Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

April 2017
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Friday, 28 April 2017

A deeper UK engagement with African trade is sensible and beneficial, however, negotiators will need to wake up to complexities of hashing out any deals on the continent. When The Times reported that some Whitehall officials had been using the term ‘Empire 2.0’ to describe post-Brexit UK’s campaign to cosy up to its former colonies, there was a significant backlash among some members of the 52-state Commonwealth. Yet despite the unofficial branding, the official line is one of reciprocal trade deals and closer foreign policy – both of which will be welcome to the UK and its allies.

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.

During an official visit to Haiti after the appointment of a new Government, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica announced a new EU aid package. The first of which is a special allocation of €18.5 million (€14.5 million in exceptional budget support and €4 million for an agricultural project) in response to Hurricane Matthew which hit the island in October 2016 and caused widespread damage to housing, agriculture, and infrastructure. The EU had also provided initial emergency relief last year when the hurricane struck the country. Commissioner Mimica said: "Through our new support we clearly show the solidarity of the European Union towards Haiti. We remain committed to supporting the Haitian population and the reconstruction and stabilisation of the country."

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

New figures confirm that the European Union and its member states have consolidated their place as the world’s leading aid donor in 2016. But NGOs and MEPs say the picture is distorted and the aid figures are inflated. Preliminary OECD figures show that Official Development Assistance (ODA) provided by the EU and its member states has reached €75.5 billion in 2016. This constitutes an 11% increase compared to 2015 levels. Highest level to date The EU’s assistance has increased for the fourth year in a row and reached its highest level to date, the Commission said in a press release yesterday (11 April). In 2016, EU collective ODA represented 0.51% of EU Gross National Income (GNI), having increased from 0.47% in 2015.

The European Commission has announced humanitarian assistance of €47 million to help people in need in the Great Lakes and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean regions, who continue to face the consequences of years of conflict and displacement, as well as widespread food insecurity and natural disasters. Of the €47 million announced, €32 will go to populations in the Great Lakes region – including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania, while €15 million will go to the Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region, including Madagascar, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The European Union has announced its support for the local production of fortified complementary food in Chad. The joint 3-year project (2016-2019) will be implemented by several United Nations agencies (FAO, WHO, WFP, UNICEF) in partnership with the Chad Government. Through an integrated, innovative approach, the project aims to improve access, availability and use of highly nutritious complementary food for children under five. Malnutrition is a major obstacle to country’s development.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

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.

Could the coming century belong to Africa instead of Asia? The idea of “Africa Rising” has taken off in recent years based on Africa’s fast-growing economies, young population, natural resource wealth, and expanding consumer class. Despite these advantages, Africa must grapple with a number of problems that could hinder its economic, political, and social progress. Its population is projected to double to 2.4 billion people by 2050, and could double again by 2100. Africa has the fastest urban population growth rate in the world, but its cities lack the basic infrastructure to adequately manage influxes of people. Security concerns, such as the threat of terrorism, also present significant risks to both northern and sub-Saharan Africa. In an increasingly interconnected world, these problems will not remain Africa’s alone.

Germany wants to use its G20 presidency to mobilize more assistance for Africa. But it has yet to work out a strategy which has been properly coordinated between government ministries and time is running out. Germany's development minister Gerd Müller (above, right) is a man with a mission he is impatient to fulfill. He recently attended the Berlin African Economic Forum, a conference convened by the German-African Business Association (Afrika-Verein der deutschen Wirtschaft) and the Westerwelle Foundation, which is named after the late German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle.

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