By Fridah Nkibugah


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the East African Community (EAC) have launched a collaborative programme to improve the compilation and dissemination of government finance statistics.

The programme involves all the five EAC partner states, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The inaugural workshop was held in Arusha, Tanzania, from August 25-29.

The workshop provided an opportunity for statisticians and economists from the EAC region to identify the needs for technical assistance (TA) to strengthen GFS to be provided by the IMF.

The program will assist the EAC Partner States to meet the fiscal data requirements associated with the East African Community Monetary Union (EAMU) protocol, signed by EAC Heads of State in November 2013.

Dr Enos Bukuku, EAC Deputy Secretary in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, welcomed the opportunity to host the workshop and launch the GFS programme.

“The intervention is timely in facilitating production of robust statistical data required for the establishment of EAMU and transition to EAC single currency by 2024,” said Dr Bukuku.

 

By Jim Yong Kim and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

For only the third time in its 66-year history, the World Health Organization has declared a global public health emergency.

This time it is for the Ebola outbreak in the three West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. After their traumatic ordeal in recent months, governments and communities in those three countries are looking desperately for signs that Ebola can be stopped in its tracks.

As medical doctors who understand well both the continent of Africa and infectious disease control, we are confident that the Ebola virus disease response plan, led by both the countries and the World Health Organization, can contain this Ebola outbreak and, in a matter of months, extinguish it.

Let’s also keep in mind that this is not an African problem, but a humanitarian one that happens to occur in a small part of Africa.

The emergency response must focus on four key areas.

First, we must support health workers who are the front line in fighting this epidemic. They have paid too great a price thus far with close to 100 workers having lost their lives attending to the sick.

 

By Karanja Kibicho

Recently, I led the East African Community-European Union delegation to a meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, that had been convened to resolve three outstanding issues on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).

For some time now, the EAC-EU have been negotiating on how to engage in trade, and before Kigali, eight issues out of 11 had been resolved. The three outstanding issues include tax and duties on exports; export subsidies provided to farmers in the EU; and non-trade provisions in the Cotonou Partnership Agreement.

Although the meeting did not agree on these issues, we made a lot of progress. What remains now is to agree on a few points of concern, basically to do with the phrasing of some sentences.

The issues have now been escalated to the ministerial level. It is our hope that agreement shall be achieved quickly at this level and the parties will just initial the agreement and beat the October 1 deadline.

 

By Jane Kariuki

Ministers from the African Union attending the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit have agreed to support a move to expand the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for another 15 years in order to extend and deepen trade and investment relationship with Sub- Saharan Africa.

AGOA was signed into law by former United States President Bill Clinton in May 2000. The objectives of the legislation include the expansion and deepening of the trade and investment relationship with Sub-Saharan Africa, to encourage economic growth and development as well as regional integration, and to help facilitate the integration of Sub-Saharan Africa into the global economy.

Meanwhile Kenya has been ranked among top democratic States in Africa in a report published in the Washington Post.

 

By MFA Press

Kenya’s trade in the COMESA region has increased from US$ 670 million in 2000, when Free Trade Area was launched, to US$2.7 billion by 2012, thanks to country’s steadfast implementation of the programmes by the regional body.

According to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Principal Secretary, Dr Karanja Kibicho COMESA has since become Kenya’s leading export destination, accounting for approximately 73 per cent of total exports to Africa and 33 per cent of total exports to the world.

“I am happy to observe that the EAC and COMESA customs unions are significantly harmonized by more than 80 per cent and therefore the EAC countries (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda) can now proceed to implement the customs union,” said Kibicho.

 

Africa Ebola Outbreak: How Do We Prevent It?

Op-Ed, Aljazeera

By Calestous Juma,

The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has put the international community on alert. Observers have described one of the scenes as a state of war.

The crisis could no longer be handled by line ministries and affected governments have been forced into a state of emergency.

The immediate sources of the crisis are medical. But lasting solutions will have to be sought in the wider economic context in which health care functions.

The roots lie in at least two major weaknesses in Africa's current development trends: poor infrastructure and limited investment in public health.

The Ebola strain ravaging West Africa and putting the international community at risk has not changed since the first outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan in 1976. But Africa's rapid urbanisation has by far outstripped the capacity of public infrastructure and health services to stem the spread of disease.

 

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