Président de la Commission de l’Union Africaine (depuis le 1er. février 2008)
The rapid rise in food prices recently led to food riots with hungry protesters in countries such as Cameroon, Mauritania and Senegal calling for cheaper food.
The African Union, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), development partners and NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) have now kick-started initiatives aimed at staving off the high food prices.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation food price index, global food prices rose by 9% in 2006, 23% in 2007 and then shot-up to 54% in the year leading up to the end of April 2008.
In Africa, the prices of basic foodstuffs such as bread, rice, meat and milk have nearly doubled in three years and African governments and RECs are raising fears about increases in malnutrition and hunger.
Although the soaring food prices are a global problem, people in developing countries are most likely to be hit hardest by the hike in prices since they spend a much higher proportion of their income on food.
The indication is that in the absence of emergency and long-term measures food prices are set to remain high for most Africans over the next couple of years.
Under the auspices of the AU, NEPAD and particularly through the acceleration of CAADP at the country-level, African countries have highlighted a series of short to long-term measures for boosting food security in the context of the high food prices.
CAADP is an Africa-led and Africa-owned initiative and framework to rationalise and revitalise African agriculture for economic growth and lasting poverty reduction results.
The four pillars on which CAADP rests include :
extending the area under sustainable land management ; increasing market access through improved infrastructure and trade-related interventions ; increasing food supply and reducing hunger by increasing smallholder productivity and improving responses to food emergencies ; increasing agricultural research and systems to disseminate appropriate new technologies, and increasing the support given to help farmers to adopt them. As part of the first key stage of the response to the high food prices, 19 countries engaged in the CAADP process and/or those adversely affected by the food price crisis met in May this year with key African farmers’ organisations, development partners and CAADP Pillar 3 lead institutions to identify roadmaps for responses that can be implemented at the country level.
CAADP Pillar 3 provides the framework for any response to the high food price crisis, alongside the broader context of the other three CAADP Pillars which support long-term sustainable agricultural development.
Some of the short-term measures aimed at addressing soaring food prices include humanitarian assistance for the most vulnerable, subsidised inputs, cash and food based safety nets, nutritional measures and assisting livestock holders with restocking and feed.
Medium to long-term measures include boosting agricultural production through investing in soil and water management, irrigation, the enhancement of market linkages for farmers and government capacity building.
Of key importance in the long-term is the creation and implementation of policies to respond to the high food prices and the set-up of budget adjustments that can help countries to adjust their budgets in line with the high food prices.
Teams are already in place to help coordinate the regional response and to ensure that technical assistance and resources are available to respond to the country demands if these are not accessible at the country level.
This African-led and all-inclusive approach towards identifying, communicating and implementing African relevant solutions to Africa’s agricultural problems is in line with the continent-wide focus and political endorsement that has been accorded CAADP both by Africans and Africa’s partners in development. Source : NEPAD, july 18, 2008
July, TerrAfrica executive committee meeting co-ordinated by NEPAD Secretariat. (Date to be finalised).
17 - 18 July, Steering Committee meeting for the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic Study, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
17 - 23 August, World Water Week, Stockholm, Sweden.
31 August - 6 September, Conference and training seminar : micro, small and medium enterprise development, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Source : NEPAD, july 18, 2008
A three-day on-the-job training workshop for young journalists was held by NEPAD in Blantyre, Malawi, on 15-17 July 2008 with participants from seven Southern African countries — Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia
NEPAD established the training workshops two years ago to "train the trainers" in the various media institutions on the continent, as well as to train journalists on the job as part of acquiring practical experience. Two hundred journalists have been trained to date.
The Deputy CEO of the NEPAD Secretariat Dr. Hesphina Rukato, outlined the objective of the Blantyre workshop as one of informing the journalists on the role and functions of NEPAD in advancing the African agenda. She said the media is an important stakeholder in this partnership.
It has been seven years since NEPAD was adopted as a programme of the African Union (AU), Dr. Rukato said and it is now in the process of being integrated into the AU structures. A coordinating unit has been formed, which is looking into the steps that are needed to implement the integration.
Dr. Rukato encouraged the media to keep themselves updated on the development of the integration process so that they are better able to inform their audiences.
Thaninga Shope-Linney, General Manager Communications and Outreach, NEPAD Secretariat said that although lack of resources, both human and financial, was a reality for most media houses on the continent, this should not be an impediment to finding other creative ways of effectively disseminating information.
She also encouraged the journalists to interest themselves more in the development challenges of the African continent in order to be equipped to write about them.
Malawi was a recent success story in moving from a food crisis problem to having a surplus, said Ben Botolo, Director in the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development in Malawi.
In his opening address to the workshop he told journalists that Malawi has a lot of potential and valuable resources. He gave as an example the Malawi water project, which he said could help in solving the electricity problem afflicting the SADC region.
The journalists at the workshop discussed the challenges they faced in their respective countries. These ranged from the political climate under which they operate and the lack of freedom of expression to the unwillingness of certain government departments to provide them with information when needed.
The challenge now is for the trainees to go back to their respective countries and put into practice what they have learned in Malawi. Source : NEPAD, july 18, 2008
African Union asked to take urgent action A total of 350 experts and stakeholders involved in open and distance learning (ODL) in and outside Africa attended the 2nd conference and general assembly of the African Council for Distance Education (ACDE) hosted by the National Open University of Nigeria in Lagos on 8-11 July 2008.
The theme of the conference, which was opened by the President of Nigeria, Alhaji Umar Yar’Adua, was "Open and distance learning for sustainable development" while the main objective was to discuss various ways by which the application of distance education policies and systems can contribute to sustainable development.
The participants included top government officials and policymakers, managers and administrators in the academia, experts and other key stakeholders and practitioners in open and distance learning.
Development partners and intergovernmental agencies such as United Nations Educational, Science and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), NEPAD and the World Bank were also present at the conference.
The keynote address, which canvassed the need to strengthen ODL as a viable and alternative mode for widening access to education at all levels, was presented by the Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Nigeria to UNESCO, Prof. Michael Omolewa. The president of the Commonwealth of Learning, Sir John Daniel, presented the closing address.
Papers were presented by eminent scholars, experts and practitioners during both plenary and parallel sessions and covered a broad range of related and relevant issues.
The conference reviewed and reaffirmed the progress made on implementation of resolutions and commitments of the triennial plan of action at the first ACDE conference and general assembly held in South Africa in 2005 and recognised that knowledge is central to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Education for All (EFA) and the African Union 2nd Decade of Education for Africa.
It noted that conventional education systems are unable to meet the increasing education provision required to achieve these goals and that ODL has huge potential as a cost-effective mechanism to provide access to lifelong learning to students of all ages.
The commitments made at the conference included :
The implementation of the resolutions and recommendations contained in the communiqué of the February 2008 ACDE stakeholders’ workshop ; Bringing together the many disparate ODL initiatives across Africa into purposive programmes of action ; Working together to build capacity to offer quality ODL and to systematically explore mechanisms to develop the language skills of students ; Sharing reflections and evaluations of initiatives, thus developing a body of evidence on the efficacy of ODL in achieving MDGs, EFA and the 2nd Decade of Education for Africa ; Working together to develop and share open education resources grounded in the African context through collaborations, networking and synergies ; Developing joint programmes which can be offered by different institutions across the board ; Upholding comparative quality standards in the provision of ODL ; Establishing and sustaining national ODL associations for advocacy, policy development and to provide ongoing platforms for sharing and creation of ODL resources and programmes. The conference recommended that the African Union, as a matter of urgency, declare a "decade of open and distance learning in Africa" to accelerate sustainable development in Africa and commit adequate resources to ODL and support ACDE in achieving its mandate.
It urged African governments to foster the establishment and nurturing of mechanisms to coordinate and promote the development of ODL in their countries and ensure that they are appropriately resourced.
The conference also called on the Commonwealth of Learning to strengthen its collaboration with and support for ACDE, especially in operationalising the consortium of African universities and the continental quality assurance and accreditation initiatives. Source : NEPAD, july 18, 2008
Photo : Alhaji Umar Yar’Adua, President of Nigeria
The management of the NEPAD-Spanish Fund for the Empowerment of Women would like to bring to the attention of all beneficiaries that they should comply with the following rules and procedures upon receipt of funding :
Acknowledge receipt of the funding ; Revise the budget to reflect time delays by filling out the budget template that will be provided ; Ensure that the administrative costs do not exceed 8% of the total budget ; Forward to NEPAD the organisation’s bank statements for June and for upcoming months. All queries concerning disbursements and rules and procedures should be addressed to Edwin Mununga, Financial Manager, NEPAD Secretariat at +27 (0)11 313 3467, or Kossi Toulassi, NEPAD-Spanish Fund Project Accountant, at +27 (0)11 313 3835.
The NEPAD Secretariat thanks those organisations that have acknowledged receipt of funding for the week ending 19 July 2008.
Once again all organisations who have not yet responded to correspondence sent to them are urged to do so immediately. Their assistance is urgently needed in order to bring the first call for proposals for funding to a close, and enable the second call to begin.
The NEPAD Secretariat thanks all organisations and groups for their cooperation and continued interest in the NEPAD-Spanish Fund. Source : NEPAD, july 18, 2008
A two-day NEPAD national stakeholder workshop in Blantyre, Malawi on 16-17 July brought together heads and senior level officials in government departments, universities, civil society organisations, private sector and partner organisations as part of a NEPAD initiative that is being implemented in seven SADC countries.
The process, supported by the Southern Africa Trust, is aimed at engaging and creating deepened awareness on NEPAD, exploring modalities for integrating NEPAD principles into national development plans including the SADC regional development plan, as well as introducing the NEPAD capacity development strategic framework at national level.
The national workshop, which included an on-the-job training session for journalists supported by the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ), with participation from Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland, Mauritius, Zambia and Malawi, was officially opened by Malawi’s Minister of Economic Planning and Development, Dr. Ken Lipenga.
The workshop came shortly after Malawi’s selection as one of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee member countries, after the recent change in membership of this African Union body.
The workshop discussed issues of topical interest to the African development agenda, including the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), fisheries, education, science and technology and infrastructure, which included information and communication technology, energy and transport.
In terms of outcomes the workshop explored mechanisms for increasing the pace of implementation of NEPAD priority programmes and projects in Malawi.
All sectors proposed institutional structures linked to the NEPAD National Focal Point to facilitate the implementation of NEPAD : specifically, a national NEPAD steering committee chaired by the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development as the Malawi National Focal Point for NEPAD.
The steering committee will have broad and inclusive participation from Government, CSO’s and private sector, supported by sectoral sub-committees organised along NEPAD priority sectors.
The workshop tasked the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development to take the lead in finalising the proposed structure with all stakeholders.
There was consensus on the need to step up the role of civil society in engaging with NEPAD processes and programmes at country level, so that CSO’s can better serve the government as a partner in the development of the country.
It was also decided that interface with the NEPAD capacity development strategic framework was necessary to address capacity constraints. The strategic framework offers a common structure to guide capacity development interventions on the continent.
These outcomes and agreements will be forwarded to the next Heads of State and Government meeting via the NEPAD processes.
Policies must target ordinary people, says Minister Economic Planning and Development Minister Dr. Ken Lipenga has asked stakeholders in Malawi’s diverse public and private sector as well as the country’s cooperating partners to develop policies that are targeted at developing lives at the grassroots.
Speaking during the national stakeholders workshop, he said African countries including Malawi have had forums which are aimed at deliberating issues for development but mostly these have not benefited the ordinary people.
"African countries including our own Malawi have had conferences on how we can achieve developmental projects such as the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS). However these meetings have not benefited the ordinary person as much as they could.
"It is therefore my appeal, on behalf of the Malawi Government, going out to authorities gathered here representing this nation and other African countries to utilise initiatives such as those developed by NEPAD to reach the common man and woman in our societies," said the Minister.
"There are vast human and natural resources that our country and most African countries have such as 720 million workforce, large reservoirs of fresh water resources, favourable tropical climate, abundant deposits of coal, petroleum, natural gases and other minerals, but still we are behind the rest of the world," he said.
"It is estimated that approximately 300 million Africans live below the poverty line on less than US $1 a day : 200 million people are chronically hungry and 30 million require emergency food assistance in any one season.
"Approximately 2.4 million Africans die from HIV/AIDS annually, and the list is endless, so there is need for us to take a leading role to address some of these problems."
The Minister said the Malawi Government has pointed to the benefits from the country’s partnership with NEPAD. "There are a lot of sectors that the country can brag about."
"NEPAD remains the only framework through which Africa engages with the West on Africa’s development. At policy level, Malawi has institutionalised NEPAD into the national strategy." Source : NEPAD, july 18, 2008
Open and distance learning should have Africa as the focus and as a result be indigenous-grounded and oriented, said Prof. Mzobz Mboya, education and training advisor to the NEPAD Secretariat in a goodwill message to the conference and general assembly of the African Council for Distance Education.
In his message the professor said :
Open and distance learning has been identified by the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as the appropriate mode of delivering education in general, and teacher training in particular, because of the following advantages yielded by this mode of delivery :
It allows the transference of knowledge and skills across spatially and temporally dispersed areas without removing teachers from their communities or classrooms for protracted periods ; It improves access to education and training and reduces inequality ; It helps to achieve universal literacy and numeracy ; It reduces costs and maximises the economy of scale ; It develops life-skills.
Following the evaluation of the 1st Decade of Education (1997-2006), the AU at its second extraordinary meeting of the Conference of Ministers of Education of the African Union launched the 2nd Decade of Education for Africa (2006-2015). Teacher development was identified as one of the focus areas as well as open and distance learning as one of the modes of delivery.
For open and distance learning to be sustainable it means that all critical and transformative educators in Africa embrace an indigenous African world view and root for the educational paradigms in indigenous African socio-cultural and epistemological frameworks. This implies that open and distance learning should have Africa as the focus and as a result be indigenous-grounded and oriented.
Open and distance learning for sustainable development has to demonstrate how indigenous African knowledge systems can be tapped as a foundational resource for the socio-educational transformation of the continent, and also how these indigenous African knowledge systems can be politically and economically liberating.
It is hoped that this conference and the general assembly will provide an opportunity to raise critical questions about the organization, form and content of open and distance learning as well as providing an opportunity to rethink the fundamental precepts and the self understanding necessary to realise sustainable development in open and distance learning.
May the conference and the general assembly add a voice in the process that will enable Africans to realise their potential, build self-confidence, self-development, and lead lives of dignity and fulfilment. Source : NEPAD, july 18, 2008
The NEPAD Secretariat would like to bring to the attention of readers of Dialogue that the NEPAD Business Foundation (NBF) is an independent South African organisation, which is not affiliated to the NEPAD Secretariat and does not constitute the Private Sector arm of NEPAD. The views and opinions emanating from officials of the NBF do not reflect the views of the NEPAD Secretariat.
An official of the NBF was quoted in a report in the Zambia Daily Mail on 13 July 2008. His views were wrongly interpreted by some readers of the newspaper as the views of the NEPAD Secretariat. Source : NEPAD, july 18, 2008