Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

December 2017
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EDITO
Sunday, 17 December 2017

The U.K. government issued a document on Tuesday detailing plans to maintain U.K. aid cooperation with the EU after it exits the bloc in 2019. The paper, released by the Department for Exiting the European Union, is scant on figures and makes no explicit commitments regarding the almost 1 billion euros in development and humanitarian aid spent annually through the EU; nor does it commit to specific joint funds or other instruments. However, it describes a strong desire for continued collaboration on aid — particularly on migration — and outlines the U.K.’s hope for a relationship that uses current engagement “as a starting point.”

The EU mobilised all its emergency response tools last week before Hurricane Irma approached the Caribbean. As a first step last week, the EU's Copernicus satellite mapping system was activated to deliver high quality maps for Guadeloupe, Saint Barthélémy and Saint Martin at the request of France, and of Sint Maarten at the request of the Netherlands, as well as for the British Virgin Islands. The Commission has also activated Copernicus for areas of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The Commission is also supporting a Disaster Relief Emergency Fund operation by the International Federation of the Red Cross, providing basic relief kits to the affected populations in Antigua and Barbuda.

To say the EU’s ability to promote values through external action is declining may be an understatement. This time the observation is made in a report aimed at improving and making more coherent Union diplomacy and the way the bloc’s taxpayer money is spent. The limitations of EU outreach became visible in recent years particularly in the context of the Eastern Partnership, an initiative which sought to closely associate six countries in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood. Another perhaps more tragic example is the failure of the EU’s engagement with neighbours in the south, following the Arab Spring. But a report points out the same deficiencies vis-à-vis the ACP countries, 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific states, with all of them, with the exception of Cuba, signatories to the Cotonou Agreement, also known as the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement, which binds them to the European Union.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, British Minister for the Commonwealth and the United Nations, visited Samoa last week for the Pacific Islands Forum. While in Apia, he visited Women in Business Development Inc (W.I.B.D.) and met with W.I.B.D President Peseta Afoa and Executive Director Adi Tafunai. Lord Ahmad heard about W.I.B.D’s long and successful partnership with BodyShop and about W.I.B.D.I’s decision to become a social enterprise. Lord Ahmad also announced the next two stages of UK support for the development of Social Enterprise in Samoa and across the region.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Europe will remain an important supplier of agricultural goods in the future but the greatest untapped potential lies in Africa, which could become the “bread basket” for the rest of the world, the president of Yara, a multinational fertiliser and crop nutrition company, told EURACTIV. Svein Tore Holsether also said digital technologies like precision farming were the best way to boost agricultural production. “While we still see the potential for increasing productivity and sustainability of European agriculture, the greatest potential we see is in Africa,” Holsether pointed out. “Today €29.6bn ($35bn) is spent every year on importing food, while there is a great untapped potential for higher productivity as the continent holds 65% of the world’s arable land,” the fertiliser company boss said.

In his first annual address to France’s ambassadors on Tuesday 29 August, Emmanuel Macron announced that France would commit official development assistance of 0.55% of gross national income by 2022. The AFD welcomed the announcement, however it is still below the UN’s targets. Oxfam also points out that this announcement contradicts the budget cuts announced in this sector in the short-term. ‘Africa is not only a continent of crises. It is a continent of the future. We cannot leave it alone,’ President Macron told ambassadors on Tuesday at the Elysée Palace. The French President does not intend to go back on French commitments in this area. France currently spends between 0.37% and 0.38% of its gross national income (GNI) on official development assistance.

As a prelude to the opening of the 7th African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), the Ivorian Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Ly Ramata Bakayoko, chaired a workshop on the role of research and innovation in the African agricultural transformation process, allowing her to take stock of national agricultural research, according to abidjan.net. In terms of bilateral and multilateral cooperation, the minister cited the Competitive Fund for Sustainable Agricultural Innovation (Fonds compétitif pour l’innovation agricole durable – FCIAD), with a budget of 5 billion CFA francs (€7.6 million), the Renewed Partnership for Development Research (Partenariat rénové pour la recherche au service du développement – Presed), with the financing of three projects in the field of agricultural research for a total of 255 million CFA francs (€342,000) in the framework of France’s debt reduction programme led by the French Development Agency (AFD), while the second debt reduction programme has earmarked funding of 1.21 billion CFA francs to develop agricultural research.

Friday, 08 September 2017

The Pacific nations which receive aid from the European Union have raised concerns at not being able to draw down some of the funds allocated to them. The money is channelled through the European Development Fund but access has been an issue for several years. The chair of the Pacific component of the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of nations, Tu'ilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, said about $US200 million dollars had been withheld. The Samoan prime minister said the members are hoping there are no further cuts. "With all the problems facing Europe there is pressure on their own budgets so we know where their proposition comes from and the area of reallocating the finances already approved for our regional projects." Pacific leaders in the African, Caribbean and Pacific bloc (PACP) held a meeting before the Pacific Forum leaders' summit in Apia this week. On Wednesday the PACP nations and the EU will talk about a replacement for the Cotonou Agreement - the document which governs their relationship, and which expires in 2020.

Since the implementation of the Caribbean Coconut Industry Development Project two-and-a-half years ago, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) has made several strides in improving the local coconut industry through training as well as the establishment of new nurseries among other targeted initiatives. The four-year project was undertaken through a partnership between CARDI and the International Trade Centre (ITC), with funding provided by the European Union. It was aimed at improving income and employment opportunities, food security, and overall competitiveness of the Caribbean coconut sector. Participating countries in the project include Jamaica, Belize, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, and Suriname, among others in the region.

A group in Italy is training migrants — mostly from sub-Saharan Africa — as beekeepers, then pairing them with honey producers who need employees. Aid groups say new efforts by European leaders to stem the flow of migrants from Africa ignores the fact that Europe needs these workers. According to Oxfam, Italy alone will need 1.6 million migrants over the next 10 years. Back in his native Senegal, the only interaction Abdul Adan ever had with bees was when one stung his mouth while he was eating fresh honey. That day, his mouth was so swollen that he didn't leave his home in Senegal's Casamance region. Years later as a migrant worker in Alessandria, Italy, Adan is so comfortable with the insects that he does not even use gloves as he handles their hives and inspects their progress.