Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

October 2017
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EDITO
Thursday, 19 October 2017

Britain’s departure from the EU will challenge the bloc’s role as the world leading aid donor, and could see EU aid shrink by up to 3%, according to an authoritative new study by the European Parliament. The EU is the world’s largest aid donor, and the UK in absolute terms, is the second biggest, giving some $18.7bn.

Media representatives and members of national bureaus of standards in CARIFORUM member countries participated in a close-out regional press conference on Thursday, March 23, which was geared at highlighting the numerous successes of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barriers of Trade (TBT) Programme. The overall objective of the 10th EDF Programme was to support the beneficial integration of the CARIFORUM states into the world economy, to support regional cooperation and the development efforts of the Caribbean, in an effort to meet the requirements under the current Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union (EU) and CARIFORUM.

Laboratories in Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) member states are now better equipped to diagnose issues related to human, animal and plant health, and food safety, thus increasing their levels of efficacy and efficiency. On Wednesday March 15, 2017, the OECS Commission, through its Agriculture Unit, handed a total of EC$309,416.94 worth of laboratory equipment to agriculture health and food safety (AHFS) testing laboratories and pest risk analysis units of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. The dockets for the equipment were handed to lab managers and supervisors, and ministry of agriculture officials of the beneficiary countries at a ceremony in Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia. The new laboratory equipment was purchased under the 10th EDF Regional Integration and Trade of the OECS Region Project.

The ACP Parliamentary Assembly held its 45th session and first plenary meeting of the year on Wednesday 22 March at the ACP House in Brussels. Hon. Netty Baldeh of the Gambia presided over deliberations, which brought together lawmakers from more than 70 countries to discuss relevant political and development issues, and prepare for the intersessional meetings with members of the European Parliament later this week. The ACP Parliamentary Assembly highlighted the importance of preparations for negotiating future relations with the EU after the current partnership with ACP countries (known as the Cotonou Agreement) comes to an end in 2020, especially engaging the ACP regions in political dialogue.

Mr Louis Michel, former European Union (EU) Development Commissioner and Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister, will arrive in Accra on March 27 for an official visit to Ghana. A statement signed by Mrs Rejoice Esi Asante, the Press, Information and Communication Officer of the Delegation of the European Union to Ghana and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra has indicated. The statement said he is part of a pool of three high level personalities made up of former members of the European Commission designated by the EU to support the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Neven Mimica, by carrying out targeted outreach activities with key EU partners in view of the preparation for the future of EU-ACP relationship. Mr Michel, who is on a West African Regional tour, will arrive from Abidjan on March 27 and depart Accra on March 28 to visit Dakar and Lomé.

Monday, 27 March 2017

The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) and the European Union (EU) have signed the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) agreement worth EUR 24 Million to support regional private sector development. At the 11th EDF launch and signing ceremony, held yesterday at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Barbados, Head of Delegation of the EU to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, the OECS, and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, Amb. Daniela Tramacere highlighted that the EU remained the largest grant aid donor in the world and have set aside a total of 364 million euros for regional development; a substantial increase to the amount of aid provided under the previous regional development fund.

More than 1800 sugarcane and 6000 produce growers and their families will benefit from an EU-funded $30 million cane access road project launched by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday. The EU supported project, implemented by the Pacific Community's (SPC) rural access roads and associated infrastructure (RARAI) will be rolled out at Koronubu in Ba, Malolo in Nadi and Drasa in Lautoka. Residents living in Malolo Sector, Nadi, where work on 29 kilometres of roads began yesterday, had raised concerns about the poor state of the access-way for many years. While launching the project, Mr Bainimarama said the Government had a steadfast commitment to not just sustain the industry but to keep it growing well into the future.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

AFD Group secures €24 million for African Renewable Energy projects, designed to boost private sector investment in on-grid and off-grid renewable energy production in Africa. In order to meet Africa’s constantly increasing energy requirements, support must be provided for mass development of the renewable energy technologies – especially solar energy – that will play such a key role over the coming years, given the recent drop in prices and the emergence of new innovative business models. The EU’s electrification funding initiative, “ElectriFI”, helps to harness and stimulate private sector investment to enhance access to renewable energy. More specifically, it focuses on poorly-served rural populations and regions that suffer from an unreliable electricity service.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The High Representative/Vice President, Federica Mogherini, and Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, concluded an official visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The aim of the visit was to strengthen ties and boost partnership with the African Union on common areas of cooperation. In this respect, they met with the new leader of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat who took up office just two days ago. Remarks following her press point with Moussa Faki Mahamat are available here. The EU announced new financial support for the Horn of Africa region as well as for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

The Brexit question as seen by the small and poor group of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries is far simpler – and potentially far more lethal – than those the more usual Brexit debate engages with. It belongs less to debate on knock-on effects rolling into the future than to questions of physical survival here and now. When a fifth of Fiji exports head for the UK, when a Caribbean island lives off bananas sold to Britain, new spokes in buying and selling can hit the people, and even all of the people, of a small nation. The more so when Britain is not just a large market in itself but a gateway to the European Union for many of the exports from small countries, none more than sugar and bananas.