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ReConnect Africa is a unique website and online magazine for the African professional in the Diaspora. Packed with essential information about careers, business and jobs, ReConnect Africa keeps you connected to the best of Africa.

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Image Cisco Systems to Invest £10 million in Africa

Cisco Systems is to invest $10 million to develop its network infrastructure on the continent. According to the report, five African countries who stand to benefit from the initiative are Nigeria, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Kenya. Cisco, a global leader in networking is known to have transformed the way people connect, communicate and collaborate using Internet Protocol (IP)-based technologies.

According to the company, the investment will empower Africans by deploying Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for development via the networking academies.The academies are currently available in 168 countries globally.The Cisco Networking Academy is an innovative global education initiative that delivers ICT skills to help meet the growing demand of ICTs, while improving career and educational opportunities for students around the world.

South Africa Experiencing 'Listings boom'

The number of companies seeking to list publicly on South Africa's stock exchanges increased from two to 17 in the third quarter of 2007 as compared to the same period last year, in what professional services firm Ernst & Young has described as a "listings boom". This rise in local initial public offerings (IPO) is in sharp contract to the global picture, where listings declined by 22% in the third quarter as compared with the second quarter of 2007, mainly as a result of the sub-prime crisis fallout in the United States. South Africa saw 17 IPOs, with R1.6-billion of capital raised during the third quarter of 2007, according to Ernst & Young Transaction Advisory Services.This represents a significant increase when compared to the six IPOs of the previous quarter (with R1.0-billion raised) and the two IPOs in the third quarter of 2006 (R50-million raised).Thirteen of the IPOs during the third quarter of 2007 were on the JSE's alternative exchange board, the AltX, taking its number of listings to more than 60 since inception.

Johannesburg Exchange Celebrates 120 Years

South Africa's stock exchange, ranked among the top 20 exchanges worldwide in terms of market capitalisation, has celebrated its 120th birthday.The JSE Limited - originally the Johannesburg Stock Exchange - was established in 1887 to raise capital for mining operations. Today the JSE's total market capitalisation is over R6-trillion, with approximately 400 companies listed. Seventeen of these companies listed between July and September, raising R1.6-billion in capital - in sharp contrast to a 22% decline in listings worldwide in the third quarter. Recent years have seen investors extending their interest beyond the equity market and derivatives trading now accounts for more than 20% of the JSE's revenue. This year, the JSE overtook its Indian counterpart as operating the largest single stock futures (SSF) market in the world in terms of volume of contracts traded. The JSE's other markets, all created in the last decade to meet the needs of specific investors, include Africa's most active agricultural products market, and an interest rate exchange. The JSE also launched a currency futures market this year, allowing individuals to trade in the currency futures market through a regulated exchange for the first time in South Africa.

ACCION Backs Microfinance Equity Funds in India and Africa

ACCION International, a pioneer and leader in global microfinance, has announced that its Gateway Microfinance Investment Vehicles Fund (GMIV) has invested in Lok Capital, LLC and has participated in the recapitalization of AfriCap Microfinance Investment Company, Ltd., both Mauritius-based investment companies. ACCION's GMIV participates in investment vehicles in order to support the global microfinance industry and to promote the development of world-class microfinance investment managers. ACCION has also recently participated in the recapitalization of the AfriCap Microfinance Investment Company, an investment fund founded by ACCION, Canadian microfinance organization Calmeadow, and others. AfriCap, the first African private equity fund dedicated to the microfinance industry, has established a solid track record, including two exits with an average internal rate of return in excess of 30%; participation in the listing of Equity Bank Limited, the first IPO of a MFI in Africa; transformation into a permanent capital investment company; and an increase in capital to $50M in its second round of investment. AfriCap Microfinance Fund was established in 2001 as the first African private equity fund dedicated to the microfinance industry. ACCION International's partner microfinance institutions today are providing loans as low as $100 to poor men and women entrepreneurs in 25 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa, and in the U.S.

Bank of Portugal Authorizes First Angolan-Owned Bank

Angolan-owned bank, Banco BIC Portugal, has received authorization from the Bank of Portugal to start operating in the market. The new bank will be operated by former Portuguese minister Luís Mira Amaral, and will have an identical shareholder structure to Banco BIC Angola. Banco BIC Angola began its activities in May 2005 and has now become one of the largest banks in Angola. The majority shareholders of BIC Portugal are Portuguese businessman Américo Amorim, with 25 percent, and Isabel dos Santos, the eldest daughter of Angolan president, José Eduardo dos Santos, with 25 percent. Fernando Teles, the chairman of BIC, will have a 20 percent share in BIC Portugal, which will also have Brazil’s José Ruas as a shareholder with 10 percent. The remaining capital will be split between several Angolan shareholders, each with a 5 percent, including Sebastião Lavrador, a former head of the National Bank of Angola.

KPMG Study on the Banking Industry

A research study on the banking industry in Angola has been completed by the consulting firm KPMG. The document will be launched at a conference on Project Finance and Public-Private Partnerships. The third edition of the study includes an analysis of accounts published by all banking institutions operating in Angola in 2006. This makes it possible to compare banks in terms of such indicators as financial soundness, size, and economic and financial performance.

The Angolan banking industry is presently undergoing a phase of strong growth, during a period of major transformation.

South Africa’s Coega created over 3000 jobs in 2007

A total of 3,198 construction jobs have already been created in the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) since April 2007. Within a period of six months, the figure is already close to 2006’s annual achievement of 3,880, against a target of 2,962. Such numbers were last seen in late 2003 to early 2004. There was more economic activity in the Coega IDZ in 2007 as investors are commissioning their plants. The CDC is also continuing to build infrastructure for signed investors and those who are close to signing. Meanwhile, the monthly employment report for October showed that the total number of people working in the Coega IDZ and Deepwater Port of Ngqura had reached 4,874. This was an increase of 470 people from September. The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) is the operator of the (IDZ) outside Port Elizabeth. Established in 1999 the CDC is wholly-owned by the South African Government and is South Africa’s premier location for new industrial investments.

African Cities to be Connected with Broadband

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the African Development Bank have agreed to collaborate on interconnecting all African capitals and major cities with ICT broadband infrastructure and strengthen connectivity to the rest of the world by 2012. The announcement comes after Dr. Hamadoun Touré the Secretary-General of the ITU announced that one of the summit goals was to interconnect all African capitals with ICT broadband infrastructure and strengthen connectivity to the rest of the world by 2012 as well as interconnect major African cities by 2015.

Kenyan Project to Boost Biofuels in East Africa

A new project to develop an integrated sugarcane facility in Kenya could be a boost for biofuels production in east Africa. The Ngima Project at Homa Bay on the shores of Lake Victoria (‘‘ngima’’ is the word for ‘‘life’’ in the local Luo language) is looking to foster a dual export and domestic system of sugarcane production,
concentrating on both white sugar and biofuel production.

Syngenta and The Royal Society of Chemistry Launch African Science Initiative

Syngenta and the Royal Society of Chemistry have announced the creation of the Pan Africa Chemistry Network to help promote the economic and social development of the continent. The Network, which will eventually span the whole continent, is being established initially in Kenya. Its purpose is to connect African chemists more effectively and to enable them to achieve greater levels of innovation and scientific development.Syngenta is supporting the launch with a GBP 1 million grant. A prime focus of the Network will be agricultural development including food security and sustainability, clean water and disease prevention.Academics will meet through a program of seminars, conferences and workshops. Fellowships and grants will be awarded to enable active participation in these events and to further enhance networking, technology transfer and skills development by facilitating international mobility of key scientists.

US Technology Group Acquires South African Nuclear Firm

United States-based nuclear technology group Westinghouse Electric Company, a group company of Toshiba Corporation, has announced the acquisition of South African firm IST Nuclear. Westinghouse has launched its newly acquired South African operation under the name Westinghouse Electric South Africa. IST Nuclear is a leading provider of services and systems for South Africa's Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) project. Westinghouse views South Africa as a promising market for its particular brand of nuclear power plant, a third-generation pressurised water reactor system known as the AP1000. Eskom has set 30 June 2015 as the date by which it wants to have its first new nuclear reactor up and running by. The state supplier has indicated that it is looking to build as many as five new nuclear power stations by 2025. IST Nuclear was instrumental in the early development of the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor, working with Eskom and US-based investors including Westinghouse. Westinghouse supplies nuclear plant products and technologies to utilities around the world. According to the company, its technology is the basis for approximately one-half of the world's operating nuclear plants, including 60% of those in the US.

Zimbabwe Pioneers Commercial Biodiesel Processing

Zimbabwe has launched the first commercial biodiesel processing plant in southern Africa, underlining the region’s resolve to move to cleaner and renewable sources of energy. This comes amid concerns about the impact of fossil fuels (coal, petroleum and natural gas) on global warming as well as depletion of the world’s petroleum reserves. The biodiesel processing plant, which can produce biodiesel from any vegetable oil-bearing seed, has a capacity to produce between 90 - 100 million litres of diesel annually making it the largest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa. At full capacity the plant will meet 10 percent of Zimbabwe’s annual diesel requirements, which translates to foreign currency savings of US$80 million annually. Another spin-off from the biodiesel plant is the production of several high-value chemical by-products which are essential in the production of industrial lubricants. Source: sardc.net

Cell phone Banking on the Rise in South Africa

The penetration of cellphone banking in South Africa has more than doubled in one year while usage will climb even more sharply in the coming year, according to the Mobility 2007 study by technology research firm World Wide Worx. World Wide Worx's latest study of mobile technology and commerce in South Africa was undertaken in partnership with South Africa’s First National Bank (FNB). 17% of urban cell phone respondents said they had used their cellphones for banking services, compared to only 8% of urban respondents in 2006. The numbers were even more dramatic when cellphone users were asked about their intentions for next year, with an additional 24% expected to begin using cellphone banking. With FNB Cellphone Banking now recording one million transactions per month, the bank believes the secret to success in the industry lies in strategy development. An unexpected finding of the research was that the likelihood of using cellphones for banking services increases with age, in contrast to the usage of most advanced cellphone functions going down as users get older. The study showed that urban cellphone users aged from 46 to 55 years are twice as likely to use cellphones for banking as those in the 19 to 24 age group.

Rio Tinto Alcan Partners to Support Guinea's Efforts in Achieving Millennium Development Goals

Rio Tinto Alcan has announced that it will support Guinea's efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through a Partnership with the United Nations Development Programme and Guinea's National Ministry of the Interior and Security. The Partnership will fund a project to strengthen the planning capacity of elected officials and civil servants in the Boké region, where Rio Tinto Alcan holds an interest in Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée (CBG) and is studying development of an alumina refinery. The Partnership has engaged the Association des volontaires pour le développement en Guinée — an NGO whose main areas of focus include rural development and decentralization in upper and central Guinea — to train approximately 150 elected officials and civil servants to produce five-year development plans in support of the Government’s efforts to achieve the MDGs. In addition to the Partnership, Rio Tinto Alcan will help elected officials identify financial partners that can provide rural communities with assistance in implementing their plans in areas such as health, education and income-generating activities. The number of people expected to benefit directly and indirectly from this Partnership is approximately 500,000.

Nissan Opens Car Plant in Angola

Nissan will open a plant in Angola to produce CSG cars, with Japan’s Nissan technology. CSG Automóvel-Angola was founded using investments provided by the China International Fund (CIF). With a production capacity of 30,000 vehicles per year, the plant will produce pick-ups, SUVs, MPVs (multi-purpose vehicles), automobiles, and special models. The SUVs, pick-ups, and automobiles will use Nissan technology.

Bayer Foundation Awards $1.5 Million in Grants to Support Science and Environmental Education, Sustainability

The Bayer Foundation has announced that it will award a total of $1.5 million in grants over the next few years to a number of nonprofit organizations and universities for programs that foster sustainable development, science and environmental education, workforce development, diversity and the arts. From "green" chemistry and sustainable boating and energy technologies to initiatives designed to bolster diversity and reverse under representation by women and minorities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, recent Bayer Foundation grant recipients represent eight national and regional organizations and universities working in these and other areas.

New Leadership Programme Tailored for Women

The UCT Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB) will launch an innovative programme in 2008 specifically designed to develop women leaders in South Africa. According to Dr Marjolijn Dijksterhuis, director of the new Women in Leadership Programme, it is designed for women with proven leadership capacity who want to develop to their full professional potential and realise opportunities for their organisations and themselves. The Women in Leadership Programme, being offered by the UCT GSB’s top ranking Executive Education unit, consists of two modules. The course runs at the UCT GSB campus in Cape Town from 10 - 14 March 2008 (module 1) and 7 - 11 April 2008

African Diaspora must share knowledge says Mbeki

President Thabo Mbeki has outlined the pressing need for Africa and Africans in the Diaspora to share knowledge and economic cooperation, in order to boost development.Addressing the African Diaspora Ministerial Conference, President Mbeki stated that there is an urgent need for knowledge sharing and economic cooperation between Africa and the Diaspora. Sharing knowledge with the aim of boosting development could be taken forward in areas such as telecommunication, saying, “at the same, if we were able to work better together with the Africans in the Diaspora, utilising the skills and expertise that many of them have, many of these programmes and projects will be implemented faster and I am certain more efficiently.” President Mbeki fully endorsed the identification by the regional consultative conferences of the need for collaboration between the private sectors in Africa and the Diaspora to increase access to capital, to business expertise and markets to accelerate development both on the Continent and the African Diaspora.

Connect Africa launched to boost ICT projects backed by $55 billion

Connect Africa, which aims to complement and accelerate existing public and private sector ICT projects and investments, has been launched with investment commitments from various stakeholders amounting to over US $55-billion to the development of ICT on the continent.

This collaborative effort seeks to involve various stakeholders active in the region, including China, India, the European Commission, G8, OECD and Arab countries, major ICT companies, the United Nations Development Programme and other international organisations to help implement a number of ICT projects of significant, catalysing impact on the development of ICT infrastructure in Africa. In doing so, partners will build on the progress of countries which have established an attractive ICT policy and regulatory environment to accommodate the private sector investment required for sustainable network build-out. These projects will in turn trigger a cycle of further investment and development.Connect Africa seeks to mobilise resources and enhance coordination between stakeholders in support of national and regional activities and priorities.The African Development Bank committed funds to support the implementation of regional ICT infrastructure projects including NEPAD’s EASSy submarine cable – a key NEPAD ICT infrastructure project.

Angola Signs US$ 45 Million Loan Accord

A US$ 45 million credit agreement was recently signed in Rome, by representatives of the Angolan ministries of Finance, Agriculture, the Reserve Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). IFAD will contribute USD 8 million, the World Bank USD 30 million, the Japanese Government US$ 4 million, and the Angolan Government US$ 3 million. The project will last for six months and comprise of reinforcement capacities, agricultural investment support and project management. It is designed to benefit approximately 200,000 families.

South African Distell Wins Distiller Award

South African spirits company Distell has won the prestigious V&S Distiller of the Year at the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) held in the UK, beating rivals such as Diageo, Beam Global and William Grant & Sons. According to the organisers, the award is based on the company's achievements in the competition, as well as on the range of high-quality spirits in their portfolio. The Stellenbosch-based Distell Group states that it is South Africa's leading producer and marketer of fine wines, spirits, ciders and ready-to-drinks. The company is listed on the JSE, employs over 4 000 people and has an annual turnover in excess of R6.7-billion.

NEPAD Nigeria Working on Numerous Projects

NEPAD Nigeria has been established with a mandate to identify and work with partners in the public and private sectors including civil society and international organisations, to develop, implement and promote NEPAD programmes at the country level. Dr. Tunji Olagunju, a former Ambassador to South Africa, has been appointed chief executive of NEPAD Nigeria and special advisor on NEPAD to Nigeria’s President Umaru Yar’Adua. It is structured into four departments and three NEPAD state coordinators have been appointed to assist in setting up NEPAD frameworks in the 36 states and so far six states have successfully launched their frameworks. The remaining states are currently making plans to officially launch their NEPAD offices. In both chambers of the National Assembly -- the Senate and the House of Representatives -- a Committee on NEPAD has been established to act as liaison between NEPAD and the legislature. In addition, five lead research organisations were commissioned during the third and fourth quarters of 2006 to assess the perceptions of Nigerians on the quality of governance in the country. They produced reports on each of the APRM four thematic areas.

France Telecom Wins Ghana Telecom Bid

A few days after Singapore Telecom withdrew from the race to take over 51% stake in Ghana Telecom (GT), the Government of Ghana has selected France Telecom as the winner of the bidding process for GT. France Telecom beat Vodacom and Portugal Telecom. In all, twenty foreign investors expressed interest in Ghana Telecom when the Government of Ghana announced early in 2007 that 51% of GT would be sold to a strategic investor in a bid to enhance efficiency and quality of service. The rest of the shares would then be floated on the Ghana stock exchange. Source: Databank

New Business Outsourcing Facility for Cape Town

The decision by TeleTech, a multi-national business processing outsourcing (BPO) giant, to establish a facility in South Africa proves the success of the country’s marketing campaign to attract new foreign investment.According to the International Marketing Council of South Africa (IMC), a body that is responsible for promoting South Africa as a preferred trade and investment destination, TeleTech’s decision will further stimulate global interest in the country’s advantages in the fields of BPO and call centres.The new facility will be built in Salt River, Cape Town.TeleTech is the first multinational company to benefit from a new incentive plan launched by the Department of Trade and Industry which has identified the business process outsourcing sector as a major future source of employment. The Colorado-based TeleTech Holdings Inc is one of the largest global providers of BPO solutions. TeleTech has already announced that it plans a number of new facilities in South Africa which will lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs in the BPO industry. The company already employs more than 50 000 people in 18 countries and Cape Town is its first base on the African continent.

$100m German support for Ghanaian Telecom Operator

The German Investment Development Corporation has announced a US$100milion credit facility to Millicom Company limited, operators of Tigo mobile network to expand their operations across Ghana. Under the long term funding agreement, Millicom would be provided with US$80milion off-shore funding and a further $ 20milion from local German banks to finance Tigo's expansion and quality service delivery projects.

Spain Loans Angola US$ 600 Million

The Spanish Government has granted Angola a credit line of approximately USD 600 million to aid with modernization. Two cooperation agreements were signed recently in Luanda, one aimed at the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments and the other laying the ground work for a financial cooperation agreement. The financial arrangement will encourage the flow of capital between the two countries by providing a stable, favorable investment climate.

South Africa Plans More Universities

South Africa plans to increase the number of tertiary institutions in the country in a bid to ensure that 20% of people aged between 18 and 25 are enrolled in the higher education system by 2015. According to the South African Education Minister Naledi Pandor the system would have to take on more than 100 000 extra students between 2010 and 2015 if the government was to reach its target. She also highlighted the need to address the capacity constraints in the higher education system, as the current establishment cannot handle a planned increase in the number of students. She pointed out that there are presently 740 000 students enrolled at tertiary institutions in the country, with 820 000 expected by 2010. Higher Education South Africa (Hesa) chairperson Barney Pityana, who is also the principal and vice chancellor of the University of South Africa, said the government had accepted a proposal by the body which would see undergraduate degrees being completed in four years instead of the current three.

Angolan Banks Create Over 2,000 New Jobs

According to a study on the banking industry conducted by KPMG, the banks operating in Angola in 2006 created over 2,000 jobs, opened over 100 branches, and nearly doubled the available credit. The KPMG Study revealed 17 banks were operating in Angola in 2006; Angolan banks will soon be among 1,000 largest in world; total bank assets rose 53% from 2005 to 2006, reaching approximately US$ 11 billion (Led by Banco Africano de Investimento (BAI), Banco de Fomento Angola (BFA), Bando de Poupança e Crédito (BPC), and Banco BIC, which began operations in 2005).Deposits are up 61%, reaching approximately US$ 8 billion; credits are up 92%, reaching approximately US$ 3 billion. 45% of deposits were transformed into credit, indicating that much of the money is not routed to investments (2005 figure was 37%). The most profitable and productive banks on market were: BESA, Banco BIC, and BFA.

World Bank to Stimulate Diaspora Development Efforts

The World Bank has announced plans to collaborate with the African Union in exploring the possibilities for the development of a Diaspora Remittances Investment Fund.The World Bank statement said the establishment of the Fund would be based on global experiences that exploited the benefits of and leverage remittances to finance Diaspora-led development activities, in a manner similar to existing mechanisms in Latin America.According to a 2005 World Bank report, remittances flows from the African Diaspora are in excess of US$4-6 billion per year and a significant number of professionals from the continent are currently living outside of Africa.The World Bank said it was also exploring multiple approaches for working with the African Diaspora, including through engagement of the Diaspora—in collaboration with African member countries— in the design and implementation of the ongoing portfolio of World Bank-assisted projects (338 projects for about US$22 billion).African Diaspora, defined as peoples of African descent/origin living outside the continent, play an increasingly important role in the continent’s development,

both through the financial resources they send back to their home countries and through their professional expertise. "The World Bank is in a very strategic position to assist in the mobilization of the African Diaspora in support of economic development on the ground in Africa,” the statement quoted Melvin P. Foote, President of the Constituency for Africa (CFA), as saying. “Engaging the Diaspora in providing technical assistance in Africa may well create the necessary synergy to transform how development will be pursued on the continent in the future,” he added. CFA is a 16 year-old Washington, D.C. based network of organizations, groups and individuals committed to the progress and empowerment of Africa and African people worldwide.According to World Bank information, more than a third of Africa’s highly qualified human resources are presently in the Diaspora.

Studies show that the most educated Africans increasingly opt not to return to the continent and stay in their host country after completion of their studies. A survey of African PhD students in the U.S. and Canada in 1986-96 showed that about 44 per cent decided to stay. The impact of the non-return has been debilitating on Africa’s public and private sector, in some cases forcing countries to rely on high rates of international consultants to tackle development work. The World Bank said a partnership with the African Diaspora for the continent’s development was thus essential to enable Africa to increase its capacity to use and apply knowledge and increase its access to financial resources. "With support from African governments, the World Bank hopes to use its engagement with the African Diaspora to strengthen the performance of its extensive port f olio of investment and development policy loans in the region (about US$22 billion) by better engaging the African Diaspora with government support, in the over U S$6 billion of technical assistance which is financed by this portfolio," the Bank said. Source: Africa News

Call for Research Fellow, UNRISD

As part of a new UNRISD Fellowship Programme for Researchers from developing Countries, UNRISD invites applications from African social science scholars, based at an African research institution. The visiting fellows would spend 9 to 12 months working at UNRISD in Geneva. Successful applicants should be engaged in innovative research in the field of Social Policy in Africa. At UNRISD they will continue research in this area, prepare a paper for publication under the UNRISD Programme Paper series and develop ideas for future research. The closing date is 1 February 2008.  http://www.unrisd.org/80256B3C005BF3C2/search/

Building 20 Centres for South Africa 2010

Fifa President Sepp Blatter has launched the official social upliftment campaign of the 2010 Fifa World Cup - 20 Centres for 2010 - in Durban, setting the ball rolling for positive social change in Africa. According to Fifa.com, the campaign aims to raise US$10-million to fund the construction of 20 Football for Hope centres across Africa. Five centres will be located in South Africa, including one in Alexandra township in Johannesburg, and a further 15 across the continent. Each will feature a mini-pitch along with classrooms and health care facilities, providing youngster with a place to play as well as access to counselling, health and educational services. The campaign follows on the success of social upliftment campaigns associated with previous World Cups - Say Yes For Children (2002) and 6 Villages for 2006 - while marking "the first time that the world's largest football event will harness the power of the game itself to inspire positive social change," Fifa said on its website. 20 Centres for 2010 will be conducted within the framework of the Football for Hope Movement, a key element of the strategic alliance between Fifa and streetfootballworld. Football for Hope partners, all successfully established local non-governmental organisations, will provide the education and health care services for the 20 centres, while also encouraging "the social integration of minorities and disadvantaged populations in their respective communities".

IFC and Mercer Launch First Sustainability Survey in Emerging Markets

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has appointed Mercer to undertake the first in-depth research on how prevalent environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) factors are in emerging market investments. Specifically, Mercer will survey fund managers operating in emerging markets to identify and highlight those that integrate ESG factors in their investment processes. The research aims to facilitate investments in sustainability-conscious emerging market funds and to signal to fund managers the growing worldwide demand for sustainable investment products. The survey will include a list of identified fund managers, with information on their capacity to integrate ESG factors. The results will be made publicly available and communicated to investment communities throughout major developed and emerging markets.The project will run for about 12 months and has three major components. First, Mercer will undertake a global survey of equity managers operating in emerging markets, including those based in developed countries, to review their approaches to ESG factors. Second, there will be an in-depth review of mainstream equity managers in Brazil, China, India, and South Korea to assess the extent to which they are assessing ESG risks or opportunities. Third, the project will assess the range of "sustainable investment" branded funds that are offering emerging market products and their total assets to date.

NEPAD-Spanish Fund for the Empowerment of Women calls for Proposals

The NEPAD Secretariat has made a second announcement for proposals under the NEPAD-Spanish Fund for Empowerment of Women, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Spanish Government in support of the empowerment of African women. The NEPAD Secretariat will receive this support through the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation (AECI). On behalf of the NEPAD/AECI Steering Committee, the NEPAD Secretariat is inviting proposals, for the implementation of this project from institutions involved in implementing programmes that have the potential to unlock women’s economic potential, fight poverty, close gender gaps, empower women, are contributing to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the attainment of sustainable development. The prescribed application format should contain characteristics such as the purpose, beneficiaries, duration of the projects to be financed (up to 6 months), proposed budget, geographical location and thematic priority. All applications should be addressed to the Steering Committee and be submitted electronically to the NEPAD Secretariat by 1 pm on 15 January 2008. Full details are now available on both the NEPAD website at (www.nepad.org) and the Spanish and African Women’s Network website (www.mujeresporunmundomejor.org). The detailed format in which the concept identification notes should be submitted is available on both websites in English, French and Portuguese.

US$13 Million Grant to Boost Women in Agriculture

A US$13 million pan-African initiative to increase the role of women scientists in agriculture has been launched in Kenya. The Nairobi-based African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) intends to increase the number of women scientists on the continent. It also seeks to provide role models and address the institutional biases that have limited women in agricultural research.

Nigeria to Write-off $13 million Loan to Liberia

President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua has sought the Senate's approval to write off $13 million out of a total $48 million debt that Liberia owes Nigeria. According to the President, the Liberian Government has made several pleas to Nigeria to write off the debts owed to the Nigeria Trust Fund as well as help canvass support for debt relief from other creditors. Liberia's debt burden currently constitutes an impediment to the country's economic recovery and reconstitution efforts, which are needed to secure durable peace. The outstanding arrears owed to multilateral financial institutions are standing in the way of the country accessing grants and concessional loans as well as benefiting from debt relief under the Highly-Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. President Yar'Adua stated that the proposed partial debt write-off was "part of a broader initiative by the international community to assist Liberia clear its huge debt arrears owed to the World Bank, IMF and the African Development Bank (ADB)." The president said in the letter that the debt owed to the African Development Bank (ADB) amounts to $249 million. Out of this, $48 million "represents loans refinanced through the Nigeria Trust Fund window, which was set up by Nigeria in 1976 under ADB management, to assist poor African countries with soft loans towards meeting their developmental needs." President Yar'Adua said the Federal Executive Council considered the proposal to write off $13 million out of $48 million outstanding debt owed to Nigeria as the nation's contribution towards Liberia's debt arrears clearance process. "This amount covers Nigeria's existing commitment (estimated at $10.6 million) under a three-way burden sharing arrangement worked out by Liberia's development partners and provides an additional amount sufficient enough to bridge the financing gap," he said. The president said that approval of the proposal was motivated by the need to consolidate Nigeria's previous efforts in securing peace, which involved tremendous sacrifice in terms of human lives and huge investment in financial resources.

Rural Connectivity Project for Africa

The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO)is to embark on a project for African rural inclusion known as 'Commonwealth African Rural Connectivity Initiative'(COMARCI). The Chief Executive of the CTO, Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah said the project has been structured to promote faster telephone and internet connectivity for rural communities in the 18 Commonwealth African countries.

Start/PACOM Call for Proposals for 2008 Environmental Change in Africa

A call for research proposals related to environmental change tendered to the African global change research community. The objectives of this call are: 1) to contribute directly to global change science in Africa 2) to enhance the understanding of the impacts and consequences of global changes in Africa, 3) to create long-term, collaborative research partnerships between African scientists and those in developed countries, 4) to foster the integration of African researchers into the international global change research programmes and 5) to contribute to regionally integrated efforts on GEC projects. Priority will be assigned to proposals that focus on the following three themes: Climate Variability & Climate Change; Impacts/Adaptations/Vulnerability to Climate Change; Land Use Change/ Ecosystems/Biogeochemical Change/ Biodiversity.

Lola Kenya Screen 2008 Call for Film Submission

The film submission period for Lola Kenya Screen—eastern Africa’s first and only audiovisual media festival, production workshop and market exclusively designed for children and youth—opens on December 1, 2007.Lola Kenya Screen, therefore, is calling for film entries in all genres, lengths, and formats from all over the world for the 3rd Lola Kenya Screen that runs August 4-9, 2008 in Nairobi, Kenya. Eligible films are those made by children and youth, made with children and youth, and those made for children and youth. In other words, Lola Kenya Screen accepts films made by professionals and amateurs that focus on children and youth. Lola Kenya Screen also accepts family films. Lola Kenya Screen caters to children (6-13 years), youth (14-25 years), and family. Lola Kenya Screen receives films by students, films by children and youth, films with children and youth, experimental films, television series, internet games and even creatively packaged music videos. Lola Kenya Screen serves films of all lengths, formats and in all conceivable genres. The DEADLINE for film entries is April 15, 2008. Please check submission details and entry form at http://lolakenyascreen.org/index.php

Kids for Kids Africa Call for Film Entries Kids for Kids Africa festival is calling for new films made by children in any part of Africa for the 2nd Kids for Kids Africa festival in Nairobi, Kenya (August 4-9, 2008).

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