Faster Cargo Clearance Has a Positive Impact on Benin Economy

Benin Port

The average clearing time for cargo in Benin is highly reduced, leading to a boost in the transport of goods via ports. Nigeria, a neighboring country, stands to lose business at its ports due to the long clearing time of 14 to 21 days. In Cotonou, Benin, the cargo clearing process averages seven days. The faster process proves to be more cost-effective, which thereby stimulates the growth of the port industry, as well as accumulate revenue for the government. General manager of the RORO Terminal in Benin states that it takes an average of seven days to clear a container, and 24 hours to clear a vehicle. Their goal is to eventually minimize the cargo dwell time to 24 hours so that importers may retrieve their containers as soon as the ships dock.

Cargo clearance in Cotonou port has become faster due to governmental port reform that was initiated in 2011. Since the reform established a single online clearing platform called SEGUB, there is less vessel waiting time, free flow of traffic in the port access roads, and an increased volume of cargo in the port.

Further Reading: http://businessdayonline.com/2014/02/importers-move-to-ghana-benin-ports-as-slow-processes-in-nigeria-hurt-business/#.UyCV-vldXTo

Image Source: http://www.dredgingtoday.com/2013/02/07/benin-afgen-inks-agreement-with-dredging-international/

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Mozambique Ratifies Nagoyo Protocol

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Mozambique has recently ratified the Nagoyo Protocol, a protocol concerning access to and sharing of genetic resources and information.  The protocol addresses the legal framework surrounding the complicated issue of genetic resources and is intended to serve as a transparency boost for the already existing United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. The language of the protocol focuses on equitable sharing of information and resources, and addresses issues such as indigenous and local communities granting access to genetic resources, as well as traditional knowledge associated with genetic information and materials.

Mozambique will be the thirtieth nation to ratify the Nagoyo Protocol, but fifty nations are needed before it can enter into force.  Notably absent from the list of ratified countries is the United States, a key player in the field of genetics.

The Nagoyo Protocol also aims to promote conservation and environmentalist efforts, increasing the amount of land per nation promised to be made into protected regions. The attempt towards stronger conservation policies and protection of biodiversity is supported by the Mozambique Government, which recognizes the importance of biodiversity and genetic resources.

Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/201403140038.html

Image: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/files/2013/05/Mozambique_2012_3786.jpg

Ghana Celebrates its 57th Birthday

Fifty-seven years ago today, on March 6th, 1957, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African country to gain independence from colonial rule. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, later hailed as “Osagyefo,” or “redeemer” in the Ghanaian Akan language, was released from a jail term for anti-colonial civil disobedience to accept his election to form a new government in February of 1951. He became prime minister of the new government the following March, and five years later in 1957, he declared Ghana’s independence from the United Kingdom.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah

Dr. Kwame Nrumah with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Accra, Ghana

Ghana has made great strides as a nation in the fifty-seven years since ’57.  Business and industry are on the rise, driven by Ghana’s growing dynamic community of entrepreneurs, including partnerships such as the Ghana Association of Women Entrepreneurs (GAWE), as well as programs like Ghana’s Next Young Entrepreneur (GYNE) which promote entrepreneurship in the new generation.

 

Makola Market in Accra, Ghana

Ghana has also made significant progress toward the Millenium Development Goal of eradicating poverty and hunger, becoming the first African nation to cut the number of people living in extreme poverty almost in half in 2006. Ghana has been hailed as one of Africa’s “shining stars of democracy.” Much progress has been made in the country in terms of human rights, as demonstrated by the strong and vibrant civil society that has grown steadily over the years, addressing social issues ranging from education to women’s rights to rural poverty.

Although the nation still has many challenges to overcome, they have come far and made impressive strides in  economic, democratic, and social development since gaining independence in 1957. Happy Ghanaian Independence Day!

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Forgotten Pasts and Preserved Heritage, Benin’s African Contemporary Art Museum

Zinsou foundation contemporary African art in the Villa Ajavon in Ouidah

The port city of Ouidah stands today as a cultural hub of arts and religion in Benin. During the transatlantic slave trade, however, Ouidah’s reputation was bleak. Located on the coast of West Africa, Ouidah was the site of the Tree of Forgetfulness, where enslaved men, women, and children were forced to encircle the tree that would make them forget their identities and histories before being shipped off to the Americas. Although it may have been a process that was more metaphoric than real, the histories and cultures that were allegedly forgotten are now preserved in West Africa’s first contemporary art museum located in Ouidah. The Zinsou family established the free museum in the facade of the early 20th-century Afro-Brazilian edifice–Villa Ajavon. The museum has thrived since its debut in November 2013. By exhibiting the works of local and international artists, such as Romuald Hazoumé, the museum stands as a marker of Africa’s significance to the art world. Hazoumé exhibits paintings and photos that reflect his Beninese culture and religion, which is very much in line with the museum’s mission to preserve African artistic heritage within the actual continent. For more information on the museum and the Zinsou Foundation, visit the official website at http://www.fondationzinsou.org/FondationZinsou/Fondation_Zinsou_Accueil.html.

Image Source: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2014/jan/06/african-contemporary-art-ouidah-benin#/?picture=424525494&index=9

Related Articles: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/17/african-artists-benin-museum-thrives

http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/African-contemporary-art-museum-opens-in-Benin-in-former-slave-trade-centre/31402

End of Botswana-North Korea Relations

Ian Khama, President of Botswana

Ian Khama, President of Botswana

After forty years of diplomatic relations, Botswana has ended diplomatic relations with North Korea. Botswana made the decision to cut ties after the United Nations released a report on crimes against humanity taking place in North Korea. The foreign ministry of Botswana released a statement expressing sympathies to North Korean citizens facing human rights violations. North Korea has yet to make a statement in response to the ended diplomatic relationship.

Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/korearealtime/2014/02/20/botswana-cuts-north-korea-ties/

Image source: http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02549/ianKhama_2549331b.jpg