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Weekly Africa Update#14-15

 Week of 14-18 September, 2009

African Union:

    ·         Speaking during a special session of the Africa Partnership Forum (APF) on Africa and climate change at the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Prime Minister Zenawi says the move for the Africa Union to field a single negotiating team to represent the 53-member AU will ensure that the continent's immediate concerns and expectations on climate change are adequately addressed.

The objective of the special session is to build a coalition around Africa's immediate concerns and expectations on climate change in order to ensure that they are adequately addressed in a new climate change agreement.

    The new climate change agreement is expected to be reached at the 15th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark, from 7th to 18th December, 2009.

    AU Liberation Day (25 May) next year will set the stage for the celebration of Ghana’s first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. The Pan-African body has decided that this day will mark the climax of centenary birthday celebrations of Ghana’s first president, who is inextricably linked to the formation of the erstwhile Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union.

    ·         Botswana’s capital city Gabarone will play host to a three-day democracy conference, hosted by the Parliament of Botswana and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). Participants from international organisations such as the African Union (AU), Pan-African Parliament (PAP), Southern Africa Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are expected to attend the conference.


·         Mr. Femi Falana--Counsel for the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in Nigeria – has brought a suit against Nigeria and six international oil firms operating in the country. The Nigerian government will have to defend itself against oil-related pollution and environmental damages, human rights violation and hardship brought upon the people and communities of the Niger Delta. The defendants will be heard in the ECOWAS Community Court sitting in Abuja.

According to SERAP, the people of Niger Delta are entitled to the internationally-recognized human right, an adequate standard of living including adequate access to food, health care and clean water. For these failures, the organization is demanding that $1billion and other forms of reparation be paid the people and communities of the Niger Delta. The West African regional court is expected to ask the Nigerian government to carry out a transparent and effective investigation into the activities of oil companies operating in the Niger Delta and to bring to justice those suspected to be involved.

·         In November ECOWAS will organize an international cycling tour across the region in order to promote free movement of citizens, the director of the ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre, Simon Taro, has announced. ECOWAS is organising the event in partnership with the host countries to promote sports and to speak out against challenges facing the Community.

“The race will be in stages, covering a total distance of 324-km from Nigeria to Ghana. Each team has a minimum of four and a maximum of six riders, together with one coach, one national cycling federation representative, one doctor, one mechanic and one head of mission,” said the ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre sports director, Djibril Badji.

A tourism consultant has also bemoaned the low levels of tourism in West African region, which accounts for a paltry 10 per cent, as opposed to South and North Africa at 35 per cent each. He explained that this tour would help facilitate both tourism and free movement.

·         In readiness for the African Union deadline of 2010 for which an exercise involving the standby forces of all the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) on the continent has been scheduled to take place, Chiefs of Defence Staff of ECOWAS have undertaken to review the security situation in West Africa and further seek means of ensuring stability in the region  with a series of meetings, including the 25th quarterly meeting in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso to review the security situation in the sub-region.

East African Community:

    The theme of regional integration will take center-stage at the end of this year when media houses and scribes are set to be awarded by the East African Community for their extensive coverage of the topic.  The EAC Principal Information and Public Affairs Officer, Owora Richard Othieno, believes it a good way of raising awareness by media practitioners in the region.

Awards will be presented at the EAC Heads of State Summit scheduled for November. It will coincide with the 10th anniversary celebration of the signing of the treaty that established the regional bloc.

    Kenya’s Ministry of Trade has come up with a new strategy to reflect recent changes in the trade policy of the government in line with the ambitious target outlined in the Kenya Vision 2030. Kenya Vision 2030 envisages the trade sector implement reforms and development projects to boost the capacity of entrepreneurs who will produce quality goods and cover bigger markets. It further envisions significant improvements in the trade regime to attract investment. The plan will include a monitoring and evaluation system, as well as diverse approaches to development.

    In a move that will help defuse tension between newer members of the EAC bloc (Rwanda and Burundi) that the original three (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) get most of the institutions hosted in their country, Rwanda, which joined the bloc in July 2007, may win the bid to host the EAC ICT Commission.

Tanzania has the biggest number of EAC institutions including the EAC secretariat, the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and the East African Court of Justice.

Kenya is home to the Lake Victoria Basin Commission, while Uganda hosts the Inter University Council of East Africa.

It was disclosed at the meeting of the EAC Council of Ministers that concluded in Arusha, Tanzania, early September that officials had agreed on a further comprehensive analysis on the issue of equitable distribution of benefits.

South African Development Community:

·         The 29th SADC Summit was held in Kinshasa, Congo DR from September 7–8, 2009. On the agenda was SADC’s review of allocation of ministerial positions in Zimbabwe’s inclusive government, the resolution of a dispute between ZANU-PF and MDC over “outstanding issues, closure to the Madagascar power vacuum (including the way forward for the country). Finally, the meeting is likely to discuss the submission of Malawi and Lesotho’s candidacy for the Chair of the African Union in January 2010 when Libyan leader Qaddafi’s term expires.

·         One of the key outcomes of the SADC Summit chaired by the new SADC president, DRC’s President Joseph Kabila, was the launching of a regional campaign against climate change in Kinshasa. Kabila has voiced support for the fight climate change, pointing out that the people living within the SADC region are suffering the effects of climate change, in the form of droughts, floods, drastic fall in water levels and attendant impact on agricultural production and food security.

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