Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

October 2017
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EDITO
Thursday, 19 October 2017

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.

Günther Nooke, Angela Merkel’s representative to Africa, offered a gloomy prognosis of November’s Africa-EU summit in Abidjan on Tuesday (11 April), saying trade between the continents was “almost irrelevant” and that the African Union required major “institutional reform”. The summit comes against a backdrop of a slew of measures, such as the German Marshall Plan for Africa, the EU’s new Migration Compacts, and Emergency Trust Funds for Africa, the Sustainable Development Goals and the EU’s New Consensus on Development – all seen as kick-starting a fresh dynamic between the world’s poorest continent and Europe.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

GOVERNMENT is currently addressing the dismal performance in services trade to augment its participation in world trade in services. GOVERNMENT is currently addressing the dismal performance in services trade to augment its participation in world trade in services. This has been made possible through the European Union’s (EU) E60 million 11th EDF regional Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Trade Facility programme. Speaking during the launch of the consultations on the development of trade in services strategy for the country, EU Ambassador Nicola Bellomo said the EU recognises the importance of services in the economic growth and development of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) partner states. The launch was held yesterday at Mountain Inn Hotel in Mbabane.

Ensuring young people in rural areas can access financing and earn decent incomes is essential to stem migration to Europe and elsewhere, said Gilbert F. Houngbo, who began his term as the sixth President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) today. IFAD is a specialized United Nations agency and international financial institution, which invests in eradicating rural poverty and hunger in developing countries. Houngbo - who has extensive experience in political affairs, international development and financial management, including a term as Prime Minister of Togo - takes up the helm at a crucial time. Changing government priorities and numerous global emergencies, such as the 20 million people currently facing starvation in the Horn of Africa, threaten to divert funding away from long-term development.