By Fridah Nkibuga

Regional Economic Communities (RECs) that include SADC and Comesa will receive  US $15 million funding from the World Bank for rolling out Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

Sources say the funds will come under the next funding cycle of Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) 2 from 2015-2020.

Funding availability is contingent upon support to the MDTF2 from the different development partners. Speaking during the business meeting of the 10th CAADP partnership platform held 22 March 2014, World Bank’s lead agriculture specialist, Willem Janssen, said the allocation is based on spending and will see a shift of emphasis to enabling country level programme implementation.

Mr Janssen said MDTF1 prepared RECs in Africa to manage funds and develop adequate procedures, while MDTF2 will see the establishment of a fund secretariat housed within a suitable African organization.

 

By Agencies


The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved US$150 million to finance 19 university-based Centers of Excellence in seven countries in West and Central Africa.

These competitively selected centers will receive funding for advanced specialized studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related disciplines, as well as in agriculture and health.

This landmark Africa Centers of Excellence (ACE) project, which will equip young Africans with new scientific and technical skills, will be financed through IDA credits to the governments of Nigeria (US$70 million), Ghana (US$24 million), Senegal (US$16 million), Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Togo (US$8 million each).

The Gambia will also receive a US $2 million credit and a US$1 million grant to provide higher education, including short-term training, to students, faculty and civil servants through the 19 ACEs.

 

By Joseph Mwangi and

Agencies

New revenue streams arising from recent and upcoming crude oil and natural gas production would be channeled into investments in roads, railways, ports, and power, African finance officials said.

Three finance ministers and a central bank governor told a Washington news briefing that Africa’s “infrastructure gap” is a significant development obstacle that will have to be overcome for the continent’s economic growth to be more inclusive.

The officials told reporters during the IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings that investment in infrastructure is a major priority for Africa as the continent’s governments strive to create more jobs and expand social services.

They noted that many African countries had achieved macroeconomic stability with steady growth and relatively low inflation. Governments were now aiming for better-quality growth by focusing on creating jobs and improving health and education.

 

By Agencies

The three regional trade blocs in East and Southern Africa could become a free trade area by the end of this year.

African high-level officials indicated recently that negotiations for the establishment of a free- trade area spanning three major regional economic communities in Africa have progressed well and could conclude by the end of this year.

“Once we complete (the negotiations), it will be the engine of the continent’s economic and political empowerment.  I am satisfied with the pace of the negotiations.  I look forward, as I am sure we all do, to the conclusion of these negotiations before the last quarter of 2014, remarked President Kenyatta, who was the Chairperson of the Summit of the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State during the East African Legislative Assembly held in  Arusha, Tanzania on 25 March.

Echoing President Kenyatta, the outgoing Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Tomaz Salomão, said significant progress has been recorded towards the launch of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) in a recent SADC summit in Lilongwe, Malawi.

 

By Agencies

EU and African leaders meeting in Brussels last week pledged to deepen trade and investment ties between their two continents, with both sides calling for a “fundamental shift” in cooperation.

The 2-3 April gathering brought together over 60 heads of state, making it the EU’s largest ever summit.

“We are convinced that trade and investment and closer economic integration on each of our continents will accelerate growth,” they said last week in a joint declaration.

To achieve this, they said, would require the development of more productive supply capacity, building up markets, and the implementation of  infrastructure and governance reforms in Africa.

Increasing cooperation in trade, investment, and empowerment, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after the first day of talks, would be key to ensuring that “African problems can be solved by Africans themselves.”

 

By Fridah Nkibuga

Rwanda economy is expected to grow by six per cent this year after slowing down to 4.6 per cent last year, says the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The fund that concluded its review mission to Rwanda last week says the growth had slowed down due to weak performance of the agricultural sector as well as aid-related delays in the implementation of government financed projects.

However, the growth is likely to pick momentum again as inflation has been subdued, reflecting weak activity and low food and fuel import prices.

“Performance under the IMF-supported programmes remains satisfactory. Structural reforms advanced as planned, and the government is moving ahead with much-needed revenue mobilization efforts,” said the mission headed by Mr Paulo Drummond.

“For 2014, economic growth is projected at 6 per cent, driven by a rebound in agriculture and a pick-up in the services sector.”

However, the mission said this will require firm execution of the government’s investment programme while inflation is expected to be about 5 per cent at end-2014.