28 January 2014 News Items


South Sudan delegation tries to reach agreement in luxury hotel as child soldiers fight


South Sudan delegation tries to reach agreement in luxury hotel as child soldiers fight


South Sudan is in the middle of war, thousands of people are dead and others need help and support. Meanwhile, the government and rebel peace negotiators are spending all their time in Ethiopia, provided with everything they might need and much more than that.


A hospitable Sheraton Hotel with the rooms prices starting from $450 a night, is a perfect place for diplomats and government leaders to gather in order to seek ways of helping their country.

According to Ahmed Soliman, Africa researcher, “It’s an awful juxtaposition. Partially, it’s a reflection of what has led us to this position in the first place, the fact that internal elite fighting within South Sudan has enabled a violent conflict to spread.”

“It’s certainly time to start thinking about South Sudanese and the country of South Sudan.”

The negotiations started at the beginning of the month and finally, a ceasefire agreement was signed. The act should be implemented within 24 hours.

“This deal does not provide answers to South Sudan’s current problems. We need a comprehensive political deal,” said one rebel official in the Ethiopian capital.

“We are only signing because we, and they, are under pressure.”

During the whole negotiation process, a huge number of reports about the brutality, child recruitment into forces as well as massacres, rapes were published.

While at Sheraton, the atmosphere is relaxed; it absolutely lacks any urgency or worry. Both sides of the negotiators remain peaceful and calm.

The mediators spent hours in the lobby drinking coffee, having long breakfasts while reading morning newspapers.

The long hours in Sheraton came to an end when one of the sides complained last week when negotiations were moved to the dance floor of Sheraton’s Gaslight nightclub to make room for a Japanese delegation.

However, this week the delegation was moved to a nearby hotel, where the price for the room is $130 per night, which is three times less than in Sheraton. Straight after that the ceasefire agreement was signed within a week. Some claim that it was done only due to the fact that there will be an African Union Summit taking place next week with all the hotels being already booked for it.

The South Sudan lawyer David Deng described the whole process in the following way: “People are taken care of and put up in a comfortable setting and given big per diems, and that can actually discourage an agreement from happening”.

“They are comfortable in these hotels while other people are suffering on the ground for their senseless war.

“I think this just shows the disconnect that there is between the political and military leadership and the people.”

Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_01_29/South-Sudan-delegation-tries-to-reach-agreement-in-luxury-hotel-as-child-soldiers-fight-4208/


New Zealand, Ethiopia to cooperate on food security


WELLINGTON, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) — New Zealand and Ethiopia have signed an arrangement to improve agricultural cooperation and food security, New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully announced Tuesday.

McCully said in a statement from his office that he and his Ethiopian counterpart Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus signed the Food Security Cooperation Arrangement after a meeting of the African Union Executive Council in Addis Ababa Monday.

The arrangement would provide a government-to-government framework to encourage commercial partnerships between New Zealand and Ethiopian agricultural interests.

“Africa is of increasing interest and importance to New Zealand, as evidenced last year when we made the decision to open a diplomatic post in Addis Ababa,” McCully said.

“Ethiopia has one of the largest populations in Africa, some 91 million people, a fast growing economy and is situated close to key markets in the Gulf,” he said.

“This arrangement will enable New Zealand to assist in the development of commercial scale agriculture in Ethiopia, and build food security partnerships in the region.”

The arrangement coincided with the African Union year of Agriculture and Food Security.



The Prime Minister of Finland On a Two Day Visit to Ethiopia


The Prime Minister of Finland, Mr. Jyrki Katainen, and Finland’s Minister for International Development, Mr. Pekka Haavisto, arrived in Addis Ababa the morning of January 27. The two ministers are accompanied by a more than 20 member business delegation of representatives from companies involved in the energy, infrastructure, forest industries, agriculture and ICT sectors. Mr. Katainen and his delegation was met by Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros before holding talks with Prime Minister Hailemariam. He met with AU Commission Chairperson, Dr. Dlamini Zuma this afternoon, and was later due to hold informal discussions with Prime Minister Hailemariam at his residence. The business delegation held talks with the EU Deputy Head of Mission and with representatives of a number of EU companies and the EU Business Forum.

The two Finland Ministers will be participating in a roundtable discussion Tuesday, focusing on cooperation between Finland and Ethiopia. This is intended to provide a platform for discussions on current developments, and it will be followed by two parallel sectoral workshops. It will provide the possibility for direct business to business meetings. During his visit, the Prime Minister of Finland will also pay a courtesy call on President Dr. Mulatu Teshome, and met with the Executive Director of the ECA, Dr. Carlos Lopes. He and his delegation will leave for Tanzania on Tuesday evening.



Ethiopia: State Minister Dewano Kedir Meets an Irish Business Delegation


State Minister Dewano Kedir met with an Irish business delegation headed by Sean Hoy, Deputy Director of the Africa Section of the Irish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, on Friday (January, 24).

The State Minister welcomed the interest of Irish business investors to work in Ethiopia and he applauded the Irish Africa Section for its contribution to the promotion of trade and investment as an element in the bilateral relations of the two countries. David Moore, Director of Agricultural Magnetics Limited, noted that two Irish private companies were intending to introduce patented technology for the agricultural industry, to provide services for the distribution of materials to provide for safe production, personnel equipment and spill clean-up products.

He said this would boost agricultural production and help the country accelerate participation in local, regional and global markets. The two companies had selected Ethiopia as the major subject for their technology to demonstrate its effectiveness in increasing crop yields. State Minister Dewano suggested that the two companies should co-operate with the experts of Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Industry and Ethiopian Investment Agency to prove the feasibility of their technology. He assured the companies that the Government of Ethiopia would support their efforts. He called on the Irish business community and investors to benefit from Ethiopia’s economic development projects in the energy, infrastructure, manufacturing and tourist sectors.



Forum stresses women role in agriculture


Food security is within reach and that “Africa can and should feed Africa”, said Mr. Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa.

He made the remark at the 23rd consultative meeting in the African Union on the theme Empowering Women for Agriculture and Food Security that commenced in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 23, 2014.

“The Continent needs bold policies and critical targeted investments to transform its agriculture and that such policies should highlight gender inequality and discrimination against women in the whole agricultural value chain,”  he said.

“While Africa is experiencing exceptional growth rates, the growth registered is short of the 7 per cent needed to tackle poverty and put the continent on a more sustainable and predictable path,” he said. He noted that trade is still driven by the exports of raw materials and that not adding value to our vast natural and mineral resources results in the failure to retain the wealth and jobs this richness allows. This, stressed the ECA Executive Secretary, must change.

He said that the Continent needs to embark on an ambitious, yet feasible industrialization and that its numerous resources, such as arable land should also provide impetus for a commodity-based industrialization. He cautioned, however, that transforming agriculture and industrializing would not automatically lead to the empowerment of women.

“Evidence, including in Africa, has shown that industrialization can exacerbate gender gaps rather than narrowing them,” he said and explained that the shift of labour and resources from the agricultural sector to the industrial and services sectors “can worsen gender gaps because women who used to evolve in traditional agricultural often are not equipped to compete with men in the industrial and services sectors.”

“Consequently, women tend to concentrate on low paid jobs with worse working conditions,” he noted.

Mr. Lopes called for the recognition and valuing of women’s contribution and underscored that their “constraints, options, incentives and needs should be assessed, and factored in the transformation agenda.”

“For too long women’s role and contribution were unvalued and invisible. Time has come for dramatic change in believes and attitudes. We have the right to ask for it and African leaders should be enlisted for this change,” he stressed.

He called for a thorough review of the legal systems to remove all types of discrimination against women and underscored the need to adopt “effective mechanisms to monitoring the full implementation of the gender responsive laws.”  He said that laws and policies on women’s agricultural land and property rights are not implemented in isolation from other socioeconomic policy issues.

He told the conference that ECA’s African Centre for Gender will soon be launching a new continent-wide initiative aimed at putting focus on what he described as “the key ingredients for a successful integration of African women into the mainstream policy discussion.” The initiative, said Mr. Lopes, will comprise three pillars: women’s economic empowerment, rights, and social protection and security. The pillar on women’s economic empowerment will focus on the agricultural and extractive sector.

The new initiative stems from the viewpoint that women’s socio-economic and political empowerment is the foundation and the condition sine qua non for Africa’s structural transformation.



Israeli company to manufacture solution for road construction


An Israeli company that supplies a chemical for road construction announced plans to make the product in Ethiopia.

Zeev Halber, CEO of AnyWay Solid Environmental Solution (AnyWay), says that they were previously importing the inputs needed to make the chemical in Ethiopia but since they want to greatly expand the number of road projects they are involved in with here, they will begin, not only manufacturing the product here, but also exporting it to other countries.
The road construction solution has been a big seller for AnyWay as they have clients all over the world.
It was introduced into Ethiopia about seven years ago when the company undertook a project.
“The more we develop our business here in Ethiopia and the more projects we take on, the more we realize the need to produce the chemical locally. It is good for us and our customers because we will have a reasonable price for any projects as we will produce the chemical solution here,” Halber told Capital.
Issues with the process of importing the solution including customs procedures were factors in the company’s decision to set up the plant.
“Before the end of this year we will start the production in Ethiopia,” the CEO said.
Right now AnyWay is conducting assessments to see what raw materials are available and what area would be the best place to locate the plant.
Local partners that work with the company say that Ethiopia has put into place incentives for the manufacturing sector that mainly focus on substituting imported material and AnyWay also wanted to take advantage of this.
“We plan to make almost everything we need using raw materials from Ethiopia, there are only a few items we may have to import,” Halber said.
Since 2008 the company has worked on several roads in Addis Ababa but now they are getting a lot more requests for other projects and many companies also want to use the products AnyWay uses for their own projects.
“We are in the process of working with international and other private companies,” the CEO said.
Materials made by AnyWay are used in many different types of construction including; roads, airports, railways, oil, mines and housing. In fact technology developed by AnyWay can allow local, poor quality soil to be used as the primary building material for homes. This type of construction, known as stabilized earth block construction is considered to be an innovative way to build low cost housing.
The CEO said that the company has also started discussions with Amhara Regional State and Southern Nations, nationalities and People’s Regional State to implement the solutions in various projects.
“In Amhara we are using technology and techniques to create low cost housing using soil stabilization and earth blocks,” he said. “The solution we make can even stabilize the low quality black cotton soil.”
Soil stabilization allows projects to be finished quickly and economically by converting poor quality soil into an impermeable layer. This permits roads to be paved in places where it was previously not economically viable.
Research conducted by Addis Ababa City Roads Authority (AACRA) and Addis Ababa University confirmed the effectiveness of this method in treating black cotton soils. This has allowed this kind of soil to be successfully incorporated into road pavement structures through stabilization technique. It will eliminate the need to remove and dump the black cotton soil and replacing it with quarried materials.
Zerihun Yifru (Eng.), head of road construction sub process at AACRA, told Capital that using this solution in road construction reduces the cost and effort to construct a road by around 30 percent.
“The time for constructing a road through this technology will reduce the time by about 30 percent,” he said.
After their success with a pilot project, Zerihun said the Authority awarded them several more projects including some major linkages like the new endeavor that leads from Bole Health Center to Shalla Public Park to the road that links Axum Hotel with Bole High School.
Samson Bekure (Eng.) is the Managing Director of Saba Engineering which is a local partner of AnyWay, he said that they want to work with the Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA). They have submitted a proposal to the authority to have their products tested by ERA in hopes that they can work together on many more of the nation’s road projects.
AnyWay, whose products were previously tested by AACRA, has also been talking with private developers and horticulture companies in hopes that they can help meet their road construction needs as well.
“We don’t come with magic, we come with engineering solutions this is what is gaining the recognition,” the CEO explained.
Last week the company organized a workshop that included the private sector, representatives from federal and regional offices and public enterprises. The workshop also went over legal procurement guidelines to show ways that companies in the public sector can work out a contract with companies like AnyWay.
Procurement guidelines have been considered as a major barrier previously for public institutions wanting to work with AnyWay. The presentation demonstrated ways that state institutions can take advantage of procurement guidelines and proclamations to take advantage of the new technology.



International companies eye Ethiopia’s textiles


Large international corporations are becoming more interested in investing in Ethiopia as the likes of H&M and TESCO have started to establish their presence in the country. “TESCO opened its office in Ethiopia very recently and when companies like that start getting involved, others will follow. That is what we are seeing now,” said Melaku Taye, Ministry of Industry PR office head.

Currently TESCO is reportedly buying products from five textile companies and it plans to buy GBP 15 million worth of merchandize with in the coming two years. TESCO is a British multinational grocery and general merchandise retailer headquartered in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, England. It is the second-largest retailer in the world next to Wal-Mart when measured by profits.

“These big companies did not just decide to open offices and get involved in the industry; it took them over three years of study to determine if the market was viable and if it would be profitable for them,” Melaku said. During a meeting regarding the textile and leather sector, held at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, speakers reported that currently there are 60 garment factories and 15 textile mills in Ethiopia.

Presenters at the conference also pointed out that in order for the government to achieve it’s ambitious plan to get $1 billion USD from textile and $500 million USD from the leather sector, it would require a collaborative effort with all stakeholders including the public, along with private and development partners. According to Tadesse Haile, State Minister of Industry, there are some challenges to the industry sector including the lack of raw materials, high taxations on machineries and affordable human power, which hampers the sector’s growth. The meeting was attended by the U.K Ambassador Greg Dory, DFID representative Melanie Robinson, TESCO Ethical Trading Director Giles Bolton and TESCO representative in Africa Lumat Ahmed along with representatives of companies involved in the textile and leather sector.

Much attention has been given to manufacturing lately because as experts at the meeting stated the exports from the sector bring in foreign currency and create many opportunities such as bringing in technological transfer and building local managerial skills. The need for investment not to only focus in and around Addis Ababa was also talked about  during the discussions. In order to have balanced growth in the country, investment should also go towards various regions which are equally suitable.



Ethiopia’s  economic growth to slow down slightly


Growth in Africa’s non-oil and non-mineral-rich economies is forecast to moderate slightly from 4.7 per cent in 2013 to 4.6 per cent in 2014, mostly driven by strong expansion in services and agriculture in countries such as Ethiopia, reads the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2014 report released by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
The report notes that Africa’s economic growth prospects remain relatively robust and should continue to increase. Growth in the East African region specifically is expected to increase from 6.0 percent in 2013 to 6.4 percent in 2014.
Ethiopia’s GDP growth is anticipated to slow down in 2014 to 6.5 percent when compared to 6.9 percent in 2013. Inflation is expected to go up slightly during the current year to 9.5 percent from 9.1 percent in 2013.
Africa’s growth is heavily driven by commodity production and export. However, economic growth on the continent continues to fail translating to job opportunities.
According to the report, real GDP growth in East Africa will benefit from several positive factors including, increased consumer spending in Kenya, increased consumption and investment in Tanzania’s  natural gas sector and increased activity in construction, transport, telecommunications, financial services, exploration and construction in  Uganda’s burgeoning oil industry.
Improved growth in agriculture and services spearheaded by the wholesale and retail trade sector’s improving performance in Ethiopia is also boosting the East African economic outlook.
Africa’s total export is foreseen to decline this year to 29.6 percent of GDP from 30.9 percent in 2013. This will occur mainly due to the weakening global commodity markets. On a sub-regional level exports are expected to decline, except in East Africa where exports should slightly increase from 15.5 percent of the GDP in 2013 to 15.7 percent this year.
The increase is said to be attributed to the rise in nontraditional exports such as floriculture and services. This is especially true in the case of Ethiopia, Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania, the report points out.
Total imports are also to see a slow down across all sub-regions. The largest decline, according to the report, is to occur in South Africa from 29.5 percent of the GDP in 2013 to 27.3 percent in 2014.
Regarding the world economy, it is stated that it has reached only subdued growth of 2.1 percent in 2013.
While most developed economies continued to grapple with the challenge of taking appropriate fiscal and monetary policy actions in the aftermath of the financial crisis, a number of emerging economies, which had already experienced a notable slowdown in the past two years, encountered new domestic and international headwinds during 2013, the report reads.
On the brighter side, the report says the euro area has finally come out of recession with the region’s GDP as a whole starting to grow again.
The economy in the United States is also continuing to  recover; and a few large emerging economies, including China, seem to have at least stopped their further slowdown and may see accelerating growth.



Council designs project on agriculture marketing


The Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce said it has designed and is putting into action a three year agriculture marketing project to support making agriculture products more market centered.
Ethiopia has finished a Five Year Sustainable Land Handling Project, that targets the nation’s farmers and should modernize and expand the agriculture sector, successfully and heading for the second round.
However, says a Senior Adviser to the Agribusiness Facility Project with the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce Dr. Zerihun Desalegn ,work has not been  done up to the expectations. The Chamber is striving to help the farming business, he said.
He said the chamber has been offered 70 million Birr from the government of Netherlands to focus on profitable agriculture activities.
The Three-Year Agribusiness Project is expected to create job opportunities for micro and small enterprises, graduating students and experts in the field.
In addition, Dr. Zerihun said activities are underway to modernize information networks in farming.  (Fana Broadcasting)



Financial sector now subject to ethics probes


Private financial Institutions, endowments and share companies will be the main focus area of investigation by the Federal Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (FEACC) in a new regulation that is awaiting approval from the Prime Minister to be referred to the House of Peoples’ Representatives.
The draft proclamation will focus on organizations that manage public money, such as share companies, and will bestow the commission full access to investigate and charge private businesses that are suspected of fraudulent activities.
According to the information from FEACC, the draft proclamation will not only tackle corruption cases occurring in private companies or institutions but it is also expected to deal with the setbacks observed in the implementation of the existing proclamation.
The anti-corruption law issued a decade ago did not allow FEACC to handle corruption crimes committed by the private sector. It was limited to fighting corruption occurring in governmental organisations.
Sources told Capital that the draft proclamation is currently being reviewed by the Office of the Prime Minister. The draft will then be referred to the Council of Ministers and then will go to the House of Peoples’ representatives. FEACC also hopes that the draft proclamation will be ratified by the parliament in the current budget year.
According to the draft regulation, business enterprises managing finances mobilised from the public, as well as share companies involved in manufacturing, agriculture, trade, construction, transport, finance and others will also be investigated. Financial institutions even those that are not formed through share companies, professional associations, federations, confederations, cooperatives, unions, development associations, non-governmental organizations and nongovernmental associations (endowments and foundations) will also be included by the new law.
International organizations, political parties, religious institutions, small scale institutions, ‘ekub’ and ‘Idir’ associations that are believed to managed public assets that will not be affected by the law.



Africa told to invest in agriculture to maintain 7 percent growth


Chairperson of the African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma


Addis Ababa – The chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU) , Nkosazana Dlamini – Zuma Monday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, called on the member countries to seriously invest in the agricultural sector to ensure an annual sustainable economic growth maintenance of seven percent.


Nkosazana Dlamini – Zuma launched the appeal at the opening of the 24th session of the Executive Council of the African Union, a preparatory meeting for the 22nd Summit of Heads of State and Government, slated for 30, 31 this month.

The chairperson said that the agriculture and agro-processing are fundamental because they represent the majority of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of African countries.

She recalled that the year 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the  CAADP – Africa Agricultural Development Programme.

According to her, CAADP’s objective is to increase the investment in infrastructure and the consequent expansion , creation of value chain, investment, agricultural research , skills development.

The official said that the implementation of these initiatives should start this year 2014.

To this reason, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said that the countries must take practical measures to ensure that Africa has a voice in setting the prices of their products and agricultural goods.

The chairperson also spoke of adopting special measures to ensure that the women , who represent a large majority of the agricultural labour force and food producers, have access to the training and capital.

She also suggested assistance for women in creation of farming cooperative, marketing structure and agro-business.

The chairperson guaranteed that during 2014, the commission will focus on above issues.

She added that the commission will work on collaboration with other continental institutions, with stress UN Economic Commission  for Africa (UNECA), African Development Bank  (AfDB), the regional-based economic community, member states, civil society among others.



French fertiliser manufacturer targets commercial farmers in East Africa


More than 400,000 people in the oil rich Turkana region are facing starvation as Kenya battles with yet another bout of food shortages. Over-dependence on rain-fed agriculture and poor farming and storage methods are partly to blame for the nation’s food security challenges.


Wamae Mwangi, country director of Timac Agro

Wamae Mwangi, country director of Timac Agro


A recent joint report by FAO and Kenya’s Agriculture Ministry revealed that continuous use of fertilisers such as DAP (Diammonium phosphate) has resulted in reduced soil pH and declining productivity.

Kenya relies on imported fertilisers and farmers often complain of shortages and delays in arrival which affect their yields.

French fertiliser manufacturer Roullier Group has opened a regional office in Nairobi to tap into the market as scientists and farmers shift attention to alternative fertilisers. Timac Agro Kenya, a subsidiary of Roullier, set up shop in Nairobi late last year and is set to begin selling its premium fertiliser brands in March.

Wamae Mwangi, country director of Timac Agro, said Kenya offers a big opportunity for Roullier.

“Kenya is one of the largest fertiliser markets in Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya is number two [in fertiliser consumption] after South Arica. In terms of overall tonnage, Kenya is doing over 500,000 metric tons of fertiliser [annually]… it is a big market.”

Roullier Group, one of the largest suppliers of fertiliser in the world, began operations in Africa towards the end of 2013 and opened offices in Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire.

“Before the war, Ivory Coast was one of the jewels of West Africa. They are now restructuring, it has a very well educated population, very good infrastructure in place and, of course, with the dividends of peace, it’s easy to pick up in Ivory Coast. If you are not in Ivory Coast, you are not in West Africa.”

Timac Agro will sell a range of products including its Duopac brand for cereals such as barley, wheat and sorghum, as well as Locastart for short-term crops like maize, vegetables, potatoes and beans.

Acidic soil

“We have brought in what we call specificity fertilisers from Europe. We have added a patented molecule to our product which prevents the problem of acidification… and to avail phosphorous to the plant.”

According to Mwangi, the soils in Kenya are mostly acidic and to be productive the pH levels need to be raised. He argues that the use of DAP, which is an acidifying fertiliser, is like adding “fuel to fire”. The acidification prevents absorption of phosphorous which is essential for root development.

“The soils are sick. It is not over use [of fertilisers]. Countries like China, Korea are doing 200kgs per acre while we only at 33kgs. Our usage is very minimal. The problem is we are using the wrong fertiliser.”

Timac Agro will start with targeting commercial farmers in high productivity areas in Kenya whose purchasing power for premium products is higher.

Mwangi says Timac Agro’s fertilisers will cost about 50% more than other fertiliser brands which sell at about KSh 2,450 (US$28) for a 50kg bag. However, he adds, the rate of usage of Timac Agro’s fertilisers could be 50% less and farmers will record substantial increase in their yields.

“A commercial farmer will understand the cost benefit analysis,” says Mwangi, adding that he expects the “price factor” to be a challenge initially because fertilisers imported by the government are highly subsidised.

An uphill task for Timac Agro is building confidence among farmers who have seen wonder products enter the market which failed to live up to their promises.

Timac Agro has recently hired a team that will be deployed across the country to train farmers, and is also partnering with recognised research institutions in the country. The firm’s products are being tested by the Coffee Research Foundation, The Tea Research Foundation, Sugar Research Institute and Kenya Agricultural Research Institute.

Addressing a need

Mwangi did not disclose how many tons of fertiliser Timac Agro will be shipping this year but said the firm is targeting 1% of the Kenyan fertiliser market. Kenya imports 500,000 metric tons of fertiliser annually.

“Within the fifth year, I expect this figure to have grown to 7.5%,” says Mwangi. “We expect a wait-and-see attitude at first. People need to be confident in us. Our short term plan is to educate farmers on what the real problem is… and get farmers to address that problem… and heal our soils. We are not coming with a mindset of sell, sell and sell. We are here to address a problem.”

Agribusiness, Mwangi explains, is a crucial sector as the world’s population increases. Farmers who adopt improved and modern farming techniques stand to make huge financial gains as demand for food rises.

“I will tell you of two sectors you need to invest in. If you are not in energy, you have to be in agriculture. That is the future of the world,” says Mwangi. “The global population by 2020 will be about 8bn. People will always eat. So, at any given day, someone has to be producing food for this population. It’s guaranteed business.”

Mwangi says Africa’s food security challenges will be solved as stakeholders adopt innovation. Organic farming, he adds, has its benefits but is not the best fit for Africa today.

“You cannot produce without fertiliser. Organic farming is for the rich. You can never sustain a country with organic farming. Organic farming is after quality, not quantity. What we need in Africa is quantity.”



Kenyan government launches US$3bn irrigation project


Water pump irrigation

The one million acre irrigation scheme is expected to increase food security in Kenya. (Image source: Glenn Guy)


The one million acre irrigation scheme is expected to increase food security in Kenya. (Image source: Glenn Guy) A US$3bn irrigation project has been launched in Kenya’s Coastal region, Galana-Kulalu to increase food security in the country

The development of the one million acre irrigation scheme will be undertaken under the public-private partnership.

The government will invest US$1.4bn in infrastructure development with US$2.9bn coming from the private sector.

In the 2013/2014 financial year, the government allocated US$42mn to the first phase of the project.

The project is aimed at increasing the country’s food security by breaking away from the rain-fed agriculture, while it is also expected to create more than two million jobs across Kenya. 

The National Irrigation Board said that once completed the project would see 500,000 acres of land put to maize production, 200,000 acres to sugar cane, 150,000 acres to beef and game animals, 50,000 acres to horticulture, 50,000 acres to dairy animals while a further 50,000 acres will be dedicated to growing fruits such as mangoes and guavas.

The irrigation scheme is in Kilifi and Tana River counties and derives water from the Galana/Sabaki River, the second largest in the country.



Thinking outside the box: an innovative solution for Africa’s infrastructure woes


African countries should deploy their militaries to building infrastructure on the continent, said Professor Calestous Juma, director of science, technology and globalisation at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Calestous Juma speaking at last week's World Economic Forum on Africa, held in Cape Town.

Calestous Juma speaking at last week’s World Economic Forum on Africa, held in Cape Town.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum on Africa, Juma suggested that African defence forces should become development armies.

This, he noted, will help the continent develop infrastructure projects faster.

“The biggest threat to Africa is not invasion by neighbours; it is poverty. I am interested in seeing the extent to which defence ministries can participate in expanding road networks in Africa,” said Juma.

It is estimated that Africa will need about US$93 billion every year for the next 45 years to develop the needed infrastructure. Many African countries are starting to increase their infrastructure investment with some allocating up to 10% of the GDP to infrastructure projects. This is however, not enough.

Poor transport, communications and energy infrastructure is slowing down Africa’s economic development and has hampered the growth of various sectors like agriculture.

“African governments need to be creative about how they leverage domestic resources to support infrastructure investments. I would like to see large sections of the African military devoted to infrastructure projects. Most of these militaries have some of the best engineers and equipment,” said Juma.

According to Juma, Senegal has a very long established tradition of the military helping to build infrastructure, while large sections of the armies in Eritrea and Ghana are also engaged in development activities. In Uganda, a defunct college has been revived and converted into the University of Military Science and Technology managed by the Uganda People’s Defence Force. The university has already started graduating railway engineers.

African countries, he added, need to take a step further and develop public policy interventions on military involvement in development, to leverage the assets the continent already has.

“This should be done by policy, not by accident,” he explained. “We allocate large portions of our budget to defence; to me the first defence is economic defence.”

According to Juma, Africa’s fascination with China is based on the ability of Chinese companies to build infrastructure quickly. Although China is building a lot of the infrastructure on the continent, African countries need to build the capacity needed to maintain the infrastructure.

“African countries must be thinking seriously about building capacity in engineering on a large scale. Line ministries should build their own engineering schools. For instance, the ministry of water should build a water engineering school. This is how China built up its engineering capabilities,” he said.

African universities, Juma said, should also equip the next generation with skills to solve practical problems, particularly, in engineering sciences and entrepreneurial activities.





–     27 January 2014 News Round Up

–     25 January 2014 Development News Briefs

–     23 January 2014 News Roll


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