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Africa Update#5

 Week of 28 June—9 July, 2010

African Union:

Making a call at a joint African Union-Government of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah Centenary Colloquium in Accra on 25 May (AU liberation day), Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade said that African countries have no choice but to go for a union government — as championed by Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, because that is the only way they can develop their respective economies.

A union government, Wade said, would play a decisive role in addressing Africa’s under-development and continuous dependency on the West.

The Senegalese president bemoaned the fragile state of African states and their economies, adding that, a union government would also ensure that Africa has as single voice and at least a seat at the UN Security Council.

Senegal has once again played host to another Pan-African initiative, the Great Green Wall of Africa, by setting up a website about the African Union-inspired 2007 project to build a green belt from the West coast of Africa up to East Africa.

Dubbed the “Great Green Wall of Africa”, the initiative was conceived five years ago by the African Union. The project’s main objective is to develop a tree belt across Africa from Senegal in the West to Djibouti in the East to halt the fast advancing Sahara Desert. The 15km wide and 76,775km wide-long initiative would play a vital role in the fight battle against global warming.Eleven countries, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan, are funding the ambitious project.

The website, available in both English and French, can be found at  http://www.grandemurailleverte.org

ECOWAS:

    The Senegalese-based PANA reports that the ECOWAS Commission President James Victor Gbeho said Saturday that ECOWAS deciding to cooperate with Brazil is “not predicated on emotional or sentimental ties”.

    Speaking at the first-ever ECOWAS-Brazil summit in Sal, Cape Verde, Ambassador Gbeho said cooperation with Brazil was based on 'the shrewd realisation that our markets could be fruitfully accessible to Brazil and our developing economies become the rewarding destination of direct investment by the private sector in Brazil.'

    Furthermore, ECOWAS wanted to acquire technology through Brazilian industrial activities in the region 'and also look to that country for the much-needed capacity building in its youth'.

    Stressing the 'multi-faceted relationship' between West Africa and Brazil, the ECOWAS Commission boss noted: 'It is our region that fertilised, with the blood of its sons and daughters, the soils of the Americas, including Brazil, for economic development in the distant past.

    'It is along our shores that our returnee brothers and sisters of Brazil settled in the 18th century, from present day Sierra Leone to Nigeria, to reintegrate themselves into African Communities and to impart the superior skills that they themselves had acquired from the new world.'

    Gbeho pledged 'our cooperation to strengthen the bonds of friendship that continue to unite our peoples

    ECOWAS celebrated 35 years of its existence with several activities at its headquarters in Abuja.

    Interim ECOWAS President James Victor Gbeho said the observance of ECOWAS’ 35th anniversary provides an “opportunity for reflection on the strides made in the discharge of their mandate of promoting the socio-economic integration in the region.”

    He said that the region had recorded real growth which had declined from 5.6 in 2007 to 4.7 percent in 2008, falling further to 4.4 percent in 2009. He explained that there “was evidence of a rebound, with growth expected to improve to 4.7 per cent in 2010.”

    The former Ghanaian Foreign Minister said “in order to maintain this momentum”, ECOWAS was vigorously pursuing its core programmes convinced that greater regional integration represents the only guarantee for growth and development. One of such programmes, he averred, is the Community Development Programme (CDP) under which, he continued, ECOWAS has adopted, with a new road map for full ECOWAS monetary union by 2020.

    One of the other promising elements of ECOWAS’ regional integration was the launch of the poverty reduction strategy paper “containing a variety of measures to combat pervasive poverty in the region.”

    He noted that part of ECOWAS’ strategy was also focusing on developing a virile private sector that would serve as the engine of growth for the regional economy. To this end, ECOWAS would publish a booklet entitled “ECOWAS Common Investment Market Vision” to provide reference materials on the implementation strategies and guidelines for stakeholders.

    On FDI, Gbeho explained that ECOWAS had made forays into China and India, leading to the hosting of business platforms for regional businessmen to meet their counterparts from these emerging economies. A joint committee was also working towards the harmonization of a regional tariff structure around the five bands approved by Heads of States and Governments, as well as a roadmap, which had also been developed for finalizing the common external tariff.

    The ECOWAS President also revealed that a conference was convened in Abuja in 2009 whose major outcome was the creation of a regional fund for agriculture to be domiciled at the Lome-based ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development.

    Gbeho ensured the establishment and take-off of the Accra-based ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulation Authority (ERERA), and the operationalisation of the ECOWAS Regional Centre for the Promotion of Renewable Energy and Efficiency.

    He reaffirmed ECOWAS’ commitment to the development of the region by its consolidation of the ECOWAS integration process.

EAC:

    {C}·         {C}The budget for the East African Community of financial year 2010/11 has increased by 10 billion shillings, with a major focus on issues of regional integration and economic development.

    One of the legislators of the East African Legislative Assembly, Lydia Wanyoto, said the budget has been geared towards addressing issues of unemployment, especially among the youth, women and other vulnerable groups.

    Another member of EALA, Nusura Tiperu, said the budget would also tackle issues on infrastructure development, which according to them would improve trade among member states and create access to regional markets.

    {C}·         {C}Still on EAC, the Speaker of the Kenya National Assembly, Kenneth Marende has launched the website of its parliament, as well as the East African Legislative Assembly Strategic Plan (2010-2012)

    Attended by, among others, the chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers and minister for East African Cooperation, Dr. Diodorus Kamala, ministers and government officials from other partner states as well as senior officials of the EAC, the speaker noted that EALA has a pivotal role to play in the development of the Community through its legislative, oversight and representation functions as enshrined in the EAC treaty.

    Marende urged EALA to constitute a monitoring and evaluation team to closely superintend the implementation of the Strategic Plan so as to ensure its success.

    Earlier, EALA Speaker Abdirahin Abdi said the launching of both the Strategic Plan and website were yet other landmark achievements gained in the short spell of the 2nd session of the Assembly. The website can be found here: http://41.220.130.18/neweala/, or http://www.eala.org

    {C}{C}  {C}

SADC

    The Southern African Youth Movement (SAYM), the umbrella body for youth organizations in the region, has announced that Botswana would become the focal point for driving the regional youth agenda at the SADC Secretariat.

    President of the youth movement, Mzwakhe Sigudla signed the memorandum of agreement with the Botswana National Youth Council, marking the formalisation of ties between the two organizations. The regional youth body has 14 affiliate countries.

    Pretoria-based Sigudla says the Botswana National Youth Council would become a strategic partner through which the regional youth body can push its agenda at the SADC headquarters.

    Frustrated by SADC’s reluctance to speed up the establishment of a formal youth structure within the regional body, the youth have wondered why SADC was able to accommodate a gender protocol but not a similar one for the youth.

    Given that Botswana’s Minister of Youth has recently been elected to serve as the AU’s youth chairman for the SADC region, there has been a call by the youth body for SADC youth ministers to convene as soon as possible.

    Some of the demands advocated by Sigudla include a SADC youth protocol having two instruments: the SADC Youth Council and the SADC Youth Union becoming the statutory body for youth councils in the SADC region.

Sigudla is keen to see youth processes replicated at the regional level as well to ensure that the youth voice is carried forward. These calls are also driven by the aim to domesticate the African Youth Charter, which calls for the establishment of these instruments.

    Still on SADC, the 14 member states have been urged to prevent an environmental disaster for the region by creating uniform mining codes and legislation to regulate mining and extractive industries.

    Research expert David Van Wyk of Bench Mark Foundation explained that uniform legislation would ensure that countries with weak legislation not be turned to pollution dumps. Van Wyk intimated that South Africa had fallen out of favour with the mining companies because of its advanced and therefore stricter legislation regarding environment, labour and mining rights.

    ENDs


     


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