President Joyce Banda Cuts Own Salary to Balance Budget

It has been reported that President Joyce Banda of Malawi has taken a voluntary pay cut of 30%, in order to align herself with the government’s austerity measures.

President Joyce Banda

She has also confirmed that her government will sell the controversial presidential jet that was purchased by former President Mutharika, which she called “wasteful.”

In addition to this budget cut, the government will also be cutting its forecast for economic growth of 4.3 percent, due to “contraction in some major sectors.” The projected 4.3 percent growth rate has been put aside after several major industries, such as agriculture, manufacturing, forestry, and fishing, experienced negative growth.



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President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf May Begin Cabinet Shuffle

President Sirleaf

On October 29th, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf declared that she will be taking actions to enhance efficiency and productivity within the cabinet. Her actions may range from “transfers and reshuffles to dismissals.” The public does not know who will be dismissed and what exactly will happen, but government officials who are not executing the constitution properly or who are taking advantage of their positions will likely be disciplined or dismissed. The pending decisions come “amid huge public outcry about hardship and the slow pace of development.” However, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has said, “It is our hope that we will continue to work together to sustain the peace and foster the developmental efforts of the country.”

President Johnson-Sirleaf also recognizes that it is her duty to improve the living standard of the bulk of Liberian people not only because she is the President of this post-conflict Republic, but also because she’s on record for criticizing past leaders and for advocating for better governmental service for Liberians.

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President Obama Emphasises Peace in Kenya’s Election

President Obama with Kenyans on a previous trip to Kenya

President Obama with Kenyans on a previous trip to Kenya

The United States President, Barack Obama, issued a message to Kenyans February 5, 2013 regarding their upcoming elections. In March 2013, Kenya will be holding the first election since the violent 2008 elections, in which over a thousand people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. Leading up to the March 4, 2013 elections, there has already been violence among some presidential candidate supporters. Next month, Kenyans go to the polls to elect a new president, parliament, and hundreds of other public offices.

In his address, President Obama stressed that the upcoming elections provide a historic opportunity for Kenyans to “stand together, as a nation, for peace and progress, and for the rule of law.” As Kenyans prepare for the election, President Obama urged them to put aside ethnic ties and to participate peacefully in a revolutionary election.

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The Link Between Food Security and Political Unrest

A Somali man tends to his crops that have suffered from drought

The former UN Secretary General has announced that food shortage was one of the triggers of the protests leading to the Arab Spring. He was speaking at the African Green Revolution Forum held during September 26-28, 2012 in Tanzania, at which leaders developed concrete plans for the development of African agriculture to promote food security.  At the forum, leaders discussed the importance of food security as a top priority for governments in order to preserve order and to stabilize the African economy. Since most African farmland is underutilized, if African governments can focus on agriculture, they could feed a greater number of people, create opportunities for employment, and create global food security. But it is important to understand that it is not only food shortages that lead to uprisings; political unrest also plays a large role.

Political stability and economic growth go hand-in-hand, and it is for this reason that members of the East African Community are using this discussion as an opportunity to stress further integration between its members. They see political environments as an existing trade barrier and believe that it would be much easier to attract investment if there was a common currency between the nations if the East African Community. They believe that people need to be able to invest without problems and that further integration would create stronger political trust between nations. By linking them economically, states would have greater interest in stabilizing the political environments in their partner countries. In addition to their discussions around shared currency and linkages between East African Community members, many also acknowledged that democracy must work in Africa because if it does not, the cycle of economic hardship and political instability will only continue.

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Kenya Continues to Emerge as Africa’s Sillicon Valley

Kenyan woman uses her mobile phone

The month of November was crucial to the continuation of Kenya’s dominance in the world of Information Communication Technology (ICT) innovation and investment.  Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Kenya’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication, emphasized Kenya’s capacity to improve and expand their ICT sector. Ndemo suggested that the government should shift its focus from extra taxation and instead focus on efficiency, which will lead to more revenue for the government.

Ndemo then explained that digitization of government is one of the strategic pillars of the National ICT Master Plan. She explained that digitization of the lands registry had seen revenue collected rise from Ksh. 800 million to Ksh. 9 billion. Ndemo added that digitization around the country stood to make the country more than Ksh. 200 billion in additional revenue. She also stated that fully digitized hospitals were expected to bring savings of 40 percent in the healthcare sector.

A major contributor to Kenya’s ability to accomplish its task of being Africa’s leader in ICT, are the plans to construct the fifth undersea fiber optic cable that would provide Kenya with an opportunity to more than quadruple its current bandwidth capacity. Kenya currently has four undersea cables that also service all of Kenya’s neighboring countries and provide over 5,261,919 Mbps international connectivity.

The latest sector statistics by the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) reported that 17.38 million people in the country had access to the Internet as of December 2011, marking a penetration rate of 44.12 percent. With the completion of the fifth undersea cable, these statistics will drastically increase.

Ghana Improves in Some Business Ratings – Drops in Others

Hannah Tetteh, Trade and Industry Minister

The World Bank recently released its “Ease of Doing Business” Report for 2013, in which Ghana improved in three out of ten areas.  Ghana received good ratings in categories including: getting electricity, resolving insolvency, and extending credit.

Ghana was ranked 5th on the African continent, behind only Botswana, Rwanda, Mauritius, and South Africa.  They are ranked 64th out of all 185 countries for which data is gathered.

Ghana did not rank as well in categories including: starting a business, protecting investors, trading across borders, and the payment of taxes.

Of course, all of these rankings simply refer to the ease of doing business and must be appreciated in a much wider context.  Singapore topped the global ranking with the United States coming in at 4th place.

Zambia Awarded for Anti-Malaria Efforts

Photo Zambia 1

Zambia has been awarded a medal by the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) for its success in reducing the cases of Malaria within the country. The African Leaders Malaria Alliance is an affiliate of the United Nations working towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

President Sata credited the people of his nation for contributing to the effectiveness of their efforts to eradicate malaria. “The award is for the people of Zambia who have worked so hard to fight malaria. It is their award and not Micheal Sata’s.” He also cited the success of the ministries of Health and Community Development, and Mother and Child Health.

The award was presented to the Zambian Ambassador to Ethiopia by the past African Union (AU) chairperson and Benin President, Boni Yayi. Past recipients of this medal recognized for their efforts in fighting malaria include South Africa and Swaziland.

Zambia’s National Malaria Control Centre (NMCC) over the past decade has worked with UNICEF and the Roll Back Malaria program among others to create preventative measures, and health programs to fight the disease. The success of these efforts has been recognized by the African Leaders Malaria Alliance this week.

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Pakistani and Mauritian Relations to Strengthen Economically

The High Commissioner of Mauritius, Muhammad Rashad Daureeawo stated during a meeting with Zafar Bakhtawari, President in the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI), that future relations between the two nations would be based upon “market access and trade”, with Mauritius “acting as a gateway to African markets for Pakistani products”.

The High Commissioner boasted that the legal framework for resolution of trade disputes is “very strong” and thereby would be able to provide some advantages for businessmen from abroad. Moreover, he added that Mauritius “topped World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Ranking as the tax regime has been very soft and encouraging”, and that “Mauritius is ranked high in terms of competitiveness, investment climate, governance and freest economy” and “provides free education to its citizens from pre-primary to tertiary levels”.

Bakhtawari praised the high commissioner for his efforts in strengthening relations between the two nations, and mentioned that “culturally and socially”, “both countries have very strong ties”. He added that Mauritius “is coming up as a financial and trade hub for [an] emerging Africa” and that “Pakistani goods were best of the best in the world and had the potential to win respectable place in Mauritius market”.

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Mauritius GDP to Grow 3.7% in 2013

During 2013, the IMF expects the GDP of Mauritius to grow additional 3.7%, up from 3.3% compared to last year’s growth. Martin Petri, IMF mission Chief, commented that this increase “will be fuelled by strong growth in fisheries, information and communication technology and financial services”.

In an attempt to depend less on Europe, the nation has been “branching into information technology, business outsourcing and offshore banking”. The economy of Mauritius depends largely upon European Tourism, its primary source of revenue, which provides 2/3 of all tourists to the country. Additionally, Europe acts as a major market for the country’s textiles and also “sugar and services industry”.

It will be interesting to see how the economy of Mauritius will rely less upon Europe and more upon the nation’s growth in other areas.

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