Last week, African leaders opened a two-day summit in the Kenyan capital to discuss ways of boosting stability and development in the continent's Great Lakes region. The second International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, ended with the signing of a pact promoting regional peace and development. "The pact will go a long way in bringing the region out of the vicious cycle of conflict, humanitarian disaster, increased vulnerability, poverty, and repeated conflict," said Besida Tonwe, head of Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ Regional Support Office for East and Central Africa. Leaders said the region was taking a path towards lasting stability. "The responsibility of reconstruction of the region lies with us, the member states. We are now witnessing a steady march towards peace, security, stability and democracy in the region," Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete told the conference. In attendance were six presidents from Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, DRC and Kenya, along with high-level representatives from the UN, African Union, and the European Union.
An African Command to Be Set Up
The U.S. Defense Department has proposed to President Geroge W. Bush the creation of a new command to oversee American military activities in the Africa region. The U.S. military has already had a number of commands that control its activities across the globe, including the Central Command, the Southern Command, the European Command and the Pacific Command. More than one of the commands currently oversee U.S. military affairs in Africa. The Central Command, for instance, controls the Horn of Africa and has set up a task force to catch any al-Qaida members that might have escaped from Afghanistan, and the European Command has sent Special Forces to do training exercises in North African countries. The African Command is expected to be set up in two months.
Energy Significant in Attainment of MDGs
Former Tanzanian President, Benjamin Mkapa, has underlined the importance of energy to the attainment of several Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa. Speaking at the just-ended conference in Tunis, Tunisia on "Financing Electricity for Growth in Africa," he said: "access to energy is vital to Africa`s efforts at attaining any of the MDGs pertaining to water and sanitation, gender equality in education, child malnutrition and mortality and other health targets." The one-day conference aimed at sensitizing key energy, investment and legal corporations to possible electricity infrastructure projects on the continent. It was organized by the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB).
In his intervention as part of the AfDB eminent speakers’ series, Mkapa, Co-chair of the Investment Climate Facility for Africa, regretted the underdevelopment and marginalization of Africa in respect to average per capita energy consumption and level of productivity and prosperity. He also lamented that while sub-Saharan Africa sat on some of the most significant potential fuel reserves and largest water courses as potential source of hydroelectricity generation in the world. No more than 20 percent of the population (2 percent in rural areas) had access to electricity.
Firms to Provide Corporate and Government Communications Solutions
Tshirundu Communications of South Africa, Global Media Alliance of Ghana and the Insight International for Kenya have formed a partnership. The firms hope to provide corporate and government communications solutions across Africa. Tshirundu, the largest black –owned integrated communications boutique in South Africa is an associate of transnational Burson-Marsteller and already has public relations, public affairs, advertising and internet-based divisions in several African countries. Global Media Alliance and Insight International specialize in public relations, events management, investor relations, media management and television and radio broadcast.
“Invest in Agriculture,” says COMESA
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) economic block has urged its member states to increase investment in agriculture to reduce food insecurity and accelerate development. The 20-member bloc targets a minimum of six percent annual agricultural growth in member states through its Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development programme (CAADP). CAADP seeks to harmonize the member countries’ different policies on agricultural expansion. “To move towards attaining six percent growth, a minimum public expenditure requirement of ten percent of National budget is recommended,” said COMESA’s Secretary General, Erastus Mwencha.
Sudanese Refugees Denied Residence
A group of Sudanese refugees has been refused residence in Australia’s most ‘friendly Town’, Tamworth, because of fears they could spark a repeat of the race riots that gripped Sydney a year ago. Tamworth, will host Australia’s largest country music festival in January. The Mayor, James Treloar, said the local people had aired concerns about 12 other Sudanese already in the city, saying that most of them had come before local courts for various crimes.
Energy: Top Priority on Germany Agenda
Germany has already vowed to make energy a top priority when it takes over the EU presidency next month. One of its aims is to examine Africa's particular problems in this area. With some 535 million people across the continent currently without access to electricity, government development experts say better provision is the key to tackling poverty. High gas, oil and electricity prices are curbing growth in many African states that don't have natural resources that provide energy. In Africa’s oil-producing countries, such as Nigeria, not only are their exports worth more, production here is also on the rise. In West Africa alone, it increased by 36 per cent over the last 10 years. However, corruption and poor government mean profits are frequently not used to aid social and economic development.
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