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Friday, May 29, 2015

Bonn hosts next round of Paris Climate Agreement negotiations

Work on the text of the Paris 2015 universal climate agreement will continue in Bonn from June 1 -10, 2015.


The meeting will be opened by the Environment Minister of Peru and the Foreign Minister of France, in their respective roles of President of COP 20 and COP 21.

The UN climate change conference in Bonn is the next milestone on the road to Paris, where the new agreement is to be reached at the end of the year.

The meeting will also continue progress on addressing the most effective ways to raise climate action before 2020, which is when the new agreement would come into effect.

The Bonn meeting comes in the wake of a major business and climate summit held in Paris and just ahead of the meeting of the G7 in Germany.

The Paris business summit underlined the way non-state actors across the globe are already undertaking climate action, as well as rallying in support of a strong climate change agreement. 25 worldwide business networks representing over 6.5 million companies from more than 130 countries pledged to help to lead the global transition to a low-emission, climate resilient economy.

Christiana Figures, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC), said “with some 200 days to the UN climate convention conference in Paris, the growing momentum for change and for action is rapidly gaining ground across countries, companies, cities and citizens. News of yet another group of stakeholders committing to long term emission reduction targets or ambitious investments in renewable energies is emerging almost daily—building confidence and a sense of ‘can do’ among nations as we enter the final six months of 2015."

The Bonn session includes the meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP). This is the body tasked with reaching an agreement in Paris and looking at how best to raise ambition to cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt societies to climate change ahead of 2020.

The June session is also one of the two annual meetings of the two permanent bodies of the UNFCCC: the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI).

They tackle detailed issues and decisions on the technical, scientific and implementation aspects of the Convention and provide many of the foundations on which the ADP is constructing the agreement.

Work on the Paris Negotiating Text and Raising Immediate Ambition

At the last session of the ADP in Geneva, in February, countries produced the official text, the basis of negotiations at the upcoming session in Bonn. The negotiating text covers the substantive content of the new agreement including mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology, capacity-building and transparency of action and support.

Work on identifying ways to scale up climate ambition pre-2020 will take place in a series of Technical Expert Meetings. These meetings will take forward similar discussions from last year focusing this time on scaling up renewable energy supply and energy efficiency in urban areas.

The UNFCCC secretariat is also organizing a Climate Action Fair with partners including business and the private sector to showcase action already taking place on the ground.

The activities surrounding the Technical Expert Meetings and the Climate
Action Fair are also in support of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda, which is designed to demonstrate the wealth of climate action among cities, regions, companies and investors, including those under international cooperative initiatives.

Many of these are being spotlighted in the new Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA) portal.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Africa Energy Forum offers an important platform for project investment

With global investors clearly looking closer at the opportunities on the African continent, over 450 unique companies from 63 countries worldwide have so far registered to participate in the 2015 Africa Energy Forum holding in Dubai from 8-11 June.

Participants span the value chain of Africa’s power sector – 28 of those are African countries; the largest number to date in the Forum’s 17 year history.

The Forum has 11 Ministers confirmed, including Ministers of Energy, Infrastructure and Finance from Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia, as well as heads of utilities and regulators across Africa.

“We’re delighted to bring AEF to Dubai to enable stakeholders to capture the massive potential of Middle Eastern investment.  The response from regional investors has been unprecedented and it will be exciting to learn from them how the Emirates has successfully used its natural resources to turn its economy into a booming global empire,” said EnergyNet’s Simon Gosling.

This year’s Forum introduces the ‘Power In Africa Awards’ & Black Tie Gala Dinner – an ‘Emirati Banquet’ honouring people and businesses with actual projects in operation on the continent.

Twelve Ministerial and Utility-led country specific project briefings will shine the spotlight onto unique countries in Africa to provide detailed industry insights and in-country knowledge.

Sponsored by Aggreko and Norton Rose Fulbright, the ‘EnergyNet Student Engagement Initiative (ESEI)’ brings 32 of the brightest chemical engineers and economics and law students from South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia to Dubai to meet investors and take that next step towards further development and employment.
 
This year also sees the launch of the ‘ESEI Innovation Hub,’ showcasing creative exciting and scalable renewable technology destined to impact Africa’s access to alternative energy solutions.

‘Access Power’ will present the ‘Access Co-development Fund (ACF)'; a live ‘Dragon’s Den’ style competition for early stage project investment, enabling four shortlisted projects to pitch for up to US$5m of development finance which will be awarded during the Forum in Dubai.


Whether you are a project looking for investment or an investor looking for project, AEF is a very strong platform to engage future partners and understand the opportunities across Africa.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Billions of dollars mobilized towards goal of Sustainable Energy for All

Billions of dollars mobilized under the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative can halve energy poverty worldwide and more investment is being committed, but there is still a long way to go to meet the twin challenges of energy poverty and climate change.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim co-chair the SE4All initiative, which addresses the crucial global challenge of addressing energy poverty while at the same time mitigating climate change.

More than 90 million people have already gained access to sustainable energy under pledges made for the initiative, which is rallying governments, international institutions, businesses, banks and civil society.

This is towards three interlinked targets by 2030: achieving universal access to modern energy services, doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency and doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix.

“How do we convert commitments to kilowatt hours for real people? That is the trillion-dollar question,” Kandeh Yumkella, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All and CEO of the SE4All initiative, told delegates to SE4All’s second annual Forum in the UN General Assembly Hall.

“This is not about charity. This is about markets and investments. We see this as a trillion-dollar opportunity, not a trillion-dollar challenge.”

Some 1.1 billion people worldwide have no access to electricity, and nearly three billion rely on dangerous and polluting traditional fuels such as wood, charcoal and dung to cook and heat their homes.

At the same time, extensive energy use, especially in high-income countries, creates pollution, emits greenhouse gases and depletes non-renewable fossil fuels.

Commitments already made under the SE4All initiative by the EU, Germany and the United States alone are set to help developing countries to provide energy access for a total of nearly one billion people by 2030, but population growth means this will remain well short of universal access.

Partners at the four-day Forum in New York are announcing further significant commitments in both funding and tangible action, but there is still far to go.

The second edition of SE4All’s Global Tracking Framework, released by the World Bank at the SE4All Forum, estimates total annual investment of up to USD 1.2 trillion will be needed to 2030 in order to achieve these ambitious targets – triple the current flows of around USD 400 billion a year.

“Governments do not have that kind of resource. Only public-private partnerships will generate this kind of resource flow,” Yumkella said. “The framework we show requires investment not only in the South, but in the rich North.”

Catalyst for action and investment

Building momentum on energy issues ahead of both the September UN Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda, and the December Climate Conference in Paris, the Forum aims to help shape the direction of energy policy and act as a catalyst for vital investment in the crucial decades to come.

Two days are devoted to a ‘Global Energy Ministerial’ – the first to be held at the United Nations – in the UN General Assembly Hall.

Around 40 ministers and top figures from business, international organizations and development banks are attending the event, which has attracted well over a thousand participants from the developed and developing world alike.
                                            
Also taking part is the multi-platinum-selling musician Akon, who co-founded Akon Lighting Africa in 2014 to provide solar power to millions of households across the continent.

Commitments at the Forum

Commitments made at the Forum, which runs from May 18-21 under the theme of ‘Financing Sustainable Energy for All’, include the following:
 
The European Union said grants of EUR 3.5 billion from 2014-2020 would leverage sustainable energy investments of up to EUR 30 billion for electricity generation, transmission and access. This includes funding through a new facility, ElectriFI, that aims to boost private sector investments by bridging gaps in project financing. 

The  Global Environment Facility said its new Sustainable Cities programme, expected to be approved next month, would support 11 countries and 23 cities with USD 150 million and leverage USD 1.4 billion to promote sustainable urban development planning. It also pledged USD 3 billion in projects and programmes to support climate change mitigation and adaptation in 2014-2018.  

The OPEC Fund for International Development said it would turn an earlier one-time pledge to provide USD 1 billion to alleviate energy poverty into a revolving fund, to be replenished on an ongoing basis. Its commitments to funding under the original pledge have already exceeded USD 1.4 billion.  

China said plans to provide all its people with electricity by 2015 would be completed on time, and the country was committed to increasing the non-fossil fuel share of its energy consumption to 15% in 2020 and 20% by 2030, compared with about 11% last year.  

Netherlands-based NGO ENERGIA said it was committing EUR 13 million of its donor-government funding over the next five years to energy-related activities, including capacity-building for more than 3,000 women-led businesses to deliver energy services to more than 2 million consumers.  
Barbados, which already has universal access to modern energy services, said it was working to generate half its energy from renewables and cut electricity consumption by 22 per cent by 2020.  

As well as providing fresh budget funding for SE4All’s small Global Facilitation Team, the United Kingdom pledged to support a new Green Mini-Grids in Africa programme to provide clean, safe energy access to one million people in Kenya and Tanzania.  

PowerGen Renewable Energy said it would provide 800,000 beneficiaries in East Africa with electricity by 2020 through 1100 solar micro-grids.  
Italian utility ENEL pledged to invest EUR 8.8 billion in 2015-2019 on developing renewable energy capacity, a 50% increase from previous plans, adding up to 7,100 MW to its installed capacity worldwide.



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Prioritizing needs of African farmers in climate negotiations

Africa is the continent to watch out for when the climate talks peak in Paris later this year.

The 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will fashion out an agreement to drastically reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

There has been a remarkable improvement in Africa’s participation in the international climate negotiations, says George Wamukoya, a member of the African Group of Negotiators (AGN).

Since 2008, the continent has fostered a strong common position which has been articulated and updated at every UNFCCC COP.

INDCs from Africa

According to Mr. Wamukoya, the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) is going to be a game changer in informing negotiations for the December 2015 agreement.

“If you look at the origins of INDCs, it was for mitigation purposes and Africa contributes less than 4% of the global emissions so obviously we are not supposed to be focusing on mitigation; our focus is in adaptation and therefore since that is an instrument that is going to be used for countries to demonstrate what they are going to do in order to address climate change, African countries are forced to do that,” he observed.

Gabon is the first country to submit its INDC whilst other African countries are in the process of preparing their INDCs, which they are expected to deliver by the end of September.

The INDCs will form the foundation for climate action post-2020 when the new agreement to be set in Paris is set to come into effect.

Africa is among the most vulnerable when it comes to the impacts of climate change.

The fifth assessment report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that rising temperatures in many areas in Africa have ramifications for agriculture and farmer livelihoods.

Agriculture and land use are therefore of paramount interest in the negotiations to ensure food security and economic growth of the continent.

Climate-smart agriculture has been identified as offering triple wins for food security, adaptation and mitigation in Africa.

While the UNFCCC can establish the international policy framework on how agriculture is incorporated into future climate agreements, much policy development has to occur in national, regional and continental policy arenas.

Mr. Wamukoya says the INDCs should serve as the platform through which Africa position itself in advancing agriculture and therefore making a statement to the world that agriculture should be included in the 2015 agreement.

“If Africa is serious about agriculture being a priority, then they must demonstrate that by having one of their priority INDCs being agriculture and trying to identify issues that they can do as Africa or as countries and those that require the support from other partners because they are supposed to support our adaptation,” he stated.

Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture

Africa is looking at climate adaptation and mitigation as well as means of implementation – technology, capacity building and finance – in seeking climate justice.

The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme(CAADP), spearheaded by the African Union’s NEPAD Agency, is the key arena for ensuring that climate change is mainstreamed into agricultural development at the national level adaptation plans and mitigation strategies.

The NEPAD has convened the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance (ACSAA) with a goal of reaching 25million farm households by 2025.

“If we fail in agriculture, we have failed in all other sectors because Africa is agriculture,” said a participant at the 1st ACSAA Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Climate justice advocate, Robert Chimambo of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) says access to renewable energy would be critical to enable smallholder farmers add value at the farm-level for higher income earnings.

He says each country would need to find out the cost-effective ways of delivering energy to smallholder farmers.

“What we need in the context of climate change is resources to roll out small hydropower, solar and other renewable energy to reach the lowest of our farmers and our communities,” he noted.

The CSA Alliance will serve as Africa’s leading platform to catalyze result-oriented and on-the-ground implementation support in response to both the challenges and opportunities that climate change brings.

NEPAD Programmes Director, Estherine Fotabong, has noted that the agriculture-climate change nexus is an economic and development issue.

The AU-NEPAD is working closely with the group of negotiators through the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) process, she said.

There are also collaborations with the regional economic blocs, including ECOWAS and COMESA, to prioritize agriculture in the negotiations.

Mrs. Fatobong has acknowledged “the negotiators come from the Environment Ministries; they are not necessarily agricultural experts and so their appreciation of the details of agricultural issues might not be at its best”.

Placing Agriculture at Centre of Negotiations

The NEPAD wants to involve agricultural experts to enrich the deliberations at the 42nd Session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) in Bonn, where the group of negotiators will be meeting in June.

Africa has already made a submission on climate impacts on agriculture, emphasizing the importance of agriculture to its economy and calls on partners to include it in the agreement.

Climate-smart agriculture, Mrs. Fotabong says, should also involve policies that are “gender appropriate because women are the majority of African smallholder farmers”.

She hopes the ACSAA will serve the purpose of advocating for attention to the agricultural sector.

“Having an Alliance means you have the critical mass that can talk about the issue; that can communicate the importance of ensuring that agriculture is given the kind of prominence that we hope to see under the UNFCCC process happens,” she said.

The CSA Alliance will need to increase the voice of Africa on the fight for recognition, play advisory role to the negotiation team, lobby and advocate on Africa’s position on agriculture, gender and climate change.

Mr. Wamukoya has welcomed the Alliance as a platform to share information and experiences with the AGN to inform the negotiations.

It is expected that COP 21 Paris will mark a milestone for vulnerable African smallholder farmers to access the needed support to mitigate and adapt to the changing climate.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh 

Audio report...

https://soundcloud.com/kofi-adu-domfeh-1/african-farmers-at-centre-of-climate-negotiations


Monday, May 18, 2015

Ghana’s investment plan in renewable energy endorsed by CIF

The Climate Investment Funds (CIF), at its recent governing body meetings, unanimously endorsed Ghana’s ambitious investment plan to transform and promote its renewable energy sector.

The plan is slated to receive $40 million in funding from the CIF’s Program for Scaling Up Renewable Energy in Low Income Countries (SREP).

It is structured around four key projects: renewable energy mini-grids and stand-alone solar PV systems; solar PV-based net metering with storage; utility-scale solar PV/wind power generation; and a technical assistance project, supported by the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA).

With a significant number of its citizens without access to basic electricity, Ghana is committed to drawing on its wealth of renewable resources to build a sustainable energy sector, and has already adopted a set of energy policy targets, including providing universal access to electricity by 2016 and achieving a 10% contribution of renewables in the electricity generation mix by 2020.

However, the country’s renewables sector faces challenges including inadequate regulatory, contractual and tariff frameworks, and limited interest from investors.

The infusion of SREP funding, along with $53.5 million in support from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and financing from other development partners, will help the country scale up and leverage private and public financial resources to build the country’s renewables sector and carry out the innovative set of projects.

“We are very pleased to receive this important endorsement from SREP,” stated the Deputy Minister of Power, John Jinapor, who led the country’s delegation for the presentation of the investment plan to the SREP Sub-Committee.

“The potential we see through this plan for scaling-up the country’s renewable energy development is enormous, not only because of the funding to be provided, but because it will help increase investor confidence, reduce regulatory, institutional and contractual barriers, and provide needed technical support and capacity, and ultimately help Ghana’s citizens to sustainably access climate-friendly energy.”

The SREP investment plan is Ghana’s second investment plan under the CIF. The country also has an active portfolio under the CIF’s Forest Investment Program (FIP) – one of a handful of countries with plans in several sectors – and the SREP decision allows the country to exponentially expand its landscape of climate-smart development overall.

The $8.1 billion CIF provides developing countries with grants, concessional loans, risk mitigation instruments, and equity that leverage significant financing.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Indigenous knowledge matters in promoting climate smart agriculture

South African farmer, Mama Kena Kgoroeadira, talks passionately about the need to focus attention on harnessing indigenous knowledge in best farming practices to overcome the challenge of climate change in Africa.

For her, going back to explore techniques and resources within the local environment is a sustainable means for African smallholder farmers, especially rural women who lack funding, to be climate smart in production.

“The whole technologies and fertilizers will not help them because they do not have that support, that is why we must look within; look at how we used to do our water management, how we used to harvest water from rain and the types of manures that we used to have around our compounds as Africans and look at harvesting our seeds and using them again,” she observed.

Mama Kena, who’s Thojane organic Farming project in Phokeng has won her the national prize for Best Subsistence Producer, says if there is to be any funding opportunity for local farmers, it should first go into support to tap into existing knowledge.

The integration of local knowledge into new concepts of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) has been a vocal subject at the 1st Africa CSA Alliance Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Forum was convened by the African Union’s NEPAD Agency to further the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) in the next ten years.

NEPAD Programmes Director, Mrs Estherine Fotabong, describes the issue of local indigenous knowledge as critical in advancing climate smart agriculture, hence the need to listen to farmers observations and cultural practices.

“They might not be using academic terminologies and words but they tell you what they observe on the ground, whether in change of seasonal patterns or whether in change of their planting seasons and they have some solutions,” she noted.

The agriculture-climate change interaction has been identified as key factor to achieve increased agriculture productivity.

Under the proposed NEPAD Geospatial Platform for Sustainable Development (NGP4SD), there is a harmonization of high quality geographical information, including climate data sets, for accessibility by governments and citizens of Africa.

The Platform has applications that support farmers to mitigate and adapt to climate change using modern technologies.

Mrs. Fotabong has acknowledged the need to ensure some of the existing traditional practices are enhanced with modern knowledge and technology, taking into consideration the family, social and communal relationships.

This concern is shared by Mama Kena who says “we must be funded in our own terms”.

“How can knowledge that has passed from centuries to centuries still be there if it was not scientific? We need to get the knowledge from our grandfathers and grandmothers, document it, patent it… we need to also leave a legacy for our children,” she expressed.


Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh/ in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Alliance to reach 25million farmers with Climate-Smart Agriculture

The Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance (CSA) has been launched in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with a goal of reaching 25million farm households by 2025.

The Alliance is Africa’s leading platform to catalyze result-oriented and on-the-ground implementation support in response to both the challenges and opportunities that climate change brings.

This is towards the attainment of the Africa Union Vision on CSA, within the context of Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) and the overarching AU-NEPAD Framework on Agriculture-Climate Change.

The 2014 Malabo Declaration by African Heads of State and Government prioritized the agriculture-climate change nexus as critical factor in the next ten years (2015-2025) of the CAADP implementation.

“For many years now we’ve heard voices and witnessed the effects of climate change on agriculture in our continent; crop failures and death of livestock have become more frequent, leading to economic losses, undermining food security and contributing to higher food prices,” observed Mrs Estherine Fotabong,NEPAD Programmes Director.
 
She therefore believes the Africa CSA Alliance will help address the concerns of countries and communities in the implementation of programmes that impact on livelihoods and development.

“In order to make rural transformation attainable, climate change needs to be also mainstreamed in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), Africa’s instrument for agricultural growth and economic development,” Mrs Fotabong said.

Climate change is projected to have severe impact on agricultural productivity on the continent, according to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Climate Smart Agriculture is defined as agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, resilience and adaptation, as well as contributes towards reducing the emission of greenhouse gases – leading to overall food security and nutrition in the face of climate change.

Ethiopia’s State Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ato Sileshi Getahun, says the Alliance provides an opportunity to take concrete action in climate change for the benefit of African agriculture.

He noted that Ethiopia has moved beyond the rhetoric of defining and understanding what climate change and its effects is all about, to implementing concrete projects to address the challenges.

“With Agriculture as the mainstay of Africa’s economy, it is important that we invest in and practice climate smart agriculture,” stated Mr. Gatahun. “We need to show the rest of the world our adaptive capacity and remain positive that more development partners will come on board to help Africa upscale all the various CSA investments on the continent”.

Meanwhile, the maiden forum of the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance has opened on the theme: Fostering Alignment and Harmonization in the CSA Efforts in Africa”.

Participants drawn from farmer organizations, civil society, technical institutions, private sector, regional economic communities and development partners, are contributing to building shared understanding of CSA and broaden accessible information on CSA initiatives across the continent.


Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh/ in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Investments in groundnuts value chain to boost Ghana's exports

The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) is encouraging investments in groundnuts as a sustainable way to address the rising needs for both food and foreign exchange in the country.

General Manager of GEPA, Stephen Normeshie, says export development of groundnuts and cereals appear “crucial and urgent” for foreign exchange earnings for sustainable economic development and poverty reduction.

Ghana’s non-traditional exports earning in 2013 was US$2.4billion, out of which groundnut exports amounted to US$6.4 million.

Mr. Normeshie says this needs improvement if the government is to achieve the US$5 billion target to be generated from the non-traditional exports sector by 2019.

A major challenge that needs to be addressed in the export of groundnuts is the high rate of aflatoxin contamination in groundnuts which reduces the quality of the product to the international markets.

“Today, exporters face two major challenges: ensuring food safety by preventing and controlling fungus contamination of products and adapting groundnut supplies to demand for varieties best suited to specific end-uses,” said Mr. Normeshie.

The GEPA is targeting groundnut farmers and processors in twenty districts covering four regions of Ghana – Brong Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West – with a series of training programmes to enhance export quality control, management and certification of groundnut and cereal products to the international markets.

It seeks to train 2000 stakeholders in the groundnut value chain on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) with emphasis on prevention and controlling of aflatoxin contamination on groundnuts.

The project is funded by the European Union (EU) and supported by the Trade Related Assistance and Quality Enabling Programme (TRAQUE), and under the auspices of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI).

In Ghana, export earnings are heavily dependent on cocoa and a few largely unprocessed commodities.

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) is however diversifying the country’s agricultural production and expanding export production volumes through the introduction of new varieties with high oil content, pest resistance and early maturity.
 
The Ghana Export Promotion Authority is of the belief that preventing and controlling fungus contamination has the tendency of enhancing groundnuts and cereals export quality to the international markets.

World export trade averaged 1.2 million tons of groundnuts, valued at over US$948 million per year over the last five years – out of which nearly two-thirds was provided by developing countries.

“Ghana with its favourable climatic conditions and abundant rich soil has comparative and competitive advantage in groundnuts and cereal exports and hence is well positioned to take advantage of the international market opportunities to develop the sector,” stated Mr. Normeshie.


Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh 

Monday, May 11, 2015

World Bank outlines steps to stabilize climate change

A new World Bank Group report lays out three steps countries can follow to reduce net emissions of greenhouse gases to zero and stabilize climate change.

This include: Plan for the end goal, not just the short-term; get prices right as part of a broad policy package that triggers changes in investment and behavior; and smooth the transition for those most affected. 

The report “Decarbonizing Development: Three Steps to a Zero Carbon Future” says the actions necessary to make the transition to zero net emissions are affordable if governments start today, but it warns that the costs will grow if action is delayed. Waiting until 2030 would increase the global cost by 50 percent. 


"As science has indicated, the global economy needs to be overhauled to reach zero net emissions before the end of this century so we at the World Bank Group are increasing our focus on the policy options governments and businesses have now,” said World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change Rachel Kyte. “Our role is to help our country clients and others to make the shift to low-emissions development. Choices made today can lock in emissions trajectories for years to come and leave communities vulnerable to climate impacts. We will help support robust decisions when we can". 

GMO fears frustrate passage of Plant Breeders Bill in Ghana

For the past three years, Ghana’s scientific community has clamored for the passage of the Plant Breeders Right (PBR) Bill to protect their intellectual property rights.

The bill, which has been shelved after some parliamentary debate, will allow commercial end-users of research products to pay royalties to the scientists and their institutions.

Research scientists at the Crops Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), who have been pushing for the passage of the Bill, have stated that the PBR Law will be in the interest of farmers and the seed industry as it will be for scientists.

The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Mahama Ayariga, during a recent visit to the CRI, observed efforts to get the bill passed have been frustrated because there is an atmosphere of fear among parliamentarians and policy makers.

“There are many people who have spent so much time trying to misrepresent the real intention behind the Plant Breeders Bill and that has delayed the passage of the bill,” he said.

Some advocacy groups, including the Food Sovereignty Ghana and the Coalition for Farmers’ Right, have kicking against the bill in its current form.

They have argued the bill will pave way for importation of genetically modified foods into the country, as well as compromise farmers’ rights in accessing seedlings for planting.

“They are using fears around GMO – genetically modified organisms – to confuse the public and to frighten the public and to create a certain disaffection for the Plant Breeders Bill based on fears that people have around GMOs,” noted Mahama Ayariga.

The Minister therefore wants intensified advocacy for passage of the bill into law to enable local researchers benefit from the use of their products, especially in other countries.

He has also made a strong case for the country to advance its biotechnology capabilities to develop crop varieties of higher yield to address the food security issues.

“You may say that let’s put more fertilizer but the very people who are fighting GMO are the very people who are fighting too much chemicals into the system, because lives are in danger if we take too much chemicals…so clearly your only option is biotechnology which does not involve the use of chemicals,” said Mr. Ayariga.
 
The Food Sovereignty Ghana is in court to halt the introduction of GMOs into the country’s food chain.

Meanwhile, Cabinet has given approval for the biosafety regulations to be laid before parliament.


Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh 

African Partner Pool supports businesses to expand supply base

The Africa Partner Pool (APP) is looking to increase opportunities for local businesses to market their products and services to a wider market.

The private sector initiative by Invest in Africa brings together leading companies across sectors to develop local enterprise and support investment in Ghana.

The pool of buyers comprises about 90 percent of international and multinational companies.

However some local industries, like oil and gas, demand high technical capacity to meet the supply needs of companies within the pool.

With a one million dollar grant from the African Development Bank (AfDB), the initiative is supporting the competence development of local supplies. This is to encourage the buyers to seek solutions locally.

APP Manager, Ben Manu tells Luv Biz it is cost effective for multinational companies to source solutions locally.

“When you source abroad, it’s expensive; the goods or the materials you need to supply that service you need to import; the human resource you need to deploy these goods, you need to also import and that’s expensive,” he said.

There are currently ten commercial buyers who on regular basis put up tenders and notices on the partner pool to attract the registered 310 supplies who can meet the requirements for the supply of the goods and services.

Mr. Manu says there are plans to expand the buyer-supplier base.

“The vision by end of next year is to grow the number of buyers to 20 so ten more and we’re doing that because we want to improve the opportunities that this local supplier base can have… and the suppliers we’re also seeking to grow them by 1,000 to give the buyers options to find, in a competitive way, suppliers that can meet their demand”.

Businesses in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions have been engaged to tap into the opportunity.

President of the Association of Ghana Industries, James Asare-Adjei, reiterated the resolve of the Association to support members survive in the face of the challenges in operations.

“Irrespective of the challenges and the problems, one thing that the entrepreneur knows how to do best is to survive in the face of challenges,” he expressed. “We are there as a leading private sector advocacy group to support you and that is why the APP project comes in handy”.

The power crisis, high cost of borrowing and depreciation of the cedi against other foreign currencies are major challenges confronting local businesses.


Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

KNUST Central Lab to support research activities of industries

Local industries can access a modern science laboratory at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) to enhance the research and development of new products.

The KNUST Central Laboratory is equipped to support research in the pharmaceutical, engineering, biomedical, agrochemical and chemical disciplines.

The facility allows for the common use of expensive and complex cutting-edge research instrumentation by students and faculty as well as researchers at home and abroad.

Vice Chancellor of the KNUST, Prof. William Otoo Ellis, explains the Concept of a central lab is a shared network of research facilities that brings state of the art equipment to the doorstep of scientists of varied backgrounds – both basic and applied sciences.

The motive is to meet standards in teaching, training and research comparable to any such facility in any part of the world.

Prof. Ellis says the facility will support industry, especially those in pharmaceuticals, herbal medicine, food and agriculture, mining and environmental related sectors as well as regulatory bodies such us the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The project started in 2012 with the Jos Hansen and Soehne Group of Germany aiding with a six million euro research equipment.

Chief Executive of Champion Divine Clinic, Dr. Kwaku Frimpong, partnered the University with a 25% funding stake in the construction of the building/laboratory complex to house the specialized equipment.

The “Divine Champion Building” was constructed by Berock Ventures Ghana at an estimated cost of Gh1.25million – the University contributed the 75% of the cost from its internally generated fund.

Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovatiion (MESTI), Mahama Ayariga, has lauded the initiative and observed the need for national research institutions to also have centralized laboratories to create avenues for collaborations and also for cost-effective and efficient operations.

“We should have central laboratories at least in every regional capital that services every research institutions, so we all converge at the same place and carry out the research,” he said.

The Minister said the country would have to leverage on the application of science and technology by “indigenizing” technologies to resolve most of the socio-economic challenges.

“We are importing too much technology and it’s costing our economy so much,” he observed. “Until we indigenize a lot of that technology and produce it ourselves and even take a further step of innovating and also exporting technology to other people, we’ll continue to face many of the challenges that our economy is confronted with”.
 
Managing Director of Jos Hansen and Soehne, Burkhard Wollborn, noted that the benefits of establishing the Central Laboratory “will for a long time be a backbone in the future development of the University. I am sure that many talented students who are honoured by studying at KNUST would become future human assets to this great country to help developing it into the status where it actually belongs to”.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Ghana's foremost agric research institute hit by high staff attrition

High staff attrition rate and inadequate funding are the immediate challenges confronting research activities at the Crops Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

The Institute has lost about 160 workers to retirement and competition in the last four years.

“Poor conditions of service resulting in high staff attrition rate and also because of our inability to replace staff over the years, it has been a major constraint; we are losing some specialist areas and we are taking steps to ensure at least we have the minimum critical staff,” said Dr. Stella Ennin, Director of the CRI-CSIR.

The Institute has been at the forefront of developing crop varieties and technologies for Ghana to increase food production, increase income levels of farmers and promote high nutrition among the population.

Over the years, the Institute has developed over 100 crop varieties and technologies for farmers and industrialists.

According to Dr. Ennin, CRI technologies are not on the shelves because its research methodologies are participatory on farmer fields and on-station with cutting-edge science technology and innovation approaches.

“We do not sit here and decide on what to do; we go down there and get the views of farmers and other key players along the value chain to come up with the problems and issues that we research on and so our research is done on-station and we have seven stations scattered across the agro-ecologies of Southern Ghana,” she noted.

However, most of the research projects currently underway at the Institute are funded by donor agency, with a minimum contribution from the government of Ghana.

Dr. Ennin raised the concerns whilst highlighting the contributions of the Institute to national economic growth during a visit of the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI).

Mahama Ayariga, who is on a tour of some institutions in Kumasi under his ministry, charged the research community to stay at the forefront in solving major national problems to gain the necessary consideration in the allocation of national resources.

“The more the rest of the nation feels about your role, then the more they are willing to make sacrifices for you to play that critical role,” said Mr. Ayariga.

The Minister also stated that government has a “genuine problem with the size of our workforce and its impact on the national budget” but acknowledged research must receive priority.


Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh 

APO Announces Finalists for the 2015 APO Energy Media Award

Six African journalists have been selected as finalists in the 2015 APO Energy Media Award.

The first-place winner will travel to Dubai to attend the Africa Energy Forum (http://www.africa-energy-forum.com) held in Dubai from 8-11 June 2015 and gets one year of access to over 600 airport VIP lounges worldwide.

APO Energy Media Awards celebrates brilliant and inspiring stories about Energy in Africa. The subject matter may comprise a single topic or a variety of subjects, including – but not limited to – oil, gas, electricity, geothermal energy, hydropower, solar energy, wind power, nuclear, coal, biomass and more.

Stories are judged on content, writing, analysis, creativity, human interest and community impact.

2015 APO Energy Media Award Finalists are:

Patrick MAYOYO (@pmayoyo) – Kenya
“How the call to divest from fossil fuel is rattling the African continent” (http://www.apo.af/slNVI9)

Afedraru LOMINDA (@lominda25) – Uganda
“Despite challenges, Uganda’s energy sector grows” (http://www.apo.af/Blzp7z)

Maureen ODIWUOR (@maureen_odiwuor) – Kenya
“Don’s cheap freezer that keeps produce farm fresh” (http://www.apo.af/nsXFF8)

Kofi Adu DOMFEH (@adomfeh) – Ghana
“Future Concern Is No Longer About Energy Security But Climate Change” (http://www.apo.af/9iKBLw)

Allan AKOMBO (@AllanOdhiambo) – Kenya
“Why coal is key for Kenya’s power needs despite protests by the West” (http://www.apo.af/KlfQa9)

James KARUGA (@karugaj) – Kenya
“Turning blood to power, Maasai pastoralists begin bottling biogas” (http://www.apo.af/TVc1lX)


The winners will be announced during the Africa Energy Forum in Dubai.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

CeSIS recommends amendment of Petroleum Revenue Management Act

The Centre for Social Impact Studies (CeSIS) has recommended an amendment of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act that outlines as many as 14 priority areas for petroleum revenue to be expended.

The policy advocacy group says revenues from the sector should rather be concentrated on not more than three priority sectors whilst other areas are catered for through regular budgeting process.

Petroleum revenues present government with an additional source of funding to execute different development agenda.

But CeSIS has expressed worry at findings in the Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC) reports on the quality of spending of petroleum revenues over the years.

According to the 2013 PIAC Report, an amount of 23 million Ghana cedis earmarked for capacity building from 2011 to 2013 went into the procurement of goods and services for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) as well as an additional two million cedis to support the creative industry.

“While admittedly these expenditures are all towards national development, CeSIS is nevertheless worried about a creeping perception that petroleum revenues are "free monies" that should be allocated to any sector of the Ghanaian society,” said the group.

The PIAC report has recommended that government conducts an immediate evaluation of the effectiveness and impacts of all the projects and programmes that have been funded with revenues from the petroleum sector.

The report also says government should “focus its expenditure under the capacity building priority area on interventions that will directly enhance the capacity and capabilities of Ghanaians to play a bigger role in the emerging oil and gas industry as envisaged in the Local Content Policy and Regulation”.

A long-term National Development Plan (NDP) remains crucial to guide the utilization of oil revenue in order “to have a consistent application of the resources to planned projects”, says the African Center for Energy Policy (ACEP).

Executive Director of CeSIS, Richard Ellimah, says the spending on capacity building, for instance, should be restricted to three areas.

These include support to regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Petroleum Commission to undertake specialised training in oil and gas regulation; provision of equipment and modern machinery to the regulatory bodies to enable them regulate the sector; and training of a corps of young Ghanaians in oil and gas to be positioned to capture key managerial positions and skilled vocations in the oil and gas industry.

The PIAC was established under the Petroleum Revenue Management Act to provide a public oversight over Ghana's oil and gas industry.

But CeSIS is disappointed at the lack of support for the Committee.

Mr. Ellimah says in the face of mounting corruption allegations and concerns over misuse of petroleum revenue, it is imperative that PIAC is strengthened to perform its oversight role well.

“For purposes of transparency and accountability, government has a duty to empower this committee and ensure it builds the needed confidence in the public that their oil and gas resources are being utilised efficiently to support national development,” he said.

Executive Director of ACEP, Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam, has observed the integrity of Ghana’s oil and gas resources will be better protected when PIAC is given a strong legal status.

He believes such capacity is critical to enable the Committee undertake its own independent analysis and technical work on the use of the country’s oil revenues.


Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh 

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