Tuesday, 27 November 2007
27 November 2007
Posted to the web 27 November 2007
Sub Saharan Africa is said to be having excellent and functioning equity markets, which are an added and competitive advantage to investor confidence for the continent.
Stephen Jennings, CEO of the Renaissance Group said while doubters, investors and African continent observers claim that high commodity prices are alone propping up Africa's economic vitality, the continent has exciting and functioning equity markets.
"Prior to1989, there were only five (5) stock markets in Sub Sahara Africa. Today there are 16 countries with fully operational bourses. These exchanges have seen a dramatic growth in market capitalisation rising from $14,5 billion in 2002 to nearly $100 billion now, a compound annual growth of nearly 50 percent," he said.
Jennings said while liquidity is still limited, it is increasingly rapid. According to his company's finds, equity turnover in Sub Sahara Africa year to-date is $15,7 billion, a two-fold increase from all of 2006. "Thriving stock markets and robust capital markets officer considerable benefits. They prompt more robust financial disclosure, improved corporate governance, a focus on shareholding rights and regulatory best practices. They boost domestic savings and they increase the quantity and quality of investment and investors.
Renaissance Group was, this year, involved in two landmark $300million equity capital markets transactions, one for Access Bank and the other for Union Bank. There is at least $1 billion offering in the wings for early next year, said Jennings.
Domestic demands and investment are key drivers in Sub Sahara Africa's economic expansion. "There are pent up savings in both government and the private sector which when put to work will further increase the speed of economic growth of Africa. Many governments have saved rather than spent their commodity and debt relief windfalls. Companies are also ready to increase borrowing because the cost of debt has fallen below expected rates of return."
For economies to prosper, Jennings said, there is need to foster sustainable domestic private sector. He is confident that for Sub Sahara Africa to prospect, governments need to accelerate enactment of legislation and developing regulatory regimes to reduce the cost and barriers of doing business in Sub Sahara Africa. "Land ownership and reforms is one very important case which is crucial to creating a strong and flourishing domestic private sector. Lowering and creating a level playing field for foreign investors is also necessary because the participation of foreign investors in the region's capital markets will drive valuation to international levels," said Jennings.
26 November 2007
Posted to the web 26 November 2007
The Trade Union Congress (GTUC) has warned the government against any deception by the European Commission (EC) for an interim agreement concerning the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
According to the TUC, information available to them suggests that the government is seriously considering the EC's proposal for an interim agreement or a so-called 'EPA-light' which means the government would be committed to eliminate all tariffs up to 80 per cent of European imports into Ghana and the West African region for about twelve years.
In a press statement signed by the Secretary- General of the TUC, Kwasi Adu-Amankwah it commended the decision by the government together with its West African counterparts that it cannot rush to conclude an EPA by the end of this year.
According to the statement such a decision was in the best interest of the country since it has been widely acknowledged that a rushed EPA can inflict serious damage on the Ghanaian industry.
The Secretary-General said the EPA-light which has already been presented to a number of regions within the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries would still have dire consequences on the economies and jobs.
"The fact that the liberalization of tariffs on goods, including agriculture, will happen at such a level and rate that would threaten our small farmers and infant industries could spell disaster for our fragile economy."
In addition, the rapid loss of government revenue will paralyze government's ability to invest in education, health and decent jobs all of which are crucial to sustainable development and poverty reduction.
The statement further said the EPA-light being suggested by the EC does not in any way lower the ambition of the EC regarding the kind of trade agreement it wants to conclude.
"The EC still hopes to do a comprehensive deal on all issues such as investment, government procurement, competition and public services as well as intellectual property protection which Ghana and other developing countries have fought for years to keep out of the World Trade Organization (WTO)," it added.
"The Lisbon Summit represents a turning point in the history of Euro-Africa relations. A moment when both continents decide to upgrade their partnership, to make sure they can live side by side, in peace, security, prosperity and dignity. A moment when both continents decide to tackle global challenges and shape the future of the planet together. A moment when women, men and children at both sides of the Mediterranean join forces, building a partnership of people."
Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and humanitarian aid and for relations with Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries.
The Joint EU-Africa Strategy provides a long-term vision for a strategic partnership between Africa and the EU for the benefit of the people of Africa and Europe, while the initial Action Plan 2008-2010 sets out priorities that should be implemented in the next 3 years.
Sixty facts and figures
Did you know that…
Africa is on the move
1. The number of African countries that held multiparty elections has increased from three in 1973 to 40 in 2005.
2. In 2007, for the second year in a row, GDP grew at over 5 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa, posting 5.7 percent growth in 2005.
3. Nine countries were near or above the 7 percent growth threshold needed for sustained poverty reduction: Angola, Cape Verde, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Tanzania.
4. Intra-regional trade in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), which established a free trade area in 2000, grew by 25% in 2003 to about €5 billion
5. Foreign Direct Investment increased thirteen-fold in Sub-Saharan Africa between 1990 and 2005, from $1.2 billion to $16.5 billion.
6. In 2006 two thirds of the countries in the region made at least one positive reform to make doing business easier, putting Sub-Saharan Africa in third place in business reforms.
7. By 2006, there were more than 110 million mobile phone subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa. This means that approximately 17 percent of the population of Sub-Saharan. Africa has a mobile phone, up from below 1 percent in the 1990s.
8. The total revenue generated by the ICT sector in Sub-Saharan Africa is equal to 5-7% of the total GDP of a country. This is higher than any other region in the world.
9. Gross enrolment in primary schools in Africa has risen from 72% in 1991 to 93% in 2004
10. Over the past decade, many low-income African countries, including Senegal, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Uganda, Ghana, and Cape Verde, have lifted significant percentages of their citizens above the poverty line, well on course to meet the income poverty MDG target of halving poverty by 2015.
11. Focused attention on HIV/AIDS is beginning to pay off. In the last two years, twentyeight of the 36 countries reporting data are showing reductions over time in HIV prevalence; 32 of the 36 are achieving monthly increases in ARV coverage.
12. Eritrea, Comoros, Cape Verde, Mozambique, and Guinea have recorded sharp reductions in child (under 5) mortality.
13. The gender gap, still on average nearly 15 percent in primary education, is closing in 30 of the 36 countries for which we have information. And in the 45 countries reporting on the composition of their national parliaments, 31 are showing increases in the share of women holding parliamentary seats.
14. There are about 4.6million Africans legally residing in Europe
15. In 2005, African diaspora around the world send home about US$6.5 billion remittances to the 34 Sub-Saharan countries.
16. Tertiary students from sub-Saharan Africa are the most mobile in the world, with one out of every 16 – or 5.6 % - studying abroad.
17. Up to 2006, 800 Chinese companies have invested USD 1 billion, 480 joint ventures have been established and 78 000 Chinese workers employed
18. China imports 32% of its oil from Africa, oil related investments in recent years amount to at least 16 bn USD
Africa matters to Europe
19. Through the Everything But Arms scheme, the EU allows the least developed countries - most of them being African - to export to the EU duty free.
20. Through the Economic Partnership Agreements, the EU has proposed to extend fully free access to the EU market for all products (but one) to all Sub-Saharan African countries (except South Africa), from 2008.
21. The EU is importing more agricultural products from developing countries the he rest of the G8 countries plus Australia together. As a result, the EU is the biggest export market for African products.
22. In 2001-2003, the value of EU farm imports from Africa averaged € 7 billion per year and its exports to Africa were roughly half that. The U.S is Africa’s second major importer, but its imports are just one sixth the value of those that go to the EU.
23. EU agricultural imports from Africa are not restricted to traditional tropical commodity products. Almost half are fruit and vegetables (other than bananas), meat and oilseeds.
24. The reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and the implementation of WTO commitments are leading to a decrease in trade-distorting support to EU agriculture.
For example, whereas almost a third of EU agricultural and agri-food exports benefited from export refunds between 1996 and 2000, in 2002 this figure was reduced to 17%. In 2002, only 16% of subsidised EU agricultural and agri-food exports went to Africa.
25. The European Union is the largest donor for development aid, making available in 2005 more than half of all public aid or more than 55 billion USD worldwide.
26. The EU has decided to increase development aid by half between 2006 and 2010 in its efforts to effectively put an end to poverty.
27. The EU decided in 2005 to raise aid spending by at least €20 billion per year by 2010 and to reach, by 2015, the UN’s 0.7 per cent target.
28. Since 2005, the EU reviews yearly the coherence of twelve EU policy areas, including migration, agriculture and fisheries, with development objectives.
29. In 2004 101'429 students from Sub-Saharan Africa studied in European universities and other tertiary education institutions.
30. The EU will increase its aid for trade to € 2 billion a year from 2010 for all developing countries, in order to help developing countries take advantage of new and existing trade opportunities.
31. The EU is negotiating so called "FLEGT agreements" with Ghana and will start negotiations with countries in Central Africa soon. These agreements will allow only legally harvested timber products to be imported into the EU from FLEGT partner countries and will provide for a licensing and control system.
32. The EU has adopted an ambitious climate policy aimed as a long term goal to limit climate change to an average of 2°C as compared to pre-industrial levels; this policy will directly or indirectly benefit African countries, which are most vulnerable to climate change.
33. Since 2003, export subsidies and trade-distorting-domestic subsidies have been reduced drastically. By 2011, at which time the CAP reforms launched in 2003 and 2005 will be fully implemented, almost 90% of EU direct payments will be decoupled from production. In the context of the WTO negotiations, the EU has offered to eliminate all export subsidies by 2013 and to reduce trade-distorting-domestic support by 70%.
34. 22 EU Member States have ratified the "OECD Anti-Bribery Convention", which came into effect in February 1999. This agreement is aimed at reducing corruption in developing countries by encouraging sanctions against bribery in international business transactions carried out by companies based in the convention' member countries.
35. All EU Member States except Estonia and Slovenia have signed the 'United Nations Convention against Corruption'. To date 14 EU Member States have ratified it. This convention has the objective of fighting corruption within both the public and private sector.
36. In the negotiations for a the Cotonou Agreement, governing the relations between the EU and the ACP countries, the Commission has proposed to the ACP States a new Article that contains an obligation for all contractors under European Development Funds financing to respect and apply the different key ILO conventions linked to the protection of workers and children.
37. Total EU support – that is from the Commission and from the Member States bilaterally – to the African Union peace operation in Sudan (Darfur) amounts to over €435 million since the start of the operation in 2004.
38. The EU set-up a new instrument to finance peacekeeping operations, the African Peace Facility, with an amount of over 300millions. The EU agreed to free another €300 million for the period 2008-2010
39. The EU dedicated a sum of €2.7 billion a Governance Initiative in 2007 to support African countries adopted or are ready to commit to a credible plan of concrete actions and reforms.
40. The EU earmarked 5.6 billion € EU-Africa Partnership on Infrastructure aims to secure the interconnetivity of the African continent and its different regions Day in day out, Europe and Africa work together
41. In Angola, the European Commission put in place a €26m Programme of demining, return and resettlement. Through a combination of mine-clearance and institutional capacity-building, the programme helped Angola to overcome the legacy of almost 30 years of civil war and prepared the ground for the country’s sustained development.
42. The EU contributed to the first free and fair elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 40 years (July 2006) by granting € 165 million to the process – more than any other donor – and by sending its largest ever election monitoring team
43. With the aid of the EU’s Centre for the Development of Industry, the Ethiopian Firm “Dire Industries” has raised its production from 150 pairs of shoes a day in 2004 to 2 500 pairs a day now. Its sales have skyrocketed by 1600% in 18 months and its staff has grown fivefold.
44. The EU has granted over five million euros in aid to revive Madagascar’s production of leather. The project, being implemented by associations of local exporters, has improved the productivity and enlarged plantations. An origin and quality label, “Madagascar Vanilla“, has been created and is now recognised internationally.
45. The EU has finances (20 million €) small and medium enterprises in Tunisia, such as the CYMOD, a clothing firm operating in Manouba. It helped CYMOD to buy new equipment to enlarge its factory and to set up an ambitious staff training programme, increasing its turnover by 50% in 12 months and doubled its staff.
46. In Tanzania, thanks to the programme financed by the EU (34 million €), three water tanks have already been built, as well as a supply system. For the town of Mbeya alone, 500 to 700 new users a month have been able to get connected to the distribution system.
47. The EU is financing (€19 million) the repair of the road from Niamey, through Torodi and on to the border with Burkina Faso, accounting for 40% of Niger’s total traffic and benefiting an estimated one million people.
48. The EU has co-financed (€14 million) the building of two bridges on the Ntem river, in Eboro, along with 81 km of roads. As a result, for the first time ever an uninterrupted asphalted road connects Libreville (Gabon) to Yaoundé (Cameroon).
49. The EU has financed (10 million €) the construction of 908 classrooms, 321 primary schools, and the establishment of canteens in three of Burkina’s Faso’s poorest regions. As a result, the schooling rate has climbed in those regions from 29% to 41%.
50. In some 15 poor rural areas of Egypt, the EU has co-funded (100 million €) the construction of 160 schools, supplied 15 000 pupils with books, uniforms, satchels and school supplies and provided modern equipment for 300 schools. The aid has also made it possible to hire 11 500 new teachers and to train 55 000 headmasters.
51. The EU supports (2 millions €) in Ougagadougou, the capital of Bukina Faso, a programme creating a mobile health care unit creating awareness among 50 000 women who are pregnant or of childbearing age and providing food aid for the children of HIV-positive mothers.
52. An EU-supported programme (3.8 million €) combating AIDS reaches 650 000 people living in the corridors linking Malawi and Indian Ocean via Mozambique.
53. The EU decided in 2004 that €500 million be allocated for the Water Facility. The first tranche (€230 Million) helped over 10 million people to get access to safe drinking water by 2010, and helped around 5 million people to benefit from improved access to basic sanitation facilities.
54. The EU has developed a far-reaching programme that has led to the creation of protected zones in seven countries of Central Africa, the construction of tracks and observation points, the training of guards, surveillance measures to prevent poaching, and initiatives to protect trees and fauna. The programme is also working on alternative solutions to help the local inhabitants, who are highly dependent on forest resources for their survival. It has developed eco-tourism activities, like creating a gorilla sanctuary in the Lossi lands in the Congo.
55. In West Africa, the EU is supporting a project (11.7 million €) to improve climate monitoring and forecasting of monsoons and drought, and their impact on water resources and food security.
56. The EU is finding programs to fight against desertification in two vulnerable regions in central Morocco (municipality of Ouled Dlim) and Tunisia (Imada de Skjiret), where the planting of fodder shrubs like the locust tree and prickly pear provide a reserve of green fodder for drought periods.
57. In south-west Morocco the Commission and the EIB have, since 2003, financed a €40m project to improve the living conditions of women working with the argana tree.
The attraction of argana oil has directly benefited 4,500 women giving them sustained revenue over a long period of time.
58. The PUMA initiative, initiated at the request of five African Regional organisations in 2000 and funded by the EU (11 M€), has ensured the access to information on the environment and satellite data to all 53 African countries for early warning of natural disasters, improved food security, better health management, more efficient water and energy use.
59. In 2004, the EU and Africa concluded a Partnership on cotton to respond to the cotton crisis on the continent, comprising both trade and development components. In this framework the EU has made available over € 200 million to strengthen the competitiveness of the cotton sectors in Africa and has supported Africa in negotiating a favourable cotton solution in the WTO. The EU has no import duties or quotas for
cotton, provides no export subsidies and has largely decoupled its farmer support from cotton production.
60. For over 40 years the EU has supported livestock vaccination and disease eradication campaigns in Africa for a value of more than € 200 million. This has resulted in the containment and near-eradication of rinderpest from Africa. The recent approval of another € 4 million should allow the eradication of the disease in the remaining area (north-east Kenya, South Ethiopia, South Somalia).
Published: September 19 2007 23:28 | Last updated: September 19 2007 23:28
Tensions over Europe’s policy on Africa have come to a head after Gordon Brown said he would not attend a crucial EU-Africa summit in Lisbon in December, to protest the attendance of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.
“President Mugabe is the only African leader to face an EU travel ban,” the prime minister said in an article in Thursday’s Independent newspaper in the UK. “There is a reason for this – the abuse of his own people. There is no freedom in Zimbabwe: no freedom of association; no freedom of the press. And there is widespread torture and mass intimidation of the political opposition.”
Labour moves to curb UK poll spending - Oct-31Cameron steps up pressure over EU treaty - Oct-15Westminster blog: Lib Dems axe Sir Menzies - Sep-24Matthew Engel: Storm tears limb from oak - Oct-10Brown seeks to learn from past disasters - Sep-28Bolton wonders whether poll is imminent - Sep-28Mr Brown said he believed that Mr Mugabe’s presence would undermine the summit, diverting attention from the important issues that needed to be resolved. “In those circumstances, my attendance would not be appropriate.”
European diplomats had been quietly hoping that Mr Mugabe would not attend the summit.
However, several months ago the 53 members of the African Union made clear to José Socrates, Portugal’s prime minister, that they would boycott the summit if the EU did not allow Zimbabwe to attend.
David Miliband, the foreign secretary, is believed to have told a meeting of EU foreign ministers earlier this month that Mr Brown would not attend the summit if Mr Mugabe was invited.
The announcement that Mr Brown is to boycott the summit will come as a blow to Portugal, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU and has made the success of the summit a priority.
The EU is keen to increase co-operation with Africa on issues of immigration and development as China steps up its investment in the continent.
The Lisbon summit is to be the first of its kind since an EU-Africa meeting in Cairo in 2000. Attempts to hold another summit in 2003 were derailed by the possibility of Mr Mugabe attending.
This latest setback presents the hosts with an excruciating choice – either blacklist Mr Mugabe and risk a boycott by other African countries, or allow Mr Mugabe to attend and risk the absence of Britain and perhaps other European countries.
Monday 26 November 2007 - 11:38
The ACP-EU summit officially opened in Kigali on Tuesday with Rwandan President Paul Kagame calling for a concerted effort by the international community in ending the misunderstandings in Somalia.
Kagame used the opportunity of this 14th session of the African, Caribbean and pacific and the European Union joint Parliamentary Assembly convening at Serena Hotel to his government position on the Somalis state of war- it is simply a neglected country.
''It is unacceptable for us to watch while people die every day, in a situation made worse by the fact that Somalia has not had functioning state organs for more than a decade'', he said. He added that key parties, including African countries and the international community should join hands in restoration of peace and harmony in the horn of Africa, at least to the interest of millions suffering in this part of Africa, says the Rwandan President.
And, the Kigali establishment, he said, is already playing her part in the peace campaign by training Somali security forces. ''War in Somalia must end'', Kagame said, adding that the ingenuity of the international community must be seen to ensure that the war ravaged Somalia regains stability.
Kagame's plea comes at a time when heads of state started intervening. The French navy on Monday escorted two ships carrying food aid to Somalia to deter possible attacks from pirates. The waters off the war-torn country are among the most dangerous in the world-26 ships, including three carrying food aid, have been attacked this year.
Some 580,000 Somalis have fled their homes in 2007 due to increased conflict, the UN says. The country has also been ravaged by drought. For the issue of Durfur, the Kigali leadership observed that there seems to be a drastic improvement since the approval of the UN-AU hybrid force. The ACP-EU member countries rallied behind Kagame's concerns.
Moreover, the exploited masses are also unable to develop economically because the exploiters control the economy in a subtle way. However, a day comes when some intelligent people emerge from the exploited masses having detected the exploiters’ techniques to dupe the people, even though the media is controlled.
At this stage the exploiters become active intellectually to prevent the germination of the seed of liberation. They take control of the education system, the printing presses and the propaganda agencies in a last and desperate attempt to raise high embankments to contain the surging tide of public discontent.
But soon after comes the day of change when the disgruntled masses rise up in revolt and the high sand embankments get washed away by the floods of revolution. After this the masses make an independent appraisal of the type of socio-psycho-economic exploitation they were subjected to. Before the revolution they may have discussed social injustice in private amongst themselves, but if they had tried to propagate their discontent publicly their tongues would have been cut.
Shrii Prabhat R Sarkar
Thursday, 15 November 2007
By Sylvia Juuko
AFRICAN economies have registered robust growth mainly fuelled by oil and mineral exports, a trend that is set to continue, the World Bank has said.
“Average growth in the sub-Saharan economies was 5.4% in 2005 and 2006, and the consensus projections are that growth will remain strong,” it said in a report published on Wednesday.
The report shows that exports rose from $182b in 2004 to $230b in 2005, representing a 26% rise.
It classifies African countries into three categories. The first group of seven countries comprises the seven major oil exporting economies, home to 27.7% of Africa’s population.
The second group of 18 countries, representing 35.6% of the region’s population, show diversified, sustained growth of 4%.
The third group of 17 countries, home to 36.7% of the population, is resource-poor, volatile, afflicted or emerging from conflicts, or in slow growth of less than 4%.
Uganda falls in the second category and is ranked number five with 6.1% growth.
Mozambique tops this list at 8.3%, followed by Rwanda (7.6%), Sao Tome and Principe (7.1%) and Botswana (6.7%).
The bank said for the first time in three decades, African economies are growing in tandem with the rest of the world.
“Something decidedly new is on the horizon in Africa, something that began in the mid-1990s. Many African economies appear to have turned the corner and moved to a path of faster and steadier economic growth.”
The report attributes the change in fortunes to improved policies, where inflation, budget deficits, exchange rates, and foreign debt payments are now more manageable. African countries have also improved in good governance and have stepped up efforts to fight corruption.
“These better economic fundamentals have helped to spur growth, but equally important to avoid the growth collapses that took place between 1975 and 1995,” the report says.
Rwanda and Uganda have made the greatest gains in life expectancy in the last decade, increasing by 12 and seven years respectively. Life expectancy, on the other hand, has decreased by 21 years in Botswana, 17 years in Lesotho and 16 years in Swaziland.
Uganda is one of the countries where national policies are re-oriented towards better education, the bank said. Private secondary education and training is expanding as well as emphasis on post-primary education.
The bank, however, calls for economic growth and development to be spread more equally within and among African countries.
“More than 40% in sub-Saharan Africa still live on less than $1 a day, life expectancy improvement has stalled in some countries, and poor health and poor schooling hold back improvements in people’s productivity.”