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Monthly Archives: January 2013

World Bank welcomes Brics plan for development bank, Lynley Donnelly,Mail and Guardian, 25 Jan 2013


The World Bank has welcomed the proposal by Brics nations – including South Africa – to explore establishing a Brics development bank.

And said it would welcome a strong working relationship with such an institution.

At the fifth Brics summit, to be held in Durban in March this year, Brics leaders will receive a report from their finance ministers on the feasibility of setting up the bank, which would finance infrastructure and sustainable-development projects across Brics nations and other developing countries.

“The World Bank Group believes partnership is central to its development mission and would naturally welcome a strong working relationship with a new Brics development bank,” a World Bank spokesperson said in a response to the Mail & Guardian.

South Africa has been highly supportive of the proposal.

On Wednesday, the deputy minister of international relations and co-operation, Ebrahim Ebrahim, said at a provincial roadshow that the bank would “inter alia, utilise the surplus reserves of Brics countries to support development initiatives among emerging markets and developing countries to support a new model of south-south co-operation and financing”. The initial investment capital required is reportedly $50-billion, or $10-billion from each member country. South Africa’s gross foreign-exchange reserves were at $50.7-billion by December last year, according to the most recent data from the Reserve Bank released at the beginning of this month.

Challenge
According to Martyn Davies, the chief executive of Frontier Advisory, a capital strategy and research firm, there has also been discussion of a fund of up to $240-billion of pooled emerging market funds to create a counterweight to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“There is a great deal of suspicion and even resentment toward the IMF in both Asia and Africa,” he said.

“The Brics development bank is reflective of the emerging world’s ambition to assert itself in the emerging economic world order.”

The establishment of a Brics bank poses a challenge for the likes of China, for it would duplicate that country’s own infrastructure financing in Africa, largely funded by China Exim Bank and the China Development Bank, said Davies.

“Brazil has in a similar dilemma with BNDES, its own development bank, but to a lesser extent,” he said.

Reducing reliance
“The challenge is to minimise the bureaucracy and politics in the management and decision-making of the Brics development bank institution to ensure that it is effective.”

The Brics forum is also seen as a means to reduce reliance on third country currencies, such as the United States dollar, in trade between member countries.

Ahead of the fourth Brics summit in New Delhi in March last year, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said there was a “broad logic of trying to reduce our dependence on third country currencies in our own trade with each other”. There were mechanisms such as the establishment of credit accounts that South Africa was keen to explore, he said at the time.

This proposal was made by China at the Sanya Brics summit in March 2011 and such developments are in line with China’s hopes to see greater trade, particularly with Africa, denominated in its own currency, the Renminbi (or yuan).

Neither the department of international relations and co-operation nor the treasury responded to requests for comment.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Solar Cookers Revolutionize West Africa, By Audu Liberty Oseni, African Executive, 30 January- 06 February 2013


Events in communities of West Africa have shown that solar energy, other than providing alternative for electric power, is serving as basis for solar cookers, stoves and ovens. Ghana drew attention during the solar cooking year in 2002 when a project headed by Dr. Mercy Bannerman emerged as one of the top winners at the World Bank’s Development Marketplace, an occasion that takes place yearly to display excellent innovations in less developed nations. Dr. Bannerman, won the award for her project entitled “Simple Solar for Health + Wealth”.The $100,000-award was meant for preparing additional people to multiply the technology in Ghana. The project has now gone away from home use to the formation of small scale ventures for making solar cookers and marketing them. Dr. Bannerman has been given monies for related reasons via Rotary International’s programmes. Her award was a landmark for solar cooking supporters all over, with its appreciation of the prospects of the technology as a vital factor in development.

Frank Otchere, has successfully built and used a solar CooKit in Ghana. Expanding on what he has done, over 60 solar cookers have been constructed by villagers, and are being marketed for about $5 for one. Otchere and Bannerman had arranged to assist in supporting solar cooking in Ghana: Bannerman to focus in the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions; whereas Otchere in the Eastern, Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo regions.

Efforts to improve on this invention by governments, individuals and nongovernmental organizations have been recorded enormously. Eleven women from the West Africa Network for Peace Building and the Women in Peace Building Network had a one-month training workshop in Ghana on making of solar stoves. The women were selected from Margibi, Montserrado, Bong, Nimba and Lofa. In a similar development, many participants from several parts of Togo and Ghana were present at a conference organized by Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE), displaying solar cooking and solar water pasteurization. Construction workshops were also available to conference participants. Beneficiaries of a JVE solar project gave evidence of how solar cooking has touched lives in the Vo region. Present at the conference were Togo’s Deputy Director of the Ministry of Environment and the Minister of Youth, and representatives of the media.

In the northern region of Ghana, Grace Akawe supervises 90 solar cookers and the users in Tamale and the immediate societies; she goes there twice every week. Whereas in the upper west region, Jacinta Ziem supervises a entirety of 25 solar cookers and their users in the municipality of Wa and the surrounding areas, where she visits two Saturdays in a month. Both of them are famous in their vicinity and have grown a strong relationship among the users. As they do the supervision, they also teach the users of the solar cooker on the ways to maintain it and keep it fit to use at all times.

In Liberia, for instance, NGO Sustainability’s project is introducing Small Scale Solar and this move intends to sustain community participation in training on the use and making of solar cookers, enhanced cook stoves, solar pumps, WAPIs and solar lanterns. It is expected that upon triumphant achievement of this, the project would be initiated in other areas of Liberia as a scheme that assists in the alleviation of an adjustment to climate change. In a related development, True Faith Missions (Pastor Hal Nichols) has introduced solar oven to communities in Liberia and it is making a mammoth accomplishment and so far nine families have built and are using them, and the people were very glad to learn that they can cook rice using the sun.

In Nigeria, Prof. RoseAchunine had met with students of the Department of Physics and Industrial Physics at Evan Enwerem University in Owerri, a south eastern city. The students have designed their own edition of parabolic solar cookers and solar box cookers. They desire to enhance effectiveness and homogenize their designs to make the solar cookers more proficient and trustworthy for use by local inhabitants, as well as metropolitan inhabitants. They will carry on their endeavor to offer training workshops for the rural inhabitants. In a similar vein, Margaret Koshoni presented a solar cooking seminar in Lagos. The seminar was organized by the Cosmopolitan Women’s Club with over 400 participants from government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, women’s groups, schools, and even a few banks, in attendance. As a result of the usefulness of the seminar, Lagos State Government’s Commissioner for Women Affairs urged Koshoni to organize future workshops for the whole Lagos State Local Government Areas. On the same accomplishment, Renewable Energy Technology Company Ltd had a training program on solar cooking at New Bussa, Niger state. The company further collaborated with Girls Guide/Scout of America for the Girls Guide of Nigeria to replicate the workshop on solar cooking at the Women Centre in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria.

The Gambia is not left out of the solar cooker initiative. Lamin Sawo of the Health Education and Agricultural Development (AHEAD) discussed exploits in AHEAD’s large-scale solar cooking scheme in The Gambia, disclosing that 900 households now use solar cookers. AHEAD had carried out solar cooking trainings in five villages in Gambia and had workshops where it trained 12-15 women per village in the art of making and using solar cookers. These women that were trained in turn trained others. They have put up a trainers’ cooperative called Tilo Tabiro. In a similar effort, Boka Loho Organization, has built and demonstrated solar cookers at agricultural shows and other events. They manufacture cookers, tutor users, and also work with schools in the encouragement and support of solar energy usage. In supporting this move, the Gambia Ministry of Trade and Industry has trained women’s groups as users and carpenters in the making of box cookers for solar cooker making.

Mali has also bought into the initiative of solar cooker, as The Association of Handicapped Women of Mali (AMAFH) continues to put together solar cooker training for its members in Bamako, with assistance from the Association of Women Engineers (AFIMA) and monetary assistance from Dutch KoZon Foundation. At the moment AMAFH has taught 60 deaf and hard-of-hearing women, fifty women with leprosy and 20 mentally disabled women on means of utilizing CooKit solar cooker at two day training it organized for them.

The Togolese are also in the race to catch up with solar cooker revolution as Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE) has taken its hot message to over 150 youths in the country. Over 100 participants from several cities in Togo, Cote d’Ivoire and Benin assembled for a workshop in Notse. On this three-day workshop, participants learnt fundamental solar cooking concepts and skills; they crafted their own solar CooKits. JVE had organized Operation Amis du Soleil, a five-day gathering in the Casablanca quarter of Lome and this brought jointly numerous numbers of persons, the majority of which were youth, to be trained on solar cooker use and to make solar cookers for JVE’s solar water pasteurization project in Vo prefecture.

The prospects of solar cooker in West African urban poor communities are enormous; about 87% households use either kerosene or firewood in making their food in the region. In Nigeria, for instance, kerosene is no longer affordable generality of the populace as the price has skyrocketed in the face of subsidy removal and sharp practices by marketers who convert the commodity to aviation fuel. And those who use electric stoves are likely to opt for the solar cooker option too as power supply is epileptic and increasing in cost. Desperate search for firewood has been caused serious deforestation, exposing the communities to the vagaries of climate change. Those trainees who eventually venture into the business of making solar cooker are likely to be in for a boom, as the liquefied natural gas alternative to kerosene, electric and wood stoves is yet to kindle.

Of course, immediate areas of intervention should include support for businesses and not-for-profits engaged in training, production and support for users of solar cookers in West Africa. Government agencies, especially MDAs responsible for health, environment, energy, technology, women and the like, must be made to understand the organic place of these devices through behavior change workshops and exercises. In its discussion on sustainable energy for all, the regional body ECOWAS must take local technological inventions in the region serious and must commit more money for research and development where initiatives like this can be improved upon and standardized. This will be most imperative for ECOWAS as it pushes for West African regional integration as technology is a driving force for development.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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World Bank Group : African Migrants Could Save US$4 Billion Annually On Remittance Fees, Finds World Bank 01/28/2013| 09:43am


African migrants pay more to send money home than other migrant groups

WASHINGTON, January 28, 2013 – Bringing remittance prices down to 5 percent from the current 12.4 percent average cost would put US$4 billion more in the pockets of Africa’s migrants and their families who rely on remittances for survival.

Africa’s overseas workers, who sent close to US$60 billion in remittances in 2012, pay more to send money home than any other migrant group. According to the World Bank’s Send Money Africa database, Sub-Saharan Africa is the most expensive region to send money to, with average remittance costs reaching 12.4 percent in 2012. The average cost of sending money to Africa is almost 12 percent- higher than global average of 8.96 percent, and almost double the cost of sending money to South Asia, which has the world’s lowest prices (6.54 percent).

The G8 and the G20 established 5 percent as the target average remittance price to reach by 2014. “High transaction costs are cutting into remittances, which are a lifeline for millions of Africans,” said Gaiv Tata, Director of the World Bank’s Africa Region and Financial Inclusion and Infrastructure Global Practice.”Remittances play a critical role in helping households address immediate needs and also invest in the future, so bringing down remittance prices will have a significant impact on poverty.” Lower cost remittances also advance financial inclusion, since they are often the first financial service used by recipients, who are then more likely to use other financial services including bank accounts.

Remittance prices are even higher between African nations. South Africa, Tanzania, and Ghana are the most expensive sending countries in Africa, with prices averaging 20.7 percent, 19.7 percent, and 19.0 percent respectively, due to several factors including limited competition in the market for cross-border payments.

“Governments should implement policies to open the remittances market up to competition,” said Massimo Cirasino, Manager of the Financial Infrastructure and Remittances Service Line at the World Bank. “Increased competition, as well as better informed consumers, can help bring down remittance prices.”

Send Money Africa also finds that banks, which are the most expensive remittance service providers, are often the only channel available to African migrants. A regulatory environment that encourages competition among remittance service providers can help bring down remittance prices. Migrant workers can also benefit from more transparent information on remittance services.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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2012 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Revamping a dormant Douala Stock Exchange, By Chofor Che, 26 January 2013


The Douala Stock Exchange was created in December 2001. The first listing was Société des Eaux Minérales du Cameroun (SEMC), a subsidiary of the French company Castel Group. Cameroonians are still to make use of the Douala Stock Exchange. What is the problem? Are Cameroonians not sensitised enough? Are Cameroonians and foreign investors not interested? These are some of the concerns revolving around the Douala Stock Exchange.

According to an interview accorded by Kimeng Hilton Ndukong to financial expert,Lamngwa Brezhnev, in Cameroon Tribune dated the 06 of November 2012, there are many reasons why Douala’s Stock Exchange remains dormant. First of all there is still a poor comprehension of the financial market in Cameroon, and most especially the stock exchange. Cameroonians do not understand how the Douala Stock Exchange will help them.

Secondly,many business operators still remain skeptical about enlisting their company on the Douala Stock Exchange. According to Dr Simon Bassilekin in another article in Cameroon Tribune, dated the 6 of November 2012, this is so because the Douala Stock Exchange is still seriously controlled by the state. Cameroonians do not trust the state in monitoring their shares.

Certain measures need to be put in place to make the Douala Stock Exchange useful. There is need for the state to sensitise the public about the importance and benefits of the stock exchange. The state can organise radio and television programs to educate the popualce about the Stock Exchange. Lessons on the Stock Exchange can also be introduced in schools in Cameroon so as to enable young Cameroonians develope an understanding of this institution. If this is not done, it will be easy for Cameroonians to understand what the Stock Exchange is all about. Nigeria’s Stock Exchange is doing well partly because of sensitisation.

The state needs to partner with the private sector to manage the affairs of the Stock Exchange. This will reduce the fears haboured in the minds and hearts of the population about investing in the Douala Stock Exchange.

There is also need for a non partisan special body to be created which should be incharge of putting in place the conditions for registering capital market operators like investment advisers, stock brokers,issuing houses,mutual funds and financial consultants.

All hope should not be lost by national and foreign investors in the Douala Stock Exchange. If some of the above mentioned proposals are put in place, more people will be encouraged to register their businesses with the Douala Stock Exchange.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Cameroun : l’État mise 30 millions d’euros sur deux nouvelles banques, Vendredi, 25 Janvier 2013, 13:52, Par Jeune Afrique


Le gouvernement camerounais a débloqué une somme de 20 milliards de F CFA (30,5 millions d’euros) pour former le capital de deux nouvelles institutions financières, la Cameroon Rural Financial Corporation et la Banque camerounaise des PME.

C’est le ministre des Finances camerounais Alamine Ousmane Mey qui en a fait l’annonce. Le gouvernement camerounais a libéré 20 milliards de F CFA, soit 30,5 millions d’euros, pour former le capital de deux nouvelles institutions financières, la Cameroon Rural Financial Corporation (Carfic) et la Banque camerounaise des PME (BC PME). Les deux établissements devraient démarrer leurs activités cette année.

Création d’emploi

Dotées de 10 milliards de F CFA de capital chacune, les deux nouvelles entités auront pour objectif de renforcer le dispositif de financement des activités rurales et de stimuler la création d’emploi à travers le pays. Elles sont notamment supposées faciliter l’accès au financement par les agriculteurs et les promoteurs de petites et moyennes entreprises (PME), dans un pays où 60% de la population vit de l’agriculture et 90% des entreprises sont des PME, selon le quotidien national Cameroon Tribune.

Grâce à cette initiative, l’État espère réduire le volume des importations à travers une relance de la production nationale.

Lire l’article sur Jeuneafrique.com : Cameroun : l’État mise 30 millions d’euros sur deux nouvelles banques

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Ritual killings in Cameroon’s political capital for big government and political positions?, By Chofor Che, 24 January 2013


The political capital of Cameroon, Yaoundé, specifically the neighbourhood called Mimboman, has been hit since December 2012, by a number of deaths of young girls aged 15 to 25. Many have concluded that these deaths are ritual killings especially as the young girls died in similar circumstances, with their sexual organs missing.

Perplexed by such mysterious acts especially at the beginning of an electoral year, a prominent journalist and specialist on supernatural happenings, Begnono Bengono was interviewed on national television, Cameroon’s Radio and Television network. Bengono asserted that this is not a strange phenomenon in Cameroon. According to him, during every electoral year in Cameroon, young people die. It is believed that certain parts of their bodies are used for rituals to enable politicians remain in power or win elections.

Cameroon will host municipal and legislative elections this year. Many government big guns are visiting soothsayers so as to remain in power. This view was corroborated by Dr Ateba Ayene, outspoken member of the Central Committee of the ruling political party in Cameroon, the Cameroon Peoples’ Democratic Movement. According to Ateba, who was recently interviewed over a private television network, Canal2, such acts are demonic acts and contribute to the degradation of the fabric of society.

Forces of law and order have been carrying out investigations on these killings. It is disturbing to know that this neighbourhood is cut off from other neighbourhoods in the nation’s capital, especially as it has no good roads, it is plagued by water and electricity shortages, and it has no police station. The population of Mimboman remains in disarray and fear.

The case of Mimboman in Yaoundé is a vivid example of the consequences of big government especially in Africa. The State in Cameroon is a preferred means by which certain individuals enrich themselves at the detriment of others. Some individuals even go an extra mile to adhere to demands from soothsayers just to remain in power.

African states especially the government of Cameroon need to revisit the raison d’etre of the state. One of the major duties of the state is to ensure that the citizens are safe and sound. It is unbelievable that there is no police station in this area of the city. Action needs to be taken by the authorities that be, to ensure that the population of Mimboman is safe.

Roads as well as power and water are important requirements for life. The population of Mimboman lack these facilities. There is a local council in this area, which has remained dormant for a long-time due to the fact that funds meant for development do not trickle down from the central government to the local government in Mimboman. There is need for the central government to give a chance for communities to develop by ensuring that funds meant for development are judiciously utilised.

If the idea of limited government is inculcated in Cameroonians and they are encouraged to be business orientated, then there will be no need for such outrageous crimes. Of course, the idea of limited government must be beafed up with action. It is important for the state to give room for the private sector to thrive. The private sector in Africa in general and Cameroon still suffers enormously from government cohesion, making many Cameroonians to find solace in politics and government positions. If Cameroon needs to contribute to Africa’s renaissance, then it is time not only for a mind-set change, but concrete action on the ground.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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