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GSMA Establishes Office In Nairobi To Support Burgeoning African Telecoms Market

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Africa Business

Mobile Connections in Sub-Saharan Africa Increase 20 Per Cent to 500 Million in 2013 and Are Expected to Increase by an Additional 50 Per Cent by 2018

iHub is Nairobi‘s Innovation Hub for the technology community, which is an open space for the technologists, investors, tech companies and hackers in the area. This space is a tech community facility with a focus on young entrepreneurs, web and mobile phone programmers, designers and researchers. It is part open community workspace (co-working), part vector for investors and VCs and part incubator. More information can be found here: http://www.ihub.co.ke/about

About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. Spanning more than 220 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators with more than 230 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organisations in industry sectors such as financial services, healthcare, media, transport and utilities. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as the Mobile World Congress and Mobile Asia Expo.


NAIROBI, Kenya, May 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – The GSMA today announced that it has opened a permanent office in Nairobi, Kenya. The office will be based in the heart of Nairobi‘s Innovation Hub (iHub) for the technology community and will enable the GSMA to work even more closely with its members and other industry stakeholders to extend the reach and socio-economic benefits of mobile throughout Africa.

“It is an exciting time to launch our new office in Africa, as the region is an increasingly vibrant and critical market for the mobile industry, representing over 10 per cent of the global market,” said Anne Bouverot , Director General, GSMA. “The rapid pace of mobile adoption has delivered an explosion of innovation and huge economic benefits in the region, directly contributing US$ 32 billion to the Sub-Saharan African economy, or 4.4 per cent of GDP. With necessary spectrum allocations and transparent regulation, the mobile industry could also fuel the creation of 14.9 million new jobs in the region between 2015 and 2020.”

According to the latest GSMA’s Wireless Intelligence data, total mobile connections in Sub-Saharan Africa passed the 500 million mark in Q1 2013, increasing by about 20 per cent year-on-year. Connections are expected to grow by a further 50 per cent, or 250 million connections, over the next five years which requires greater regulatory certainty to foster investment and release of additional harmonised spectrum for mobile.

The region currently accounts for about two-thirds of connections in Africa but the amount of spectrum allocated to mobile services in Africa is among the lowest worldwide. Governments in Sub-Saharan Africa risk undermining their broadband and development goals unless more spectrum is made available. In particular, the release of the Digital Dividend spectrum – which has the ideal characteristics for delivering mobile broadband, particularly to rural populations – should be a priority.

The region also has some of the highest levels of mobile internet usage globally. In Zimbabwe and Nigeria, mobile accounts for over half of all web traffic at 58.1 per cent and 57.9 per cent respectively, compared to a 10 per cent global average. 3G penetration levels are forecast to reach a quarter of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2017 (from six per cent in 2012) as the use of mobile-specific services develops.

However, despite the high number of connections, rapid growth and mobile internet usage, mobile penetration among individuals remains relatively low. Fewer than 250 million people had subscribed to a mobile service in the region, putting unique subscriber penetration at 30 per cent, meaning that more than two-thirds of the population have yet to acquire their first mobile phone. Clearly, there is an important opportunity for the mobile industry to bring connectivity, access to information and services to the people in this region.

The mobile industry contributes approximately 3.5 million full-time jobs in the region. This has also spurred a wave of technology and content innovation with more than 50 ‘innovation hubs’ created to develop local skills and content in the field of ICT services, including the Limbe Labs in Cameroon, the iHub in Kenya and Hive Colab in Uganda.

Of particular note is the role of Kenya as the global leader in mobile money transfer services via M-PESA, a service launched by the country’s largest mobile operator Safaricom in 2007. What started as a simple way to extend banking services to the unbanked citizens of Kenya has now evolved into a mobile payment system based on accounts held by the operator, with transactions authorised and recorded in real time using secure SMS. Since its launch, M-PESA has grown to reach 15 million registered users and contributes 18 per cent of Safaricom’s total revenue.

To support this huge increase in innovation, the mobile industry has invested around US$ 16.5 billion over the past five years (US$ 2.8 billion in 2011 alone) across the five key countries in the region, mainly directed towards the expansion of network capacity. At the same time, given the exponential growth, Sub-Saharan Africa faces a looming ‘capacity and coverage crunch’ in terms of available mobile spectrum and the GSMA is working with operators and governments to address this critical issue.

GSMA research has found that by releasing the Digital Dividend and 2.6GHz spectrum by 2015, the governments of Sub-Saharan Africa could increase annual GDP by US$82 billion by 2025 and annual government tax revenues by US$18 billion and add up to 27 million jobs by 2025. In many Sub-Saharan African countries, mobile broadband is the only possible route to deliver the Internet to citizens and the current spectrum allocations across the region generally lag behind those of other countries.

“A positive and supportive regulatory environment and sufficient spectrum allocation is critical to the further growth of mobile in Africa,” continued Ms. Bouverot. “I am confident that now that we have a physical presence in Africa, we will be able to work together with our members to put the conditions in place that will facilitate the expansion of mobile, bringing important connectivity and services to all in the region.”

For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at www.gsma.com or Mobile World Live, the online portal for the mobile communications industry, at www.mobileworldlive.com.

SOURCE GSMA

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Global Trade Partners in the 21st Century

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Africa Business

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Remarks

Robert D. Hormats

Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment

World Economic Forum

Pretoria, South Africa

May 14, 2013

 

 

As Prepared

 

Thank you Lyal for the kind introduction.

I am delighted to be in South Africa again. I visited last fall with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

What was most striking then, and continues to be the case today, is the extent to which the image of Africa has changed. According to the IMF, growth in sub-Saharan Africa will surge to 6.1% next year, well ahead of the global average of 4%.

Africa is booming in nearly every sector, ranging from massive energy developments in Mozambique, Tanzania, Ghana, and other countries; to the growth of Rwanda and Kenya’s information and communications technology sectors; to South Africa’s thriving auto industry. And, though far from declaring victory, Africa is reaching a turning point in its hard-fought battles against poverty and corruption.

Today’s Africa looks nothing like what, in 2000, The Economist referred to as the “Hopeless Continent.” It is critical that we concentrate the world’s eyes on the new image of Africa, that of progress and promise. Perspectives are evolving—in 2011, The Economist referred to Africa as the “Rising Continent” and, last March, as the “Hopeful Continent.”

Trade is at the heart of Africa’s economic resurgence. So, in this context, I will speak first about America’s vision for global trade in the 21st century and then, focus on implications and, indeed, opportunities for Africa. America’s global trade agenda in the 21st century is shaped by a foundation laid, in large part, in the mid-20th century. After World War II, American and European policymakers worked together to build a set of international institutions that embodied democratic and free market principles.

The GATT—which led to the WTO—World Bank, IMF, and the OECD were designed to foster international economic cooperation. These institutions were vital to the economic prosperity of the United States, and to the success of America’s foreign policy and national security for the next three generations.

As we move into the 21st century, a new multi-polar global economy has surfaced. The emergence of a new group of economic powerhouses—Brazil, Russia, India, and China, of course, but also countries in Africa—has created momentum (if not necessity) for greater inclusiveness in the global trading system.

At the same time, these new players must assume responsibilities for the international economic system commensurate with the increasing benefits they derive from the global economy. In addition to the geography of international trade, the nature of trade and investment has evolved to include previously unimaginable issues such as e-commerce and sustainability.

So, part of our vision for trade in the 21st century is to build a system that is more inclusive, recognizes the new realities of economic interdependence, and matches increased participation in the global trading system with increased responsibility for the global trading system.

We are making progress with bringing new players into the global trading system as equal partners. Free Trade Agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama entered into force last year.

And, we are continuing negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership—or TPP as it is more widely known. With Japan’s anticipated entry into the negotiations, TPP will grow to include 12 countries of different size, background, and levels of development. The agreement, when finalized, will encompass nearly 40% of global GDP and one-third of global trade.

In addition to TPP, we are embarking on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union. TTIP—as it is being called—will strengthen economic ties between the United States and Europe, and enhance our ability to build stronger relationships with emerging economies in Asia, Africa, and other parts of the world.

TPP and TTIP are truly historic undertakings. Our objective is not only to strengthen economic ties with the Asia-Pacific and Europe, but also to pioneer approaches to trade and investment issues that have grown in importance in recent years.

These agreements will seek to break new ground by addressing a multitude of heretofore unaddressed non-tariff barriers, setting the stage for convergence on key standards and regulations, and establishing high quality norms and practices that can spread to other markets. TPP, for example, will raise standards on investment and electronic commerce, and afford protections for labor and the environment.

Our agenda also includes strengthening the multilateral trading system through the World Trade Organization. For example, the United States would like to see a multilateral Trade Facilitation Agreement, which would commit WTO Members to expedite the movement, release, and clearance of goods, and improve cooperation on customs matters. A Trade Facilitation Agreement would be a win-win for all parties—Africa especially.

Cross-border trade in Africa is hindered by what the World Bank calls “Thick Borders.” According to the latest Doing Business Report, it takes up to 35 days to clear exports and 44 days to clear imports in Africa. Clearing goods in OECD countries, in contrast, takes only 10 days on average and costs nearly half as much. Countries like Ghana and Rwanda have benefited tremendously from the introduction of trade facilitation tools and policies.

Ghana, for instance, introduced reforms in 2003 that decreased the cost and time of trading across borders by 60%, and increased customs revenue by 50%. A multilateral Trade Facilitation Agreement will create a glide path for increased trade with and within Africa.

Our views for 21st century global trade partnerships go beyond Europe and the Asia-Pacific, and efforts at the WTO. We are committed to supporting Africa’s integration into the global trading system. The cornerstone of our trade relationship with sub-Saharan Africa is the African Growth and Opportunity Act—known as AGOA. Of all of our trade preference programs, AGOA provides the most liberal trade access to the U.S. market.

Exports from Africa to the United States under the AGOA have grown to $34.9 billion in 2012. While oil and gas still represent a large portion of Africa’s exports, it is important to recognize that non-petroleum exports under AGOA have tripled to nearly $5 billion since 2001, when AGOA went into effect. And, compared to a decade ago, more than twice the number of eligible countries are exporting non-petroleum goods under AGOA.

South Africa, in particular, has made great strides in diversifying its exports to the United States. Thanks to AGOA, the United States is now South Africa’s main export market for passenger cars, representing more than 50% of exported value in 2012. Because AGOA is such an important mechanism for African countries to gain access to the U.S. market, the Administration is committed to working with Congress on an early, seamless renewal of AGOA. Our trade relationship with Africa goes beyond AGOA. For instance, AGOA represents only one-quarter of South African exports to the United States. The composition of South Africa’s exports to the United States, moreover, reflects complex interdependencies and industrial goods.

And, our trade relationship with Africa is not just about one-way trade. There is an immense opportunity for U.S. companies to do business on the continent.

We recently launched the “Doing Business in Africa Campaign” to help American businesses identify and seize upon trade and investment opportunities in Africa. The campaign was announced in Johannesburg, in part, because South Africa can play a prominent role in directing U.S. investment into other parts of the continent.

Although progress has been made on diversifying exports beyond energy, there is much more to be done. African ingenuity and entrepreneurship must be unleashed to drive innovation and growth throughout the continent. This requires closer integration to share ideas, transfer knowledge, and partner on solutions. Through AGOA and the “Doing Business in Africa Campaign”, we are promoting a business climate in Africa that enables and encourages trade and investment. However, realizing these goals is goes beyond trade preferences and commercial linkages.

Africa is also featured in America’s vision for global trade in the 21st century.

For example, we recently launched the U.S.-East African Community Trade and Investment Partnership—the first of its kind—to expand two-way trade and investment. The Partnership is designed to build confidence among the private sector by building a more open and predictable business climate in East Africa. We are considering a variety of mechanisms to accomplish this, including a regional investment treaty and trade facilitation agreement. The Partnership highlights our desire to help Africa integrate and compete in today’s global economy.

I will conclude with one final point. I began by saying that trade is at the heart of Africa’s economic resurgence. Trade is also at the heart of America’s economic recovery. We have a common interest and a common goal.

When it comes to enhanced trade, what is good for Africa is good for America. And what is good for America is good for Africa.

Thank you.


SOURCE

US Department of State

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MTN UGANDA FOUNDATION ENDORSES ALL SAINTS COMMUNITY INITIATIVES

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Africa Business

All Saints Cathedral Cheque Hand Over

MTN Uganda Foundation has joined All Saints Cathedral in a drive to raise money to support the cathedral’s community initiatives as well as build the new church building.

Speaking during a courtesy call on the New Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the MTN Uganda CEO Mazen Mroué said that MTN is heartened by the noble community activities the church is involved in, saying they resonate with the telecommunication giant’s philosophies on Corporate Social Responsibility

All Saints Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in Uganda, and is involved in community activities such as Compassion and Hospitality for street kids, orphans and the destitute, counseling and health/healing (HIV/AIDS initiatives), education, Stewardship, Leadership development and a host of other youth programs.

“We are motivated by what All Saints Cathedral stands for because it’s in line with what our MTN foundation believes in. There are many people out there that need a compassionate hand. At MTN, we are not involved in such activities directly, but we are very glad to lend a helping hand to such institutions that drive such noble causes,” said Mazen Mroué’ CEO MTN Uganda.

During the same visit, MTN Uganda contributed shs10 million towards the construction of the new cathedral building, which is intended to create more room for the barging Christian community that throng the church all week. The new building will also create more capacity for it to do more community activities.

The current church was build many years ago with a plan to accommodate 600 people, but this has become very small. The new building is planned to take up to 4500 people.

Mazen called upon every individual and institution to make a contribution towards such causes, whether financially or physically.

“AT MTN, we know the importance of giving back to the communities in which we operate. By this contribution, we hope that we have re-ignited the drive for more people to come and be a part of this support great initiative,” Mroué said.

The Archbishop of the church of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali said that MTN’s support is very timely as the activities of the church are financially demanding and yet there is always need for more.

“The church depends on contributions of its members as well as well-intentioned companies like MTN Uganda. We would like to encourage more people to borrow a leaf from MTN and come in to support the church,” he said.

The MTN Uganda Foundation is a not-for-profit legal entity that was inaugurated in July 2007 as a vehicle through which MTN Uganda implements its’ Corporate Social Investments (CSI). The Foundation strives to improve the quality of life in communities where MTN Uganda operates in a sustainable way. Over the past five years since its launch, the MTN Foundation has supported a number of initiatives in the areas of Education, Health, Arts and Culture, Environment, Community Development and Low cost housing.

The MTN Uganda Foundation partners with both public and non-profit credible organizations to execute sustainable projects in each of the chosen focus areas. The Foundation is committed to ensuring that the selection and approval of its projects are conducted in a manner that is transparent, systematic, efficient, and effective while promoting its mission.

In 2013 and onwards, the MTN Foundation will focus on three key areas so as to leverage scale to achieve significant development impact. The three sectors will be Education, Health and National Priority Areas.

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LICEX 2013 Launched Sustainable development and investment opportunities in Lebanon’s infrastructure

Posted on 14 May 2013 by Africa Business

May 2013 – The Lebanon Infrastructure Conference and Exhibition (LICEX 2013) is taking place in the prestigious Hilton Habtoor Grand Hotel, Beirut on 10 and 11 October 2013 with the support of the Secretariat General of the Higher Council for Privatisation.

Organized by Global Events Partners Ltd (GEP) from the UK and Lebanon’s Planners and Partners S.A.L., LICEX 2013 is also supported by the UK Department of Trade and Industry, the Brazilian Chambers of Commerce and other international and local organizations.

‘’LICEX 2013 will feature an exhibition and conference bringing together the infrastructure community in Lebanon,’’ said Paul Gilbert from the GEP. ‘’Participants will have the opportunity to hear from industry experts about the latest planned infrastructure projects and to discuss the vast investment opportunities available in the country. They will have also a chance to hear from international experts about the latest on the Public Private Partnership.”

“There are a lot of new business opportunities to develop in Lebanon, particularly through possible contracts in the sectors of telecommunications, public transport, power and water management,” explained Dory Renno from Planners and Partners.

Gilbert explained that “LICEX 2013 will open the door for companies to introduce their latest products and services and to position themselves as leaders in their field to develop new business in Lebanon and to take advantage of the infrastructure contracts on offer.”

LICEX 2013 will attract exhibitors and visitors from across the infrastructure supply chain; EPC contractors, Government departments and companies from the following sectors: Construction, Technology, Regulators, Banks, Legal, Consultants, Telecommunications, Electricity, Transportation and Water and Power.

Despite the political instability all around the Middle East, Lebanon has kept a stable economy with a great potential for growth in the future. The constantly increasing interest in the country as a leading tourist destination, along with the emerging oil and gas sector offshore, are just two of many drivers for such an expected growth.

“The timing of the event is excellent,” said Renno, “it coincides with the increased interest and talk about the much-needed partnership between the private and public sectors in Lebanon.” A new PPP law is being prepared within the Lebanese Government, and could be approved at any time.

The programme of LICEX 2013 conference is being developed by government and industry partners. Conference will focus on the following main topics which will be structured in two or three days:

1- The investment climate in Lebanon particularly in infrastructure projects

2- The concept of PPP and its application in Lebanon

3- Presentations by a leading government ministries on their available projects

4- Leading local governments and the projects they have on offer

Speakers will include a large number of high-ranking government officials from involved ministries and governmental organizations, as well as representatives of leading infrastructure companies in Lebanon and internationally.

LICEX 2013 is being developed by the organisers of the Lebanon International Oil and Gas Summit (LIOG) which was held in December 2012 under the patronage of the Ministry of Energy and Water and in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance. It attracted over 330 delegates and 35 speakers from 23 countries representing 150 local and international companies and organizations, including major international oil companies (IOCs).

LICEX 2013 is the next step in the partnership between the UK based Global Event Partners Ltd and their local Lebanese partner company Planners and Partners SAL. Both companies are committed to holding the leading industry events in Beirut, with a strong commitment to Lebanon and its business climate.

To learn more about the event, how to participate and other details on the programme, participating delegates, speakers and sponsors, please visit: www.lebanoninfrastructure.com

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Green business awards launched in Zimbabwe

Posted on 14 May 2013 by Wallace Mawire

Zimbabwe anticipates to ignite its green economic revolution with the recent launch of the green business awards expected to be presented to outstanding winners in November 2013, according to Sebastian Zuze, Chairman of the awards. The awards recently launched in Harare under the theme:Greening the economy for sustainable national prosperity are an initiative of Xhib-it Events company and are meant to celebrate excellence in green practice,strategy and products, complimenting the Ministry of Environment’s efforts on greening the economy.They seek to recognize the most innovative,ambitious and effective initiatives by Zimbabwean business and individuals for achieving environmental sustainability and implementing smart business practice.

Launching the award, Zuze said going green is the idea of making sure that in any activity that is conducted by individuals,communities and business,the environmental impacts are assessed and minimized to ensure sustainability.

He added that the effects of not managing the environment include loss of bio-diversity and long term damage to ecosystems,pollution of the atmosphere and the consequences of climate change,damage to aquatic ecosystems,land degradation,the impacts of chemicals use and disposal,waste production and depletion of non-renewable resources.

“On the other hand, good environmental practice ensures increased productivity in our factories,reduction of waste, improved efficiencies,enhanced national image,better utilization of resources and development of environmentally friendly technologies,” Zuze said.   Through the awards, Zimbabwe seeks to explore various approaches to attain sustainable growth in the global market place.

“Goals for the awards are simple, but bold, to fill heads with practical knowledge,ideas,new trends,helping transform business as usual by partnering with extraordinary visionaries,forward thinkers,creative industry leaders and companies committed to building profitable and sustainable enterprises while solving some of the world’s toughest problems,” Zuze said.

Some of the award categories include;the overall green business award,the green leader award,the green entrepreneur award,the green supply chain award,the green building award,the green residential building award,the green energy award,the green professional services award,the green travel initiatives award,the waste to business resource award,the green retailer award,the green school/college award,the green SME award,the green manufacturer award,the green product award,the green innovation award,the green local council award,the green community award,the green healthcare award,the green entertainment and leisure award,the green communications award, the green financial institution award,the green corporate citizen award, the Minister of Environment’s award for environmental excellence, the minister of tourism’s award for eco-tourism excellence and the ministry of mines green mining award of excellence.

Awards chairman Zuze says many factors are impacting on local, regional and international trade.”Managing the environmental impact of manufacturing,mining and the activities involved during the provision of services to markets is assuming significance of enormous proportions especially in Zimbabwe,” Zuze said.

Zimbabwe’s Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Management, Francis Nhema said threats to the environment in Zimbabwe are arising from the construction industry, infrastructure development, mineral resources exploration, waste disposal, packaging and branding, communications, natural resource consumption, energy and water consumption.

“The precautionary principle is therefore crucial to apply that business should operate in a way that does not threaten the future of our existence by continually seeking alternative means and ways of operations that are sustainable,” Nhema said.

Nhema added that his ministry envisions using platforms like the Green Business awards,the merging of business and the environment through behaviour change known as sustainable business or green business to present opportunities for new business that is future oriented.

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IMF Mission Concludes the 2013 Article IV Mission to the Republic of Congo

Posted on 14 May 2013 by Africa Business

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of the Congo, May 14, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Mr. Mbuyamu Matungulu visited Brazzaville during April 29–May 13, 2013, to conduct discussions for the 2013 Article IV consultations. The mission met with the Honorable Obami Itou, President of the Senate; the Honorable Koumba, Speaker of Parliament; State and Finance Minister Ondongo, Special Presidential Advisor Gokana, National Director of the BEAC Ondaye Ebauh, and other senior officials. It held discussions with development partners and representatives of the private sector, including members of the banking profession.

At the end of the mission, Mr. Matungulu issued the following statement:

“In 2012, real GDP growth rebounded to about 4 percent despite a marked decline in oil production. Activity in the non-oil sectors was robust, driven by a surge in public spending in response to the ammunitions depot explosion of March 2012. The brisk increase in spending put pressures on prices, bringing end-year inflation to 7.5 percent as domestic supply response was limited. Reflecting the high import content of increased government outlays, the external current account turned negative in 2012. Credit growth remained robust. The basic non-oil primary budget deficit increased considerably, stemming from the expansion of government spending. However, the deficit was smaller than projected, with domestically-funded investment outlays somewhat lower than anticipated.

“Real GDP growth is expected to strengthen to 5.8 percent in 2013 despite a further decline of oil production, underpinned by continuing strong activity in construction and public works, telecommunications, as well as a timid start of iron ore production. Inflation eased to a monthly average of -0.1 percent in January-February 2013, and is projected to remain subdued during the remainder of the year as pressures from the 2012 ammunitions explosions fallout gradually recede. While the current account is expected to improve, the country remains vulnerable to adverse changes in external conditions, particularly on terms of trade. Compared to the initial budget, the mission’s current fiscal projections for 2013 reflect a shortfall in oil revenue equivalent to 4.8 percent of non-oil GDP, a reduction in government spending, as well as much higher-than-anticipated payments on arrears to social sectors. While the basic non-oil primary budget deficit should be contained below the projected level, the build-up of government deposits with the central bank would likely be much lower than targeted under the 2013 budget. The mission urged stronger treasury management and discussed quarterly fiscal targets for the remainder of the year to minimize slippages.

“The authorities’ medium-term development agenda seeks to foster private sector development, facilitate economic diversification, and secure growth inclusiveness. It appropriately emphasizes preservation of macroeconomic stability, improvements in governance and transparency and in business conditions, as well as a scaling up of investment to begin closing large infrastructure and skills gaps, while seeking further gains in budget consolidation. The mission encouraged the authorities to expedite reforms to improve the quality of spending; and welcomed World Bank involvement in the efforts to improve the management of the public investment program and enhance the productivity of the development budget. It underscored accelerated implementation of World Bank-supported reforms to improve the business environment, including in financial sector; and to roll out envisaged social protection systems. Regarding the management of oil resources, the mission reiterated calls for early adoption by Parliament of the draft law on budget transparency and accountability, following the achievement last February of compliant status under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). As Congo moves ahead with the establishment of Special Economic Zones, the staff team urged caution. In particular, the mission encouraged the authorities to refrain from extending special fiscal incentives, and to focus instead on revamping infrastructure, including the inadequate electricity network, and advancing administrative facilitation. The staff team favored implementation of economy-wide reforms that improve the business environment for all so as to prevent abuses. It confirmed Congo’s low risk of debt distress but noted the need for continuing prudent borrowing policies to maintain long-term debt sustainability in the post-HIPC era.

“The mission discussed a medium- and long-term fiscal framework aimed at protecting spending from oil revenue volatility and ensuring budget and debt sustainability while supporting growth and guarding against the risks in the face of declining oil reserves. The framework makes provisions for scaled up investment and a buildup of net wealth that would sustain expenditures when oil resources are depleted. Under the agreed framework, nearly 65 percent of projected total oil revenue for 2013–2019 would be spent (two thirds of which on capital goods), and 35 percent saved; and the basic non-oil primary budget deficit would be limited to 36.1 percent of non-oil GDP by 2015.

“The authorities concurred with the need to improve coordination of economic policy management through development of appropriate reform-monitoring mechanisms. In this context, staff welcomed the government’s support to the ongoing review of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (CEMAC)’s reserves pooling framework. Finally, the mission reminded the authorities of Congo’s legal obligations under Article VIII, Section 5, including the obligation to provide data to Fund staff on official holdings of foreign exchange.

“The mission wishes to express gratitude to the authorities for their hospitality. Upon its return to Washington D.C., the team will prepare a staff report to be discussed by the IMF’s Executive Board.”

 

SOURCE

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

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CAR: Food crisis looms

Posted on 13 May 2013 by Africa Business

NEW YORK, May 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ Food assistance is emerging as an urgent humanitarian priority in the Central African Republic (CAR). Assessments carried out earlier this year show that many people cannot afford the little food that is available in markets, and that farmers have begun to eat the seeds that were meant for planting this season.

Humanitarian agencies are now warning of critical food needs in both rural and urban areas as the country enters the traditional lean season between April and August/September. Food reserves are already low with many people forced to borrow or trade for food, or resort to fishing and hunting.

Women and children are particularly vulnerable. Irene, a 35-year old mother of two, lives in Bangui.

“I do not remember the last time my children and I had a balanced meal. If you visit the markets, you will see that virtually nothing is being sold there,” she says. “I often put an empty pot on the fire half an hour before the children’s bedtime to make them believe they will have dinner.”

Irene’s husband left in late March when the Seleka rebels took control of Bangui, fearing reprisals as he was associated with the former regime. Irene hasn’t seen him since.

“We have a small garden behind the house which provides us with vegetables, but we rely on the kindness of other women to provide us with cassava. When we eat, our meals consist of ngoundja (cassava leaves) cooked in salty water and cassava dumplings,” she says. “I see my children losing weight, but there is nothing I can do about it.” Her only income is around 100 Central African francs per day, about a quarter of a US dollar, from selling garden vegetables.

The crisis in CAR, which started in December 2012 when rebels launched an offensive against the government, has affected all of the country’s 4.6 million inhabitants. More than 173,000 have been displaced inside the country. A further 49,000 people have fled into neighbouring countries.

Even before this crisis, the World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that 80,000 people would be at risk of severe food insecurity during the 2013 lean season. This number is now expected to increase. WFP also projects that 13,500 children under the age of five will become severely malnourished.

“Over two million people are in need of critical health, nutrition and food assistance,” says Kaarina Immonen, the Humanitarian Coordinator for CAR. “But without access and security, our programmes cannot reach these people in need.”

In April, WFP identified 42,000 people in need of food assistance in Bangui, in the northern city of Kabo and in the central town of Bambari. Food distributions started on 25 April at Bangui’s community hospital and within a week nearly 3,000 people, most of them women, had received food rations. The agency is now focusing on reaching 7,500 particularly vulnerable people, including those living with HIV, malnourished children, and pregnant and lactating women.

WFP plans to assist some 400,000 severely food insecure people across the country by the end of this year. However insecurity continues to hamper access and to complicate efforts to supply humanitarian aid to Central Africans in desperate need.

 

SOURCE

UNITED NATIONS

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MTN Foundation hands over 10 houses worth UShs. 135 million in Kiryandongo to beneficiary families that were displaced by the Bududa landslides in 2010

Posted on 13 May 2013 by Africa Business

Kampala, Uganda – 13th May, 2013

MTN Foundation hands over 10 houses worth UShs. 135 million in Kiryandongo to beneficiary families that were displaced by the Bududa landslides in 2010.

 

About MTN Uganda

Launched in 1998, MTN Uganda is the leading telecommunications firm in country with more than 7.7 million customers as of 31 December 2012.

Visit us at www.mtn.co.ug; www.youtube.com/mtnug; www.facebook.com/mtnug and www.twitter.com/mtnugandacare.

About the MTN Group

Launched in 1994, the MTN Group is a leading emerging market operator, connecting subscribers in 22 countries in Africa and the Middle East. The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code: “MTN.” As of 31 December 2012, MTN recorded almost 190 million subscribers across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia. Visit us at www.mtn.com and www.mtnfootball.com.

 

MTN Foundation has handed over 10 houses to families in Kiryandongo who were displaced by the 2010 Bududa landslides. This is as a result of a pledge that was made by MTN Uganda to contribute towards the construction of houses in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organisation that focuses on building low cost houses for the under privileged. The 10 low cost houses constructed at a cost of UShs.135 million.

MTN CEO, Mazen Mroue, Minister for Disaster preparedness, Musa Ecweru with one of the families in Kiryandongo

“At MTN Uganda, we realize and understand the importance of continued support towards the communities where we operate. The landslide that displaced the people of Bududa shocked the whole country and the world and deeply touched us at MTN and that’s why we decided to come in and help,” said Mazen Mrouè, CEO MTN Uganda.

On the evening of March 1st, 2010, three entire villages were erased and over 400 people buried alive in one of the worst Bududa landslides. Most of the over 8,000 affected victims, with no homes, destroyed gardens, animals and livelihood were relocated to temporary camps in Bududa.

MTN CEO, Mazen Mroue, Minister for Disaster preparedness, Musa Ecweru, Opening one of the houses donated by MTN

 

To date, 4000 people have been unaccounted for. Eighty nine households (406 individuals) have since been transferred by government to Kiryandongo District where they were allocated 2.5 acres of land. Since then, government has relocated the displaced families to various camps. The government is also initially providing agricultural in-puts, equipment and food items for six months as they prepare to plant their own food.

Mroué thanked the government for its efforts in resettling the affected families. He reiterated that the selection criteria for the beneficiaries of the houses, was set by MTN’s partners, Habitat for Humanity. It was based on consideration of the most vulnerable groups in the camps which included the women and children particularly families with babies and young children that need to be together to be able to cope with issues of hygiene, food and safety.

“Governments all over the world are over whelmed by emergencies like these, and most times, especially in the developing world it is important for partners to answer the call and provide support for the relief efforts. As Uganda’s number one corporate citizen, we believe it’s our obligation to support government efforts in areas like these,” Mroué said.

The partnership between MTN and Habitat for Humanity spans over 10 years. The first houses built through this partnership date back to 1999, with the first homes being in Mbale and Hoima districts. Since then, MTN Uganda has built a total of 237 homes in partnership with Habitat for Humanity housing close to 1380 individuals; this is the largest number of homes funded by a corporate company.

The MTN Uganda Foundation is a not-for-profit legal entity that was inaugurated in July 2007 as a vehicle through which MTN Uganda implements its’ Corporate Social Investments (CSI). The Foundation strives to improve the quality of life in communities where MTN Uganda operates in a sustainable way. Over the past five years since its launch, the MTN Foundation has supported a number of initiatives in the areas of Education, Health, Arts and Culture, Environment, Community Development and Low cost housing.

The MTN Uganda Foundation partners with both public and non-profit credible organizations to execute sustainable projects in each of the chosen focus areas. The Foundation is committed to ensuring that the selection and approval of its projects are conducted in a manner that is transparent, systematic, efficient, and effective while promoting its mission.

In 2013 and onwards, the MTN Foundation will focus on three key areas so as to leverage scale to achieve significant development impact. The three sectors will be Education, Health and National Priority Areas.

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MTN Uganda through the MTN Foundation has contributed UShs10million towards the unveiling of Kagulu Hill, in Busoga Region (Eastern Uganda)

Posted on 09 May 2013 by Africa Business

MTN Foundation has handed over a donation of UShs. 10 million towards the unveiling of Kagulu Hill, in Busoga Region.

In Picture (Left - Right) Hon. Speaker of Parliament and Patron of the Busoga Tourism Initiative(BTI) Rebecca Kadaga, MTNs Corporate Affairs Manager, Justina Ntabgoba, MTNs GM Corporate Services, Anthony Katamba & Hon Edward Baliddawa, MP Kigulu County North Iganga District

 

Kagulu Hill located in Buyende District and some 30km from Kamuli town is an imposing attraction that apart from its scenic splendor has deep cultural and historical significance in Busoga.

Kagulu Hill rises at 3,600ft above sea level and while at its summit, it offers a magnificent panoramic view of Busoga, Lango and Teso regions.

The combination of the majestic impression of the rock and the scenic beauty that it offers of its surroundings and the cultural heritage it signifies have for many years drawn the locals to Kagulu Hill.

“Uganda is endowed with plenty of natural and cultural resources which can form the basis for a very lucrative industry, creating employment and generating income, and as MTN Uganda, we realize and understand that tourism has the power to play a significant role this,” said Anthony Katamba, GM Corporate Services, MTN Uganda.

The Honorable Speaker of Parliament and Patron Busoga Tourism Initiative, Rebecca Kadaga, said that MTN Uganda’s contribution will go a long way in supporting the initiatives efforts in making Kagulu Hill a valued tourist attraction added to the Eastern Uganda Tourist Circuit and be able to spur socio-economic transformation of the people of Busoga.

She thanked the MTN Uganda Foundation for their support towards the drive.

As part of the effort to raise awareness to a much wider audience of this beautiful attraction in Eastern Uganda, the Busoga Tourism Initiative (BTI) is organizing an official unveiling of this jewel through a climbing competition scheduled for the 11th May 2013.

Since 2009, in the area of tourism, the MTN Foundation has partnered with Community Based Tourism Initiative (COBATI), a non profit NGO whose main purpose is to support local people in Uganda to participate and benefit from tourism and its related initiatives. MTN’s partnership with COBATI was specially designed to empower the Nubian Community in Bombo, and indeed Uganda as a whole, through rural-based tourism.

The Nubians are essentially known and reputable for preserving their cultural heritage and traditions, expressed through unique colourful handcraft, dance and culinary skills.

“We are a multi-faceted cultural country. This directly means that we have a lot to show the world. We have various traditions practices that in such colourful and beautiful ways capture our way of life which besides being a source of national pride, should be used to better our lives,” Katamba concluded.

The MTN Uganda Foundation is a not-for-profit legal entity that was inaugurated in July 2007 as a vehicle through which MTN Uganda implements its’ Corporate Social Investments (CSI). The Foundation strives to improve the quality of life in communities where MTN Uganda operates in a sustainable way. Over the past five years since its launch, the MTN Foundation has supported a number of initiatives in the areas of Education, Health, Arts and Culture, Environment, Community Development and Low cost housing.

The MTN Uganda Foundation partners with both public and non-profit credible organizations to execute sustainable projects in each of the chosen focus areas. The Foundation is committed to ensuring that the selection and approval of its projects are conducted in a manner that is transparent, systematic, efficient, and effective while promoting its mission.

In 2013 and onwards, the MTN Foundation will focus on three key areas so as to leverage scale to achieve significant development impact.

The three sectors will be Education, Health and National Priority Areas under which Tourism falls.

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“MTN Business are passionate about Machine2Machine and therefore utilize our own solutions effectively as part of our green drive.”

Posted on 08 May 2013 by Africa Business

 



Exclusive interview with Kevin Jacobson
, General Manager, Business Indirect Sales, MTN Business. MTN is a platinum sponsor at African Utility Week.



Q: What are you most excited about regarding MTN’s current utility projects?

A: Our extensive M2M experience allows us to play a consultative role in the value chain. At MTN Business we have the opportunity to work with companies that provide a multitude of solutions including smart metering, where we are able to offer the know-how for effective implementation in this regard.

MTN Business have launched two products that Corporates themselves can monitor measure and in doing so, control and become more operationally effective and environmentally conscious.

These products include:

· Water Monitoring (WM) – a Machine2Machine solution that allows the customer to monitor their business’ water usage and access real-time and reporting through a web-based service. This MTN Machine2Machine device is connected to a water meter and using the meter’s standard pulse outputs, provides accurate hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and annual consumption reports. In addition, a business can also generate flow rate graphs detailing hourly consumption patterns, and can configure maximum/minimum flow rate alarms with escalation via SMS and email.

· Automated Meter Management (AMM) – controls and monitors a business’ electricity usage and takes advantage of the accurate hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and annual monitoring. Not only does this solution provide an overview of the meter, the SIM card and the network status, but it allows a business to remotely configure its electricity meter and backup usage information on a database.

Q: What sets MTN’s solutions apart from the competition?

A: MTN Business are passionate about Machine2Machine and therefore utilize our own solutions effectively as part of our green drive. We aim to not only save money and allow companies to do the same; but we are also doing our bit to save the planet. We have the vision that will take our customers into the future.

Q: Can you give us an indication of MTN’s interests in the African utility market?
A:
MTN is the largest operator on the African continent. At MTN, we understand the scarcity of resources and therefore the need to preserve and conserve resources. It is important to have real time information and manage our resources as best we can. We therefore selected this platform to participate in, in order to network with those who share a similar viewpoint to us, to gain insight as well as to showcase our innovations and the products that we offer to the utilities sector.

Q: What do you think are the main challenges for the energy industry in Africa?

A: We have a shortage of power in South Africa, inadequate resource running at full capacity without the luxury of being able to implement effective preventative maintenance. This leads to the risks of load shedding which in turn negatively impacts the economy. The Energy sector is battling to get their energy savings message across as well as failing in providing effective billing and collection leading to overloaded and oversized call centers, high debtors days and massive bad debt. Utilities need to get real time billing to the customer, increase transparency to consumers, demonstrate the real effects of energy conservation and let them experience the fruits of their effort. Consumers need to tangibly see the cost saving in order to change behavior.

Q: What is your vision for the industry?

A: Smart Grids; Smart meters; informed Corporates and consumers. Our vision for the industry is this:

· Smart Grids and Smart Meters

· Effective use of alternative enerygy

· Corporates and Consumers with a real time view of their accurate bills

· Utilities use time based tariffs to control usage.

· Creation of a larger green conscious community that understand the value of preserving resources.

Q: What surprises you about this industry?

A: So much can be done with the technology that is already available. Technology is at our finger tips and we have yet to exploit it as we could.

Q: What is your specific message at this year’s African Utility Week?
A:
Let’s start to effectively involve both corporates and consumers, give them the power and the consciousness to make a difference and lead them. Let’s use the technology available, partner and leave our mark.

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