Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

April 2017
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Friday, 28 April 2017

Botswana is due to continue benefiting from cooperation with the European Union (EU) despite uncertainty from the United Kingdom's decision to exit the European common market. In an interview on the sidelines of the Botswana heads of missions conference in Gaborone recently, the Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union, Mr Samuel Outlule said the country's trading agreements with the EU were still in effect, and that the legal aspects of British separation ('Brexit') were still to be ascertained."Of course there are a lot of questions that are still to be answered because the relationship evolved for over 40 years, hence there has been a number of laws and regulatory arrangements with regard to trade. So we are still to know if the agreements of separation will not disrupt the existing commercial and economic relations," he said.

A deeper UK engagement with African trade is sensible and beneficial, however, negotiators will need to wake up to complexities of hashing out any deals on the continent. When The Times reported that some Whitehall officials had been using the term ‘Empire 2.0’ to describe post-Brexit UK’s campaign to cosy up to its former colonies, there was a significant backlash among some members of the 52-state Commonwealth. Yet despite the unofficial branding, the official line is one of reciprocal trade deals and closer foreign policy – both of which will be welcome to the UK and its allies.

"We too have a role in determining our response and where feasible, we should make choices that reflect our reassessment of priorities within a changing world," said Ms Theresa May, the British Prime Minister. "...I want us to be a secure, prosperous, tolerant country, a magnet for international talent and a home to the pioneers and innovators that will shape the world ahead."t was a bitter-sweet farewell following the delivery of Ms May's historic letter to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, officially notifying him of the intention to trigger Article 50 and quit the European Union (EU). Perhaps it feels like the end of an episode in one's favourite TV series, as you wait for what happens next.

A United Nations think-tank has warned the East African Community against entering into an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union arguing that it will neither spur economic growth nor bring wealth to the region's citizens. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) says in a report that if the EPA is signed, local industries will struggle to withstand competitive pressures from EU firms, while the region will be stuck in its position as a low value-added commodity exporter. "If the EAC-EU EPA is fully implemented, the region risks losing trading opportunities with other partners, industrial output, welfare and GDP," the 45-page report seen by The EastAfrican says.

The European Union has allocated €53 million (Shs202.9 billion) towards easing trade transaction in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern African (Comesa) bloc where Uganda is a member. The money is part of the 11th European Development Fund's €85 million (Shs325.5 billion) support for Comesa regional integration programmes. Comesa Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya at a recent regional meeting of member states held in Lusaka Zambia, to validate the identified projects, said: "The overarching goal of the trade facilitation programme is to make trade transactions easier, quicker, more efficient and less costly, thereby enhancing trade flows in the identified transport corridors." The funding expected to increase intra-regional trade flows of goods, persons and services by reducing the costs/delays of imports/exports at specific border posts.

Adopted in the form of a joint declaration, the European consensus on development, more than a common banner, is a necessary precondition to the complementarity and coordination of European development policies envisaged in the EU Treaties. The redefinition of development policy in times of internal crisis and global transformation is high-stakes – while integrating the new and ambitious vision presented in Agenda 2030 is a recognised necessity, there are inherent risks to the exercise. A surfeit of priorities may undermine the strategic character of this framework document, while exacerbating challenges of coherence and coordination.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Africa needs more than token action towards building green economies. Without adequate climate action, African farmers may lose 40 % to 80 % of their croplands for growing grains. Preventing the loss of biodiversity (SDG 9) and ecosystem degradation will safeguard urban people’s food supply too. The big question is: how will private sector resources be mobilised? No doubt, African financial institutions have significant capacities to support investors. However, they have a history of risk aversion and lack sufficient market instruments to facilitate risk-sharing. Therefore investments in agribusiness has stayed below what is needed. A further drag is the macroeconomic situation. Interest rates are rising and are increasingly beyond what smallholder farmers and small and mid-sized enterprises can afford.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Delegates from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania have decried what they called political interference in the management of water resources. During the recent Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO) conference in Kampala, which was funded by the European Union [EU] and SmartFish Programme, the delegates said such interferences have increased cases of illegal activities on the lake that is shared by the three East African countries. "Our lake is not in good shape, yet there has been constant intervention. The problem has been made worse by political interference; we need to build resilience that resists this interference in order to have a sustainable Lake Victoria," Susan Amendi, a delegate from Kenya, said.

The Government of Liberia has signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union to boost and strengthen the country's forestry sector. The agreement was signed by Ambassador Tina Intelmann, Head of the European Union delegation and Sister Mary Laurene Browne, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Forestry Development Authority during a press conference at the Monrovia City hall on Friday, April 7, 2017. The Voluntary Partnership Agreement aims to improve forest governance, address illegal logging and promote trade in verified legal timber products from Liberia to the European Union. Speaking at the press conference, Ambassador Intelmann said the European Union has played an enormous role in helping Liberia to build the forestry sector, adding that it is time for the country to take a complete control of its forest and begin to fund it.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Maritime security challenges have received increasing attention in Europe in recent years. In 2014, the Council of the European Union adopted the first EU Maritime Security Strategy which includes a comprehensive definition of maritime security from a European standpoint. The EU understands it “as a state of affairs of the global maritime domain, in which international law and national law are enforced, freedom of navigation is guaranteed and citizens, infrastructure, transport, the environment and marine resources are protected.” In short, maritime security comprises much more than the traditional questions related to seapower and naval strategies.

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