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NewsBrief, 28 January - 3 February 2014


AU Summit launches "Year of Agriculture and Food Security"

African heads of state launched a "Year of Agriculture and Food Security" at their ordinary summit in Addis Ababa. Discussions at the 22nd African Union (AU) Summit, held from 30-31 January, were dominated by the conflicts in the Central African Republic and South Sudan and the need to consolidate peace in Mali. The leaders called for urgent action to restore peace and stability. Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (IBK) thanked his fellow heads of state for their solidarity, noting that the AU and ECOWAS stood with Mali "from the first hours" following the 2012 military coup and separatist rebellion. Yet the theme of the summit was "Transforming Africa's Agriculture", and the leaders marked the tenth anniversary of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) by kicking off a yearlong focus on its implementation. AU Commission Chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma urged the leaders to increase investments in agriculture and infrastructure to spur industrialisation and maintain the impressive economic growth rates seen in recent years. The summit also saw the election of Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz to the rotating chairmanship of AU. In his acceptance speech, president Abdel Aziz vowed to work to advance the AU objective of regional integration. "We want to build a prosperous, democratic and inclusive Africa that places its citizens at the heart of its activities, an Africa that is able to address problems by itself," he said. Abdel Aziz also took the opportunity to call attention to the issue of migration and its impact on economic development. He proposed an international conference bringing together countries of origin and destination "to draw up a shared vision on this phenomenon and to minimise its tragic dimension".

 

Article in English: http://appablog.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/year-of-agriculture-and-food-security-launched-at-au-summit/

Article in French: http://news.abidjan.net/h/486060.html


Morocco's King Mohammed VI meets MNLA leaders

Morocco's King Mohammed VI has urged Touareg leaders to continue to engage with regional efforts to secure lasting peace in Mali. The North African monarch hosted an MNLA delegation led by the group's Secretary-General Bilal Ag Acherif on 31 January at the Royal Palace in Marrakech. Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar and MNLA spokesman Moussa Ag Attaher also attended the meeting. Moroccan state media reports that the meeting is part of the King's on-going efforts to support a negotiated end to the conflict in northern Mali. "The Monarch reiterated the constant concern of the Kingdom of Morocco to preserve the territorial unity and stability of the Republic of Mali, as well as the need to contribute to a solution and a compromise that would help fight the fundamentalist and terrorist organisations that threaten the Maghreb countries and the Sahel", the Maghreb Arabe Presse said. Meanwhile a UN Security Council delegation met with President IBK and civil society leaders during a visit to Mali from 1-3 February. The UN and ECOWAS have urged the Malian government to open talks toward a peace deal with armed groups in the north, but IBK has expressed reluctance to negotiate before the militants are disarmed.

 

Article in English: http://allafrica.com/stories/201401311406.html

Article in French: http://koaci.com/articles-89532


UEMOA bourse sets new record for market capitalisation

For the first time, the value of shares traded on the UEMOA regional stock market, the BRVM, has exceeded CFA francs 6 trillion (about USD 12 billion). Market capitalisation reached CFA francs 6.024 trillion on 29 January, representing a 6.94% increase since the beginning of the year. It was less than a year ago that the Bourse achieved the milestone of CFA francs 4 trillion. In a statement the BRVM said the new record confirms the upward trend the market has experienced since the end of 2012. "This trend reflects investors' confidence in the economic outlook of [UEMOA] countries and also the financial health of BRVM's listed companies", the statement said. Based in Abidjan, the BRVM is the common securities market for the eight UEMOA member countries. In December the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) said it expects UEMOA countries to record 7% GDP growth in 2014, up from a projected 6% in 2013. The BCEAO governor attributed the strong growth to continued public investment and a renewed dynamism in private investment.

 

Article in English: http://www.cgfbourse.com/BRVM-a-new-market-capitalization

Article in French: http://www.seneweb.com/news/Economie/la-brvm-bat-un-nouveau-record-de-capital_n_117319.html


ECOWAS leaders approve USD 50 million for Abidjan-Lagos highway

ECOWAS Heads of state have approved some USD 50 million to kick-start development of the Abidjan-Lagos highway project. The approval followed a meeting of ministers of public works and infrastructure on the side-lines of the AU Summit in Addis Ababa. The funds, to be provided by member states, are earmarked to cover part of the costs for feasibility studies and the design of the motorway. The AfDB is expected to provide a further USD 16 million to ensure that work on the highway gets underway in the first quarter of 2014. Nigerian Minister of Works Mike Onolememen, who chairs the highway project steering committee, said the road will allow businesses to access consumers throughout the vast ECOWAS market. "You can imagine what a six lane dual carriageway leading from Lagos to Abidjan, and in future from Abidjan to Dakar, will do to the economy of the sub-region. It will certainly transform the economy of the sub-region." When completed, the Abidjan-Lagos segment of the highway will run through five countries and connect the region's three largest economies, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria.

 

Article in English: http://premiumtimesng.com/news/154291-ecowas-leaders-approve-n8-billion-commencement-lagos-abidjan-road.html

Article in French: http://news.abidjan.net/h/485772.html


Stakeholders outline plans to support pastoralism in the Sahel

Regional stakeholders have launched consultations on the formulation of the Regional Support Programme for Pastoralism in the Sahel (PRAPS). CILSS organised a workshop from 30-31 January in Ouagadougou, bringing together representatives of the six Sahel countries participating in the programme, civil society groups, ECOWAS, UEMOA and other regional organisations and the World Bank. The workshop is a follow-up to a high-level forum on pastoralism organised by the World Bank, CILSS and the Mauritanian government in October 2013. The forum resulted in the Nouakchott Declaration, in which participants committed to work toward "securing  the lifestyle and means of production of pastoral populations and increasing the gross output of livestock production by at least 30% in the 6 concerned countries over the next 5 years with a view to significantly increasing the incomes of pastoralists within a period of 5 to 10 years." The PRAPS aims to translate the Declaration into action. The Ouagadougou workshop provided an opportunity to inform stakeholders of the objectives of the PRAPS, identify synergies with existing initiatives (CAADP, AGIR, etc.) and build consensus around a methodology and timetable for the implementation of the programme. Participants also established a Regional Task Force on Pastoralism (TFRP) to help steer the process going forward.

 

Nouakchott Declaration in English: http://www.rr-africa.oie.int/docspdf/en/2013/NOUAKCHOTT.pdf

Article in French: http://cilss.bf/spip.php?article377


Côte d'Ivoire forum showcases investment opportunities

Some 3 000 potential investors and partners from more than 60 countries were expected to attend the Invest in Côte d'Ivoire (ICI) 2014 forum, which opened on 29 January in Abidjan. With a theme of "The private sector, lever of a successful regional integration", the four-day forum and exhibition promoted agribusiness, renewable energy, public-private partnerships for infrastructure development and promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises.  ICI 2014 is the fourth edition of the forum, but it was held after a 15-year hiatus due to the instability in the country. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Ivoirian Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan said his country is back on the international scene and ready to play a leading role in driving integration and growth in West Africa. "Côte d'Ivoire aims to become a hub in the sub-region, one of the major gateways to West Africa and its market of more than 300 million people", Duncan said. Addressing the forum via video conference, IMF President Christine Lagarde pledged the Fund's continued support for Côte d'Ivoire's development agenda. AfDB President Donald Kaberuka noted the return of the Bank's headquarters to Abidjan as a show of confidence in the Ivorian recovery.

 

Article in English: http://www.ghananewsagency.org/economics/invest-in-cote-d-ivoire-2014-forum-opens-70147

Article in French: http://ladiplomatiquedabidjan.com/index.php/economie/item/1479-4e-forum-investir-en-cote-d-ivoire-ici-2014-3000-participants-132-nationalites-bad-fmi-et-banque-mondiale-presents-au-rendez-vous-d-abidjan


EU, Nigeria partner to boost competitiveness in non-oil sectors

Nigerian and EU officials launched a EUR 19 million programme to boost competitiveness, particularly in the country's non-oil sectors. The Nigeria Competitiveness Support Programme (NCSP) also draws support from the German International Co-operation Agency (GIZ) and the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO). Speaking at the launch of the programme on 28 January in Abuja, Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Olusegun Aganga said the programme is in line with the government's National Industrial Revolution Plan. "Over a total of N 4.2 billion will be invested in key pillars to move Nigeria's economy beyond oil. This is an enabler that will increase our productivity and make us compete not just locally, but internationally," the minister said. The NCSP will focus on trade policy management, regulatory reforms to improve the investment climate and the development of quality infrastructure. Also speaking at the launch, the EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Michel Arrion, said competitiveness in non-oil sectors is key to job creation and poverty reduction in Nigeria. He urged all stakeholders to take full ownership of the programme. "The EU attaches a great importance to its relations with Nigeria as an important political and economic force in West Africa and a key player on the African continent", Arrion said.

 

Article in English: http://businessdayonline.com/2014/01/more-jobs-trade-envisaged-as-fg-eu-others-unfold-n4-2bn-programme/

Article in French: http://www.afriquejet.com/afrique-ouest/1048-un-projet-pour-renforcer-la-competitivite-economique-du-nigeria.html


Educators push to harmonise baccalaureate in UEMOA area

UEMOA policy makers examined modalities for ensuring the mutual recognition of baccalaureate degrees awarded by educational institutions across the Union. Directors of baccalaureate offices from the eight member countries held consultations from 29-31 January in Lomé. Togolese Minister of Higher Education and Research Octave Nicoué Broohm chaired the meeting and said it represented an important step toward standardising practices and processes in order to expand opportunities for graduates. Participants at the Lomé meeting offered proposals on operational aspects, including the preparation and administration of exams and criteria for awarding the baccalaureate. "We want to find a formula that will allow us to organise the A-levels in a harmonised manner, so that any candidate who succeeds in one country can easily enrol in a university of another UEMOA country", said Salah Alassane, Director of the Baccalaureate Office of Niger. The standardisation of the baccalaureate is part of a wider process of harmonisation in higher education that aims to promote student mobility within the Union and lend greater international recognition and credibility to degrees awarded in the UEMOA area.

 

Article in French: http://www.horizon-news.info/article.php?lirearticle=2363

 

 

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