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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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“In each market where wind energy is being developed, the state is a big player in the initial stages of industry development and is often the sponsor of pilot projects.”

Posted on 08 May 2013 by Africa Business

Exclusive interview with Dr Emelly Mutambatsere, Principal Regional Economist, African Development Bank, and a speaker at the upcoming Clean Power Africa

1) You are the co-author of a comprehensive document on Africa’s wind energy market – can we start with a short summary of how it has evolved over the years?

The harnessing of wind energy for electricity production on commercial scale started in Africa in the late 1990s. Our study shows that the first commercial scale wind farms were commissioned in 2000/2001 in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. This was after over a decade of pilot testing with Egypt as the trail blazer.

Between 1990 and 2010, wind energy installed capacity increased twelve fold to reach 1.1 Giga Watts in 2011. While the annual growth rate of Africa’s installed capacity was almost twice the growth of global capacity during the same period, it remains similar to the growth rate reported for global capacity when wind took-off on the global market. This growth followed a phased approach, whereby countries lacking familiarity with the technology and having limited geo-referenced data started with pilot projects, migrating to semi-commercial projects, before reaching full-fledged commercial scale. The average project size has also increased over time, while the lead time achieving commercial scale has decreased.

But overall, wind energy markets in Africa remains small in absolute terms and the importance of wind in the energy mix is limited, at less than 1 percent of continent’s total installed generation capacity. This is not expected to significantly change in the medium term given the significant concurrent development of installed capacity from conventional energy source.

2) Which structural characteristics affected the development of wind energy projects?

Taking the presence of wind energy potential as given, four key factors affect the uptake of wind energy. Firstly, the physical attributes of wind – in particular its intermittency which translates into variable electricity output – affect the role that wind can effectively play in the generation mix, and add complexity to the integration of wind-based power plants into conventional electricity grids, including the need for back-up capacity.

Secondly, the level of electrification observed in African countries with strong wind energy potential matters. Those countries that have reached high electrification rates are more amiable to adopting wind energy which they use to increase available electricity generation capacity in both peak and off-peak periods, thus improve reliability of service. On the other hand, countries trying to reach access objectives, and cannot rely solely on wind to achieve this objective given its aforementioned physical attributes, have opted for conventional energy resources which a provide a stable base-load capacity.

Third, the business environment is important. We observe that fast growing wind energy markets have benefited from strong political will, supported by strategic policy direction and an enabling business environment, including industry specific legislation. Finally, while harnessing wind energy improves the environmental footprint of African power systems, we do not see climate change benefits being an overriding driver of market development on the continent. Other factors such as achieving energy security, by improving diversity of the electricity generation mix and/or increasing use of locally available energy resources, appear to take precedence. This is because Africa still makes a meager contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, an underdeveloped market for carbon tips the scale against wind in simple economic and financial comparisons with conventional energy resources.

3) The paper provides the first mapping of the continent’s wind energy market – can you give us a summary of this, where are the most developed markets, which areas have most potential etc.?

A wind energy potential mapping exercise conducted by the African Development Bank in 2004 shows that coastal countries have the best wind from a wind speed perspective. This includes (in no particular order) Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Mauritania in North Africa; Djibouti, Eretria, Seychelles and Somalia in the East; and South Africa, Lesotho and Madagascar in the South. Another study we reference in the paper identifies Kenya and Chad as also having large inland wind energy potential. Central and West Africa are shown to have limited potential.

We observed in conducting this study that wind energy potential is a dynamic concept which evolves with the industry’s technology advancement. It is also important in discussing this concept to clearly define the type of potential being measured: whether on-shore or off-shore, whether the physical upper limit of the energy resource or the convertible potential considering technological, structural and ecological constraints. The ranking of countries by potential follows suite. For example, a study which evaluates technical potential ranks Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Egypt, Madagascar, Kenya and Chad as being among the top 30 countries on global scale.

Looking at the developed potential at end-2011, we see strong concentration of wind energy capacity in three North African countries – Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. Egypt held half of the continent’s total installed capacity, followed by Morocco with 40% and Tunisia with 5%. Outside of North Africa, there is commercial capacity in Cape Verde, and limited capacity in South Africa, Kenya, Mauritius, Eritrea and Mozambique.

The market’s outlook is also noteworthy. Our survey produced a comprehensive sample of about 60 ongoing and planned wind energy projects on the continent. This places South and East African markets in the lead in terms of market growth. South Africa alone is expected to contribute a third of the wind energy capacity currently under developed or planned in Africa; and Kenya is making significant strides toward developing what is poised to be the continent’s largest wind power project. This trend is attributed to increased strategic focus on wind in these regions, whilst in the North market development has been stalled by socio-economic instability.

4) What do African countries need to take into consideration when developing wind projects?

First, there is need to develop a national champion to promote the industry, offering a single focal point for regulation, financing and oversight. In Egypt, the New and Renewable Energy Agency (NREA) was specifically established to play this role. Elsewhere, the existing power utility or a division therein was used.

Second, the wind energy market is attractive to private developers provided clear legislation exists to support the market. This includes rebalancing the scale in cases where subsidies exist on fossil fuels in order to improve competitiveness of renewable technologies.  In addition to legislative support, the state should focus on kick-starting market development by supporting research and development, developing comprehensive geo-referenced datasets required for feasibility studies, and funding pilot projects.

It is important for countries to choose an industry development model which serves the country’s energy sector needs best. Country experiences have thus far been different among market leaders: while some countries opted for a state utility sponsored market development path (e.g. Egypt), others have used a blend of public and private sponsorship of projects including by industrial users (e.g. Morocco) and still others, a competitive private sector led path (e.g. South Africa). The same is true for choice of pricing model (whether a predetermined feed-in tariff, direct negotiation or price competition). The different approaches reflect different priorities and local preferences.

Finally, most African countries developing renewable energy markets are hoping for farther reaching results including industrialization and job creation. Countries pursing this secondary goal should support local linkages, including local manufacturing of turbines and turbine components, as an integral part of their wind sector strategy. Examples of best practice in the respect are still limited.

5) What did you find regarding funding of such projects?

In each market where wind energy is being developed, the state is a big player in the initial stages of industry development; and is often the sponsor of pilot projects.  Donor financing is also very visible in these initial stages. As the market matures, we see the profile of both sponsors and financiers evolving, from public entities and grant financing, to public-private / private entities and non-concessional financing. However, the market has not yet developed to the point where it can be fully funded by the private sector, therefore development finance institutions remain major players.

6) What will be your main message at Clean Power Africa?

Africa’s wind energy market has developed at a pace similar to that observed in leading markets at the early stages of their industry development. Despite this progress and the presence of significant potential on the continent, we should not expect wind to take over conventional energy resources in terms of share in the electricity generation mix, as key structural characteristics of the market affect both efficacy in addressing the energy access challenge, and competitiveness of wind, relative to non-renewable energy resources. Countries seeking to develop this market should do so deliberately and be intent on supporting early market development. However given the urgency with which most governments must address the more pressing access needs, conventional solutions will more likely be adopted ahead of, or concurrently with, wind energy.

7) What are you most looking forward to at the event in Cape Town?

I always look forward to interacting with practitioners and policy makers in these forums. It is an opportunity to learn from them how institutions such as AfDB can best serve as a partner in Africa’s development.

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IMF Concludes 2013 Article IV and EFF Review Mission to Seychelles

Posted on 06 March 2013 by Africa Business

VICTORIA, Mahé, March 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Carol Baker visited Victoria from February 20 – March 5, 2013 to conduct the 2013 Article IV consultation discussions and assess performance at end-December for the seventh program review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) Arrangement with Seychelles.1 The mission met with Finance Minister Pierre Laporte, Central Bank Governor Caroline Abel, other senior government officials and members of parliament, as well as representatives of the private sector.

At the conclusion of the mission, Ms. Baker issued the following statement:

“The Seychellois economy has shown resilience in the face of the difficult global economic environment. Economic growth has held up thanks to increasing tourist arrivals from non-traditional markets; fiscal policies have remained firmly on track toward the government’s target of bringing public debt down to 50 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2018; and debt restructuring is nearly complete. Monetary tightening has been successful in reversing the inflationary uptick experienced last year, and inflation pressures are expected to continue their recently observed downward path.

“The government has made sustained progress in implementing the IMF-supported program. All end-December 2012 quantitative targets under the program were met. The broader structural reform agenda is also moving ahead, with cabinet approval of the public sector investment program and passage of the Public Financial Management Act. The mission welcomes the introduction of the value-added tax (VAT), which will modernize and strengthen the tax system, and encourages the government to take all necessary steps to ensure that the VAT is applied efficiently.

“The government of Seychelles has made significant strides since the time of the 2008 debt crisis to stabilize the economy, improve financial discipline at the central government level and reduce public debt. However, challenges remain. Seychelles’ open economy remains highly vulnerable to external shocks. Moreover, like many small middle-income economies, Seychelles faces the medium-term challenge of achieving high-income status in the face of limited opportunities for rapid growth.

“Policies in the period ahead should aim to cement macroeconomic stability, and support growth and employment. Ensuring a buildup of buffers against shocks will be critical in the current global economic environment, and requires the continuation of prudent macroeconomic policies and the safeguarding of international reserves. Moreover, the mission urges the authorities to bring the same level of fiscal discipline observed at the central government level to the broader public sector, including through the gradual adjustment and rebalancing of domestic utility, food and transport prices. Throughout this price adjustment process, it is of utmost importance to take the necessary steps to protect the most vulnerable segments of Seychellois society, while increasing use of mean-tested benefits in social welfare to ensure that it does not act as a deterrent to labor force participation.

“In terms of growth and employment, the government should maintain momentum for their ample structural reform agenda which aims to foster an environment conducive to private sector participation in economic activity. Key measures include modernization of the legal framework—such as the Companies, Insolvency and Labor Acts—in line with international best practice; financial sector development aimed at reducing the cost and increasing access to credit, especially for small and medium enterprises; and building capacity of local labor to bring it in line with the needs of the private sector. In the case of housing and social protection, policies should seek to balance addressing market failures and protecting the vulnerable against overly generous benefits which deter labor market participation and private sector development.

“The mission appreciates the high quality of the discussions and wishes to thank the authorities for their warm hospitality, and the open and constructive dialogue.”

1 The Extended Fund Facility under the Extended Arrangement is an instrument of the IMF designed for countries facing serious medium-term balance of payments problems because of structural weaknesses that require time to address. Assistance under the extended facility features longer program engagement—to help countries implement medium-term structural reforms—and a longer repayment period. (See http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/eff.htm). Details on Seychelles’ current arrangement are available at http://www.imf.org/seychelles

 

SOURCE

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

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A company that knows how to make things look easy

Posted on 26 December 2012 by Africa Business

By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

Alcatel-Lucent has a success story to tell.

Its stories, references and activities in Africa in 2012 is a lesson for many other organizations who what to make it big on the continent.

In a recently published document Alcatel-Lucent shares references, successes, achievement and activities in Africa; as well as vision of African Market and broadband according to Daniel Jaeger, Vice-President of Alcatel-Lucent in Africa.

News from Algiers, Algeria reveal that broadband for Africa, realize the potential of a connected world and tackle rural inclusion.

I – Alcatel-Lucent presence, activities and foot print in Africa.

II- Broadband in Africa, vision and view according to Daniel Jaeger Vice-President of Alcatel-Lucent Africa.

III – Alcatel-Lucent’s presence, achievement, success and foot print in Africa.

The study shows that Alcatel-Lucent has a very strong presence in Africa, connected to its global organization, leveraging central support and ensuring best practices, the company has dedicated teams with local knowledge and global expertise on the ground in most of Africa’s countries, specialized in a wide array of technologies for both fixed and mobile communications including and not limited to 2G, 3G, 4G/LTE, Optics and IP, broadband access, VoIP, applications, managed and professional services as well as Enterprise solutions that deliver a competitive edge to businesses of all sizes.

These experts are working with customers, operators, governments, businesses and partners which form an efficient ecosystem to develop and introduce new technologies and solutions, to ensure growth and capture business opportunities – with the ultimate goal to bring Broadband to the people in Africa. Alcatel-Lucent’s strong presence in African countries is a real asset for operators.

” Our company is ready to engage anywhere in Africa with the accurate expertise and at any level. Alcatel-Lucent is present in most of the African continent, including but not limited to Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Cameroon, Mali, Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Angola, Madagascar, Mozambique and Zimbabwe….. The company brings an unmatched heritage of ideas and execution to the challenge of realizing the potential of a connected world.”

In term of Research & Innovation, the innovation engine behind Alcatel-Lucent is its Bell Labs, the company’s research arm, one of the world’s foremost centers of research and innovation in communication technology.

“Alcatel-Lucent has more than 29,100 active patents, in which more than 2,600 have been obtained in 2011, and seven Nobel Prizes in Physics (shared by 13 scientists).  Alcatel-Lucent was named one of
MIT Technology Review’s 2012 Top 50 list of the “World’s Most Innovative Companies” for breakthroughs such as lightRadio™, which cuts power consumption and operating costs on wireless networks while delivering lightning fast Internet access. Through such innovations, Alcatel-Lucent is making communications more sustainable, more affordable and more accessible as we pursue our mission – to guarantee our partners return on investment, while mastering network complexity and providing good customer experience.”

Enabling International and Pan-African connectivity- Alcatel-Lucent is involved in most of the major submarine projects recently launched.

“Leveraging over 150 years of experience in the submarine business, Alcatel-Lucent is strongly involved of the telecom infrastructure development in this part of the world, with many successful projects implemented around Africa.”
In addition, “The African continent is definitely still yearning for affordable connectivity, as it is essential for social and economic development. The need for more connections is particularly vibrant in high-growth economy countries, where submarine cable networks can help bridge the digital divide and fuel economic and social development.”

“International bandwidth in sub-Sahara countries has dramatically increased by 2012. This massive bandwidth has landed in West African and East African coasts thanks to EASSy, SEAS, GLO1, LION, MENA (Orascom Telecom), TE North (Telecom Egypt), ACE, TEAMS, Seacom, WACS and a few other submarine networks; as a result, the cost of International connectivity is reducing considerably; and the continent will witness explosive growth for mobile, fixed and broadband traffic at competitive rates.”

Alcatel-Lucent is involved in most of the submarine systems in Africa:

- ACE a 17,000 km from Cape Town in SA to Penmarch in France, linking 20 countries (Europe-Africa) and bringing connectivity to Mauritania, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe, and Equatorial Guinea.
- Sea-Me-We 4 a 20,000 km, linking 14 countries from France to Singapore.
- SAT-3/WASC system – linking Portugal to South Africa with branches to Spain, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon and Angola.
- SAT-3/WASC reliant le Portugal à l’Afrique du Sud, avec des embranchements en Espagne, au Sénégal, en Côte d’Ivoire, au Ghana, en République du Bénin, au Nigeria, au Cameroun, au Gabon et en Angola.
- EASSy, 10,000 km submarine network linking eight countries from East Africa and Sudan to South Africa.
- Kenya-United Arab Emirates cable for the East Africa Marine System (TEAMS) consortium – spanning 4,900 km to connect Mombassa in Kenya to Fujairah in the UAE.
- WACS – 14,000 km submarine network connecting South Africa to Europe. In service in 2012.
-   système sous-marin de 14 000 Km reliant l’Afrique du Sud et l’Europe. Mise en service en 2012.
- LION, connecting Toamasina in Madagascar to SainteMarie in La Réunion and Terre Rouge in Mauritius via a link of approximately 1000 km.
-  SEAS 1900km linking Seychelles and Tanzania.
-  GLO1: 9,800Km connected Ghana to West Africa and Europe.
-  Middle East North Africa (MENA) 3 850 Km cable for Orascom Telecom, positioning Egypt as a central hub for traffic transit between Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
-  TE North system for Telecom Egypt – 3,100 km, it started with ultimate capacity of 128 x 10 on each of its eight fiber pairs, which makes it one of the largest cable systems in the region. Now in service using 40G technology.
- Atlas Offshore for Maroc Telecom – linking the cities of Asilah in Morocco to Marseille in France, over more than 1,630 km. It directly interconnects Maroc Telecom with the various European operators.

Alcatel-Lucent to bring faster, higher-quality broadband to Africa: In Africa, Alcatel-Lucent is focused on three major segments; infrastructure, applications and services; all three are critical to its long-term commitment to its Customers.’

Furthermore, “In terms of revenues, investment and local presence, Alcatel-Lucent has a major role in building and transforming Africa’s telecommunications networks for many world-class fixed and mobile operators in Africa, including but not limited to Airtel, Kenya Data Networks (KDN), Uganda Telecom, Orange, Etisalat Nigeria, Globacom (Nigeria and Ghana), MTN, Unitel Angola, Mcel Mozambique, TDM Mozambique, Vodacom, Telkom South Africa, Smile, Togo Cellulaire, Tigo Millicom Ghana, Telesis Tanzania, Algerie Telecom, Maroc Telecom, Inwi Morocco, Tunisiana, Orascom Telecom along with many other international key players, regional and local service providers.

Additionally, Alcatel-Lucent is also present in the Oil and Gas sector and with various governments – bringing advanced, affordable and convenient services to its customers across the region.

Fast fact on Alcatel-Lucent’s achievements in Africa including but not limited to:
In North Africa:

-  In December 2012, Alcatel-Lucent and Tunisiana sidned a four-year agreement to build a new superfast wireline broadband high capacity access network across Tunisia.
-  In 2011, Tunisiana selected Alcatel-Lucent for complete mobile network IP transformation.
-  In 2010, Alcatel-Lucent deployed turnkey communications solution for gas extraction, treatment and transport system to Saipem in Algeria (a leading Engineering Procurement and Construction contractor in the oil and gas industry).
-  In 2009, Alcatel-Lucent accompanied Sonatrach the first oil & gas Algerian company to evolve its telecommunication network.
- In 2009, Maroc Telecom selected Alcatel-Lucent to migrate and integrate its billing and customer care solution.
- In 2008, Morocco’s WANA (Inwi) and Alcatel-Lucent signed a frame agreement for wireless transmission and network integration services.
- En 2007, Tunisie Telecom selected Alcatel-Lucent’s broadband access solution for triple play and VPNs.
In West and Central Africa:
- In December 2012, Alcatel-Lucent and Main One Cable Company have renewed their marine maintenance contract for Main One’s submarine cable system connecting Portugal to Nigeria over 7,000 km.
- In December 2012, Alcatel-Lucent builds Airtel’s IP/MPLS network backbone across Africa; to help the operator meet rapidly growing demand for mobile broadband services.  This new backbone network will support all mobile broadband services to Airtel’s 17 affiliates across Africa – serving 60 million customers.
- In November 2012, in the frame of a new 2012 network expansion, Togocellulaire selected Alcatel-Lucent for a major transformation of the West African mobile operator’s network, boosting its GSM and 3G broadband capacity, quality and reliability across the country.
-  In September 2012, Alcatel-Lucent extends Ghana’s e-government services to rural regions for NITA Ghana’s National Information Technology Agency. (fiber optics backbone and managed services).
- In August 2012, Etisalat Nigeria selected Alcatel-Lucent Optism™ to introduce permission-based mobile advertising to over thirteen million customers.
- In 2011, Etisalat Nigeria renewed managed services contract with Alcatel-Lucent.
- In 2011, Tigo (Millicom) Ghana and Alcatel-Lucent bring personalized mobile advertising to millions of subscribers in Ghana.
- In 2011, MTN Nigeria selected Alcatel-Lucent for DSL access and aggregation network transformation.
- In 2008, Alcatel-Lucent and Globacom succesfully launched Nigeria’s first commercial 3G UMTS/HSPA mobile broadbdand network and the operator selected ALU to deliver converged multimedia services.

In East and South Africa:

- In December 2012, Alcatel-Lucent builds Airtel’s IP/MPLS network backbone across Africa; to help the operator meet rapidly growing demand for mobile broadband services.  This new backbone network will support all mobile broadband services to Airtel’s 17 affiliates across Africa – serving 60 million customers.
- In November 2012, Smile and Alcatel-Lucent to expand availability of 4G services in Africa (Network launched in Tanzania in June to be followed by extension of mobile broadband network to Uganda).
- In November 2012, Alcatel-Lucent and Angola Cables, a consortium of Angolan telecoms operators to connect Southern Africa in Angola and the global community through a superfast terrestrial data link based on the 100G optical coherent technology.
- In October 2012, Alcatel-Lucent and Telesis Tanzania to help stimulate industry and economic development with launch of 4G LTE mobile broadband service.
- In June 2012, Alcatel-Lucent supplies network equipment to enable Telkom South Africa to expand the delivery of superfast broadband services across the country.
- In 2010, Alcatel-Lucent has been selected by Kenya Data Networks (KDN) to further extend and upgrade its IP/MPLS network which is based on the Alcatel-Lucent Triple Play Service Delivery Architecture (TPSDA).
- In 2009, Orange Uganda selected Alcatel-Lucent to build and manage its mobile network.
- In 2008, Alcatel-Lucent has been selected by Unitel S.A in Angola to expand and enhance its wireless network with the latest generation of Alcatel-Lucent’s GSM/EDGE radio equipment.
- In 2009, Bechtel selected Alcatel-Lucent to deploy a fully integrated end-to-end communications solution for Angola LNG Plant.
- In 2009, TDM (Telecomunicacoes de Mocambique) selected Alcatel-Lucent to extend nation-wide optical backbone and bridge digital divide in Mozambique.
-  In 2008, Alcatel-Lucent signed contract with mcel Mozambique to deploy 3G network covering key markets in the country.
Daniel Jaeger vice-President of Alcatel-Lucent Africa speaking on Africa market and his vision; he said: Africa is a growing market and a clear focus area for Alcatel-Lucent; it is among the company’s most promising markets. Broadband being one of the top priorities in the continent, and with the arrival of the submarine cables; good progress has been made to connect landing points, national backbones connect the regional hubs, but the connectivity to smaller places and rural areas is still poor, at large.

“Alcatel-Lucent is gaining more and more ground on the African continent. Service and network providers appreciate the focus of our company on the most cost-effective and innovative products, architectures and business models, mastering the totality of topics related to telecom business. We have the strong belief that constant technology innovations in the various domains will lead to the optimal end-to-end network transformation strategy for the service and network providers’ community.”

“Africa has a vast demand for connectivity – more and more broadband – on top of its infrastructure needs in some areas. More developed areas where existing infrastructures must now deliver high-quality broadband connectivity to support services like high-speed Internet access. The globalization of the economy and the growth of the internet have enhanced worldwide communications. End users wherever based in a remote village or in a big city should rely on stable telecommunications connections to enquire about the wider world and make their contribution to it. The convergence of services (broadband internet + video on demand + voice) has become a significant reality. Telecom operators, service providers, enterprises rely on their networks to run their voice, data and internet communication.”

He also added: “Africa is in need of affordable connectivity, which is essential for its social and economic development. Increasing the availability of high-bandwidth connections is crucial for Africa’s future development – also high growth in smart phones sales is dramatically changing usage patterns. On the other hand, the internet continues to become unwired; it remains a catalyst for change, for development and innovation, while operators and service providers are embracing the economic opportunity while coping with the capacity challenge.”

“Having said that, universal access to all will break network barriers to enrich and improve end users mobile broadband experience – The only economical way to satisfy the mass market hunger for mobile broadband is to capture all circuit-switched, packet-switched, fixed access and aggregation networks in a single, end-to-end IP architecture — But operators need more than cutting edge technology, as this challenge requires a technology partner that can translate break through innovation into operational excellence in the field with proven capabilities in wireless and IP with the aim of providing simplified, flexible and cost effective networks.

Alcatel-Lucent promotes diversity, inclusiveness and respect across the world. Its employee base represents a multitude of various nationalities capable to communicate between each other, while carrying Alcatel-Lucent values which are the company’s cornerstones at the heart of everything we do: Customers First, Innovation, Teamwork, Respect, Ethic and Accountability,” the study adds.

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High-level Seychelles delegation and ProgressSoft at Connected World Forum

Posted on 07 November 2012 by Africa Business

after nationwide mobile money launch
1000+ mobile lifeline experts gather in Dubai this month

The global payment solutions giant ProgressSoft will share details of the countrywide roll-out of its mobile payment solution in the Republic of Seychelles at the upcoming Connected World Forum in Dubai from 20-21 November.  ProgressSoft CEO, Mr. Michael Wakileh, the Seychelles Minister of Finance, Trade & Investment, H.E. Mr. Pierre Laporte and the Governor of the Central Bank of Seychelles, H.E. Ms. Abel, head up a distinguished list of more than 100 leading industry experts who will address the conference while some 70 exhibitors will display the latest lifeline technology and services.  More than a thousand lifeline services experts will gather for the Connected World Forum, which incorporates Mobile Money Global and Mobile Health Global.

ProgressSoft this week announced the project launch of the total countrywide mobile payment solution, PS-mPay, in the Republic of Seychelles.  The announcement was made during a meeting that joined the President of the Republic of Seychelles, H.E. Mr. James Michel and ProgressSoft’s CEO Mr. Michael Wakileh, along with all members of the Government of Seychelles Cabinet and the Governor of the Central Bank of Seychelles.  During the meeting, Mr. Wakileh told the honorable attendees that ProgressSoft’s pioneering mobile payment solution, PS-mPay, would “move payments in Seychelles to a new paradigm”.

Mr. Wakileh highlighted the importance of collaboration among the main stakeholders of this momentous project, which include the Central Bank, the Government, all commercial banks and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), along with ProgressSoft – as the Solution Provider. He went on to explain how PS-mPay will provide all citizens, expatriates and tourists in Seychelles with Person-to-Person (P2P), Person-to-Business (P2B) and Person-to-Government (P2G) real-time mobile payments.  The solution will also avail Direct Credits, Near Field Communication (NFC) based Point-of-Sale (POS) Payments, International Remittances and Bill Payments – all to be conducted via the mobile phone.

“It’s a fantastic concept”, expressed H.E. Mr. James Michel in reaction to the presented solution.

ProgressSoft will soon engage in the research and development phase of the project with the assistance of the Central Bank and the Government of Seychelles to achieve the implementation of the new system by mid-2013.

Mr. Wakileh affirmed that this is yet another milestone in ProgressSoft’s partnership with the Central Bank of Seychelles; “while we provide such real-time and state-of-the-art payment services, we hope to add one more reason of pride to the Seychelles beautiful islands”.

In explaining the benefits that the Seychelles stands to enjoy from the mobile payment services Mr. Wakileh said the economy will primarily retain and save all monies going out of the country; money laundering should be reduced as monitoring of micro payments and auditing of all cash transactions are made possible. He also said that while all payments become real-time, the overall economic cycle is expected to get vastly accelerated and hence the GDP of the country will increase.

According to the ProgressSoft CEO the banking sector would also benefit with the Central Bank having more control over all payments, which reflect in reduction of unnecessary overheads of printing and re-printing money notes.  He said that meanwhile, PS-mPay will allow for the financial inclusion of the unbanked people in the country, which will furnish a new customer base for banks in Seychelles without requiring any extra operational cost or front-end employment. As mobile payment and transfer become the norm, dealing with cash shall decrease. This will have a positive impact on banks as they realize reduction in costs relating to cash handling as well as ATM machines investment and maintenance.

Mr Wakileh and the partners from Seychelles will present more details about this progressive mobile payment project during the Connected World Forum Plenary on 20 November.

10h00:  Press conference
11h25:  Collaborative Model for Countrywide Mobile Payments in the Republic of Seychelles

The panel will consist of H.E. Ms. Abel, the Governor of the Central Bank of Seychelles, H.E. Mr. Pierre Laporte, Seychelles Minister of Finance Trade & Investment, and Mr. Michael Wakileh, CEO of ProgressSoft Corporation. The panelists will jointly present the efforts made towards providing a countrywide mobile payment service in the Seychelles and will convey the unparalleled value of this pioneering experience to the mobile money decision makers attending the conference.

The Connected World Forum consists of three separate streams:  Mobile Money, Mobile Health and Mobile Life.


Event dates:

19 November:  Pre-conference workshop, Mobile Money and Mobile Health Academy
20-21 November:  Mobile Money, Mobile Health and Mobile Life Conference days
20 November:  Connected World Forum Awards
22 November:  Post-conference workshop:  Mobile Money and Mobile Health Academy

Location: Atlantis The Palm, Dubai, UAE
Event websites:
www.mobile-money-gateway.com/global; www.connectedworldforum.com

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IMF Concludes EFF Review Mission to Seychelles

Posted on 30 October 2012 by The African Press Organization

 

VICTORIA, Mahé, October 29, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ – An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Carol Baker visited Victoria from October 17–26, 2012 to assess performance at end-June for the sixth program review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) Arrangement with Seychelles and discuss the authorities’ request for a one-year extension of the three-year arrangement and augmentation of access.1 The mission met with President James Michel, Vice President Danny Faure, Finance Minister Pierre Laporte, Central Bank Governor Caroline Abel, and other senior government officials and representatives of the private sector.

At the conclusion of the mission, Ms. Baker issued the following statement:

“The Seychellois economy has shown resilience in the face of the difficult global environment. Economic growth has held up thanks to increasing tourist arrivals from non-traditional markets; fiscal policies have remained firmly on track toward the government’s target of bringing public debt down to 50 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2018; and debt restructuring is nearly complete. Monetary tightening has been successful in reversing the mid-year inflationary uptick, and inflation pressures are expected to continue their recently observed downward path.

“The government has made sustained progress in implementing the IMF-supported program. All end-June 2012 quantitative targets under the program were met—some, including the fiscal primary balance target, by a wide margin. The broader structural reform agenda is also moving ahead, with implementation of the electronic clearing house and completion of a study on utility tariff reform. The mission welcomes adoption of the value-added tax (VAT), and notes that delayed implementation to January 1, 2013 does not materially affect the reform agenda.

“However, challenges remain. Seychelles’ open economy remains highly vulnerable to external shocks, while the weak financial position of public enterprises may increasingly strain public finances in the absence of domestic price adjustments. Ensuring a buildup of buffers against shocks will be critical in the current global environment, and requires the continuation of prudent macroeconomic policies and the safeguarding of international reserves. Moreover, the mission urges the authorities to bring the same level of fiscal discipline observed at the central government level to the broader public sector, including through the gradual adjustment and rebalancing of domestic utility, food and transport prices. Throughout this price adjustment process, it is of utmost importance to take the necessary steps to protect the most vulnerable segments of Seychellois society.

“In light of these challenges, the IMF mission and the Seychelles authorities have reached an agreement, subject to approval by IMF management and the Executive Board, on a one-year extension of the Extended Arrangement through December 2013 which includes an augmentation of access of 60.6 percent of quota ($10.23 million), bringing total access under the EFF-supported arrangement to 242.3 percent of Seychelles’ quota in the IMF. Specifically, the authorities and the mission reached understandings, ad referendum, on economic policies and reforms to lock in the gains to date, make further inroads on key reforms and build policy buffers in the uncertain global environment.

“The mission appreciates the high quality of the technical discussions and wishes to thank the authorities for their warm hospitality, and the open and constructive dialogue.”

1 The Extended Fund Facility under the Extended Arrangement is an instrument of the IMF designed for countries facing serious medium-term balance of payments problems because of structural weaknesses that require time to address. Assistance under the extended facility features longer program engagement—to help countries implement medium-term structural reforms—and a longer repayment period. (See http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/eff.htm). Details on Seychelles’ current arrangement are available at www.imf.org/seychelles

SOURCE  International Monetary Fund (IMF)

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SADC initiative to harmonize seed policies advanced

Posted on 26 October 2012 by Africa Business

 

by Wallace Mawire

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) initiatives on harmonization of seed policies are at an advanced stage with  only a few countries still to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The initiatives are being conducted under the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Harmonized Seed Security Project.

According to Dr Lindiwe Sibanda, FANRPAN CEO and Head of Mission, farmers in the SADC region remain seed insecure due in part to conflicting seed laws, regulations and procedures.

These are reported to hinder the timely movement of seed across the region’s borders.

Sibanda says as a solution, FANRPAN has proposed the seed policies harmonization to increase seed flow across national borders.

She says there is need to harmonize variety release, seed certification and phytosanitary measures for seed.

As part of its intervention measures, FANRPAN launched the SADC Seed Security Network phase 1 in 2001.This was initiated to contribute to policy dialogue and elimination of trade barriers hindering intra-regional seed trade.

Seed harmonization initiatives in SADC were proposed in 1987 in the Danagro study of national seed systems. In 1988-2003, 11 regional meetings and five national workshops on seed harmonization were conducted.

In 2007 three SADC seed harmonization protocols were finalised and endorsed. In 2010 an MOU for the implementation of SADC seed regulation systems was signed.

“As of 2012, 9 SADC countries have signed the MOU,” Dr Sibanda says.
She says that countries which are yet to sign the MOU in SADC include Angola, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Sibanda has also revealed that FANRPAN is conducting a pilot study to ensure that the regional protocol on seed policy harmonization is domesticated and implemented in-oder to benefit farmers.

The duration of the pilot project is from 2010 to 2013 and it is being funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

The pilot will result in review, alignment and domestication and implementation of the SADC protocol, enhanced availability of varieties, increased investment in the seed sector to open up markets.

Other anticipated outcomes include improving seed quality,reduced seed importation costs.This will also result in organised and trained small-holder seed growers and a common seed certification scheme.

Sibanda says that as part of alignment of national legislation a policy study was commissioned by FANRPAN in June 2012 to examine the standard domestication processes in the pilot countries.

This was meant to assess the challenges faced by national task teams in policy alignment.

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