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May 3rd, 2005 - 10:12:07 | Gathecha Kamau

Hon. Wangari Maathai, M.P. and Africa’s first woman Nobel Laureate from
Kenya, East Africa, was sworn in on 30th March following her election on 28 March,

2005 as the President of the Bureau of the Interim General Assembly of the
Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC).

Also sworn in, was the Deputy Interim presiding officer, Mr. Patrick Ayodele Aderinwale (West).

Other Bureau members are
• Mr. Maurice Tadajeu(Central);
• Madam Fatma K. Zohra (North);
• and Mr. Charles Mutasa (South).

The Interim General Assembly of ECOSOCC elected an 18-member Standing Committee on March 29, 2005 to serve as an AU-Civil Society provisional working group, pending the setting up of the General Assembly.

The 18-member Interim Standing Committee, (three per region) on its part, elected from its ranks, an Interim Credentials Committee which is composed of
Five officers selected from the five geographical regions of Africa.

They are:

• Madam Yvette Ngwewilo Rekanga (Central)
• Madam Joyce Kganyago (South)
• Mr. Omar Gassama (West)
• Madam Agrebi Saida (North) and
• Mr. El-Hussein Abdelgalih Mohamed (East).

The Interim Standing Committee shall perform the function of ensuring
that the elections of the membership of ECOSOCC are finalized within a period of not more than two years.

Apr 27th, 2005 - 11:16:40 | Gathecha Kamau
“YEN and YES announce a Global Collaboration”The largest gathering of Heads of State and Government ever met at the Millennium Summit in September 2000. One of their main commitments, as stated in the Millennium Declaration was to resolve to "develop and implement strategies that give young people everywhere a real chance to find decent and productive work."
Following the Summit, youth employment was subsequently integrated in the Millennium
Development Goals, becoming an important goal in its own right and a key contribution to
meeting other Millennium Goals, including those relating to poverty reduction. Out of these political commitments two leading global initiatives have emerged to address the pressing challenge of youth employment.
The Youth Employment Network (YEN), launched by the UN Secretary General, is a
partnership under the leadership of the UN, the World Bank and the ILO (the latter hosting the Secretariat) that aims to tackle the issue of youth employment at the global, national and local level. Through a mandate provided by two UN General Assembly Resolutions, the YEN is assisting member states in the development of National Action Plans (NAPs) on youth employment, ensuring the specific involvement of young people. The Youth Employment Summit (YES) Campaign was launched at the Alexandria Summit
(September 2002) by 1600 delegates from a 120 countries as a civil society movement for youth employment. Education Development Center (EDC) has been incubating this effort aimed at empowering youth to create sustainable livelihoods. YES is a decade long campaign (2002 – 2012). To tackle this issue, YES has created multi-stakeholder networks led by youth in 70 countries. These YES Country Networks work towards creating entrepreneurial culture and employment opportunities for youth at the grassroots level.
Both YEN and YES are pleased to announce their collaboration in this global response to meeting the challenges of youth unemployment. The collaboration of these two initiatives is significant in that it brings the work of both government and civil society closer whilst keeping the focus on youth.
Eleven Lead Countries - Azerbaijan, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mali, Namibia, Nigeria,
Rwanda, Senegal and Sri Lanka have voluntarily taken the initiative to showcase the development of National Action Plans with the support of the YEN. As the first step towards this global collaboration, YEN and YES will work together to strengthen the substantive participation young people in the development and implementation of National Action Plans in these countries through the in-country co-operation of their affiliates and partners.
For more information on YEN, please contact Regina Monticone on 41 22 799 6819 or
monticone@ilo.org. For more information on YES, please contact Clayton Peters on 1 617 618
2741 or cpeters@edc.org.
YEN Website - http://www.ilo.org/yen
YES Website – http://www.yesweb.org

Apr 4th, 2005 - 12:20:24 | Gathecha Kamau
Trade Experts Meeting in Rwanda
The Trade and Regional Integration Division (TRID) of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) organized an Ad-hoc Expert Group Meeting on the impact of international trade negotiations on the East African sub-region, which took place from the 15th – 19th March in Kigali, Rwanda. The purpose of the meeting was to deepen the understanding of East African trade negotiators of the issues at stake in the ongoing negotiations and define policies and strategies for the future.

The Director of TRID, Mr. Hakim Ben Hammouda, and the UNDP Resident Representative in Rwanda, Mr.Macharia Kamau, opened the meeting.

In his welcoming remarks, Mr Ben Hammouda said the successful conclusion of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations and the Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations with the European Union, could play an essential role in the diversification of African economies and accelerate the fight against poverty. However, for this to happen, African countries need clear and strong negotiating positions. He welcomed the inter-agency cooperation in providing technical assistance to African countries stating that the scope of the negotiations are too broad for any agency to address alone.

In his welcoming remarks, the UNDP Resident Representative in Rwanda, Mr. Macharia Kamau, challenged the experts to ensure that African countries come out of the Doha development round better off than they went in. He said successful trade relations provide an honourable way of addressing the problem of development and reducing aid dependency. Mr. Kamau said the task is not too ambitious as Africa in the past occupied a powerful position in international trade. He said: “we need to address the parlous state of African trade which is currently at its lowest ebb”.

ECA staff made several presentations to the meeting. Romain Perez made a presentation on agreements contained in the WTO July Package and implications for the modalities stage of negotiations; Stephen Karingi summarized and reviewed the mix of policy actions necessary on the domestic and international fronts to mainstream trade in national development strategies; Karingi and Mustapha Sadni-Jallab presented the conclusions of an ECA study assessing the likely impact of EPAs on African countries; and Sadni-Jallab presented results from an ECA research paper on market access in the WTO.

Representatives of the following countries attended the meeting: Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, DR. Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania and Madagascar. Organizations present were ECA, UNDP, the World Bank, USAID/Regional Economic Development Services Office, COMESA, CEPGL. Private sector actors and civil society organizations were also represented.

The meeting was organized in collaboration with the ECA’s sub-regional office in East Africa (EA-SRO) and UNDP.

Jan 28th, 2005 - 08:13:44 | Gathecha Kamau
Kenya, Sudan Agree on Trade Standards
Two weeks after the signing of the Sudan peace accord in Nairobi, Kenyan manufacturers and exporters have reason to smile.

Last Tuesday, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KeBS) and the Sudanese Standards Metrology Organisation (SSMO) signed a memorandum of understanding in Nairobi to foster common standards for products and services and boost the volume of trade between the two countries.

The memorandum, as a trade facilitation tool, aims at the mutual recognition and exchange of standards-related information, and the use of testing, certification and other conformity assessment tools to ensure only quality products and services feature in bilateral trade. This includes product and service quality as well as packaging requirements.

The memorandum was signed by John M. Masila, managing director of KeBS, and Dr Yaseen E. Eltayeb, director general of the Sudanese Standards and Metrology Organisation, and was witnessed by Kenya's Assistant Minister for Trade and Industry Zaddock Syongo and Prof Nagia M. Essayed, the African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology witnessed for Sudan.

By signing the memorandum, Sudan agreed to co-operate to ensure that their manufactured products meet the required standards. The two countries will from now on assist each other in revitalising bilateral trade.

According to KeBS, the memorandum will, "foster collaboration in standards and in the exchange of standard-related information between Kenya and Sudan." Through enforcing mutual standards, both exports and imports between the two countries will be required to conform to both country's stipulated standards.

KeBS will now ensure that Kenyan products not only meet Kenyan standards but also meet international standards. At the same time, imports from Sudan into Kenya must meet the KeBS standards of manufacturing units.

With the signing of the Sudan peace accord on January 9, Kenyan manufacturers and other African nations appear set to tap into Sudan's vast market once the reconstruction process kicks-off.

The Kenyan government declared its trade intentions in Sudan two weeks ago when Trade and Industry Minister Dr Mukhisa Kituyi said that Kenya would establish two trading centres, one in southern Sudan and another in Khartoum, to serve the emerging markets in the country.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) sees the agreement and the peace accord as the key to business opportunities in Sudan.

"The peace in Sudan opens up exciting business opportunities for Kenyan manufacturers. We are developing a concrete strategy to take advantage of the new market," Arun Devani, chairman of the KAM said in Nairobi last week.

However, Mr Devani cautioned that poor infrastructure might hinder the realisation of these benefits. "The government should expand and improve our airports, telecoms and roads so they can handle the expanded export loads."

On January 26, KAM will be meeting with East African and Regional Co-operation Minister John Koech to discuss how the private sector can to explore and analyse the market to identify investment opportunities.

According to Mr Devani, KAM will invite members of the Sudan private sector to the country in February to have experience their manufacturing processes first hand as a way of building business confidence between the two countries.

Although Kenya and Sudan are trading partners through the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa) trading bloc, it is expected that the volume of bilateral trade will increase over the next five years as peace in the south improves conditions for traders.

Under the Comesa free trade area rules, goods from Kenya whose traceability under the rules of origin can be ascertained can be exported duty-free to Sudan and vice versa. Kenyan manufacturers are looking to export construction material, households, processed foodstuff and drugs and medicines, while Sudan will export sugar, oil and sorghum to Kenya.

Despite Sudan being the largest country in Africa and endowed with vast natural resources, its economic performance has been sluggish over the years largely due to civil and chronic political instability, adverse weather, high inflation and a drop in remittances from abroad.

However, the country's oil exports since 1999 have to some extent helped spur economic performance. Thus, the country's gross domestic product per capita grew from $31.2 billion in 1998 to about $37.6 billion in 2000.

The oil wells, situated in southern Sudan, have a daily output of 320,000 barrels per day but experts say the wells are capable of producing up to two million barrels a day. Most of the country's oil is exported via Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

According to oil experts, oil and gas companies are expected to expand their operations, increasing on the country's daily output from 320,000 barrels per day currently to 500,000 barrels per day.

The major oil companies currently operating in southern Sudan are Sudapet, ONGC Videsh Ltd-India, Petronas of Malaysia and the China National Petroleum Company.

Kenya is already pursuing a joint rail connection with southern Sudan, which is expected to radically transform the region's accessibility and communication infrastructure and boost trade as the railway project will also cover Uganda and Rwanda. The project, expected to commence in July, is estimated to cost up to $5 billion on completion.

Earlier this month, a technical working group (TWG) drawing members from KeBS, Kenya Revenue Authority, KAM and the Ministry of Trade and Industry formed to map out a blueprint for investing in Sudan. The group cited various constraints that could limit the realisation of Kenya's full export potential to Sudan.

TWG cited poor infrastructure in southern Sudan, legalisation of commercial documents, compliance to rules of origin, compliance to standards specifications, regulation requirements, promotion of Kenyan products in Sudan, conformity to packaging requirements and visa acquisition as major constraints that exporters and importers into Sudan will have to face. The memorandum will therefore go a long way in addressing these issues.

With peace having returned to the country, it is expected that Sudanese refugees in Africa and in the diaspora and the internally displaced communities will start returning and resettling in the south. This is expected to spur the construction of infrastructure and housing and boost commerce, giving investors an opening to the region's only oil-rich country.

According to Vimal Shah, the group chief executive of Bidco Oil, Sudan has numerous investment opportunities that Kenyan and regional investors can exploit.

"There are basically opportunities in all key sectors; service, manufacturing, transport, building and construction and many more. For instance, there is only one bank in Sudan. Essentially, the opportunities are there," he said.

Jan 24th, 2005 - 09:38:42 | Gathecha Kamau
The Government has revived the CETRAL AGRICULTURAL BOARD to hasten farming reforms

The board, which has been dormant since 2000, is expected to speed up liberalisation of agriculture.

In a Gazette notice, Agriculture minister Kipruto Kirwa has appointed former assistant minister Reuben Oyondi the board's chairman. He will serve for three years.

The board's revival is in line with the launch last year of the Strategy for Revitalisation of Agriculture policy paper.

A specialist in agriculture at the Regional Agricultural Trade Expansion Support Programme, Mr Peter Kegode, said the board's biggest challenge will be to reduce bureaucracy, especially in licensing new players.

Liberalisation has seen the entry of new firms in the tea, sugar and coffee sectors.

A source at the ministry of Agriculture said the board's role would be to advise Government on farming policy as part of major reforms to revive agriculture.

"Major reforms are going to be unveiled in the ministry to ensure agriculture is vibrant once more as it was in the early years of independence," the source said.

Changes include those to improve extension services and markets for farm produce.

Others board members include Mr Abdishakur Maalim Bure, Mr Stephen Ogao Ngoge, Mr Chrispus Tezi Zomolo, Mr Stephen Mwangi Njihia, Mr Suleiman Magut, Col L.S. Kamonya, Mr Philip Kiio Nthiwa, Ms Rebecca Laboso, Ms Sicily Kariuki, Mr Francis Wanyonyi, Mr George Tumwari Murungi and Mr Peter ole Sedara.

The Government is represented by the Agriculture permanent secretary, heads of department and provincial commissioners.

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