6 May 2015

WB grant millions for Ebola recovery

The World Bank Group announced on 17 April 2015 at the summit Ebola organized as part of the traditional spring meetings of the World Bank and the IMF, the granting of additional aid worth of US$ 650 million to the most seriously affected by Ebola country. The new funding is on top of the nearly US$1 billion that the World Bank previously committed for the Ebola emergency response.

The new funding is intended to support Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia in their recovery efforts as well as address the alarming social and economic consequences of the epidemic of Ebola in the West African region.

“Even as we work relentlessly to get to zero new Ebola cases, the international community must help Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone jumpstart their recovery and build a safer, more prosperous and resilient future for their people,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group.

The priority areas for the additional funds include: strengthening health systems; agriculture; education; cash transfers and other social protection programs; and infrastructure development.

US Senate debate on global food aid scheme reform

The long-running debate over potential reforms to the US’ global food aid programmes has resurfaced in Washington political circles, with a Senate panel debating last month potential legislation on the subject.

The bill under scrutiny was introduced in February by Senator Bob Corker, a Republican from the US state of Tennessee, and Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat from the US state of Delaware.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee – chaired by Corker – held a hearing on 15 April to present arguments for reforming current US laws on food aid and review the management of the country’s global food assistance schemes. Known as the Food for Peace Reform Act of 2015, the legislation is identical to a previous bill that the two senators introduced last year, which did not make it out of committee mainly due to opposition from the maritime industry and some other interest groups, analysts say.

The legislation, if passed, would free up as much as US$440 million per year to feed up to 12 million more people faster and at a lower cost, Corker argued in a press release. With an annual average budget of about US$2.2 billion over the past decade, Washington is the world’s largest donor of food aid.

Gabon submit climate action pledge

Gabon became the first African nation to submit an individual national climate action contribution (INDC) by officially stating its greenhouse gas reduction commitments at 50 percent measured below an “uncontrolled” development scenario through to 2025. The Central African nation’s contribution also includes a section on adaptation and climate finance.

According to Gabon’s submission, the carbon stock stored in its forest biomass will not be included towards its reductions, given that these forests absorb four times more carbon than the country currently emits. Gabon will put in place programmes to achieve cuts in land-use and forestry – reportedly its largest emitting sectors – reduce flaring from the oil and gas sector, and boost energy efficiency. While Gabon said it will not use internationally-traded carbon credits to meet its planned cuts, the INDC indicates that it will set up a national market for carbon offsets, which will contribute to funding its climate policies.

In total 34 countries submitted climate action pledges to the UN as part of a bid to hammer out a global climate deal ahead of a meeting in Paris, France in December.

UN report focuses on industrialisation

Trade can help accelerate industrialisation and Africa’s structural transformation, concludes the Economic Report on Africa 2015 released by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) at the occasion of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance and Economic Development, which was held on 8 April, 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The report stresses that trade continues to play a vital role in Africa’s economic growth performance and it has the potential to promote “trade-induced industrialisation.” The UNECA analyses that industrialisation can generate employment as well as strong forward and backward linkages with other sectors of the economy.

Such potential could allow for a structural transformation in Africa and ensure that growth translates into sustainable development.

The theme of "industrialisation by trade" was guided by two major considerations: the marginal place that Africa still occupies in world trade and the dazzling results that the newly industrialised countries have managed to achieve through international trade.



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