MonitorsPublished on Sep 19, 2016
Prospects for agriculture in Africa took a huge boost as more than 30 billion USD in investments to expedite the transformation was extended.
Africa Monitor | Volume V; Issue XIX | USD 30 billion pledged for farming

< style="color: #0069a6;">THE CONTINENT

< style="color: #163449;">USD 30 billion pledge boosts hopes for farming in Africa

Prospects for agriculture in Africa took a huge boost last week as leaders, business people and major development partners pledged more than 30 billion US dollars in investments to expedite transformation of the sector. The collective pledges at the African Green Revolution Forum in Nairobi, Kenya, mark a major breakthrough in efforts to transform agriculture, the mainstay of the economies of most African countries, to become the key driver of growth. The pledges believed to represent the largest package of financial commitment to agricultural sector in Africa to date, will be directed to increase production, income and employment for small scale farmers and local African agricultural businesses over the next ten years. The commitments were made at the official opening of the Sixth African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) that attracted more than 1,500 influential figures from 40 countries for three days of brokering new agricultural initiatives. The historic investments represent just the first wave of support for the new 'Seize the Moment' campaign one backed by the African Union Commission, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the African Development Bank, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), key NGOs, companies and donor countries while agriculture in Africa has seen significant progress in the last ten years, the 'Seize the Moment' campaign. A frank acknowledgement has been done that much more is needed for African countries to achieve inclusive economic development and ultimately realise the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The campaign is a decisive push for the political, policy and financial commitments essential to transform Africa's agricultural sector. The goal is to make agriculture a new era of business opportunities for the 70 per cent of African population that depend on farming for food and income, yet too often face poverty and poor nutrition. Addressing reporters, the President of the African Development Bank and a former Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, said he was excited with the trend of events in the agriculture sector. "I have been into agriculture for a very long time and this is the time that everything seems to be coming together on finance, technology, institutions and political will to drive the change. We can be more excited than to be here," he stated. "The transformation of Africa will only work if we transform agriculture," said Kenya's President, Uhuru Kenyatta, during his address at the opening ceremony of the forum. "Because we are coming together at a time when our continent is filled with incredible opportunity, but at the same time it also is faced with profound threats in almost equal measure," he said. President Kenyatta stepped forward as one of the first champions of the "Seize the Moment" campaign with a commitment by his government to invest $200 million so at least 150,000 young farmers and young agriculture entrepreneurs could gain access to markets, finance and insurance. The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, joined Kenyatta on stage to spur leaders on the continent and around the world to harness the potential of agriculture to fight hunger and poverty in Africa. Source: Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

< style="color: #163449;">AUC chair says Africa is united behind Tanzania

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has expressed the continent's solidarity with Tanzania following an earthquake whose death toll is rising. The 5.7 magnitude earthquake that hit the country on September 10 has killed at least 17 people and also left 252 people injured while 840 families have been left homeless. "On behalf of the African Union, the AU Commission and indeed on my own behalf, I wish to extend my heartfelt condolences to the Government and the people of Tanzania, and particularly to the families of those that lost their loved ones," Dlamini Zuma said. She further wished the injured victims a quick recovery and expressed the AU's solidarity with the victims and the people of Tanzania in the tragic circumstances. Source: cajnews Africa

< style="color: #163449;">IMF names new director for Africa

A new director in charge of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s African Department was named on September 15 by the Managing Director, Christine Lagarde. He is Abebe Aemro Selassie, who succeeds Antoinette Sayeh whose departure was announced recently. Mr. Selassie is expected to assume work in his new capacity on September 19, 2016. A statement on September 15 said "Abe brings a profound understanding of the challenges facing Africa, having worked closely with policymakers from across the region for much of his career.  "His proven ability to provide intellectual leadership, track record of building collaborative relationships, analytical depth, and warm collegiality make him ideally placed to lead the IMF's work with our membership in sub-Saharan Africa" the statement said. Ms. Lagarde said having had the opportunity to work with Mr. Selassie over the last five years, she had been struck by his sound judgement, integrity, and commitment to teamwork. Mr. Selassie's career has ned the private sector, government, and the IMF. During his time in the IMF's African Department, he was senior resident representative in Uganda, served as mission chief for South Africa, led work on the Regional Economic Outlook, and worked in various roles on countries ranging from Cote D'Ivoire, Ghana, and Kenya, to Burkina Faso, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Most recently, Mr. Selassie oversaw the IMF's effort to assist the three Ebola-stricken countries. Mr. Selassie also brings extensive operational and policy experience from his assignments in other IMF departments, including the Strategy, Policy and Review Department and the European Department. He worked on Turkey and Poland between 1999 and 2003, and was Assistant Director and mission chief for Portugal during the Eurozone crisis. He has also worked on low-income country and emerging-market program and policy design issues. Before joining the IMF, Mr. Selassie worked for the Economist Intelligence Unit, specializing in sovereign credit risk issues, and then for the Ethiopian government as Principal Economist in the Office of the President. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from City of London Polytechnic and a Masters in Economic History from London School of Economics. "The IMF remains deeply committed to serving our members in Africa. Abe will bring a unique blend of extensive knowledge and experience to his new position as Director of the African Department," Ms. Lagarde said. Source: Premium Times

< style="color: #0069a6;">CENTRAL AFRICA

< style="color: #163449;">Political unrest leaves Burundi facing food shortage

About 2.3 million people in Burundi are staring in the face of a severe food shortage this year, UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned on September 13. The Crop Prospects and Food Situation report released by FAO indicates that civil insecurity and an economic downturn caused disruption to markets, farming activities and livelihoods in the East African nation led to the current shortage. This is in addition to limited humanitarian assistance and Burundi's declining food import capacity. "Despite the recent favourable "2016B season" harvest, the number of severely food insecure people continues to escalate as a consequence of displacements and poor macroeconomic conditions. The continuing depreciation of the local currency and the low foreign reserves is also severely reducing the country's capacity to import food," the UN body said in the report. Households in Kirundo, Muyinga, Rutada and Makamba provinces, as well as rural locales near Bujumbura, are particularly affected. The food crisis comes in spite of abundant and well-distributed rains in April and May that favoured crop development in farming regions of both Rwanda and Burundi. Burundi is one of the countries in the region where conflict and effects of La Niña have pushed the number of those in need of humanitarian aid to 40 per cent. According to FAO, 28 African nations currently are in need of external assistance, with the East African region alone having over 24 million people who are in need of humanitarian help. Particularly, the report indicates that an estimated 5.9 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance in eastern and southern conflict-affected provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where a mass influx of refugees, fleeing Burundi and South Sudan, is straining the already limited resources of host communities. Source: The East African

< style="color: #163449;">Female farmers rebuilding agriculture in the Central African Republic

Farmers in the Central African Republic are struggling to bounce back from years of intermittent violence, where smallholder female farmers were unable to tend their fields during the conflict. With support from local non-governmental organisations working from the grassroots level, women farmers are creating new opportunities to get back on their feet. "This war affected rural women a lot, because they lost their farming equipment, they lost their husbands, their children, they lost everything," says Odette Guerel-Baïlé, founder of Women, Flowers of the Central African Republic, an NGO working with female smallholder farmers nationwide. Guerel-Baïlé, who trained in Japan, had set up a women-only rice collective in Bossangoa, some 325 kilometres north of the capital, Bangui. Bossangoa is just one of the towns hit hard during the CAR crisis that kicked up in late 2012, where death and internal displacement became the norm for Central Africans trying to flee from the sectarian and political violence. "In Bangui, we have a site for selling on the PK45 road to Bouali, but because of all the events, the women are depressed right now, so we haven't gone back," says Guerel-Baïlé, referring to one of the neighbourhoods in Bangui. The difficulty is starting from scratch. Even trusting neighbours can be problematic. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has stressed that the agricultural sector needs to reintegrate vulnerable people, youths, and farming families to improve their production. It is a formula put to good use by Meraline Donko, the president of Sala Naita, "Working with your Neighbour" in Sango, one of the country's national languages. "When we started with our present group, there were orphans, adults and the elderly, from 13 up to age 55," says Donko, in a country where life expectancy is 54 years for women, 51 for men. Sala Naita, a micro group of 30 farmers, grow peanuts and lettuce, which is irrigated from a nearby canal. Work is delegated by Donko according to age, where the younger workers pull weeds and learn from the elder participants, who have a more advisory role. "There are young people who we teach to farm, to show them that you can get on in life by doing this work, instead of stealing or robbing people," Donko tells RFI, sitting next to one of the peanut patches. "For the older people too, there are those who show the younger ones so they understand how to work, because the youth get disillusioned," she adds. The hierarchy works well, especially for Pimprenelle Lacourse, a young mother who heads the technical department of Sala Naita. She likes the work. "I'm really interested in this, because it helps us a lot and we love peanuts," says Lacourse. "The fact that I'm in charge helps me too. I say this because now I'm around mothers who I think work even harder in the corn and peanut fields," she adds. Peanut sellers walk around the markets in downtown Bangui with their home-grown wares wrapped in small plastic bags; but businesswomen need to have basic mathematics and reading skills in order to conduct sales. Many women never went to school, so they have to give their vegetables to their husbands or others to sell. Less than 25 per cent of the female adult population in the country over the age of 15 can read and write, according to the UN's Environmental, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Empowering women to take control of their business is a key aim of the Central African Women's Association for the Fight Against Illiteracy (AFCLA), a non-governmental organisation founded in 2001 by Léa Ngaidama. "We teach operational literacy-it's tied to their daily lives, for them to take charge of their own businesses," says Ngaidama. The program is structured on three levels, with the first teaching women to read and write in Sango over a six-month period, where they learn vocabulary and mathematics according to their needs as small-scale farmers. Level two is a complimentary course, where students add to their knowledge. Upon completion, the women can read and write. Level three concentrates on testing women in everyday situations that they might encounter. Those who graduate in Sango have the option to take the same programme in French. AFCLA's targeted literacy course has educated some 10,000 women throughout the country and has additional positive effects. Although female farmers have a hard time trying to juggle working in the field, children, and daily household tasks, the programme is flexible, to allow a farmer to make up a day if harvesting or taking care of a sick child becomes a priority. "Usually at the beginning, the husband doesn't want his wife going to class, but he gradually sees how her progress can also help at home. He sees that things are better for his wife and he starts to trust her," says Ngaidama. "When his wife goes to school, he knows that she is learning. And the children must help out around the house, that's often what happens." Easing the burden of female farmers' backbreaking manual labour is not lost on the Central African Republic's Agriculture Minister Honoré Feizoure, who hopes to bring the sector into the 21st century. "Our vision, under the new government of Professor Touadera, is to modernise the agricultural sector. We must mechanize agriculture to lighten the load of working women," he says. The FAO has urged the new government to make agriculture a priority, noting the "alarming" deterioration of CAR's food security situation during the past year. Feizoure says that the country needs to work past the immediate needs and concentrate on long-term development goals. "I truly hope that all the partners who have greatly supported the Central African Republic during the emergency period won't leave us when we pass from emergency to development to stabilise the agricultural sector," says Feizoure, who sees food insecurity as having contributed to the country's conflict. "When you stabilise agriculture and maintain food security, you'll have security in general in the Central African Republic," he adds. Source: Radio France Internationale

< style="color: #163449;">AU will send observers to Gabon for help with election appeal

The African Union says it plans to send observers to help Gabon's Constitutional Court with a legal complaint lodged by opposition leader Jean Ping, who accuses President Ali Bongo of cheating to secure victory in an election last month. The dispute has led to riots that killed at least six people and brought unwelcome international scrutiny for Bongo, whose family has ruled the central African nation member for nearly 50 years. Ping, who officially lost by fewer than 6,000 votes, last week applied to the court to authorize a recount in Haut-Ogooue province, Bongo's stronghold, where the president won 95 percent of the vote on a 99.9 percent turnout. The Peace and Security Council of the African Union requested that its executive branch deploy observers from other French-speaking African countries "to assist the Constitutional Court of Gabon," it said in a statement late on September 13. The European Union, which sent an official observation team to the election and has cited anomalies in the poll results from Haut-Ogooue province, will maintain observers in the country. It was not clear what level of access observers would have to the internal deliberations of the court, which is due to decide on the recount by September 23. Ping says he has no faith in the judicial body because of its ties to the Bongo family. The head of the court, Marie-Madeleine Mborantsuo, was the longtime mistress of Ali Bongo's father, Omar Bongo, who ruled for 41 years. Ali Bongo's opponents complained to the court after he won his first term in 2009, and the court upheld his victory following a recount. The government has stressed that the court is neutral and also accused Ping's supporters of irregularities in the polls. Former colonial ruler France, which has a military base in Gabon and a large stake in the nation's oil sector, has urged the court to examine the opposition's complaint transparently and impartially. It has ruled out intervening militarily in the dispute, as it has done previously in parts of Africa. Source: Voice of America

< style="color: #163449;">The Congo-Kinshasa government strikes deal with some opponents on elections sequence

Backers of Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila and part of the opposition agreed on September 14 on the sequence of a series of upcoming elections, potentially removing a major obstacle to breaking a dangerous political impasse. The compromise came just two days after opposition leaders walked out of the talks on the timing of the presidential election, which was due to happen in November but which authorities say cannot be held before July. The opposition had insisted the presidential election be the next poll held. The government said local elections should take place first, likely further delaying the presidential vote. While the agreement on September 14 between the government and a group of opposition parties set no specific dates, the two sides agreed the presidential vote would be combined with legislative and provincial elections, with local polls to be held later. "This opens the way to a calendar that will mention the exact date of the handover of power between the old president of the republic ... and the newly elected president," said Vital Kamerhe, one of the leading negotiators for the opposition. Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba, who is representing Kabila's political supporters in the talks, confirmed the agreement. "We solemnly announce to you that we will finance these elections. Take note of it," he said. Despite the apparent advance in the negotiations, efforts to broker a peaceful exit from power for Kabila, who has led Africa's leading copper producer since the assassination of his father in 2001, remain fragile. Congo has never experienced a non-violent transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960. Most major opposition parties are boycotting the talks, which they see as giving Kabila a chance to justify what they say is his plan to stay in power beyond the end of his mandate in December, breaking constitutional term limits. Diplomats and observers fear the political crisis could trigger a repeat of civil wars that killed millions of people between 1996 and 2003. Source: Voice of America

< style="color: #0069a6;">NORTH AFRICA

< style="color: #163449;">Morocco to open embassies in Uganda, Rwanda

The Kingdom of Morocco has revealed that they will be opening embassies in Rwanda and Uganda to boost diplomatic and economic ties in the East African Region. "We shall be opening an Embassy beginning with Rwanda in the last quarter of this year and hopefully in Uganda the following year," said the Mr Mezouar Salaheddine, Moroccan foreign affairs Minister on September 7 in Rabat. "The region is very strategic for us and must have our presence to boost our diplomatic and economic ties. We have already started on the process of opening an embassy in Uganda," he added. Mr Salaheddine made the revelation in an interview with the Daily Monitor after addressing about 55 African journalists participating in a press trip in the run up to the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that will be held in Marrakech from November 7 to 18 with a focus on Africa. Once the two embassies are opened, Ugandans and Rwandans will no longer spend money on sending their passports to neighboring countries to acquire visas before visiting Morocco but rather in their countries. Currently, for one to travel to Morocco from Uganda, a visa can be acquired from the Ethiopian Capital Addis Ababa or Nairobi Kenya in a process that lasts more than seven days. Mr Salaheddine who doubles as the COP22 President also told journalists that the country is more than ready to receive about 20,000 delegates from 179 countries who will be participating in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh. The conference will include; Negotiators from the Civil society, the private Sector and State parties. "The world has made a step forward but some issues are pending. COP22 is a conference of action where issues of financing, reducing carbon emissions and capacity building will be discussed," he said, adding that as country they want greenhouse gases reduced. He further emphasised that Africa needs a funding equation for food security. By 2050, Africa will only be able to feed 13 per cent of its population if climate change is not combated. The COP22 President further said there is a commitment by Africa in general and Morocco in particular to make the COP22 meeting become more successful than the previous COPs as it will also be the "beginning of the implementation of the Paris agreement." Earlier in 2001, Morocco hosted COP7 at the same venue. Source: The Monitor

< style="color: #163449;">Egypt expects to sign agreements with European Investment Bank worth euro 575 million

Egypt is expecting to sign agreements with the European Investment Bank worth EUR575 million in the second half of October, Ministry of International Cooperation said on September 11. The bank's deputy head is set to visit Egypt in the second half of October, according to a statement by the ministry citing the EIB's Director of Operations in Southern and Eastern Neighbouring Countries Heinz Olbers. The agreements are aimed to finance the purchase of 13 trains for a second metro line as well as small and medium enterprises, the statement said. On September 9, Egypt received the first $1 billion tranche of a $3 billion three-year loan from the World Bank aimed at supporting the government's reform programme. Egypt has also reached a preliminary agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a $12 billion loan over three years to help plug a funding gap. Accordingly, the cash-strapped government is applying the reform programme which includes cuts to expensive energy subsidies and the introduction of new tax measures to cut spending and meet conditions for the loan. The country is currently facing an acute foreign currency shortage due to pressures on its foreign reserves after years of political turmoil. In August, the net foreign reserves currently reached $16.564 billion, still less than half of the foreign reserves Egypt had before Mubarak's removal when they were almost $36 billion. Source: Aswat Masriya

< style="color: #163449;">The UK Parliament report criticises Libya intervention

Britain's military intervention in Libya, ordered by former Prime Minister David Cameron, relied on flawed intelligence and hastened the North African country's political and economic collapse, according to a parliamentary report. The Foreign Affairs Committee analysed Britain's decision-making in the run-up to its intervention alongside France in 2011, which the government said at the time was aimed at protecting civilians under fire from long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi. Cameron, who ran Britain from 2010 until July, had a "decisive" role in the decision to intervene and must bear the responsibility for Britain's role in the crisis in Libya, the report says. "It could not verify the actual threat to civilians posed by the Gaddafi regime; it selectively took elements of Muammar Gaddafi's rhetoric at face value; and it failed to identify the militant Islamist extremist element in the rebellion," the MPs said in the report. "UK strategy was founded on erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding of the evidence." Nearly five years after Gaddafi was toppled and killed, chaos continues to reign in Libya, with two rival governments vying for power and fierce battles over the country's valuable oil assets. Crispin Blunt, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said other options were available to Britain which could have led to a better outcome. "I think we've got to the guts of what happened in Libya ... the climate in which the decision was taken to deploy a force to protect the people of Benghazi. We make no suggestion that there was any bad faith in the way those decisions were made ... the decision-makers genuinely believed that the people of Benghazi were under threat," Blunt told Al Jazeera. The report said the government should have been aware that armed groups would attempt to benefit from the rebellion, adding there was no evidence that a proper analysis of those behind the rebellion was carried out. Cameron was described by the committee as "ultimately responsible for the failure to develop a coherent Libya strategy. "It's plainly part of legacy. We looked at how he chaired the National Security Council and there was no pause to assess," Blunt told Al Jazeera. Key political players including Liam Fox, former defence minister, and William Hague, former foreign minister, gave evidence to the committee, as well as Tony Blair, the former prime minister. Blair told the committee he spoke to Gaddafi by phone in February 2011 and tried to convince him to stand aside. "We saw no evidence that the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, attempted to exploit Mr Blair's contacts," the report said. The fallout from the removal of Gaddafi has also seen criticism of US government policy, with President Barack Obama admitting in a candid interview with Atlantic magazine published in March that Libya was a "mess". Obama said Cameron became "distracted" after the 2011 intervention and said he had placed too much faith in the Europeans, including then French President Nicolas Sarkozy, "being invested in the follow-up". Intervention came after Gaddafi loyalists assaulted the eastern city of Benghazi, raising fears of an imminent massacre in the rebel stronghold. A UN Security Council resolution with Arab backing authorised the use of "all necessary means" to protect civilians and enforce a ceasefire and no-fly zone against Gaddafi's forces. Source: Al Jazeera

< style="color: #0069a6;">SOUTHERN AFRICA

< style="color: #163449;">Mugabe accused of already rigging 2018 elections

Opposition coalition spokesman Didymus Mutasa has claimed that President Robert Mugabe is already working to rig the 2018 elections and vowed that the protest on September 17 will go ahead despite a police ban against demonstrations in Harare. Mutasa, convenor of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA), told reporters in the capital on September 14 that the latest ban against protests "represents a de-facto state of emergency and a willingness by this regime to rig the next election." The former presidential affairs minister and ruling Zanu PF party secretary for administration said there was little prospect the next elections would be credible. "It is trite for anyone to expect a credible election in 2018 when genuine and constitutional demands for electoral reform are met with police brutality and weekly bans of protests that are allowed by the constitution. "In other words, the brutality itself is tantamount to a rigging of the next election well in advance," he said. The country has lately been rocked by demonstrations as Zimbabweans protest against a deepening economic crisis, with many demanding President Mugabe's resignation. The opposition has also taken to the streets to press for electoral reforms ahead of the key 2018 vote. But the demonstrations have been brutally crushed by the regime with the police using water cannon, tear gas and truncheons to disperse protestors. A month-long ban against protests in Harare has also been imposed and takes effect on September 16 ahead of a planned demonstration by NERA the following day. Mutasa however said they remained resolute and vowed to continue with "the constitutional protests for far-reaching electoral reforms". Also according to him, the nationwide demonstrations slated for September 17, will continue as planned "despite the illegal police bans". "Our message to the people of Zimbabwe is that they must come out in large numbers in the various towns and districts across the country to express in a loud way the national demand for a truly credible election in 2018," he said. "This ban is illegal and will not in any way stand in the way of what is permissible under the new Constitution written and endorsed by the people themselves." The former security minister and top Mugabe defender accused the 92-year-old leader of using resorting to methods perfected by the pre-independence settler colonial regimes. "It is ironic that the police are behaving with the same brutality as the British South Africa Police, the colonial outfit that repressed and oppressed the people of this country for many years," he said. "This has become worse than Rhodesia, and the simple crime of the people of this country is that they have dared to express themselves. He added: "As we have stated before, we are where we are as a nation because of a disputed election that bred an illegitimate outcome. We will not relent in our quest to demand a credible election and that is why the September 17’s action is continuing as planned." Source:

< style="color: #163449;">Big South Africa banks buoyant despite tough times

South Africa's major banking groups reported solid results for the first half of the year, delivering value to shareholders which compares favourably to European counterparts, according to PwC Africa. PwC published its analysis on the results of the six months to end-June 2016 for the following banks: Barclays Africa Group Limited , FirstRand , Nedbank and Standard Bank on September 14. "It is exceptional that our banks have been able to increase operating income by what they have in the last six months," said Johannes Grosskopf, financial services industry leader for PwC Africa. "Banks are finding it difficult to navigate in the current macroeconomic environment. What we see happening in the macro-economic environment comes through in results." The banks posted combined headline earnings of R34.6bn - up 5.7% compared to the same period in 2015. Total operating income lifted 13.3% and operating expenses rose 12.6%. "Banks are doing exceptionally well in terms of delivering shareholder value. They still deliver value to shareholders," said Grosskopf. This is measured by the economic spread between the return on equity (ROE) and the cost of equity. This measure at 3.6% - although marginally down from the second half of 2015, when it stood at above 4% - indicates that major banks' performance compares favourably against their European counterparts, he said. Compared to the European Systematically Important Banks (G-SIBS), local banks have remained within negative territory in the -6% to -10% range. African banks have managed to outperform European banks which have had to contend with a zero rate environment. "Also, European capital levels are not similar to those in Africa. African banks have higher capital levels than their European counterparts," said Grosskopf. Combined ROE fell slightly to 17.6% for the first half of 2016, compared to 18.2% for the first half of 2015. FirstRand's ROE is a significant outlier to the other banks at 24.6%. Almost 57% of the total operating expenses of the major banks relate to staff costs. "We expect this increasing staff cost trend to continue, as specialist and skilled resources are employed to assist the banks with the IT transformation to help meet the heightened levels of regulatory compliance required," stated Grosskopf. The cost to income ratio remained stable at 55%, added Louwrens van Velden, associate director. Key factors contributing to the increase in operating expenditure are linked to expenditure by banks directed towards IT changes. The foreign exchange rate also impacted the cost line. "The rand lost 29% against the US dollar for the first six months of the previous year," he said. "Development costs influence operating expenditure, but the cost now will lead to benefits in the future," said Grosskopf. Impairment charges increased significantly from previous years. The combined income statement impairment charge grew by 26.8% against the first half of 2015 and 29.3% against the second half of 2015. Net interest income grew 15.9%. The combined net interest margin of the major banks increased almost 4.7% compared to the first half of 2015, and about 4.4% compared to the second half of 2015. Source: news24WIRE

< style="color: #163449;">Zimbabwe Vice President leaves hotel after incurring U.S. $ 620,000 bill

One of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's two deputies has left a top Harare hotel after two years amid protests by disgruntled taxpayers. Mr Phelekezela Mphoko reportedly left the Rainbow Towers Hotel (formerly Sheraton Hotel) at the end of last month after spending 613 days at the presidential suite, arguing that he had no suitable accommodation in Harare. According to reports, the vice-president blew at least $620,000 in hotel bills after he checked in on December 10, 2014, only to leave last month to stay in a $2 million mansion. He moved to Harare's leafy Highlands suburb after the government completed renovations and security upgrades. Mr Mphoko, a former ambassador to South Africa, Botswana and Russia, among other countries, was appointed by President Mugabe in December 2014. His appointment followed a purge in the ruling Zanu-PF party that claimed the scalps of the then Vice-President Joice Mujuru and several ministers. Mrs Mujuru and her supporters were accused of plotting to assassinate the 92-year-old leader. Mr Mphoko, a businessman who partly owns the retail chain Choppies, comes from the second largest city of Bulawayo, about 440km from Harare. Soon after his appointment, the former diplomat was offered a house at another posh suburb in the capital, but his wife Laurinda rejected it saying it did not fit his new status. The government then settled on the Highlands property, but Mr Mphoko could not move in immediately as the property required extensive renovations and security upgrades. However, the vice-president had become a target of Zimbabweans protesting against wasteful government expenditure and corruption. Some activists, led by Mr Stern Zworwadza, in July stormed the hotel demanding that Mr Mphoko must leave. Mr Zworwadza on September 13 appeared before a Harare magistrate facing charges of threatening to burn the Rainbow Towers Hotel if the vice-president did not leave the facility. The Rainbow Towers Hotel manager, Mr Trythings Mutyandasvika, refused to disclose the amount of money Mr Mphoko spent when asked by Mr Zworwadza's lawyers in court. The Zimbabwean government is struggling to pay civil servants on time due to a long running economic crisis and close to a million people were in need of food aid after a severe drought. Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa last week proposed to scrap annual bonuses for civil servants and to reduce the salaries of government workers to save costs, but the proposals were rejected by President Mugabe. Source: The East African

< style="color: #163449;">In Mozambique, Renamo submits proposals on decentralisation

The Mozambican rebel movement Renamo on September 14 submitted new proposals for laws on decentralisation to the Joint Commission set up between the government and Renamo. Reading out a statement to reporters on September 14 night, after five hours of discussion behind closed doors, Mario Raffaelli, the Italian coordinator of the international mediating team, gave no details of the Renamo proposals, other than that they covered the seven points mentioned in the document agreed by the two sides on 17 August. That document was written as a response to the Renamo demand that it be allowed to appoint governors in the six central and northern provinces (Sofala, Manica, Tete, Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa) where it claims to have won the 2014 general elections. It put forward a package of seven points to be included in future constitutional amendments and new or amended legislation. The most important of these points is the constitutional amendment necessary to change the way in which provincial governors (and other local state bodies) are appointed or elected. There will also be amendments to the Law on Local State Bodies and its regulations, the Law on Provincial Assemblies, and the Law on the Organisation and Functioning of the Public Administration. New laws are to be drafted on the bodies of the provincial governments, and on provincial finances. Finally, the 1994 law on “municipal districts” will be “re-examined”. This law would have made each and every district a municipality. It was never implemented, but was replaced by a gradual approach to municipalisation. Thus initially only the 23 urban areas with city status, plus ten towns (one in each province) were granted municipal status, with directly elected mayors and municipal assemblies. Subsequently, 20 more towns have become municipalities, raising the total number of towns and cities where municipal elections were held in 2013 to 53. According to Raffaelli, in the space of less than a month, Renamo has managed to draft proposals on all of these complex issues. He added that a government document delivered to the mediators promised that the government side will analyse the Renamo proposals. But there was no advance whatever on the key issue of halting Renamo's armed attacks, and dismantling the Renamo militia. The government is ready for an immediate suspension of hostilities, but Renamo is refusing to put down its weapons until the government withdraws its forces from the Gorongosa mountain range, near the bush camp where Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama is currently living. The government refuses to make such a unilateral withdrawal of forces, arguing that it has a responsibility to defend the people of the region against Renamo attacks. Renamo is even making the withdrawal of government forces from their positions a pre-condition for a meeting between Dhlakama and the mediators. Since Dhlakama refuses to travel to Maputo, the mediators propose to meet him in the bush - but Renamo is refusing to establish a demilitarized corridor to allow this to happen. The Renamo proposals on decentralization are now with the technical sub-commission set up in August, which will meet on September 15 to consider them. The full Joint Commission is due to meet again on September 19. It is nowhere near achieving the purpose for which it was set up - namely to arrange a face-to-face meeting between Dhlakama and President Filipe Nyusi. Source: AIM           

< style="color: #0069a6;">EAST AFRICA

< style="color: #163449;">Striking Nairobi doctors ordered to return to work in Kenya

The Nairobi County government has ordered doctors who are on strike to resume work immediately. Nairobi County executive committee member for health Bernard Muia declared the strike as illegal and said disciplinary action will be taken against those who defy the directive. He also said doctors who are on leave have been recalled. Health services at some Nairobi hospitals had been paralysed following a silent protest by the doctors demanding their pay for the last six months and delayed promotions. The doctor's union secretary-general Ouma Olunga said the medics chose to protest silently because they fear being victimised. Dr Olunga said besides unpaid salaries, the doctors are unhappy about delayed promotions and the county's failure to remit their NHIF deductions for the last eight months. Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union Nairobi branch chairman Thuranira Kaugiria said the strike started at midnight on September 11 after the county failed to implement a memorandum of understanding signed in October last year following a countywide strike. He said the county and the doctors signed a return-to-work formula that has not been put to effect. Dr Kaugiria said the union wants doctors still on probation to be employed on permanent terms. He said 128 doctors have not been promoted since 2011. The doctors also want their salaries to be paid on the fifth day of every month. Dr Kaugiria added that the union met county officials on September 8 but no agreement was reached, prompting the strike. He said the county officials do not see their grievances as a priority. Source: Daily Nation

< style="color: #163449;">All set for Dar, Lubumbashi Trade Forum next week

Over 25 companies from Tanzania will be at the first Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo Trade Forum to discuss growing trade, investment opportunities and collaboration between the two countries that will explore different opportunities to secure investment in the Tanzania -DR Congo economic corridor. The forum which will take place in Lubumbashi next week is aimed at bringing together high level private sector operators from both Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo. The Forum Manager Ms Naomi Godwin told press conference in the city on September 15 that over 100 key business players from Tanzania and Republic Democratic of Congo and decision makers are expect to attend this private sector driven forum. "On keeping the strong relationship between these two countries, Tanzania and DR Congo trade forum will acknowledge the benefits to invest in agri-business in both countries," Ms Godwin said. "It shall also look into the significant potential for promoting the ease of doing business in order to create a conducive environment for entrepreneurs and attract investments in manufacturing industry and transportation services as trade is the backbone of every economy. Ms Godwin said that expected outcomes of the trade forum is to strengthen bilateral ties and enhance trade relations between two countries, increased volume of exports between both countries and it improved conducive environment for trade between both countries. Under the theme "Strengthening bilateral Trade and Investment opportunities" the forum will assemble over 100 key business players from Tanzania and DR Congo's Private Sectors. It will also include key policy decision makers from both governments. Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) Acting Executive Director Mr Louis Accaro said that DR Congo has been showing much interest in energy and mineral exploration from Tanzania oil and gas sector as the consultations began at the end of August this year in Dar es Salaam in order to enable Kinshasa to export its oil through the proposed pipeline system from Hoima in Uganda to the Tanga port in Tanzania. He said, apart from that, this annual Tanzania DR Congo Trade Forum comes after the growth in the economy of Democratic Republic of Congo in 2015 to 7.7 percent, as it has been reported by World Bank. He pointed out that their performance is driven by robust extractive industries and related investments despite the global economic slowdown and the decline in the demand and price of minerals exported by the democratic republic of Congo. The Forum is organised with Tanzania's Embassy in DR Congo in collaboration with Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA); Tanzania Trade Development Authority (TANTRADE), Federation des Enterprises du Congo (FEC), Tanzania Truck owners Association (TATOA) Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) and 361 Degrees. Source: Tanzania Daily News

< style="color: #163449;">Rwanda wants protocol on ozone layer depleting substance amended

Rwanda urged on September 15 other nations to pass an ambitious amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances, as experts warn that failure to act would increase risks of skin cancer and global warming. The Montreal Protocol is a global agreement to protect the ozone layer by advocating for the phasing out of the production of substances responsible for ozone depletion and climate change. If the amendment is passed, it will result in the early phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), according to a statement from the ministry. HFCs are strong greenhouse gases used mainly in refrigeration, solvents, propellants and aerosols with a high global warming potential. "We look forward to welcoming all parties to the Montreal Protocol to Rwanda in the spirit of international cooperation. We are pleased to see many countries supporting an ambitious amendment and are confident that it will be passed when we meet in Kigali in October. Rwanda stands ready to work with all Parties to find common ground and make the amendment a reality," Dr Vincent Biruta, the minister for natural resources, told reporters in Kigali on September 15, on the eve of celebrations to mark the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, held annually on September 16. The amendment would represent the most significant global action to reduce climate change since the adoption of the Paris Agreement. More than 1,000 international leaders and ozone preservation and low carbon development experts are expected in Kigali next month for the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, known as MOP28. The MOP28 will take place from October 6-14, at the Kigali Convention Centre. Passing an ambitious amendment to the Montreal Protocol in Kigali could prevent up to 0.5°C of global warming by the end of the century by phasing out HFCs, the Government said. A successful amendment to the protocol would signal the international community's commitment to practical action to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement - limiting global warming to 2°C, and the more ambitious target of 1.5°C. Rwanda is recognised for its leading role in implementing the Montreal Protocol, exceeding targets and beating deadlines set under the treaty, officials say. This includes achieving zero use of chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs) ozone-depleting substances by 2010, a year before the set deadline. Rwanda's outstanding contribution to the preservation of the Ozone Layer earned the country the 2012 Ozone Protection Award from the Ozone Secretariat of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Celebrated every year on September 16, the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer commemorates the date of the Montreal Protocol signing in 1987 and provides the opportunity to reflect on the progress made to protect the ozone layer. The Day will be marked under the theme, "Ozone and climate: Restored by a world united and is complemented by the tagline: Working towards reducing global-warming HFCs under the Montreal Protocol." The theme recognises the collective efforts of the parties to the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol toward the restoration of the ozone layer over the past three decades, and the global commitment to combat climate change. Source: The New Times

< style="color: #0069a6;">WEST AFRICA

< style="color: #163449;">AfDB approves a USD two million grant to Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau to fight the Zika outbreak

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) on September 8, 2016 in Abidjan, approved two grants of US $1 million each, to Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau as emergency assistance to support the implementation of National Preparedness and Response Plans to fight the Zika virus outbreak in the two countries. The Board’s unanimous approval, demonstrates the Bank’s continuous commitment to supporting pandemic preparedness and building resilient health systems and communities on the continent. The support will be complementary to the Bank’s past and ongoing health systems strengthening efforts accompanying and working in coordination with other partners. The US $2-million grant will be implemented by the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) and is expected to play a catalytic role in strengthening disease surveillance, vector control and tackling issues of environmental sanitation, in an approach which integrates the social, economic and environmental determinants of health. The Bank’s support is timely as the Zika epidemic continues to spread. As of September 8, 2016, 72 countries have reported over 88,000 suspected cases of which 6,500 were confirmed. Given its presence in Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau, the WHO warns it is likely the outbreak will spread to the rest of Africa. Lessons learned from the Bank’s support to the Ebola outbreak, point to the need to respond in a timely and focused manner. The Bank was the first among the donor community to respond to the Ebola outbreak through 10 operations amounting to US $290 million. Overall the Bank’s intervention strengthened health systems through the establishment of alert systems, infrastructure support, institutionalization of infection prevention and control practices, provision of logistics and strengthening of community engagement to participate in epidemic response. However, the established systems are still far from being perfect and still require a lot of support to become strong, resilient and sustainable to address emerging health threats. “The Ebola and Zika virus disease outbreaks are a wakeup call to all African Governments and partners that we have been underinvesting in public health care systems in Africa,” said President Adesina at a high-level panel debate on “Universal Health Coverage in Africa” at the recent Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) in Nairobi. To provide a lasting solution to deal with the increasing incidence of disease outbreaks on the continent, the African Development Bank will significantly expand its investments in public health infrastructure, including supporting countries to expand provision of water and sanitation. The Bank will fast-track processing of the regional Africa Center for Disease Control (ACDC) to be jointly financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, World Bank and World Health Organization and established under the leadership of the Africa Union Commission. The ACDC will enable African countries, individually and collectively, to efficiently monitor, prevent, control and respond in a timely way to epidemics threats. Source: African Development Bank Group

< style="color: #163449;">UN to establish two aviation security training Institutes in Nigeria

The United Nations has decided to establish two Aviation Security Training Schools in Nigeria to help boost safety and security in the country's aviation sector. The United Nations-appointed Project Manager for the schools, Douglas Melvin, made the disclosure when he visited the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, in Abuja. Mr. Melvin said the main objective of the project was to support the nation's overall counter-terrorism strategy by providing a key element of a robust national aviation security policy. A statement released by James Odaudu, Deputy Director, Press & Public Affairs, Ministry of Transportation, quoted Mr. Melvin as saying that this would help to mitigate the threat posed to civil aviation by terrorist groups. Mr. Melvin said the initiative would also enhance the capacity within the UN system to help interested member states implement the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in an integrated manner. Mr. Melvin said the choice of Nigeria out of 25 countries considered was in appreciation of its clear roadmap in developing the aviation sector, with particular emphasis on safety and security. "The country stands to reap more benefits than the training of its aviation security personnel by the best available security experts," Mr. Melvin was quoted as saying. He said other benefits include the provision of, and exposure to hi-tech Aviation Security equipment and the generation of revenue from training of aviation security personnel from other countries. The UN representative also informed the minister that the forthcoming UN General Assembly was billed to make a proclamation on aviation security with specific reference to Nigeria. He said the step underscored the importance attached to the project as a flagship and high profile one which the country was privileged to be a beneficiary. Responding, Mr. Sirika commended the UN for recognising and identifying with the government's vision and efforts to establish and nurture a safe and secure world class aviation industry. He assured him of the government's readiness to provide all that was needed for the effective take-off and operation of the two institutes to be located in Abuja and Lagos. He also described the choice of Nigeria for the institutes as a massive boost to the nation's desire to become a regional aviation hub. "The project is to be fully funded by the UN and delivered by the UK Department of Transportation. "Nigeria is expected to participate in the provision of training premises and supply of low-cost aviation training equipment, among others," he said. (NAN) Source: Premium Times

< style="color: #163449;">In Gambia, opposition discusses single candidate for December poll

Opposition leaders on September 14 convened a meeting at the Kairaba Beach Hotel to discuss how to strategise and develop a method of getting a candidate who would lead all opposition parties in the December 1 presidential election. Speaking to journalists shortly after the indoor meeting, Halifa Sallah, who spoke on behalf of PDOIS party, said they must have a purpose and the means as well as the method to achieve the objective. "We convene the conference of presidential candidates attended by four, but others did send their party representatives to be able to sit down to agree on purpose, agree on means and agree on methods." He said one thing that everybody agrees on is that 1st December 2016 should usher in the necessary changes in the country. How that change is going to be brought about would require a candidate who would have 51 per cent or more of the votes cast by the registered voters. "How do we get that candidate is what we are now strategizing, because if the candidate is not available then we must develop a method of getting the candidate. ”If the candidate is available, then we must identify that candidate for the whole nation to know; but we have not reached the point of identifying the candidate," Sallah added. Mr Sallah also said: "We have also gone a long way in discussing and exchanging ideas on what method to utilize to get the candidate, and building the recommendation is very clear: we would convene in less than a week." Also speaking to journalists was Ramzia Diab, who spoke on behalf of Dr Isatou Touray. Diab said the meeting was held to unify the parties to bring about positive change in the country. Diab added that she endorsed Dr Isatou Touray because she has seen that she is competent enough to lead the country. The former nominated Member of the National Assembly said she was part of a political party, which is the APRC, and after she left the party she had been watching what was happening with the opposition parties. "I have seen that they could have all come together; if they find one common course which I believe they all wanted to happen; but then seeing the failure of NAAD in 2006 and then the failure of the United Front in 2011, it is time to have an independent candidate. "It is my feeling that a party-led opposition would not be favourable this time around." Source: The Point This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi
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