[ The deployment of the South African National Defence Force prevented a spill-over effect of genocide from Rwanda to Burundi. It also helped to secure the first democratic elections in that country’s history, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu says.
She made the statement in a lengthy answer to a question by African National Congress Member of Parliament RSJ Njikelana who asked her how effective the operations of the SANDF had been in establishing peace in areas of conflict on the African continent…]
Defective Burundi weapons came from N.Korea-envoys
By Louis Charbonneau / UNITED NATIONS, Feb 1 (Reuters) – North Korea was the supplier of a cache of defective weapons sold to Burundi’s army by a Ukrainian firm, said Western diplomats familiar with the case that has riled Burundi’s anti-corruption body.
The weapons deal with Burundi appeared to be a violation of the international ban on North Korean weapons exports which the U.N. Security Council imposed on Pyongyang in June 2009 after its second nuclear test, the diplomats told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The case involved the supply of some 60 Chinese-made .50-calibre machine guns to Burundi by a Ukrainian firm called Cranford Trading, the diplomats said. The weapons, which were defective, were sold to the firm by North Korea, they added.
Diplomats say Pyongyang continues to try to skirt the arms embargo. Last year South Africa informed the Security Council’s sanctions committee about a seizure of North Korean arms bound for Central Africa.
The expanded sanctions were aimed at cutting off North Korea’s arms sales, a vital export that was estimated to earn the destitute state more than $1 billion a year.
Some facts about the Burundi weapons deal became known late last year when the country’s anti-corruption watchdog went public about irregularities it found. It said that the arms had been defective and that Burundi had been overcharged.
A report on a state audit of the deal, seen by Reuters, concluded that Cranford Trading provided Burundi’s army defective military material with the complicity of former Defense Minister Germain Niyoyanka, current army chief Godefroid Niyombare and his deputy Diomede Ndegeya.
The auditors’ report said that the bidding offer was $3.075 million, while the amount in the contract was for $3.388 million. A further $1.186 million was paid in transport fees, even though such fees were not agreed in the contract.
The auditors concluded that the defense ministry had spent a great deal of money on defective material and recommended the prosecution of all people involved on suspicion of graft.
North Korea was not mentioned in the auditors’ report.
Several officials at Burundi’s U.N. mission in New York declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.
NO CERTIFICATE OF ORIGIN
“The weapons were transferred by China to North Korea, which then sold them to Cranford,” a diplomat said, adding that the official documentation for the deal had been incomplete.
“There was no certificate of origin of the weapons, which is necessary to comply with international conventions,” the diplomat added. Another diplomat confirmed the remarks.
The contract between Burundi’s defense ministry and Cranford Trading covered the period between October 2008 through 2010. It was not clear how much North Korea would have received when it sold the defective arms to Cranford Trading.
It was not possible to track down Cranford Trading in Ukraine, since the company was not readily accessible in any public lists. Ukraine’s U.N. mission did not respond to an e-mailed query about Cranford and the arms transaction.
It was not clear when China transferred the weapons to North Korea, or who in China was responsible, or whether the Chinese government had knowledge of the deal.
The U.N. arms embargo does not ban the sale of small arms to Pyongyang, though it does require exporters to notify the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee in advance about any small-arms sales to Pyongyang.
If the transfer took place after the latest round of U.N. sanctions were approved in June 2009, the exporter would have been required to notify the sanctions committee.
A spokesman for China’s U.N. mission was not available for comment.
The diplomats said the sanctions committee has not been notified about the Burundi case. (Additional reporting by Patrick Nduwimana in Bujumbura; Editing by Jackie Frank)
Côte d’Ivoire: La RD Congo adoptera la position de l’Union africaine
Crise ivoirienne – La République Démocratique du Congo (RDC) s’alignera sur la position qu’adoptera l’Union africaine (UA) au sujet de la crise en Côte d’ivoire, a indiqué le ministre congolais des Affaires étrangères, Alexis Thambwe Mwamba. M. Mwamba, représentant du chef de l’Etat congolais au sommet des chefs d’Etat de l’UA dont les assises ont pris fin ce lundi à Addis-Abeba, en Ethiopie, a expliqué au cours de cette réunion que la position de la RDC sur la question de la crise politique en Côte d’ivoire sera calquée sur celle de l’UA.
On rappelle qu’à l’issue de la présidentielle du 28 novembre en Côte d’Ivoire, le chef de l’Etat sortant Laurent Gbagbo et le candidat de l’opposition Alassane Ouattara, revendiquent tous deux la victoire.
Le chef de la diplomatie congolaise a également profité de l’occasion pour expliquer les raisons qui ont motivé la révision de la Constitution de la RDC ramenant l’élection présidentielle à un seul tour au lieu de deux précédemment.
Il a, à ce propos, remercié l’UA à travers les ambassadeurs africains accrédités auprès de la RDC , d’avoir pris acte de la révision constitutionnelle comme une question qui relève de la politique intérieure d’un Etat souverain. / Pana 01/02/2011
Tanzania: The Country to Benefit From 180bn – Coffee Initiative Fund
1 February 2011 – Tanzania is one of the Eastern African countries that are set to benefit from the East Africa Coffee Initiative project financed by the World Bank’s private financing arm, International Finance Corporation (IFC).
In the present financial year, IFC has budgeted 120 million US dollars (over 180bn/-) financing to the Export Trading Group, which is one of Africa’s largest integrated supply chain operators.
The coffee programme helps cooperatives improve the quality and yield of their coffee through improved practices as well as advancing credit to farmers.
Other countries in the East Africa Coffee Initiative include Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda.
In the meantime, IFC will double funding to agribusiness projects in Sub Saharan Africa to boost food security in the region.
The International Financial Corporation (IFC) Director of Global Manufacturing, Agribusiness and Services, Mr Atul Mehta, said the organisation will more than double its budget for agriculture to 250 million US dollars in the next two years from 100 million US dollars last year.
The funds will be used for new investments and advisory services to improve productivity.
Mr Mehta said IFC will partner with governments, civil societies and the private sector to identify key subsectors within agriculture that have huge potential for development if appropriately funded.
“Deteriorating food security and fluctuating prices of basic goods have made agriculture a priority in African countries,” he said.
“Studies indicate there’s a need to double food production by 2015 to meet the demand of a growing population, this has focused attention on the urgency to produce more food efficiently,” said Aida der Hovannessian, the IFC Head of Agribusiness and Forestry for Africa.
Agribusiness has a broad impact on economic developmental and poverty reduction. Majority of African households’ livelihood is dependent on agriculture.
IFC’s new strategy will also focus improving access to markets for small scale farmers.
Kenya’s Benchmark Coffee Price Falls 1.3% at Auction
By Fred Ojambo – Feb 1, 2011 – Kenya’s benchmark coffee grade fell 1.3 percent at auction today as high prices dissuaded traders from making purchases, the Nairobi Coffee Exchange said.
The average price for the top AA grade fell to $505.60 for a 50-kilogram (110-pound) bag, from $512.14 a week earlier, as supplies dropped 11 percent to 6,188 bags, the exchange said in an e-mailed statement today. The average price for all the coffee sold slipped 3.9 percent to $394.97 per bag, it said.
“Buyers showed less interest because they have covered their obligations,” said Mansukh Shah, a trader at Alanwood Ltd., by phone from Nairobi. “They were not so aggressive because prices are high.”
Total sales fell 5 percent to 9,854 bags valued at $4.75 million, from 10,366 bags worth $5.18 million last week, the exchange said.
Kenyan coffee output in the 12 months through September may fall 27 percent to 40,000 metric tons, down from an earlier forecast of between 49,000 and 55,000 tons, James Wahome, quality manager at the Coffee Board of Kenya, said on Jan. 17. The country produced 45,000 tons last season.
Kenya harvests the bulk of its crop from October through December, while a secondary crop is reaped from April to June. The following are details of today’s auction in U.S. dollars for a 50-kilogram bag:
Grade Low High Average
AA 236 810 505.60
AB 200 656 437.43
C 144 425 329.76
MH 161 196 185.08
ML 79 92 84.80
PB 192 629 422.27
T 51 301 157.27
TT 159 481 349.43
UG 260 315 300.11
UG1 109 291 254.47
UG2 41 121 99.22
To contact the reporter on this story: Fred Ojambo in Kampala at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at email@example.com
AFRICA / AU :
Gbagbo Government Signals Resistance to AU Panel
VOA News February 01, 2011- The government of Ivory Coast’s incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, says it will reject any finding that Gbagbo lost the disputed November presidential election.
Gbagbo’s foreign minister, Alcide Djedje, spoke to reporters a day after the African Union named a panel of leaders to resolve the Ivory Coast political crisis.
Djedje said the leaders are welcome to visit Ivory Coast, but said the Gbagbo government will not accept their findings unless they follow the Ivorian constitution.
Ivory Coast’s constitutional council handed victory to Gbagbo in the November election after the electoral commission named his rival, Alassane Ouattara, as the winner.
The AU, United Nations, and West African bloc ECOWAS all have recognized Ouattara as the victor, although some African leaders have suggested the two men must negotiate a settlement.
Djedje accused former colonial power France of trying to topple the Gbagbo government through pressure from the U.N. and ECOWAS.
ECOWAS has threatened to remove Gbagbo by force if he does not yield power to Ouattara. AU and ECOWAS mediators so far have been unable to convince Gbagbo to step down.
The AU Ivory Coast panel includes the leaders of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, South Africa, and Tanzania, in addition to the current chiefs of the AU and ECOWAS.
The panel is expected to propose a resolution to the political crisis within one month. Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who heads the AU Peace and Security Council, told reporters that the solution would be legally binding.
SA stopped genocide in Burundi: Sisulu
The deployment of the South African National Defence Force prevented a spill-over effect of genocide from Rwanda to Burundi. It also helped to secure the first democratic elections in that country’s history, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu says.
She made the statement in a lengthy answer to a question by African National Congress Member of Parliament RSJ Njikelana who asked her how effective the operations of the SANDF had been in establishing peace in areas of conflict on the African continent.
Sisulu answered that “South Africa is internationally acclaimed for its peace-keeping efforts on the continent. In essence, the presence of our armed forces on the Continent makes us one of the major role players in regional and continental relations and politics in peace-keeping. Our peace missions reflect our commitment to the notion of collective security though multinational bilateral agreements in our quest to advance human security and the creation of a peaceful and better Africa. Our beliefs in compassion and the values of ubuntu are intricately woven in the objectives of our peace keeping missions.
“One of the highlights of our success in peace keeping has been the outcome of the Burundi peace process. Overall, our military deployments on the continent have been critical in ensuring peaceful democratic political transitions such as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2006. The SANDF continues to provide logistical support for electoral process throughout Southern Africa. Further, our military experts continue to provide training support as well as capacity to reform fractured military establishments. Our armed forces have saved lives, prevented humanitarian disasters and degeneration into total anarchy in some areas of deployment by restoring state authority. Peace and stability of the African continent is in our best interest economically, politically, morally and socially. Our military deployments will continue, not only because they project our foreign policy objectives, but also because peace is the critical catalyst for enhance regional, economic and political integration,” Sisulu said.
The minister added that to date SANDF personnel have served in Burundi, the DRC, the Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Comoros, Sudan and the Central African Republic.
“On the military diplomatic front, militaries of the world continue to test their skills against those of the SANDF through joint and multinational military exercises. Recently the SANDF was involved in Exercise Good Hope, an annual joint and multinational exercise conducted between the navies and air forces of South Africa and Germany. This is the largest German exercise outside of the NATO countries. The aim of this exercise was to enhance and maintain comprehensive capabilities within the SANDF. During September 2010 the SANDF formed part of Exercise IBSAMAR- a joint and multinational exercise involving the navies of India, Brazil and South Africa. The aim of this exercise is to ensure interoperability, collective training and mutual understanding between the involved navies.
“We have recently returned from Argentina after a month long Exercise ATLASUR which brings together the countries of the South, namely Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and South Africa. This brings to the fore the South – South Co-operation as envisaged by our foreign policy. These exchanges have put South African in the forefront of maritime nations of the world and in particular those of the developing world.
“In addition, the SANDF operations have saved lives in Mozambique during floods. Ugandan Armed Forces were assisted by the SANDF’s EODT [explosive ordnance disposal team] for bomb disposal. The SANDF assisted by airlifting Tanzanian contingent that deployed in Burundi. The SANDF provided air transport to Lesotho government during elections in Lesotho.”
Addressing the SANDF deployment to the DRC, Sisulu wrote the South African military became the “vanguard of a seventeen thousand strong United Nations Peacekeeping Force that ensured smooth deployment of the entire UN Force Peace Contingent in the DRC under operation dubbed MONUC [sic]. Further, the SANDF has been instrumental in protection of civilians and provision of assistance to the Armed Forces of DRC (FARDC). As part of the Multinational Force deployed in the DRC, SANDF helped to secure the first democratic elections in the DRC IN 2006 and on a bilateral basis it is providing peace capacity building for sustainable development in the country to date. The SANDF helped to integrate militia groups to the FARDC and renovated centres for integration. The SANDF continues to advice the FARDC regarding restructuring, reorganization and training so that the FARDC becomes a professional and credible force capable of defending and protecting the sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Commenting on the Comoros, Sisulu said the SANDF “deployed in the Union of Comoros in support of the African Union Mission to secure elections in Comoros. Free and fair elections were held and the first democratic Union President was inaugurated. The operation of the SANDF taught the security forces of Comoros the importance of impartiality by the security forces and the role of security forces in protecting democracy as security organs of the state.”
In the Central African Republic, Sisulu noted, the SANDF, was in terms of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) capacitating the Armed Forces of Central African Republic (FACA) to be able to defend and protect the sovereignty and territory of the Central African Republic. “Based on the signed MoU the SANDF deployed a contingent to train FACA on VIP Protection, Sub Units and Junior Leader Group. The deployment of the SANDF contingent is a beacon of hope for peace, security and stability in the Central African Republic.”
Written by defenceWeb / Tuesday, 01 February 2011
S.Africa regulator launches $11 bln bid-rigging probe
By Gugulakhe Lourie / JOHANNESBURG, Feb 1 (Reuters) – South Africa’s watchdog launched what is likely to be the country’s biggest probe into bid rigging by building firms, further spooking investors who have punished the sector over fears that infrastructure spending may have stalled.
The country’s Competition Commission said on Tuesday it will investigate 65 construction companies related to bid rigging on up to 70 projects worth a total 79 billion rand ($11 billion).
Leading construction firms Murray & Roberts (MURJ.J), Group Five (GRFJ.J), and Grinaker LTA, a unit of industry leader Aveng (AEGJ.J) have agreed to cooperate with the commission in return for leniency.
“Major firms in the sector… have held meetings to allocate tenders and police each other’s behaviour through a structure referred to as `The Party’,” the commission said in a statement.
News of the bid-rigging comes amidst a sharp sell-off in construction stocks since late last week, sparked by concerns that delayed government infrastructure spending will further hurt the industry.
“It’s almost like a perfect storm. One of the things that tends to be forgotten in good times is that this is a very cyclical sector,” said one construction analyst who declined to be identified.
“And clearly we are in a dark side of the cycle and it is coming quite hard at the moment.”
The South African construction industry, which avoided the worst of the global economic crisis due to big World Cup projects in 2010, is now having difficulty finding new projects, as both the government and the private sector hold back on spending.
Johannesburg’s index of construction and materials .JCONM companies was down 3.8 percent at 13.24 GMT, having earlier hit its lowest since May 2009.
EAC launches trademark East Africa
Written By:Kamau Mbote, Posted: Tue, Feb 01, 2011 / TMEA will seek to unlock the economic potential of the EAC region
The East Africa Community (EAC) has launched the Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) aimed at supporting the regional block towards trade competitiveness and economic integration.
TMEA will seek to unlock the economic potential of the EAC region through reduction of transport and related costs, support the EAC institutions to develop a comprehensive framework for integration through private partnership.
The organization was officially launched Tuesday at a Nairobi hotel by Burundi President, Pierre Nkurunzinza, Kenya’s Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, and Under Secretary of State for International Development (UK), Mr. Stephen O’Brien.
TMEA was established in 2009 as a multi-donor organization with support from the governments of Belgium, Denmark, Sweden and the UK to increase trade competitiveness and economic integration in East Africa.
Speaking at the launch, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunzinza, who is also the current chairperson of the EAC, said that it was encouraging that TMEA will be championing integration and working with the various stakeholders to realize its full potential.
He asked for positive publicity so as the bloc can attract more investment terming articles by the media about smaller economies standing to lose out from the integration as misleading.
Nkurunzinza commended the good work done by TMEA in revenue collection in Burundi by supporting the creation of the Burundi Revenue Authority (BRA) in 2010.
EAC Minister, Prof. Hellen Sambili, said that the EAC is committed to deepening and widening regional integration and urged many partners to work towards the full implementation of thee EAC.
The Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Mr. Soren Pind, said that regional integration is deeper because the five East African countries have similar trade interests and there has been a political will to move forward.
A panel discussion was also held with business, civil society and government representatives from across East Africa. “I commend the various international partners for their support to the EAC,” said the EAC Secretary General, Mr. Juma Mwapachu, who took part in the panel discussion.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of the TMEA, Mr. Frank Matsaert, with commitment from East African heads of state, private sector and civil society institutions, citizens within the community should be hopeful for deeper and wider integration.
The TMEA will work closely with EAC institutions, national governments, business and civil society organizations to increase growth, investments and reduce poverty within the bloc.
African Union backs Kenya call to delay ICC case
1 February 2011 / The African Union has endorsed Kenya’s request to delay the International Criminal Court trial of those accused of organising post-election violence.
Kenya says it wants the six suspects named by the ICC to be tried at home.
It had failed to set up a local tribunal to investigate the 2007-8 clashes but says it will now do so.
As the AU ended its summit, its new chairman, Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, also dismissed criticism of his human rights record.
“My country is democratic and holds elections. In presidential elections the people are free, they choose the candidate they want,” he said.
Human rights groups accuse his government of rigging election, oppressing the opposition and corruption and say he should not have been chosen to lead the AU for the next year.
The AU also extended the mandate of Somalia’s parliament by two years, meaning it can choose a new government when its term expires in August.
The concept of democracy, human rights and good governance are not new to Africa, but they should be adapted to the African culture”
The six Kenyans who the ICC wants to put on trial are mostly very senior politicians – allies of both President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
They include Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, the former police chief and two ministers.
Last year, Kenyan MPs voted to pull out of the ICC after the six were named.
President Kibaki said that having the trial in Kenya “will boost our efforts [for] peace, justice and reconciliation as well as uphold our national dignity and sovereignty; and prevent the resumption of conflict and violence”.
Some 1,200 people died and more than 500,000 fled their homes in the violence following the disputed election in December 2007.
It ended when President Kibaki and his rival Mr Odinga agreed to share power, with Mr Odinga becoming prime minister.
In the peace deal they signed it was agreed perpetrators would face justice in Kenya or at the ICC in The Hague.
The AU also wants the ICC to defer its attempts to prosecute Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir over alleged war crimes committed in Darfur.
Some African leaders have accused the ICC of ignoring war crimes elsewhere in the world and only going after suspects in Africa.
AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping accused journalists of harassing President Obiang at a news conference after the summit.
Mr Obiang seized power in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea from his uncle in a 1979 coup.
In 2008, he was re-elected with 95% of the votes.
He has previously denied charges of corruption and human rights abuses.
In his acceptance speech on Sunday, Mr Obiang said: “The concept of democracy, human rights and good governance are not new to Africa, but they should be adapted to the African culture.”
But Alioune Tine, from the Senegal-based African Assembly for the Defence of Human Rights (Raddho), told the AP news agency:
“Neither the African Union, nor Africans, deserve a leader whose regime is notorious for abuses, corruption and a total disregard for the welfare of its people.”
AU wants al-Bashir off hook
Feb 1, 2011 | By NKULULEKO NCANA
The African Union has called on the UN Security Council to suspend moves to prosecute Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes, citing his role in “sustaining peace” and the peaceful referendum in the strife-torn country.
African Union’s Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra speaks during an interview with Reuters in Algiers December 12, 2010. The African Union does not favour sanctions for now over a disputed presidential election in Ivory coast and will instead stick to quiet diplomacy, the Union’s top security official, Lamamra, said on Sunday.
AU summit out of touch
In its declaration at the assembly of heads of state and government on Sudan, the AU also called on the country’s creditors to forgive its external debt and help it to get back on its feet.
“Africa legitimately looks forward to the complete normalisation of relations between the international community and the Republic of Sudan, to ensure that all the peoples of Sudan can enjoy peace, dignity, democracy and development.
“In this respect, we call upon Sudan’s creditors around the world to expeditiously and comprehensively relieve the country of its external debt, thereby ensuring that Sudan’s special circumstances receive special treatment,” the declaration reads.
The pan-African bloc’s call for the prosecution of al-Bashir to be suspended follows a successful referendum in South Sudan last month.
Nearly 99% of South Sudanese voted to secede from the north in the landmark poll, according to preliminary results released at the weekend.
Dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema chosen as leader of African Union
The president of Equatorial Guinea, who took control of the country from his uncle in 1979 in a bloody coup, has been accused of violating the very rights the AU is sworn to uphold.
‘Neither the African Union nor Africans deserve a leader whose regime is notorious for abuses, corruption and a total disregard for the welfare of its people,’ said Alioune Tine, president of the African Assembly for the Defence of Human Rights. The political crisis in the Ivory Coast dominated the weekend summit in Ethiopia where Mr Obiang was elected.
The despot stands with Uganda and South Africa in supporting incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to hand over power to his election-winning rival.
Leaders also discussed popular unrest sweeping from Tunisia to Egypt and elsewhere. Such protests are unlikely in Equatorial Guinea, where Mr Obiang fuels rumours he is a cannibal with a penchant for skinning enemies alive and eating their organs.
The nation is ranked 168th out of 180 countries in a corruption index compiled by watchdog Transparency International.
Since oil was found 20 years ago Equatorial Guinea has become the richest nation in sub-Saharan Africa yet only a third of the population has running water.
The presidency of the AU rotates between the continent’s five sub-regions annually and is seen as a ceremonial role. Col Muammar Gaddafi of Libya was given the role in 2009, sparking similar criticism.
UN /ONU :
U.S. says has no plans for military changes in N. Africa
LONDON | Feb 1 (Reuters) – The United States has no plans to re-arrange its military forces because of instability in North Africa, the head of U.S. Central Command said on Tuesday.
“The short answer is no. These issues do not call for a military solution right now,” Gen. James Mattis said, asked if the United States had any plans to re-order its forces or ships in the region because of the troubles in North Africa.
He was speaking at an event in London organised by the Policy Exchange thinktank. (Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Peter Griffiths)
MPs: Do the right thing for Africa
If we have the capacity to send life-saving medications to needy nations, why should it be so complicated for generic drug manufacturers to do so?
It’s a pivotal question for our MPs, who earlier this week started third-reading debate on Bill C-393, a private member’s bill aimed at simplifying the process to get lower-cost generic medicines for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis to developing countries. The bill faces further debate in late March.
The bill to reform Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) faces several hurdles including the unanimous consent required for a new sponsor since its original sponsor left federal politics to run in a municipal election. The element with the potential to make the most difference, though, is the one-licence solution which would allow a generic drug maker to apply for a single licence that would allow it to supply eligible countries in need. That one-licence solution was stripped from the bill at committee last fall. The NDP reintroduced the one-licence clause this week.
In a recent meeting with The Spectator’s editorial board, Grandmothers of Steel emphasized the importance of the one-licence solution to turn the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa. This local group is part of the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s initiative to link Canadian grandmothers with African grandmothers, many of whom are left to care for children orphaned by AIDS. It wouldn’t cost Canadians a cent, the local grandmothers say, to make a huge difference in Africa.
But making that difference does require the determination of MPs of all political stripes. It’s true that private member’s bills are rarely passed. Bill C-393 is the perfect example of one that should be embraced by all MPs on moral grounds alone.
Partisanship must take a distant back seat on this issue. All our MPs, no matter what their politics, must simply do the right thing.
China Takes Lead in Race for Clean Nuclear Power
By Richard Martin February 1, 2011 | China has officially announced that it will launch a program to develop a thorium-fueled molten-salt nuclear reactor, taking a crucial step towards shifting to nuclear power as a primary energy source.
The project was unveiled at the annual Chinese Academy of Sciences conference in Shanghai last week, and reported in the Wen Hui Bao newspaper (Google English translation here).
Should the reactor work as planned, China may fulfill a long-delayed dream of clean nuclear energy. The United States could conceivably become dependent on China for next-generation nuclear technology. At the least, the U.S. could fall dramatically behind in developing green energy.
“President Obama talked about a ‘Sputnik’-type call to action in his SOTU address,” wrote Charles Barton, creator of the Nuclear Green Revolution blog, on the Energy From Thorium discussion forum. “I think this qualifies.”
While nearly all current nuclear reactors run on uranium, the radioactive element thorium is recognized as a safer, cleaner and more abundant alternative fuel. Thorium is particularly well-suited for use in molten-salt reactors, or MSRs. Nuclear reactions take place inside a fluid core than solid fuel rods, and there’s no risk of meltdown.
In addition to their safety, MSRs can consume various nuclear fuel types, including existing stocks of nuclear waste. Their byproducts are unsuitable for making weapons of any type. They can also operate as breeders, producing more fuel than they consume.
In the 1960s and 70s, the U.S. carried out extensive research on thorium and MSRs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. That work was abandoned, partly because uranium reactors generated bomb-grade plutonium as a byproduct. Today, with nuclear weapons less in demand and cheap oil’s twilight approaching, several countries — including India, France and Norway — are pursuing thorium-based nuclear fuel cycles. (The grassroots movement to promote an American thorium power supply was covered in this Dec. 2009 Wired feature.)
China’s new program is the largest national thorium MSR initiative to date. The People’s Republic had already announced plans to build dozens of new nuclear reactors over the next 20 years, increasing its nuclear power supply 20-fold and weaning itself off coal, of which it’s now one of the world’s largest consumers. Designing a thorium-based molten salt reactor could place China at the forefront of the race to build environmentally safe, cost-effective and politically palatable reactors.
“We need a better stove that can burn more fuel,” Xu Hongjie, a lead researcher at the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics, told Wen Hui Bao.
China’s program is headed by Jiang Mianheng, son of the former Chinese president Jiang Zemin. A vice president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the younger Jiang holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Drexel University. A Chinese delegation headed by Jiang revealed their thorium plans to Oak Ridge scientists during a visit to the national lab last fall.
The official announcement comes as the Obama Administration has committed itself to funding R&D for next-generation nuclear technology. The President specifically mentioned Oak Ridge National Laboratory in his State of the Union Address on Jan. 25, but no government-funded program currently exists to develop thorium as an alternative nuclear fuel.
A Chinese thorium-based nuclear power supply is seen by many nuclear advocates and analysts as a threat to U.S. economic competitiveness. During a presentation at Oak Ridge on Jan. 31, Jim Kennedy, CEO of St. Louis based Wings Enterprises — which is trying to win approval to start a mine for rare earths and thorium at Pea Ridge, Missouri — portrayed the Chinese thorium development as potentially crippling.
“If we miss the boat on this, how can we possibly compete in the world economy?” Kennedy asked. “What else do we have left to export?”
According to thorium advocates, the U.S. could find itself in 20 years importing technology originally developed nearly four decades ago at one of America’s premier national R&D facilities. The alarmist version of China’s next-gen nuclear strategy come down to this: If you like foreign oil dependency, you’re going to love foreign nuclear dependency.
“When I heard this, I thought, ‘Oboy, now it’s happened,’” said Kirk Sorensen, chief nuclear technologist at Teledyne Brown Engineering and the creator of the Energy From Thorium blog. “Maybe this will get some people’s attention in Washington.”
While the international “Generation IV” nuclear R&D initiative includes a working group on thorium MSRs, China has made clear its intention to go it alone. The Chinese Academy of Sciences announcement explicitly states that the PRC plans to develop and control intellectual property around thorium for its own benefit.
“This will enable China to firmly grasp the lifeline of energy in its own hands,” stated the Wen Hui Bao report.
Cummins 4Q Profit Up 34% On Sales To China, India >CMI
[http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20110201-707536.html] FEBRUARY 1, 2011- Cummins Inc.’s (CMI) fourth-quarter profit climbed a better-than-expected 34% as strong sales in China, India and Brazil offset weak demand in the engine-maker’s North American market.
For the new year, the company projected sales of $16 billion. Wall Street was looking for $15.9 billion.
The maker of truck engines and power generation systems continues to expect growth, with plans to add about 2,500 U.S. jobs this year after adding only 185 in 2010. It also announced plans in December to open a manufacturing site in Turkey that would serve emerging Asian markets as well as Europe.
Cummins reported a profit of $362 million, or $1.84 a share, up from $270 million, or $1.36 a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 22% to $4.14 billion.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected a profit of $1.72 on revenue of $3.92 billion.
Gross margin edged up to 23.77% from 22.74%.
The revenue gain was led by sales of industrial engines used in construction and mining equipment on particularly strong demand in China, India and Brazil. The company also forecast a rebound this year in North American sales, however.
Shares of Cummins closed at $105.88 Monday and were inactive premarket. The stock was one of the top performers on the S&P 500 in 2010, more than doubling as investors cheered its exposure in emerging markets such as Latin America, China and India.
-By Drew FitzGerald and Lee Roberts, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2909; Andrew.FitzGerald@dowjones.com
Brazil’s Sonae Sierra raises $288 mln in IPO
By Elzio Barreto / SAO PAULO, Feb 1 (Reuters) – Shopping mall operator Sonae Sierra Brasil raised 478.3 million reais (US$288 million) in an initial public offering on Tuesday, the second Brazilian company in two days to go public as a busy IPO period gets under way.
The company sold 23.9 million new voting shares SSBR3.SA in a primary offering at a price of 20 reais each, below a proposed range of 21.5 to 26.5 reais.
Sonae Sierra had filed to sell 21.7 million new voting shares, but underwriters had the option to sell an additional 7.6 million shares to meet demand.
The shares are due to begin trading on the Sao Paulo stock exchange on Feb. 3.
Like shoe retailer Arezzo ARZZ3.SA, which priced an IPO at the top of estimates on Monday, Sonae Sierra Brasil is looking to capitalize on an economic boom that has pushed unemployment to record lows and lifted salaries around the country.
With more money in their wallets and rising bank credit, the bulging Brazilian middle class has gone on a spending spree, buying more clothes, appliances and consumer goods.
Arezzo and Sonae Sierra Brasil are tapping the market as investors’ appetite for riskier emerging market securities gains steam, after a mixed year in 2010 in Brazil. The country should have one to two IPOs a week on average through April, the chief executive of exchange operator BM&FBovespa (BVMF3.SA) said on Monday. [ID:nN31226089]
Another 14 companies have filed to sell stock in Brazil in 2011, including seven through IPOs. Auto parts maker Autometal AUTM3.SA is also going public this week, pricing its offering on Thursday.
Sonae Sierra is controlled by Portuguese conglomerate Sonae SGPS (YSO.LS), U.S.-based Developers Diversified Realty Corp (DDR.N) and Brazilian group Enplanta Shopping Participacoes Ltda.
The company plans to use 53.5 percent of the IPO proceeds on new mall developments.
Sonae Sierra Brasil said 12.4 percent would be used on expansion and revamping existing malls, and 18.5 percent would be used to buy land for developments and for stakes in malls.
It also plans to allocate 15.7 percent of the IPO funds to pay a 31.6 million euro ($42 million) loan with its parent holding company Sierra Brazil 1 BV, which is owned by DDR, Portugal’s Sonae and Enplanta.
Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) led the offering, with Itau BBA, the wholesale and investment banking unit of Itau Unibanco (ITUB4.SA) and JPMorgan (JPM.N) helping to underwrite the sale.
The banks stood to earn about 24 million reais in fees from the Sonae Sierra stock sale, or 5 percent of the total offering, according to the prospectus. ($1=1.66 reais) (Reporting by Elzio Barreto)
EN BREF, CE 1 février 2011… AGNEWS /DAM, NY, 1/02/2011