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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Africa CEO forum opens in Geneva: Showcasing the continent’s private sector leaders, By African Brains, 23 November 2012



THE FIRST AFRICA CEO FORUM, a high-level meeting for the African private sector, opened on Tuesday November 20, in Geneva in the presence of 560 delegates from 32 countries, including more than 300 leaders of major private African enterprises. Approximately 100 investors and financiers, among the most influential in Africa, as well dignitaries from Africa and the rest of the world, attended the event.

The opening ceremony was co-chaired by Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank Group (http://www.afdb.org), and Amir Ben Yahmed, Vice-President of the Jeune Afrique Group. The meeting was an opportunity to discuss what is needed to boost African development through the dynamics of growth offered by the continent’s private sector.

According to Ben Yamed, one of the major objectives of the forum was to facilitate discussions to ensure African countries find themselves at the forefront of growing emerging economies, supported by a strong private sector managed by internationally recognized leaders.

President Kaberuka held a similar perspective: “Africa has entered the 21st Century determined to throw back shackles of poverty, to converge with the rest of the world, to get the African Lions into the same territory as the Asian Tigers.”

This forum falls perfectly in line with the AfDB mission in its bid to “to do more in supporting and promoting the private sector.” Moreover, the Africa CEO Forum is an ideal platform for the Bank to exchange ideas and reinforce its ties with private sector leaders.

A better understanding of African private-sector initiatives, enabling the exchange of ideas and different viewpoints, while creating the conditions for an ongoing dialogue with private business people, these are the aspirations of Donald Kaberuka, who proposed “the establishment of an External Consultative Committee of private sector leaders with whom I will readily work hand-in-hand.”

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Posted by on November 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Africa’s Aviation Industry: Challenges and Opportunities, By African Development Bank Group, 20 November 2012


The performance of the African aviation industry is still lagging behind those of the rest of the world. Nonetheless, demand for air transport has increased steadily over the past years with passenger numbers and freight traffic growing by 45% and 80%, respectively. Over the period 2010-2015, Africa will be the third fastest growing region in the world in terms of international traffic with an average growth rate of 6.1% compared to the global average of 5.8%, and 7.9% and 6.9% for the Middle East and Asia Pacific, respectively, while Europe, Latin America and North America are projected to record lower international passenger growth of 5.0%, 5.8% and 4.9%, respectively.

This trend is expected to continue in the coming years due to a number of factors, notably robust economic growth, demographic boom, increasing urbanization, and emergence of the middle class. Air transportation plays a vital role in the country’s growth process by accelerating convergence of goods and persons. The contribution of air transport far exceeds that of road transportation sevenfold. Growth in air transportation has directly maps into economic growth due to spillover effects through creation of direct and indirect jobs in the industry and other auxiliary sectors such as tourism and other service sectors. Expansion in air transportation creates market opportunities for local entrepreneurs by creating regional and global economic centers. In 2010, the aviation industry in Africa supported about 7 million jobs (including 257,000 direct jobs) through the impact on travel and tourism which translated into USD67.8 billion of the continent’s GDP. Forecasts indicate that the aviation industry’s impact on African economies is set to grow. Over the next 20 years, implied job creation by the industry is projected at 879,000.

Africa can maintain the growth of its aviation industry if more and more people can afford to pay for the cost of air travel. Currently, only 10% of Africans travel by air but given the current rate of economic growth and emergence of the middle class, there be high demand for services linked to air transportation. In recent years, growing alliances with counterparts in other regions of the world have played an important role in the development of the African aviation industry. These alliances have permitted African companies to gain access to new long haul routes resulting in higher economies of scale and skills exchange.

Challenges to the African aviation industry

The rapid expansion in Africa’s aviation industry is hampered by a number of factors. Poor record of safety and security, lack of adequate resources and infrastructure, distance and limited connectivity, lack of regulation and government actions are among the main constraints the industry is facing. These constraints add to competition and high operating costs resulting from surging oil prices. Addressing these challenges could significantly unlock the industry’s potential for future growth.

Safety and security challenges: Safety is the most pressing challenge facing the aviation industry in Africa. In 2011, the average number of air traffic accidents was nine times higher than the global average. The frequency of accidents stems largely from inconsistency in the implementation and enforcement of internationally accepted safety standards and practices. Increasing the level of safety should be a key priority for the development of the African aviation industry. The African authorities have endorsed an African Union backed plan aimed at addressing deficiencies related to aviation safety and security and strengthening the regulatory framework. Accordingly, the International Air Transport Association jointly with the International Civil Aviation Organization and other organizations have committed to supporting the Africa Strategic Improvement Action Plan of the African Union. The plan encourages African governments to foster regulatory oversight through the adoption of globally accepted safety and security standards.

Inadequate infrastructure: The air transport industry faces various challenges including poor airport infrastructures, lack of physical and human resources, limited connectivity, and lack of transit facilities. Although substantial progress has been made during the past decade, Africa still lags behind other regions in terms of “soft” and “hard” infrastructure. It is therefore critical that African countries invest in the soft as well as hard infrastructure to support the industry.

Lack of regulation and government actions: Despite the growing awareness of the role that the aviation industry could play in the development of the continent, the industry is still not the top priority of African governments. More, despite increased liberalization of the African aviation industry and the growing presence of foreign companies, some African governments are still reluctant to open their skies fearing foreign competition could undercut national airlines, some of which are short of commercial viability besides being just symbols of sovereignty. These challenges require governments to enhance regulation of aerospace management, consumer protection and safety of airlines. Lack of aviation experts and skills, high airport taxes and fees, the weak connectivity and restrictions on transit visas and facilities add to the menu of impediments affecting Africa’s aviation industry.

Opportunities to the African aviation industry

Air travel is essential to the prosperity of Africa as it opens up opportunities that did not exist before. Fostering the African aviation industry may be one of the driving forces of regional integration on the continent. Better connected African countries and regions through a viable air transport industry could be the catalyst that can boost intra-African business, trade, tourism as well as cultural exchange. Developing the aviation industry may also represent an opportunity to mitigate chronic transport problems faced by the 16 landlocked African countries.

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Solar group to World Bank: Give us gas and oil’s $12B, and we’ll cool planet, By Mark Halper, SmartPlanet, 22 November 2012


 

Square these two sentences:

  • Earlier this week, the World Bank called for urgent action to stop catastrophic global warming.
  • Over the last 6 years, the World Bank has financed $12 billion worth of fossil fuel projects – the sort of thing that stokes the planetary thermometer –  according to renewables energy group Desertec Foundation.

Scratching your head?

So is Desertec, the Hamburg, Germany international outfit that wants to build solar power plants in the deserts of North Africa, the Middle East, China, the U.S., Australia and elsewhere to wean the world off of fossil fuels.

The group’s director, Thiemo Gropp, has issued an open proclamation under the headline, “$12 billion in World Bank funds would be better invested in desert power than in fossil fuels.”

Read more at Solar group to World Bank: Give us gas and oil’s $12B, and we’ll cool planet

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Informing the People: Oil Contracts Demystified, By Zara Rahman, Think Africa Press, 21 November 2012


With oil economies booming in Africa, OpenOil has published a guide to help ordinary citizens understand the complex and jargon-filled oil contracts their governments have signed.

Think of the oil industry and, along with spills and environmental problems, many people think of secrecy and corruption. But transparency is increasing, albeit from a low base and poor historical record in the area. The tide is gradually turning with more and more data being put online, and there are many initiatives doing great work on making machine-readable data accessible and understandable. But until now, oil contracts have remained extremely difficult to unpack.

Limitations of transparency

There is a trend emerging in governments publishing, or putting online, the contracts they sign with international oil companies. This is undoubtedly a great success for the transparency movement globally. There are now seven jurisdictions around the world who publish their oil contracts, with more to come, and transparency of oil contracts is being written into constitutions and emerging as a best practice globally.

Publishing these contracts is the first step towards allowing citizens to know what is happening – something that will increase democratic ties between citizens and the state. But there remains one key problem – a typical oil contract is over 100 pages long and written in complicated legal jargon. It is not the kind of document that someone without a law degree, or years of specialisation in the topic, can pick up and hope to understand.

Tools to help people understand these contracts have, until now, been overwhelmingly aimed at industry employees or those with elite levels of education. These have generally taken the form of private courses (costing $3,200 per person for two days, and held in London or Abu Dhabi) or expensive legal text books aimed at the postgraduate law student. Clearly, neither of these is going to help a civil society activist in the Niger Delta make sense of the contracts governing their oil industry.

Bringing open thinking to the oil industry

To address this, OpenOil convened a group of ten world-renowned experts at the beginning of November to come together for a week and collaboratively write a book on how to read and understand oil contracts, in what is known as a ‘book sprint’.

To many, the idea of writing a book on a topic as complex and involved as oil contracts seemed crazy. Even more so, perhaps, considering that no preparation was done beforehand; no planning chapter titles, or organising who was going to write what. All work began at 9am on the Monday, and involved having a lot of faith in the facilitator of the method, who has now used the book sprint method to produce over fifty books.

The result was ‘Oil Contracts – How to Read and Understand them’, released under the Creative Commons license and thus free for all to download.

How does a guidebook help?

The terms decided in contracts can have long reaching effects, and be valid for anything up to 20 or even 30 years. And it is in the oil contracts that many factors are decided on, such as: the environmental standards that companies have to abide by, clauses relating to the effect of the project on the local economy and, most importantly for many, the amount of money that the government is going to get.

Read more at Informing the People: Oil Contracts Demystified

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Zanzibar and the Mainland: The Shaky State of the Union, By Think Africa Press, 20 November 2012


With the 50th anniversary of the union between mainland Tanzania and the island of Zanzibar on the horizon in 2014, a bewildering number of political problems and sensitivities remain unresolved.

The current ‘state of the union’ debate sees three ideas being posited, all of which involve a degree of autonomy for Zanzibar but with oversight administered by mainland Tanzania. However, despite one recent attempt to discuss the issue openly and amicably in the ‘public sphere’ (an expensive hotel in Dar Es Salaam), worrying patterns of resentment and tension are emerging.

Mainlanders on the island

Anecdotally, many allege that there is a hostile climate developing against those from the mainland on the island.

Emil*, a senior security manager and member of the Masaii people from mainland Tanzania, has lived and worked in a resort on the island since 2001.

“It’s getting extremely tense”, he tells Think Africa Press. “I can say they hate us. We don’t get served in cafes. If Masaii try and set up stalls to sell tourist curios in Nungwi they get chased out and the landowners who rent us the shop get fined.” He continues: “It is very difficult at the moment. Zanzibaris are sick of all outsiders – such as Tanzanians from the mainland and Kenyans who get good jobs in the hotels”.

Read more at Zanzibar and the Mainland: The Shaky State of the Union

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Developing countries to receive over $400 billion in remittances in 2012, says World Bank report, By Panorama, 20 November 2012


Remittance flows to the developing world are expected to exceed earlier estimates and total $406 billion this year, an increase of 6.5 percent over the previous year, according to a new World Bank brief on global migration and remittances.

Remittances to developing countries are projected to grow by 7.9 percent in 2013, 10.1 percent in 2014 and 10.7 percent in 2015 to reach $534 billion in 2015.

Worldwide remittances, including those to high-income countries, are expected to total $534 billion in 2012, and projected to grow to $685 billion in 2015, according to the latest issue of the Bank’s Migration and Development Brief, released today.

However, despite the growth in remittance flows overall to developing countries, the continuing global economic crisis is dampening remittance flows to some regions, with Europe and Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa especially affected, while South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are expected to fare much better than previously estimated.

The top recipients of officially recorded remittances for 2012 are India ($70 billion), China ($66 billion), the Philippines and Mexico ($24 billion each), and Nigeria ($21 billion). Other large recipients include Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Lebanon.

As a percentage of GDP, the top recipients of remittances, in 2011, were Tajikistan (47 percent), Liberia (31 percent), Kyrgyz Republic (29 percent), Lesotho (27 percent), Moldova (23 percent), Nepal (22 percent), and Samoa (21 percent).

“Although migrant workers are, to a large extent, adversely affected by the slow growth in the global economy, remittance volumes have remained remarkably resilient, providing a vital lifeline to not only poor families but a steady and reliable source of foreign currency in many poor remittances recipient countries,” said Hans Timmer, Director of the Bank’s Development Prospects Group.

Read more at Developing countries to receive over $400 billion in remittances in 2012

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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South African Revenue Service (SARS) reforms ‘eased trade over borders’, By Linda Ensor, Business Day Live, 20 November 2012


The customs modernisation programme on which the South African Revenue Service (SARS) embarked in 2009 was the main reason South Africa’s international rankings for the ease of cross-border trade had improved, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Friday.

The World Bank’s 2012 Ease of Doing Business report, released last month, showed that South Africa had gained one position to rank 35th among 185 countries after it improved in three categories. In 2011, South Africa improved in six categories compared with the previous year but also fell in three.

Mr Gordhan said in a written reply to a parliamentary question that SARS’ customs modernisation programme had had a “significant impact” on trade facilitation for legitimate goods.

Mr Gordhan quoted from the World Bank’s Doing Business 2013 report: “In 2011-12, South Africa improved the most in the ease of trading across borders as measured by Doing Business. Through its customs modernisation programme it implemented measures that reduced the time, cost and documents required for international trade. Improvements in South Africa have effects throughout Southern Africa. Since overseas goods to and from Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe transit through South Africa, traders in these economies are also enjoying the benefits.”

The World Bank report noted that, overall, South Africa improved the average time taken to import goods from 32 days last year to 23 days this year, with significant improvements in document preparation and customs clearance.

Mr Gordhan said the introduction of improved risk analysis as part of the customs modernisation programme since 2009 had provided more accurate targeting of illicit goods. In the 2011-12 financial year, the accuracy of audits improved, with a 59% success rate achieved on invalid tariff or valuations and a 57% success rate on customs storage and manufacturing warehouse audits.

Read more at SARS reforms ‘eased trade over borders

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Land deals in Africa have led to a wild west – bring on the sheriff, says FAO, By The Guardian, 29 October 2012


Amid warnings that land deals are undermining food security, the head of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has compared “land grabs” in Africa to the “wild west”, saying a “sheriff” is needed to restore the rule of law.

José Graziano da Silva, the FAO’s director general, conceded it was not possible to stop large investors buying land, but said deals in poor countries needed to be brought under control.

“I don’t see that it’s possible to stop it. They are private investors,” said Graziano da Silva in a telephone interview. “We do not have the tools and instruments to stop big companies buying land. Land acquisitions are a reality. We can’t wish them away, but we have to find a proper way of limiting them. It appears to be like the wild west and we need a sheriff and law in place.”

Large land deals have accelerated since the surge in food prices in 2007-08, prompting companies and sovereign wealth funds to take steps to guarantee food supplies. But, four to five years on, in Africa only 10-15% of land is actually being developed, claimed Graziano da Silva. Some of these investments have involved the loss of jobs, as labour intensive farming is replaced by mechanised farming or some degree of loss of tenure rights.

Oxfam said the global land rush is out of control and urged the World Bank to freeze its investments in large-scale land acquisitions to send a strong signal to global investors to stop.

Graziano da Silva, who was in charge of Brazil’s widely praised “zero hunger” programme, expressed his frustration at the slow pace of creating a global governance structure to deal with land grabs, food security and similar problems. In 2008, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, created a high-level task force on food security on which Graziano Da Silva serves as vice-chairman.

In May, the committee on world food security (CFS), a UN-led group that includes governments, business and civil society, laid the groundwork for a governance structure for food by endorsing voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests.

Tenure has important implications for development, as it is difficult for poor and vulnerable people to overcome hunger and poverty when they have limited and insecure rights to land and other natural resources. But the guidelines took years to negotiate and lack an effective enforcement mechanism because they are voluntary. The CFS is an unwieldy group but has the virtue of inclusivity.

“It took two years to discuss the voluntary guidelines and now we face another two years of negotiations on the principles for responsible agricultural investments,” said Graziano da Silva. “We need to speed up the decison-making process without losing the inclusivity model.”

The FAO director general said he is doing his best to bring about more co-ordination among the different institutions concerned with food security and suggests the FAO act like an executive arm of the CFS, trying to implement its decisions.

Read more at Land deals in Africa

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Sierra Leone votes peacefully for leader to help war-battered nation continue recovery, By Associated Press via The Washington Post, 7 November 2012


FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — Sierra Leoneans chose Saturday between keeping an incumbent president who has expanded health care and paved roads or electing an opposition candidate to lead this war-scarred nation still recovering a decade later despite its mineral riches.

The election marked the third presidential vote since the West African nation’s 11-year conflict ended in 2002, a brutal war during which rebels tortured victims and conscripted child soldiers.

Voters said Saturday they wanted to demonstrate just how far Sierra Leone has come over the past decade by holding a transparent and peaceful vote.

“We’ve been through a lot in the last 20 years. Now we’re trying to move forward,” said Mannah Kpukumu, 36, a civil servant waiting in a line that snaked near a giant cotton tree long before dawn. “We the young guys want employment and to be able to take care of our families.”

Read more at Sierra Leone votes peacefully for leader to help war-battered nation continue recovery

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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World Bank Group : Kenya’s Bold Move to Improve Performance in Delivery of Judicial Services, By 4 Traders, 16 November 2012


WASHINGTON, November 15, 2012-Kenya has embarked on a major transformation of its judicial system to improve key functions to promote better administration of justice and delivery of quality legal services to court users.

“Kenya’s new constitution has created a window of opportunity for the judiciary to address the problems that have for many years frustrated the delivery of justice, especially to the poor,”says Johannes Zutt, World Bank Country Director for Kenya. “Through this project, the World Bank will support the government to strengthen the capacity of the judiciary to deliver justice in an effective and efficient manner”. The project comes at a time of growing public confidence in the judiciary, following recent major institutional and managerial changes pursuant to the new constitution, which Kenyans overwhelmingly voted for in a referendum in August 2010.

Through the Judicial Performance Improvement Project, the Judiciary will improve court administration and case management, including automating the courts and clearing a backlog of court cases, training of its judicial officers, and improving court infrastructure by constructing new courts and rehabilitating existing ones.  These activities are reflected in the Judiciary’s Transformation Framework 2012-2016.

“In approving the project, the World Bank’s Board of Directors indicated its belief that there is a real opportunity to undertake judicial reforms in Kenya.  Since this is the first stand-alone and largest project to the judiciary in Africa, its success will be a model for other countries in the region. The challenge is to scale up the important legal and institutional reforms that have already been initiated to deliver quality and timely judicial services to the public.  The project will need to improve the rule of law and the climate for doing business in Kenya,” says Nightingale Rukuba-Ngaiza and George Larbi, Task Team Leaders of the project.

The project is financed by the Bank’s International Development Association (IDA)* under its standard terms, which include a term of 40 years with a grace period of 10 years.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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