Soitec Develops the First CPV Training Program in South Africa to Stimulate Employment of Local Population in Growing Solar-Energy Industry
TOUWSRIVIER, South Africa June 18, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Soitec (http://www.soitec.com), a world leader in generating and manufacturing revolutionary semiconductor materials for the electronics and energy industries, announced that the first students in its concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) technology training program have successfully completed the initial part of the curriculum. This CPV training program is the first one implemented in South Africa. Thanks to this initiative, students from the local community can acquire skills needed to work in the country's growing solar industry.
Photo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=530 (Soitec CPV Solar Pilot Plant in Aquila, South Africa)
The CPV training program was created by an agreement signed in 2011 by Soitec, the University of Cape Town and Northlink College, a nationally registered Further Education & Training Institution with a head office in Bellville.
As one of the successful companies selected by the South African Ministry of Energy at the end of its first Independent Power Producers (IPP) bid, Soitec is building a 44-MWp utility-scale CPV power plant in Touwsrivier, near the Aquila Private Game Reserve (Western Cape). Along with other projects currently under development in South Africa through the IPP program, Soitec's project is creating a new workforce demand at the local level.
“With this CPV training program, our aim is to prepare applicants from the local community for employment during the construction, operation and maintenance phases of our Touwsrivier power plant,” explained Gaetan Borgers, executive vice president of Soitec Solar Division. “This training program is intended to open new career paths for South Africans as, according to the IPP program, 1,450 MW of photovoltaic power should be in operation by 2016.”
Funded by Soitec Solar RSA and DEG, a German investment and development corporation that finances private-sector investments in developing countries, the CPV training program is taking place at a facility within the town of Touwsrivier. It includes a basic course covering electricity, photovoltaics, power plants and CPV basics, facilitated by Northlink College lecturers from the Belhar Campus, followed by a more advanced and specialized course on electricity and mechanics.
“Out of 300 applicants, 18 students started the basic course at the beginning of January, after having passed the entry tests. All graduated in May and are now starting the second part of the CPV training program. We are proud of this success, as this program is a concrete example of our local commitment in South Africa. We are convinced the development of CPV in this country can contribute to more sustainable development, protecting the environment while creating new job opportunities,” concluded Gaetan Borgers.
Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of Soitec.
About Soitec's CPV technology
Soitec's CPV technology uses triple-junction cells mounted on a glass plate. Fresnel lenses, manufactured using silicone on glass, concentrate sunlight 500 times before it reaches the cells, which convert it into electricity. A metal frame holds two glass plates to form highly robust, durable and resilient modules. By combining several modules on biaxial trackers, which use a proprietary algorithm to automatically optimize their position based on the path of the sun, Soitec's technology maximizes energy generation throughout the day.
With yields of 30 percent from its CPV modules, Soitec achieves at least twice the performance of conventional photovoltaic technologies. Combined with low installation and maintenance costs, this industry-leading efficiency is making CPV technology the most cost-effective solution for high-volume power generation in regions with high direct normal irradiation (DNI).
Soitec (http://www.soitec.com) is an international manufacturing company, a world leader in generating and manufacturing revolutionary semiconductor materials at the frontier of the most exciting energy and electronic challenges. Soitec's products include substrates for microelectronics (most notably SOI: Silicon-on-Insulator) and concentrator photovoltaic systems (CPV). The company's core technologies are Smart Cut™, Smart Stacking™ and Concentrix™, as well as expertise in epitaxy. Applications include consumer and mobile electronics, microelectronics-driven IT, telecommunications, automotive electronics, lighting products and large-scale solar power plants. Soitec has manufacturing plants and R&D centers in France, Singapore, Germany and the United States. For more information, visit: http://www.soitec.com.
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IMF Executive Board Concludes 2013 Article IV Consultation with Ghana
ACCRA, Ghana, June 18, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- On June 12, 2013, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation with Ghana.1
Economic growth continued at a robust pace of 8 percent in 2012 amid rising fiscal and external imbalances. Fiscal pressures came to the fore in a mounting public sector wage bill and costly energy subsidies that pushed the deficit close to 12 percent of GDP. The fiscal expansion led to a significant deterioration in the public debt ratio and contributed to a widening deficit in the external current account, with the latter also reflecting sizeable foreign direct investment (FDI).
The policy mix deteriorated in the course of 2012. While fiscal policy became increasingly expansionary, the Bank of Ghana tightened monetary policy in the second quarter of the year to arrest a rapid depreciation of the cedi. The currency subsequently stabilized, with recent depreciations in line with inflation differentials, but at the cost of high real interest rates. Consumer price inflation stayed in the single digits in 2012, helped in part by low food and repressed domestic fuel prices. With rising core inflation (excluding food and energy) and recent increases in fuel prices, inflation has moved back above 10 percent.
The growth momentum continues into 2013, with increased oil production projected to keep overall GDP growth close to 8 percent. Non-oil growth is likely to decelerate, however, as a result of energy disruptions and high real interest rates. Survey-based inflation expectations remain elevated at above 10 percent. The current account deficit is projected to stay high at 12 percent of GDP, despite a moderation in import growth, reflecting a weaker outlook for cocoa and gold exports. Staff projects a small reduction in the fiscal deficit to 10 percent of GDP this year, about 1 percent of GDP higher than the authorities' budget projections, mainly reflecting higher cost of energy subsidies.
While Ghana benefits from strong democratic institutions and favorable prospects for oil and gas, a reduction in macroeconomic imbalances over the medium-term is contingent on strengthened policies. Non-oil growth is projected to stabilize at a still robust level of 5–6 percent, and inflation should gradually decline as policies are rebalanced. A planned reduction in the fiscal deficit to about 6 percent of GDP is feasible by 2015, if measures are implemented as envisaged. This, together with increased oil and gas production from new fields, would reduce the current account deficit to about 7½ percent of GDP by 2018, financed in large part by strong FDI.
Executive Board Assessment
Executive Directors commended the great strides Ghana has made in reducing poverty and reaching lower middle income status. With favorable prospects for oil and gas production and a supportive business environment, Directors saw strong potential for sustained and inclusive growth, provided current macroeconomic vulnerabilities are addressed decisively.
Directors were concerned about the reemergence of a large fiscal deficit in 2012, widening external imbalances, and rising domestic debt, which expose the economy to risks from weaker terms of trade or reduced capital inflows. In addition, high domestic interest rates, due to excessive government borrowing, could curtail Ghana's growth momentum.
Directors underscored the need for decisive action to rebuild fiscal and external buffers and reduce public debt, and in particular, stressed the importance of regaining control over the public wage bill. They welcomed the decision to remove fuel subsidies and called for similar action to adjust electricity prices, as a crucial step to tackle Ghana's energy supply problems. Improving revenue mobilization, including implementation of envisaged tax policy measures, is also a priority. The mid-term policy review would be an opportunity to identify additional measures to secure the fiscal targets.
Directors saw a need for more ambitious fiscal consolidation over the medium term to ensure sustainable debt dynamics, allow the buildup of official reserves, and lower the current account deficit. Realigning public spending from subsidies and wages to investment would also support future growth. Given the growing reliance on nonconcessional financing, Directors welcomed the authorities' efforts to strengthen debt management and investment planning.
Directors supported the maintenance of a tight monetary stance until inflationary pressures subside and fiscal consolidation is firmly established. They recommended containing monetary financing of the fiscal deficit, and saw scope for further improvements in the inflation targeting framework to enhance the effectiveness of monetary policy. This could involve improved forecasting, enhanced communication to the public, and rolling one to two year inflation targets, to better anchor expectations.
Directors noted that the banking system has grown rapidly and is competitive. They recommended higher minimum capital buffers to contain vulnerabilities, including the risk of increasing nonperforming loans. Directors encouraged the authorities to follow through on the 2011 FSAP recommendations by further upgrading financial sector legislation and supervision, and deepening cooperation with regional counterparts. They also stressed the need to address the issues pertaining to the remaining weak banks, and advised the Bank of Ghana to divest its financial stake in the banking sector.
Ghana: Selected Economic and Financial Indicators, 2010-131
2010 2011 2012 2013
Act. Act. Est. Proj.
(Annual percent change ; unless otherwise specified)
National account and prices
GDP at constant prices 1
8.0 15.0 7.9 7.9
Real GDP (nonoil)
6.5 9.4 7.8 5.9
Real GDP per capita
5.3 12.1 5.2 5.2
16.5 13.0 13.3 13.7
Consumer price index (annual average)
107 8.7 9.2 10.3
Consumer price index (end of period)
8.6 8.6 8.8 10.8
Money and credit
Net domestic assets2
27.1 28.7 51.9 44.8
Credit to the private sector2
25.7 29.0 32.9 38.4
Broad money (M3, including foreign currency deposits)
34.6 32.2 24.3 27.8
Velocity (GDP/M2, end of period)
3.3 3.1 3.0 2.9
45.0 31.1 36.0 24.0
Banks' lending rate (weighted average; percent)
… 25.9 25.7 …
Policy rate (in percent, end of period)
13.5 12.5 15.0 …
(Percent of GDP)
Current account balance
(including official grants)
-8.6 -9.1 -12.2 -11.9
(excluding official grants)
-9.2 -9.7 -12.8 -12.4
Foreign direct investment (net)
7.9 8.3 8.1 7.3
External public debt (including IMF)
20.0 21.0 21.9 22.5
NPV of external debt outstanding
8.4 11.5 10.8 9.4
percent of exports of goods and services
28.6 30.6 26.0 26.9
Gross international reserves (mn. of US$)
4,680 5,383 5,349 4,927
Months of prospective Imp. of goods services
2.9 2.9 2.8 2.5
Total donor support (millions of US$)
1,595 1,597 1,272 1,869
percent of GDP
3.5 2.7 3.1 4.1
Central government budget
14.5 17.3 17.7 19.1
2.4 2.0 1.6 1.4
22.8 20.7 27.7 28.0
Arrears clearance and VAT refunds
1.1 2.1 0.1 0.9
Overall balance (financing basis)
-7.2 -4.0 -11.8 -10.0
Net domestic financing
4.7 3.3 9.3 7.1
Central government debt (gross)
46.4 43.7 50.2 51.4
26.3 22.8 28.3 29.0
20.1 21.0 21.9 22.5
Central government debt (net)
43.2 39.9 48.0 49.5
Nominal GDP (millions of GHc)
46,043 59,816 73,109 89,689
GDP per capita (millions of U.S. dollars)
1,358 1,594 1,622 1,786
Sources: Ghanaian authorities; and IMF staff estimates and projections.
1 Based on new national accounts rebased to 2006.
2 Percent of broad money (including foreign currency deposits) at the beginning of the period.
1 Under Article IV of the IMF's Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with members, usually every year. A staff team visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country's economic developments and policies. On return to headquarters, the staff prepares a report, which forms the basis for discussion by the Executive Board. At the conclusion of the discussion, the Managing Director, as Chairman of the Board, summarizes the views of Executive Directors, and this summary is transmitted to the country's authorities. An explanation of any qualifiers used in summings up can be found here: http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/misc/qualifiers.htm.
Donors pledge new support for Lake Victoria basin projects
KAMPALA, Uganda, June 18, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Regional and International Development Partners have pledged new support to fund the implementation of projects and programmes for the Lake Victoria Basin. The commitment was made during the two-day 3rd Lake Victoria Basin Donors' Conference, hosted by the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) at Protrea Hotel in Entebbe, Uganda.
The Conference was meant to strengthen relationships and solidify plans with development partners in the implementation of the Lake Victoria Basin Commission's Strategic Plan (2011-2016. It was co-sponsored by the government of Sweden, the government of Finland and the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA).
The Conference was attended by representatives of various international Development Partners, including the African Development Bank, the Embassy of Japan, the Embassy of Belgium, NORAD, USAID, IFAD, UNEP, PACKARD Foundation, the World Meteorological Organisation, the International Finance Corporation, the French Development Agency, DfID, FAO, European Union, and SNV.
In his statement during the opening of the Conference, the Vice President of the Republic of Uganda, His Excellency Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, expressed concern about the degradation of the natural vegetation in the Lake Victoria Basin region as well as the rising population density putting pressure on the Basin. ”All these issues have social and economic implication for our people and nations,” he said.
The Minister of Water and Environment of the Republic of Uganda and Chairperson of the Sectoral Council of Ministers for Lake Victoria Basin, Hon. Ephraim Kamuntu, thanked development partners for supporting all the projects and programmes coordinated by LVBC and added that the Lake Victoria Basin was still in need of more similar initiatives to allow for sustainable eradication of poverty.
“My appeal, therefore, goes to the Development Partners that have already invested in the ongoing initiatives as well as those who wish to partner with the East African Community states in their struggle of lifting the forty million people of the Lake Victoria Basin out of poverty, to give consideration to the 22 Project Concept Notes presented before you today. It is through such concepts that the Partner States of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda will be able to jointly address the key challenges of the Basin,” Hon. Kamuntu said.
LVBC presented, for consideration, 22 project project concept notes in three thematic areas: environmental stewardship and natural resource management; economic and infrastructure development; as well as improvement of health status and promotion of access to water and sanitation. During discussions with Development Partners, LVBC received new promises of specific support based on the project concept notes. The issue of institutional strengthening and capacity building for the LBC was considered as a cross-cutting issue across the three technical themes. Swedish government officials articulated the importance of supporting LVBC build it's capacity and generally strengthen the institution.
The Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA); a co-sponsor of the conference – is a membership organisation of G8 members. ICA is dedicated to mobilising resources for infrastructure projects in Africa– and was represented in Entebbe by several professionals, including their Water Platform Specialist and Coordinator, Mr. Mohamed Hassan. In his remarks at the end of the conference, ICA Coordinator, Mohamed Hassan said, ”… We at the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa are happy to have started you on this journey … we [all] came here because of the need to mobilise resources … we have been successful in this endeavor … we encourage you to keep up the momentum … and to follow-up with the new professional friends and colleagues you have made here. These relationships are valuable … like the Lake Victoria Basin itself, these relationships have tremendous potential …”
While closing the Conference, the Governor of Kisumu County, Republic of Kenya, His Excellency Jakton Ranguma, hailed LVBC for putting forward “overwhelming evidence” of the need for new support to bridge the gaps identified by the East African Community Partner States.
Communique of the 380th PSC meeting on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR)
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, June 18, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Peace and Security of the African Union (AU), at its 380th meeting, held on 17 June 2013, adopted the following decision on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR):
1. Takes note of the Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the situation in the CAR [PSC/PR/2. (CCCLXXX)] and the briefing by the Commissioner for Peace and Security, as well as of the statements made by the representatives of Chad, in its capacity as the Chair of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), South Africa, Rwanda, Togo, France, the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU);
2. Recalls Declaration Assembly/AU/Decl.1 (XXI) on the Report of the Peace and Security Council on its Activities and the State of Peace and Security in Africa adopted by the 21th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government, held in Addis Ababa, from 26 to 27 May 2013, in particular, paragraph 10 which "endorses the decisions of the Peace and Security Council on the issue and requests that efforts be intensified to restore security and ensure return to constitutional order.” Council also recalls its previous communiqués and press statements on the CAR, notably its communiqué PSC/PR/COMM.1(CCCLXXV) adopted at its 375th meeting held on 10 May 2013;
3. Reiterates its deep concern at the continuing violations of human rights and insecurity in the CAR, including pillaging, both in Bangui and in the country side. Council also notes with deep concern the very limited progress made with respect to the cantonment and disarmament of the Seleka elements, as well as in the reconstitution of a core force of police and gendarmerie to protect civilians;
4. Recalls the Roadmap adopted by the 4th Extraordinary Summit of the ECCAS Heads of State and Government held in Ndjamena, on 18 April 2013, and the conclusions of the 1st meeting of the International Contact Group on the CAR (ICG-CAR), which took place in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, on 3 May 2013. In this regard, Council reiterates the need for the CAR transitional institutions to be truly inclusive, and for the scrupulous respect of the prerogatives of the Prime Minister of the transition. Council also calls for sustained international support to facilitate the transition in the CAR and, in this respect, commends the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (CEMAC) for the decision taken, at its Summit of 14 June 2013, to extend financial assistance in support of the stabilization efforts in the CAR;
5. Takes note of the conclusions of the Military Assessment Mission of the Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in the CAR (MICOPAX), which visited Bangui from 2 to 7 May 2013, under the leadership of the Commission and with the participation of representatives of the ECCAS General Secretariat, the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) and the EU. Council welcomes the recommendations of the Mission, particularly with regard to the need for enhanced international security presence to ensure the protection of civilians and carry out other related tasks, as contained in paragraphs 18 to 20 of the report of the Chairperson of the Commission;
6. Supports, in principle, the establishment of an African-led International Support Mission for the Central African Republic (AFISM-CAR), whose core elements will be constituted by the contingents serving under the MICOPAX, augmented, as necessary and within a maximum strength of 3,500 uniformed personnel, including police, by contingents provided by other Member States, as indicated in the report of the Military Assessment Mission of MICOPAX, in order to contribute to: (i) the protection of civilians and the restoration of security and public order, through the implementation of appropriate measures, (ii) the stabilization of the country and the restoration of state authority, (iii) the reform and restructuring of the defense and security sector, and (iv) the creation of conditions conducive to the provision of humanitarian assistance to the needy populations. Council requests the Commission to develop, in consultation with ECCAS and other potential troop and police contributing countries, as well as with relevant international partners, notably the EU the UN and La Francophonie, a concept of operations and a concept of logistical support, and to submit to it a detailed report, within 30 days from the date of this communiqué, to enable it to take the required decision on the envisaged AFISM-CAR;
7. Requests the Commission, in the meantime, to actively consult with ECCAS, including the Planning Element (PLANELM) of its Regional Standby Force, to agree on urgent modalities for the restructuring and strengthening of MICOPAX within the envisaged new security arrangements referred to in paragraph 6 above;
8. Further requests the Commission to continue and intensify its efforts towards the mobilization of support from the UN, the EU and La Francophonie, as well as from bilateral partners, toward the strengthening of MICOPAX and the effective operationalization of the envisaged AFISM-CAR, as will be decided by Council;
9. Reiterates its support for the efforts being deployed on the ground by the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission in the CAR, Hawa Ahmed Youssouf, and encourages her to continue to her efforts. Council expresses its deep appreciation for the work of the United Nations Integrated Office in the CAR (BINUCA) and its Head, Maragret Vogt. Council pays tribute to Mrs. Vogt for her outstanding commitment and contribution to the efforts aimed at addressing the situation in the CAR throughout her tenure at the helm of BINUCA. Council takes note of the appointment of General Babacar Gaye as the new Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of BINUCA, and emphasizes the need for continued close cooperation between the AU and the UN in the CAR;
10. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.
Communiqué of the AU PSC on the implementation of the Regional Cooperation Initiative for the Elimination of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA)
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, June 18, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 380th meeting, held on 17 June 2013, adopted the following decision on the implementation of the Regional Cooperation Initiative for the Elimination of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA):
Takes note of the report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the implementation of the Regional Cooperation Initiative for the Elimination of the Lord's Resistance Army [PSC/PR/3.(CCCLXXX)] and the briefing made by the Commissioner for Peace and Security, as well as of the statements made by the representatives of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan and Uganda, as member countries of the RCI-LRA, and Rwanda. Council also takes note of the statements made by the representatives of the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN) and the United States;
Welcomes the progress made in the implementation of the RCI-LRA, notably the operationalization of the various components of the Initiative and the generation of troops for the Regional Task Force (RTF), as well as the increasing military pressure being exerted on the group, which led to the capture of key commanders and the surrender of a number of its elements;
Commends the member countries of the RCI-LRA and the Commission for their efforts, notes with satisfaction the close collaboration and coordination between the AU Special Envoy for the LRA Issue, Francisco Madeira, and the UN Special Representative for Central Africa and Head of the UN Office in Central Africa (UNOCA), Abou Moussa, and the adoption of the UN Regional Strategy to address the threat and impact of the activities of the LRA, and expresses gratitude to the partners extending support to the implementation of the RCI-LRA, notably the EU, the UN and the US;
Expresses deep concern at the aggravation of the negative impact of the illegal seizure of power in the CAR on the operations of the RCI-LRA in that country, as well as at the continued provocations by elements of the Seleka rebellion against the RTF contingent in the Obo sector, and notes that this situation is creating space for the LRA to regenerate its forces and intensify its attacks against the civilian populations. Council reiterates its demand for the de facto CAR authorities to comply scrupulously with CAR's international commitments under the RCI-LRA and facilitate the resumption of counter-LRA operations in the CAR. Council warns all those impeding the implementation of the mandate of the RCI-LRA in the CAR, and stresses that they will be held accountable for their actions;
Notes the continued threat posed by the LRA and the need for the pursuit of the ongoing efforts under the RCI-LRA to address this situation. Accordingly, Council decides to renew the mandate of the RCI-LRA for one additional year, until 22 May 2014;
Calls on the concerned countries of the RCI-LRA to take steps to provide the required logistical support to their contingents, as agreed during the 3rd meeting of the Joint Coordination Mechanism (JCM), held in Addis Ababa, on 24 April 2013;
Reiterates its appeal to the AU Member States and partners to strengthen their support to the RCI-LRA and, in this respect, welcomes the efforts being exerted by the Commission, notably the convening of the 1st Support Forum for the RCI-LRA, in Addis Ababa, on 24 April 2013. Council calls on the United Nations Security Council to take the necessary steps to facilitate the provision of enhanced support to the RCI-LRA, including the RTF headquarters and the operational Sectors, by the concerned UN peacekeeping missions and offices. Council requests the Chairperson of the Commission to actively follow-up on this matter;
Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.
Statement at the Conclusion of an IMF Mission to The Gambia
BANJUL, Gambia, June 18, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by David Dunn visited The Gambia during June 4-17, 2013 to conduct discussions for the 2013 Article IV consultations. The members of the mission met with the Ministers of Finance and Economic Affairs, Energy, and Information and Communication Infrastructure, the Governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG), other senior government and CBG officials, as well as representatives from civil society organizations, labor unions, the business and banking sectors, and development partners.
At the conclusion of the mission, Mr. Dunn issued the following statement:
“The Gambian economy is still recovering from the severe drought of 2011. In 2012, real growth in gross domestic production (GDP) is estimated to have been just over 5 percent, driven by a strong performance in tourism and a partial rebound in agriculture. However, with crop production still well below normal, the balance of payments has remained weakened and the Gambian dalasi has continued to face depreciation pressures. In late May, the Central Bank of The Gambia acted to tighten monetary policy, which has helped to stem the rate of depreciation.
“The mission endorses the authorities' tight monetary stance and decision to refrain from the CBG's financing of the fiscal deficit. This will likely lead to higher Treasury bill yields, which should also help stabilize the dalasi. However, reducing Government's domestic borrowing to 1½ percent of GDP in 2013—as previously planned—will be critical to eventually ease the current pressure on inflation and interest rates. The mission is encouraged by the government's immediate actions to achieve the necessary fiscal discipline.
“Despite current tensions surrounding the exchange rate, The Gambia's economic outlook is generally positive, as long as the authorities implement prudent policies. Real GDP growth is expected to rise to about 8-9 percent a year during 2013-14, driven by a projected continuation of the recovery in agriculture. Although inflation has picked up during 2013, it is projected to stabilize at around 5 percent a year by 2014. In the mission's view, reducing Government's net domestic borrowing further during this period will be critical to ensure confidence.
“Over the medium term, the main challenges for The Gambia are to strengthen economic and financial stability, enhance growth prospects, and reduce poverty, in line with the authorities' Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE). The mission believes that tax reforms with a view to broadening the base and simplifying the tax system could play an important role in creating room for growth-enhancing expenditures, while also improving the business environment by allowing for lower tax rates over time. Large commitments of support by development partners for investments in the agriculture and transportation sectors offer the promise of higher and more inclusive growth going forward. Also with assistance from development partners, the mission encourages the authorities to act expeditiously to formulate strategic plans for the energy and telecom sectors to ensure that infrastructure supports high growth and employment, especially for the youth.
“The mission welcomes progress by the CBG in its efforts to improve access to financial services and strengthen banking supervision. To enhance oversight of the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation through greater transparency, the mission recommends that the authorities make the annual report of the external auditor more widely available, such as by posting it on a government website.
“The IMF Executive Board is expected to conclude the Article IV consultation discussions in late August 2013.
“The mission thanks the authorities for candid and constructive discussions and expresses its appreciation for the excellent cooperation during its visit.”
EU signs new agreement to boost agriculture and promotes access to energy in Zambia
BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, June 18, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, is about to sign a new agreement to support smallholder farmers and promote agricultural conservation in Zambia, during his first ever visit to the country (18-20 June). Thanks to this partnership, which will be signed with the UN's Food and Agriculture organisation (FAO), local farmers will benefit from an average increase of 40% in household revenue. This new initiative will receive €11.1 million in EU funding.
The Commissioner will also discuss future cooperation between the EU and Zambia on renewable energy, as well as a possible cooperation agreement which will promote access to sustainable energy in the country. As a member of the 'UN High Level Group on Sustainable Energy for All', Commissioner Piebalgs will attend an energy seminar (Seminar on Energy future of Zambia: Sustainable Energy Sources and Hydro Power Potential), where he will express the strong support the EU intends to provide to Zambia's energy sector.
Commissioner Piebalgs said: "In recent years, Zambia has made huge progress in development; particularly in mining and agriculture. Yet despite its remarkable economic growth, Zambia is one of the most unequal countries in the world. I hope that today's agreements will help to make sure that from now on, the country's growth benefits the whole population; not just the few.”
As part of the visit, the following new agreements will also be signed:
A project on Non-State Actors (NGOs), to provide capacity building support (for example setting up training in project management; helping local NGOs to share expertise and experience with relevant government institutions; as well as promoting the importance of gender awareness) to NGOs in Zambia. The programme has a specific focus on organisations active in promoting access to justice and the media. The project will receive €5 million.
Three contracts for the rehabilitation of the great East Road (one of the main roads in Zambia, and a link between Malawi and Mozambique) for a total amount of €118 million. As a vast land-locked country, Zambia's trade with neighbouring countries suffers from high transport costs and long, costly border crossing procedures. Investment in its roads is therefore vital.
During the visit, Commissioner Piebalgs will visit the following ongoing EU-funded projects:
A health centre in Kafue which will benefit from EU support, as part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Initiative programme.
A commercial farm in Mazabuka
A Conservation Agriculture project in Mazabuka financed by the EU and implemented by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
The Commissioner will also meet with a group of representatives of EU businesses that are visiting Zambia with a view to investing there; in order to discuss the possible opportunities and challenges.
EU Development Cooperation with Zambia
The EU is providing €489.7 million between 2008 and 2013 to Zambia. The main areas of cooperation include agriculture (conservation agriculture, nutrition, and private sector competitiveness), governance (democratic checks and balances, justice, economic governance) and energy (including improving access to clean and sustainable energy).
In addition, through the Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund, the EU provides grant support of interest rate subsidies of €25 million on the European Investment Bank (EIB) loan, €13.7 million on the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) loan, and €1 million for EIB Technical Assistance to the Great East Road project.
KENYA - Art and technology of Italian restoration
ROME, Italy, June 18, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- “Restoration in Italy. Art and technology in the activities of the Institute for Conservation and Restoration” is the title of an exhibition scheduled to open in tomorrow in Kenya at the department of Architecture and Construction Sciences of the University of Nairobi. The exhibition consists of 25 large-scale panels illustrating the Institute's activities since its foundation in 1939.
Statement by Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, Commissioner for Peace and Security at the Peace and Security Council meeting on LRA - 17 June 2013
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, June 18, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Statement by Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, Commissioner for Peace and Security at the Peace and Security Council meeting on LRA - 17 June 2013
Excellency, Chair of the Peace and Security Council,
Excellencies Ambassadors members of the Peace and Security Council,
Ladies and Gentlemen
As you may recall, events following the unconstitutional change of government in the CAR on 24 March 2013 impacted negatively on the implementation of the RCI-LRA due to the increased threats by Seleka against the Regional Task Force (RTF) Unit in the CAR. This forced the RTF troops to suspend operations and regroup in defensive positions, while awaiting the outcome of consultations between the AU and the RCI-LRA member-states on the way forward. Furthermore, the CAR contingent in Obo simply vanished when Seleka took over power in Bangui. In this regard, the Third Ministerial meeting of the JCM, held in Addis Ababa, on 24 April 2013, specifically reviewed the implementation of the RCI-LRA and, among other things, tasked the AU Special Envoy for LRA issues, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, to undertake a mission to Bangui to engage the authorities of the country on the implementation of the RCI-LRA. Accordingly, a delegation of the AU, led by the Special Envoy for LRA issues, met the CAR Prime Minister, Mr. Nicholas Tiangaye, and the leader of the CAR transitional government, Mr. Michel Djotodia, in Bangui, on 2 and 3 May 2013, respectively. The delegation obtained green light from both, for the continued operations of the RTF in south-eastern CAR.
However, the situation deteriorated again when, on 24 May 2013, an armed group originating from South Sudan attacked the town of Obo, where the RTF troops and the U.S Special Forces in CAR are based. A combined force of RTF and CAR gendarmerie neutralized the attackers. The above-mentioned incidence caused tension in Bangui, with the de facto CAR authorities agitating to forcefully deploy Seleka troops in Obo, because they accused the RTF troops of not protecting the local population.
In view of the foregoing, I wish to underscore importance of stabilizing the CAR, because the situation risks being exploited by the LRA to re-generate itself and step up atrocities in the region. In fact, reports indicate that attacks and killings committed by the LRA in CAR, since January 2013, have been on the increase, and that the group has been implicated of trading in ivory, and exchanging it for arms and ammunitions to sustain itself. This trade has also been fuelling the increasing abductions of persons by the LRA to carry their ivory, gold and diamond to black markets. This trade poses a threat to the implementation of the AU-led RCI-LRA because the CAR region in which the RTF troops conduct operations lies in the transit route for smugglers and traffickers operating between DRC and Kafia Kingi. The presence and operations of the RTF in south-eastern CAR has, therefore, deprived them of the privileges accruing from the control of this route, hence their hostility to the RTF.
In order to diffuse tension in Bangui over the earlier-mentioned attack in Obo, the AU Special Envoy for LRA issues, and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Central Africa, Mr. Abou Moussa, undertook a joint mission to Bangui, Kampala and Juba, from 6 -13 June 2013 to engage the authorities of these countries with a view of building mutual confidence about RTF operations in the CAR and resuming operations.
The mission was undertaken timely because it helped to harmonize the vision of the RCI-LRA member states on the implementation of the Initiative vis-à-vis the precarious political and security situation in the CAR. Furthermore, the mission ascertained that the RCI-LRA member states, including the CAR, remained committed to the continued implementation of the RCI-LRA. It also discovered that Seleka was desirous of participating in RTF operations. The joint AU-UN delegation persuaded Mr. Djotodia to sign a statement to formally re-affirm his commitment to the resumption and continuation of RTF operations in his country. His signature is being awaited on the draft statement that was left with the SRSG/BINUCA. In another development, the governments of Uganda and South Sudan expressed interest in participating in the ECCAS-led stabilization process for the CAR, through participating in the Libreville Peace process and activities of the Follow-up Committee on the Libreville Accord.
The implementation of the RCI-LRA continues to be impeded by certain key challenges. These include the difficulties of the RCI-LRA member states to provide logistical and other needed support, including Mobility (air and ground), Medical support, Rations and Robust communications, to their contingents under the RTF. Furthermore, there is the lack of predictable funds for sustainably supporting the operations of the RTF Headquarters and the activities of the JCM Secretariat/Office of the Special Envoy. Despite the set-backs associated with events both leading to, and following the unconstitutional change of government in CAR, as well as financial and logistical challenges, the RCI-LRA has recorded a number of successes. The troops exerted strong military pressure on the LRA, resulting in significant reduction in the group's capability due to the capture, surrender and neutralization of many of their fighters and some of their key commanders.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our international partners for their continued support to the RCI-LRA. I particularly thank the EU for the funding support of 1.2 million Euros which enabled the AUC to equip the JCM Secretariat/Office of the AU Special Envoy for LRA issues in Bangui, as well as the RTF. I also thank the UN, U.S government and the relevant non-governmental Organizations for supporting the initiative in various ways.
I appeal to all to maintain their support to enable the AUC address the challenges associated with logistical problems and the lack of robust communication equipment needed to link the RTF Headquarters with the Sector Headquarters. And, in view of the encouraging progress being made against the LRA, and given the demonstrated commitment of the RCI-LRA member states to continue implementing the RCI-LRA, the AU Commission wishes to request the PSC to further renew its authorization for the implementation of the RCI-LRA for another one year.
Statement by the Spokesperson of High Representative Catherine Ashton on the deadly attack on a UNISFA peacekeeper in Southern Kordofan
BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, June 18, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Spokesperson of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign
Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, issued the following statement today:
"The High Representative deplores the death of a peacekeeper of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and civilian casualties resulting from an exchange of shelling between the Sudanese Army and rebel armed groups in Kadugli. She sends her condolences to the families of the victims, the UN and the Government of Ethiopia. Any attacks on peacekeepers and unarmed civilians are unacceptable to the EU. The High Representative expresses her full support for UNISFA and urges all parties to respect its mandate.
The High Representative reiterates that the Government of Sudan and the armed movement SPLM/ North should undertake an immediate cease-fire and resume the negotiations that they had recently started in Addis Abeba. There can be no solution to the internal problems of Sudan through military means."