News
Economic Growth and Development
 
Africa's GDP growth could reach 7 Percent in 2011

According to African Development Bank Africa's real gross domestic product growth could reach about 7 percent in 2011 from a forecast of about 5.5 percent growth for 2010

"When we look at this year 2010, I totally concur with the numbers from the International Monetary Fund... (of) around 5.5 percent of real GDP growth and going into 2011, perhaps 1.5 percent more," AfDB president Donald Kaberuka said

The AfDB wanted rich nations to commit $40 billion a year in new money to help Africa tackle the consequences of global warming

Donald Kaberuka told journalists that 7 percent growth was the least that Africa needed "If we get 7 (percent growth) that would be very good. That is the minimum we need"

Africa surprised economists by weathering the global economic crisis better than the West, where recession has curbed growth in many developed countries

South Africa -- which exited its first recession in 17 years last December -- together with Nigeria and Kenya, is expected to help spur Africa's recovery on the back of improved global demand

Cameroon’s National Park Will Protect Biodiversity and Boost Development

Mount Cameroon has been designated a national park by the Cameroon government environmental protection agency

The active volcanic Mount Cameroon which towers over the landscape is the tallest mountain in the region and the epicenter of biological diversity

The locals thrive off the resources by the lush environment , elephants and chimpanzees roam the local forests amidst multiple species of rare plants, creating a scene unparalleled both in west Africa and throughout the world

Dr. Atanga Ekobo, the Coordinator for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Coastal Forests Program based in Cameroon, said that the creation of the Mount Cameroon National Park will benefit the local population "The park will trigger the government to create investment in the locality, especially roads and other infrastructure"

The park will be a tourist destination that will create a multitude of jobs to keep the park operational and boost the local and national economy

Finance and Investment
 
Liberia on track for HIPC debt relief this year-IMF

Liberia is on track to clear much of its remaining $1.7 billion in foreign debt under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative by the end of this year, an IMF official said on Tuesday

Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
"We are very confident that by the end of the year, Liberia will reach the HIPC completion point, " said IMF First Deputy Managing Director John Lipsky. He said the government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf had since made strong advances in financial management and transparency in the mining and energy sectors that had put it on track for HIPC completion

Johnson-Sirleaf, the first woman president of an African country promised to rebuild the country and vowed zero tolerance for corruption

The West African country cut its foreign debt to $1.7 billion in August through a $1.2 billion buyback of outstanding government debt that had been in default since the 1980s

Most of the remaining debt will likely be cancelled when Liberia reaches the HIPC completion point, either through the HIPC program or under World Bank and African Development programs, the IMF has said

The World Bank and the IMF launched HIPC in 1996 to provide a framework in which creditors can provide debt relief to the world's poorest and most heavily indebted countries

World Bank Activities

The World Bank president Robert Bruce Zoellick voiced his satisfaction at the actions taken by African governments to deal with the global economic crisis during his visit he said

"I leave Africa impressed by the actions many governments have taken to cope with the global economic crisis but aware that governments and their partners, like the World Bank Group and others, must work harder to expand opportunities and improve prospects for economic growth"

Zoellick noted that he has seen progress across the region – including fragile and post-conflict countries

He confirmed his belief in Africa's potential to become another source of growth for the world economy
“We still face considerable risks in 2010 and must work to repair the damage to human lives from the global economic crisis. At the same time we must ensure Africa's robust growth rates of the past two decades are not a one off event and that the basis for future productivity and growth are put in place to help overcome poverty on the continent“

Success would depend on making the continent a more attractive destination for investment, on donors providing adequate support, notably to countries emerging from conflict and working with Africans to ensure that each dollar spent has an impact on overcoming poverty

"The effects of global food, fuel and economic crisis would be felt by Africa's people for some time yet and it is important to persist with efforts to protect the most vulnerable while laying the foundations for future productivity and growth, Zoellick said on Tuesday via video link from the AU conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

World Bank Re-Assures African Leaders

African leaders at the recently completed bi-annual summit meeting in Addis Ababa received reassurances from the President of the World Bank Group of continued support to the initiatives proposed y the African leaders to stimulate their economies and position Africa to take advantage of a rebound in global investment and trade

The President of the World bank indicated that support will be provided to projects that will harness renewable forms of energy like hydro, solar, and wind, and improving efficiency in thermal generation and addressing climate change , while providing reliable, clean and affordable electricity to homes and enterprises

Since the global economic crisis hit in the middle of 2008, the World Bank group has committed a record $88 billion worldwide in loans, grant equity, investment and guarantees

The International Development Association (IDA), which provides grant and low interest loans to the world's 79 poorest countries committed $7.8 billion to sub-Saharan African countries in the fiscal 2009 year, a 36 percent increase over the year before

The World Bank's private sector arm, International Finance Cooperation (IFC), has seen its commitments in Africa grow to $1.82 billion in 2009 from $445 million in 2005

Politics and Governance
 
Political Tension in Côte d'Ivoire

Political tension in Côte d'Ivoire after the dissolution of the Government and the independent electoral authority has lessened

A news conference was held in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative Y. J. Choi indicated that

A new government had been announced

Agreement on forming a new electoral commission has been reached

UN officials assured that the elections will take place as scheduled

An interim provisional electoral list is in place

UN expressed that there is a need to organize a peaceful election so that election crisis in this country does not destabilize the region

Dialogue Between President Kagame and President Sarkozy in Rwanda;

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France during his recent visit to Rwanda said that those who participated in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi should be hunted down and punished

He pointed out that France recently denied political asylum to one of them and that a judicial inquiry targeting others is currently ongoing

Sarkozy said that mistakes were made but never apologize for the role that France played in the Genocide that massacred over a million Tutsi

He called on the international community including France to reflect on the failure by humanity and how to prevent such heinous crimes in the future

President Kagame thanked the French President for his openness and dialogue that they’ve had in the last few years and expressed that both countries have had a difficult relationship in the past and that next steps is build a new

Both presidents agreed to explore mutually beneficial opportunities in a number of sectors, including trade and investment, education and health as well as cultural exchanges

President Kagame expressed that switching the language of instructions in Rwandan schools from French to English was not caused by any diplomatic misunderstanding that took place between the two nations in 2006

Rwanda will still be a part of the francophone family of nations

US Reacts To Sudan-Darfur Rebel Deal

The United States hailed a ceasefire deal between Sudan and Darfur rebels in the west as a "significant move" and a key first step towards reducing violence

Darfur's armed rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), revealed signing a framework agreement with the Sudanese government in Chad that provides for a ceasefire

The US government welcomes the deal "as a significant move to formal negotiations in the AU-UN-led Darfur peace process

The Chadian presidency said that the agreement came after talks sponsored by President Idriss Deby Itno and led to "an immediate ceasefire and the start of negotiations for its application on the ground"

The move should lead to a "final agreement to be signed in March ahead of presidential and legislative elections due in Sudan in April

Ghazi Salaheddine, the Darfur adviser for Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir, said he expected negotiations with the rebels to be smooth and hoped other rebel groups will be drawn into talks with Khartoum

A ceasefire with the JEM would close the most active front in Darfur, but smaller rebel groups such as the faction of the Sudanese Liberation Army of France-based exile Abdelwahid Nur have refused to enter talks with Khartoum

According to the UN the devastating seven-year conflict has claimed some 300,000 lives and left 2.7 million refugees

Infrastructure
 
Egyptian Firm Will Invest $150 million In East African Rail

The Egyptian firm Citadel Capital plans to invest 150 million dollars (111 million Euros) over five years to improve the railway line from Kenya to Uganda

Citadel acquired 17.5 percent stake in Rift Valley Railways (RVR (1,200 miles) of track in east Africa

The century old railway has the rail network that connects Kenya's Indian Ocean port of Mombasa to the interior of Kenya and Uganda, including the Ugandan of capital Kampala. The rail network is a century old and has suffered from chronic underinvestment

An efficient rail network would allow east Africa to lower in half its transport costs, which are currently among the highest in the world

"Kenya Uganda Railways hauls just over one million tons per annum today out of an existing market of 16 million tons being handled in Mombasa Port today"

According to Managing director at Citadel, Amr El-Barbary
"New investment and a fresh approach to management could see that figure grow to five million tons per annum within five years," he said. The railway in east Africa was originally built by Britain, the colonial power at the time, and went ahead despite critics who called it the "Lunatic Express"

Ghana to Fast-Track Investments in Necessary Infrastructure

President John Atta Mills said Ghana will fast-track construction of a deep sea oil port and revamp a major rail link in 2010 to help exploit its energy and minerals

The President indicated that Ghana is aiming to become a major commercial oil and gas producer by the end of the year when the huge offshore Jubilee field comes on stream

"Beginning from this year, we are putting together the building blocks of an oil- and gas-based industrial architecture to ensure that by 2016, we would have exploited these resources and changed the country's economic paradigm, so that our dependence on traditional raw material exports of cocoa, gold and timber, will be a thing of the past"

First production from the Jubilee field will start in November and rise to 120,000 barrels per day within six months, Tullow Oil said

According to President Mills infrastructure investments would help boost employment and support the expansion of other industries, including mining
"What is more, the development of the gas sector will allow the development of higher-efficiency gas turbines, which in turn will ensure a dependable electricity supply at internationally competitive tariffs"

Ghana is planning to start developing an integrated aluminum industry based on its rich bauxite reserves

Ghana is the world's No. 2 producer of cocoa and Africa’s No. 2 gold miner

Nigerian Ports Authority Committed to Olokola Deep Seaport

The Managing Director, Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Alhaji Abdulsalam Muhammed, has commended the Ogun State government for its efforts in ensuring that the Olokola deep seaport project takes full course soon while reaffirming his agency ‘s commitment to the implementation of all existing agreements signed by partners in the project

Muhammed explained that the sharing formula for the project was 60:20:20, saying that private promoters would take 60 per cent of the equity holding while the Federal Government would take 20 per cent and the states share the remaining 20 per cent

Governor Gbenga Daniel promised that his administration would remain committed to the project, while lamenting the absence of modern port facilities in Nigeria. Mr. Yele Ogundipe, who represented Governor Olusegun Mimiko, said that Ondo State is fully committed to the project and will work with Ogun State and the other promoters

There is presently no modern deep sea port in West Africa to cater adequately for increasing ship sizes and containerization. Added to this problem is the heavy congestion at the Lagos Port where there is a long ship waiting time. Container port demand growth for West Africa is projected at 12% annually for the next 15 years

The Olokola deep sea port will make a substantial impact on the socio-economic sector in the southwestern part of Nigeria in particular and West Africa in general

Detailed Master Plan for a phased construction of the port when completed shows that the port will have the capacity to handle 300 million tons of cargo and 6 million containers annually. Lagos Port currently handles 30 million tons and 750,000 containers

Bio Fuel In Namibia

Large area of land, about 26 hectares is unusable due to bush invasive infestations in the country. This has led to

60% decline of commercial livestock over the last 40 years and Desertification of Namibia

The Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN) and CBEND are converting the invading bush into energy by installing wood gasification plants, which will use the invader bush as fuel to produce electricity, in northern Namibia

Electricity produced by the plant will then provide power to the national grid

The highly abundant invader bush is a cheap resource for producing energy

The gasification plants will be operated and maintained by farmers with access to the national electricity grid

Sierra Leone's Hydro-power Dam Now Produces 50 Megawatts of Electricity

Sierra Leone's first hydro-power dam was switched on in November 2009. It now produces 50 megawatts of electricity, sending regular power to most parts of the capital, Freetown

The Bumbuna dam holds back 428 million cubic meters of water. Pressure from the dammed Seli River powers two massive turbines that provide a regular supply of electricity for the first time in the country's history

Much of Freetown's electricity infrastructure was destroyed during the country's decade-long civil war and the old distribution networks were not maintained

The National Power Authority is working to restore power to areas where old networks have failed and extend the grid to the rapidly expanding neighborhoods to the east of Freetown

Before Bumbuna, the country functioned on an emergency power plan costing $2 million a month to fuel diesel generators that produced only enough power to cover essential services

The second phase of the Bumbuna dam project will build a larger reservoir upstream that could add more than 100 megawatts to the dam's capacity
Unless the government can secure the entire investment cost of $520 million, the second phase could be a long time coming

New Belgian Airlines For Democratic Republic of Congo

Belgian carrier Brussels Airlines will launch a new regional African airline in the Democratic Republic of Congo this year

The project launch will coincide with the 50th anniversary of Congo's independence from Belgium. The Congolese company would be based in Lubumbashi in the southeast of the country

The airline is a 50-50 joint venture between Brussels Airlines and the Forrest Group

The airline will start with a Lubumbashi to Kinshasa route and then extend to other routes within Democratic Republic of Congo and in the region

Brussels Airlines will also start flying new routes to Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Togo, brining its number of African destinations to 18

Philanthropy
 
Britain Donated $90 Million Dollars to The Democratic Republic of Congo

Britain will give about 90 million dollars (66 million Euros) in aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo to help rebuild

Britain is one of the main donors to the DR Congo. In 2009, its development aid to the vast central African country amounted to about 140 million dollars

The funding will benefit "almost 3.2 million people affected by conflicts" in Nord-Kivu and Sud-Kivu, which are still unstable because of rebels and local militias activities

The finance will mark a new phase in the "Thuungane Project", which aims to help in community reconstruction in the DR Congo

Since 2007, the provinces of Sud-Kivu and Maniema in the east, as well as Katanga in the southeast, have benefited from Thuungane funds in areas such as education, health and water supplies

At least 26 million dollars will be spent on grass-roots projects in this new phase

Serena Williams Plans to Build More Schools in Africa

Serena Williams, US tennis champ plans to help build one new school every year in parts of Africa where education is beyond reach to most children

"It is my goal to open many schools for thousands of children who do not have the opportunity to get good education. I plan to do one every year

Serena Williams has helped in the construction of schools in Kenya, Senegal and South Africa, as well as provided grants for students

" Without education, life is going to be very difficult. My parents always stressed the importance of getting an education and I hope I am bringing to fruition their word by opening this school to the community of Wee," Serena said

The tennis champ has also joined in the fight against the killer disease, malaria, in Ghana

African Flags Will Be On A Tourist Space Trip

A 28 yr old Dubai-based businessman who has signed up to be a space tourist said Tuesday he planned to fly the flags of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda on his out-of-world journey in honor of his childhood in Africa
"I feel honored that I will be the first to take Kenya's flag into space," said Thakkar
"I believe Kenya can use this historic trip to market itself internationally. I want to boost Kenya's image abroad“

Ashish Thakkar, a Real Estate mogul received a Kenyan flag from Prime Minister Raila Odinga and a Tanzania flag from President Jakaya Kikwete ahead of a space voyage expected next year

He is due to meet Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who will hand him the country's flag

Thakkar, co-founder of the international Kensington Group real estate agency, is among 40 people who have paid 200,000 dollars for a trip on Richard Branson's commercial rocket plane SpaceShipTwo

Born in Britain but spent 15 years of his childhood in Africa before his family returned to Britain, he has lived in Dubai for the past eight years

Food Security
 
African Countries Fight Banana Disease

Seven African countries will unite to launch a surveillance program in the war against deadly banana Xanthomonas wilt disease (BXW) and the banana bunchy top disease (BBTD)

BBTD is caused by the banana bunchy top virus (BBTV) spread by an aphid
It causes narrow bunched leaves and stunted fruitless plants, which eventually die
BXW is a bacterial disease that causes yellowing and wilting of the leaves, uneven and
No banana varieties have been known to resist BBTD or BXW

The program will focus on limiting the spread of these diseases and The international Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), based in Nigeria will take the lead

IITA began a two-year study last October to examine among other things, why BBTD has spread so rapidly in the past two decades. The training will link research and government staff within and between countries

Researchers will use Geographic Positioning Systems (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to develop a visual record of disease distribution. A second workshop in June will hone surveillance skills

According to the IITA, there is a danger that all familiar banana types will be wiped out if urgent action is not taken. These diseases threaten the livelihoods and food security of over 70 milion people in Sub-Saharan Africa