NewsBrief, 4-10 July 2012

Benin, Côte d'Ivoire and Togo will become CILSS members

The 47th Ordinary Session of the CILSS Council of Ministers, held on 2 and 3 July in N'Djaména, focused on the food crisis, recent rainfall previsions and the implementation of the resolutions taken at the Heads of State conference in June. The ministers "invite the member governments to follow and strengthen CILSS decisions, making it the unique means of communication on the regional food security situation." The meeting considered and approved the membership of Benin, Côte d'Ivoire and Togo. The CILSS will thus enlarge its geographic focus from Sahel countries to coastal West Africa and will now count 13 member countries. Despite joint efforts, the Council expressed its regret regarding the slow progress made in the implementation of a roadmap aimed at stimulating closer collaboration between ECOWAS and CILSS. Several proposals to speed up this process were made and will be discussed again at the level of Heads of state. The Council of Ministers also adopted several resolutions, including the implementation of the Millennium Village Projects on the Great Green Wall initiative pilot programme in CILSS member countries. "Local food stocks - an effective tool to ensure food security in the Sahel and West Africa" will be the theme of the 27th CILSS Day.

No immediate UN-backing for military intervention in Mali

The UN Security Council endorsed on 5 July West African political efforts to end unrest in Mali but did not approve military intervention. In its resolution, the Council expressed nevertheless "its readiness to further examine this request and encouraged close co-operation between the Malian Transitional authorities, ECOWAS, the African Union, and other countries to prepare detailed options in regard to any such force's mandate." Six West African Heads of State (Benin, Burkina Faso Côte d'Ivoire, Niger, Nigeria and Togo) held a mini summit on 7 July in Ouagadougou, with representatives of political parties and other civil society groups to talk about the way forward in Mali. Interim President Dioncounda Traoré who is still under medical treatment in Paris, was unable to attend this meeting. Increasingly concerned about the slow progress made by Mali's transition government, West African leaders charged a ECOWAS technical team with making proposals by 31 July "on broadening the government to make it more inclusive in order to have a legitimate authority in Bamako". Another technical mission, with UN and African Union experts, is assessing the state of the Malian army, drawing up plans to eventually deploy ECOWAS troops. Many West Africans fear that northern Mali will become a "new Somalia" with strict Sharia law being imposed on all populations; it is the first time that radical Islamists occupy such a vast territory.

Foreign direct investment in Africa to double by 2014

The UN predicts that foreign direct investment (FDI) into Africa will more than double by 2014 thanks to improved investor perceptions after stronger economic growth, ongoing reforms and high commodity prices. In their annual report, the UN Conference on Trade and Development stated that 2012 prospects are quite promising, with average flows between USD 55 billion and USD 65 billion; moreover, investment is anticipated to grow to USD 70 - USD85 billion in 2013 and USD 75 - USD 100 billion in 2014. Countries that are commodity-rich, including Ghana and Nigeria, were the most likely to attract FDI: in 2011, Nigeria received inflows of USD 8.92 billion, representing a fifth of all flows to the continent. Furthermore, the report indicates that FDI inflows from developing countries into African economies were higher than those from developed countries. "Africa's emerging middle class has also spurred the growth of FDI in the services sector, though FDI to the extractive industries tends to attract more attention."

Interpol inaugurates West Africa office

On 7 July, Interpol inaugurated its new offices in Abidjan after its move to Accra during the Ivoirian political crisis. The regional office will cover all ECOWAS member states and Mauritania and will focus its efforts on the fight against illicit drug trade, cross-border theft and human trafficking. INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble stated at the inauguration that "All countries in the region have experienced dark moments. But they remained united in their determination to combat crime and terrorism, and the reopening of INTERPOL's Regional Bureau is a symbol of the region's solidarity." He added that the region would become the first worldwide to be directly connected before the end of 2012 to INTERPOL's iARMS system used to identify illicit weapons. When it was first installed in 1994, the Abidjan regional office was the first INTERPOL office in Africa.

ECOWAS validates culture of peace manual

At the conclusion of a five-day consultation period on 6 July, West African peace experts have validated the "ECOWAS Reference Manual on the Culture of Peace, Human Rights, Citizenship, and Regional Integration". The manual is made up of seven topics: the Culture of Peace and Conflict Management; Human Rights; Civics and Citizenship; Democracy and Good Governance; Gender and Development; Public Health, Environment and Sustainable Development; and Regional Integration. Burkina Faso's Minister for Education and Literacy Koumba Boly stated that "This will facilitate the transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace, respect for human life, human rights and dignity, and rejection of violence, as well as equality of men and women." The manual, based on regional-wide input and consultations, is expected to be incorporated into national education curriculum in order to "to create, through education, a critical mass of community citizens sensitized and imbued with the peace culture."

Harmonisation of renewable energy policies

Providing a coherent legal and policy framework is the key to boosting the development of renewable energy sources in the region. This is the joint conviction of ECOWAS energy ministers and directors who met at a regional workshop organised by ECREEE in Dakar and approved the main targets and pillars of a regional renewable energy and energy efficiency policy of ECOWAS. Among the joint objectives, ECOWAS is expected to: increase the share of renewable energy to 35 percent in 2020 and to 48 percent in 2030; extend grids in order to reach 75 percent to rural populations, of which 25 percent will be renewable energy; provide the entire ECOWAS population with access to improved cooking facilities through improved stoves or fuel switching by 2020. Senegalese Minister of Energy and Mines, Boubacar Mbodj, stated that "Energy efficiency and renewable energy will allow our states to achieve these goals of meeting all our energy needs, because it is easier to save a kilowatt than to produce it."  This coincides with the objective to save 30 percent of the electricity consumption in the region through demand and supply side efficiency improvements.

Gender parity in Senegal's National Assembly

In legislative elections held on 1 July, women represented 44 percent of elected deputies . This is a 50 percent increase from the last assembly, where women represented 22 percent. This sharp increase is due to a law passed in May 2010 that required that all parties and coalitions of parties involved in the legislative elections invest in as many women as men. The president's coalition, Bennoo Bokk Yaakaar (BBY) took the majority of seats in the assembly, with 119 total deputies, though only 36 percent of the electorate participated in the elections.


The Millennium Development Goals Report 2012

With three years remaining to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed upon by world leaders in 2005, this 2012 MDG Report highlights some of the targets that have already been met well before the deadline. The target of reducing poverty by half of the 1990 rate has been met globally, and the target of reducing the proportion of people without access to water has equally been halved. Parity in primary education between girls and boys has been achieved globally. In the health sector, tuberculosis rates have been reversed, HIV treatment access has increased, and malaria rates are on the decline. Despites these advances, inequality still remains a problem; women and youth are still as likely to find themselves without secure employment, maternal mortality rates still remain high; hunger and undernourishment remain major world challenges and the number of slum dwellers continues to increase. The report demonstrates that "MDG progress shows the power of global goals and a shared purpose", creating the expectation that "sooner, rather than later, all these goals can and must be achieved."

The Roles and Opportunities for the Private Sector in Africa's Agro-Food Industry

This report, the product of a UN Development Programme's (UNDP) African Facility for Inclusive Markets (AFIM), lays out the various roles that the private sector can play in the development of the African agro-food industry. Through an examination of successful market development models in Africa, the report outlines the incentives necessary to encourage the private sector to deepen investment in this industry. It also offers mechanisms so that the private sector may effectively engage with smallholder farmers, "turning them from subsistence only farmers to viable agri-enterprises." These mechanisms include: the use of Project Facilitation Platforms to strengthen regional value chain programmes; working through existing regional institutions such GIZ, CMA, PANAAC, ROPPA and SACAU; and using In house structures and systems, outsourcing to experts/ consultants/institutions.




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