Gayle, Lewis keep Patriots winning streak alive

first_img Gayle counted four fours and four sixes as he marked his second half-century of the season and went past 200 runs. Lewis, meanwhile, struck five fours and six sixes, as he, too, passed 200 runs for the campaign with his second half-century. He was moving into high gear when he skied a heave at seamer Odean Smith and was caught by the wicketkeeper in the 13th over. Brathwaite then arrived to add 41 off 24 balls for the second wicket courtesy of a pair of fours and sixes, before Nabi pitched in with a four and three sixes in posting a further 50 for the third wicket also with Gayle. In reply, Tallawahs were carried by openers Griffith and Phillips, who put on 64 off 53 balls for the first wicket to lay the foundation for the run chase. While Griffith smashed four fours and two sixes in a 36-ball knock, New Zealander Phillips punched two fours and a six off 27 deliveries. Griffith’s demise – caught at mid-off off a Jonathan Carter full toss – triggered a collapse where five wickets tumbled for 46 runs to leave Tallawahs struggling on 110 for five in the 15th over. Requiring a virtual miracle at this stage, Tallawahs were energised by a 39-run, sixth wicket partnership off 21 balls between Powell and McCarthy but it fell far short of what was required. PAST 200 RUNS BASSETERRE, St Kitts (CMC): Half-centuries from captain Chris Gayle and his opening partner, Evin Lewis, propelled inform St Kitts and Nevis Patriots to a handsome 37-run victory over reigning champions Jamaica Tallawahs in their Caribbean Premier League here Monday night. Gayle stroked an unbeaten 71 off 55 deliveries, while Lewis got 69 off 39 balls in a Man-of-the-Match effort as the hosts mustered 208 for three off their 20 overs – the highest total of this year’s campaign. Mohammad Nabi and Carlos Brathwaite chipped in with cameos, the Afghan blasting 29 off 12 balls and the Windies Twenty20 captain belting 26 from 13 deliveries. In reply, Tallawahs made a good fist of the run chase, managing to end on 171 for seven off their allotted 20 overs. Opener Trevon Griffith top-scored with 42 while opening partner Glenn Phillips and all-rounder Rovman Powell both chimed in with 31, but the target proved outside their reach. Left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi was the best bowler with three for 35. The result saw Patriots move to 11 points and continue second, one point behind leaders Trinbago Knight Riders. Tallawahs remained third on eight points. Sent in at Warner Park, Patriots were given a fine start by the left-handed pair of Gayle and Lewis who put on 110 off 75 balls.last_img read more

The year 2018 – the worst export performance in Guyana?

first_imgBy: SASE Singh; M.Sc. – Finance, ACCA.The economic collapse of the Guyanese economy in 2018 did not happen because of some natural disaster or civil war, but rather by the colossal economic mismanagement of the state of affairs by Team Granger. In just a few years, Team Granger did enough damage to the export capacity of the nation to cause 2018 to be the year with the worst export performance in our recorded history.We measure the efficacy of the export sector by a ratio called “Exports to GDP”. In layman’s language, this translates to the value of exports measured as a percentage of the size of the economy. Exports at the end of 2018 were US$1.372 billion, compared to US$1.435 billion in the previous year (a decline of US$63 million). The reason– massive decline in sugar exports, followed by gold and timber.Using figures pulled from the World Bank and the Statistical Bureau, I was able to compile this time series on Exports-to-GDP from 1960 to 2018. In 2018, the Exports-to-GDP ratio was 40.3 per cent, the worst performance in our recorded history. Guyana has gone backwards since 2016, and is now worse off with respect to the export sector than at independence. In 1966, the Export-to-GDP ratio was 54.9 per cent.The key ingredient for economic buoyancy remains the expansion in the export sector, but Guyana seems to be sitting on a “KANGALA” with Team Granger. The worst three-year period of Exports-to-GDP occurred between 2016 and 2018 (averaging 43.5 per cent). The second worst was the period 2013 to 2015 (the Ramotar years) and then 1983 to 1985 (the back end of the Burnham years). The best three years occurred between 1992 and 1994 when Guyana was exporting goods and services that were valued at an average of 115.1 per cent of its GDP, more than double the performance in the Granger years. That was followed by the period 1995 to 1997 (the Jagdeo years) and then 1998 to 2000 (again the Jagdeo years).If one were to compare average Export-to-GDP performance in the PPP years vs. the PNC years, the information is quite revealing. Under the PPP years, the average Exports-to-GDP was 75.6 per cent compared to the PNC years, which averaged out at 59.8 per cent. If the horrible Ramotar years were extracted from the PPP performance, it would show that the PPP’s average exports-to-GDP were over 80 per cent. In 2017, there were only 12 countries in the world that had a better performance than what the PPP produced from 1992 to 2011.Clearly, under the PPP, the economy was exporting more; the economy was more energised, and it was generating more foreign currency to satisfy the needs of the private sector.If one were to reflect on the Jagdeo years, the Exports-to-GDP were 79.8 per cent, which meant that the Jagdeo team contributed to the greatest sustained period of economic growth in the entire history of Guyana. No other President has done this good for Guyana when it came to exports growth and economic growth.In the final analysis, the Guyanese economy has some major structural defects that are not getting the type of attention they deserve because Team Granger is too focused on an elusive witch-hunt. Over the last 80 days, this Team was even more distracted by the need to stay in power using subterfuge and deception, which clearly leaves them with little thinking time to focus on the key policy needed to aid the required economic transformation.What Guyana needs is leadership and a team that understands the big issues confronting the nation, like the underperforming export sector; and a menu of measures to deal with them. Guyana continues to face low technological adaptation and a grave absence of technology-intensive foreign direct investments ON LAND. What is happening in the oceans will bear fruits for Guyana, but the human impact, especially on those in the poor and working classes, will remain negligible. Thus we must focus on value-added adaptation ON LAND.The world is not interested in raw sugar, raw gold, and raw logs anymore. The world today demands a value-added version of these products; and, over the last three years, there were minimal investments in these sectors to really position the export sector where it needs to be – at 80 per cent of the GDP. Today, in spite of the economy expanding, it is a book figure that is not backed by large increases in new, hard wealth trickling down, and therefore there is less to go around in an environment where the few at the top, especially the politicians, grab the most. This is no way to drive long term human development.last_img read more

Revenue Authority Wants 7% of Domestic Revenue

first_imgThe Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), Mrs. Elfrieda Stewart Tamba, has appealed that the government of Liberia transmit to its account at least 5.5 to 7 percent of the domestic revenue it collects annually. Commissioner General Tamba made the appeal when she, along with other staff and members of the LRA Board of Directors, bade farewell to outgoing Finance and Development Planning Minister, Amara Konneh.Mrs. Tamba warned that if their request is not heeded, it could pose serious threats to the national coffer, as revenue generation could drop.She told outgoing Minister Konneh: “There have been and continue to be many challenges. Underfunding of the instruction remains the major challenge. This challenge, if not mitigated, will further heighten the risk to our national revenue and to the attainment of the strategic outcomes, as your final signature as Finance Minister, Republic of Liberia.”She pleaded with Mr. Konneh to do all to sign their request before he departs Liberia for his new job with the World Bank in Nairobi, Kenya.Before making the request, she had praised the Minister for including the LRA in his farewell tour.“Since early 2011, we have been working together to realize a fundamental transformation in the governance structure of the public sector in our country in order to conform to international better practice,” she recalled. “Together, and including the recognition of former Finance Ministers Antoinette Sayeh and Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, in September 2013, a transformation goal was legislated.”She, however, stated that though the journey to legislating the document was rocky, they all stood firm, and on July 1, 2014, the LRA as an operational vehicle commenced. According to some officials of the LRA, in the last fiscal year, the LRA raised a little over US$640 million. Seven percent of this amount could be a substantial figure for the entity to run smoothly across the country, where it has employees assigned to collect needed revenues for the nation’s coffers. Responding, Minister Konneh, who was leaving the country to head the World Bank Office on Fragile States, including Liberia, told the LRA authorities that the pieces of evidence are clear since the nation’s revenue house became operational. He boasted that because of the “sound decision” they made to separate the revenue house from the Ministry of Finance and the combination of the Finance and Planning and Economic Affairs Ministries, the deadly Ebola virus disease crisis of 2014 didn’t collapse the economy, even though a lot had shut down in the country.“Before I leave, I will be able to do something about your request. I am not doing this because you are asking but because the pieces of evidence are clear,” Mr. Konneh promised.He also used the occasion to thank the LRA staff for working with him over the last four years and when they were still together as one body at the Ministry of Finance. He told them that what they have done for him is far greater than what he did for them. He added: “Four years ago when we first met I was much younger, but I am bit older now and wiser. Some of you trusted and took me in, but some of you didn’t.”However, he thanked all of them for helping to make him the leader he is today.“You gave me confidence to put my anger into good use. I know it wasn’t easy first in the beginning. Your doubts gave me the determination to prove you and my critics wrong. You witnessed my fear transformed into strength. Your rejection taught me courage.”While thanking them from the bottom of his heart, he apologized to those who he might have hurt along the way.Also speaking, LRA Board Chairman Robert Tubman praised the outgoing Minister for the many occasions he leaned toward the Board whenever he and the LRA Commissioner General made a request. He drew a hall of laughter when he suggested that the Minister deferred his going to Nairobi and stay with the LRA. He however promised Min. Konneh that the LRA would always be there to raise the needed revenue for Liberia. While some critics of Mr. Konneh’s always associate his legacy to what they call his “budget shortfall,” Mr. Tubman, who served as Minister of Finance in the 1980s, described Mr. Konneh as not only a technocrat but a people’s person.Mr. Tubman was joined by his fellow board member, Ms. Atletha Brown-Cooper, and Commissioner General Tamba to wish Minister Konneh Godspeed on his new job.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Has the evidence already been burnt?

first_imgDear Editor,Former Minister and now former MP, Dr Rupert Roopnarine, in a National Assembly sitting of December 8, 2016, said in a statement that he was asked by Granger “to sit as a Director on the Board of the Homestretch Development Inc (HDI)”. Mind you, HDI is a private company. Therefore, it is most intriguing as to the source of authority to substantiate why a public official was asked to sit on a private Board by his public service boss. Who are the shareholders of HDI?Can the Guyanese people now understand why we must take every word of Granger with a grain of salt since it is populated with much half-tongue and half-truths? As is evidential today, there is a crisis of credibility in team Granger on many fronts. I seek to support my conclusion with hard evidence.In November 2016, Granger made a public statement about this company (HDI) by saying that “there is nothing secretive or criminal about this company” and that his Government will be very forthcoming with information on this company. Compare his words to the 2017 Auditor General Report and you, Editor, be the judge.This is what the national audit team had to say and I quote:“Payment vouchers to support expenditure totalling $107,119,000 ($107 million) were not produced for audit examination. As such, the completeness, accuracy, and validity of this amount could not be determined.” The 2017 AG Report further stated “In addition, the amount of $500 million was paid to HDI in 2017 by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure to enable HDI to meet its obligation to its creditors. However, there was no documentation attached to the payment vouchers to indicate the works done, supervisory checks carried out on the works, as well as certification that the works were satisfactorily completed. In the circumstances, the correctness, accuracy, and validity of the payments made could not be determined.” (Source 2017 AG Report)I do not know the source of Granger’s ethics training, but clearly one can conclude that there are some serious holes in his statements. What is absolutely clear is that there is no commitment on the part of his team to the concept of transparent and accountable for their actions while in public office. This is just one of the many examples where members of team Granger operated under the misconception that they have a transport over all of Guyana and its resources and are not accountable to the people of the land.As a member of the rational world who has direct training in internal control systems, it behoves me to outline the basic minimum principles that must be followed when payments are made for services rendered. Before any bills/invoices are paid, we must verify if the goods or services were legitimately received. Can Granger, as the CEO, or this team or any of his officers, say if $500 million of goods and services supposedly provided by HDI were legitimately received? Who is hiding this evidence from the Auditor General? Has the evidence already been burnt?It is basic common sense that before any vendor’s (in this case HDI) payment request is entered in the system, three fundamental questions should be asked by the accounting officer?1. Can we satisfactorily say what is being paid for?2. Can we easily identify what was received?3. Were the proper computations made on the invoices?So before a payment is made, you should, at minimum, have a requisition, purchase order, certificate estimating the value of the work completed signed by a competent engineer and countersigned by the independent engineering supervisor. Did the accounting officer of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure follow all steps in ensuring that the payment is valid, complete and accurate?The Audit Office wrote the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Kenneth Jordan on July 19, 2018, (who is the accounting officer), requesting documentation detailing the works done, supervisory checks of the said works, as well as certification that works were satisfactorily completed but got a vague response that the Ministry was not involved in the operations of HDI; hence, it did not have any information detailing supervisory checks or their methodology of determining that works were satisfactorily completed. So why did the Ministry make the payment if it cannot verify the work completed? Upon whose instructions was $500 million paid?As of the date of this letter, I was advised that no further documentation was provided to the Auditor General by Kenneth Jordan on this matter and thus, I encourage the Audit Office to ensure that they pursue this matter diligently and ensure that it is included as a special investigation in the 2018 Audit Report.Regards,Sasenarine Singhlast_img read more

One person dead after collision west of Hythe

first_imgAnyone who witnessed the collision is asked to call the Beaverlodge RCMP at 780-354-2485. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can call Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477(TIPS) , or by internet at HYTHE, A.B. – One person is dead after an early morning collision Sunday west of Hythe on Highway 43.At 2:28 mountain time, the Beaverlodge RCMP responded to a report of a collision west of Hythe.  A car was travelling Eastbound on Highway 43 near range road 123 when it crossed the centre line and collided head on with an oncoming semi-tractor trailer travelling Westbound.The male driver of the car was pronounced deceased at the scene.- Advertisement -The lone occupant of the semi-tractor trailer, a 41 year old male was not injured.Traffic has been reduced to a single lane on Highway 43 as the RCMP Collision Analyst continues to investigate.The investigation continues and the name of the deceased male will not be released.Advertisementlast_img read more

Chelsea and Manchester City battle for Switzerland defender

first_imgChelsea and Manchester City are fighting it out for Juventus defender Stephan Lichtsteiner.The Swiss star has been with the Italian champions for eight years but it is reported he would consider a move away this summer.Arsenal have been linked with the right-back in the past, while Bayern Munich too have expressed an interest.However, according to Tuttosport, it is Chelsea and Manchester City who will battle it out to sign Lichtsteiner.Incoming Blues boss Antonio Conte worked with the 32-year-old at Juventus and he is keen for a reunion at Stamford Bridge.Manchester City, meanwhile, are also pursuing the player after Pep Guardiola added him to his list of summer targets. 1 Stephan Lichtsteiner defender would consider a move away from Juventus last_img

Salem Police Log

first_imgPeeping Tom reported on Mulberry StreetSheriff’s Department reporting a possible deathResident reporting a possible scamProtection One reported an alarmReport of harassmentReport of batteryPossible gunfireTraffic Accident at McDonaldsReport of traffic accidentReport of a possible domestic problemReport of a child out of controlCar door open at Car QuestRite Aid AlarmReport of identity theftSuspicious vehicleReport of unrestrained childrenThreatsMissing propertyPilgrim Way disturbance….concerned callerDisturbance at the Salem MotelReport of an overdoseSuspicious subject at McDonaldsSuspicious vehicleBurglary reportedReport of a child in carUnknown child running around nakedReport of a speeding vehicleReport of a road hazardCall for animal control regarding a dog attackSuspicious subjectThree down on Martinsburg Road Here are some of the events reported over the last few days from the City of Salem Police Log.  The log is provided to WSLM each Monday and we’ll be posting them here each week.last_img read more

In London, voting for identity

first_img16 April 2009 At 4am, London is dark and raining. While my taxi snakes me through the deserted streets, a trainee Jesuit priest is camped outside South Africa House. In the radio studio the BBC journalist asks why we vote, why it’s important, and that hackneyed scribbler question: how does it make you feel? Why did Matthew Charlesworth, our priest in the darkness and first London voter, queue in that deserted square? Obligation, duty, a desire to count and be counted as a South African. All the reasons that emerge from everyone I speak to, and my motivation too. Eventually every South African overseas is treated like a traitor. Someone who cut and ran and now talks the country down from the discomfort of a damp and foreign shore. Yet here we are in our thousands filling in forms, fishing out unused ID documents and lining up around the block to contribute our one, small, indelible cross. At the back of the queue is Heinrich Volmink, who travelled down from Glasgow in Scotland because it is a great honour and a patriotic duty to be here. So much passion and purpose swirls through this five-deep line. We stand only 25 metres from where Mandela gave his last speech to London – perhaps ever. He spent nine hours on the “freedom bus”, continues Heinrich, because my ancestors could not vote. Not everyone is as happy. Like a creature of caricature, a man stands with an old South Africa flag shirt. I suppose he too exercises a choice. We watch him like we would an exhibit. One foot in the old world and a vote in the new, I think. I doubt he will find peace, anywhere. Shame. After three radio interviews and breakfast, it’s time to vote. The early morning bankers, accountants and the priest have retreated to their terminals. Now the backpackers, students and out-of-work consultants shuffle forward in unison. You mustn’t lower your standard, says one man to a girl 20 years his junior as he inquires about her job. He doesn’t have one: tough times. London is South Africa’s largest polling station. Over seven and a half thousand citizens – almost twice as large as the next biggest venue. But our queue is orderly. The mood is good-natured, but also reflective. Examining my compatriots, it’s clear that for most of us, democratic elections are all we have ever known. As you would expect, it’s a mostly white queue with the occasional darker face. Around them cluster journalists: the British ones asking who they are voting for. My vote is my secret, we all say. Throughout, I “tweet” from my phone. These micro-blogging sms’s capture the moment when a man claiming to be a Freedom Front Plus candidate marches up to the door demanding to see the electoral officer. I leave them in a huddle and fill in my forms. First an envelope with your name and voter district number. Then downstairs to check documents, receive a ballot and cast my vote. I get three calls in the voting booth. Your smile has stamina, I say to the official, and we all chuckle. It will be a long day, but so far it is going smoothly: if all your documents are in order. So why did I vote? To reaffirm my citizenship; to exercise my rights; to respect my heroes and dignify their sacrifices and yes, to make a difference. Though Rudi Talmakkies from Saldanha said it best: Obama gave people a totally new view. The youth realise they are part of the solution. For me, that works. Timothy Schultz is deputy head of communications and marketing at The Learning Trust, a not-for-profit company that runs all the education services for the London borough of Hackney. A South African who has lived in London for about eight years, Schultz is an active member of the Global South Africans network.last_img read more

South Africa in the Washington Post

first_imgThe front page of South Africa Now, produced for Brand South Africa and published as a supplement in the 6 October 2010 edition of the prestigious Washington Post. (Click to enlarge.)RELATED ARTICLES • Brand South Africa in Davos • Brand Africa – by Africa for Africa • Brand South Africa appoints CEOSouth Africa’s unique mix of energy, humanity, sheer doggedness and knack for problem-solving are showcased in a six-page supplement in the prestigious Washington Post newspaper, titled South Africa Now and produced on behalf of Brand South Africa.The supplement hit the streets of Washington, DC, in the 6 October 2010 edition of the newspaper. It features contributions by Professor Anton Harber, Caxton chair of journalism at Wits University, veteran journalists Simon Barber and John Battersby, AngloGold Ashanti CEO Mark Cutifani, South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, US ambassador to South Africa Donald Gips, Jann Turner, the director of hit South African movie White Wedding, and Miller Matola, CEO of Brand South Africa.Barber, who is also the Washington-based US country manager for Brand South Africa, commissioned Big Media to produce South Africa Now, and edited it in collaboration with Mary Alexander, the former editor of“With my background as a journalist, I have tended to question the value of supplements like these, figuring they would mostly go unread and land up on the bottom of birdcages,” said Barber.“Recently, however, Bric nations such as Russia and China started doing supplements in the Washington Post that were actually interesting to read, so I began to have second thoughts. What clinched the deal for me was knowing I could enlist the talents of Big Media’s writers, editors and designers.“I was confident we could put together something that was truly reflective of Brand South Africa and which would get read not just by Washington decision makers but by the captains of global finance who would be in Washington for the IMF/World Bank annual meetings when we published.”Printed in full colour, South Africa Now features photography from the image library as well as a stunning American-style op-ed illustration by multi-award-winning South African graphic journalist Francois Smit.The supplement was designed by Irwin Manoim, creative director at Big Media. A newspaper production and design expert with 30 years in the industry, Manoim is a joint founder and former editor of both the Mail & Guardian and the electronic Mail & Guardian, the first online newspaper in Africa and one of the few and pioneering mid-1990s web-based newspapers in the world.“The message of South Africa Now is that South Africa matters, that it’s a country of smart, creative people who have their own ways of doing things and who are making a difference globally,” said Barber.The supplement leads with an exploration of South Africa’s ambitious efforts to balance a growing economy with the need to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, with the most recent example being plans for a huge, US$21-billion, 5,000 megawatt solar park and a smaller solar installation on the island where Nelson Mandela was once jailed.The front page also features a look at Soweto, a book by Jodie Bieber, the South African photographer now most famous for the now-iconic and shocking Time magazine cover featuring the mutilated face of 18-year-old Afghani girl Aisha.Elsewhere in the supplement Motlanthe looks at Africa’s place in the new economic world order, and Cutifani examines why South Africa’s past makes it a good place to do business in the future. Harber discusses media freedom in South Africa, Matola reports on efforts to fix Africa’s brand, and Turner writes about the “normal, crazy, mixed-up country” that inspired White Wedding.Want to read more? Download South Africa Now in PDF format (2.2 MB), or read selected articles online:Powering towards a green economySouth Africa plans to build a massive $21.8-billion, 5 000 MW solar park in its semi-desert Northern Cape province as part of an aggressive push to grow its highly industrialised economy without increasing its carbon footprint.The everyday beauty of SowetoSouth African photographer Jodi Bieber has a special ability to bring out the beauty in the ordinary, even the disfigured. On the cover of Time magazine she made a mutilated Afghani girl look beautiful, and in her latest book Soweto she makes everyday township life shine.Launchpad to a billion consumersBy offering to acquire Massmart for some $4.2-billion, Wal-Mart has joined the parade of global companies looking to South Africa as a springboard into what is increasingly seen as the world’s last great investment frontier.A trek to the start of timeIt will probe the edges of our universe. It will be a virtual time machine, helping scientists explore the origins of galaxies. It’s the Square Kilometre Array, and South Africans are at the heart of its development.Brewing up a global brandMiller Lite. Tastes great. Less filling. And brought to you by world-beating South African company SABMiller.Looking south and east for growthAs the shift in global economic power gains momentum, South Africa’s trade is moving eastwards and southwards in a pattern that both reflects the worldwide trend and helps drive it, writes John Battersby.More than just a celluloid Mandela There is a special bond between Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman and the man he played in the Clint Eastwood movie Invictus, South African statesman Nelson Mandela.Africa in the new world orderKgalema Motlanthe, South Africa’s deputy president, looks at how African economies’ resilient performance during the global financial crisis points to the continent’s new place in a changing world.Mining history for new solutionsMark Cutifani, CEO of the multinational AngloGold Ashanti mining company, examines why South Africa’s past is key to successfully doing business here in the future.Turning up the media volumeSince 1990, South Africa has been a noisy place. After decades of apartheid censorship, the lifting of restrictions on the media led to a cacophony of debate. For the first time in centuries, everyone could be heard, and it was sometimes deafening, writes Anton Harber.A joule of an energy-efficient carSouth Africa, which builds BMWs and Mercedes Benzes for the US market, is in the thick of the race to deliver a truly practical – and stylish – electric car. Meet the Joule.South Africa: Time to believeThe forgiving philosophy of “ubuntu” helps explain how South Africa managed to transcend its turbulent apartheid past and create a unified democracy, writes Simon Barber.Finding sound real estate investmentSouth Africa’s post-apartheid transformation and new middle class are fuelling demand for affordable homes. For private equity fund International Housing Solutions, that means opportunity.My normal, crazy, mixed-up countrySouth African hit movie White Wedding is now showing in the US to rave reviews. Jann Turner, who directed and jointly wrote and produced the film, writes about the place that inspired it – South Africa.Bring on the braaiAll South Africans love it – including Nobel peace prize-winning Desmond Tutu – and its rich, smoky smell floats over the country every Sunday. Celebrate the braai with our great recipe for making boerewors, traditional South African farmer’s sausage.last_img read more

Africa: Serious about food

first_imgA boy smiles for the camera at Eva Orango school in Orango Island of Bijago Archipelago in Guinea-Bissau.(Image: Manoocher Deghati, Irin Photo) The record prices of staple grains in 2008 made investment in agriculture an attractive proposition for countries exporting as well as importing food. The African Union (AU), with its mix of producers and buyers, has been steadily gearing up for self-sufficiency. Shortly after Malawian president Bingu wa Mutharika became AU chair in 2010, he announced a plan to make Africa food secure in the next five years.Martin Bwalya, head of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) said the AU’s seven-year roadmap to put the spotlight on farming so as to promote food security and economic growth, and reduce poverty, was set in motion five years ago.By the end of 2010, the agriculture development plans of 18 African countries had undergone a rigorous independent technical review and were being rolled out.Over 60% of Africa’s people live in rural areas and most depend on farming for food and income. Agriculture contributes between 20% and 60% to nations’ gross domestic product.In a document called The African Food Basket, Mutharika spelt out the details of his plan, which requires countries to allocate a substantial portion of their budget to agriculture, provide farming input subsidies, and make available affordable information and communications technology.This would be possible with the help of a new strategic partnership between countries, donors, aid agencies and the private sector.CAADP, initiated in 2003, covers all the main aspects of Mutharika’s plan, including African governments’ commitment to devote at least 10% of their budgets to agriculture.Under the programme, countries draw up comprehensive investment plans that include the four CAADP pillars: sustainable land and water management, improved market access and integration, increased food supplies and reduced hunger, and research, technology generation and dissemination.“We expect the countries to contribute at least 10% of the annual expenditure budget demonstrating local ownership and responsibility,” said Bwalya.He added while development aid financing remained important, it was also crucial that countries consider measures to attract direct private sector financing to agriculture.Uganda, one of the 18 states to undergo the review process, has met about 65% of its funding requirements from its own budget.The AU’s development agency, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad), which runs CAADP, helps countries to mobilise funds.Is achieving food self-sufficiency in five years a realistic goal? It would be a tough call, said Ousmane Badiane, director for Africa at the US-based International Food Policy Research Institute.He noted that the AU had 53 members with varying degrees of agriculture investment, development and needs, and some countries did not have the structural capacity to reach the target of food self-sufficiency for many reasons including civil conflicts.Going regionalA more realistic option, Badiane said, would be for countries with the potential to improve food production to produce enough to feed their less productive neighbours. This called for expanding regional trade and investment in transportation, including ports, railways and highways linking countries.AU members have begun to take regional economic integration “seriously”, noted Calestous Juma, professor of international development at Harvard University in his recently released book, The New Harvest.He lists regional markets as one of the three opportunities that could fortify Africa’s food security against the rising threat of climate change.There are at least eight regional economic communities, “that are recognised by the AU as building blocks for pan-African economic integration”; these include the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, or Comesa, and the East African Community. However, “Regional cooperation in agriculture is in its infancy and major challenges lie ahead.”Regions could become food secure “by capitalising on the different growing seasons in different countries and making products available in all areas for longer periods of time”, he wrote.Both Mutharika and CAADP emphasise the development of regional markets. Mutharika listed 12 regional trade corridors identified by the various regional economic communities and suggested the AU draw up an institutional framework for each corridor.Science and technologyIn his book Juma lists advances in science and technology as another factor that could propel Africa towards food self-sufficiency, and called for more investment in the creation of regional hubs of research and innovation.Research is being carried out by groups created under Nepad, such as the Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa Network, which has been leading research on food crops, including banana, teff, cassava, sorghum and sweet potatoes. More investment in networks, especially agriculture-related ones, could produce far-reaching results.Fertiliser and subsidiesUnderuse of fertilisers has often been cited as a major cause of low production in Africa. Only four countries – Egypt, Malawi, Mauritius and South Africa – have exceeded the 50 kilograms per hectare target set by the AU, Mutharika noted in his plan.Fertiliser use in Africa accounts for less than 10% of the world average of 100 kilograms per hectare. “Just five countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria) account for about two-thirds of the fertiliser applied in Africa,” Juma said.Mutharika, who promoted the provision of subsidised fertiliser in Malawi, makes a strong case for this approach. At present 19 African countries are implementing various programmes providing fertiliser.Juma sees leaders like Mutharika, who has prioritised food security as the third factor that could set Africa on the path to food security. The Malawian government devotes 16% of its national budget to agriculture.Yet Badiane of the International Food Policy Research Institute sounded a note of caution on subsidies and cited the case of Senegal. After independence the West African country put in place an agriculture subsidy programme in the 1960s that was even more comprehensive than Malawi’s. “It had a dramatic effect on agriculture in Senegal, but by 1979 one of its [agriculture] agencies had worked up a deficit amounting to 98% of the national budget.”Carefully managed subsidies, run for a short term, and aimed at strengthening existing markets and agricultural infrastructure, were a lot more effective, he said.The Rwandan government provided free fertiliser to farmers for four years after 1994. In 1998 it wanted to hand over importing and distribution to the private sector, which unfortunately lacked capacity, so the government continued to procure and import fertiliser but left distribution and selling to the private sector.Since then, aid from financial institutions has helped the private sector build capacity to import, and at least 20 bodies now import several hundred metric tons of fertiliser, Badiane said.Way forwardThe AU’s plans for agriculture also tackle other major issues affecting food security, such as irrigation (only 4% of Africa’s crop area is irrigated, compared to 39% in South Asia); improving soil fertility (more than 3% of agricultural gross domestic product in Africa is lost annually as a direct result of soil and nutrient loss); post-harvest storage loss (sub-Saharan Africa loses about 40% of its harvest per year, against 1% in Europe); setting up databanks to share early warning information and energy.There is a high level of engagement between countries on agriculture. “They meet regularly and we support them in building evidence-based information,” CAADP’s Bwalya noted.If they stayed the course in implementing CAADP, Badiane said in five years a large number of African countries, if not food secure, would be in a much better position to feed themselves.last_img read more