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Posts Tagged ‘Southern African Development Community’

AfDB and Namibia sign ZAR 2.9 billion loan agreement

Posted by African Press International on November 12, 2013

WINDHOEK, Namibia, November 11, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (http://www.afdb.org) and Namibia on Friday, November 8, 2013 signed a ZAR 2.9 billion (US $338 million) sovereign guaranteed loan to Nambia Ports Authority (Namport) to finance the construction of a container terminal at Walvis Bay New Port.

In line with its Ten Year Strategy and focus on infrastructure development and regional integration, the AfDB Group approved the construction of the New Port of Walvis Bay Container Terminal Project in July 2013. The Bank also provided a UA 1.5 million grant (US $2.3 million) to the Government of Namibia for logistics and capacity building complementing the port project loan.

Namibia’s Finance Minister and Governor for the Bank, Sara Kuugongwelwa-Amadhila, signed the loan guarantee and grant agreements on behalf the Government in Windhoek. Namport CEO Bisey Uirab signed the loan agreement on behalf of Namport, while Ebrima Faal, Regional Director of the AfDB’s Southern Africa Resource Center (SARC), signed for the Bank.

In her intervention, Kuugongwelwa-Amadhila stressed the importance of the project and its contribution to one of the key development goals (the logistics pillar) of the National Development Plan which aims to position Namibia as a regional logistics hub by 2017. The Minister also thanked the AfDB for its strong and holistic support to Namport and the Government of Namibia through the loan and grant financing.

For his part, the Namport CEO acknowledged the positive spirit and enthusiasm of the AfDB in committing to finance the project and its unwavering commitment throughout the project preparation process.

In his statement, Faal emphasized the developmental impact of the project: “This project is important for Namibia and for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. It is critical to fulfilling Namibia’s aspirations to become a world-class logistics hub in the SADC region,” he said.

According to Faal, the project will enhance international and inter-regional trade and regional integration and Namibia will be able to fully exploit its unique geographical location to facilitate trade to and from the region.

“With the high levels of youth unemployment, the Bank’s support to Namport and the Government of Namibia will greatly improve private sector development and youth employment and will especially boost women participation in the logistics sector,” he emphasized.

The Project is expected to enable Namport to triple the container-handling capacity at the Port of Walvis Bay from 350,000 TEUs to 1,050,000 TEUs per annum. It will also finance the purchase of up-to-date port equipment and the training of pilots and operators for the new terminal. The grant component will fund the preparation of the National Logistics Master Plan study, technical support and capacity-building for the Walvis Bay Corridor Group and training of freight forwarders with particular emphasis on female staff.

According to the AfDB Director of Transport and ICT, Amadou Oumarou: “Through this project which potentially serves up to seven major economies in the SADC region, the Bank is assisting in the diversification and distribution of port facilities on the southwest coast of Africa, and provides the much-needed alternative for the region’s landlocked countries.”

The project will stimulate the development and upgrade of multimodal transport corridors linking the port to the hinterland while improving the country’s transport and logistics chains. It will also boost competition among the ports and transport corridors in the region with the ripple effect on reductions in transportation costs and increased economic growth.

The projected project outcomes include improvement in port efficiency and increase in cargo volumes by 70% in 2020 as a result of increased trade in the region. The benefits of the project will include among others, the stimulation of inter-regional trade and regional integration, private sector development, skills transfer and most importantly employment creation, leading to significant economic development and poverty reduction in Namibia, and the SADC region.

 

SOURCE

African Development Bank (AfDB)

 

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Zimbabwe elections marred by irregularities

Posted by African Press International on August 6, 2013

Norway is pleased that the elections in Zimbabwe passed off peacefully, in contrast to the previous elections in 2008. This is a step in the right direction. But unfortunately there are clear indications that these elections were marred by so many irregularities that they cannot be called open and fair,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide

Presidential and parliamentary elections were held in Zimbabwe on 31 July. The results were announced yesterday. According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, current President Robert Mugabe (ZANU-PF) received 61 % of the votes in the presidential election, while Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) received 34 %. In the parliamentary election, ZANU-PF is reported to have won 196 of 270 seats.

Election observers from the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have identified a number of serious flaws. The voters’ roll was not made public before the election, many people in the cities were not able to register and on election day many were turned away, which could indicate that the electoral roll was incorrect. Some 35 % more ballot papers were printed than there were voters. Contrary to the law, there was a persistent pro- ZANU-PF bias in the state media.

“After many years of insecurity and poverty, the people of Zimbabwe deserve a better life. Unfortunately, these election flaws make it difficult to view the election results as an expression of the will of the people,” said Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås.

The African election observers have not yet published their final report. The opposition MDC-T will consider whether to take legal action and demand new elections.

“We are now awaiting the outcome of these processes, which will also affect Norway’s relations with Zimbabwe in the years ahead. It is very important for Norway that countries we cooperate with show a genuine willingness to promote democracy and human rights,” Mr Eide said.

 

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MISA REGIONAL STATEMENT ON WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY

Posted by African Press International on May 5, 2013

  • By Maurice Alal, API Kenya

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) is deeply concerned about the rate at which media freedom and freedom of expression violations are occurring within the southern African region.

“We are particularly concerned that some of these violations have resulted in the death of journalists and others have resulted in severe body and psychological injuries,” MISA states.

In this regard, our hearts go out to the families of Daudi Mwangosi and Issa Ngumba, who lost these two journalists in September 2012 and January 2013 respectively. “We know they are missed. Our hearts also go out to many other African and global journalists whose blood has been spilt because somebody somewhere did not understand or chose to disrespect the sacrosanct duty of a journalist in society,” MISA reveals.

Indeed, we carry in our thoughts many other journalists who have suffered injuries in the course of doing their work. Absalom Kibanda, a senior Tanzanian editor who was brutally attacked outside his Dar-es-Salaam home in March this year is but one of them.

The editor was attacked as he returned from work. His attackers, who are said to have been wielding guns, pulled him out of his vehicle and brutally assaulted him severely, leaving him unconscious. Kibanda had some of his teeth and nails plucked out and his left eye was pierced with a sharp object. He eventually lost the eye and has now been given an artificial eye.

Speaking with MISA ahead of World Press Freedom Day, Kibanda, who is recovering as an out-patient in Johannesburg, was in high spirits and showed tremendous signs of recovery, given the circumstances under which he was left by his attackers.

It is this kind of resilience that inspires us to work even harder in defending media freedom and freedom of expression within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region and, by extension, across the rest of the world.

The Union is energized by the many journalists, editors and media practitioners who continue to speak truth to power, putting their lives under considerable risk but unashamed spurred by the convictions of truth, fairness and accuracy.

In light of these developments MISA supports the United Nations (UN) Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

Research shows that a staggering number of journalists and media workers have been killed while performing their professional duties. It is reported that in nine out of ten cases, the perpetrators of these crimes are never prosecuted.

Impunity, which may be understood as the failure to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice, perpetuates the cycle of violence against journalists and must be addressed.

As we commemorate this day, World Press Freedom Day, MISA is proud to have an association with journalists, editors, media practitioners and free expression activists who understand both their rights and responsibilities in society.

We continue to encourage adherence to codes of ethics and to the maintenance of high standards of reporting, which is what those who consume our products and services expect, edition after edition.

However, these expectations cannot be fully met if the environment within which the practice of journalism must occur is unsafe or is being deliberately made hostile to media freedom and freedom of expression.

In this regard, we call upon relevant stakeholders, including governments, law-enforcement agencies, policymakers and the public at large, to account for the critical importance of the media’s role in society whenever designing interventions.

MISA is taken aback by cases of governments which fail to necessitate an enabling environment for media freedom and freedom of expression to thrive. We are taken aback by law enforcement agencies who allow themselves to be put in the pockets of powerful political or commercial interests for purposes of stifling media freedom and freedom of expression.

Some members of the public who are reluctant to appreciate the role of media in society, especially during protest actions, also take us aback as we experienced in South Africa at the beginning of this year.

As such, the safety of journalists in society is a collective matter. Hence, MISA will continue to build alliances and support efforts towards securing a safe environment for journalists, media practitioners and free expression activists.

 

 

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AFRICAN MEDIA AND MALARIA NETWORK ASK GOVERNMENTS TO STEP UP WAR AGAINST MALARIA

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2013

  • By Dickens Wasonga, 
As the World marks Malaria Day, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership(RBM) is set to launch a three-year campaign under the theme “Invest in the Future: Defeat Malaria.”
The campaign is to help strengthen political will and generate the funding needed to continue averting deaths in malaria-endemic countries.
According to sources mapping progress against key milestones on the road to 2015 shows how the collective efforts of the global malaria community contribute to creating a healthier and more prosperous world.
The source adds that the RBM campaign will help mobilize the resources and support the malaria fight through 2015 and beyond.
The African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN), a Network with membership in 10 African countries engaged in malaria control advocacy, believes the global malaria community is doing the right thing by taking stock of the promises and realities of ending malaria deaths at the targeted date of 2015.
According to Mrs Charity Binka of Ghana who is also the AMMREN CEO, many African countries missed the 2010 Abuja targets to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality by half.
Binka pointed out that with less than two years to meeting the 2015 targets of further reduction of 75% in morbidity and 50% reduction in mortality, countries are now scaling up efforts to at least sustain the modest gains made over the last decade.
The CEO said her AMMREN is of the view that the gains made in malaria control are fragile and could easily be reversed unless malaria continues to be a priority for decision-makers, donors and the communities.
According to her ,this is because the efforts and resources that will be invested in control efforts over the next years will have an impact on whether or not the malaria map will keep shrinking or expanded by the malaria parasites.
While commending, governments, donors, health officials and other key players for efforts made in past decade to bring down malaria morbidity and mortality figures, she said AMMREN is of the view that the widespread negative practice of the treating malaria without diagnosis is likely to hinder the acceleration of the control efforts.
Over 80% of cases of malaria is still being treated without diagnostic testing in many malaria –endemic countries in Africa according to WHO.
The world health body reveals that the universal diagnostic testing will ensure that patients with fever receive the most appropriate treatment, and that antimalarial medicines are used rationally and correctly.
AMMREN is now calling for the scaling up of diagnosis before treatment and a massive deployment of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) to ensure that appropriately diagnosed cases are treated promptly and correctly.
Some African countries have made significant gains in this regard. The WHO indicates that 60 African governments were providing ACTs free of charge to all age groups as at 2010.
The network is of the view that there must be a scaling up of these laudable efforts so that millions of African who still lack ready access to appropriate treatment will be covered to ensure that every confirmed malaria case gets treated.
It is also asking for a focused attention on preventive activities through the use of treated bed nets. This is because in the fight against malaria, prevention is the best of all options. The higher the number of people using bed nets, the bigger the rate of reduction in malaria cases.
It shares in the optimism of African scientists, the donor community and stakeholders, that malaria can be pushed out of Africa this century.
However, this optimism must be measured against promises made about 13 years ago, when 40 African Heads of State made a declaration in Abuja, Nigeria to reduce the malaria burden on the continent by setting targets.
Many countries have missed the 2005 and 2010 targets and also likely to miss the 2015 targets unless conscious efforts are made increase access to essential malaria interventions such as diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
The continued existence of taxes and tariffs on commodities for malaria control in some countries shows lack of commitment towards dealing with malaria.
Taxes and tariffs and non-tariff measures make these life-saving products unaffordable to the poor and vulnerable.
Despite challenges, in the last decade, there have been some investments in new tools such as long lasting insecticidal nets, rapid diagnostic tests, indoor residual spraying and ACTs. The scaling up of these activities has resulted in modest progress as some countries are now moving from control activities to malaria elimination.
Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe in 2009, according to a Roll Back Malaria report, have joined other countries in their region to form a sub-regional malaria elimination initiative known as Elimination 8.
The Gambia, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe and Madagascar have also secured global funds to prepare for elimination. And since 2007, countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has shown the intent to eliminate malaria.
“As of 2010, the total number of reported cases of malaria in Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland were relatively low raising hope of elimination,” the report added.
With talks of malaria elimination slowly making its way to the front burner, the question of malaria vaccines, as an additional tool must be given urgency and supported by all stakeholders to ensure that it is quickly incorporated into the National Immunization Day schedule once a vaccine receives licensure.
So far the RTS,S, appears to be most promising malaria candidate vaccine. If all goes well the vaccine could be available for targeted use in the next couple of years for young children.
Indeed there is hope on the horizon and AMMREN will continue to lead in providing accurate and timely information on malaria as part of its effort to wipe out the disease from the face of the globe. AMMREN also urges other African journalists to join in the malaria elimination crusade.
Kicking out malaria from Africa is a responsibility of governments, identifiable organizations, communities and individuals. April 25 should be seen as a day of renewal of commitment to work towards a malaria free society.
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