Buhari Nominates Environment Minister Amina Mohammed To AU Committee

Amina Mohammed, Renewable Energy, JatrophaPresident Muhammadu Buhari has approved the nomination of the Minister of Environment, Mrs Amina Mohammed, to serve in the African Union (AU) Reform Steering Committee.

The committee, headed by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda is tasked with ongoing institutional reforms of the AU Commission and its organs.

The committee, which comprises eminent persons from the continent, will work on part-time basis to produce a report for presentation to the 28th African Union Summit in January 2017.

In a statement by a spokesman for the President, Garba Shehu, the Presidency described the Minister as a versatile and accomplished development practitioner in the public, private and civil society sectors.

She has over three decades’ experience and had served as the Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on MDGs, serving three Presidents over a period of six years.

Until her appointment as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in November 2015, she was the Assistant Secretary/Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary General on Post-2015 Development Planning.

AGRF Concludes Meeting With Over $30bn Investments’ Pledges In Agriculture

African-Green-Revolution-Forum-in-Kenya-2The 2016 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) held in the capital of Kenya, Nairobi, has ended, with more than $30 billion pledged in investments in agriculture in the next 10 years.

The investments will ensure increase in production, income and employment for smallholder farmers and local African agriculture businesses, a statement issued by the forum on Friday said.

Channels Television’s correspondent, Ayoola Kassim, said that the forum delivered a massive infusion of both financial, political and policy commitments to African farmers and agriculture businesses on a continent eager for new, more inclusive opportunities for economic growth.

She says small-scale farmers are the main focus of the five-day intensive deliberation in Nairobi.

“The largest Private sector group in agriculture are small-holder farmers. They invest the largest proportion into agriculture than governments, private sector and development partners,”  President of the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), who was awarded the inaugural Africa Food Prize, Kanayo Nwanze stated.

Kanayo Nwanze wants more funding for small-holder farmers
Small-holder farmers invest more into agriculture than the government

AGRF 2016 attracted more than 1,500 delegates from 40 countries, including African Heads of State, global business leaders, government ministers, farmers, agribusiness firms, financial institutions, NGOs, civil society groups and scientists, as well as international development and technical partners.

According to the AGRF organisers, the pledge is the largest single package of financial commitments ever delivered to African agriculture.

“Seize the Moment” Campaign 

“It is backed by the broadest coalition ever assembled to support a transition from subsistence to income-earning agriculture in Africa.

“The AGRF partners concluded the meeting by embracing a detailed action plan that commits them to achieving specific milestones over the next 16 months as part of the “Seize the Moment” campaign that served as the theme for AGRF 2016.

“Seize the Moment” was first launched in April at the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Plan (CAADP) Partnership Platform in Accra, Ghana.

Akinwumi Adesina, President of the AfDB

Addressing a press conference, the President of the African Development Bank and a former Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, told the gathering that he was excited with the trend of events in the agriculture sector.

“I have bene into agriculture for a very long time and this is the time that everything seems to be coming together on finance, technology, institutions and political will to drive the change. We can be more excited than to be here,” he stated.

It has quickly become a rallying point for accelerating work around the African Union’s 2014 Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The transformation of Africa will only work if we transform agriculture,” said Kenya’s President, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, speaking to a packed auditorium at the United Nations’ Africa Headquarters in Nairobi.

“This meeting has been not only important, but also very urgent,” he added.

“Because we are coming together at a time when our continent is filled with incredible opportunity, but at the same time it also is faced with profound threats in almost equal measure,” the statement read.

President Kenyatta stepped forward as one of the first champions of the “Seize the Moment” campaign with a commitment by his government to invest $200 million so at least 150,000 young farmers and young agriculture entrepreneurs could gain access to markets, finance and insurance.

The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, joined Kenyatta on stage to spur leaders on the continent and around the world to harness the potential of agriculture to fight hunger and poverty in Africa.

Rwanda has emerged as a strong example of what investments in agriculture can achieve.

According to the World Bank, Rwanda under Kagame’s leadership has achieved dramatic reductions in poverty, “owing largely to increased productivity and commercialisation in the agriculture sector.”

“We should not only seize the moment but continue the momentum for the transformation of agriculture and economies on our continent,” President Kagame said.

“Agriculture is not just one sector of the economy amongst others – it’s the backbone of the economy.”

Kenya’s Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, the Honorable Willy Bett, speaking at the AGRF closing ceremony, praised President Kagame and President Kenyatta for their commitment to the Forum and said it was now up to the AGRF delegates to “do our part and drive this agenda forward.”

GROW Africa

In the final communiqué from the meeting, delegates pledged over the next 16 months to focus on smallholder farmers to achieve significant growth in agriculture productivity and profits in at least 20 countries while unleashing $200 billion in investments in the agriculture sector.

The action plan also commits countries to developing a public “scorecard” that would track progress and hold them accountable.

Specific commitments include unlocking 10 percent of public expenditures for agriculture, as many countries agreed to do when they first joined the CAADP partnership.

Actions steps also will involve launching innovative approaches to providing finance for smallholder farmers and agribusinesses and working through initiatives such as GROW Africa to bring in at least $20 billion in private investment.

“This has been the most productive AGRF since the call to launch the Green Revolution in Africa was made ten years ago by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan,” the President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which serves as the secretariat for AGRF, Agnes Kalibata said.

“As an alliance, AGRA is committed to working every day with our partners to ensure the ‘Seize the Moment’ campaign has a tangible, meaningful impact in the lives of millions of Africans.”

A key highlight from AGRF 2016 included the launch of the African Agriculture Status Report (AASR) for 2016.

The report detailed progress over the last decade and identified key priorities for moving ahead.

Other promises

The head of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Gayle Smith, launched a global report entitled “A Food Secure 2030.”

She told delegates that as President Barack Obama’s administration comes to a close, she was confident that the US would continue to be deeply engaged in African agriculture for many years to come. She pointed to the overwhelming support across the political spectrum for President Obama’s Global Food Security Act and his Feed the Future initiative.

Other promises include pledges by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation to continue their generous support for African agriculture and particularly for partnerships established by AGRA over the last ten years.

Network Africa: Nigeria Now Africa’s Largest Economy As Rwandans Remember Genocide

Network AfricaOn this edition of Network Africa, the growth of Nigeria’s economy hits the limelight as it overtakes South Africa as Africa’s largest economy.

Nigeria has overtaken South Africa as the continent’s largest economy after a rebasing calculation almost doubled its Gross Domestic Product to more than 500 billion US dollars.

The Nigeria Bureau of Statistics confirmed that GDP for 2013 in Africa’s top oil producer was over 80 trillion Naira, up from the 42.3 trillion estimated before the rebasing.

Oscar Pistorius’ harsh grilling from the prosecution in his murder trial on Wednesday also features on this edition, with state prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, vowing to “get to the truth” as he questioned Pistorius about the killing of his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day 2013.

The prosecutor immediately boxed the double-amputee athlete into a corner in what could best be described by the defense as an “ambush.” Our correspondent, Betty Dibia in South Africa gives us details on the trial.

The UN World Health Organization has warned that this is “one of the most challenging Ebola outbreaks they have ever dealt with” and it could take another four months to contain.

Therefore, to shed more light on the Ebola outbreak, Amarachi Ubani spoke to the Voice of America’s Carole Pearson, and it is quite revealing.

Stories From Rwanda

The past week has been highly significant for the people of Rwanda, as they remembered the victims of the genocide which ended the lives of at least 800,000 people in the space of 100 days.

The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, along with the UN Secretary, Ban Ki Moon, lit a torch which is to burn for 100 days, representing the number of days during which the genocide took place.

Also, France has acknowledged mistakes in its dealings with Rwanda, but has repeatedly shut down accusations that it trained militias to take part in the massacres.

Still in Rwanda, brother and sister, Chance Tubane and Patience Nduwawe, have chosen not to be victims of their circumstance.  They run one of Rwanda’s most popular websites.

They combine their skills in I.T. and Communication and in 2011, they launched tohoza.com – an online directory and advertisement platform, where Rwandans can post or search for jobs and houses, sell or rent anything, and even look for partners.

Their site has literally become Rwanda’s second most visited website, turning its young founders into widely known entrepreneurs.