Wednesday, February 3, 2016

AFRICA NEWS BULLETIN @ 20h00 -- 1 February, 2016

1February, 2016
Radio XYZ93.1FM
Lead Producer: E.K.BensahJr
Assistant Producer/Presenter: Joshua Quodja-Mensah

1.       FOCUS:The UN & Africa Look-Ahead for 2016
2.       EAST AFRICA:
a.       Uganda’s Kiira Motors Unveils Solar-Powered Bus this Month
b.      Low-Cost Beer to Create 5000 Jobs in Uganda
a.       GS Sahel Group to Establish Regional School of Excellence on War
4.       WEST AFRICA:
a.       Ghana Joins ECOWAS Countries to Implement Common External Tariff

5.       SOUTH AFRICA: COMESA To Deploy Election Observers

1.                   FOCUS:
With only five weeks into the New Year, the sub-region has already been attacked by terrorists in Burkina Faso.

The Islamist sect Boko Haram continues to inflict terror in parts of Nigeria now almost on a daily basis. Only yesterday, as President Deby of Chad was assuming the Chairmanship of the African Union, three people were killed and dozens wounded in two suicide bombings in the Lake Chad area.

In the first attack in Guie, a bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up killing one person and injuring 32. The second took place in the village of Miterine, leaving two dead and 24 wounded.

Without a doubt, this is a year in which the United Nations will have to join partners worldwide to work harder than ever to uplift people from poverty, and ensure a safer world. The global body has outlined three major tasks for the year ahead. The first is protecting citizens; the second is assisting those in the Sahel out of crushing poverty. The third has to do with ensuring there are “free and fair” elections in countries of Central Africa as they head to the ballot box for critical elections.

The UN believes the first priority of protecting citizens remains a major challenge. According to top UN Official HerveLadsous,who is head of UN Peacekeeping Operations, about 80 percent of uniformed peacekeepers are now serving in missions in Africa.

The third priority of maintaining conflict-free elections in Central Africa have become nettlesome issues as Central African Republic; the Democratic Republic of Congo; and Burundi remains unresolved.

The second priority remains another headache for the UN as it shifts its resources to ensure those living in the Sahel are able to have a healthier and safer life. It is a recondite fact that countries that make up the Sahel are some of the poorest in the world. In December 2015, the UN launched a US$2billion humanitarian appeal for the region, adding that up to 600,000 children there are at the risk of dying from malnutrition in the coming year.

The UN’s Daniel Dickinson spoke with Toby Lanzer, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel, and asked him what he expects over the next 12 months. Lanzer painted a grim picture of the reality of the Sahel through the lens of a Malian mother who asked him: “what future can there be for my son? He can be a drug-dealer, a human trafficker, a gun-runner, a rebel, a terrorist?” Let’s listen to the rest of what he had to say. [AUDIO]

2.                   EAST AFRICA:
The Ugandan motor vehicle manufacturing company that government created has announced plans to commence automobile production in 2018.

In a bold attempt to prove to the world that the country is ready for automotive engineering and technology innovation, CEO Paul Musasizi of Kiira Motors Corporation says so far two concept vehicles have been produced – the Kiira EV and Kiira Smack. He said in an interview “there is a difference between manufacturing and developing concepts.” He continued that they have developed three concept vehicles and are working on the manufacturing plant in another part of the country.

These vehicles have been created to respond to the challenge of climate change, Musasizi said as he inspected the final touches on the 35-seater bus named Kayoola.

Still in East Africa,

Beer-lovers in Africa may soon be flocking to the East African country of Uganda as proponents of the newly-launched Ngule beer say the brand will create jobs for about 5000 farmers by providing market for their produce.

Uganda Breweries Limited(UBL) and Majestic Investments, the investment arm of Buganda Kingdom, last week officially signed an agreement to produce a low cost beer that, they say, will reduce on the level of illicit alcohol  consumed on the market.

Buganda Prime Minister Charles Peter Mayiga believes the beer will create jobs for the farmers who grow cassava, which is one of the raw materials used in the production of the beer. The partnership with UBL, he maintained, is aimed at promoting the income levels of the people and also addressing key social concerns like health of the people who cannot afford the expensive safe beer brands.

3.                   CENTRAL AFRICA:
In the last edition of the XYZ Africa News, we reported that Chad’s IddrisDebyItno was likely to replace Zimbabwe’s Mugabe as the new AU Chairman. Deby is now indeed Chair, and stated in his opening speech that Africa must begin to act and talk less.

It is arguable that Chad is an epitome of a country that has acted for the benefit of the continent than any of its Central African neighbours. From its exploits in joining ECOWAS countries fight Islamist militants in Mali in 2012 to what he has done with oil; Deby is a President to watch.

Even more so now that under his Chairmanship of the G5 Sahel group, the project to establish a Regional School of War for the G5 is likely to come to fruition.

Experts from Mauritania; Mali; Chad; Niger; and Burkina Faso met last week in Mauritania’s capital to deliberate over preparatory sessions around a regional school of war for the group.

The two-day meeting was a follow-up to that held in November 2015 in Chad’s capital Ndjamena, where the idea of a School was mooted. In the communiqué that resulted from the meeting, it was agreed that the headquarters would be in Mauritania.

According to the francophone, the Permanent Secretary of the g5 Sahel Group, Chadian Najim El Hadj Mohamed is quoted as saying that the decision to set up the School “underscored the fact that (in opting for this School), the five Head of States, confronted by the same challenges of security and development, decided to cooperate in a permanent and structured manner so as to optimize the convergence of their efforts.”

4.                   WEST AFRICA:
Although late in the game, Ghana joins other ECOWAS countries to implement the Common External Tariff effective today, 1 February, 2016.

The implementation process follows the successful passage of the CET Act, (Act 905) by Ghana’s legislators.

The CET is the single tariff rate agreed to by all Member States of the Economic Community of West African States. The regime means that the same tariff will be introduced on an eligible item imported into the sub-region – irrespective of which ECOWAS member country it lands in.

ECOWAS believes it is one of the instruments of harmonizing ECOWAS Member States and strengthening its Common Market. Article 3 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty defines the aims of the Community as promoting “cooperation and integration, leading to the establishment of an economic union in West Africa.” It continues “in order to achieve this, the Community is to ensure, in stages, among other means, the establishment of a common market through the adoption of a common external tariff and a common trade policy vis-à-vis third countries.”

Mr.SeiduYakubu, Chief Revenue Officer of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) explained that the implementation of the CET would help reduce smuggling of goods. He said “…there will be no need for importers in the country to import their goods through any of the ECOWAS Member countries and then wheel them by road to Accra.”

The CET for ECOWAS was adopted by the Heads of State of the regional bloc in October 2013 in Dakar, Senegal, to enhance trade within the sub-region.

Even more significant for ECOWAS is the fact that the CET signifies the region’s commitment to economic integration. Economists posit that in the five stages of economic integration, the adoption and application of a CET is the second stage before a Common Market, where services and capital are free to move within member countries.

5.                   SOUTH AFRICA:
At the invitation of the Ugandan government, Election Observers of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) are to be deployed to the country for the forthcoming general elections on 18 February.

Expected to be in the country from 14 February to 20, the main objective will be to “provide an independent assessment of the electoral process thereby providing credibility and legitimacy to the electoral process as a way of promoting peace, security and stability in the COMESA region as provided for under article 3(d) of the COMESA Treaty”, the statement said.

The statement continues that the Observer Mission will be led by a member of the COMESA Committee of Elders, Ambassador Ashraf GamaalRashed, and will comprise of Observers drawn from selected Member States and a support team from COMESA Secretariat.

This will be the second time COMESA is participating in election observation in Uganda, having observed the last general elections held five years ago in 2011.

Other organisations that will observe the elections include the European Union and the regional legislative arm – the East African Legislative Assembly.


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