BURUNDI – AFRICA / INTERNATIONAL : 28 JANVIER 2010 [UK to oppose proposed sale of ivory from Tanzania, Zambia]

{jcomments on}OMAR, AGNEWS, BXL, le 28 janvier 2010 – postzambia- January 28, 2010–BRITAIN will vote against the proposed sale of stockpiled ivory from Tanzania and Zambia, which conservationists fear would lead to further slaughter of African elephants, the Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said last night.


Rwanda: China Pledges More Business to Country
James Karuhanga/allafrica.com/The New Times/28 January 2010

Kigali — The Chinese government has given a grant of approximately $4.4 million to Rwanda and even pledged to encourage more Chinese businesses and businessmen to invest in the country.

This was announced on Monday during the signing of the agreement on economic and technical cooperation between the two governments at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINAFFET).

According to the pact, the grant will finance projects yet to be agreed upon by the two governments.

Zhai Jun, the Chinese vice Foreign Minister in charge of African Affairs who arrived Monday for a three-day visit signed the pact with Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Louise Mushikiwabo.

“The agreement we have just signed is attached to the Chinese saying that it is better to teach someone how to fish than to give one fish and, China will continue to provide help within the realm of our capabilities in Rwanda’s economic and social development,” Jun said.

“Moreover, we will encourage more Chinese businesses and businessmen to invest and seek business opportunities and set up factories in Rwanda to take part in the economic development in your country,” he added.

Currently Chinese technical support to Rwanda focuses on trade, tourism and the agricultural and infrastructural sectors.

Various cooperation projects have been accomplished including support to rice growers in Eastern Province, bamboo and mushroom cultivation and agricultural research center at the ISAR institute.

In the trade and tourism sector, the Chinese government previously granted Rwanda zero-tariff treatment known as “Special Preferential Tariff Treatment” for over 440 number of export items many of which are primary raw materials.

Availed documents also show that Rwanda was also recently granted the “Approved Destination Status” which gives a green light and encouragement to Chinese people to visit Rwanda as tourists.

The Chinese diplomat further stressed that, “China will also increase the number of scholarships and the participants of personnel training projects for Rwanda.”

In addition, the visiting Chinese vice Foreign Minister noted that China would contribute to Rwanda’s economic progress “within the framework of the new aid point measure of” the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

Rwanda and China have signed several bilateral cooperation pacts in the past and are working to strengthen their bilateral relations.

During a two-day bilateral summit held in Beijing late last year, China gave Rwanda interest-free loans amounting to $37 million, most of which were meant to fund the Kigali road network rehabilitation project.

Rwanda: IBUKA Wants Role in Genocide Survivors’ Census
Edwin Musoni/allafrica.com/The New Times/28 January 2010

Kigali — Following parliamentary instructions to government to come up with an official figure of survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, IBUKA, has expressed willingness to carry out the census.

During a recent retreat, lawmakers expressed concern over lack of specific figures of survivors and ordered government to come up with the exact figures in a period not more than six months.

“IBUKA is interested in conducting the census since we can easily trace survivors wherever they are,” Theodore Simburudari president of IBUKA said.

“It requires a lot of money which survivors don’t have; in this context, we would request the government to avail us with the funds to carry out the census,” said Simburudari.

This is not the first time the issue of statistics is coming up. Two years ago, IBUKA had sent a proposal to the Ministry of Local government seeking to conduct the census.

“We had proposed to spend about Rwf400m on the survey, but the ministry rejected it saying that it was a lot of money; the tender was later given to the Rwanda National Institute of Statistics which spent over Rwf600m.

The results were highly contested and proved to be false and have never been referred to ever since.”

Statistics from Survivors Fund Rwanda (SURF) indicates that there are between 300,000 to 400,000 survivors of the Genocide and that between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped during the 100 days of Genocide.

Up to 20,000 children were born to women as a result of rape.

SURF also indicates on its website that more than 67 percent of women who were raped in the Genocide were infected with HIV/ AIDS and that there are almost 50,000 widows of the genocide.

It also indicates that 7 in 10 survivors earn a monthly income of less than Rwf 5000.

Rwanda: Mugambage Presents Credentials
Eric Kabeera/allafrica.com/The New Times/28 January 2010

Kigali — Rwanda’s new High Commissioner to Uganda, Frank Mugambage, presented his credentials to President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday.

During the ceremony, the President praised the prevailing relations between the two countries and assured him of his government’s commitment to enhance further the cooperation.

Mugambage on his part, conveyed warm greetings to the President, government and all Ugandans from President Paul Kagame and his government.

Ambassador Mugambage noted that there is a strong bond between Rwanda and Uganda.

He thanked Uganda for the support they gave Rwanda in the run up to joining the Commonwealth.

President Museveni pledged to support the new envoy.



Tullow Oil Favors Cnooc As Partner For Uganda Oil Fields
JANUARY 28, 2010/ online.wsj.com

KAMPALA, Uganda (Dow Jones)-UK-based Tullow Oil PLC (TLW.LN) favors China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CEO) to partner it in developing Uganda’s downstream oil industry as the country seeks to start oil production, people familiar with the situation said Thursday.

Company sources said Tullow has now given the government two options of potential partners in Cnooc and Total SA (TOT), however, both company and government officials favor Cnooc, which is poised to invest $5 billion in Uganda to build a refinery and an export oil pipeline to the East African coast.

Cnooc executives are expected to meet President Yoweri Museveni in the coming week to finalize details of their proposed entry in the country’s oil sector, according to people familiar with the situation.

Paul McDade, Tullow’s chief operations officer, was quoted by Ugandan local media Thursday as saying the company looks forward to working with Cnooc.

“The Chinese are best in building refineries and they move fast. Cnooc has just built a big refinery in China which can refine the same quality of oil as in Uganda. They built it in a period of two years.”

Tullow Oil Uganda Ltd. declined to comment.

Government officials said the development proposals of Tullow Oil and Cnooc are being studied, together with the proposal of Italy-based Eni Spa (E), as the government seeks to get the best company to exploit its oil reserves. A final decision on the matter is expected next week.


UK to oppose proposed sale of ivory from Tanzania, Zambia
By Michael McCarthy in London/ www.postzambia.com/Thu 28 Jan. 2010

BRITAIN will vote against the proposed sale of stockpiled ivory from Tanzania and Zambia, which conservationists fear would lead to further slaughter of African elephants, the Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said last night.

After a day in which opposition spokesmen called for an explicit statement on Britain’s position, Benn made it unequivocally clear that the UK would oppose the proposed sale, which will be voted on at the next meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Qatar in March.

Should it go ahead, the Tanzania-Zambia sale will be the third such “one-off” ivory auction to have taken place since the international ban on the trade was brought in 20 years ago this month to halt the catastrophic plunge in African elephant populations at the hands of ivory poachers.

Although the ban was at first successful in halting the decline, the two sales of ivory from four southern African countries – the first in 1997, the second in 2008 – are considered by conservationists to have considerably weakened the ban by reviving a legal ivory market into which illegal, poached tusks can be laundered.

The second sale of ivory, from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, is believed to have triggered a considerable revival of the illegal trade with a consequent upsurge in poaching over the past year. In several West African countries, such as Senegal, elephant populations are on the verge of extinction.

To the dismay of conservationists, Britain did not oppose the two “one-off” ivory sales, and environmental campaigners feared that Britain would go along with the third.

But Benn took a clear stance against the sale, saying: “At the CITES meeting in March, the UK will vote against the proposals from Tanzania and Zambia to sell ivory stocks, and we would urge other countries to vote against such a sale.”

However, he appeared to leave the door open for possible future auctions when he added: “In 2008, the members of the CITES agreed to a single, one-off sale of legal, stockpiled ivory from countries with stable elephant populations. The sale was intended to reduce demand for illegal poached ivory.

“The UK will not consider other sales of ivory until the effects of last-year’s sale have been fully analysed.” Environmental campaigners fear this means Britain will not oppose a second request at the meeting from Tanzania and Zambia that their elephant stocks be “downlisted” from the CITES’s Appendix One to Appendix Two, meaning that eventually some trade in elephant products such as ivory can be resumed.

Both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats called on ministers to clarify the government’s opposition to the proposed sale, which is also opposed by a number of African countries, led by Kenya and Mali, who have sent representatives to Brussels this week to lobby the European Union to oppose it.

At a press conference in the Belgian capital this week, the Kenyan minister for forestry and wildlife, Dr Noah Wekesa, said: “As elephant poaching reaches heights not seen for decades and the volume of illegal ivory seized soars, the African Elephant Coalition, representing the majority of African elephant range states, is appealing to the European Union to take urgent and immediate action to prevent the further slaughter of elephants across much of Africa.”

IFC Invests in Helio to Support Future Jobs in Tanzania’s Mining Industry
01/28/10 / by Benzinga Staff

WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA–(Marketwire – Jan. 27, 2010) – IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today agreed to invest 6.2 million Canadian dollars in Helio Resources Corporation to support a gold exploration project that is expected to provide jobs and government revenues to Tanzania once the mine is developed.

IFC’s investment will be used by Helio, a Canadian-based mining company focused on gold exploration, for the advancement of the Saza Makongolosi Gold project in southwest Tanzania and for general corporate working capital. IFC also will work with the company to ensure that exploration and any subsequent mine development is carried out in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner.

“Helio is very pleased to welcome IFC as a major shareholder and partner on the Saza Makongolosi Gold project in Tanzania,” said Richard Williams, Helio’s CEO and Director. “We look forward to working with IFC to ensure that the progress at SMP follows globally recognized best practices for the mineral exploration industry, the environment, and for working with local communities.”

During the past 10 years, Tanzania’s mining industry has experienced a boom in both mineral exploration and mining activities, making the mining industry the second fastest-growing sector in the country after tourism. The investment is part of IFC’s strategy to help enhance development of Tanzania’s mining industry.

“Helio shares IFC’s commitment to responsible mining exploration and engagement with local communities,” said William Bulmer, IFC Global Head for mining. “This project has the potential to set new environmental and social standards for mining in Tanzania, increase employment opportunities in the project area, and provide government revenues.”

IFC and Helio will evaluate the mining company’s potential participation in an IFC linkages program in Tanzania that seeks to integrate local suppliers more fully into mining operations in the region.

Legal Disclosure about IFC’s Investment

The investment of 6.2 million Canadian dollars in Helio will result in IFC acquiring 11,500,000 units issued by Helio. The units comprise an aggregate of 11,500,000 common shares and 5,570,000 warrants, each of the warrants entitling the holder to purchase one common share of Helio at an exercise price of 0.81 Canadian dollars per common share for a period of three years from the closing date. The issue price per unit is $0.54 Canadian dollars.

As a result of this Financing, the Company will have 77,830,599 shares issued and outstanding. IFC is the sole placee in this Financing and, as a result, will own upon the closing thereof 11,500,000 common shares (representing 14.8% of the issued and outstanding share capital of the Company and up to 20.6% on a partially diluted basis, assuming the exercise of all of IFC’s warrants granted under the Financing).

The transaction is expected to close by the end of January 2010.

IFC is expected to enter into an undertaking with the TSX Venture Exchange which would restrict its ability to exercise the Warrants if doing so would result in IFC owning or controlling 20% or more of the outstanding voting securities of Helio immediately after giving effect to such exercise. This undertaking will terminate immediately after Helio issues any additional voting securities which would result in IFC owning or controlling on a partially diluted basis less than 20% of the total outstanding voting securities of Helio at that time.

IFC is acquiring the units for investment purposes as described above. IFC may, in the future, take such actions in respect of its holdings as IFC deems appropriate in light of the circumstances then existing.

o obtain a copy of the report filed with the Canadian securities regulatory authorities in respect of which this news release relates, please contact Hannfried von Hindenburg at the phone number or email address referred to above. IFC’s headquarters are located at 2121 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20433, U.S.A.

About IFC

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments totaled $14.5 billion in fiscal 2009, helping channel capital into developing countries during the financial crisis.





Study lends a hand to barefoot runners
Tom Beal Arizona Daily Star / www.azstarnet.com/ Thursday, January 28, 2010

Barefoot runners are faster and less prone to injury than the well-shod, according to Daniel Lieberman, above, a Harvard professor of human evolutionary biology. .
..Take your shoes off. Run a spell.

That’s the advice from a multinational study on running that’s the cover story in the February edition of the scientific journal Nature.

Barefoot runners, who tend to land midfoot or on the balls of their feet, put much less stress on their bodies than do the well-shod, whose athletic shoes encourage 75 percent of them to be “heel-landers,” say researchers at Harvard, Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the University of Delaware and Moi University in Kenya.

Barefoot runners also are faster and less prone to injury, according to Daniel Lieberman, a Harvard professor of human evolutionary biology and a co-author of the study on runners in the United States and Kenya.

Lieberman, and others interviewed for this story, stress that any conversion to barefoot running or the gait known as “forefoot striking” should be done gradually. The joints and muscles that will support your new gait aren’t ready for a marathon.

“The big fear many of us have is what happens when you translate the science into the popular press – that people are just going to take off their shoes and run barefoot for six miles,” said David Raichlen, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona, who was not part of the study but was familiar with the report and Lieberman’s research.

“Start slowly,” Raichlen said. “The muscles and ligaments in your feet are not as strong as they need to be.”

Barefoot running already is a big fad, said Tucson runner, coach and race organizer Randy Accetta, and not one he recommends. Accetta enjoys running barefoot, but only on grass for short periods of time. For longer runs, he always straps on running shoes.

He doesn’t disagree with the study’s premise that heel-striking causes the intense jolts that lead to foot problems, but said most runners can avoid that by simply shortening their strides.

He also worries about the surfaces he runs on. “I don’t think you are going to get me to go on a barefoot run up Sabino Canyon on the Phoneline Trail.”

Local runner Craig Dabler said his recent experiment in barefoot running produced immediate relief from back and foot pain. He had read in the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall that over-engineered running shoes were the cause of many physiological problems.

Dabler, a local jeweler, said he started slowly, taking his shoes off at the end of a regular run to walk on pavement and rough up his soles. “I think the neighbors were ready to commit me.”

He began running barefoot on sidewalks. “I never felt better running than when I was barefoot,” he said.

Then he broke his foot.

Dabler was barefoot when he dismantled his daughter’s bunk bed early this month. He dropped a 4-by-4 piece of lumber on his foot.

He was running a few days later when the fracture occurred. He’s convinced it was the board, not the running, that did it.

Tucsonan Jay Ferrell said he began running barefoot to see if it would help joint pain, particularly in his knee.

It did, he said. It was awkward at first, but he came to like it. “I was actually feeling what was happening with my foot. I met muscles I didn’t know existed.”

He began to feel he was simply “skimming the surface of the ground.” He ran up to 10 miles at a time on dirt trails in Sabino Canyon and Saguaro National Park.

He stopped only because “life intruded” and he began running less. If you don’t keep it up, your shoe-pampered feet lose their toughness.

Lucas Tyler, manager at The Running Shop, said he’s always sold a lot of lighter, thinner racing shoes. But the trend toward minimal shoes, such as the Vibram Fivefingers product he sells, accelerated last year with publication of “Born to Run.”

The book chronicles the distance runners of the Tarahumara tribe in northern Mexico, who wear rudimentary sandals fashioned from tires. It includes discussions of Lieberman’s earlier studies on running.

For scientists such as Lieberman and Raichlen, barefoot running is part of greater research into the evolution of mankind.

They theorize that our running physiology was developed to give us the endurance needed to outlast speedier prey. We were, indeed, born to run.

“In the evolution of locomotion, endurance running began about 1.8 million years ago. There were no shoes,” Raichlen said. “We evolved to run barefoot.”

E-mail Q&A with Daniel Lieberman

Are you a runner?

Yes, I love to run and have run regularly since I was a teenager. I’m not a very good runner in terms of speed, but I do about 20 to 30 miles a week and have run two marathons so far.

Have you run barefoot?

After studying runners in Kenya, I just had to try going totally barefoot. I was finishing a long run and found myself taking my shoes off about a half mile before I got home. Even though I knew all about how it worked, I was amazed at how fun, comfortable and good it felt. Since then I started running more and more barefoot. And then winter hit. Humans evolved to run barefoot, but not in New England winters!

What’s wrong with landing on your heels?

First, when you land on your heel, the foot and lower leg come to a sudden stop as the rest of the body continues to fall. But when you land toward the front of the foot, only the foot stops, and the rest of the leg continues to rotate. In addition, forefoot strikers have much more springy legs, which spreads the impulse out over a longer period of time. It’s like jumping off a chair and landing on your heel with a straight leg or landing on the ball of your foot with a springy leg.

What’s faster?

The world’s fastest runners all forefoot strike. And many of the world’s very best marathoners don’t heel strike.

What’s wrong with the way most people run?

Heel striking generates a big, rapid collision force about 1.5 to three times your body weight. It’s like someone hitting you hard on the heel with a hammer with 250-500 pounds of force with every step.

What about stubbed toes?

I’ve run hundreds of miles barefoot, and have yet to land on my toes. One lands on the ball of the foot.

I live in Tucson, Arizona. Is there a special caution for very hot places with cacti?

Ouch! Our article is NOT advocating that we go barefoot. Simple footwear such as sandals and moccasins have been around for thousands and thousands of years. And for good reason, especially in places with cactus spines.

Vibram USA, which makes minimalist running shoes, is listed as a sponsor of your research. What is the extent of its support?

Vibram USA paid for a research assistant and gave free shoes to some of our volunteers, but they have no special rights or access to any of the data, no input into our experiments, and no control over how and what we publish. Further, they have not paid me a penny, and I don’t own any stock or profit in any way from this research.

Tom Beal




news.brunei.fm/By NAM NEWS NETWORK/ Jan 28th, 2010

LUANDA, Jan 28 (NNN-ANGOP) — Indian Oil Minister Murli Deora arrived here Tuesday evening for a 24-hour work visit to Angola to strengthen co-operation between the two countries.

Speaking to the press after his arrival at Luanda?s 4 de Fevereiro International Airport, he added that his visit was also aimed at reinforcing and consolidating the ties between the Angolan state-owned oil company (Sonangol) and the India’s national oil corporation.

He considered as enough reasons to establish a successful relations the fact that India imports 70 per cent of crude oil by-products which it consumes and Angola is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

The minister, who was accompanied by a 10-member delegation, was received Wednesday by his Angolan counterpart, Botelho de Vasconcelos. He also visit the Sonangol depot in Luanda.

Luanda was the second stop of the Indian minister?s African tour which started in Lagos (Nigeria) and will end in Kampala (Uganda). — NNN-ANGOP


Absa, Aquarius, Richemont, Sappi: South African Equity Preview
By Janice Kew and Garth Theunissen/Bloomberg/Jan. 28

Jan. 28 (Bloomberg) — The following is a list of companies whose shares may have unusual price changes in South Africa. Stock symbols are in parentheses after company names and prices are from the last close.

South Africa’s FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index rose 150.08, or 0.6 percent, to 26,802.13 at the close in Johannesburg, paring the previous day’s 1.6 percent drop.

Anglo American Plc (AGL SJ): Copper fell for a third day, losing as much as 2.6 percent to $7,040 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange. Shares of Anglo, the diversified mining company that makes up almost 11 percent of South Africa’s benchmark stock index, fell 2.51 rand, or 0.8 percent, to 295.50 rand. Shares in larger rival BHP Billiton Plc (BIL SJ) gained 1.56 rand, or 0.7 percent, to 233 rand.

Absa Group Ltd. (ASA SJ): Statistics South Africa releases producer-price inflation data for December. Shares in Absa, South Africa’s largest retail bank, rose 95 cents, or 0.7 percent, to 131.95 rand. Standard Bank Group Ltd. (SBK SJ), Africa’s biggest lender, added 50 cents, or 0.5 percent, to 105.50 rand.

Aquarius Platinum Ltd. (AQP SJ): The platinum and palladium producer releases an update of its output in the first fiscal quarter and hosts its annual general meeting of shareholders. Aquarius was unchanged at 46.72 rand.

Cie Financiere Richemont SA (CFR SJ): The world’s largest jewelry maker was raised to “overweight” from “equal weight” at Barclays Plc. Richemont, as the company is known, climbed 55 cents, or 2.2 percent, to 25.81 rand.

Phumelela Gaming & Leisure Ltd. (PHM SJ): The organizer of horse races and betting said Chief Executive Officer David Attenborough will leave the company in April to take up a position with Tabcorp Holdings Ltd. in Australia. Phumelela fell 2 cents, or 0.2 percent, to 11.13 rand.

Sappi Ltd. (SAP SJ): The world’s largest producer of glossy magazine paper reports fiscal first-quarter earnings. The stock rose 9 cents, or 0.3 percent, to 30.99 rand.

Sasol Ltd. (SOL SJ): Oil snapped a two-day decline, rising 0.4 percent to $73.98 a barrel in electronic trading in New York. Stock of Sasol, the world’s biggest maker of motor fuel from coal, climbed 7.38 rand, or 2.6 percent, to 288.38 rand.

Shares or American depositary receipts of the following South African companies closed as follows:

Anglo American Plc (AAUKY US) lost 1.2 percent to $19.35. AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (AU US) slid 1.3 percent to $37.53. BHP Billiton Ltd. (BBL US) rose 0.3 percent to $61.39. DRDGold Ltd. (DROOY US) fell 1.9 percent to $6.31. Gold Fields Ltd. (GFI US) fell 1 percent to $12.13. Harmony Gold Mining Co. (HMY US) declined 0.7 percent to $9.69. Impala Platinum Holdings Co. (IMPUY US) added 0.2 percent to $27.14. Sappi Ltd. (SPP US) climbed 1.2 percent to $4.11. Sasol Ltd. (SSL US) rose 1 percent to $37.62. Telkom South Africa Ltd. (TLKGY US) slid 0.9 percent to $17.35.

Gold Fields Says South African Mine Law Should Be ‘Sustainable’
January 28, 2010/Bloomberg/By Ron Derby

Jan. 28 (Bloomberg) — Gold Fields Ltd., Africa’s second- biggest producer of the metal, said any changes to South African mining law to encourage black investor participation should be “sustainable” to avoid damaging the country’s industry.

“I hope that sanity prevails,” Nick Holland, chief executive officer, said in an interview in Johannesburg yesterday at the company’s headquarters. “Don’t kill the goose that laid the golden egg.”

The government, mining companies and labor unions will review South African legislation at a meeting in March. Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu said in November the industry had missed targets to increase black investment.

Shares of companies that mine in South Africa plunged in 2002 when laws compelling them to sell assets to black owners were first reported. The ruling African National Congress party passed legislation in 2004 forcing miners to sell 15 percent of their assets to black investors by 2009 and 26 percent by 2014. The measures are aimed at compensating for discrimination against blacks during apartheid, which ended in 1994.

“Are we in for an unpleasant surprise that’s going to cause another wave of investor fatigue and investor retreat?” Holland said. “That’s the risk.”

Jeremy Michaels, a spokesman for the Department of Mineral Resources, declined to comment.

“The real concern in the industry is whether the goalposts are going to be moved,” Peter Leon, chairman of the Mining Law Committee of the International Bar Association, said in a telephone interview from Cape Town. “It’s up to government to allay those concerns as best they can.”

Platinum, Ferrochrome

South Africa produces almost four-fifths of the world’s platinum, is the largest maker of ferrochrome and third-biggest gold miner. Johannesburg-based AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. is Africa’s biggest gold producer.

If new measures are introduced following the March meeting, the government has to be “realistic and reasonable” on how long it will take to implement them, Holland said. Measures put in place over a “short period” would be a “recipe for disaster,” he said.

–Editors: Simon Casey, Kevin Orland


Africa a Challenge for Obama in 2010
January 28, 2010/ us.oneworld.net

.WASHINGTON, Jan 27 (OneWorld.net) – Barack Obama is “missing a historic opportunity” to improve lives across the continent of Africa, says a new report from a pair of Africa policy think tanks, urging the U.S. president to create a new, “people-centered” strategy to tackle major ongoing challenges including HIV/AIDS, poverty, human rights violations, and climate change.

“In 2009, we formally bade farewell to President Bush, and shared President Obama’s vision of hope and change for U.S. foreign policy,” said Gerald LeMelle, executive director of Africa Action. “His bold commitments to human rights during his campaign commanded the attention of people all around the word.”

But over the past year, the Obama administration has failed to increase funding for HIV/AIDS programs, bolstered the much maligned International Monetary Fund (IMF), and tripled the budget for the U.S. Military Command in Africa (AFRICOM) — all actions that will further entrench poverty on the continent rather than improving the lives of African people, states the report.

The Africa Policy Outlook is an annual report released by Africa Action and Foreign Policy In Focus. Each year, the publication highlights key issues and developments for U.S. policy towards Africa. This year, it calls on the Obama administration to prove its commitment to long-term development in Africa with policies that emphasize “respect for human rights, the environment, peace, and justice.”

HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Africa

Over two-thirds of all people living with HIV are in Africa, and in 2008 the region accounted for 72 percent of the world’s AIDS-related deaths. International funding has decreased rates of the disease in many African nations, but this progress is being threatened as the global economic crisis forces countries to tighten their budgets.

The report warns that the United States may scale back foreign assistance programs in light of the nation’s financial crisis and the escalating costs of the war in Afghanistan. Numbers for the 2011 budget are set to be released on Monday, and health groups worry that the Obama administration will backtrack on its commitment to fight the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.

During the election, Obama pledged to spend over $1 billion a year on global efforts to fight AIDS. But Obama has not fulfilled these campaign promises, insisted activists last July. The 2010 budget proposal “essentially flat-lines support for global health,” said Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance.

The 2011 budget may also be found lacking. Earlier this week Obama announced a plan to cut the budget deficit that includes a three-year freeze in spending on many domestic programs. Officials say the freeze does not apply to foreign aid, but with these tightened figures, there may be no room for an increase in AIDS funding as the president had promised.

AFRICOM: Militarization of U.S. Foreign Policy

While the U.S. government chose not to increase funding for HIV/AIDS last year, it tripled the budget of AFRICOM, the U.S. Military Command in Africa established in 2007 under former president George W. Bush. Africa policy experts point to this shift as a clear indication of the militarization of U.S. foreign policy in Africa.

AFRICOM is supposedly designed to give humanitarian support to African people. But in reality, says the report, “Africa has never been the intended beneficiary of AFRICOM,” noting that U.S. military efforts on the continent seem to be linked most closely to oil and other economic interests.

For example, multinational oil companies have long been profiting from oil reserves in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria at the expense of local communities. None of the wealth and practically all of the costs have been transferred to residents of the Niger Delta, an extremely underdeveloped and poor area. Frustrated community members eventually took up arms, staging attacks on oil facilities to demand a share of the region’s oil wealth.

“Since Nigeria is the fifth-largest crude oil exporter to the United States, Washington is very concerned and is looking to support Nigerian military efforts to crush the dissidents,” notes the report.

Nigerian military forces reportedly terrorized civilians in the Niger Delta for over a week last May. The operation was supposed to target militants but resulted in the burning of entire villages and many innocent deaths, charged rights groups calling for an intervention.

The situation in the Niger Delta and similar instances in other African countries help to illuminate the U.S. command’s priorities, says the Africa Policy Outlook report. “When it comes to the extractive industry in Africa, which thrives in corrupt and dictatorial environments, the United States and AFRICOM have helped to maintain the status quo,” concluded the report, citing questionable transfers and uses of military power in Gabon, Mali, and Somalia as well as Nigeria.

Poverty Poses the Biggest Challenge

Rather than focusing on military might, the Obama administration should fight poverty, which is the leading threat to U.S. national security in the region, say Africa Action and Foreign Policy in Focus.

In Africa, 87 percent of the population still lives on just $2 a day.

“Where there is endemic poverty, corruption, lack of transparency, and the absence of rule of law and political checks and balances, the conditions are ripe for states to fail,” explains the report. And climate change and a worsening global food crisis are only expected to magnify the continent’s poverty. [For more information on causes, effects, and responses to global poverty, visit OneWorld UK’s Poverty Guide.]

Those who will suffer the most from destructive climate change will be the world’s poor, who are also the least able to adjust to its effects. Changing weather patterns decimated crops in several of the world’s poorest countries last year, leaving millions in need of food aid and humanitarian workers warning about the dangerous effects of climate change.

But Africa’s $200 billion debt continues to be the biggest obstacle to the continent’s development, says the report. In order to make debt payments, African nations have to divert much-needed funds away from social programs such as HIV/AIDS prevention, education, and health initiatives.

Earlier this month, however, leaders in the U.S. Congress proposed a bill to expand debt relief for up to 22 additional impoverished countries and reform IMF and World Bank policies that punish indebted nations. The introduction of the Jubilee Act was hailed by development groups as progress in the fight against global poverty and unfair lending practices to poor nations.

The U.S. government will also likely unveil a revised foreign aid act this year. Any new aid initiatives should focus on long-term poverty reduction targets improving the lives of poor people in concrete ways, insists the report, suggesting that U.S. policies have succeeded in providing disaster relief but largely failed in making lasting improvements. More of the money spent on foreign assistance programs must actually get to communities in Africa, the groups noted.

“The U.S. should leverage its enormous economic and political power to lead the international community in a global flight to eliminate poverty, disease, and conflict,” added Africa Action’s Michael Stulman.
This article was compiled by Brittany Schell.

Africa-China partnership yields concrete, profitable outcomes, says AU

Africa-China partnership yields concrete, profitable outcomes, says AU

APA-Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has yielded concrete and profitable results to Africa in many areas, even though the continent has not used up its potential in market opportunities and niche markets, a report of the African Union Commission, copied to APA, disclosed here Wednesday.

According to this document released on the sidelines of the 19th session of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) continuing its work in the Ethiopian capital, the FOCAC is a “strong partnership” of which the maturation period was long.

This partnership is doing very well and can clearly benefit both parties, notes the document to be submitted for consideration to the Executive Board (foreign affairs ministers) which is slated to meet on Thursday in Addis Ababa.

The commission argues well for an appropriate and consistent participation in this partnership which can offer huge opportunities.

This is to ensure that all AU member states participate in an inclusive preparatory process, the report said.

Meanwhile, the report adds that the AU Commission had conducted a study on the evaluation of all strategic partnerships between Africa and other regions. This study was presented on May 22, 2009 to the sub-committee of the PRC on multilateral cooperation.

The sub-committee has carefully reviewed it and made “significant” proposals, which should now guide strategic partnerships in Africa, once approved by the deliberative bodies of the Union, the report said.

At its twelfth ordinary session held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2007, the AU Commission noted in a report the growing number of partnerships with Africa.

The AU Commission has been also exhorted to undertake a comprehensive review of all existing partnerships in order to implement strategies and action plans agreed between Africa and its international partners to streamline the number of summits and to establish criteria for such partnerships to provide some cohesion among these partners.

The 19th Session of the PRC, which started on Monday, is still continuing on Wednesday at the AU headquarters. Participants discussed various issues including administrative, financial and legal issues.


Somalia: Raids and Rancour
28 January 2010/Irin/allafrica.com

Nairobi — In the year since Mehmoud Hassan arrived in Nairobi from Baidoa in southern Somalia, he says he has been arrested more than 10 times by the Kenyan police and paid more than US$300 in fines to secure his release. His crime, says the 29-year-old former civil society activist, was being a Somali national in a city increasingly hostile to the flood of refugees from the battered Horn of Africa state.

Even this cycle of arrest and release failed to prepare Hassan for his latest encounter with the police. He and his 80-year-old grandmother were among more than 2,000 people – including Somali members of parliament in Nairobi for a meeting – who were rounded up in a week of raids and arrests following a 15 January protest against the detention and subsequent deportation of a radical Islamist cleric by the Kenyan government. Muslim human rights activists claimed five people were killed in the demonstration while the government has limited the official death toll to one.

A spokeswoman for the Internal Security Ministry, who declined to be identified, told IRIN the raids were a direct result of the “threat posed by the foreigners. The riots were not caused by citizens of this country, but by the foreign extremists.”

Despite holding identification papers issued by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Hassan and his grandmother were held for two days as illegal migrants, and released only after paying a substantial sum to the police.

“They said I was Al-Shabab [insurgents fighting the Somali government]. But I was not even at the demonstration! What happened was wrong; we are hosted here by this government and yet the government of Kenya targeted us,” said Hassan. “There is a rank hostility towards the Somali people and we are feeling hunted here.”

Many of those arrested were in fact ethnic Somali citizens of Kenya, which shares a long border with Somalia.

“I am a Kenyan but that did not matter because I am a Somali; it is very unfair to be treated like that in your own country,” said a tea-seller, who asked to be identified only as Halimo. “Why don’t they arrest others who look like Somalis? We are being singled out. I can understand the police arresting people who break the law but I am only a single mother trying to make a living yet I was treated like a criminal.”

Another Kenyan Somali said: “It is a fact that Eastleigh has become a huge business conglomerate, with Kenyan Somalis being the majority owners of the buildings in the area. This has prompted jealousy and business rivalry from non-Somali business operators and they would like nothing else than to see the Somalis’ expansion curtailed.”

In response to such widespread and well-publicised accusations of malfeasance by his men, Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere insisted that “any officer who engages in unethical or unprofessional behaviour during these operations will face stern disciplinary action”.

He said more than 1,000 illegal immigrants had been detained and would now “be dealt with according to the law”, insisting that “no community, race, faith or nationality had been targeted”.

He conceded, however, that “some innocent people have been inconvenienced”.

Sowing discord

Although the violence that swept Nairobi after disputed 2007 presidential polls was largely confined to long-standing animosity between ethnic groups, there is a growing sense – corroborated by security analysts – that the government is fomenting hostility against the comparatively well-to-do migrants to deflect attention from its own failings in the run-up to 2012 elections.

“Most Kenyans are really quite frustrated that nothing has changed [since the 2007 elections]; the government is still engaging in the same repressive action, the security machinery is unchanged, and people are fundamentally worse off financially,” said Deborah Osiro, a Kenyan researcher with the Institute for Security Studies.

“So the government is using [Kenyan] frustration to possibly take advantage, to cultivate resentment against a population that is perceived as doing well, to deflect responsibility for their failures to really change the status quo.”

That open hostility manifests itself both overtly, in police harassment, and covertly, in the disregard for maintaining public infrastructure and utilities in the predominantly Somali neighbourhood of Eastleigh in eastern Nairobi.

“Eastleigh is the fastest growing and one of the most thriving neighbourhoods in Nairobi and that is annoying Kenyans, who are trying to maintain their commercial and economic footholds but are unable to do so,” said Osiro. “And they see the Somalis pricing them out of the lower or middle-income real estate market and wonder how refugees can be doing better financially than their hosts. Of course there are deeper influences at play here, but it’s easy to blame the stranger – something that seems entirely new for Kenya.”

Extremes at play

Though far from being the only neighbourhood in the capital to suffer power outages, water shortages or irregular rubbish collection, Eastleigh has its own particular travails. The visible wealth of the commercial sector is in sharp contrast with its decrepit surroundings.

Soaring above zinc-roofed market stalls are well-constructed multi-storied buildings with sweeping staircases that connect small apartments to storefronts. The roads are virtually impassable, rutted with potholes and crowded with minibuses and gleaming SUVs emblazoned with Arabic slogans. There is no road drainage and passers-by dodge mounds of rubbish on nearly every street corner, weaving around lorries unloading merchandise from dry goods to tyres and electronics.

There are no public clinics in Eastleigh, few state-run schools and men still ply the roads with carts filled with jerry cans of water, to supplement the inconsistent municipal supplies. Such neglect is grating for Abdisak, who asked that his surname not be used. After fleeing Mogadishu in 2007, he has run a small dry goods shop in Eastleigh, supporting a family that includes a young son.

“We pay taxes, lots of taxes, to the city council and other authorities, but when we ask for simple repairs to our roads, or to the sewers, they say no,” he said. “And when the Somali business community asked to be allowed to rebuild the roads ourselves, with our own money, they said no. We are at the mercy of gangs, who extort money from us, and of the police, who collect fines.”

For Mohammed Ali Mukhtar, the raids following the mosque protest only heightened a feeling that has been brewing within him for several months: even though home is not safe, at least the danger is a known quantity. He is making plans to return to his home in Galkayo, in central Somalia, before the 2012 vote.

“We came here because it was supposed to be safer than at home,” he said. “But if they are attacking us now, when there is no reason to do so, what is going to happen with the elections when they have political motivation?”


Who will rebuild Haiti?
As the world converges on Haiti to begin the long, expensive reconstruction process, some wonder if African-Americans will be shut out of the process.
www.wavenewspapers.com/By BETTY PLEASANT, Contributing Editor/ Jan 28, 2010

While Haiti is in ruins and people from all around the world have streamed into the country to help its grief-stricken citizens bring out their dead and bind up their injured, some people are beginning to think in terms of rebuilding the Caribbean island nation destroyed by an earthquake on Jan. 12. The question is: Will Black people — the color of the people who perished in the devastation — participate in the reconstruction of Haiti?

Answers to the question are mixed: A Haitian sees the need to rebuild his country as the golden opportunity for skilled, unemployed Black workers to get a toehold on the economic ladder. A local Black contractor is certain that, as with everything else, African-American businesses and workers will reap the fewest opportunities in Haiti, and a Black business mover and shaker is hopeful that, through political pressure, African-American businesses will be allowed to help rebuild the country.

Evans LaMour, a Haitian immigrant whose entire family is still unaccounted for in Port-au-Prince, feels the destruction of his homeland affords the opportunity for Haitians and African-Americans to “build something with pride.” LaMour, a musician and entrepreneur with several enterprises in Pasadena and North Hollywood, said the earthquake leveled not only the capital, Port-au-Prince, but the outlying area, Jacmal, as well.

“The whole country needs to be rebuilt from the underground up, and my Black brothers here in America need to go there and do it,” LaMour said. “We’ve got unemployed brothers walking around here with skills that Haiti needs, and we need the hands and backs of those without skills as well — people who can only dig and haul and such. There’s work to be done in Haiti and proud Nubian people like us need to come together and do it,” LaMour said.

Drexel Johnson, executive director and founder of the Young Black Contractors Association, concurs with the spirit of LaMour, but as the result of his group’s experiences with getting New Orleans repair work following Katrina, he is more sanguine in his outlook. “We just know that everybody will get to the table to do business adequately in Haiti except Black contractors,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s organization is a consortium of 39 Black-owned contracting businesses that are government-certified experts in demolition, land clearing, underground utilities and infrastructure, roadways and highways paving and general building.

“We are prepared and certified to go over there right now and do the work,” Johnson said. “We approached Congresswoman Laura Richardson about getting contracts to work in Haiti and she directed us to her deputy, Eric Boyd. He told us to talk to the fire department and we could go with them to Haiti and work for free. We’re not working for free!”

Contractors in Johnson’s associations worked to build the Alameda Corridor, Southwest College, Drew Medical Magnet School, several commercial structures — such as Targets, Home Depots, Vons, Rite Aids, and T.J. Maxxes — as well other government facilities.

Johnson said it is always a struggle for Black contractors to get work at home, so he envisions an even greater battle to get work abroad. With that in mind, Johnson’s organization is scheduled to hold a news conference Thursday in front of Carson City Hall, where he will discuss the inequities of job opportunities for Blacks going to Haiti, and to announce his candidacy to run for Richardson’s seat in Congress.

In the meantime, Gene Hale, the Black business community’s primary wheeler and dealer, is already busy communicating with federal officials to engage minority businesses in the rebuilding of Haiti. “A coordinated effort is not being done to press government into dealing with this problem,” said Hale, head of the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce. “Only government can do this, as USAID is America’s lead agency for Haiti development. We need mandates put in place that would require USAID to use the goods and services of small businesses,” Hale said. (USAID is the United States Aid for International Development agency).

“We don’t really need to go over there,” Hale continued. “We’ve got a logistics problem and it’s too costly for some of us to go over there, but the goods and services many Black businesses produce and provide can be procured by USAID contractors to be used in the development of Haiti and we need to put pressure on the government to ensure that this is done,” Hale said. Toward that end, Hale said his organization has launched a letter-writing campaign to President Obama.

Skip Cooper, president of the Black Business Association, who is working closely with the Young Black Contractors on this issue, summed up the whole thing thusly: “While we grieve for the great loss of lives in Haiti, are concerned about the health and welfare of those who survived and support all humanitarian relief efforts, we are aware that the United States is pouring millions of dollars into Haiti to effect its reconstruction and it is important that we participate in it.”




Canada to unveil diamond market
Both polished and rough stones will be bought and sold in country’s first facility
BRENDA BOUW/ From Thursday’s Globe and Mail /Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010



Canada is set to open its first official diamond trading marketplace in downtown Toronto, a move spurred by the rush in recent years to mine and market the homegrown stones both nationally and worldwide.

The Diamond Bourse of Canada opens Monday and will be the first forum of its kind in the country where both polished and rough stones will be bought and sold.

There are 28 diamond bourses in places such as Belgium, Israel and South Africa. The Canadian bourse will become the 29th on the international circuit, which is overseen by the World Federation of Diamond Bourses. Canada produces about 15 per cent of the world’s annual rough diamonds.

“It’s only logical for Canada to establish a full-fledged bourse,” federation president Avi Paz stated yesterday. “While Canada’s population is small compared to its huge southern neighbour, the country’s jewellery industry and trade, as well as its consumer market, have been growing steadily.”

Diamonds were first discovered in Canada in the Northwest Territories in 1991. Since then, Canada has grown to become the third-largest producer of gem-quality stones valuing about $2.4-billion in 2008. (Botswana and Russia are number one and two, respectively.)

The Canadian bourse will begin by trading polished diamonds, and expects to later move into the trade of rough diamonds. Currently, a small portion of Canadian rough production has been available for sale in the NWT, which hasn’t been considered a top buying destination for diamond dealers. It’s considered more cost effective to travel to places such as South Africa, where there’s also a wider selection.

Colleen Peyer, general manager at the Diamond Bourse of Canada, said the bourse is expected to change that, and will provide a secure space for people to trade the stones. “We’d like to see all Canadian diamonds traded on Canadian soil, rough and polished,” she said.

To trade, you have to be a member of the bourse; there are now about 35 members. Only Canadian members can sell at the Canadian-based bourse, although any international members can buy there.

Bourse chairman Bhushan Vora, of diamond wholesaler Gemstar Inc., said the Canadian marketplace was a long-time coming. “This was one element in the industry was missing.”

He said the Ontario government took the lead on the bourse project and matched the $140,000 in funds raised to help create the bourse.

Mr. Vora said the bourse will be self-financed through its $1,500 annual membership fees, as well as commissions on activities such as tenders, which are basically auctions for diamonds, and services such as storage and supplies.

Rotavirus Vaccine Could Save Thousands of Children

27/1/2010 – Immunization has long been known to be important for reductions in child mortality rates. The development of a new vaccine to combat rotavirus should help.

A recently published study on vaccination trials conducted in Malawi, South Africa, and Mexico has yielded hopeful results for the reduction of child mortality. Vaccinating children against rotavirus—a diarrhoea-causing disease—can potentially save millions of lives.

The trials show that the vaccine can increase child survival by reducing the prevalence of the severe form of the disease by at least 61%. In Mexico, deaths from rotavirus in infants just under a year old fell by 66%, as compared to the 2003-2006 period. A total of 4 900 children were included in the trials.

The studies were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Diarrhoeal diseases are the second-most common cause of child deaths in the developing world. Despite the fact that rotavirus is easily treatable in the developed world, 527 000 children die of rotavirus annually in the developing world, most of them in Africa.

The rotavirus vaccines are administered orally in two or three doses, the first given as early as 6 weeks. Previous studies have cast doubt over the efficacy of orally administered vaccines among poor and malnourished populations, but the vaccine was recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as early as June of last year. Even in immunologically-weakened children, such as the HIV positive, any potential of the vaccine to make them sick is minimal, says Dr. Mathuram Santosham, an international health medicine professor at John Hopkins University.

The WHO urges all countries to roll out rotavirus vaccinations as part of their public health programs. However, other efforts at reducing diarrhoeal diseases such as oral rehydration therapy (mixture of salts and sugars to restore electrolyte balance and prevent dehydration), improved sanitation, access to clean water, and vitamin supplementation, should not be sidelined.

The development of the rotavirus vaccine will be important to the reduction of child mortality—currently, the 9 million children worldwide that die every year before their fifth birthdays. Maternal and child health are global priorities at the local, national and international levels, as exemplified by the events leading up to the most recent meeting of world leaders at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Here in Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that as president of the G8 this year, Canada would champion investments in the health of women and children. The PM used the example of Haiti and the relief effort there to illustrate the potential for international cooperation in his op-ed piece in the Toronto Star.

Dr. Kathy Neuzil, the head of the African rotavirus study and advisor to PATH (a charity bringing low-cost health interventions to poor countries), hopes “that these data will catalyze action so that one day we can live in a world where no child dies from diarrhoea.”

Canada to donate H1N1 vaccine to the WHO
By Meagan Fitzpatrick, Canwest News Service/www.theprovince.com/ January 28, 2010

OTTAWA — The federal government will announce Thursday that Canada is donating five million doses of its excess H1N1 vaccine to the World Health Organization, Canwest News Service has learned.

The announcement is set to come a day after the Public Health Agency of Canada declared the second wave of the pandemic over.

The WHO is co-ordinating the donation of vaccine for 95 developing countries and until now, Canada had not indicated whether it would give away some of its pandemic vaccine, or, if it did, how much.

Canada ordered 50.4 million doses of vaccine and it was apparent before the end of 2009 that it would have a surplus on its hands. At the time the order was placed, it wasn’t known that only one dose of the vaccine would be sufficient to provide immunity. Federal officials have been saying for weeks that they were reviewing several options and would make an announcement some time in the new year on what Canada would do with the excess supply.

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq is expected to make the announcement about the vaccine donation Thursday. Shipments of the vaccine should begin moving quickly because Canada’s entire order has already been filled by GlaxoSmithKline and is being stored at the company’s plant in Ste-Foy, Que.

While the prevalence of H1N1 has waned in Canada, it’s still going strong in parts of eastern Europe, South Asia and North Africa and countries in those regions are expected to be on the receiving end of Canada’s donation.

The federal government is expected to say in its announcement that the donation of five million doses is in line with what other developed countries have committed. Canada, however, took its time announcing it would make a donation to the WHO. Other nations, including the United States, Australia, Brazil, France, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom made a commitment to donate vaccine in September.

In the first week of January, the government said it was sending five million doses to Mexico but the shipments were not a donation, they are a loan. Some observers questioned the decision and also said Canada’s slow action in responding to the WHO’s call for donations could hurt the country’s reputation.

Aglukkaq and Dr. David Butler-Jones, the nation’s chief public health officer, answered the criticisms by saying they wanted to ensure Canada’s needs were met first before pledging to give vaccine away. The second wave of the pandemic hit early in the fall and when mass H1N1 vaccination clinics began in October, clinics were immediately flooded with people seeking to roll up their sleeves for the shot.

By late December, demand had trailed off and the provinces had more than enough vaccine to distribute to clinics and doctors’ offices.

They asked the federal government to hold off on shipping them more and since then, vaccine has been held in storage.

To date, about 45 per cent of the population has been vaccinated, the Public Health Agency of Canada said Wednesday as it declared that the second wave of the pandemic has subsided.

“Our H1N1 immunization campaign and other infection control measures have been successful and contributed to the end of the second wave in Canada,” the agency said on its website. “Additionally, every Canadian who coughed or sneezed in their sleeve, who made a point to wash their hands frequently, and stayed home when they were sick has contributed to our shared effort to minimize the impact of this virus.”

For the last several weeks, influenza activity indicators have either been within or below the expected range for this time of year, according to the agency’s surveillance system. Indicators include the number of people who test positive for the H1N1 virus, hospitalizations due to the illness, and the number of people going to see their doctor with flu symptoms.

In the last three weeks, only one outbreak of H1N1 was reported across the country and about 17 health-care visits out of 1000 were for flu symptoms.

The Public Health Agency, warning that influenza viruses are unpredictable and that a third wave of the pandemic is a possibility, urged Canadians to get their H1N1 shot if they have not done so already.


Zimbabwe: Australia Hails GPA
28 January 2010/allafrica.com/The Herald

Harare — Australia has publicly acknowledged the progress made by the inclusive Government and South Africa’s role in facilitating dialogue between Zimbabwe’s main political parties.

The country also announced that it would extend US$6 million towards Zimbabwe’s economic turnaround programme but said nothing about the illegal sanctions it has imposed.

Australia, under the leadership of former Prime Minister John Howard, imposed the embargo as a direct response to Zimbabwe’s land reforms and provided active support to organisations seeking to effect illegal regime change.

Speaking in Tshwane on Tuesday after a meeting with his South African counterpart Maite Nkoana Mashabane, Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith said: “The progress made by Zimbabwe and South Africa has brought hope that Zimbabwe is eventually taking a turn for the better.

“South African efforts to see progress in Zimbabwe have encouraged the Australian government to partner it and we are keen to step up trilateral co-operation in support of recovery efforts in Zimbabwe.

“By working together we can help Zimbabwe rebuild and secure a bright future,” he said, adding that the inclusive Government needed support.

“We have agreed on projects to help Zimbabwe with taxation laws as well as water and sanitation technical expertise,” Smith said.

After Zimbabwe embarked on its revolutionary Fast Track Land Reform Programme, Australia and its allies imposed sanctions.

Canberra actively sought Zimbabwe’s suspension from the Commonwealth in 2002, prompting Harare to pull out of the club of former British colonies the following year.

However, last year current Prime Minister Kevin Rudd lifted travel warnings Australia had placed on its citizens seeking to visit Zimbabwe.

Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations formed the inclusive Government after the 2008 elections and the signing of the Global Political Agreement.

The three parties are presently engaged in talks to resolve outstanding issues in the implementation of the GPA and are expected to meet early next month to finalise outstanding matters.

Zanu-PF has said MDC-T must fulfill its GPA obligations of lobbying for the lifting of illegal sanctions, an end to broadcasting of hate messages by pirate radio stations and external interference in Zimbabwe’s affairs, and dismantling of parallel Government structures in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s office.

MDC-T wants Roy Bennett sworn-in as deputy agriculture minister and Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Mr Johannes Tomana’s appointments reviewed.

Zanu-PF has said Bennett will only be sworn into office if he is acquitted of terror-related charges he is facing while Dr Gono and Mr Tomana’s appointments are not GPA issues.



Apple Tablet, zero impact on emerging markets?
Thursday, January 28th, 2010 / Posted by ITNewsAfrica.com

Julien Blin, Principal Analyst & CEO at JBB Research, USA, tells why the new Apple Tablet or iPad will not really gain momentum in the developing markets across the globe.

Today, Apple announced its highly anticipated tablet PC: the iPad. While Apple tablet PC is set to gain good traction in developed markets such as North America, Western Europe, and Japan, it likely to have almost zero impact on emerging markets like South America, Africa and even parts of Asia like China.

1.Apple Tablet PC set to gain good traction in developed markets such as North America, Western Europe, and Japan. The iPad is set to experience strong adoption in developed markets such as North America, Western Europe and Japan based on Apple’s strong brand, the growing popularity of its exciting products (e.g. iPod, iTouch, iPhone, etc.), Apple’s current momentum, and customers’ high level of income in those regions.

2. But set to have zero impact on emerging markets like South America, Africa, and even parts of Asia like China due to IP and content issues. I don’t expect the iPad to have an impact on emerging markets, like Africa South America, Africa, and even parts of Asia like China, for several reasons: content issues, IP (intellectual property) issues, and large proportion of low income customers.

Today, many people download content from iTunes, and shift this content file into a shareable MP3 player. Here in the U.S., this is against the law to share content that way, but the reality is that many people do it knowing that they could be fined heavily. But in an emerging markets like Africa for instance, it is hard to enforce this type of law.

So for instance, if the content carried through the iPad gets into a country like Nigeria, it would be hard for the content industry to enforce such law and penalize the end user. Plus, how would it be possible to force consumers to pay if there is no law in the first place, but most importantly no robust payment systems? Clearly, it is impossible. With that in mind, it would not be a surprise if some content players would try to go whatever it takes to avoid a wide distribution of Apple’s iPad.

3. Lack of WiFi/3G support and adoption in emerging markets set to be another issue. Additionally, the lack of WiFi/3G support and adoption in emerging markets (e.g. Africa) remains fairly low compared to developed markets, which is another key obstacle for Apple.

For instance, in a country like China, where Apple has high expectations, 3G adoption remains pretty low, at <2% (10 million 3G customers at the end of 2009), according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), due to the large proportion of low-income consumers in China, who cannot afford the price of 3G handsets and services. Additionally, I would also point out that Apple products tend to have a 16% tax on them, which is another key hurdle for higher adoption of Apple products in China. The iPad is unlikely to be the exception to the rule here.

4. Pricing and large proportion of low income customers set to be other key issues. The iPad is set to be available for as low as $499 in the case of WiFi-only 16GB model, and up to $829 for the full version (WiFi/3G – 64 GB model). Although $499 is a fairly low price when it comes to a tablet PC, it will remain out of reach for many customers in emerging markets like Africa, South America and China due to the large proportion of low income customers in those regions.

As a reminder, the iPhone has been available in China anywhere between $730 to $1.024, which is too expensive for the large majority of Chinese. Of note, $800 is the average salary of most Chinese white colors over a five years period. As a result, many Chinese customers have been buying the iPhone on China’s gray market in Hong Kong for a more affordable price and with WiFi capabilities.

Due to hefty price associated with the iPhone and the lack of WiFi support (e.g. At launch, the iPhone 3G S sold through China Unicom did not support WiFi as WiFi was temporarily banned by the Chinese government in favor of an home ground competing system), iPhones sales in China have been a disappointment as China Unicom only sold 300k iPhone by the end of 2009. I expect to see to see knockoffs popping up everywhere in China.

While Apple is set to experience strong success in developed markets such as North America, Western Europe, and Japan, it is likely to have almost zero impact on emerging markets like South America, Africa, and even parts of Asia like China. Content issues, IP (intellectual property) issues, lack of 3G/WiFi support, and pricing issues due to the large proportion of low income customers, are set to remain key hurdles for Apple in this region to drive the adoption of its new flagship product.

Caterpillar Sales Fall 35% On Year In 3 Months To December
JANUARY 28, 2010/online.wsj.com/By Bob Tita

CHICAGO (Dow Jones)–Caterpillar Inc.’s (CAT) sales decline slowed in December on improving demand in Asia, according to company figures released Wednesday.

Caterpillar, the world’s largest manufacturer of construction equipment by sales, said world-wide sales of its equipment declined 35% in the three-month period ended in December, compared to the same period a year earlier. That’s a noticeable improvement from the three months ended in November and October, when machinery sales were down 45% and 50%, respectively.

Sales of Caterpillar machinery for all of 2009 fell 43% from 2008 to $18.1 billion because of the global economic recession and a pullback in spending on construction and mining. The slowdown was exacerbated by the company’s decision to curtail sales to its dealers last year, allowing them to sell off $3.3 billion worth of new equipment languishing on their lots.

Caterpillar Chairman and Chief Executive Jim Owens said Wednesday he’s seeing a widespread upturn in demand for equipment, particularly in China. Asia-Pacific region sales for the three months ended in December were down 12% from a year earlier. But that’s significantly better than in November, when Asia-Pacific sales were off 31%.

Sales in North America and Europe improved slightly, although remaining weak. North American sales fell 46% in December following a 54% decline in November.

Sales in Europe, Africa and the Middle East were down 41% in December following a 53% decline in November.

Lower engine sales in December were reported in all of Caterpillar’s markets. Sales of engines to the truck and bus market, however, declined just 16% last month, as purchasing increased in advance of the new emissions standards on diesel engines in 2010 and the company’s decision to exit the truck-engine market at the end of 2009.

Sales of engines to the petroleum industry slumped 46% in December, after being down 29% in November and 19% in October. Overall engine sales in 2009 declined 30% to $11.4 billion.

Caterpillar’s stock ended the regular session down 4.3%, or $2.41, at $53.44 a share. In after-hours trading, Caterpillar was recently down at $53.25 a share.

-By Bob Tita, Dow Jones Newswires; 312-750-4129; robert.tita@dowjones.com

Harsh winter a sign of disruptive climate change, report says
By Juliet Eilperin and David A. Fahrenthold/Washington Post Staff Writer /Thursday, January 28, 2010

This winter’s extreme weather — with heavy snowfall in some places and unusually low temperatures — is in fact a sign of how climate change disrupts long-standing patterns, according to a new report by the National Wildlife Federation.

It comes at a time when, despite a wealth of scientific evidence, the American public is increasingly skeptical that climate change is happening at all. That disconnect is particularly important this year as the Obama administration and its allies in Congress seek to enact legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions and revamp the nation’s energy supply.

“It’s very hard for any of us to grasp how this larger warming trend is happening when we’re still having wintry weather,” said National Wildlife Federation climate scientist Amanda Staudt, the new report’s lead writer.

The study charts how climate change is linked to more heavy precipitation, including intense snowstorms like the one that blanketed the D.C. area last month. The Great Lakes region is also experiencing more snow, the report says, because during warmer winters, “the lakes are less likely to freeze over or are freezing later [and] surface water evaporation is recharging the atmosphere with moisture.”

Richard Somerville, who was a lead writer of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report, said the public needs to grasp that it is important to reduce carbon dioxide quickly because it stays in the atmosphere for centuries.

“That’s where the scientific urgency comes from, not a particular weather event,” Somerville said. “There’s a scientific case for rapidly reducing emissions.”

While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported last week that 2009 tied as the second-warmest year on record, this week two new public opinion polls have confirmed a trend reported last fall: As Washington has focused more on climate change, the American public has come to believe in it less.

On Wednesday, Yale and George Mason universities released a survey showing that just 57 percent of people said global warming “is happening.” That was down 14 percentage points, from 71 percent, in October 2008. Fifty percent of people said they were “very” or “somewhat” worried about global warming, down 13 points from 2008.

Edward Maibach, a George Mason professor, said two outside events may have played a role in the change: First came the recession; then Congress took up legislation to limit greenhouse gases, spurring industry groups and politicians to warn that tackling climate change would kick the economy while it was down.

“Global warming is not necessarily a conversation that most Americans want to actively participate in,” Maibach said.

A poll released Monday by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press made a similar point: Respondents were asked to rank 21 issues in terms of their priority. Global warming came in last.

That was not a surprise, as it has been last before.

But this time it was worse than usual: Just 28 percent of respondents listed global warming as a top priority, down from 35 percent in 2008.






Global economic crisis also values crisis: Davos poll
Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor/Reuters/Jan 28, 2010


PARIS (Reuters) – Two-thirds of people around the world think the global economic crisis is also a crisis of ethical values that calls for more honesty, transparency and respect for others, according to a World Economic Forum poll.

Davos: New Frontiers | Davos

Almost as many name business as the sector that should stress values more to foster a better world, said the poll for the Forum’s annual Davos summit that opened on Wednesday.

Only 12.9 percent of the 130,000 people polled said businesses were primarily accountable to their shareholders. Another 18.2 percent said clients and customers, 22.9 percent named employees and 46 percent cited all of them equally.

“The poll results point to a trust deficit regarding values in the business world,” the Forum said in a statement. “Only one-quarter of respondents believe that large multinational businesses apply a values-driven approach to their sectors.”

The poll was conducted through Facebook in France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey and the United States.

A large majority of 67.8 percent said the current global economic crisis was “also a crisis of ethics and values.” Only 62.4 percent of younger respondents aged 18-23 agreed here but the total jumped to 78.6 percent for those over 30 years old.

The highest “yes” votes came in Mexico (80.1 percent), South Africa (77.4 percent), Indonesia (72.8 percent) and the United States (70.7 percent). France was lowest at 60.3 percent.

Only 19 percent of total responses thought faulty ethics played no role in the current economic crisis, according to the poll that can be downloaded at http//www.weforum.org/faith.

Sixty percent said businesses large and small should stress values more, compared to 23 percent for politics and 16.1 percent for global institutions.

Asked which values were most important in the global political and economic system, 39.3 percent said honesty, integrity and transparency, 23.7 percent chose respecting others, 19.9 percent said considering the impact of actions on others and 17 percent said preserving the environment.

The survey showed several variations according to countries. “Religion and faith are most likely to drive values in the United States, Saudi Arabia and South Africa,” it said.

France and Germany are way ahead of others in saying firms are primarily accountable to their employees, while Israelis led both among those who said businesses were most accountable to shareholders and among those saying to clients and customers.

While two-thirds of respondents saw an ethical crisis, only 54.2 percent believed that universal values — a possible basis for a more moral approach to business — actually exist.

Among rich nations, Germany was far ahead (64.9 percent) of the United States (49.9 percent) and France (37.6 percent) here.

(Editing by Jon Boyle)

India To Invest $360 Mn In Nigerian Oil Blocks
1/28/2010 /RTTNews

(RTTNews) – India has expressed its desire to develop refineries, natural gas and LNG projects in oil-rich Nigeria, and has committed to invest more than $360 million in developing two oil blocks in Africa’s largest energy-producing country.

Confirming the investment Wednesday, visiting Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora asked Indian oil companies to intensify exploration of oil in that West African nation. The two oil blocks are: Nigerian Oil Prospecting Licenses (OPLs) 279 and 285. Drilling has begun in one them.

Following his meeting with his Nigerian counterpart Henry Odein Ajumogobia at Abuja, Deora said India was also looking for partnering with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) through the Indian oil and gas conglomerate–ONGC-Mittal Energy Ltd.–to set up a greenfield petroleum refining plant to boost Nigeria’s production of petroleum products.

Deora added New Delhi was buying from Nigeria more than 400,000 barrels of oil per day–with an annual value of $10 billion, accounting for around 10 per cent of its crude oil requirements.

by RTT Staff Writer

S.Africa coal exports to India to rise to 25 mln tonnes/yr
Thu Jan 28, 2010 /Reuters

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – India will need to import as much as 110 million tonnes of coal per year by 2012, with some 25 million tonnes expected to come from South Africa to feed rising power demand, a consultancy said on Thursday.

South Africa exported 17.7 million tonnes of coal to the Asian country in 2009, and the industry estimates that as much as 75 percent of the country’s exports could go to Asia in the future.

mjunction Services, which counts Tata Steel as a partner, told a McCloskey coal exports conference in Cape Town that power is making up 70 percent of the country’s demand for coal, followed by the steel and cement industry.

Noble Corp. Posts 7 Percent Growth in 4Q Income
January 28, 2010 /(AP) The Associated Press

Noble Corp. boosts profit for 4Q and full year

Petroleum drilling company Noble Corp. said Wednesday its fourth-quarter earnings grew nearly 7 percent and said it expects new drilling rigs would boost 2010 income.

The company, which has its headquarters in Switzerland, reported earnings of $446 million, or $1.72 per share, for the final three months of 2009. That compares with earnings of $419 million, or $1.58 per share for the same period in 2008.

Its quarterly revenue grew 3.3 percent to $940 million.

Analysts had expected earnings of $1.58 per share on revenue of $896 million.

“The commencements of operations of three new ultra-deepwater units, coupled with our outstanding backlog, give us positive momentum for the year ahead,” CEO David W. Williams, who also serves as chairman and president, said in a statement.

The results came as other oil services companies struggled as a drop in oil prices forced some to idle hundreds of rigs in the United States.

For the full year, Noble posted earnings of $1.68 billion, or $6.42 per share, compared with $1.56 billion, or $5.81 per share, in 2008.

The company offers drilling services mostly in the U.S., the Middle East, India, Mexico, the North Sea, Brazil and West Africa.


Anglo American Unveils Further Commitment to Job Creation in South Africa

Anglo American has announced a new enterprise development venture that will help to generate more jobs, support entrepreneurship and strengthen local economies in South Africa.
This commitment is a pledge to the Business Call to Action (BCtA) – a global initiative that challenges companies to apply their core business expertise, technology and innovative spirit to tackle poverty, promote growth in developing countries and contribute to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Anglo American is the first company from the extractive industry to have a project accepted by the BCtA.

Anglo American’s commitment to the BCtA is to establish 12 enterprise development hubs in high unemployment areas in South Africa, within the ongoing Anglo Zimele initiative. This venture is expected to create 25,000 new jobs in up to 1,500 new businesses across South Africa over the next seven years.

Anglo American will provide financing for small business start-up funds targeting the most vulnerable segments of society, in addition to providing mentoring and access to supply chain opportunities. Looking to the future, Anglo American will also seek to further increase its enterprise development activities in Chile and Brazil.

Cynthia Carroll, Chief Executive of Anglo American, said:”We are delighted that the expansion of Anglo American’s long-established Anglo Zimele programme has been recognised by the Business Call to Action and we are continuing to review further opportunities to grow this successful and enormously valuable community

“Long term economic growth is vital to the fight against global poverty and business investment is vital to building economic growth,” said Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). “Today, business leaders are rewriting the value equation, to show that true worth comes not only from profits but from making a positive difference.”

The MDGs are eight goals that respond to the world’s main development challenges to be reached by 2015. They were adopted by 189 world leaders at the Millennium Summit in 2000. The Goals represent a global commitment to promote poverty reduction, education, maternal health and gender equality and aim to combat child mortality, AIDS and other diseases. Since 2008, 19 companies have developed business initiatives that contribute to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to their own commercial success.

The move is welcomed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Prepare ground for Mexico meet
economictimes.indiatimes.com/28 Jan 2010

It is notable that the Basic Group (BG) of nations — Brazil, South Africa, India and China — have reiterated their support for last month’s
Copenhagen Accord on global warming, and have, going forward, pledged cooperation for operationalising global action on climate change.

For India, the case for proactive policy is unexceptionable. Regardless of how fast Himalayan glaciers are receding, we need to rev up energy efficiency, boost usage of renewables and, generally speaking, end widespread energy poverty.

It is also notable that the BG sees the accord as no more than a promising political statement of purpose, which it certainly is. The idea of the accord as a legally-binding text, floated by Denmark in its capacity as president of the Conference of Parties (COP) in ’Hagen and backed by European nations, needs to be nipped in the bud simply because it lacks the specifics to be a legal document.

In any case, what’s needed is enabling legislation by key parties for a globally-binding pact. More important, in the run-up to the next COP, in Mexico later this year, we need to have a framework ready as per the Bali Roadmap agreed in 2007.

The point is that the Annex I Parties as per the Kyoto Protocol, the developed economies, and the US, need to be upfront in committing emission reductions of gases causing the greenhouse effect.

In tandem, it makes perfect sense for the BG to voluntarily commit to progressively reduce their (carbon) emission intensity of output. It would shore up energy availability. But it is vital that the industrially-developed nations commit on absolute reductions in emissions.

Meanwhile, we need to purposefully step up efficiency levels in thermal power generation, plan towns to minimise commutes and energy consumption, tighten combustion norms for automotive fuels and have in place ‘green’ guidelines to rationalise energy usage in buildings.

The plan to declare 30 solar cities pan-India to aim for 10% deduction in conventional energy is a move in the right direction. We also need to phase out the warped subsidy regime for fossil fuels.

EN BREF, CE 28 janvier 2010 … AGNEWS / OMAR, BXL,28/01/2010



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