Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

September 2017
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EDITO
Thursday, 21 September 2017

Fiji has had a constructive working relationship with China since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1975. To use the Asian expression, the relationship has been like ‘lips and teeth’ with China providing ongoing support and assistance to Fiji despite its challenging relationship with regional neighbours Australia and New Zealand during the 2007-2013 period. This article looks at Fiji’s economy, its relationship with China and the potential for increased economic activity.

A scientist from the Pacific Community is in Nanning Guangxi, China, this week to present important research on new methods for improving the supply of taro planting material. Improved production methods are important for food security and taro export industries in Pacific Island countries and territories. Ulamila Lutu is currently attending the inaugural World Congress on Root and Tuber Crops, which brings together around 750 key industry stakeholders including farmers, researchers, the private sector and donor agencies. Lutu, a senior Research Technician at SPC’s Center for Pacific Crops and Trees or CePaCT in Fiji, presented the center’s efforts to improve mass propagation of taro planting material using a “bioreactor system,” with Samoa’s taro industry providing a case study.

In the course of 2015, commercial relations between China and Africa contracted by 18.3 percent, reaching only about US$170 billion, according to information provided by the General Administration of Customs (GAC) of China and relayed by the Xinhua news agency. While Chinese exports to Africa increased slightly, with a rise of 3.6 percent, African exports to China have for their part fallen considerably. In 2015, the later amounted to about US$67 billion, representing a decrease of nearly 40 percent from the previous year, said Huang Songping, spokesman of the GAC at a conference press. At the end of August, following a 2 percent devaluation of the yuan, a wave of turbulences shook global markets, leading many analysts to wonder about the significance of such an event in relation to the potential scale of the Chinese slowdown.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Developing countries in the South offer a myriad of development solutions – knowledge, experiences and good practices, innovative policies, technology, know-how, and resources – that have proven cost-effective and have huge potential to be up-scaled for the benefit of others. How these developing countries cooperate and collaborate amongst each other for development goals – what is known as South-South Cooperation (SSC) – will be the focus of a joint symposium to be hosted at the ACP House in Brussels on 11-12 February, under the theme: Integrated Rural Development: Strengthening Women and Youth Empowerment through Jobs and Entrepreneurship.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Tata International, the unlisted trading and distribution arm of Tata Group, is betting big on agriculture business in Africa and planning to set up cleaning and processing units in that continent. The company, which has presence across 12 countries in the Africa continent, is also looking to expand footprint to two more countries. Nearly 18 months ago, the company through a step-down subsidiary – Tata Africa Holdings (Tanzania) Ltd – began sourcing and exporting commodities to countries including India, China, Myanmar and certain European countries. “This will be one of the major growth areas for us in Africa and will bring in additional revenues,” said Ajay Mehra, Executive Director of Tata Africa Holdings (Tanzania), but did not reveal the expected increase in revenues.

A program funded by the African Development Bank (ADB) has enabled a significant modernisation of agriculture and fisheries in São Tomé and Príncipe, the bank said in a document published on its website. The document on four years of implementation of the Recovery Programme of Infrastructure to Support Food Security (PRIASA), 2012-2016, said roads had been rebuilt and irrigation channels built for farmland, along with fish storage centres and various other structures and training sessions for farmers, fishermen and technical personnel.

Representatives of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in Brussels joined in on a stimulating discussion on South-South cooperation, during a special presentation by one of India’s leading experts on the issue, at ACP House on Wednesday 13 January. Director General of the New Delhi-based think-tank, Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), Professor Sachin Chaturvedi presented his new book titled The Logic of Sharing: Indian Approach to South-South Cooperation, in the presence of the ACP Secretary General H.E Dr. Patrick Gomes, the Ambassador of India to the EU H.E Mr. Manjeev Singh Puri, ACP diplomats, representatives of the European Commission and several academics, including Prof. Doris Schroeder (University of Central Lancashire) and Dr. James Mackie (ECDPM).

The Government of Mauritius gifted the Commonwealth of Dominica with €100,000 to help with recovery efforts following the devastation wreaked on the Caribbean island by Tropical Storm Erika in August.The Ambassador of Mauritius in Brussels H.E Haymandoyal Dillum presented the cheque to the Ambassador of the Eastern Caribbean States H.E Dr. Len Ishmael during a special session of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors on 10 December 2015. It was also Ambassador Dillum’s first occasion to address the Committee since his appointment as Ambassador of Mauritius to the European Union.

The Chinese authorities and companies from China are launching new projects in Guinea-Bissau and Cabo Verde (Cape Verde), in areas such as fisheries, tourism and the media, which promise closer relations with the Portuguese-speaking countries of West Africa. The Guinean Prime Minister, Carlos Correia, last week held an audience with the Ambassador of China, Wang Hua, and both discussed a Chinese project to invest over US$300 million, in addition to establishing a free trade zone in the southern Biombo region.

Food security is one of the dominant challenges of our time. In 2015 approximately 800 million of the global population had to endure starvation or malnutrition. The majority of the world's hungry live in Asia (two thirds), but Sub-Saharan Africa is the continent where that number has the highest prevalence - one in four Africans remains undernourished. This problem is intensified by local wars, climate change and weather extremities like "El Nino," which make food prices soar. A main contributor to the problem is inadequate production.