China launched a special fund of 1 billion U.S. dollars to finance trade and investment in Africa. The China-Africa Development Fund is financed by the China Development Bank and will eventually expand to 5 billion U.S. dollars. China has been promoting itself as a partner for Africa's development in its bid to secure oil and other resources for its booming economy. Critics however castigate China for supporting oppressive regimes.
African Unity Still a Dream
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has condemned the working of the African Union and called for the creation of a "United States of Africa" at the forthcoming AU summit in Ghana. "The OAU (Organisation of African Unity, predecessor of the AU) failed, the council of African ministers failed, the African parliament is a rump parliament," he told a meeting of 50 000 people in a stadium in Conakry. . He lamented the fact that "in Africa we have not been able to create a government of union (nor) any instrument of union to bring about our aim. Gaddafi was speaking at the Guinean capital on his way to the AU summit in Accra.
Meanwhile, the AU will help its member states develop a strategy for engaging China and other emerging economic powers from the South as a bloc. Tarana Loumabeka, Co-ordination and Liaison Manager in the AU’s Department of Trade and Industry said that the continental organization has been directed by its Summit to play a bigger role in the relations between Africa and China, India, Brazil and Turkey. A co-ordinating role for the African Union in the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) will be in the interest of not only African countries but also China. It will provide a greater opportunity for a more focused and better organized engagement with China,” Ms Loumabeka said during a recent conference in Nairobi that discussed the role and interests of East Africa in a changing global order.
Subsidies Hurting Poor Nations
More than 1 million children in West Africa would not go to bed hungry if Washington stopped providing subsidies to America's cotton growers, according to a study released by an influential development organization. Researchers affiliated with Oxfam International say their findings also show that removing subsidies for cotton growers in the United States could enable some 2 million children in West Africa to get at least a basic education. "Previous studies my colleagues and I have done clearly show the trade distorting effects of U.S. cotton subsidies by lowering the world price of cotton," said Daniel Sumner, the report's lead author and director of the University of California Agricultural Issues Center. According to Oxfam's study, a typical cotton producing household in West Africa has about 10 family members, an average life expectancy of about 48 years, and an adult literacy rate of less than 25 percent. The report's findings suggest that cotton is often the only source of cash for peasant families who live on less than $1 a day per person. The study found that with a complete removal of U.S. cotton subsidies, the world price of cotton would increase by at least 6 to 14 percent; prices that West African farmers would receive for their cotton would increase by 5 to 12 percent, and their household income would increase by 2.3 to 5.7 percent.
East African Teachers form Regional Trade Union
A giant trade union to champion the interest of teachers within the East African political federation region has been formed. The union, Federation of East African Teachers Trade Union Forum (FEATU) will bring along over one million teachers drawn from countries that form the East African Community - Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Zanzibar. It will influence the improvement of teachers' conditions and terms of service within the region, the respective General Secretaries of the individual trade unions declared. The union intends to improve living and working conditions of teachers as a pre-requisite to the realization of East African Intended transformational goals. It brings together the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), Tanzania Teachers Union (TTU) , Uganda National Teachers Union, Zanzibar Teachers Union, Rwanda Teachers Union, and Burundi Teachers Union. KNUT will head the giant union whose secretariat will be established in Arusha, the headquarters of the East African political federation. KNUT Secretary General, Mr Francis Ng'ang'a, said KNUT would house FEATU in Nairobi before the secretariat was moves to Arusha.
Laura Bush on African Health Mission
First Lady Laura Bush started a four-nation Africa tour that is expected to focus on how the U.S. can help fight AIDS on a continent where many countries struggle to even provide basic health care. Mrs. Bush, accompanied by her daughter Jenna, is scheduled to visit the West African nations of Senegal and Mali, along with Mozambique and Zambia in southern Africa.
Media Tipped on Elections
Journalists have been called upon to maintain high levels of integrity despite the challenges and opportunities encountered during elections. Dr.Absalom Mutere of the Media Council of Kenya emphasized this during a two day workshop in Kenya’s Eastern province, organized by the Media Council of Kenya for journalists. He further noted that development journalism has gone down. He emphasized the need to exercise diversity in covering development issues. Mr. Mitch Odero (Chairman, ethics and complaints committee) correspondents in different parts of the country to be ethical. Commenting on the same issue, Prof. Jeremire of St. Augustine University of Tanzania called on correspondents to add value on their work for them to be highly marketable.
Africa Reluctant to Host US Military Bases
The Pentagon's plan to create a US military command base in Africa has hit a wall of hostility from governments in the region reluctant to associate themselves with the Bush administration's "war on terror." A US delegation led by Ryan Henry, principal deputy under-secretary of defence for policy, returned to Washington last week with little to show for consultations with defence and foreign ministry officials in Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Djibouti and the African Union (AU). An earlier round of consultations with sub-Saharan countries on providing secure facilities and local back-up for the new command, to be known as Africom and due to be operational by September next year, was similarly inconclusive.
Emerging Markets to Receive a Boost
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank's private sector wing, has signed a deal with the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), to enable the country's largest bank to provide trade finance to African traders. IFC will issue guarantees against KCB's underlying trade transactions, covering payment risk and helping increase Kenya's share of the global trade finance market. The facility is part of IFC's 1 billion U.S. dollars Global Trade Finance Program, which was launched in 2005 to support trade with the emerging markets worldwide and promote flows of goods and services between developing countries. "IFC's Global Trade Finance Program will increase our capacity, enabling us to take up more transactions," Martin Oduor-Otieno, Kenya Commercial Bank's chief executive.
Allow Free Movement of Goods, Urges COMESA
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa has urged member states to allow free movement of maize by implementing the "maize without borders" concept to ensure food security and promote trade in the region. "As a staple food crop in a number of COMESA countries, the unimpeded movement of maize from surplus to deficit areas is critical to ensuring sustained regional food security," COMESA said in a report. It noted that free trade in maize was being hampered by periodic import and export restrictions imposed by member countries. "Investing in agro-processing will enable the bloc to add value to raw maize grain, thus allowing local goods to compete on the international market," it added. Sudan, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo are COMESA's major importers of agricultural commodities while Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, Malawi and Egypt are the top five leading exporters of farming products
A Ksh. 5 Billion Fund for Women
Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki officially launched a Ksh. 5 billion investment fund for women. He said the fund was meant to increase participation of women in business and to develop their capabilities to compete in the global market. The unveiling of the National Strategy for Promotion of Women in Business and Investment by Equity Bank and UNDP at Kenyatta International Conference Centre was attended by 3,000 women. UN resident coordinator and UNDP representative Elizabeth Lwanga said the new fund will help Kenya’s efforts to be a modern industrialized nation by 2030. “Furthermore, it will strengthen women’s abilities to participate actively in decision-making processes at economic, social and political levels,” she said. The President also received the 2007 Global Vision Award on Microfinance which was won by Equity Bank alongside Grameen Bank from Bangladesh during the recent G8 Summit in Germany. The bank said the award belongs to Kenyans.
Compiled Anne Mugoya
Inter Region Economic Network
Comment on this article!