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Fi Istanbul’s Success Demonstrates Unlimited Market Opportunities in Turkey, the Middle East & North Africa

Posted on 18 May 2013 by Africa Business

Staggering 3,000 Visitors + 150 Exhibiting Brands and Record Re-Booking Volumes for the 2014 Event

Yes, we’ve got a lot to shout about and so we would like to start with a huge thank you to all of our exhibitors who helped to make Food ingredients Istanbul such a great success. As the only dedicated food ingredients event in the region, last week’s highly successful show demonstrates that this region is thriving and thirsty for the very latest ingredients, solutions, innovations and networking opportunities.

We are delighted to announce that Food ingredients Istanbul exceeded all forecasts and expectations with the impressive amount of 3,000 visitors and a 94% rebooking rate. As a launch event, Fi Istanbul welcomed attendees from over 80 different countries, filling all aisles and bustling exhibitor stands.

It is clear that the industry responded well to this launch event. Building on the high growth rates that the food industry is experiencing in this region, Fi Istanbul provided a strong platform for all food and beverage manufacturers to source from over 150 local, regional and international food ingredients suppliers.

The response from the exhibitors was overwhelming! Many claimed to have had one of the best shows ever, with a high quality of visitors, a steady flow of traffic during the 3 days and a good mix of visiting companies, including food manufacturers from dairy, ice cream, confectionary, meat, poultry and many more.

Turkey, for a global company, is a very important market for us to be close to our customers. Food ingredients Istanbul has been a great experience to meet new customers in 3 days and share projects, prototypes, concepts and innovations” Luis Fernandez , Vice-President Global Applications, Tate & Lyle

Natasha Berrow , UBM’s Brand Director, also commented, “Last week’s event really did surpass even our expectations! The positive response to this launch event, the new Fi branding and signage provided the innovative environment that such a growing region deserves.”

She continued “the record re-bookings are further indication that exhibitors see Fi Istanbul as the place to continue to meet their customers and to expand into this booming region. I’d like to express our appreciation for the tremendous and ongoing support of all our customers.”

“We are very impressed by the quality of visitors; quality is more important than quantity. We found a lot of good customers that we’ll probably start new business with” Stella Wu , International Sales Manager, JK Sucralose

Visitor feedback also surpassed all expectations. The great mix of local, regional and international food ingredients suppliers was complimented by many attendees looking to source new ingredients from companies they never heard of.

“I want to know new suppliers and I want to see some different varieties of products that I can use for my customers. This is the first year for this exhibition and it feels like it has being a successful opening and I’m sure it will get greater and bigger in the coming years.” Meleknur Tuzun, Sales Manager, Agrana

Fi Istanbul is a key part of the Food ingredients Global Portfolio strategy to extend the its brand into new regions, offering exhibiting clients a platform to engage with new customers and present their new business growth opportunities. With the key focus on business development, innovation and trade, in a region with one of the fastest economic growth rates in the world, Fi Istanbul proved to be one of the most cost-effective platforms to source new ingredients, grow market share and act as a stepping stone to this vastly and yet close to untouched food industry.

 

About Fi ingredients Global – the trusted route to market since 1986

Food ingredients first launched in Utrecht, The Netherlands in 1986 and its portfolio of live events, publications, extensive database, digital solutions and high-level conferences are now established across the globe to provide regional and a global meeting place for all stakeholders in the food ingredients industry. Over 500,000 people have attended our shows over the years, and billions of Euros of business have been created as a result. With over 25 years of excellence, our events, digital solutions and supporting products deliver a proven route to market with a truly global audience.

About UBM Istanbul

UBM Istanbul was established in April 2012 to connect people and create opportunities for companies wishing to build business between Europe and Asia, meet customers, launch new products, promote their brands and expand their markets. Premier brands such as Fi Europe, CPhI, IFSEC, Black Hat, Mother & Baby Show , Jewellery and many others and will become an integral part of the marketing plans of companies across more than 10 industry sectors.

About UBM

UBM plc is a global events-led marketing services and communications company. We help businesses do business, bringing the world’s buyers and sellers together at events and online, as well as producing and distributing specialist content and news. Our 5,500 staff in more than 30 countries are organised into specialist teams which serve commercial and professional communities, helping them to do business and their markets to work effectively and efficiently.

For more information, go to http://www.ubm.com

SOURCE UBM Live

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2013 Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival Programme full of New Highlights

Posted on 18 May 2013 by Africa Business

The programme for the 2013 Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival is growing, with new and exciting events joining the stable of old favourites. “Last year’s programme sported more than 100 events,” said Festival Manager Nicci Rousseau-Schmidt. “And it is already clear that we’ll top that number this year.”

The Pick n Pay Women’s Walk will take place on Sunday 7 July. The Women’s Walk is a popular event that takes place across South Africa. Bronwen Rohland Marketing Director Pick n Pay said, “This 5km event raises funds for PinkDrive, an organisation that provides free breast cancer screening and health education for women who cannot afford it.”

The Young Oyster Festival is gaining in popularity each year, providing an environment for kids to have a blast. Aside from the regular events such as cooking lessons, arts and crafts, movie screenings, sport clinics, and exciting competitions, this year will see a dedicated Kids Zone complete with popcorn, candy floss and all things necessary for exciting and entertaining kids.

“Older kids will enjoy an all-new fun fair as well as obstacle courses and exciting events and competitions at The Yard, our local skate park,” Rousseau-Schmidt said. “This age group and their parents will also enjoy an all new 10-day local food and craft market at the main venue on Waterfront Drive and details of how to enter the Miss Knysna Oyster Festival will be available soon.”

“Of course we wouldn’t have a festival if it weren’t for our oysters. This year’s Pick n Pay Flavours of Knysna will truly showcase Knysna’s restaurants as they once again prepare oysters according to their own, unique recipes, with other delectable treats prepared by Pick n Pay also available on the evening.

“The oyster shucking and oyster eating competitions are always very entertaining and well attended, and this year we will combine these two fun events to both take place at the main venue on Waterfront Drive,” Rousseau-Schmidt said.

The festival has a longstanding relationship with the South African Navy, especially the local Sea Cadet unit from the Training Ship Knysna. “The Admiral’s Ball is a firm favourite on the festival’s calendar with music provided by the incredibly talented SA Navy Dance Band. Presented in co-operation with the Knysna Featherbed Company, the 2013 ball promises to be an event not to be missed,” said Rousseau-Schmidt “We are hoping to welcome two naval ships through the Knysna Heads this year – weather permitting,” she said. “The Navy also presents other fantastic events on the festival calendar, including the Right of Entry Parade which incorporates precision drilling and music from the marching band, displays by the Knysna Sea Cadets and the ever popular concert by the SA Navy Band which unofficially closes the festival.”

“This year the Knysna Forest Marathon and Half Marathon have already sold out, and we anticipate that Knysna will be buzzing with excitement,” said Rohland, “the festival is a great opportunity for us to meet our customers and be part of an event that showcases the best the region has to offer.”

“We are looking forward to old favourites such the Pick n Pay Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna Cycle Tour and the Pick n Pay Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon and Half Marathon, but we have many exciting developments on the programme to look forward to,” Rousseau-Schmidt concluded. “And what you’ve read about here is only a taste of what the 2013 Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival has on offer. Knysna is truly the place to be during the school holidays. So come along – I can guarantee that you’ll have the best ten days of your winter.”

Keep an eye on www.pnpoysterfestival.co.za for regular updates to the programme, or contact Knysna Tourism on 044 382 5510 for more information.

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IMF Executive Board Concludes 2013 Article IV Consultation with Seychelles

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Africa Business

VICTORIA, Mahé, May 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ On May 8, 2013, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation with Seychelles. 1

Background

In the few years since the 2008 debt crisis, Seychelles has made remarkable strides, quickly restoring macroeconomic stability and creating room for private-sector activity. Macroeconomic developments in the tourism-based island economy have been favorable, despite the challenging global environment. Notably, growth held up as the tourism industry successfully attracted arrivals from non-traditional markets as European arrivals slumped, while a surge in foreign direct investment (FDI) supported construction in recent years. For the most part, inflation remained contained, and the external position improved markedly following liberalization of the exchange rate in 2008 and debt restructuring started in 2009.

In 2012, despite robust tourist arrivals, growth moderated to 2.9 percent as large investment projects were completed. Inflation spiked in July 2012 to 8.9 percent fueled by global as well as domestic developments, but has since abated as a result of successful monetary tightening. The external position continued to improve, albeit modestly. In particular, the current account deficit declined slightly, but remained high at around 22 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), but was fully financed by FDI and external borrowing, leading to a modest rise in reserves. Debt restructuring is nearly complete, with only one loan agreement awaiting signature.

Fiscal policy in 2012 continued to support debt sustainability. The primary surplus is projected to have risen to 6.2 percent of GDP, in part due to sizable windfall revenues which were partly saved. Buoyant revenue and grants paved the way for needed capital expenditure. Notwithstanding, public debt increased by over 3 percentage points of GDP due mostly to currency depreciation and the government assuming liabilities of Air Seychelles.

Monetary policy was tightened sharply in 2012 in response to rising inflation and an unhinging of the exchange rate, and has since been relaxed. Starting in late-2011, rising global food and fuel prices coupled with adjustments in administered prices pushed prices higher. This was reinforced by current account pressures resulting from lower exports of transportation services in the wake of the restructuring of Air Seychelles. The looming inflation-depreciation spiral was broken in mid-2012 by two small foreign exchange market interventions by the Central Bank of Seychelles and a tightening of monetary policy. By end-2012, inflation had fallen to 5.8 percent and the exchange rate had strengthened beyond its end-2011 level.

Broad-based structural reform over the past five years has worked to improve financial performance of the public sector and increase private sector participation in economic activity. Statistical capacity continues to be strengthened. Seychelles subscribes to the IMF’s General Data Dissemination Standard (GDDS) and is making progress at compiling higher frequency economic data which will support strengthened macroeconomic oversight and analysis.

Executive Board Assessment

Executive Directors commended the authorities for their strong policy implementation. Macroeconomic stability has been restored and growth has remained resilient. While the outlook is favorable, the economy is vulnerable to an uncertain global environment and domestic risks. Directors called for continued commitment to sound policies and structural reforms to preserve macroeconomic and financial stability, build policy buffers, and foster strong and inclusive growth.

Directors welcomed the steps to improve financial discipline at the central government level and the recent introduction of the VAT. They agreed that strengthening the oversight and financial position of parastatals, including through adequate price mechanisms, and further progress in public financial management will be key to ensuring fiscal sustainability. For the medium term, Directors supported the authorities’ fiscal policy stance which aims at targeting a primary fiscal surplus and reducing public debt to 50 percent of GDP. They welcomed that the debt restructuring is nearly complete and encouraged the authorities to exercise caution when contracting new external debt.

Directors called for continued efforts to improve the monetary framework in order to stabilize inflation expectations and policy interest rates. Absorbing excess liquidity over time will be important to strengthen the monetary anchor and monetary transmission mechanism. Directors considered that a further increase in international reserves, as market conditions permit, would provide a stronger buffer against shocks. Directors noted that the financial system is sound and welcomed the steps being taken to improve the functioning of the credit market.

Directors commended the efforts towards improving the business and investment climate, which is key to avoid a potential middle-income trap and to support broad-based growth. They encouraged the authorities to foster private sector-led growth by addressing infrastructure gaps, engendering lower cost and improved access to credit, correcting data weaknesses, and moving ahead with plans for greater workforce education and capacity building.

 

Seychelles: Selected Economic and Financial Indicators, 2010–14

 

2010    2011    2012    2013    2014

Actual    Actual    Est.    Proj.    Proj.

 

(Percentage change, unless otherwise indicated)

National income and prices

 

Nominal GDP (millions of Seychelles rupees)

11,746    13,119    14,145    15,292    16,461

Real GDP

5.6    5.0    2.9    3.3    3.9

CPI (annual average)

-2.4    2.6    7.1    4.5    3.4

CPI (end-of-period)

0.4    5.5    5.8    4.3    3.1

GDP deflator average

-3.6    6.4    4.8    4.6    3.6

(Percentage change, unless otherwise indicated)

Money and credit

 

Credit to the economy

21.4    6.2    2.5    13.0    …

Broad money

13.5    4.5    -2.3    0.1    …

Reserve money

34.7    -2.7    6.9    12.3    …

Velocity (GDP/broad money)

1.6    1.7    1.9    2.1    …

Money multiplier (broad money/reserve money)

4.2    4.5    4.1    3.6    …

(Percent of GDP)

Savings-Investment balance

 

External savings

23.0    22.7    21.7    23.2    18.4

Gross national savings

13.6    12.4    17.3    15.1    15.5

Of which: government savings

7.8    10.6    14.3    12.1    11.0

Gross investment

36.6    35.1    39.0    38.2    33.8

Of which: government investment

8.6    8.1    12.0    9.2    7.8


Government budget


Total revenue, excluding grants

34.1    35.8    37.6    36.4    35.6

Expenditure and net lending

32.5    35.7    40.2    38.5    36.0

Current expenditure

27.2    27.6    28.8    28.8    27.3

Capital expenditure and net lending

5.3    8.1    11.4    9.8    8.7

Overall balance, including grants

2.5    2.5    2.4    1.8    2.0

Primary balance

8.6    5.4    6.2    5.1    4.4

Total public debt

81.6    74.3    77.3    72.0    65.3

Domestic1

32.5    28.0    27.7    25.7    18.6

External

49.1    46.2    49.6    46.3    46.7

(Percent of GDP, unless otherwise indicated)

External sector

 

Current account balance including official transfers

-23.0    -22.7    -21.7    -23.2    -18.4

Total stock of arrears (millions of U.S. dollars)

30.3    9.0    2.7    …    …

Total public external debt outstanding (millions of U.S. dollars)

478    490    512    558    597

(percent of GDP)

49.1    46.2    49.6    46.3    46.7

Terms of trade (= – deterioration)

-6.7    -6.4    -0.4    0.6    1.2

Real effective exchange rate (average, percent change)

4.4    -7.4    …    …    …

Gross official reserves (end of year, millions of U.S. dollars)

254    277    305    317    326

Months of imports, c.i.f.

2.3    2.5    2.6    2.7    2.7

Exchange rate


Seychelles rupees per US$1 (end-of-period)

12.1    13.7    13.0    …    …

Seychelles rupees per US$1 (period average)

12.1    12.4    13.7    …    …

 

Sources: Central Bank of Seychelles; Ministry of Finance; and IMF staff estimates and projections.

1 Excludes debt issued in 2012 for monetary purposes (5.4 percent of GDP), as proceeds are kept in a blocked account with the Central Bank.

1 Under Article IV of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with members, usually every year. A staff team visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country’s economic developments and policies. On return to headquarters, the staff prepares a report, which forms the basis for discussion by the Executive Board. At the conclusion of the discussion, the Managing Director, as Chairman of the Board, summarizes the views of Executive Directors, and this summary is transmitted to the country’s authorities. An explanation of any qualifiers used in summings up can be found here: http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/misc/qualifiers.htm

 

SOURCE

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

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SA ECONOMIC GROWTH HIT BY MINING SECTOR

Posted on 14 May 2013 by Africa Business

Will the Chinese purchase divested mining interests?

South Africa’s economic growth is lagging somewhat behind that of its peers in the developing world. IMF forecasts for 2013 indicate that emerging and developing economies will grow by 5,5% while SA’s GDP is expected to grow between 2,5% and 3%.

Global ranking

Country Name

GDP in Millions of US dollars (2011)

27

South Africa

408,237

39

Nigeria

243,986

60

Angola

104,332

88

Kenya

33,621

105

Zambia

19,206

One of the key reasons for slower growth is SA’s foreign trade structure and reliance on Europe. President Zuma used the opportunity at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year to ensure foreign investors that South Africa is on the right track.

2012 will be remembered for the negative impact of labour unrest and resultant production stoppages in the mining sector. Mining reduced GDP by 0,5% in the first three quarters of the year. This excludes the biggest slump in the sector during the fourth quarter 2012.

Other significant features of the growth slowdown in 2012 were the slowdown in household consumption spending, poor growth in private fixed investment spending and a slump in real export growth.

South African’s inflation rate slowed to a five-month low in January 2013 after the statistics office adjusted the consumer price basket while food and fuel prices eased. In December, the inflation rate fell to 5,4% from 5,7% Statistics South Africa stated.

Government cut the price of fuel by 1,2% in January 2013, as a stronger rand in the previous month helped to curb import costs. Since then, the currency has plunged 4,8% against the dollar and fuel prices are on the rise, with prices increasing in March by a further 8%, adding to pressure on inflation.

South Africa’s strengths

· South Africa is the economic powerhouse of Africa, leading the continent in industrial output and mineral production, generating a large portion of the continent’s electricity.

· The economy of South Africa is the largest in Africa, accounting for 24% of the continent’s GDP in terms of PPP, and is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the world bank.

· The country has abundant natural resources, well developed financial, legal and transport sectors, a stock exchange ranked amongst the top 20 in the world, as well as a modern infrastructure supporting efficient distribution of goods throughout the Southern African region.

South Africa’s weaknesses

· South Africa suffers from a relatively heavy regulation burden when compared to most developed countries.

· Increasing costs for corporates with rising wages.

· Poverty, inequalities sources of social risk mixed with high unemployment and shortage of qualified labour.

Mining

Output in the mining sector remained weak in December with total mining production down by 7,5% y-o-y after falling by a revised 3,8% (previously -4,5%) in November. On a monthly basis production rose by a seasonally adjusted 1,2% compared with 12,0% in November. Non-gold output was down by 5,0% y-o-y, while gold production slumped by 21,2% in December. For the fourth quarter, total mining production fell by a seasonally-adjusted and annualised 4,6% q-o-q as output of most minerals dropped.

For 2012 as a whole, mining volumes fell by 3,1% after contracting by 0,9% in 2011. Mineral sales were down by 15,6% y-o-y in November after falling 13,7% in October. On a monthly basis sales rose by a seasonally-adjusted 2,3% in November, but sales were down by a seasonally-adjusted 10,2% in the three months to November after declining by 6,8% in the same period to October. These figures indicate that the mining sector is still reeling from the devastating effects of widespread labour strikes in the third and early fourth quarters.

Prospects for the mining sector remain dim as the industry faces headwinds both on the global and domestic fronts. Globally, commodity prices are not likely to make significant gains as demand conditions remain relatively unfavourable. Locally, tough operating conditions persist. Rapidly rising production costs, mainly energy and labour costs, are likely to compel mining companies to scale back operations or even halt them in some cases.

This will have a negative impact on production, with any improvements coming mainly from a normalisation of output should strike activity ease. These numbers, together with other recent releases, suggest that GDP growth for the fourth quarter was around 2,0%, with overall growth of 2,5% for the year as a whole. Overall economic activity in the sector therefore remains generally sluggish while upside risks to inflation have increased due to the weaker rand.

Retail

Annual growth in retail sales slowed to 2,3% in December from 3,6% in the previous month. Over the month, sales rose by a seasonally-adjusted 1,0%, causing sales for the last quarter of 2012 to decline by 0,2% following 2,1% growth in the third quarter.

As a whole, 2012 retail sales rose by 4,3%, slightly down from 5,9% in 2011. Consumer spending is likely to moderate during 2013 as weak consumer confidence, heightened worries about job security and high debt, make consumers more cautious about spending on non-essential items. The overall economic outlook remains weak and fragile, while inflation may increase due to the weaker rand.

Manufacturing

Annual growth in manufacturing production slowed to 2,0% in December 2012 from 3,7% in the previous month, versus the consensus forecast of 2,9%. The increase in output was recorded in seven of the ten major categories. Significant contributions came from petroleum, chemical products, rubber and plastic products. Over the month, total production fell by 2,2% on a seasonally adjusted basis following a 2,6% rise in November.

On a quarterly basis, however, production improved by 1,6% in the final quarter of 2012 following two quarters of weaker growth. Both local and international economic conditions are expected to improve only moderately during 2013. A weak Eurozone will continue to hurt the large export-orientated industries.

The recent recovery in infrastructure spending by the public sector will probably support the industries producing capital goods and other inputs for local projects. But the growth rate will be contained by slower capital expenditure by the private sector in response to the bleaker economic environment both locally and internationally.

Therefore, while a moderate recovery in manufacturing production will continue in 2013, no impressive upward momentum is expected. Overall economic activity remains generally sluggish while upside risks to inflation have increased due to a weaker rand.

Infrastructure

A new economic plan, the National Development Plan (NDP), is likely to be adopted in 2013 promoting low taxation for businesses and imposing less stringent employment requirements. This a measure that the ANC is pursuing ahead of the 2014 national elections. The NDP will encourage partnerships between government and the private sector, creating opportunities in petrochemical industries, metal-working and refining, as well as development of power stations.

Construction companies are especially likely to benefit from government plans to invest $112-billion from 2013 in the expansion of infrastructure as part of the NDP. Some 18 strategic projects will be launched to expand transport, power and water, medical and educational infrastructure in some of the country’s least developed areas.

Energy companies will also benefit, following the lifting of a moratorium on licences for shale gas development. Meanwhile, there will be significant opportunities, especially for Chinese state-owned enterprises that have recently made high-profile visits to South Africa, to acquire divested assets in the platinum and gold mining sector as large mining houses withdraw from South Africa.

According to government reports, the South African government will have spent R860-billion on new infrastructure projects in South Africa between 2009 and March 2013. In the energy sector, Eskom had put in place 675 kilometers of electricity transmission lines in 2012, to connect fast-growing economic centers and also to bring power to rural areas. More than 200 000 new households were connected to the national electricity grid in 2012. Construction work is also taking place in five cities including Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Rustenburg, Durban and Pretoria to integrate different modes of transport.

Business Climate

Due to South Africa’s well-developed and world-class business infrastructure, the country is ranked 35th out of 183 countries in the World Bank and International Finance Corporation’s Doing Business 2012 report, an annual survey that measures the time, cost and hassle for businesses to comply with legal and administrative requirements. South Africa was ranked above developed countries such as Spain (44) and Luxembourg (50), as well as major developing economies such as Mexico (53), China (91), Russia (120), India (132) and Brazil (126).

The report found South Africa ranked first for ease of obtaining credit. This was based on depth of information and a reliable legal system.

Foreign trade

SA’s trade deficit narrowed to R 2,7-billion in December from R7,9-billion in November on account of seasonal factors. The trade balance usually records a surplus in December due to a large decline in imports. Exports declined 9,8% over the month. The decrease was mainly driven by declines in the exports of base metals. Vehicles, aircraft and vessels (down R1,1-billion), machinery and electrical appliances (down R0,9-billion) and prepared foodstuffs, beverages and tobacco (down 0,8-billion). Imports dropped 15,8% m-o-m.

Declines in the imports of machinery and electrical appliances (down R3,3-billion), original equipment components; (R1,8-billion), products of the chemicals or allied industries (R1,5-billion) and base metals and articles thereof (R1,2-billion) were the main drivers of the drop.

The large trade deficit for 2012 is one of the major reasons for the deterioration in the 2012 current account deficit forecast to 6,2% of GDP from 3,3% in 2011. South Africa’s trade performance will remain weak in the coming months on the back of unfavourable global conditions and domestic supply disruptions. Weak global economic conditions will continue to influence exports and growth domestically.

Skills and education

The need to transform South Africa’s education system has become ever more urgent, especially given the service delivery issues that have plagued the system. While government continues to allocate a significant amount of its budget to education (approximately 20%), it has not been enough to transform the schooling system. Coface expects the government to continue to support this critical sector, but that an opportunistic private sector will take advantage of government inefficiencies.

South Africa’s education levels are quite low compared to other developed and developing nations. South Africa began restructuring its higher education system in 2003 to widen access to tertiary education and reset the priorities of the old apartheid-based system. Smaller universities and technikons (polytechnics) were incorporated into larger institutions to form comprehensive universities.

Debt

The total number of civil judgments recorded for debt in South Africa fell by 9,8% year on year in November 2012 to 35 268, according to data released by Statistics South Africa. The total number of civil judgments recorded for debt decreased by 15,2% in three months ended November 2012 compared with the three months ended November 2011.

The number of civil summonses issued for debt fell 23,9% year-on-year to 70 537. During November, the 35 268 civil judgments for debt amounted to R414,1-million, with the largest contributors being money lent, with R142,5-million. There was a 21,9% decrease in the total number of civil summonses issued for debt in the three months ended November last year compared with the same period in 2011. A 23,9% y-o-y decrease was recorded in November.

South Africa maintains respectable debt-to-GDP ratios, although these grew to 39% of GDP by end-2012, substantially higher than the 34% for emerging and developing economies as a whole. When Fitch downgraded SA earlier this year, it specifically mentioned concerns about SA’s rising debt-to-GDP ratio, given that the ratio is higher than the country’s peers.

South Africa is uniquely exposed to foreign investor sentiment through the deficit on the current account combined with liquid and deep fixed interest markets. SA’s widening deficit on the current account is a specific factor that concerns the rating agencies and is one of the metrics the agencies will use to assess SA’s sovereign risk in the near future. Further downgrades are the risk – potentially driven by foreign investor sentiment about political risks.

Political landscape

Persistent unemployment, inequality and the mixed results of BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) intended to favour access to economic power by the historically disadvantaged populations have led to disappointment and resentment.

Social unrest is increasing. Recent events weakened the ruling coalition which came under fire for its management of these events. Tensions could intensify in the run up to the 2014 presidential elections. South Africa has a well-developed legal system, but government inefficiency, a shortage of skilled labour, criminality and corruption are crippling the business environment. South Africa also has a high and growing youth unemployment, high levels of visible inequality and government corruption so we would keep an eye on the escalating service delivery protest trends.

Labour force

The unemployment rate fell to 24,9% in the fourth quarter of 2012 from 25,5% in the third quarter, mainly reflecting an increase in the number of discouraged work seekers. Over the quarter, a total of 68 000 jobs were lost while the number discouraged work seekers rose by 87 000. The formal non-agricultural sector lost 52 000 jobs over the quarter, while the informal sector, in contrast, employed 8 000 more people. The breakdown shows that the highest number of jobs were lost in the private households category (48 000), followed by the trade and transport sectors, which shed 41 000 and 18 000 jobs respectively.

The agricultural sector led employment creation over the quarter, adding 24 000 jobs. Both local and international economic conditions are expected to improve only moderately during 2013.

Weak confidence and high wage settlement will make firms more cautious to expand capacity and employ more people this year. Government is likely to be the main driver of employment as it rolls out its infrastructure and job creation plans. The unemployment rate will therefore remain high in the short term.

Although the reduction in the unemployment rate is good news, it mainly reflects the large number of discouraged work seekers. Overall economic activity remains generally sluggish while upside risks to inflation have increased due to a weaker rand. Coface believes that this will persuade the Monetary Policy Committee to keep policy neutral over an extended period, with interest rates remaining unchanged for most of 2013. A reversal in policy easing is likely only late in the year or even in 2014.


 


Issued by:                                                                              Sha-Izwe/CharlesSmithAssoc

ON BEHALF OF:                                                   Coface

FURTHER INFORMATION:                                  Charles Smith

Tel:          (011) 781-6190

Email: charles@csa.co.za

Web:       www.csa.co.za

Media Contact:

Michele FERREIRA /
SENIOR MANAGER: MARKETING AND COMMUNICATION
TEL. : +27 (11) 208 2551  F.: +27 (11) 208 2651   M.: +27 (83) 326 2268
michele_ferreira@cofaceza.com

 

BUILDING D, DRA MINERALS PARK, INYANGA CLOSE

SUNNINGHILL, JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
T. +27 (11) 208 2500 –
www.cofaceza.com

About Coface

The Coface Group, a worldwide leader in credit insurance, offers companies around the globe solutions to protect them against the risk of financial default of their clients, both on the domestic market and for export. In 2012, the Group posted a consolidated turnover of €1.6 billion. 4,400 staff in 66 countries provide a local service worldwide. Each quarter, Coface publishes its assessments of country risk for 158 countries, based on its unique knowledge of companies’ payment behaviour and on the expertise of its 350 underwriters located close to clients and their debtors. In France, Coface manages export public guarantees on behalf of the French state.

Coface is a subsidiary of Natixis. corporate, investment management and specialized financial services arm of Groupe BPCE.. In South Africa, Coface provides credit protection to clients. Coface South Africa is rated AA+ by Global Ratings.

www.cofaceza.com

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AfDB Concludes First Pan-African Training for Regulators of Derivatives and Commodities Exchanges

Posted on 14 May 2013 by Africa Business

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire /African Press Organization (APO)/ The African Development Bank (AfDB) (http://www.afdb.org) on May 10, 2013 concluded a one-week, pan-African training workshop for African regulators of derivatives and commodities exchanges. The training workshop was held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

At the opening ceremony, Job Essis N’Guessan, the representative of the Ivoirian Minister of Commerce, stressed the importance of commodities and derivatives markets, especially after the global food crisis of 2007 and the global financial crisis of 2008. He stated that as the environment in Africa is becoming increasingly conducive to investment, there is need to make sure that investor interest translates to an improvement in Africa’s ability to develop itself.

The workshop provided participants representing 30 African countries with strategic and technical skills to assist African securities and capital markets authorities develop legal and regulatory frameworks for derivatives and commodities exchanges.

On behalf of the Official Representation of the AfDB’s Headquarters in Côte d’Ivoire (ROSA), Chief Country Program Officer Sidi Drissi described the training session as being in support of the African Union’s 2005 Arusha Plan of Action and Declaration on African Commodities. The Plan of Action and Declaration highlight the importance of efficient financial and commodity markets as a prerequisite for equitable, inclusive and sustainable development.

“Having well-trained regulators are important for the proper functioning of markets,” he declared.

For participants from Kenya, this training comes at a particularly opportune moment, as the country is poised to license a Futures and Derivatives Exchange by August 2013.

“The training exposed us to other aspects of futures and derivatives regulation that we will be grappling with once the CMA has licensed the successful applicants for establishment of Futures Exchange, notably contract creation, licensing and monitoring of market intermediaries, clearing and settlement and market manipulation,” said Luke Ombara, Acting Director of Regulatory Policy and Strategy at Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority (CMA).

Keith Mukami of Bourse Africa Limited, another participant at the training workshop, described the sort of capacity building that the workshop provides as “the cornerstone to building sustainable and well regulated African commodity markets in the long term.” He finds it very encouraging to “witness and participate in AfDB’s efforts to building African commodity markets.”

The training workshop, the first in a series of trainings on market regulations, was jointly organized by the African Development Institute and the NEPAD, Regional Integration and Trade Department, both of the AfDB.

 

SOURCE

African Development Bank (AfDB)

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IMF SAYS GAMBIA’S VAT IS KILLING THE ECONOMY, BUSINESSES

Posted on 13 May 2013 by Amat JENG

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says Gambia’s newly introduced Tax collection system — the Value Added Tax (VAT)- is killing the country’s ailing economy and businesses. “The outlook for the economy is generally favorable for 2013, but there are risks. Real GDP growth is expected to accelerate, if the recovery in crop production is sustained.

Also, by accessing new markets, the potential for growth in tourism looks good. Inflation, however, has picked up, partly due to side effects from the introduction of the value-added tax (VAT) at the beginning of the year. For example, although the VAT is applied to firms with a turnover of at least one million dalasis, we understand that many smaller businesses also raised their prices opportunistically. During the first quarter of 2013, government spending once again exceeded planned allocations, contributing to an uptick in Treasury-bill yields. Correspondingly high bank lending rates are discouraging private sector borrowing,” a report issued by an IMF delegation who just concluded discussions with the Gambian authorities on the first review of the ECF arrangement.

The IMF delegation led by David Dunn is also not impressed by Gambia’s recent economic performance. Inflation is on the rise while government spending is jumping the roof.

“The Gambian economy is still recovering from the severe drought of 2011. Real gross domestic product (GDP) grew by an estimated 4 percent in 2012, led by a partial rebound in crop production and strength in the tourism sector. Inflation remained under control, ending the year at just under 5 percent, despite the depreciation of the Gambian dalasi during the second half of the year. A substantial overrun in government spending late in the year resulted in higher-than-budgeted domestic borrowing (3½ percent of GDP),” Mr. Dunn said.

Mr. Amadou Colley, Governor of Gambia’s Central Bank earlier this week tried to mislead the press and the nation by depicting a wrong picture of the economy. Colley failed to share the IMF team’s fact finding mission’s report. He instead furnished the press with a different picture of the realities on the ground. His sources are questionable—given the fact that this administration’s reputation of trying to monopolize the truth is evident on their modus operandi.

CBG's governor Amadou Kolley

“The Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBoS), the Gambia economy is estimated to have grown by 6.3 percent in 2012 following a contraction of 4.6 percent in 2011; agriculture valued-added increased by 7.5 percent, industry (6.6 percent) and services (5.8 percent). Money supply grew by 8.8 percent in the year to end-March 2013, lower than the 14.9 percent in 2012. Both narrow money and quasi money grew by 16.3 percent and 2.7 percent compared to 7.8 percent and 9.3 percent respectively a year earlier,” Mr. Colley claimed.

“While reserve money grew by 3.4 percent, lower than the 8.7 percent in March 2012 and the target of 4.8 percent, he said the provisional data on government fiscal operations in the first quarter of 2013 indicate that revenue and grants amounted to D1.5 billion (4.6 percent of GDP) compared to D1.9 billion (5.9 percent of GDP) in the same period in 2012. “Domestic revenue totaled D1.4 billion (4.2 percent of GDP), higher than the D1.2 billion (3.7 percent of GDP) recorded in the corresponding period of 2012.”

Mr. Colley admitted that Gambia’s inflation is going out of hand. As such, Colley said, prices for basic commodities, utilities, and energy are going up.

“While consumer food inflation rose from 4.8 percent in March 2012 to 6.4 percent in March 2013 driven mainly by price developments in bread cereals, the consumer non-food inflation also rose to 4.1 percent in March 2013 from 2.7 percent in March 2012 partly reflecting the increase in the cost of energy. Core inflation, which includes the prices to utilities, energy and volatile food items, increased to 5.3 percent from 4.0 percent a year earlier,” Mr. Colley told the local press here.

But IMF’S David Dunn is not optimistic about the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The country’s past crop failure is impacting negatively on the economy. He said VAT is killing the private sector. Businesses are being overtaxed.

IMF’S David Dunn

“The outlook for the economy is generally favorable for 2013, but there are risks. Real GDP growth is expected to accelerate, if the recovery in crop production is sustained. Also, by accessing new markets, the potential for growth in tourism looks good. Inflation, however, has picked up, partly due to side effects from the introduction of the value-added tax (VAT) at the beginning of the year. For example, although the VAT is applied to firms with a turnover of at least one million dalasis, we understand that many smaller businesses also raised their prices opportunistically. During the first quarter of 2013, government spending once again exceeded planned allocations, contributing to an uptick in Treasury-bill yields,” Mr. Dunn stated.

While Central Bank Governor Amadou Colley is bragging about the so called performance of the banking sector, Mr. Dunn had a complete different view about Gambia’s banking industry.

“Correspondingly high bank lending rates are discouraging private sector borrowing,” Dunn said.

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Forest products critical to fight hunger – including insects / New study highlights role of insects for food and feed consumption

Posted on 13 May 2013 by Africa Business

ROME, Italy, May 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ Forests, trees on farms and agroforestry are critical in the fight against hunger and should be better integrated into food security and land use policies, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today at the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition in Rome (13-15 May).

 

“Forests contribute to the livelihoods of more than a billion people, including many of the world’s neediest. Forests provide food, fuel for cooking, fodder for animals and income to buy food,” Graziano da Silva said.

 

“Wild animals and insects are often the main protein source for people in forest areas, while leaves, seeds, mushrooms, honey and fruits provide minerals and vitamins, thus ensuring a nutritious diet.”

 

“But forests and agroforestry systems are rarely considered in food security and land use policies. Often, rural people do not have secure access rights to forests and trees, putting their food security in danger. The important contributions forests can make to the food security and nutrition of rural people should be better recognized,” Graziano da Silva said.

 

Frittered critters – wild and farm-raised insects

 

One major and readily available source of nutritious and protein-rich food that comes from forests are insects, according to a new study FAO launched at the forests for food security and nutrition conference. It is estimated that insects form part of the traditional diets of at least 2 billion people. Insect gathering and farming can offer employment and cash income, for now mostly at the household level but also potentially in industrial operations.

 

An astounding array of creatures

 

With about 1 million known species, insects account for more than half of all living organisms classified so far on the planet.

 

According to FAO’s research, done in partnership with Wageningen University in the Netherlands, more than 1900 insect species are consumed by humans worldwide. Globally, the most consumed insects are: beetles (31 percent); caterpillars (18 percent); bees, wasps and ants (14 percent); and grasshoppers, locusts and crickets (13 percent). Many insects are rich in protein and good fats and high in calcium, iron and zinc. Beef has an iron content of 6 mg per 100 g of dry weight, while the iron content of locusts varies between 8 and 20 mg per 100 g of dry weight, depending on the species and the kind of food they themselves consume.

 

First steps for the squeamish

 

“We are not saying that people should be eating bugs,” said Eva Muller, Director of FAO’s Forest Economic Policy and Products Division, which co-authored “Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security”.

 

“We are saying that insects are just one resource provided by forests, and insects are pretty much untapped for their potential for food, and especially for feed,” Muller explained.

 

Farming insects sustainably could help avoid over-harvesting, which could affect more prized species. Some species, such as meal worms, are already produced at commercial levels, since they are used in niche markets such as pet food, for zoos and in recreational fishing.

 

If production were to be further automated, this would eventually bring costs down to a level where industry would profit from substituting fishmeal, for example, with insect meal in livestock feed. The advantage would be an increase in fish supplies available for human consumption.

 

Bugs get bigger on less

 

Because they are cold-blooded, insects don’t use energy from feed to maintain body temperature. On average, insects use just 2 kg of feed to produce 1 kilo of insect meat. Cattle, at the other end of the spectrum, require 8 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of beef.

 

In addition, insects produce a fraction of emissions such as methane, ammonia, climate-warming greenhouse gases and manure, all of which contaminate the environment. In fact, insects can be used to break down waste, assisting in the composting processes that deliver nutrients back to the soil while also diminishing foul odours.

 

Enabling policies lacking

 

However, legislation in most industrialized nations forbids the actual feeding of waste materials and slurry or swill to animals, even though this would be the material that insects normally feed on. Further research would be necessary, especially as regards the raising of insects on waste streams. But it is widely understood by scientists that insects are so biologically different from mammals that it is highly unlikely that insect diseases could be transmitted to humans.

 

Regulations often also bar using insects in food for human consumption, although with a growing number of novel food stores and restaurants cropping up in developed countries, it seems to be largely tolerated.

 

As with other types of food, hygienic production, processing and food preparation will be important to avoid the growth of bacteria and other micro-organisms that could affect human health. Food safety standards can be expanded to include insects and insect-based products, and quality control standards along the production chain will be key to creating consumer confidence in feed and food containing insects or derived from insects.

 

“The private sector is ready to invest in insect farming. We have huge opportunities before us,” said Paul Vantomme, one of the authors of the report. “But until there is clarity in the legal sphere, no major business is going to take the risk to invest funds when the laws remains unclear or actually hinders development of this new sector,” he explained.

 

SOURCE

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

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Canada works to improve business environment for African agriculture

Posted on 13 May 2013 by Africa Business

CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa /African Press Organization (APO)/ The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation, attended the World Economic Forum on Africa, Grow Africa Investment Forum, and G-8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition Leadership Council in Cape Town, South Africa, to promote private sector partnerships as a way to achieve innovative solutions to the challenges facing sustainable agricultural development, food security, and nutrition in Africa.

 

“Canada has long supported food security and sustainable agricultural development throughout the African continent and recognizes the key role the private sector plays in agriculture as well,” said Minister Fantino. “One of Canada’s key goals in Africa has been to create new partnerships with the private sector to drive agricultural transformation, improve nutrition, and encourage sustainable economic growth that will benefit people across Africa.”

 

Canada welcomes a greater role for the private sector in increasing food security, complementing core public sector functions. Canada is taking an active role in the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, launched in 2012 by the G-8, and is a strong supporter of the Grow Africa Investment Forum and the World Economic Forum on Africa, which aim to accelerate economic diversification, boost strategic infrastructure, and unlock Africa’s potential to facilitate new partnerships between African governments and the private sector to stimulate investment.

 

Canada remains committed to helping African people gain access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food. Agriculture is the engine for sustainable economic growth in many developing countries. Investments in agriculture help to provide people with a source of employment, which in turn increases food security and household income—key contributors to poverty eradication. Many of our initiatives support small-scale farmers, women in particular, to grow nutritious and diversified crops.

 

Canada is committed to sustainable agricultural development, especially strengthening food security and the resilience of vulnerable populations. Economic Action Plan 2013 reaffirms Canada’s commitment to international development investments in agriculture, food security and nutrition. The new Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development will maintain the mandate of poverty alleviation, and help achieve greater efficiency, accountability, and focus to continue to improve the lives of people in need around the world.

 

SOURCE

Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)

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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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