Botswana’s Minister of Finance and Development Planning Baledzi Gaolathe gave his support to the Vulnerability Fund proposed by the World Bank with caution because Africa continues to be "marginalised and patronised" instead of being an integral part of the solution to the current financial and economic crisis. Speaking at the Japan-Africa development aid conference known as TICAD IV in Gaborone recently, Gaolathe said with its resources and its vast potential, the African continent must be part of the solution.” In order for us to play our part, we have to be party to the deliberations and to the processes which flow there from," Gaolathe said in reference to the April 2, G20 summit in London, which will hear Africa's voice through Japan.” We cannot play our part when, as a continent, we continue to be marginalised, even patronised, and have to observe proceedings from the sidelines." World Bank president Robert Zoellick will propose to the G20 a contribution of 0.7 percent of their stimulus packages to a Vulnerability Fund to help developing countries mitigate the impact of the crisis. The majority of the speakers at the conference supported the proposal but called on Africa to be the one presenting its own challenges and suggestions to international gatherings such as the G20 meeting.
Zambia: Media Resists Calls for State Regulation
After almost a decade of fighting for self-regulation, the Zambian media may finally have its wishes entrenched with constitutional protection. The new draft constitution of the country prohibits legislation that would undermine media freedom and administrative behaviour that could hinder the development of the sector. Press Association of Zambia (PAZA) vice-president Amos Chanda told a section of the press that separate provision is made that "categorically" safeguards the freedom of the media while clauses in the current constitution on freedom of expression are also retained. Just fewer than 500 representatives from all sectors of the Zambian population who are working in 11 commissions are drafting the new constitution. Changes being considered include a new electoral system, an independent electoral council and greater control by parliament over the government. The National Constitutional Conference (NCC) will convene a plenary discussion on its proposals in May and is expected to hold a referendum on a final draft by December. PAZA is elated that over 90 percent of its submissions to the Constitution Review Commission are reflected in the draft document.
Ethiopia Flower Power Frail as Global Meltdown Cuts
Transactions on flowers have declined so drastically that the earnings of flower farms do not even cover the cost of freight according to Addis Fortune. This is mainly attributed to the global economic downturn. Within the last few weeks, for example, the price of a stem of rose has gone down to as low as o.o6 dollars from about 0.20 dollars in the European market where consumption has fallen considerably, according to industry observers. Whether the problem will be reversed is highly dependent on the changes in the market dynamics at export destinations, the observers argue. The price of flowers in the European market - the major destination of Ethiopian roses - slid by 15pc to 20pc from that of last year.
Meningitis Outbreak Hits Nigeria
World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that a "serious" outbreak of meningitis has hit the northern part of Nigeria. A statement issued by WHO, a copy of which was made available to the Press said that, "some 17,500 cases had been registered and 960 people had already died of the disease". The statement said that although the states most affected were Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara States, "the epidemic has also hit other states in northern part of the country hard." It also stated that vaccination campaigns were underway, with the support of UNICEF and other NGOs. According to the statement, the UN health agency is supporting the Nigerian Health Ministry's efforts to boost disease surveillance, with technical experts on ground since last month. Along with its partners, the statement said WHO had released 2.3 million doses of vaccines to Nigeria. It, however, noted that, "nearly 13 million doses were stockpiled for 2009, but more are needed for this meningitis season which will run from January through June".