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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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Ghana: Non-Traditional Exports Are Booming

Impressive growth in exports from Ghana to the rest of the world has been witnessed over the past few years as more and more Ghanaians explore production in non-traditional sectors. Nowadays it is not only this West African country's cocoa and minerals exports that are enjoying a boom. Handicrafts and agricultural produce such as pineapples and mangoes have picked up over the past five years. Finance and economic ministry recently indicated that the export sector as a whole has performed well, showing steady growth and earning foreign exchange. Exports raised 3,858 million dollars in 2007, representing growth of approximately 40% over 2006. Central Bank has confirmed the growth of the non-traditional sector at a recent press conference. Non-traditional exports rose by 27.1% to 259 million dollars for the first quarter of 2008, compared with 204 million dollars for the corresponding period in 2007. This continues the growth in 2006: non-traditional exports grew from 207 million dollars in the fourth quarter of 2006 to 325 million dollars in the same period in 2007.

Tunisia Ranks Highest for Africa in Global Competitiveness

The highest ranking African country is Tunisia on the Global Competitiveness Index for 2007/8, at 32 with its competitiveness ranking of 4.59. South Africa was ranked 44th out of 130 countries, ahead of Italy and India. Conducted by the World Economic Forum in partnership with leading academics and a global network of research institutes, the index calculates its rankings from publicly available data and the Executive Opinion Survey, a comprehensive annual survey. For the 2007 report, more than 11 000 business leaders in 131 countries were interviewed. The study ranks the US as the world's most competitive economy. Other African countries included are Mauritius (60), Botswana (76), Namibia (89), Mozambique (128) and Zimbabwe (129). Chad was rated lowest, in 131st and last place. The index is based on 12 pillars of competitiveness: institutions; infrastructure; macroeconomic stability; health and primary education; higher education and training; goods market efficiency; labour market efficiency; financial market sophistication; technological readiness; market size; business sophistication; and innovation.

Brain Drain affects Poor Countries Worst

The world’s poorest countries are suffering from a punishing exodus of their most talented, experienced and educated citizens, a UN Conference on Trade and Development report claims. Around a million skilled people from officially-designated Least Developed Countries (LDCs) lived and worked in developed countries in 2004, a brain drain of some 15% of people with university-level educations. The UNCTAD paper said that in some of the LDCs, the brain drain is truly disastrous with five countries – Haiti, Cape Verde, Samoa, Gambia and Somalia – losing more than half their university-educated professionals. Without enough of these trained professionals, it is impossible for the firms and farms of LDCs to use technology to upgrade their products and efficiency, said the agency.

Free Mosquito Nets Save Lives, says WHO

Free distribution of mosquito nets in Kenya has reduced by nearly half the number of child deaths from malaria in high-risk areas. The World Health Organisation has issued new guidance that nets should be given away rather than sold in the developing world. In a groundbreaking project, Kenya’s Health Ministry has distributed 13.5 million insecticide-treated nets across the country since 2003, with the result that the number of children sleeping under a net went from 5% to 52%. Early results from the programme show that in four high-risk areas, childhood deaths from malaria have fallen by 44%. Three hospitals in the malarial-prone coastal areas reported a drop in admissions of 57% in 2006, compared with 1999.

World Environment Fund Invests US$4 Million for Rehabilitation of Natural Reserves

Between 2009 and 2010, the World Environment Fund will invest approximately USD 4 million in Angola, to finance projects related to the rehabilitation of national parks and natural reserves. The first phase of the project will include the rehabilitation of the National Park of Iona, in southern Cunene Province, and Cameia, in eastern Moxico Province, the preservation of endangered species based in the Maiombe forest, in northern Cabinda Province, studies to restore the National Park of Quissama, in northern Bengo Province, and Bicuar (Huíla) and the preservation of Black Antelope in Malanje Province.

Brazil’s Odebrecht Invests Over US$600 Million in Angola

Brazilian group, Odebrecht, currently has investments in Angola totaling over USD 600 million. The investments are related to projects currently underway, and many others are being prepared in Angola, particularly for the interior of the country. Odebrecht’s main business in Angola is construction and they are also interested in the food sector. Maize and sugar are part of the list of goods that the Brazilian company wants to invest in, and some of these projects are already moving forward in Malanje Province.

Volkswagen Wins R12 Billion Filter Export Contract

Volkswagen South Africa, along with catalytic converter and exhaust systems manufacturer Eberspächer SA, have been awarded a R12-billion contract to supply the Volkswagen Group with diesel particulate filters for the next five years. The deal is one of the biggest export contracts for a single part ever awarded to the company. A diesel particulate filter is a device designed to remove diesel particulate matter or soot from the exhaust gas of a diesel engine. The component forms part of the latest common rail engines manufactured by the Volkswagen Group. Volkswagen SA and Eberspächer SA, who will share the production volume, are to invest approximately R55-million in tooling and equipment to manufacture the parts. In addition, the investment in the national supplier base - 80% of whom are based within the Nelson Mandela Bay region (greater Port Elizabeth) - will be approximately R26-million. The new contract will secure more than 100 jobs in the region, with intensive training of operators and quality personnel to ensure that strict international standards on diesel particulate filters are met.

Angolan Cotton Investments Reach US$ 40 million

Efforts to re-launch cotton production in Angola will begin in 2009 with investments estimated at USD 40 million, of which USD 32 million will be financed through a line of credit from the Republic of Korea, with the remainder from the Angolan Government. The project will take place in the Kapango military center and in Kipela, Ngangula Commune, in Kwanza-Sul. Main infrastructural support and irrigation works will be completed by next March and by 2010, the cotton should be ready to produce its first bolls.

Angola Telecom Installs Fiber Optic Network in Luanda

Within the next few months, Angola Telecom will install over 70,000 telephone lines in the city of Luanda, as part of its new project to expand the fiber optics network. The new system will use state-of-the-art technology: 70% Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) and 30% Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL). The new network is a partnership between Angola Telecom, Nokia, and Siemens. Its services will include basic telecommunications, broadband, connections between service provider s, broadband internet, and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

Coega Secures New Investor

The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) has signed up its fifth investor, following a decision by parcel and freight company UTI Sun Couriers to lease a R20-million warehouse within the industrial development zone's automotive cluster area. The CDC has said the speculatively built 3 040 square-metre warehouse was leased to UTI at the beginning of June, only two months after its completion. According to the CDC, such speculative developments are ideal for potential investors who have tight time frames and who want to move into ready-built facilities - such as UTI Sun Couriers, which specialises in the movement of envelopes, parcels and freight throughout South Africa. The warehouses are being constructed in anticipation of high demand due to the number of signed investors and the opening of the Port of Ngqura in the first quarter of 2009.

IBM opens New Africa Innovation Centre

An Africa Innovation Centre has been opened to drive information technology skills development and address business challenges in the economic growth of Sub-Saharan Africa. The first of its kind on the continent, the new centre is part of IBM $120 million, two-year investment through to 2009 that includes new market expansion initiatives and houses Africa's first cloud computing centre. The centre will showcase business approaches and open technologies such as cloud computing, Web 2.0 technologies, service-oriented architecture and systems management. It will also demonstrate next generation banking systems offered at the Banking Centre of Excellence as part of the new innovation centre and environmentally-friendly computing designs. According to the company, the Africa Innovation Centre is a landmark investment for IBM and puts South Africa on the global radar of IBM's business strategy as they continue to be an active partner in the continent's economic transformation into a major global player. IBM is already working with almost 300 software companies in Sub-Saharan Africa and the centre will offer access to IBM's global network of 39 IBM Innovation Centres and 60 research and development labs.

International Conglomerate to invest US$500 Million for Cement Factory in Angola

A group of companies will invest US$ 500 million in the construction of a cement factory in Cuara district, coastal Kwanza Sul Province. The factory will be completed by 2011 and will have the capacity to produce 1.4 million tons per year. The factory named Kwanza Sul Cement Factory (FCKS) will occupy an area of 10 hectares. It has an exploration reserve estimated at 100 years. The factory will also generate over 4,000 jobs. The investors include: Sojitz, of Japan, Acúrias of France, Eta of United Arab Emirates, F1 Smidth of Denmark and Wartsila of Finland.

UBA Takes Over Nigerian Liberty Bank

The Nigerian Deposits Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has formally handed over Liberty Bank to United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), following the conclusion of the Purchase and Assumption (P&A) arrangement. NDIC disclosed that with this handing over, UBA has acquired additional N1.7 billion private sector deposit liabilities made up of about 19,604 accounts. The bank indicated that this transaction brings to six, the number of failed banks acquired by UBA, having earlier acquired Trade Bank Plc, Metropolitan Bank Plc, City Express Bank, African Express Bank and Gulf Bank With this, the depositors of Liberty Bank can be rest assured that they can now get their money from UBA. He noted that with the P&A arrangement which it recently introduced, the private deposits liabilities of 11 failed banks totaling N74.20 billion have been resolved, accounting for 88 per cent of the N84.5 billion deposits in 13 failed banks after the consolidation era. NDIC was appointed liquidator of 11 of the fourteen banks that whose licenses were revoked in January 2006. Sequel to the Federal High Court decision on Societe Generale Bank's lawsuit, the number of banks for resolution by NDIC reduced to 13.

Namibia reaches target of 30% Women in National Assembly

Namibia has become the fourth country in the region to achieve 30 percent female representation in political and decision-making positions. Three more women were appointed to parliament in Namibia in May, bringing to 24 the number of women out of a total 78 members in the National Assembly. This gives women 31% of the seats, up from the previous 27%. The women were appointed on party lines to replace three members of parliament who had died or resigned, two from the ruling SWAPO party and one from the opposition. Some political parties in countries use a system of proportional representation to select women candidates for every second or third place on their list to ensure equitable representation. Namibia has shown a consistent commitment to ensuring women’s equal participation in politics and decision-making as evidenced by the upward trend in the number of women in parliament. At the last general election in 2004, the number of women in Parliament increased from 20 percent to 27 percent. At the same time Namibia appointed a woman, Libertina Amathila as Deputy Prime Minister. Women were also appointed to the positions of Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, as well as Minster of Finance. With the latest appointments, Namibia becomes the fourth SADC country to attain the target set out in the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development in 1997, joining Mozambique, South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania in fulfilling this quota.

US Oil Company Invests US$3 Billion in Angolan Block 14

Chevron, a US Company, will invest USD 3 billion in the development of the Tômbua Landana Project in Angola’s offshore Block 14. This Angolan project is part of an overall investment of USD 20 billion planned for the next five years. The idea is to respond to higher world demand for oil and gas by stimulating production in Africa, especially in Angola and Nigeria. Tômbua Landana is expected to pump nearly 125,000 barrels per day (bpd) during its initial phase. The 5-year investment plan surpasses the company’s 2003-2008 plan by 30%.

Social Exclusion and the Gender Gap in Education

Why does an educational gender gap remain in some countries? This policy research paper for the World Bank Human Development Network Chief Economists Office reviews gender in education and tests the relevance of ethno-linguistic fractionalisation (ELF) in explaining cross-country differences in learning and school attainment. Evidence from cross-country studies, household surveys, and anthropological observation shows that educating women provides multiple pay-offs for households and societies. Despite a sharp increase in the share of girls who enrol in, attend, and complete various levels of schooling, a gender education gap remains in some countries. These gaps are especially severe in countries where historically women have been marginalised, and where they are ‘doubly disadvantaged’ through also being socially excluded. Economic and psychosocial obstacles to schooling exist where girls are impoverished, from ethnic minorities, lower castes or remote communities. ELF captures the degree of racial and linguistic difference within 190 countries, and was developed originally to explain the drivers of economic growth. It is highly correlated with other measures of social exclusion. The study applies ELF to the analysis of gender education gaps for the first time.

http://econ.worldbank.org/external/default/main? pagePK=64165259 &theSitePK=469382&piPK=64165421&menuPK=64166093

Mauritius Launches a Budget in Support of Women

The recently approved national budget on the Indian Ocean island state Mauritius is seen as unique in an African context. It puts women and gender issues right at its centre of focus. The budget outlines a comprehensive programme that, among other things, offers training and re-skilling activities geared to women, which take into account the needs of mothers for flexible working conditions and childcare facilities. The Mauritian programme for mothers is just one of the budget plans designed to not only support families in the short term, but also more importantly give women skills and opportunities that will help them help themselves. To assist women with accessing finance to start or grow businesses, a Manufacturing Adjustment and Small Medium Enterprise Development Fund to provide loans of up to rupees 100,000 (about US$ 3,600) without any collateral. Budgets have been earmarked to reduce the unemployment of women, eradication of poverty, and assistance to victims and survivors of gender violence. This step forward in Mauritius continues the nation's progressive moves to taking a gendered approach to their national economic plans, looking at the impact that national resources can have to better the lives of both men and women in the country. Source: afrol News

Chinese Equity Fund to invest $300 Million in Africa

A Chinese private equity fund set up a year ago for ventures in Africa plans to spend about $300 million on projects in 2008iday. The China-Africa Development Fund (CADFund) was launched in June 2007 with an initial $1 billion provided by the China Development Bank and plans to eventually grow to $5 billion, according to the Fund's vice-president Hu Zhirong. It has invested $60 million in the first glass factory in Ethiopia, a power station in Ghana and a chrome plant in Zimbabwe. It is also working with several Chinese firms to form a holding company that will manufacture construction materials in all African countries. Bilateral trade between China and Africa has soared this decade to $73.8 billion in 2007 from $10.8 billion in 2000, while foreign direct investments grew from $500 million to $13.7 billion during the same period, he said. Hu said China was intervening in Africa through government aid and concessionary loans, but that direct investment was the best way to aid the continent in creating wealth. Although the idea to set up the fund was mooted at a China-Africa cooperation summit in Beijing at the end of 2006, the fund finances private sector projects, he said. CADFund's priorities are in agriculture and manufacturing industries, infrastructure development, natural resources and industrial parks. Exponential growth in China and India have supplied a model for successful growth to Africa's developing nations. Economic expansion on the continent was an average 5.8 percent in 2007, according to the United Nations. Source: Reuters

Donors increase Financial Support for NEPAD Infrastructure Facility

Donors at the 8th NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility oversight committee meeting in Libreville, Gabon, in June 2008 have pledged to contribute more than US$10 million to the facility to support its capacity building activities for the Regional Economic Communities (RECs). During the two-day meeting, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) announced it was contributing US$5 million for the operationalisation of the African Union Commission’s coordination mechanism, while Germany is considering contributing more than 2 million euros pledged last year. Their endeavour surpasses clear commitments made during a meeting in Tunis in December 2007 where Norway vouched for US$8m; DFID US$12.4m, and Germany US$2.9 million. It came on the heels of key achievements scored by the African Development Bank (AfDB), host of the facility since 2004. According to NEPAD-IPPF’s task manager, Mike Salawou, disbursement has increased this year and 22 regional infrastructure projects have been approved for a total commitment of US$13.7 million. The facility is increasing its staff, scaling up investment in infrastructure, as demonstrated by the recent record level increase in the ADF XI, and using a database to manage projects. Capping its recent achievements is AfDB's contribution of 6.3 million UA to the special fund.

South Africa Making Gains on Unemployment

South Africa appears to be turning the corner on unemployment, says Minister of Trade and Industry Mandisi Mpahlwa, pointing to statistics showing a fall in unemployment as well as a steady rise in people's average incomes. With “truly significant” growth experienced over the past decade, and more recently 5.4 percent growth on gross domestic product in 2006, followed by 5.1 percent growth last year, fixed investment in the economy has risen as well, from 15 percent in 2004 to 21 percent in 2007, he said. Real income per capita – that is, the average income per person – has risen at around four percent per person annually since 2004. Around the same time, the official rate of unemployment fell from a high of 31.2 percent in March 2003 to 23 per cent in September 2007.

Angolan Diamonds Export 30% to Dubai

Data released at Angola’s International Mining Fair (FIMA) revealed that over 30% of Angola’s diamonds are exported in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, which is followed by Israel and Belgium with 20%. Hong Kong and New York only account for a small percentage of the sales.

African Development Bank’s NEPAD Department Appoints New Director

Philibert Afrika has been appointed Director of the NEPAD Regional Integration and Trade department (ONRI) in the African Development Bank. In a statement on his appointment he said, “The AfDB has positioned itself to play an expanded role in regional integration and to support the NEPAD process”. The department, created in 2006 to fulfill the mandate that the Heads of State and Government gave the Bank, provides technical assistance to Regional Economic Communities and the African Union in programme design, implementation and in capacity building initiatives. It initiates the preparation of policies and strategies on infrastructure development for AfDB intervention, advises member countries and institutions on technical aspects of projects, conducts sectoral studies in connection with lending programmes, and helps implement regional infrastructure projects financed by the Bank. Mr. Afrika has 28 years' experience in various functions in the Bank. Previously he was Director for Operations, Policy and Compliance under which he provided guidance and oversight for the preparation of sectoral and operational policies.

Ghana-NEPAD Silver Medal for the Private Sector Awarded to Engen

The Ghana-NEPAD award for country contribution – a silver medal for fostering intra-African trade – was presented recently by the Vice-President of Ghana, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, to the Managing Director of Engen-Ghana, John Mensah-Bunsu. He commended the company “for its contribution to the Ghana economy in the context of NEPAD”. The presentation of the award, which is conferred annually under the auspices of NEPAD and the Ghana Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation, was made in Accra at the third Ghana-Africa business awards ceremony. The role that trans-national corporations like Engen have played in contributing to Africa’s development has demonstrated that they have heeded the call for more and active participation of the private sector in the implementation of NEPAD projects, including the African development agenda. Engen has interests in the Southern, West, and East African regions, operating in more than 15 countries. Source: Allafrica

Angolan Government Invests in Housing

The Angolan Government will invest USD 2.6 billion, 10% of the 2008 General State Budget, for housing and community services. The investment is part of the Biennial Public Investment Program, which provides the funding for housing with infrastructures including electricity, drinking water, and basic sanitation. In the coming months, two real estate investment funds are expected to enter operation, beginning a new stage in Angola’s economy. The funds are directed at private or institutional investors who wish to diversify into low-risk products with greater return than traditional deposits. The first fund, FII, will be launched by Real Fund Management in Luanda. The fund will have capital of USD 30 million and will finance the construction of 77 residences in the area of Luanda-Sul, over an 18 month period. The other fund, BESA Património, will be provided through Banco Espírito Santo Angola. Once launched, it will be managed by Sociedade Gestora de Fundos de Investimentos (BESAACTIF). The fund is sustained by 62% capital from BESA and 35% from ESAF - Espírito Santo Participações Internacionais, SGPS. The remaining 3% will be provided by individual entities. In Angola, the make-up and operation of funds are regulated by the Capital Market Commission (CMC), an agency linked to the Ministry of Finance. The CMC lays out norms and regulations that will guarantee good performance for companies and protection for investors. Management activities are regulated by the CMC, with the goal of attracting investment funds and applying them to the chosen real estate projects.

Niger signs Power Deal with China

The government in Niger has signed an agreement for China to help improve the country's power supplies. China will transfer several electrical power units to Niger under the agreement, officials said. The deal comes as Niger's cities have been experiencing power outages, partly due to problems in supply from Nigeria. Chinese companies have recently become more active in Niger, exploring for uranium and oil in the north and east of the country. Government officials said the power units were being dismantled in China prior to their transfer, the BBC's Idy Baraou reports from Niger. Each unit is expected to provide 15-20 megawatts (MW) of power. Meanwhile, Niger's government says it is investing about $4m for short-term improvements to the country's power grid. Demand for power in Niger, a major producer of uranium, has been increasing. Source: BBC

Call for Applications: UPEACE-IDRC Doctoral Research Award

The UPEACE Africa Programme has secured funding from The Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC). This funding will be strictly allocated to African students studying at African institutions and in particular for those, who are in the final stage of their PhD studies. The award is intended to support PhD candidates in their field research, data analysis, associated travel and production costs. In addition, part of the award may be used to access updated scholarly materials and disseminate research findings through publications and conference presentations. The maximum award is US $10,000 per eligible student. Applicants must hold citizenship of an African country and must be enrolled in a PhD Programme in an African academic institution. Complete applications must be received at the Office of the Africa Programme by 12 September 2008.

Kofi Annan Honoured by University of South Africa

The University of South Africa (UNISA) will confer an honorary doctorate on former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, the university announced. Kofi Annan will receive a Doctorate of Literature and Philosophy from Unisa's College of Human Sciences in a special ceremony to be held at the university's Pretoria Campus where he will address media and invited guests. The doctorate will be conferred in honour of Annan's achievements and contributions to development and peace in Africa. Since his retirement Annan has continued to play an important role in African and global socio-political matters. He is currently the chairperson of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a member of The Elders and the head of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities. It was in this capacity that he participated in the negotiations to end civil unrest in Kenya earlier this year. Annan has received numerous awards and honours, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 and over 20 honorary degrees and national awards from various countries.

JM Eagle and Columbia University's Earth Institute Start Water Infrastructure Project in Senegal

JM Eagle, the world's largest plastic pipe manufacturer has launched a major initiative with Columbia University's Earth Institute to provide safer water to more than 11,000 of the poorest people in Senegal. JM Eagle has donated and delivered over $800,000 worth of high-strength polyvinyl chloride (PVC) water pipe which is being installed in several Millennium Villages-projects designed to end extreme poverty in rural communities throughout Africa. The company also plans to expand its current work with the Earth Institute into many more Millennium Village projects over the next five years to bring both potable and non-potable water to some of the poorest people in the country. The initiative is focused on extending a severely inadequate water distribution system that reaches only one-third of the individual communities in the Potou area in northwestern Senegal. Upon completion this fall, the new water supply network will consist of more than 68 miles or 110 kilometers of PVC pipe that connects to 53 villages. Driven by pressure and gravity, the new pipelines will increase drinking water coverage to nearly 80 percent of the region and be the basis for a sustainable infrastructure that drives future health and prosperity.

Renault-Nissan to invest R1Billion in South Africa

The Renault-Nissan Alliance is to invest R1 billion to upgrade Nissan's manufacturing plant in Rosslyn, outside Pretoria. This will help increase output and produce the Nissan NP200 pickup and the Renault Sandero for the South African market, according to Southafrica.info. Nissan says the upgrade will enable the company to produce right-hand drive versions of the two models, as well as to develop the local components and accessories supply chain. The plant upgrade will create an additional 300 jobs, while also increasing output from the current rate of 40 000 units per year to 68 000 units per year by 2009, with the new range of vehicles initially being sold only on the local market - though exports are a future possibility. The Renault Sandero will contribute significantly to Renault's growth in South Africa, and the company is to expand the product line-up offered to local customers with vehicles ranging from entry-level to upper range.

Citi and Ashoka’s Changemakers Launch Changemakers Competition

Citi and Ashoka have launched the Changemakers Competition “Banking on Social Change: Seeking Financial Solutions for All,” a worldwide search for financial-service projects that use the transformative power of innovation and skills to achieve real economic and social change. The competition is designed to reach the world’s entrepreneurs and challenge them to use their substantial talents and commitment to providing financial services for all. The objective is to channel the collective energy of entrepreneurial ideas and skills as a means for creating economic and social change worldwide. Nominations are encouraged from the global community by September 26th, 2008. Innovators must submit their entries by October 1, 2008. All entrants will be provided with exposure to new ideas, the opportunity to promote their solutions, and a wide range of access to collaborative partners and investors. A panel of judges, comprised of leaders from media, finance, social enterprise, corporate and academic sectors will select the 12 finalists. These top innovations will then be profiled on the Changemakers’ website where the online community will vote to select the three winners. Ashoka is the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs—men and women with system changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems. Since 1981, it has elected over 2,000 leading social entrepreneurs as Ashoka Fellows, providing them with living stipends, professional support, and access to a global network of peers in more than 60 countries. www.ashoka.org. For more information please visit the competition page at: www.changemakers.com/en-us/bankingonsocialchange

First Women Lawyers Association opens in Somalia with UN Help

The first women lawyers association in Somalia has been established in the Somaliland region with the help of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). “It will take time for the male-dominated legal profession to understand and accept the importance of women lawyers in society,” Antonia Lulvey, UNDP’s judiciary project manager, said. According to the UNDP, the association, which was created earlier this year, currently has five members, with a further 17 women set to graduate from the University of Hargeisa in September. The UN agency has provided grants to enable women to attend the law faculty, as well as supplying equipment, training and financial support to the association. The sole practising female lawyer in Somaliland until last year was Ifra Aden Omar, who currently heads the association. With UNDP help, Ms. Omar provides free legal aid services to women and juvenile cases – most commonly rape, domestic violence, divorce, child custody, child maintenance and inheritance. Currently there are no female prosecutors or judges in Somaliland, according to UNDP, which says it is in discussions with local officials on how to support new female law graduates to practise either as prosecutors or trainee judges.

Nosso Super Commercial Network Nets Over US$ 74 Million in Angola

Angola’s supermarket network, Nosso Super, has recorded US$ 74.38 million from March 2007 to June 2008, and provided services to pproximately 6.4 million customers. Since March 8, 2007, a total of 18 supermarkets have been built in 14 out of the country's 18 provinces, with exception to Kwanza Sul, Lunda Norte, Kuando Kubango and Cunene. The 19th supermarket will soon be opening in Kwanza Sul Province with the capacity to accommodate 500 people per day. The co mmercial outlet is part of a series of 31 supermarkets of the Nosso Super network to be built countrywide, till next December, in a global investment estimated at US$ 202 million.

NEPAD-Spanish Fund support for Women of Namibia

The NEPAD-Spanish Fund for the Empowerment of Women has donated R2.5 million to the Women's Action for Development (WAD) for empowerment training and programmes for 2008 in Namibia’s 13 regions. The training ranges from computer skills, typing and office administration, to needle-work, civic education, project management and bookkeeping as well as the Namibian constitution and laws. WAD is a local non-governmental organisation established in 1994 to empower rural unemployed women through training to generate income for themselves. To date it has trained 30,000 women. New courses in hospitality, housekeeping, upholstery, soap-making, civic education, brick-making, brick-laying and weaving were introduced this year. At the handing-over ceremony WAD executive director Veronica de Klerk said she was grateful to the NEPAD-Spanish Fund for coming on board for 2008 and expressed her appreciation to the Spanish Government for its outstanding financial support. The Spanish Ambassador to Namibia, Maria Victoria Scola Pliego, encouraged other women empowerment organisations to apply for the funds in order to improve the living standards of the Namibian women.

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