Video guest: Stephane Durand
January 2017
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Monday, 23 January 2017

The European Union (EU) has announced that it will provide €35 million in support of agricultural development and the General Auditing Commission (GAC) in Liberia. Speaking in Monrovia today, European Union Ambassador to Liberia, Tiina Intelmann said the EU props both the private and the public sector in Liberia. The EU supports the Government's efforts to boost the economy through agricultural development, because agriculture is the road to progress and development."

Plans for a dramatic increase in the amount of aid that can be channeled through the CDC Group, the government’s controversial private equity arm, have moved closer to fruition after crucial legislation passed through the Commons on Tuesday. The commonwealth development corporation bill, which will allow the government to lift the cap on aid funds spent through the CDC from £1.5bn to £6bn, was approved by MPs despite criticism of the organisation. The bill allows for increases of up to £12bn without new primary legislation. The vote followed a parliamentary debate that exposed the stark political divisions about the future direction of aid spending. Development minister Rory Stewart said Britain had a “moral obligation” to invest in the CDC, which he described as a proven development model. “CDC investment combines the rigour of the private sector, the focus on markets, the values of the public sector [that] reflect the values of the British public, reflect the British public that cares about poverty,” said Stewart.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Luxembourg will increase its aid to Cabo Verde (Cape Verde) from 49 million euros to 52 million euros over the next five years, in addition to 10 million euros for the Budget Support Group, according to radio and TV company Radiotelevisão Caboverdiana (RTC). RTC said that those figures were announced Tuesday by the Luxembourg business attache in Cabo Verde, Angèle da Cruz, during a courtesy visit to the Minister of Finance of Cabo Verde, Olavo Correia. Angèle da Cruz also announced that the Grand Duchy will unlock the second installment of budget support for 2016, amounting to 1 million euros.

Secretary general of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of countries, Dr Patrick I Gomes, is urging member states to move towards ratifying the World Trade Organization (WTO) 2013 Trade Facilitation Agreement. The Guyanese-born diplomat said that there must be “more concerted actions by ACP member states” to ratify the accord for which the ACP Group, as a critical global force, had exerted its influence in the G90 (Group of Developing Countries) to secure a treaty that reduces cross-border customs regulations and transaction costs.

Tanzania and Burundi risk losing development aid from the European Union for refusing to append their signatures to the trade agreement between the region and the European economic bloc. Dar es Salaam and Bujumbura have declined to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement of the EAC with the EU. Being a single Customs territory, all EAC members need to sign the pact before it is enforced. However, Tanzania argues that signing the trade deal in its current form will have negative implications for its industrialisation strategy. Speaking during the 32nd Conference of African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and the European Union (EU) in Nairobi, Patrick Gomes, the secretary-general of ACP, said that aid to the countries must be tied to trade agreements for the mutual benefit of both economic blocs.

Friday, 06 January 2017

There is still a long way to go but experts meeting here last Thursday expressed optimism that slow but steady progress was being made toward introducing region-wide laws, rules and regulations intended to make Caribbean fish and seafood not only ready for world trade but safe for Caribbean tables. The experts, drawn from fisheries, legal affairs, food health and safety and standards agencies across ten countries in the Caribbean Forum of ACP States (CARIFORUM), ended two days of deliberations on model legislation, protocols and guidelines for health and food safety related to fisheries and aquaculture.

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, signed financing agreements with Kenya, together with Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta. The support provided will focus, amongst others, on supporting smallholder agriculture through access to finance, training or market integration. Commissioner Mimica stated: "These projects, worth a total of €104 million, will have a real and tangible impact for Kenyan small holder farmers and for Kenyan people in general. In some of the dry parts of rural Kenya, farmers risk losing their crops or cattle during periods of drought. The Climate proofed water supply programme and the support to market integration of small holder farmers will help ease such problems."

Germany’s planned ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa has been greeted with both optimism and scepticism, with its supporters hailing it as a cure for Africa’s age old development problems and its critics questioning Germany’s true intentions. The original Marshall Plan was initiated by the Unite States and was meant to jumpstart European economies following the end of World War Two at a cost of $100 billion. The plan, implemented within four years, chaperoned the fastest period of economic growth in European history that saw industrial production jump to 35%. Germany now wants to transfer a similar plan to Africa, with a view to creating a conducive environment and opportunities for the African youth in particular, by making them stay and find meaningful employment at home rather than looking for work in Europe.

One of the main building blocks of EU external relations, the Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP), is set to expire in 2020. Due to EU institutional evolution and changes in the global balance of powers, a renewal 'as is' of the agreement is not an option. There is a need to streamline ACP-EU relations, with new EU strategies in the regions concerned, and to adapt to the ACP countries' new ambitions. The issue of financing is also on the table. Stakeholders have started discussions, focusing on the overlaps with other frameworks and the assets that should be kept or reformed.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

On Thursday 8 December 2016 during his working visit to Brussels, Mr Patrice Talon, President of the Republic of Benin, chaired the signing ceremony between the Republic of Benin and the European Investment Bank (EIB) for a financing agreement for the development and modernisation of the drinking water supply system of the city of Cotonou. The EUR 30m finance contract was signed by Mr Romuald Wadagni, Benin’s Minister for the Economy and Finance, and Mr Ambroise Fayolle, EIB Vice-President. This loan forms part of the EU's priority action to deploy and modernise basic infrastructure that can help improve the daily lives of the local population. This is the EIB's second financing operation in this sector after the one granted (EUR 13m) in 2007 and completed in 2015.