Président de la Commission de l’Union Africaine (depuis le 1er. février 2008)
The Nigerian Government is to establish a US $85-million-dollar rice fund to boost production of this staple food by more than a million tons. This was announced by the Minister of State for Agriculture, Ademola Seriki, on behalf of Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan at the opening of the Rice Investment Forum in Abuja on 24 November 2008. The forum was organised by the NEPAD Business Group Nigeria and the Nigeria Economic Summit Group.
The Minister said that rice farmers would be empowered and organised to access credit facilities, while the Government would provide the needed infrastructure.
He called on the private sector to collaborate in the areas of accessing credit facilities and the building of rice processing factories.
The Special Adviser to the President and Head of NEPAD Nigeria, Amb. Tunji Olagunju, said the greatest challenges were the rural infrastructure, technology, markets and funds to boost production.
“There is, therefore, the need for a better coordination of efforts towards an effective and efficient value-chain in rice production,” he said.
“Today, we can proudly announce that the New Rice for Africa — NERICA - has been tested and found to be ideal for our climatic conditions.
“We should take full advantage of NERICA to ensure self-sufficiency in rice production and indeed to become a net exporter of rice,’’ he added.
He urged Governments in the West African sub-region to pursue the 2003 Maputo Declaration, which asked African Union members to dedicate at least 10 per cent of their national budgets to agriculture.
In a goodwill message, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, noted that food security was central to the attainment of the ideals of sustainable human development and the Millennium Development Goals.
He said the House recognised the need to spearhead the move to end the spectre of hunger in Nigeria by ensuring higher appropriation to the agricultural sector. Allocations to the sector had hovered at an average of seven per cent of the national budget for many years.
“We will expedite action in the consideration of outstanding Bills that impact on Nigeria’s agricultural sector,” he said.
“We are prepared to appraise the 1978 Land Use Decree with a view to amending its provisions.
We will reform the Act to enhance its capacity to stimulate agricultural production for commercial and domestic purposes.”
In a related development, the Federal Government has placed an order for the importation of 15,000 tons of organic fertilizer made from neem trees, according to the Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, Dr. Sayyadi Ruma.
The Minister, who was speaking in Katsina , said the order was aimed at promoting local fertilizer manufacturing industries and increasing the usage of the product among farming communities.
“There must be a joint collaborative effort to assist farmers with fertilizers and pesticides,’’ he said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
He said the Ministry was also looking forward to partnering with the Katsina Neem Processing Company for the production of neem-based fertilizer and pesticides.
“We are considering partnering with the company to subsidise their product in order to ensure constant supply and availability of fertilizers to farmers at reduced rate.”
He said the company had an important role to play in collaboration with the Federal Government to reposition the agricultural sector, especially in the area of fertilizer procurement. Source : NEPAD News, november 28, 2008
1-5 December, CGIAR annual general meeting — Investing in agricultural science : the best bet for the future, Maputo, Mozambique.
4-5 December, Regional stakeholder engagement workshop, Midrand, South Africa.
4-5 December, Validation for the 2007 agriculture expenditure tracking system draft report. Midrand, South Africa.
4-5 December, NEPAD/SADC stakeholders engagement workshop, Midrand, South Africa.
8 December, Consultative meeting and dialogue on the African response to the global financial crisis, Midrand – co-sponsored by NEPAD Secretariat and Action Aid International.
6-12 December, Joint NEPAD Terra Africa missions to Rwanda (4-6 December) and Kenya (6-12 December).
11 December, ReSaKKs steering committee meeting, Nairobi, Kenya.
13-18 December, CAADP PP meeting, high-level meeting on agriculture and water declaration and the high-level meeting on the rising food prices, Tripoli / Sirte, Libya. Source : NEPAD News, november 28, 2008
The African Centre for Food Security (ACFS) at South Africa’s University of KwaZulu-Natal – the lead institution for activities and policy development of Pillar 3 of NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) – is expected to take part in a Higher Education for Development programme, sponsored by USAID.
Applications have been requested for 20 awards of up to $50,000 for a five-month period. These awards – known as Africa-US Higher Education Initiative Planning Grants — are intended to support planning for long-term partnerships to strengthen the capacity of African higher education institutions in the areas of :
Agriculture, environment and natural resources ; Health ; Science and technology ; Engineering ; Education and teacher training/preparation ; and Business management and economics. The aim is also to increase the engagement of U.S. higher education institutions in Africa.
Higher Education for Development (www.hedprogram.org) mobilises the expertise and resources of the higher education community to address global development challenges.
All recognised, higher and post-secondary education institutions in USAID-eligible Sub-Saharan African countries can apply for the planning grants and participate in the partnership programme.
The USAID-eligible African countries are : Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia.
The closing date for application is 2 February 2009.
University’s role in the CAADP Commenting on the role of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the CAADP, Prof. Sheryl Hendriks, director of the ACFS, said : “Part of our mandate is to lead food security training and analysis across Africa.
“To this end, we have an extensive network of partner institutions and are seeking to establish stronger linkages with at least one university in each of the five economic regions,” she added.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal is among the largest contact teaching universities in Southern Africa, with nearly 40,000 students spread across five campuses.
The institution is rated among the top 5% of universities worldwide and had over 250 active linkages with other higher education institutions in Africa and globally. it enjoys the confidence of a wide range of prestigious international research-funding agencies and philanthropic organisations.
“Playing a lead role in contributing to CAADP’s principles of African solutions for African scholarship and the university is delighted to play a lead role in Pillar 3,” said Professor Hendriks. Source : NEPAD News, november 28, 2008
Uganda has not yet met the terms of the 2003 resolutions of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), geared towards fighting poverty through aligning more funding to the agricultural sector.
Governments agreed to increase public investment in agriculture in their national budgets to a minimum of 10% to 2008 and to maintain a growth rate of 6%.
However Uganda’s agricultural growth has stagnated at below 4% for many years. It was 0.4% in 2007, while funding rotates around 4%.
During a conference at Munyonyo recently, the State Minister for Agriculture, Bright Rwamirama, decried the low funding to the agriculture sector. He said this impacted on the fight against poverty, the prime objective of NEPAD/CAADP.
“We need to do more financing of the sector if poverty is to be fought. Agriculture is implemented in remote areas with hardly any infrastructure and it is susceptible to weather vagaries,” Rwamirama said.
Agriculture accounts for 30-60% of the gross domestic product, 60-90% of employment and 25-45% of export earnings in most African countries.
Over 70% of Africans live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for survival, according Prof. Richard Mkandawire, Head of NEPAD Agriculture/CAADP.
Uganda’s Vice-President, Prof. Gilbert Bukenya, said recently that intervening in infrastructure development, health and education will have a positive effect on the development of the agricultural sector.
“When the roads are good, it boosts agriculture and in the next years we are definitely going to put more money in the agricultural sector,” said Bukenya who has been instrumental in promoting agriculture as a tool in fighting poverty.
Several countries have already achieved the CAADP agreed goals. These include Mali, Madagascar, Namibia, Niger, Chad and Ethiopia. All have budgets that are above 10%.
“CAADP’s main objective is to help African countries reach a higher path of economic growth, through agricultural-led development,” said Professor Mkandawire. “This includes eliminating hunger, reducing poverty and food insecurity, enabling the expansion of exports and supporting the environment.”
In Uganda, CAADP is implemented through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries with partnerships in the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development ; Water and Environment ; Lands and Trade, Tourism and Industry.
While development partners are also asked to increase investment in agriculture, it is important that they align their investment choices with those enunciated by Africa’s governments.
“The basis of this strategy plan comes from a close examination of how the agricultural unit at the NEPAD Secretariat understands the progress currently being made in CAADP implementation and where we see the major bottlenecks,” Professor Mkandawire said.
Boaz Keizire, the CAADP focal point officer at the Uganda Agriculture Ministry, says the programme helps harmonise agricultural policies and programmes such as the Plan for the Modernisation of Agriculture and the National Agriculture Advisory Services.
CAADP has also helped develop a fertilizer strategy to improve fertilizer use in the country. At the moment, only 6% of Ugandan farmers use fertilizers. Source : NEPAD News, november 28, 2008
The activities of some caterers are threatening the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) which was introduced in 2005 with the objective of reducing hunger and malnutrition – and improving school enrolment. The GSFP Secretariat has taken action in a number of cases and cancelled the catering contracts.
The programme, which started with 10 pilot schools and now covers 987 throughout the country, is an initiative of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Pillar 3.
Pillar 3 seeks to enhance food security and reduce hunger in line with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on hunger, poverty and malnutrition.
The GSFP initiative is focused on providing children in public pre-schools and primary schools with one hot, adequate and nutritious meal per day, using locally grown foodstuffs. It is now is being extended to all schools.
The greatest danger to the achievement of the objectives are the activities of some of the caterers working under the programme. In their desire to make profit, they provide the children with small quantities of food and, sometimes, what they serve is not nutritious or good for the health of the children.
A few months ago, pupils of Apenkwa Presbyterian Primary School had cause to complain about jollof rice – a popular food in West Africa — prepared for them by one of the caterers. Instead of using tomatoes as is usually done, the caterer used food colouring in preparing the meal. The children refused to eat the food.
The contracts of caterers for the Kwadaso and Asuoyeboah Cluster of Schools in Kumasi have been cancelled by the GSFP Secretariat for the persistent use of rotten ingredients in the preparation of meals. New caterers have been contracted.
A few days ago, personnel at the Secretariat seized soggy boiled ripe plantain prepared for pupils of the Abelenkpe Primary School by a caterer under the programme.
Teachers at the school, apparently shocked when the food was brought in, prevented the children from eating it and informed officials of the Secretariat, who seized it. The food, meant to be served to 58 pupils, was also three hours late.
The angry national co-ordinator of the GSFP, Michael Nsowah, told the Daily Graphic newspaper in Accra that after inspecting the food, he cancelled the contract of the caterer.
“It is clear that the woman responsible for the catering cannot do the work. This is food is not fit for human,” he said.
The objective of the GSFP was to give schoolchildren one hot nutritious meal a day, he said, and the Secretariat would not allow anything to defeat that objective.
He noted that although generally the caterers were helping to realise the GSFP dream, there were some who were greedy and who wanted to maximise profit to the detriment of the health of the children.
“This will not be allowed to happen,” he said.
The deputy national co-ordinator in charge of GSFP operations, Mary Ansong, said that four weeks ago she received a call from the same school about food prepared by the same caterer. She went to the school and found that the quantity of rice served to each child was inadequate. There was neither meat nor fish in the stew, only a few slices of sausage.
The deputy vice-president of the Greater Accra School Feeding Caterers Association, Nancy Gower, said the activities of some of the caterers were an embarrassment.
* Studies have shown that the GSFP initiative has led to an increase in enrolment of children and their attendance at kindergarten and primary schools within the public school system in Ghana. The increase has occurred particularly in rural areas, which clearly shows that if the programme continues to target poor schools in those districts and communities, the effects of poverty would be significantly reduced. Source : NEPAD News, november 28, 2008
The NEPAD e-Africa Commission has initiated a study on the feasibility of its Umojanet terrestrial network – a key step forward in the development of a broadband infrastructure network for Africa.
“The study will determine what the cost of the network in the various regions will be. This input will then determine what the SPV (special purpose vehicle) will need to make the network a reality,” said Dr Edmund Katiti, policy and regulatory adviser for the e-Africa Commission.
The commission says the six-month study will focus on the fibre-optic couplings that Umojanet will need to link to the 40 000km Uhurunet submarine cable. The first feasibility study will cover 23 countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa regions.
“The purpose of the study is to determine which fibre-optic links are in existence between cities, the capacity of the lines, their useability, who owns the infrastructure and the value of the infrastructure,” said Dr. Katiti.
The e-Africa Commission was awarded $410 000 by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) in September 2007. A contract for the study was supposed to be awarded at the end of 2007 and the study should have been carried out in the first half of 2008.
Dr. Katiti attributes the year-long delay to the lengthy process which accompanied the commissioning procedure.
“The funding was approved by the DBSA, but we still had to go through a tender process and consult with the companies. We also had to ensure the work that they would be doing would be within our budget.”
The study will be presented to prospective investors in the NEPAD SPV that will develop, own and operate the terrestrial broadband network. The SPV will lease or sell Umojanet services to licensed telecom operators in various countries.
The e-Africa Commission is also seeking a range of investors for its Umojanet and Uhurunet projects, ranging from telecoms companies to financial investors who are willing to invest over 15 to 20 years. Source : NEPAD News, november 28, 2008
The NEPAD Business Foundation (NBF) hosted its inaugural Ithuba Business Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 20 November 2008 to provide a comprehensive update on the status of the submarine cable initiative and implementation of the e-Schools project and how the private sector can actively participate in both.
“The Ithuba Forum is an initiative promoted by the NBF where we provide a platform for project promoters and interested private sector parties to discuss the aims and status of particular NEPAD projects. This forum focused on the various information communication technology (ICT) initiatives aimed at connecting Africa to the rest of the world. ” said John Rocha, senior project manager at the NEPAD Business Foundation.
The NEPAD submarine cable project was established in Abuja, Nigeria, in 2003 where the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee (HSGIC) decided to prioritise the establishment of a broadband network.
The purpose of this initiative is to connect African countries to one another and internationally by a broadband fibre-optic cable network.
In July 2004, a workshop of stakeholders was held in Johannesburg. Participants at the workshop agreed on a basic broadband ICT network for the region, consisting of a terrestrial segment (Umojanet) and a submarine segment (Uhurunet).
The agreed network sought to bring together a number of network development initiatives in the region, such as COMTEL, SADC Region Information Infrastructure (SRII), and the EASSY cable, into a unified plan for the development of the basic infrastructure.
The Uhurunet undersea component will encircle the entire African continent linking all African coastal regions to Africa and internationally. The implementation of this cable will be conducted in different stages based on the needs and level of preparedness of the African countries concerned.
Dr Edmund Katiti, NEPAD e-Africa Commission policy and regulatory adviser reiterates : “African countries will have a shareholding in Uhurunet through a 75% stake of the initiative being owned by African entities and the remaining 25% by international investors.”
The Umojanet terrestrial component will connect all landlocked and coastal countries in Africa to one another. A feasibility study is underway for this component of the project and will be completed in April 2009 (see below).
In alignment with the NEPAD principles of African ownership and leadership, the e-Africa Commission took a strategic decision to ensure that the NEPAD submarine cable is owned and managed by Africans and developed a structure or Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) called Baharicom, headquartered in Mauritius.
Baharicom was established to make provision for all African entities and private investors such as telecommunication operators to make strategic investments and own various spheres of the SPV.
Dr. Katiti added : “The SPV will provide considerable benefits including, open and affordable access to regional and international communications for citizens on the continent and help ease the facilitation of economic integration in the various African regions and the continent as a whole, through ICT broadband interconnection between countries”.
The Ithuba Forum also focused on the NEPAD e-Schools project that is harnessing ICT technology to improve the quality of teaching and learning in African primary and secondary schools.
An additional objective of this initiative is to impart ICT skills to young Africans thus enabling them to participate confidently in the global information society and knowledge economy.
The first phase of the initiative, a demonstration project, has been implemented by NEPAD through the e-Africa Commission, in partnership with private sector organisations.
The countries invited to participate in the first phase were : Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda. Six schools were identified in each of the countries.
A business plan encompassing core components for phase 2 of the e-Schools project has been conceptualised by Ernst and Young and was presented to stakeholders in April 2008. The target is to connect 600,000 schools electronically across the African continent. Source : NEPAD News, november 28, 2008