Four years of falling prices on the world market have seen West Africa's all-important cotton industry on the brink of collapse. World cotton prices responsible for nearly 70 percent of impoverished Burkina Faso's cash exports and income for more than a quarter of its 13 million people, are now at the lowest since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The market is said to be reeling because of what locals call "the monster with three heads," namely, the dollar, low world prices and U.S. cotton subsidies. The United States' 25,000 cotton farmers receive subsidies totaling some $4 billion, reportedly allowing them to undercut their developing competitors.
Meanwhile, West Africa’s mobile phone market rose by 58 per cent last year and is expected to jump another 35 percent in 2007. Around 66.6 million West Africans are expected to have mobiles by the end of 2007. Ethiopia’s mobile penetration rate stands as the lowest in Africa, at 1.4 percent, with ETC as one of the largest monopolies in the continent.
Hotel Investment Leaders to Meet in Dubai
More than 800 leaders representing the global hotel investment industry are set to meet for the third year running at this year’s Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC), in Dubai from April 28-30. AHIC has received the on-going patronage of Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and chairman of Emirates Group, to lead a world-class speaker line-up; each briefed to stir debate on the issues and opportunities that come in the wake of rapid sector and market development. Everything from Middle East capital to luxury hotels and creating new destinations will be discussed and debated on.
Australian Firm Granted Mining License
The government of Malawi has granted a mining license to Paladin Africa Limited for the Kayelekera Uranium Project. The uranium miner said construction could now commence on the project, with environmental approval having already been received. The license referred to as ML 0152, covers an area of 55.5Kms² and has been granted for a term of 15 years, renewable for further 10-year periods. The Kayelekera Uranium Project is scheduled to commission in September 2008 and reach full production during the second quarter of 2009.
Wealthy Philanthropist to Help in the Fight against Poverty
“Wealthy philanthropists could do more than the Group of Eight leading nations to lift Africa out of poverty, the UN secretary-general's special adviser,” Jeff Sachs said. Mr. Sachs said the financial clout of the likes of Microsoft boss Bill Gates and international investor Warren Buffett, who have pledged billions of dollars to global health and education could eclipse flagging governmental initiatives. "The Rockefeller Foundation was the world's most important development institution of the 20th century, and the Gates Foundation can be that of the 21st century," he said. "Gates can make a huge difference if they hit the right model."
Health Ministers to Discuss a Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa
Health ministers from the AU’s 53 member states are expected to attend the week-long meeting in Johannesburg and submit their agreements to the assembly of AU heads of state and government. A pharmaceutical manufacturing plan for Africa will be among the issues to be debated. The ministers are expected to discuss ways of boosting local production of medicines and reducing reliance on imports, as well as the possibility of pooling regional resources to streamline the regulation of new drugs.
World Bank to Finance Internet Connection
The World Bank has approved Ksh 12 billion ($165 million) million to finance high speed internet connection in Kenya, Burundi and Madagascar. Kenya is the largest beneficiary, getting Ksh 8 billion in the proposed Regional Communication Infrastructure Programme for East and Southern Africa. Madagascar and Burundi will receive Ksh 2 billion ($30 million) and Ksh. 1.4 billion ($20 million) respectively.
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