba. Also a warm welcome to our radio listeners who have tuned in.

The focus of this week’s briefing follows on from World Water Day, observed internationally and officially commemorated yesterday March 22 under the theme “Water and Jobs.” The day typically draws attention on the importance of freshwater and advocates for the sustainable management of freshwater resources globally. To talk more about some of the issues and challenges on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in South Sudan, I am joined by guest speakers from the various UN agencies working on funds and programmes:

UNEP – United Nations Environment Programme: Martin Dramani, National Programme Coordinator
UNICEF – United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund: Lillian Okwirry, Chief of WASH
IOM – International Organisation for Migration: Antonio Torres Ortiz, WASH Programme Manager and Ashley McLaughlin, Media and Communications Officer

However, before I go onto introducing our guests, let me give you a quick overview of what UNMISS has been up to in the last week. Now a quick wrap up of some activities UNMISS has been engaged in over the past week:

In Lakes, our military Chinese Engineering Contingent in Rumbek, last week completed road repairs to the Mvolo to Tonj road. An estimated 100km of this road has been rehabilitated by UNMISS which is critical for movement of heavy trucks carrying crucial UNMISS and Humanitarian supplies from Juba to Wau;
In Lakes, UNMISS funded and participated in a government-led peace conference between the Dinka Agar sub-clans of Ruop, Pakam and Kuei. Also in Lakes, UNMISS supported a peer-counseling workshop for 15 church leaders in Rumbek, organized by the Dynamic Peer Counselor Group, affiliated to Diocese of Rumbek;
In Bor, the mission facilitated a one-day forum to identify gender-based issues of conflict and suggest solutions. Sessions on dialogue and mediation skills were also conducted. Thirty-five women drawn from different locations in Bor with representatives of Duk and Twic East counties attended the forum. Also in Bor UNMISS conducted a two-day awareness programme on human rights and child protection issues. The training focused on ending the recruitment of children into the armed forces, exploitation of children, sexual violence, and human rights;
In Unity, UNMISS conducted a two-day workshop in Thonyor, targeting local authorities, civil society organizations, and community leaders with a view to development of a holistic approach to protection of civilians in the area;
On protection of civilians’ UNMISS force continues with executing the mission’s mandate, and reaches out to the local communities through daily patrols which are conducted across the country. And this week the mission has carried out approximately 1,800 combined long duration and short duration patrols all over the country;

Turning to the Protection of Civilians’ sites:

Malakal – Currently UNMISS is providing protection to 40,448 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the PoC site. As a result of last month’s incidents, some 30,000 IDPs moved to an area closer to UNMISS premises at the log base, while some 10,000 remained in the PoC site. In addition we have 5,000 IDPs who left the PoC for the town following the incidents of Feb. 17/18, and these are receiving support from humanitarian partners, with assistance from UNMISS;
Progress has been made in recovering the site and meeting IDPs’ needs. The Mission and humanitarian partners are coordinating on site rehabilitation and living conditions for the IDPs such as clearing debris, assessing shelter capability and space allocation and relocation of the IDPs to the PoC site is expected to commence soon;
In Juba – On Saturday, at approximately 11:30am a fight broke out between individuals of two different internally displaced communities in the market area within the Juba PoC 1. The mission immediately put in place measures, including deploying additional security elements to affected areas within the PoC site, and along the perimeters of the UN House compound. And by the afternoon the situation returned to normal;
Regrettably, as a result of the disputes, one IDP died from their wounds following the morning altercations;
Since the weekend the IDP camp leadership have met to discuss strategies for interventions in addressing such situations in the future. And to work alongside the already establish Community Watch Group within the PoC, camp leaders have established Emergency Response Teams who’s responsibility will be to provide early warning and refer unresolved matters to the council of elders, who will look to address the issues using traditional mechanisms;
The Mission continues reinforcing its cooperation, sharing of information and efforts with the IDP leadership in order to mitigate any further possible incidents.

We also have a Statement issued last week by the Security Council expressing alarm at the situation in the country deep concern with the ongoing violence in South Sudan. Copies of the statement have been made available to you in the information packets.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

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Source:: UNMISS Weekly Press Briefing Transcript – 23 March 2016

Categories: AFRICA

Zeid urges Egypt to halt repression of NGOs

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Wednesday expressed grave concern over the closure of hundreds of civil society organizations in Egypt and the prosecutions of numerous human rights defenders for their legitimate work since November 2014.

“This looks like a clampdown on sections of Egyptian civil society and it must stop,” said Zeid. “NGOs who have played a valuable role in documenting violations and supporting victims will see their activities completely crippled if this continues. This will stifle the voices of those who advocate for victims.”

On Thursday, a court is expected to rule on the asset freeze ordered against two prominent human rights defenders: Gamal Eid, a lawyer who heads the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, and journalist Hossam Bahgat, former head of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. The two men are accused of illegally receiving funding of $1.5 million from a foreign government. Their prosecutions are part of a case that dates back to 2011 when 43 staff from international NGOs were charged with receiving funds from a foreign government without a license.

In addition, this week Muzen Hassan, director of the Nazra Centre for Feminist Studies, was summoned for investigation by an examining magistrate on 29 March, in connection with the issue of “foreign funding” of NGOs.

“Everyone has the right to receive funds to promote human rights through peaceful means. The Egyptian authorities must stop all prosecutions targeting legitimate human rights activities and in particular terminate the cases against Hossam Bahgat and Gamal Eid, who by international standards have clearly not committed any crime,” the High Commissioner said.

Many organizations have been dissolved under Egypt’s 2002 NGO law. Many other NGOs have also been dissolved because of their alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood which is considered a terrorist organization by the Egyptian courts. On just one day this month, at least 20 NGOs were dissolved in the Delta Governorate and other NGOs elsewhere in the country had their activities frozen pending investigation.

Among NGOs at risk of closure are organizations, such as the Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, which were licensed to carry out human rights activities. Last month, officials told staff that by publishing reports on torture they had breached their license because this was deemed an unlicensed “medical activity.”

Human rights activists, journalists and political activists have also been subjected to travel bans. According to Egyptian sources, hundreds of people have been prevented from entering or leaving the country, in many cases without any judicial order.

Restrictions like these contravene Egypt’s obligations under the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights to provide freedom of association and freedom of expression. They also violate the Egyptian Constitution.

“Egyptian civil society activists should be lauded for their dedicated efforts to promote human rights under such difficult circumstances. Laws that impose undue restrictions on NGO registration and funding – as well as freedom of expression and association – must be amended to create a more tolerant atmosphere,” Zeid said.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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Zeid urges Egypt to halt repression of NGOs

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Wednesday expressed grave concern over the closure of hundreds of civil society organizations in Egypt and the prosecutions of numerous human rights defenders for their legitimate work since November 2014.

“This looks like a clampdown on sections of Egyptian civil society and it must stop,” said Zeid. “NGOs who have played a valuable role in documenting violations and supporting victims will see their activities completely crippled if this continues. This will stifle the voices of those who advocate for victims.”

On Thursday, a court is expected to rule on the asset freeze ordered against two prominent human rights defenders: Gamal Eid, a lawyer who heads the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, and journalist Hossam Bahgat, former head of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. The two men are accused of illegally receiving funding of $1.5 million from a foreign government. Their prosecutions are part of a case that dates back to 2011 when 43 staff from international NGOs were charged with receiving funds from a foreign government without a license.

In addition, this week Muzen Hassan, director of the Nazra Centre for Feminist Studies, was summoned for investigation by an examining magistrate on 29 March, in connection with the issue of “foreign funding” of NGOs.

“Everyone has the right to receive funds to promote human rights through peaceful means. The Egyptian authorities must stop all prosecutions targeting legitimate human rights activities and in particular terminate the cases against Hossam Bahgat and Gamal Eid, who by international standards have clearly not committed any crime,” the High Commissioner said.

Many organizations have been dissolved under Egypt’s 2002 NGO law. Many other NGOs have also been dissolved because of their alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood which is considered a terrorist organization by the Egyptian courts. On just one day this month, at least 20 NGOs were dissolved in the Delta Governorate and other NGOs elsewhere in the country had their activities frozen pending investigation.

Among NGOs at risk of closure are organizations, such as the Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, which were licensed to carry out human rights activities. Last month, officials told staff that by publishing reports on torture they had breached their license because this was deemed an unlicensed “medical activity.”

Human rights activists, journalists and political activists have also been subjected to travel bans. According to Egyptian sources, hundreds of people have been prevented from entering or leaving the country, in many cases without any judicial order.

Restrictions like these contravene Egypt’s obligations under the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights to provide freedom of association and freedom of expression. They also violate the Egyptian Constitution.

“Egyptian civil society activists should be lauded for their dedicated efforts to promote human rights under such difficult circumstances. Laws that impose undue restrictions on NGO registration and funding – as well as freedom of expression and association – must be amended to create a more tolerant atmosphere,” Zeid said.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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World’s parliaments pledge to work together to counter terrorism

Having strongly condemned the terror attacks in Brussels as a brutal assault on democracy and core human values, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has today called for a wide range of actions to counter the growing global threat of terrorism.

In a resolution on peace and international security adopted at the conclusion of the 134th Assembly in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, IPU Members proposed a multi-faceted approach to dismantling terrorist networks, combatting hatred, and counteracting terrorist propaganda.

The resolution stressed the “absolute need” for international anti-terror cooperation to be stepped up. Among the nearly 30 action points identified, it urged parliaments to legislate to combat pro-terror websites and to criminalize acts such as travelling abroad to commit terror, recruiting and training terrorists or funding terrorism.

IPU Members also called for action to cut the risk of extremism taking root – by tackling poverty, discrimination and unemployment while increasing dialogue, education and youth empowerment measures.

In a statement in reaction to the attacks in Brussels, IPU President Saber Chowdhury pledged the Organization would do its utmost to engage all groups in social and political processes. Members would work to make parliaments more representative institutions to provide a space and mechanism for political differences to be resolved through discussion and negotiation.

Underscoring the relevance and tragic timeliness of the resolution on terrorism, he called on all Members to follow up on the commitments made at the Assembly.

Among these were ways to rejuvenate democracy and restore public confidence in political institutions and politicians, whose images have been undermined by a growing disconnect with the people, lack of transparency and corruption.

In a document outlining how parliaments and parliamentarians could help rejuvenate democracy and give the world’s young people a voice in political decision-making, IPU Members stressed that responses to rising extremism must be based on more democracy, not less. Ensuring young people had opportunities and a viable future would help defeat radicalism.

“It is time for action to bring about a democratic renaissance,” said President Chowdhury. “Political institutions have too often failed to open up to young people. Our institutions have not kept up with the fast-changing and increasingly interconnected world into which young people have been born.”

The Assembly’s main theme of rejuvenating democracy was prompted by statistics showing declining youth voting trends at a time when the world’s youth population is at its highest-ever level.

IPU Members committed to adapting and modernizing their parliaments so they become inclusive, open institutions capable of delivering a better future for youth. Quotas to raise the number of young people in parliament, using modern technology to increase political engagement and transparency, and boosting political empowerment through the inclusion of civic education on school curricula were some of the proposed solutions.

A separate and comprehensive IPU resolution addressed the threats posed by armed conflict and terrorism to the world’s cultural heritage, including the destruction of historic sites and the looting of artefacts to fund extremism. The tragic destruction of Palmyra in Syria, one of the most important ancient sites in the world, was the latest example of the need to find effective ways to protect cultural heritage. The resolution recommended that intentional destruction should be defined as a war crime.

It urged States to become party to the 1954 Hague Convention and its protocols, dealing with the protection of cultural property in armed conflict, and all other relevant UN Conventions. Parliaments were also urged to take all action in their power, including ensuring laws were in place to prosecute perpetrators.

Parliamentary measures to protect cultural heritage from the impact of mass tourism, climate change and urbanization were also identified.

Nearly 640 MPs from 126 countries, including 79 Speakers and Deputy Speakers attended the IPU Assembly in Lusaka, jointly organized with the Zambian Parliament.

Find out more on Twitter using #IPU134.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

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Categories: AFRICA

Health workers: a triple return for health, economic growth, and employment

Creating more jobs for health workers holds the potential to bolster health and health security, spur inclusive economic growth, and empower women and youth, WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan said today after the first meeting of the Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth Lyon, France.

Growing populations, changing disease patterns and economic trends are projected to lead to the creation of about 40 million new health sector jobs by 2030, mostly in middle and high-income countries. Conversely, there will be a projected shortage of 18 million health workers to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, mostly in low- and lower-middle income countries.

This mismatch poses a threat not only to human health, but to health security and the global economy, as West Africa’s Ebola outbreak demonstrated.

“The Commission calls for a change in the way policy-makers look at the health sector, not as a drain on resources but as a source of opportunities,” said Dr Chan. “Employment in the health sector can operate as a counterforce to the world’s growing inequalities in income levels and opportunities.”

Over the next six months, the Commission will study new actions through which governments, professional associations, trade unions, the private sector and other stakeholders can leverage health employment to unlock social and economic gains and better health for all.

The Commission will deliver its final report in the margin of the seventy-first regular session of the United Nations General Assembly in September.

The Commission is co-chaired by Mr François Hollande, President of France, and Mr Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa. They will be assisted by three vice-chairs: Dr Chan; Mr Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization; and Mr Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The Commission was established following United Nations General Assembly resolution A/RES/70/183, which recognized that “investing in new health workforce employment opportunities may also add broader socioeconomic value to the economy and contribute to the implementation for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and requested the Secretary-General to “explore steps to meet the global shortfall of trained health workers”.

For more information about the Commission, please visit www.who.int/hrh/com-heeg/.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO).

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Health workers: a triple return for health, economic growth, and employment

Creating more jobs for health workers holds the potential to bolster health and health security, spur inclusive economic growth, and empower women and youth, WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan said today after the first meeting of the Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth Lyon, France.

Growing populations, changing disease patterns and economic trends are projected to lead to the creation of about 40 million new health sector jobs by 2030, mostly in middle and high-income countries. Conversely, there will be a projected shortage of 18 million health workers to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, mostly in low- and lower-middle income countries.

This mismatch poses a threat not only to human health, but to health security and the global economy, as West Africa’s Ebola outbreak demonstrated.

“The Commission calls for a change in the way policy-makers look at the health sector, not as a drain on resources but as a source of opportunities,” said Dr Chan. “Employment in the health sector can operate as a counterforce to the world’s growing inequalities in income levels and opportunities.”

Over the next six months, the Commission will study new actions through which governments, professional associations, trade unions, the private sector and other stakeholders can leverage health employment to unlock social and economic gains and better health for all.

The Commission will deliver its final report in the margin of the seventy-first regular session of the United Nations General Assembly in September.

The Commission is co-chaired by Mr François Hollande, President of France, and Mr Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa. They will be assisted by three vice-chairs: Dr Chan; Mr Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization; and Mr Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The Commission was established following United Nations General Assembly resolution A/RES/70/183, which recognized that “investing in new health workforce employment opportunities may also add broader socioeconomic value to the economy and contribute to the implementation for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and requested the Secretary-General to “explore steps to meet the global shortfall of trained health workers”.

For more information about the Commission, please visit www.who.int/hrh/com-heeg/.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO).

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IMF Staff Holds 2016 Article IV Consultation and PSI Review Mission to Tanzania

A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Hervé Joly, visited Tanzania from March 10–23, 2016. The mission initiated the fourth review under the Policy Support Instrument (PSI) program that was approved on July 16, 2014.1 It also held discussions with the authorities on the 2016 Article IV Consultation.

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

“Economic performance has remained strong. Preliminary estimates suggest that GDP grew by 7 percent in 2015, with activity particularly buoyant in the construction, communication, finance, and transportation sectors. Economic growth is expected to remain close to 7 percent in 2016.

“Inflation remained in single digits throughout 2015, averaging 5.6 percent, despite the significant exchange rate depreciation in the first half of the year. The tightening of monetary policy in May 2015 and the decline in global commodity prices, especially oil prices, helped keep inflation at moderate levels. Inflation is expected to decrease further in the coming months, remaining close to the authorities’ medium-term target of 5 percent.

“The Article IV discussions focused on how to sustain high growth and implement the new government’s priorities while preserving fiscal sustainability. Vigorous reforms will be needed to foster further structural transformation of the economy and sustain high productivity gains and investment.

“There was a broad convergence of views on the priority reform areas and on the key role of the government in facilitating private sector-led growth. Modernizing agriculture, which employs a large share of the population, would raise rural incomes and contribute to poverty reduction. It would also free labor resources for other sectors of the economy and could foster the development of certain industries, such as food processing. Improving the business environment is also a priority; this includes, among others, better energy and transportation infrastructure and improving access to land and finance. Further improving the financial sustainability of the public electricity utility, TANESCO, and settling outstanding arrears on gas and electricity supplies are critical to facilitating continued private sector investment in energy. Tanzania could significantly benefit from the completion of the East African Community (EAC) common market, which would help attract capital and foster competition and efficiency. The mission welcomed the efforts being made by the authorities in their strong drive against corruption, noting that it would help address the perception that governance had deteriorated in recent years, as suggested by a number of surveys.

“Program discussions focused on budget implementation in 2015/16 and budget plans for 2016/17. While all quantitative program targets for end-December 2015 were met, budget implementation has been challenging. Further budgetary expenditure arrears were accumulated in the first half of the fiscal year. Adjustment to the 2015/16 budget still needs to be finalized in order to accommodate additional expenditures, such as new priority spending for education and the clearance of expenditure arrears accumulated in 2014/15, while retaining the overall budget deficit target of 4.2 percent of GDP. Challenges in raising the full amount of budgeted external financing could further complicate fiscal management in the next few months. The mission supported the broad objectives set in the published budget guidelines for 2016/17, which are based on realistic revenue projections. The guidelines envisage a significant reduction of the overall deficit and streamlining of current expenditure to make room for public investment. The key challenge to finalize the budget will be to remain within the identified fiscal resource envelope.

“Discussions will continue in the coming weeks to reach understandings on an economic policy framework that can underpin the completion of the fourth review under the PSI. The discussion by the IMF Executive Board of the program review and Article IV Consultation report is expected to take place by mid-2016.

“The mission met with Hon. Dr. Philip Mpango, Minister of Finance and Planning, Hon. Prof. Sospeter Muhongo, Minister of Energy and Minerals, Professor Benno Ndulu, Governor of the Bank of Tanzania, other senior government officials, and representatives of the business community, civil society, and donor community.

“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 (seehttp://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/psi.htm). Details on Tanzania’s PSI program are available at www.imf.org/tanzania.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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Source:: IMF Staff Holds 2016 Article IV Consultation and PSI Review Mission to Tanzania

Categories: AFRICA

IMF Staff Holds 2016 Article IV Consultation and PSI Review Mission to Tanzania

A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Hervé Joly, visited Tanzania from March 10–23, 2016. The mission initiated the fourth review under the Policy Support Instrument (PSI) program that was approved on July 16, 2014.1 It also held discussions with the authorities on the 2016 Article IV Consultation.

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

“Economic performance has remained strong. Preliminary estimates suggest that GDP grew by 7 percent in 2015, with activity particularly buoyant in the construction, communication, finance, and transportation sectors. Economic growth is expected to remain close to 7 percent in 2016.

“Inflation remained in single digits throughout 2015, averaging 5.6 percent, despite the significant exchange rate depreciation in the first half of the year. The tightening of monetary policy in May 2015 and the decline in global commodity prices, especially oil prices, helped keep inflation at moderate levels. Inflation is expected to decrease further in the coming months, remaining close to the authorities’ medium-term target of 5 percent.

“The Article IV discussions focused on how to sustain high growth and implement the new government’s priorities while preserving fiscal sustainability. Vigorous reforms will be needed to foster further structural transformation of the economy and sustain high productivity gains and investment.

“There was a broad convergence of views on the priority reform areas and on the key role of the government in facilitating private sector-led growth. Modernizing agriculture, which employs a large share of the population, would raise rural incomes and contribute to poverty reduction. It would also free labor resources for other sectors of the economy and could foster the development of certain industries, such as food processing. Improving the business environment is also a priority; this includes, among others, better energy and transportation infrastructure and improving access to land and finance. Further improving the financial sustainability of the public electricity utility, TANESCO, and settling outstanding arrears on gas and electricity supplies are critical to facilitating continued private sector investment in energy. Tanzania could significantly benefit from the completion of the East African Community (EAC) common market, which would help attract capital and foster competition and efficiency. The mission welcomed the efforts being made by the authorities in their strong drive against corruption, noting that it would help address the perception that governance had deteriorated in recent years, as suggested by a number of surveys.

“Program discussions focused on budget implementation in 2015/16 and budget plans for 2016/17. While all quantitative program targets for end-December 2015 were met, budget implementation has been challenging. Further budgetary expenditure arrears were accumulated in the first half of the fiscal year. Adjustment to the 2015/16 budget still needs to be finalized in order to accommodate additional expenditures, such as new priority spending for education and the clearance of expenditure arrears accumulated in 2014/15, while retaining the overall budget deficit target of 4.2 percent of GDP. Challenges in raising the full amount of budgeted external financing could further complicate fiscal management in the next few months. The mission supported the broad objectives set in the published budget guidelines for 2016/17, which are based on realistic revenue projections. The guidelines envisage a significant reduction of the overall deficit and streamlining of current expenditure to make room for public investment. The key challenge to finalize the budget will be to remain within the identified fiscal resource envelope.

“Discussions will continue in the coming weeks to reach understandings on an economic policy framework that can underpin the completion of the fourth review under the PSI. The discussion by the IMF Executive Board of the program review and Article IV Consultation report is expected to take place by mid-2016.

“The mission met with Hon. Dr. Philip Mpango, Minister of Finance and Planning, Hon. Prof. Sospeter Muhongo, Minister of Energy and Minerals, Professor Benno Ndulu, Governor of the Bank of Tanzania, other senior government officials, and representatives of the business community, civil society, and donor community.

“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 (seehttp://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/psi.htm). Details on Tanzania’s PSI program are available at www.imf.org/tanzania.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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Source:: IMF Staff Holds 2016 Article IV Consultation and PSI Review Mission to Tanzania

Categories: AFRICA

USAID and University of Juba Launch Master’s in Education Project

Twenty South Sudanese graduates will begin advanced studies in education this April, following today’s launch of the University of Juba’s Master’s in Education Project (MEP). Supported by a contribution of $2.5 million from the American people, the program will help form a corps of highly skilled educators able to address the needs of schools, teachers and students pursuing education amidst conflict and its aftermath.

Partnering with the University of Juba and Indiana University, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) program will strengthen South Sudan’s education sector by encouraging a culture of student empowerment, including women and under-represented ethnic groups. Twelve of the 20 young educators who received scholarships today are women.

“Providing greater access to education and resources, especially for women and girls, improves the health and education of the next generation,” U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Molly Phee told the more than 100 students, teachers, faculty members and officials who attended today’s launch ceremony at University of Juba. “Women also play critical roles as effective peace advocates, community leaders, and champions of civil and human rights.”

MEP will also help create a sustainable South Sudanese-led program at University of Juba’s College of Education so future generations of university-trained school teachers and administrators can strengthen South Sudan’s education sector, raise literacy rates and narrow the gender gap, bringing more women and girls into classrooms around the country.

The Master’s in Education Project builds upon the USAID-funded South Sudan Higher Education Initiative for Equity and Leadership Development (SSHEILD) Program which sent 14 South Sudanese women graduates to Indiana University in the United States for a Master’s degree in education program in 2013. All of those women completed their degrees and returned to South Sudan. Nine of them are now lecturers at universities around the country.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of U.S. Embassy in Juba.

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Source:: USAID and University of Juba Launch Master’s in Education Project

Categories: AFRICA