AU Commission Chairperson concludes official visit to Belarus

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A bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Belarus, signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, holding talks with the Board Chairman of the Belarus National Bank and delivering a lecture at the University of Belarus. These are highlights of the maiden official visit of the African Union Commission Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to Belarus. The visit took place from 21-24 April 2016.

In her meeting with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus, H.E. Andrei Kobyakov, the AU Commission Chairperson made a case for greater collaboration and cooperation between Africa and Belarus. She recalled the historic relationship that existed during the days of the Soviet Republic, and invited the Government of Belarus to create favourable conditions for Belarusian businesses to invest Africa at national, sub-regional and continental levels.

“We will never forget the support that Africa got during that time,” said Dr. Dlamini-Zuma. “That is why today we are urging the people of Belarus to invest in Africa as it implements its 50-year development plan, Agenda 2063.”

In line with a clear strategic direction, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the AU Commission Chairperson, Dr. Dlamini Zuma and the First Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister of Belarus, Mr. Mikhnevich. Following the signing of the MoU, they agreed to put establish a working group to identify specific project areas of cooperation, based on Africa’s Agenda 2063, the 10-year implementation plan and the 12 flagship projects.

The Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Dr. Elham Ibrahim, who was part of the Chairperson’s delegation, would lead the working group from the Africa side.

Areas that would benefit from immediate cooperation include agriculture and agro-processing, transport, energy, ICT infrastructural and industrialisation projects of continental regional and continental reach.

“Belarus has no oil, no gas, and the weather isn’t always good. But we have the head and the hands that we have used develop expertise in the areas of agriculture and agro-processing, energy generation through wind, sun, wood and nuclear,” the First Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister said.

The same views were shared by the Chairperson’s delegation when they met separately with the Belarus Minister of Industry; the Chairman of the State Committee on Science and Technology; First Deputy Minister of Architecture; and the Chairman of the Board of the National Bank of Belarus.

Dr. Dlamini Zuma highly appreciated the involvement of the Banks at this early stage, given that Financing is often one of the principal challenges raised in international business transactions.

After meetings with Government officials, the AU Commission Chairperson also delivered a lecture at the University of Belarus, focusing on Africa’s Agenda 2063. The lecture was characterized by a lively and interactive discussion between the Chairperson and students.

It was agreed that a MoU would be signed between the Pan African University and the University of Belarus to facilitate, among others, the training of students but also the transfer of technology.

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Leave When Your Time Is Up – Kofi Annan To African Leaders

story

 

Ghana’s illustrious son Kofi Annan has urged African leaders to leave when their tenure is over and to avoid excluding opposing voices during elections since that could spark conflicts on the continent.

The former UN secretary-general said that while unconstitutional changes to government on the continent had reduced, exclusionary politics threatened to reverse the gains made.

“I think Africa has done well, by and large the coups have more or less ended, generals are remaining in their barracks, but we are creating situations which may bring them back,” the Nobel laureate said in an interview at the 5th Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa.

“If a leader doesn’t want to leave office, if a leader stays on for too long, and elections are seen as being gamed to suit a leader and he stays term after term after term, the tendency may be the only way to get him out is through a coup or people taking to the streets.

“Neither approach can be seen as an alternative to democracy, to elections or to parliamentary rule. Constitutions and the rules of the game have to be respected,” the renowned international diplomat added.

According to him, the winner-take-all approaches to elections on the continent had the effect of leaving out citizens for holding an opposing view, raising tensions around elections.

Annan, who chairs the Africa Progress Panel and the Nelson Mandela-founded The Elders grouping, said he had been the first to tell the African Union not to accept coup leaders among their midst [during an OAU heads of state summit in Lusaka in 2001].

Annan also said that solutions to the problems the continent has must come from within. However, the continent must build up its ability to do so, including in financing its institutions.

“We cannot always pass a hat around and insist we want to be sovereign, we want to be independent. We should lead and get others to support us—that support will be much more forthcoming when they see how serious and committed we are.”

Source: Starrfmonline.com

1,000 African Entrepreneurs Join $100M Tony Elumelu Programme

The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) has announced the selection of the second set of 1,000 entrepreneurs for the 2016 cycle of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP).

Launched in 2015, TEEP is the largest African philanthropic initiative devoted to entrepreneurship and represents a 10-year, $100 million commitment, to identify and empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs, create a million jobs and add $10 billion in revenues to Africa’s economy.

Over 45,000 entrepreneurs from 54 African countries applied, nearly doubling the number of applications received in 2015. Successful candidates represent 53 African countries, and diverse industries, led by agriculture and ICT.

The highest numbers of applicants came from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and Cameroon. All five regions – North, East, Southern, Central and West Africa are represented.

Founder, Tony O. Elumelu, CON, commented: “In TEEP’s first year we spent over $8 million of our $100 million commitment – with $5 million going directly to entrepreneurs as seed capital — and the results have far exceeded our expectations. We have funded entrepreneurs, established networks and helped extraordinary people take control of their destinies.

The 2016 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs will become a generation of newly empowered African business owners, who are the clearest evidence yet, that indigenous business growth will drive Africa’s economic and social transformation.”

Over the next nine months, the 2016 cohort will receive the intensive online training, networking and mentoring that provide a tool kit for success and sustainability. They will also participate in the three-day Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum later in the year, the largest annual gathering of African entrepreneurial talent.

Parminder Vir OBE, CEO of The Tony Elumelu Foundation, said: “We saw phenomenal success with the first cycle of TEEP –the success stories of the TEEP 2015alumni are a testament to the transformative power of the programme we have built. Through TEEP, we are proving to the next generation of entrepreneurs that their ideas can change their communities, their countries and their continent.”

For a full list of the selected Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs for TEEP2016, do visit http://www.tonyelumelufoundation.org/teep .

Instructively, the Tony Elumelu Foundation is an Africa-based, African-funded philanthropic organisation. Founded in 2010, TEF is committed to driving African economic growth, by empowering African entrepreneurship.

The Foundation aims to create lasting solutions that contribute positively to Africa’s social and economic transformation. Through impact investments, selective grant making, and policy development, it seeks to influence the operating environment so that entrepreneurship in Africa can flourish. http://www.tonyelumelufoundation.org @tonyelumeluFDN.

While the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme represents a decade- long commitment to supporting African start-ups and entrepreneurs. We are committing $100 million to help launch an initial 10,000 entrepreneurs throughout Africa over the next 10 years, creating 1,000,000 new jobs contributing to $10 billion in revenue across Africa.

Read more at: http://www.modernghana.com

African Innovations Award 2016 call for Applications

Application Deadline: November 30 2015
Are you between the ages of 18 & 40? Do you have a revolutionary idea in Education, Science & Technology, Agricultural/Agribusiness, Healthcare and Energy? How about a solution that can improve the lives of millions of people on the African continent?

On April 9th, 2016, The African Innovations Award (AIA) will host its first –ever African Innovations award gala night during the 2nd Annual TEDxAccra event in Accra, Ghana.

This innovative competition will explore cutting-edge ideas, tools, information and technologies that can help to improve the lives of people on our continent.

Application

The African Innovations Award submission process will run from Tuesday, September 1st , 2015 to Monday November 30th , 2015.

Selection partners will choose 15 innovative ideas, 3 from each category to contest for the award during the 15minutes presentation to our panel of judges at the African Innovations Demonstration Talk during the week of TEDxAccra 2016.

Selection Criteria
The winning innovations are determined based on the products’ uniqueness and their potential contribution to socio-economic development in Africa through increased efficiency and cost savings.

Seven criteria to be considered:

Originality: The uniqueness of the product and its superiority in comparison with similar or alternative products in the market;

Marketability: The extent to which the innovation sufficiently addresses the problem it seeks to solve at a price or model that is accessible to the target market;

Scalability: The extent to which the solution can be easily applied to other similar markets beyond the applicant’s immediate or local environment;
Social impact: The ability of the innovation to create or effect positive or desirable changes within the target community and beyond;

Scientific/Technical aspects: For tangible technical/scientific products; this refers to extent to which the technical specifications of the innovation are grounded on established science and sufficiently address any anticipated product risks.
Gender and disability: How far various innovations went in properly integrating gender and disability perspectives to their projects. This has become a critical part of any futuristic innovation

Sustainable Development: Every innovation will also be assessed on how environmentally friendly their product or service is and how well the whole project supports the course of sustainable development
Prizes

All five winners, in each category will receive $5000 each and other prizes from our sponsors.

1 YEAR DEVELOPMENT ENTREPRENEURIAL MODULE TRAINING FOR ALL THE 15 FINALISTS OF THE AFRICAN INNOVATIONS AWARD.

Be sure to bring your best ideas to the table! And who knows, maybe your next innovative idea will be the next big solution to some of our problems on Africa continent.

To apply, visit http://www.africaninnovationsaward.com or https://goo.gl/OR99nA

Inside Africa: Zimbabwe’s Mugabe booed in parliament over economic crisis

Zimbabwe’s veteran President Robert Mugabe was booed and heckled by opposition lawmakers over the deteriorating economy as he gave his state of the nation address to parliament Tuesday.

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) lawmakers questioned his economic policies, jeering as the 91-year-old delivered a policy speech which lasted less than half an hour.

When Mugabe — who has been in power since Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in 1980 — outlined his government’s plan to improve the economy, one lawmaker yelled at him to admit that “you can’t do much about it”.

Mugabe presented a 10-point plan which included boosting agricultural growth, encouraging private sector investment and fighting graft.

“What about job creation?” one opposition member shouted while another accused Mugabe’s government of “corruption”.

The economy of the southern African nation has been on a downward spiral for more than a decade with slow growth, low liquidity and high unemployment.

The government has cut its growth forecasts for 2015 to 1.5 percent from 3.2 percent mainly due to slow growth in the agricultural sector.

Many companies have closed, downsized or relocated to neighbouring countries.

AFP

GSE makes GH¢4.18m profit

GSE

The Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) has recorded a profit after tax of GH¢4.18 million compared to the GH¢1.04 million it made in 2013.

This, however, included profit from the sale of a subsidiary, which amounted to GH¢1.98 million.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors of GSE, Dr Sam Mensah, announced this at the Annual General Meeting and the launch of the exchange’s silver jubilee anniversary in Accra.

According to Dr Mensah, the GSE Composite Index, which measures the performance of the entire market, made a marginal gain of 5.4 per cent compared to the 78.8 per cent recorded in 2013.

Market performance

The GSE volume of shares traded for 2014 stood at 207 million shares valued at GH¢346 million, compared to the volume and value of 313 million shares with a value of GH¢456 million recorded in 2013.

The market capitalisation for all listed securities at the end of December 2014 was GH¢64.4 billion compared to GH¢61.2 billion for 2013, an increase of 5.2 per cent.

With regard to the domestic market capitalisation, the GSE recorded 18.6 per cent increase at GH¢13.9 billion compared to GH¢11.7 billion recorded at the end of December 2013.

Dr Mensah said in spite of the gains, the harsh economic conditions, which included erratic power supply, decline in prices of main export products and the depreciation of the cedi against the major currencies, impacted negatively on the operations of the exchange.

“The negative impact of the energy crisis and the fall in the cedi had an adverse effect on the 2014 performance of listed companies resulting in supply outstripping demand on the market,” he said.

On what could be done to enhance the capital market, Dr Mensah said the capital market service, including the purchase and sale of shares, should not attract tax under the newly introduced value added tax (VAT) on non-core financial services.

Source : graphic.com.gh

IMF Boss praises Ghana over borrowing capacity

Christian Lagarde

The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Ms Christian Lagarde has expressed hope in the government of Ghana’s ability to meet the IMF conditions. According to her Ghana will continue to deliver and restore the economic stability it had.

Ms Lagarde, who praised the government of Ghana for being sensible about its borrowing capacity, was addressing questions from financial journalist across the world at the IMF online press centre in Washington DC.

Commenting on Ghana’s 2016 general election, which many pundits believe it’s a real test for an IMF-supported program in Ghana, Ms Lagarde acknowledged that election years the world over are always difficult for countries under program because they’re targets, and there are sometimes hard decisions to be made. In the case of Ghana, knowing well that taking such decisions during election years could be difficult, a lot of the fiscal adjustment was frontloaded in 2015. “So many of the hard decisions have already been taken, which should hopefully make 2016 not a neutral year, but a year when the hard decisions are at a lower level” she added.

It could be recall that recently the International Monetary Fund (IMF) team led by Joël Toujas-Bernaté has expressed its satisfaction with the smooth implementation with the IMF Extended Credit Facility by the government of Ghana during its first review of Ghana’s financial and economic program supported by the IMF’s Extended Credit Facility (ECF)1. He said the program is on track, stating that all performance criteria were met except for the ceiling on central bank financing to the government which was technically missed by a small margin.

The IMF team who were in Accra during June 17-30, 2015, also welcomed the commitment reiterated by the authorities to the ambitious fiscal consolidation and structural reforms program, in particular in addressing payroll irregularities, enhancing public finance management and transparency and liberalizing the oil distribution sector.

The team notes, however, that more needs to be done to further enhance tax administration and eliminate tax exemptions to improve the revenue performance over the medium term.

“Economic growth in 2015 is expected to remain broadly as expected (around 3 ½ percent), with low cocoa and gold production but increasing hydrocarbon production. We welcome the authorities’ efforts to address the electricity shortages, which have been weighing on economic activity, by bringing new private financed power plants in the coming months.

The IMF team in a statement further revealed that good revenue performance and containment of the wage bill and other spending as programmed contributed to this positive outcome. It said no new arrears were accumulated in the review period and past arrears were repaid as planned.

“With higher projected oil revenues, the overall cash deficit is expected to be slightly lower than programmed for the year as a whole. Additional revenue above the budget projections will help cover additional spending related to the recent flooding and larger arrears clearance, as additional arrears as of end-2014 were identified in audits of claims from oil importers and reviews of cross debts among utility companies. The success of the program critically hinges on continued spending moderation, in particular the wage bill with stricter control of the payroll being put in place, and renewed efforts to improve revenue collection. Making public the strategy for the 2016 budget and wage negotiations consistent with this framework will go a long way in restoring market confidence and lowering financing costs.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has praised Ghana for been sensible about its borrowing capacity and it’s also optimistic about the government ability to meet the IMF conditions. According to her Ghana will continue to deliver and restore the economic stability it had.

Source: Nana Appiah Acquaye , The Republic