Monday, July 2, 2012

Nigeria: Surgical Team Deployed at Hospitals in North

2 Jul 2012 13:38 Africa/Lagos

Nigeria: surgical team deployed at hospitals in north

GENEVA, July 2, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The ICRC is providing support for selected hospitals where casualties were taken following recent violence. It opened an office in Jos and is stepping up its operations in violence-prone areas of northern Nigeria.

"On 17 June, multiple bombings and the reprisals that followed caused dozens of casualties in Kaduna and Zaria," said Zoran Jovanovic, the head of the ICRC delegation in Nigeria. "Our new surgical team was deployed to help the local medical personnel at St Gerard Hospital in Kaduna treat patients." The incidents also resulted in the displacement of hundreds of people to safer places in the city of Kaduna.

Under the terms of an agreement being formalized with the Ministry of Health, the ICRC surgical team is ready to be deployed anywhere in the country to assist hospitals facing mass-casualty situations.

"Medical personnel attending to patients who have suffered bomb-blast or gunshot injuries require special training," said Mr Jovanovic. "As agreed with the authorities, our surgical team will provide hands-on training on how to treat patients with weapon-related injuries. The ICRC's assessments of almost 60 health-care facilities and a workshop with 35 Nigerian surgeons showed that this can make a real difference for those patients."

The ICRC has been monitoring the situation constantly after major incidents of violence in the states of Borno, Bauchi, Kaduna, Plateau, Kano, Yobe and in the Federal Capital Abuja. In the first half of 2012, the ICRC provided more than 15 hospitals with urgently needed medical supplies, including wound-dressing materials and intravenous fluids in places where casualty numbers were high.

Aid for victims of inter-community violence

Violence between farming and nomadic communities – a decades-old reality in Nigeria – takes a heavy toll in human lives and is often under-reported. From its newly opened office in the city of Jos, the ICRC has taken action rapidly following clashes between communities in the states of Plateau and Bauchi. In April, the ICRC and the Nigerian Red Cross Society brought much-needed food and other essential items to more than 3,600 people suffering the effects of the clashes.

Furthermore, following the 17 June bombings and reprisal violence, the ICRC in collaboration with the Nigerian Red Cross provided food and other essentials for 1,100 displaced people in Kaduna.

Enhanced access to health-care services for Niger Delta communities

Together with the Ministry of Health in the state of Rivers, the ICRC has been providing immunization and other forms of health care for people in remote villages on the creeks of the Niger Delta, in southern Nigeria.

The communities, which have been affected by armed violence in the past, are reachable only by boat and are particularly exposed to malaria, respiratory infections, and skin and waterborne diseases.

Since the beginning of the year, communities in isolated areas of Rivers state have been given better opportunities to obtain primary health care. So far, over 3,500 people living in 20 communities have been vaccinated against polio and tetanus and given vitamin A supplements, de-worming tablets and mosquito nets.

Because access to clean water can also be a major problem for people in these areas, the ICRC built four shallow wells benefiting some 1,200 people in all.

First-aid training

Nigerian Red Cross volunteers are present throughout the country and are often the first to reach, treat and collect people injured in violence. In the 10 states where it is currently working, the ICRC has helped strengthen the national network of the Nigerian Red Cross of over 100 emergency response teams.

With ICRC support, the Nigerian Red Cross has also expanded its community-based first-aid activities. Over 700 members of 27 communities in violence-prone areas were trained in the first half of 2012. The skills they learn can save the lives of victims of acts of violence, road accidents and other serious incidents.

Promoting humanitarian rules

So far this year, the ICRC has held information sessions and workshops on international humanitarian law and other rules on the use of force for over 800 officers from the Nigerian Armed Forces and for units, such as the Special Task Force in Plateau state, involved in internal security operations. In the Niger Delta, similar briefings have taken place for Joint Task Force units, twinned with first-aid training. In addition, at the request of the National Defence College, the ICRC conducted a seminar for 120 senior officers on the protection of the civilian population.

Dialogue with senior police officials focused on the treatment of those arrested in connection with violence. Tailored briefings were given for 150 police officers in Jos and Port Harcourt. In addition, the ICRC improved living conditions at the police detention centre in Jos by upgrading the water supply system, completely renovating the sanitary facilities and improving light and ventilation in the cells.

The ICRC also continued to promote implementation of international humanitarian law by the Nigerian authorities and the teaching of this branch of law in 20 universities.

Humanitarian diplomacy with ECOWAS

The ICRC has maintained close relations with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with which it regularly exchanges views on humanitarian issues of common interest in the greater West African region.

In February, at a seminar held annually in Abuja, measures for better implementation of international humanitarian law were discussed with 14 ECOWAS member States. In April, the ICRC also held a round-table discussion aimed at helping ECOWAS member States develop a strong common position in connection with the upcoming Arms Trade Treaty negotiations.

Source: International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

2 Jul 2012 04:01 Africa/Lagos

Economic Statecraft: Embracing Africa's Market Potential

WASHINGTON, July 2, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Testimony

Johnnie Carson

Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs

Washington, DC

June 28, 2012

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to address the committee on what I feel is an important and timely topic. The U.S. Government is committed to expanding trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa and the numbers show our commitment. U.S. trade to and from Africa has grown significantly in the past ten years. U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa tripled from just under $7 billion U.S. dollars in 2001 to over $21 billion dollars in 2011.

As Secretary of State Clinton said at the annual AGOA Forum two weeks ago: "twelve years ago, the United States passed the Africa Growth and Opportunity act because we believed that the countries of Africa had tremendous untapped economic potential that could and should be developed. We shared a vision with many of you of a future in which economic growth in Africa would fuel growth and prosperity worldwide…trade and investment would multiply…and people across the continent would have new opportunities to start their own businesses, earn higher salaries, improve their lives, and lift the fortunes of their families and communities."

In large part, this vision is becoming reality. It is my firm belief that Africa represents the next global economic frontier. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to weather the global economic crisis more successfully than other regions, and is home to six – and soon to be seven – of the ten fastest growing economies in the world. A recent McKinsey study documented that Africa offers the highest rate of return on foreign investment of any developing region and has for some years now. Consumer spending continues to rise, and 43 percent of Africans currently have discretionary income or could be considered middle class consumers. And a growing middle class is a market for American products – from ipads to Pampers to Caterpillar tractors which increase crop yields to GE turbines which create additional hours of on-grid electricity to Boeing airliners which facilitate African countries' growing links with each other and with other continents.

However, we can do more. Africa's recent economic growth is impressive but the region still only accounts for approximately two percent of global trade. The second pillar of President Obama's recently announced U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa directs the Administration to "spur economic growth, trade, and investment in sub-Saharan Africa." This new approach recognizes that it is in the interest of both the United States and our African partners to improve the region's trade competitiveness, encourage the diversification of exports beyond natural resources, and ensure sustained economic growth which benefits all sectors of society.

This new strategy elevates economic growth, trade, and investment issues by calling for increased U.S. focus to (1) promote an enabling environment for trade and investment ; (2) improve economic governance; (3) promote regional integration; (4) expand African capacity to effectively access and benefit from global markets; and (5) encourage U.S. companies to trade with and invest in Africa.

In addition to the President's new U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, our efforts to increase our commercial engagement in Africa are firmly in line with Secretary Clinton's global focus on Economic Statecraft. The State Department's economic statecraft policy harnesses the forces of global economics to advance our diplomatic agenda and puts the tools of our diplomacy to work to meet our economic goals. We are committed to using every opportunity available to advance not only diplomatic and political priorities but our economic and commercial goals as well. I would like to highlight a few of the programs that the Bureau of African Affairs has been working on as we shift our economic orientation towards Africa from focusing almost exclusively on development assistance to promoting sustained economic growth through private sector, commercial, trade, and investment activities.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act continues to be the centerpiece of our trade policy with sub-Saharan Africa. It is Africa's most important vehicle for market access and its unilateral trade preferences have created enormous goodwill for the United States on the continent. As you know, many African countries are not taking full advantage of the benefits of AGOA. However, some AGOA beneficiary countries take good advantage of the provisions for fabric and apparel product lines. The third country fabric provision component of AGOA was designed to provide an opportunity for AGOA-qualified countries to be more competitive in labor intensive textile processes such as sewing, stitching, and cutting fabric.

It was widely recognized that most African countries were not able to compete in the more capital intensive process of producing fabric from raw cotton. African manufacturers have successfully used the AGOA third country fabric provision to create jobs, not just in the manufacturing countries but have used this provision to create cross-border pan-African supply chains. These supply chains also encourage regional integration – one of our key goals for the continent. Fabric and apparel exports are the second largest AGOA export after extractive industry products. However, these imports still account for less than two percent of U.S. imports.

I'd like to say a few words about what is likely to happen if third country fabric legislation is not renewed. In our globally linked world, American buyers place orders six to nine to twelve months ahead. 95 percent of AGOA apparel and textile exports enter under the third country provision. And the AGOA third country fabric provision is the only way that African textile and apparel companies can remain competitive with larger producers such as China, Vietnam, and Bangladesh.

Without our help, jobs will continue to disappear in some of Africa's most vulnerable economies, affecting primarily women and the families they support. Eighty-five percent of these imports come from just four countries: Lesotho, Kenya, Mauritius, and Swaziland. I know that diplomats from these countries have come to see you to emphasize the disproportionate effect that lack of renewal of this provision will have on their economies.

The effects of the loss of orders are troubling. At the AGOA Forum, the Swazi Minister for Trade told AGOA delegates that the loss of the provision will "shut the country down". The textile and apparel sector is the largest formal sector employer with over 15,000 jobs and employment is already 41 percent in this small, landlocked country. Loss of just one of these jobs means that ten people lose their livelihood, since Swazi officials calculate that each textile job directly supports ten people. Lack of orders have already led to plants closures in Namibia, robbing people of their legitimate livelihoods and governments of much needed tax revenues. The Mauritians report that their orders are down 30 percent since January due to the uncertainty whether this provision will be renewed in a timely fashion.

Madagascar's loss of AGOA eligibility in 2009 is a possible model of what could happen if this provision were to expire. Prior to its loss of AGOA eligibility, Madagascar was one of the top textile producing countries in Africa, exporting over $2050 million in textiles in 2007. Due to 2009 coup, the Government of Madagascar lost all AGOA benefits, including the textile provision. Apparel exports plummeted by $150 million in 2010. This more than $150 million drop in textile exports resulted in the loss of 50,000 jobs which will more than likely never return.

We continue to actively educate, inform and encourage U.S. companies to be more active in Africa. This is a continent on the move and there are enormous opportunities for U.S. companies to enter the market, make money, and create jobs for Americans here at home.

In February, I led a trade mission to Mozambique, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Ghana with 10 U.S. energy companies ready to do business. A lack of reasonably priced reliable power remains one of the most binding constraints to economic growth throughout Africa. Governments across the continent are working to attract new trade and foreign investment that will sustain their rapid economic growth and build their middle class. The goal of this mission was to highlight opportunities for U.S. companies and help address a glaring need for increased power sector infrastructure in Africa. The mission was a success and a number of these U.S. companies concluded partnership agreements with African companies to jointly develop power projects. Ex-Im Bank and USTDA representatives also participated in the mission to ensure that both the U.S. participants and our Africa partners are fully aware of U.S. financing options. We are in the process of putting together a trade mission to accompany the Secretary to South Africa for the U.S.-South Africa Strategic Dialogue. In addition, I plan to lead similar trade missions in the future and continue to help and encourage U.S. companies to be a part of the growing economic dynamism of Africa.

In our continuing efforts to inform, educate and encourage U.S. companies to pursue commercial opportunities on the continent, just last week, the State Department, in collaboration with the Department of Commerce's U.S. Export Assistance Center in Cincinnati, the Department of Transportion, the Ex-Im Bank, USTDA, USAID, USTR, and several other U.S. Government agencies, hosted a U.S.-Africa Business Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. This conference attracted well over 400 participants, including African government officials, and representatives from the U.S. and African private sectors and civil society. The U.S.-Africa Business Conference expanded on the AGOA Forum infrastructure theme by focusing on infrastructure development, including energy, transportation, and water and sanitation. It showcased U.S. business expertise to potential African clients and highlighted trade and investment opportunities in Africa to U.S. exporters and investors through structured networking opportunities for African government officials and business leaders with U.S. state and local government officials and business leaders; informational sessions on U.S. Government opportunities and services from various federal agencies; and site visits to companies and research facilities highlighting potential technologies for Africa.

Cincinnati was selected as the conference location for its potential to increase commercial partnerships with Africa at local, state, and regional levels given its concentration of Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. I am pleased that the Cincinnati conference built on the successes of the 2010 Kansas City, Missouri business conference. Bringing African government officials and private sector representatives outside of the beltway allows us to more effectively focus on business-to-business linkages.

We also have two very popular programs which develop business capacity in Africa, the African Women's Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) and the President's Young African Leaders Initiative. This year delegates from both programs participated in both our AGOA Forum and U.S.-Africa Business Conference events. AWEP is an outreach, education, and engagement initiative that targets African women entrepreneurs to promote business growth, increase trade both regionally and to the United States using AGOA, create better business environments, and empower African women entrepreneurs to become voices of change in their communities. The State Department organizes an annual AWEP professional exchange program for these women to improve their skills and has created a series of public-private partnerships with ExxonMobil, Intel, Vital Voices, and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.

This year's President's Young African Leaders Initiative included the Innovation Youth Summit and Mentoring Partnership with Young African Leaders and brought more than 60 participants to the U.S. for three weeks of professional exchange and entrepreneurial hands-on training. This initiative encourages U.S.-Africa collaboration to promote business innovation, investment, and corporate social responsibility activities in Africa.

However, there are still many barriers that stand in the way of companies that hope to do business there. In many places, corruption is too common. The cost of finance, including investment finance, is too high. Infrastructure is lacking or inadequate. Regulatory systems are often inconsistent and inefficient. Also, many U.S. businesses see African markets as too risky. The perception of Africa as poverty filled and strife ridden persists. We work closely with African governments so that they will continue to enact the kinds of reforms to support improved investment climates which will attract both domestic and foreign investment. In addition, we continue to highlight opportunities for trade and investment in the region for U.S. companies and to work with them to conclude deals. Our work with GE Transportation in Ghana on a locomotive tender where GE was ultimately able to win a deal worth $200 million in U.S. content is but one example. We are confident that the U.S. can compete effectively in Africa, but we have to continue to encourage American companies to go to Africa and we have to encourage African countries to continue to make their regulatory and business environment more conducive for American business. Greater U.S.-Africa trade is in the interest of both America and Africa.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I want to thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I will be happy to answer any questions you have.

Source: US Department of State

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