Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

April 2017
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EDITO
Friday, 28 April 2017

The Secretary General of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP), Dr. Patrick I Gomes says while the grouping is supportive of a strong Europe, it has no desire of neglecting its relationship with the United Kingdom following its decision to leave the EU. Speaking at the launch of the book “Brexit – Securing ACP Economic Interests,” in London last week, The Guyanese born diplomat noted that eight months have passed since the British voted in a referendum to leave the European Union. “A lot has since been written and debated on the impact and implications of the vote. This is yet another occasion to join the discourse on BREXIT and to acknowledge and appreciate the work done by the Ramphal Institute by this seminal study,” he said.

The new Czech Republic’s non-resident Ambassador to Solomon Islands, His Excellency Martin Pohl says he is keen to broaden ties with Solomon Islands when he met Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on Tuesday 21st February. At a brief courtesy meeting with the Prime Minister, Ambassador Pohl said he is prepared to explore areas that the two countries can cooperate on to enhance the deepen the existing relations. Ambassador Pohl singled out cooperation in education and health as immediate priority areas that the two Governments’ can further explore in the current relations. “My government is ready to take on what is necessary to ensure our cooperation is deepened,” he said.

Some senior ministers reportedly want to divert aid from “wasteful” projects in Africa and Asia to allies in eastern Europe in a bid to get a better Brexit deal. Downing Street officials and senior cabinet ministers believe part of the Government’s £12bn aid budget should be used to win support for a favourable deal from Brussels. According to The Sunday Times, the proposed plan would see aid money being diverted from projects described as “questionable” in developing countries in Asia and Africa to Poland, Hungary and the Baltic states, which so far have been allies of the UK. The manoeuvre is reportedly designed to persuade eastern European countries to back the demands of the UK, when negotiating its exit from the EU.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders met on Tuesday 21 February with his new Ethiopian colleague Workeneh Gebeyehu. The ministers discussed the bilateral relations between the two countries, that are particularly intense in the fields of commerce, tourism, university and multilateral cooperation. After the recent incidents in Ethiopia, the importance of peace and political dialogue was reiterated, in particular with a view to ensuring the stability of investments. The two Ministers also talked about the regional situation in the Horn of Africa and in Central Africa.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Finland Ambassador to Ethiopia Helena Airaksinen said that Ethiopia has made good progress in terms of economic development."Finland is also keen on expanding economic cooperation with Ethiopia." In an exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald, Amb. Helena Airaksinen said Finland and Ethiopia have been working together in rural economic development particularly in Amhara state focusing on inland administration, agricultural value chain production improvement programs and the like. According to her, the rural economic development programs are aimed at improving rural farmers' productivity and income.

Time to breathe new life into the WTO process. Agriculture plays a critical role in climate change – it is both a cause and a victim of it. And it plays a key role in the implementation of most of the SDGs. "We must get the sustainable development goals right, but we must also get trade in agriculture right, and we look to the EU to lead the way here", says the EESC. The EU is well positioned positively to lead this process. It is the largest exporter and importer of agricultural products, it has a proven interest in trade and sustainable development and it has the credibility to play an effective bridging role between developed and developing countries.

20 Agronomists have been certified by GhanaVeg through Wageningen University & Research for successfully graduating from the first GhanaVeg Agronomy Training of Trainers. The Graduation ceremony took place at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel on February 16, during the GhanaVeg Business Platform Meeting. Certificates were handed out to the graduates by the Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. Mr. Ron Strikker. The training assists the agronomists to train a at least 2.000 farmers in their localities; increasing their yields and incomes. The GhanaVeg Agronomy training has been designed to improve farmer productivity and post-harvest management. The 1-year in-depth Training Course focused on 6 key areas: seedling production, crop protection, spray techniques, irrigation and fertilization, production planning and adult learning.

Guyana says it will sign the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) under the European Union Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (EU/FLEGT) initiative, which Georgetown adopted in 2003. The VPA will result in Guyana having access to more lucrative markets in the European Union (EU) for its timber products. It will also see improved governance at all levels, more revenues, capacity building, international recognition and reform policies and laws where needed. Commissioner of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), James Singh, said upon the completion of the agreement between Guyana and the EU, the VPA will be used as a legal binding agreement. “I am happy to report that before the course of this year, before June we will be able to sign the initial agreement.

The Africa Fiscal Forum encouraged peer learning and South-South sharing of experience and was an excellent opportunity for dialogue with partners of EU budget support. The 5th Africa Fiscal Forum took place in Yaoundé, Cameroon, on 7-8 February, organised by the Government of Cameroon, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission. It brought together senior officials from Ministries of Finance of more than 30 countries in Sub-Sahara Africa. Officials from DG TAXUD and DEVCO participated in the event and the EU Ambassador to Cameroon gave an opening speech. Under the heading of "Fiscal Policy under Stress" participants discussed issues related to adjustment to large falls in commodity prices, finding the right balance between spending to close the infrastructure gap and fiscal consolidation to avoid new debt crisis, mobilising more domestic resources and strengthening public investment management.

Kenyan farmers adopt conservation agriculture to double Kenya’s canola oil production in 2017. Unilever East Africa, Agventure Ltd. and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation have [on 22 February 2017] signed a Memorandum of Understanding formalising a venture that aims to double canola oil production in Kenya by the end of 2017 via contract farming arrangements. Ambassador Frans Makken of the Kingdom of the Netherlands was present during the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement. The Dutch Embassy is funding SNV’s five year HortIMPACT programme and considers the agreement an excellent example of the combination trade and development cooperation which forms the core of Dutch development cooperation policy.