Posts Tagged ‘Ostafrika’

Afrika: Süd-Süd-Kooperation nimmt rasant zu

Mittwoch, Juni 30th, 2010

“AFRICA: Cautionary Notes Sounded as South-South Trade Booms

By Ravi Kanth Deverakonda

Charles Gore holding a sample of Raj Rajendran's work. / Credit:El Hadj Gorgui Ndoye/IPS
Charles Gore holding a sample of Raj Rajendran's work.

Credit:El Hadj Gorgui Ndoye/IPS

GENEVA – An Indian textile engineer and entrepreneur called Raj Rajendran visited Rwanda in 1999. He was tasked to close down an unviable textile factory following the civil war. But he discovered propitious agro-climatic conditions, particularly volcanic soil — ideal for the rearing of silk worms to produce raw silk.

‘Rajendran converted an old refrigerator into an incubator to hatch silk worm eggs, imported second-hand machinery from India, and started reeling Rwanda’s first silk yarn,’ Charles Gore, a senior official of the Africa division in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), told IPS.

Sustained efforts by Rajendran over the last 10 years resulted in him creating a new brand called ‘Silk Hills’ which bears the label ‘Made in Rwanda’. Rajendran’s company now exports silk and cotton products to the U.S., Canada and elsewhere and is the largest private employer in the tiny east African country.

‘In short, the Indian entrepreneur demonstrated that it is possible to bring about ‘transformational’ changes in an African country through economic interactions and knowledge-sharing skills with big developing countries like China, India and Brazil,’ Gore argued.

He is the lead author of UNCTAD’s annual report on Africa, titled ‘South-South Cooperation: Africa and the New Forms of Development Partnership’, published on Jun 18.

The report confirms China and India’s status as the main drivers of trade and investment with African countries.

It is true that ‘increasing trade and investment between developing countries by reducing trade barriers could bring real benefits in terms of employment and incomes,’ said Isabel M. Mazzei, senior policy advisor for Oxfam in Geneva, in an interview with IPS.

‘It could also promote improved political relationships between countries and enable countries to reduce their dependence on markets in the industrialised countries.’

But Mazzei warned that, ‘due to large differences in the size and level of development of Third World economies, full liberalisation of South-South trade is not desirable.’

‘Getting the balance right between further liberalisation and the appropriate protection of vulnerable farm sectors and infant industries will be a major challenge for economic policy makers,’ she added.

At the launch of the report Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, UNCTAD’s secretary general, pointed out that there exists a growing recognition that South-South cooperation — which is accelerating investment and trade between large developing countries, such as China, India and Brazil, and African countries — could pave the way for transfer of technology and knowledge skills.

Panitchpakdi urged the rising economic giants of the South to go well beyond trade and investment to create a new economic and social climate to reverse the historical trend which has seen Africa supplying agricultural goods and raw materials while importing manufactured goods.

‘I am confident that with the rising trend of developmental aid flowing from the leading countries of the South to Africa, estimated at around 2.8 billion dollars in 2006, there will be a paradigmatic shift in the coming years,’ he told IPS, adding that China also increased its assistance to Africa last year.

The 116-page report on Africa captures undercurrents that are gradually changing the landscape of South-South trade. For example, the total merchandise trade between African countries and non-African developing countries such as China, India, and Brazil, among others, jumped to 283 billion dollars in 2008 — from 34 billion dollars in 1995.

In contrast, Africa’s trade with developed countries increased from 138 billion dollars to 588 billion dollars over the same period. ‘The growing share of developing countries in Africa’s trade has led to a reduction in the proportion of the region’s trade going to its traditional partners in Europe and North America,’ according to the report.

But the reports’ authors noted that, ‘although there has been an increase in Africa’s trade with developing countries, the composition is skewed more towards imports rather than exports’.

Non-African developing countries are now the major ‘greenfield’ investors on the African continent. This kind of investment refers to creating new economic assets that could include manufacturing facilities, along with other infrastructural facilities.

Foreign direct investment in greenfield projects has shot to 184 in 2008, up from 52 in 2004. Chinese infrastructure and financial commitments increased to 4.5 billion dollars in 2007, compared to 470 million dollars in 2001.

But the report’s authors cautioned that China’s growing economic interaction with Africa should not be seen as a ‘China-Africa story’ but part of a broader trend towards intensifying Africa-South economic relationships, particularly with large and dynamic emerging countries.

The report urged African countries to adopt a ‘pro-active’ approach by planning long-term economic projects and asserting their domestic concerns when negotiating cooperation with other developing countries.

In effect, African nations should strive towards building their ‘productive capacities’ to produce a greater variety of goods that are more sophisticated products, the report emphasised.”

 

(Quelle: IPS.)

Ostafrika: Der Wettlauf um die Region ist im vollen Gange

Freitag, Juni 25th, 2010

The scramble for East Africa

By Dana Wagner

2010-06-24, Issue 487


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The East African Community has accelerated negotiations with Europe for an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The race is on for negotiators and lobbyists to either let Europe in or keep it out. And so far, influential EPA advocates are in the lead, according to Yash Tandon, former head of the South Centre and critic of African EPAs with Europe. As corporate proponents advance the trade deal, negotiations threaten East African unity at a critical time in its still early development.

The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) to open trade between East Africa and Europe is still on the table. At a three-day conference in Dar es Salaam negotiators walked away from the disputed deal, but promised to come back to it.

A deadline was set at the 7-9 June conference to sign the EPA and usher in freer trade between the two regions by the end of November 2010. A deal was first initialed in 2007 between the East African Community (EAC) of Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Kenya, and the bloc across the table, the European Commission (EC). This was the Framework for an Economic Partnership Agreement (FEPA), drafted as a temporary stand-in to await a mutually agreed EPA, but a formal deal has not since been reached because of an impasse over several key issues.

In fact, the conference in Dar es Salaam was supposed to cut off the ‘Framework’ from FEPA to secure a legally binding deal, but the EC didn’t get the signatures it was looking for.

‘We would have preferred to sign,’ said Eric van der Linden, head of the Delegation of the European Commission in Kenya, whose sights are now on talks leading up to November. ‘In trade negotiations, you have to be optimistic.’

Van der Linden said while he was hopeful to close the deal, he was not surprised the EAC withheld because the week before the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) resolved to delay signing the EPA in its current form. The 3 June resolution urges the European Union (EU) to work with the EAC ‘to include interests of both parties’.

But critics of the EPA, glad for the latest hitch in trade talks thanks to the independent legislative arm of the EAC, should curb a positive outlook.

The November deadline comes when the EAC common market, which opens in July, will still be finding its feet, and the accelerated negotiation puts pressure on both sides to quickly resolve outstanding issues, said Yash Tandon, co-founder of the Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute and former executive director of the South Centre.

Key unresolved issues are: Losing export taxes that protect domestic industries against highly competitive and cheap European goods; EU concessions on economic and development cooperation; and the most favoured nation (MFN) clause that would force the EAC to duplicate for Europe any external preferential trade agreements with, for example, China or India. The implications of these final bargaining chips have drawn an allusion from EPA critics like former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa of this latest European effort to secure access to East Africa to the infamous 1884 Berlin Conference, dubbed the Scramble for Africa.

‘Europe will not concede on these issues,’ Tandon said, an unsettling reality because the EC-EAC negotiations are ‘heavily asymmetrical’.

Tandon said negotiations are firmly in Europe’s favour as an established bloc with strong members, while the EAC is only recently a unified region and four of its five members are UN-classified least developed countries (LDCs). With its weight, Tandon said Europe is able to negotiate EPAs that are crippling for African regions by using deadlines like the one now set for the EAC; ‘carrot and stick’ bargaining like aid and threatening or imposing sanctions – as done to Zimbabwe; and by taking advantage of regional fragmentation.

REGION IN PIECES

A significant destructive consequence of EPA bargaining with Europe is the subtle corrosion of unity in the African economic regions. Regional division is to Europe’s advantage and fits their ‘divide and conquer’ strategy for Africa, Tandon said.

The EAC is still negotiating as one bloc, but fragmentation is not unknown in the African Economic Community in EPA negotiations.

In June 2009 four members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique, signed an Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA) with the EC. Other key members of this community, like South Africa, rejected a similar deal. South African commentators criticised the negative impact of EPAs on regionalisation, among other reasons like the probable trade diversion from other continents and the expected loss from cut export taxes.

The SADC is now in a position where some members have opened trade with Europe and some have not, but a handful of countries in both camps are part of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) that promotes free trade between member states. To protect itself from an inflow of European goods via other SACU members friendly to EPAs with Europe – Swaziland, Lesotho and Botswana – non-IEPA signatory South Africa could choose to drive a tariff wall through its own customs union, Tandon said.

The EAC should learn from the experience of its southern neighbours at a time that will critically test East Africa’s unity, Tandon said. The EAC Common Market Protocol will take effect from1 July and the varied preparedness and enthusiasm of member states have already sparked questions on their commitment to unity.

While divisions remain informal in the EAC, the powerhouse of the region has familiarly gone rogue, but unlike South Africa’s position in the SADC, top players in Kenya are leading the drive to let Europe in.

Kenya is the region’s EPA proponent, Tandon said, because Kenya stands to lose the most if it is not signed. As LDCs, the other four EAC members enjoy duty-free and one-way trade to rich country markets, including those in Europe. Kenya, a non-LDC, does not enjoy this benefit – as preferential trade under the Cotonou Agreement between the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries (including Kenya) and the EU expired in 2007, to be replaced by EPAs.

The EPA is designed to end non-reciprocal preferential trade of goods from developing countries into European markets by taking down trade barriers against European goods flowing the other way. EPAs make open trade a two-way street. For LDCs though, duty-free trade can remain one-way – so of the EAC countries, it’s Kenya that’s sweating.

To maintain its duty-free ride into European markets, exporters in Kenya are lobbying to stamp and sign the EPA, and support letting East African protective tariff walls crumble to do it.

Kenya’s biggest exporting industry is horticulture, and flowers make up 90 per cent of its exports. This has landed the flower industry firmly behind the EPA.

Without this trade deal, the half million people directly employed by the horticulture industry and 4.2 million it indirectly employs would be heavily hit by the alternative – an end to duty-free access to Europe, said Jane Ngige, CEO of the Kenya Flower Council.

The industry currently benefits from zero-rated tariffs on some products and an average of 2.59 per cent on exports to Europe, its biggest foreign market where it enjoys a 24 per cent market share. During the airway disruption in April as volcanic ash drifted over Europe the horticulture industry lost an estimated Ksh231 million per day, CEO Stephen Mbithi of the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya told reporters. Last year the industry brought in US$924 million; Kenya’s biggest foreign currency earner.

‘If we lost the EPA we will not be competitive in the marketplace, so we will lose exports,’ Ngige said. ‘Kenya would be losing these jobs.’

But jobs in less established and developing industries in Kenya and the region would be lost if the EPA is signed, Tandon said.

‘Many industries [in the EAC] need a tariff wall,’ Tandon said. ‘Without it, you get deindustrialisation as a result.’

It is small and medium-sized industries that should oppose EPA membership but it is the big exporters as well-organised lobbyists that are whispering into the ears of EAC trade ministries, Tandon said.

A POLITICAL PLUS

Another tactical push for EPAs, despite drawbacks like flushing domestic markets with cheap EU goods and preserving that unsavoury privilege with the MFN clause, is the ‘carrot and stick’ benefits Europe is sliding over the table, Tandon said.

The 2010/11 budget recently made headlines in Kenyan dailies as a towering tab without the coffers to settle.

The Ksh997 billion budget projection will be supplemented by €500 million – US$602 billion – from the EU, a rise of 25 per cent from assistance in 2009/10.

Tandon called it a motivator from Brussels for the EC’s star proponent for an East African EPA.

Van der Linden refused comment.

‘I’ve never heard about this,’ van der Linden said. ‘If we are [supplementing Kenya’s budget], it’s news to me so I can’t comment.’

The supplement was announced on 12 June by the EU. Tandon said such financial giveaways erode African independence and strengthen the negotiating position of the donor.

‘All these countries are highly dependent on aid. Europe is going to leverage that.’

To even the standing leading up to the November EPA deadline, Tandon advised EAC members to continue to work as a unified region to guard against damaging concessions.

One way to ensure EAC members participate equally is to engage the countries’ parliaments in debate over what an EPA means for each member. Subjecting the Framework to parliamentary ratification would open dialogue to all players instead of leaving it to the few and influential, Tandon said.

‘The tail is wagging the dog right now. Kenya is wagging the rest.’

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Dana Wagner is a recent journalism and political science graduate from Carleton University.
* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

(Quelle: Pambazuka News.)

BRD: Die blinden Flecken im “Piratenprozess”

Freitag, Juni 18th, 2010

“Questions Abound about EU’s ‘Combating’ of Piracy

By Julio Godoy

Credit: EU NAVFOR

German Warship FGS Emden patrolling the Indian Ocean

BERLIN, Jun 16, 2010 (IPS) – Modern German justice had never handled a case of piracy until Jun 11, when 10 Somali seafarers, including children, were presented at a tribunal in the city port of Hamburg, some 300 km west from Berlin, on charges of robbing cargo in the Indian Ocean.

The accused are the first Somali people to be prosecuted in Germany as part of Operation Atalanta, the European Union’s military surveillance of the Indian Ocean officially established ‘to help deter, prevent and repress acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia’.

According to the Hamburg prosecutor’s office, the Somali seafarers on Apr 5 attacked the German container ship Taipan. The cargo was liberated the same day by Dutch soldiers serving in Operation Atalanta.

The EU claims that the operation’s objectives are ‘the protection of vessels of the World Food Programme delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia, of vulnerable vessels cruising off the Somali coast, and the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast’.

To that effect, since Dec 2008 EU war ships and planes and several hundred soldiers patrol the Indian Ocean to chase what the EU calls ‘Somali pirates’.

However, critics of the operation suggest that its hidden mission is to protect European vessels accused by Somali seafarers and international organisations of another form of piracy: illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic waste, including radioactive material, in Somali waters.

One example of the EU’s protection of vessels fishing illegally in the waters of the Horn of Africa is the Spanish tuna fishing boat Alakrana. In Oct 2009, Somali pirates seized the boat, arguing that it was fishing illegally in Somali waters.

Almost two months later, the Somali pirates released the boat for a ransom of some four million dollars after several attempts by the Spanish army to free the Alakrana had failed.

The Somali allegations that the Alakrana was illegally fishing in the Indian Ocean were never investigated. For Jack Thurston, a London-based activist monitoring EU subsidies for European companies, ‘it is almost certain that the Alakrana was fishing for species that are on the endangered list or not far from it’.

Thurston, founder and managing director of Fishsubsidy.org, a watchdog group that researches the EU’s subsidies for fisheries, told IPS that ‘the construction of Alakrana was part-funded by EU taxpayers to the tune of more than 4.2 million euro’.

Allegations that EU companies have been fishing illegally and dumping toxic waste in Somali waters have been frequent since a tsunami in Dec 2004 washed ashore containers full with medical, radioactive and chemical waste on the coast of Somalia.

This casual discovery was later confirmed by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). ‘Initial reports indicate that the tsunami waves broke open containers full of toxic waste and scattered the contents. We are talking about everything from medical waste to chemical waste products,’ Nick Nuttal, UNEP spokesperson, said at the time.

‘We know this material is on the land and is now being blown around and possibly carried to villages.’

Evidence gathered by the European Green party and environmental organisations show that Swiss and Italian companies have dumped toxic waste in the Indian Ocean.

The UN Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has also repeatedly raised the issue of illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic waste in Somali waters. During a UN conference in July 2008, he told the press, ‘because there is no (effective) government (in Somalia), there is so much irregular fishing from European and Asian countries’.

Ould-Abdallah also denounced illegal fishing in the Somali waters before EU authorities. During a 2009 meeting with the high command of the EU’s Atalanta mission in Mombassa, Kenya, Ould-Abdallah said that ‘there is no doubt that there is illegal fishing by Asia and Europe’.

There is no doubt indeed. European boats have been caught fishing illegally practically all over the world, as prosecutions in Canada, Norway, the U.S. and elsewhere show. In addition, given the depletion of fish in European waters, European vessels are forced to go fishing further away – in West African waters, from the Canary Islands in the North to Angolan waters in the south, or in the Indian Ocean.

The waters off Somalia’s shore are still rich with several tuna varieties – all highly priced in international markets. A 2005 report from the marine resources assessment group (MRAG) estimated that the Somali economy loses some 90 million dollars a year due to illegal fishing. Estimates by the UNEP put the figure as high as 300 million dollars a year.

Such figures led the German retired admiral Lutz Feldt to urge the EU authorities to extend the Operation Atalanta mandate to the fight of illegal fishing. ‘For many, illegal fishing is a quick way to make money but for most people in Somalia it represents a heavy loss,’ Feldt told the German news television programme Fakt.

Feldt recalled that, ‘according to international law illegal fishing is a crime and it should be treated as such’.

Even European fishing companies admit that they are exploiting the Indian Ocean waters and involved in illegal fishing.

During a hearing on Operation Atalanta at the European Parliament in April 2009, representatives from French and Spanish ship-owner organisations told deputies that there were about 40 EU fishing boats operating in the Indian Ocean to catch three or four species of tuna fish.

So far, no illegal fishing in the Indian Ocean has been reported as part of Operation Atalanta, let alone European ships being caught doing it.

‘The French and Spanish boats fishing in the Indian Ocean operate in international waters,’ a spokesperson of the mission told IPS. ‘If they were fishing illegally in the area, it would be up to the national authorities of their countries of origin to see that they stop doing it.’ ”

(Quelle: IPS News.)

Kenia: “Krieg gegen den Terror” bald auch hier?

Montag, Juni 7th, 2010

Biden’s Visit Underlines New U.S. Strategic Interest in Region

By Fred Oluoch

Nairobi — Why does US Vice-President Joe Biden all of a sudden want to visit Kenya, when his boss refuses be seen in public together with the two leaders of this East African nation?

As Kenya heads for a vote that will determine whether the country gets a new constitution, a lot hangs in the balance for the American strategic interest in the region.

If Kenyans vote for a new constitution, it is widely expected that this could open up a new chapter for a country that was heading to the abyss just two years ago after political violence broke out in response to a disputed general election and presidential poll.

Optimism already runs high among investors, who are trooping back to the country, opening up international hotels or spending hundreds of million dollars to secure the railway concession.

This trend is expected to pick up after a Yes vote and gain momentum. If the vote is No, however, investment analysts say the country will go back to square one and it is unlikely that there will be enough time or political will to push for a third referendum.

This would heighten Kenya’s political risk among investors, and for the US, a weak Kenya harms its strategic interests in the region, the most urgent one being containing Al-Qaeda and now Al Shabaab.Security analysts say that poverty and mass unemployment among semi-skilled youths, especially in Coast Province, make it easy for global terrorism networks and drugs cartels to recruit cell members in the country.

This potential threat has seen Kenya get $2.2 billion of the $6.7 billion that America has spent on economic and security assistance to the region since 1994.

Biden’s visit to Kenya this week is thus being seen as a precursor to a visit by his boss, Barack Obama, some time in the near future.

But the question is what kind of pressure he is likely to bring to bear on the Kenyan leadership behind the scenes, besides the usual noises about promoting democracy, and fighting official corruption?

According to a press release from the US embassy in Nairobi, the US vice president will meet with key leaders in Kenya, including President Kibaki and Kenyan Prime Minister Odinga, to discuss bilateral issues and the shared interests in peace and stability in the region, particularly in Sudan and Somalia.

While other issues such as terrorism, piracy off the coast of Somalia and transnational crimes such as drug trafficking could be on the cards, the key focus will be US interests in the region, normally expressed through bilateral assistance.

In East Africa, especially in Kenya and Tanzania, the US is keen on funding programmes that go towards youth employment at the coastal areas.

According to a recent paper by Sarah Arrow of Colombia University, the US assistance to the region has become an integral part of its foreign policy, and has come to occupy an important place in the post-September 11 national security strategy.

This is especially so in the Greater Horn countries like Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda.

In 2009, the United States provided more than $1 billion in humanitarian assistance to Africa. Africa is also a major recipient of Millennium Challenge Account funding, with 15 African countries currently participating in the programme.

Total US foreign assistance to Africa through various programmes for 2009 is estimated at $6.6 billion.

The US Economic Support Fund aid has supported a wide range of programmes according to identified strategic objectives.

These priorities are to enhance strategic partnership; consolidate democratic transitions; bolster fragile states; strengthen regional and sub-regional organisations; enhance regional security capacity, and strengthen African counterterrorism cooperation and capacity.

Ms Arrow notes that while in 1995, only Egypt, Ethiopia and South Africa appeared among the top 15 recipients of US aid, by 2005, there were eight countries.”

(Quelle: The East African.)

Siehe auch:

What Kenya wants from Obama’s man

Kenia: Religionen ringen um Einfluss auf die Verfassung

Samstag, Juni 5th, 2010

Kenya: Victory for Kadhi Courts in Mombasa

By Amina Kibirige

Nairobi — The High Court yesterday saved the Kadhi courts and other clauses from being struck out of the proposed constitution.

Justice Mohammed Ibrahim, sitting in Mombasa, declared that the courts did not have the jurisdiction to make a ruling on matters touching on the constitution after the establishment of the Interim Independent Constitutional Dispute Resolution Court.

The petition filed by Bishop Joseph Kimami, Reverend Musyoka Nzui and Agnes Mbinya, on behalf of Mombasa Pastors Fellowship, wanted the court to declare sections of the proposed constitution null and void and order that they be removed.

Last week a three-judge bench in Nairobi ruled that the inclusion of the Kadhi courts in the current constitution was illegal. The judges however declined to comment on the inclusion of the Kadhi courts in the proposed constitution.

The pastors in Mombasa had sued the Attorney General, the Committee of Experts chairman Nzamba Kitonga, and the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution Review and accused them of giving a “narrow, subjective and biased” definition of contentious issues.

Justice Ibrahim yesterday ruled the petition had no useful purpose and that it had been overtaken by events.

“In view of the establishment of the Interim Court, and its subsequent gazettement, I do hold that the previous rulings of the court can no longer hold. There is no vacuum now, the interim court now exists and has been put into operation,” Justice Ibrahim said in his 70-page ruling.

The decision removes one hurdle facing the proposed constitution that is due to be the subject of a referendum on August 4.

The crowded court burst into cheers and shouts of “Takbir! Allahu Akbar!” (God is great!).

The ruling, delivered in the morning, was commented upon by Imams during the afternoon Dhuhur prayers.

Immediately after the ruling, the pastors said they would file an appeal.

Ibrahim further declined to refer the matter to the IICDRC but said the petitioners were at liberty to pursue their complaints elsewhere under the constitution.

“This court, sitting as the High Court, does hereby down its pen for want of constitutional jurisdiction. There must be finality in legal proceedings at any stage or level.” Last week the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya officials Sheikh Mohammed Dor and Hassan Omar moved to court seeking to be included as interested parties. The CIPK, was represented by Mombasa lawyer Mohammed Balala.

The lawyers representing the pastors — Gikandi Ngibuini and Joseph Munyithya – argued that the issue to be determined by the High Court was whether it had jurisdiction after an application by the AG that that the case be referred to the Chief Justice for the establishment of a three-judge bench to hear the matter.

Yesterday, CIPK secretary general Sheikh Mohammed Dor and organising Secretary Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa said they now expected the constitution review process to proceed without any further hitches.

Balala also supported the ruling and said the constitution review process belongs to Kenyans and the High Court had no power to dispute their decision.

Bishop Arthur Kitonga of the Redeemed Gospel church dismissed the ruling saying it had caused even more confusion among Kenyans.

“I really do not know where Kenya is headed to. We leave it in the hands of God,” Kitonga said.

PCEA moderator Rev. David Gathanju and the Secretary General of the Kenya Episcopal Conference declined to make immediate comments on the matter until after studying the ruling and consulting members.

Lawyer Paul Muite commended the ruling saying it was consistent with the existing law.

“Justice Ibrahim is absolutely right. The first decision had nothing to do with the proposed constitution even though that decision was wrong.

In this case, the law is clear as it gives the provision that any dispute should be channelled through the dispute resolution tribunal,” Muite said.

(Quelle: allAfrica.com.)

Siehe auch:

Powerful churches target Kenya’s Constitution over abortion

Afrika: Local rice is nice

Mittwoch, Mai 26th, 2010

“AFRICA: Local rice is nice

ADDIS ABABA, 21 May 2010 (IRIN) – “Local is best” for Africa, said a leading rice research centre as it announced on 21 May that it would focus on improving an indigenous species more than 3,500 years old to feed the continent’s rice consumers.

The Oryza glaberrima rice species, found only in Africa, was better suited to the continent’s hostile growing conditions than the Asian species, Oryza sativa, the only other species to adapt to Africa, said AfricaRice, a Benin-based intergovernmental research organization, also known as Africa Rice Centre.

“The growing conditions will become even more harsh as the impact of climate change unfolds, and the Oryza glaberrima is highly adaptable,” said Koichi Futakuchi, an eco-physiologist at AfricaRice, one of two researchers developing the African species.

The decision to focus on Oryza glaberrima is quite significant, as AfricaRice has devoted the last decade to developing a new variety of rice called NERICA – an acronym for New Rice for Africa – from cross-breeding the African and Asian types.

Our research shows that … the African rice species is able to compete better with weeds, infertile soils, even with toxic levels of iron,” said Futakuchi.

Our research shows that … the African rice species is able to compete better with weeds, infertile soils, even with toxic levels of ironNERICA has had a fair amount of success – more than 80 NERICA varieties that could thrive in rain-fed conditions have been developed and adopted by farmers in about 20 African countries. The best NERICA varieties combine the stress tolerance of O. glaberrima with the high yield potential of O. sativa.

“African rice was initially ignored by mainstream research,” said Futakuchi. “Later, when scientists realized that it had valuable characteristics, they began using it as a source for desirable traits to improve the higher-yielding Asian rice.”

Although varieties of the African rice are still grown in small pockets on the continent, the species was abandoned by most African farmers, who preferred to grow varieties of Asian rice brought in by traders about 450 years ago, bringing the African species to the brink of extinction.

“But now, for the first time, we’re reversing the gene flow, extracting desirable traits from the Asian rice and transferring them into the African rice,” Futakuchi said.

Tewolde Egziabher, head of Ethiopia’s Environment Protection Authority and a global campaigner for protecting biodiversity, welcomed the initiative on the occasion of  the International Day for Biological Diversity, saying: “It makes sense to start with work on the local [species], which are already adapted to local conditions.” The introduction of foreign species was only justified if work on local species had been exhausted, without result.

In a paper by AfricaRice, Futakuchi”s collaborator, Yoboué N’Guessan, cited two reasons for devoting attention to the African species: “I liked the taste so much that I didn’t wait for the sauce! The second was, during trips I took to collect various rice varieties from farmers” fields in 1982, farmers told me, “glaberrima is farmers’ rice, sativa is for office workers”.”

The African species still has problematic traits that reduce yields: the plants tend to fall over when the grain is ripe – known as lodging – and also suffer from shattering, or shedding ripe grain.

In 2009 AfricaRice began work on its entire O. glaberrima collection of 2,500 samples, which are being screened for major diseases and environmental stresses such as acidity, iron toxicity, cold, and salinity.

“I think it will take at least five years to have a line [of the rice variety] ready,” said Futakuchi. There is a tremendous need to boost production, as Africa currently imports 40 percent of its rice needs – at an estimated US$3.6 billion in 2008 – leaving most of the main rice-consuming countries with big import bills.

Rice production in sub-Saharan Africa increased by between 16 and 18 percent in 2008, and a further 4.5 percent in 2009, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). During the food crisis in 2007/08, rice production rose by 44 percent across the Sahel, and by a huge 241 percent in Burkina Faso.

The NERICA varieties led a boom in West African countries like Nigeria, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Mali and Togo, but AfricaRice noted that in the five years from 2002 to 2007, Uganda and Ethiopia also reduced their rice imports.”

(Quelle: IRIN News.)