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Weekly Africa Update#12-13

 No.12/13--Week of 22-26 June, 2009; 29 June-3 July, 2009  

ACP Group:

• The Brussels-based African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group has decided to establish an internal coordination and cooperation mechanism for sustainable fishery.

The mechanism will aim to help ACP countries move towards a sustainable management of their resources and effectively tackle challenges facing their fishery industries.

According to officials, the mechanism will include drastic requirements in terms of exports, necessary infrastructure and technical know-how to obtain the most from resources through value-added activities. Fishery ministers of the group expressed their deep concern over the ongoing financial meltdown with respect to the fishery sector, due to the over-capacity of global fleets, the illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing and the drop in global fish stocks.

African Union:

• Chadian MP Moussa Ndele, now the newly-elected President of the Pan-African Parliament, has pledged to make the institution more accountable. “We need to strengthen democracy in Africa and we need to resolve our conflicts and be accountable to the people of the continent,” he said. Ndele also promised to improve the finances of the 45-member-state Pan-African body after financial irregularities were uncovered during the tenure of the immediate-past President Gertrude Mongella, of Tanzania.

• Africa’s chief diplomat, Jean Ping has said that Africa’s elaborate economic and political unity goals will transform into reality within the next four years with the creation of the super-trading bloc linking the entire Sub-Saharan Africa.

Ping explained that transforming the three trading blocs of COMESA/SADC/EAC into a single entity would create a single market of 600 million people and accelerate efforts towards political and economic integration.

Ping’s comments come on the heels of African leaders preparing to meet in Libya, on 1-3 July, to declare the transformation of the African Union Commission into the African Union Authority.

COMESA:

• The 13th COMESA heads of state and government meeting played host to the official launch of the COMESA Customs Union at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe the week of 8 June. Zimbabwe’s President and the new COMESA Chairman, Robert Mugabe, speaking during the launch said the Customs Union would create a conducive environment for trade and investment in the region.

ECOWAS:

• ICT & Telecommunication Ministers of ECOWAS have agreed on the feasibility and environmental assessment study on an ECOWAS Wide Area Network (ECOWAN).

ECOWAN will provide a platform for sharing both intranet and internet services between governments and public sector organizations in the ECOWAS sub-region.

The project will seek to deepen regional integration through the development of a common platform of communication and information-sharing between the ECOWAS institutions and Member States.

ECOWAS will liaise with the West African Telecommunications Authority (WATRA) to convene a meeting with the sub-regional regulatory agencies so as to present the project and agree on modalities for the optimum implementation.

• Ministers of transport and infrastructure in the ECOWAS sub-region have endorsed a comprehensive strategy to develop both sectors in order to improve competitiveness within the sub-regional economy.

Other new initiatives include ensuring the conclusion of some existing projects, one of which is the regional transport facilitation programme. The Ministers charged both ECOWAS and UEMOA commissions to “mobilize supplementary funds necessary for construction and installation of the join border posts equipment.”

The ECOWAS commission is expected to produce a road map for the application of existing texts and set the deadline of 30 July, 2009 for the member states.

• Stemming from an idea that was launched in July 2008, the Committee of ECOWAS Chiefs of Security Services may come into fruition after a meeting held in Dakar, Senegal. This specialized committee ought to have many competencies in the security services sector, including assistance to peace-keeping operations.

Although the terms of reference for the committee members are incomplete, it is clear that the underlying objective of the committee will be to study the report of the ECOWAS Commission on the state of regional security, as well as, formulate recommendations on the basis of decisions made by ECOWAS.

Among its other powers will be the provision of “recommendations on the means of reinforcing cooperation" between the security services at the regional level in order to combat more efficiently the phenomenon of “delinquance transfrontalière” or cross-border harassments.

The committee will comprise of chiefs of police and inspectors-general of member states of ECOWAS. The committee will meet once a quarter and on an ad-hoc basis.

• An EU-Cape Verde Ministerial Troika meeting was held in May in the Belgian capital, with discussions between the two parties over, inter alia, peace and security, reform of the security sector, ECOWAS-AU relations and the international financial crisis.

As regards the latter, the EU took note of the Declaration by the African Union on the international financial crisis, which was adopted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on the February 3, 2009. It further expressed its support for the declaration of G20 leaders on 2 April, 2009. The EU went on to commend the progress in the overall African Peace and Security architecture, including the cooperation between the AU and ECOWAS, adding that their efforts should be supported over the coming months.

Cape Verde will host the headquarters of the West African Institute for Regional Integration, and the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.

• Burkina Faso has been the stage for ECOWAS Chiefs of Defence Staff to review the security situation in West Africa, with a view to ensuring stability in the sub-region.

Specific activities include reviewing the road-map and structure of the Main Brigade of the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF), with the objective of being ready for the African Union (AU) deadline of 2010, for which an exercise involving standby forces of all the regional economic communities (RECS) on the continent are scheduled to be held in the early part of 2010.

Colonel Toure, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, also provided an update on the developments in the sub-region since the Defence Staff last met in March 2009 in Praia, Cape Verde.

East African Community:

• Three EAC countries –Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania – have ratified an agreement to set up the East African Community Civil Aviation Safety and Security Agency. Kenya’s EAC Ministry said in an emailed statement that the nations “now have a forum to discuss and plan common measures required to ensure safety and orderly development of international civil aviation.”

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