US$300Million To Help Africa’s Agri-Exporters Access New Markets

African-Woman-Wheat-Crops-Sunset_NewsThe African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is providing a three-year US$300mn revolving global credit facility to Export Trading Company (ETC), a subsidiary of Export Trading Group, to support its agricultural trade business across Africa.

The agreement will according to Afreximbank president Benedict Oramah “address some of the key bottlenecks faced by African agricultural exporters, particularly small and medium-scale enterprises operating in agro-processing and light manufacturing sub-sectors, in effectively competing in international trade and increasing their participation in regional and global agricultural value chains”.

ETC is an agricultural supply chain manager specialising in African commodities. By financing ETC’s activities, the idea is to help African farmers access new regional and international markets.

Oramah describes the firm as “a catalyst for the growth of intra-African trade”, noting that it is creating “strong and reliable agricultural value chains across Africa” by bringing agricultural produce from the farm gate to processing facilities and processed and manufactured goods to the market.

Specifically, the facility will fund the sourcing, processing and transportation of soft commodities of African origin, and support procurement of key agricultural inputs, such as fertiliser, seeds and other chemicals, which would be supplied across the continent.

The facility is provided as part of Afreximbank’s intra-African trade strategy, in which the bank commits to support the emergence and expansion of export trading companies as a quick way of accelerating the growth of intra-African trade.

Namibia Bans Foreign Travel For Government Officials

Namibia has banned all foreign travel by public officials as the southern African country tries to rein in government expenditure.

The ban will be in place until at least February, the country’s presidency said in a statement on Wednesday.

“No request for outbound travel by ministers, deputy ministers and other political office bearers will be considered until after the end of February,” the statement said.

“This directive is specifically in the interest of curtailing public expenditure,” the statement added.

The country’s economy is heavily dependent on mineral exports, but the global price contraction in the commodity market has affected its main exports, uranium and diamonds – leading to severe budget cuts.

The presidency said the directive applies with immediate effect.

The cash crisis has led to President Hage Geingob grounding his presidential jet. Last week, the president took a scheduled commercial flight to attend the African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

The country’s defence ministry will send thousands of soldiers on leave next month because the army has run out of money to feed them or to pay water and electricity bills, The Namibian, an independent newspaper, reported Wednesday. At least seven military bases will be affected by the move, the report added.

Soldiers who are currently on leave have been told not to report back to work.

In August, Moody – the credit rating agency – downgraded Namibia’s debt status to junk.

 

Source: Aljazeera

Liberia’s George Weah Slashes His Salary and Vows to Change ‘racist’ Constitution

President will divert some of his wages to a development fund and seek to allow foreign ownership of property.

Reuters

Liberian president George Weah

Liberia’s newly sworn-in president, George Weah, pledged to cut his own salary by a quarter during a nationwide address in which he warned of tough times ahead for a “broke” country.

“The state of the economy that my administration inherited leaves a lot to do and to be decided,” the former international soccer star said on Monday in an address apparently aimed at managing expectations following his election victory at the end of last year to replace Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

“Our economy is broken; our government is broke. Our currency is in free fall; inflation is rising,” Weah said. “Unemployment is at an unprecedented high and our foreign reserves are at an all-time low.”

But since winning the poll in the poor, coastal west African nation, the award-winning former AC Milan and Paris St Germain striker has been at pains to show just how daunting he understands the task ahead to be.

“In view of the very rapidly deteriorating situation of the economy, I am informing you today, with immediate effect, that I will reduce my salary and benefits by 25%,” Weah said, pledging the savings to a development fund for Liberia.

The announcement of a pay cut for himself is likely go down well on a continent long used to officials in high office awarding themselves extravagant pay rises and perks.

Liberia suffered civil wars from 1989-2003 that killed hundreds of thousands of people. Then, as it was recovering in the past decade, it was hit by low prices for its chief exports, iron ore and rubber, and an Ebola outbreak between 2014 and 2016.

Africa’s oldest republic was established by freed slaves from the US and declared independent in 1847. As a quirk of that history only “people of colour” are constitutionally allowed to become Liberian and only Liberians can own property.

Weah described these clauses as “unnecessary, racist and inappropriate”. He said he would push to allow anyone to apply for citizenship and for foreigners to own property.

Nobel peace prize winner Johnson Sirleaf, who was barred from running again, was applauded for shoring up peace but criticised for failing to tackle corruption or do much to spread economic gain beyond her elite circle.

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What’s In Store For Black History Month In Barrie?

Black History Month

Ebenezer Inkumsah has organized two events as part of Barrie’s Black History Month celebration. – Chris Simon/Metroland

The Barrie resident has been organizing local Black History Month activities for more than two decades. This year’s celebration includes two large events planned in February.

A concert honouring late Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti runs Feb. 9. The concert will feature Femi Abosede. Kuti was an Afro Jazz innovator who shaped the music scene on continental Africa, Inkumsah said.

“We put events together every year,” he said. “History is skewed because it’s always told by the victors. But Black History (Month) celebrates the accomplishments. We just want the community to come out, celebrate and enjoy.”

Admission to the Kuti tribute is $25 and it takes place at Five Points Theatre, 1 Dunlop St. W., at 7:30 p.m.

On Feb. 23, Sankofa Through Sound with Tuku, Lisa Michelle, Najla Nubyanluv and Amina Alfred will be held at Georgian Theatre, 1 Georgian Dr. Admission is free and the event, which is geared toward students, begins at 9:30 a.m.

Sankofa translates into ‘go back and get it’ in Ghana’s Twi language. The event is intended to be a musical and visual odyssey, told from the viewpoint of people of African descent living away from home.

“It’s not what is (typically) in the media; it’s for us, by us,” Inkumsah said. “It’s our narrative. We’re there to share our heritage and culture while we highlight the contributions of African people around the world.”

Ghana and West Africa was considered the hub of the slave trade, he said.

The Barrie area played a prominent role in African-Canadian history. Between 1819 and 1831, settlement of black people along Wilberforce Street in Oro Township was sponsored by the government of Upper Canada. Among the black settlers were veterans of the War of 1812.

After generations in Oro-Medonte, the black families moved to find better jobs — some settled as shipbuilders in Collingwood — because soil conditions in the township were poor.

However, the Oro African Methodist Episcopal Church remained and is now a National Historic Site of Canada.

Further details can be found at barrie.ca/theatretickets.