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Weekly Africa Update#10/11

 No.10/11--Week of 8-12 June, 2009; 15-19 June, 2009  

African Union:

The government of Chad, in an unprecedented move, joined forces with the AU to create the first-ever African museum for peace, human rights and non-violence. An AU delegation in the country will also work with the authorities to organize the African Youth Day and create a centre to build capacity of young people, including a sports centre and a journalism training centre.

Still with the African Union, with parts of Africa having marked African Liberation Day (ALD) on 25 May, which celebrates the establishment of the erstwhile Organisation of African Union in May 1963, Angola has set a precedent by being the first country to officially host the commemorative act of ALD outside the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa. AU Chief Jean Ping stressed that Angola’s initiative “opens a new page in the history of the organization.”

CEMAC:

A watchdog to monitor the financial crisis has been established in the CEMAC region. Comprising representatives of the Economic Union of Central Africa (UEAC), the CEMAC committee, BEAC, Central African States Development Bank and the Commission of COBAC (Central African Banking Commission), the objective of the watchdog is to serve as a tool to forestall and assess losses in affected sectors with a view to helping countries in the region to seek international support and measures to reduce the negative impacts of the crisis.

CEN-SAD:

• The 18th session of the Executive Council of the 28-member Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), which took place the week of 25 May discussed concerns at the economic and social levels of the community – namely the circulation of people and goods, rural development and natural resources management.

• Liberia has been designated as conference venue for the 2011 edition of the Ordinary Session of the Leaders and Heads of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD).

COMESA:

• The 19-member Comesa is expected to announce the launch of its customs union at a Victoria Falls summit this June. It would see a common external tariff implemented on about 30 per cent of all goods produced in the region, while common tariffs on the remaining 70 per cent of goods will either be phased in over an ambitious two to three year period under a tariff alignment schedule. Conversely, they would be classified as sensitive products, either to prevent loss of revenue income or to protect infant industries. The summit will also see Comesa launch a regional payment and settlement system, designed to service the entire region and to speed up transaction clearance and reduce the cost of doing business in Africa.

ECOWAS:

• ECOWAS celebrated 34 years of its existence on 28 May. The celebrations brought in its wake many developments, including its Council of Ministers that took place in Abuja around the same time. It was a multi-packed agenda, which included, as outcome, member states’ deciding to impose sanctions on ECOWAS member states that default on the implementation of the Community’s Decisions and Protocols, especially with regard to Free Movement and Persons.

Also on the agenda was a discussion of the effects of the global financial crisis on ECOWAS states; the review of the status of the negotiation on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs); the endorsement by member states to restructure the department of primary health in the Burkina Faso-based regional health institution West African Health Organisation(WAHO) into the Departments of Healthcare; a proposal for the modification of the regional Common External Tariff (CET) to a five-band structure. Also up for discussion was the approval of a draft directive for the harmonization of the legislations in member states on VAT and Excise Duties, and the endorsement of ECOWAS member states of the ECOWAS Labour Policy and Plan of Action proposed by regional ministers.

• ECOWAS, Nigeria has agreed to review the state of preparedness of the member states in meeting the convergence criteria, as well as, harmonize the West Africa Monetary Zone (WAMZ) member-states agenda with that of ECOWAS. The proposed ECO, or single currency for the sub-region, is likely to take off in 2020. This is according to what PANA calls “a comprehensive strategy”. It will be launched in the same year with the establishment of the ECOWAS Central Bank.

• ECOWAS, in an attempt to combat what Nigeria calls “twin evil of drug and human trafficking”, the country has proposed the establishment of the ECOWAS Drug Control and Crime Prevention Division. This is not a new idea, having been decided at a ministerial conference in illicit drug trafficking in Cape Verde in October 2008.  

• The Director-General Dr. Abdullahi Shehu of ECOWAS’ anti-money laundering agency—GIABA, or the intergovernmental action group against money laundering and terrorist financing in West Africa—has disclosed to journalists at the “Youth Open House” event in Lagos that within the next two years, the agency would establish tracking machines in the financial system to monitor activities of banks in Nigeria.

• Shehu further added that an information centre would be set up in Lagos to provide relevant information and other research materials for the general public on money laundering terrorist financing.

East African Community:

• Following consultations with trade activists, Ugandan private sector and government officials, MPs of that country have recommended the suspension of trade talks between the EAC and the EU that would open up the Community’s markets in so-called framework agreements this July. They have predicated this decision on the belief that it would be detrimental to the region’s industrial growth.



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