Daily Archives: March 6, 2015

MESSAGE FROM H.E HAILEMARIAM DESSALEGN, PRIME MINISTER OF THE FEDERAL DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF ETHIOPIA AND CHAIRPERSON OF THE IGAD ASSEMBLY TO THE PEOPLE OF SOUTH SUDAN

My dear brothers and sisters, the people of South Sudan,
On February 1st of this year, President Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar agreed to a plan to conclude negotiations on the formation of a transitional government of national unity and begin a process of healing and reconciliation in your country.  My colleagues, the Leaders of the IGAD Member States, and myself, were hopeful that this moment signaled the nearing of the end of the terrible tragedy that has befallen South Sudan since December 15th , 2013.
President Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar agreed that they would come to an agreement by March 5th.  That deadline has been missed.  Talks continued this morning, past the deadline. I regret to inform you that the talks did not produce the necessary breakthrough.
The consequences of inaction are the continued suffering of you, the people of South Sudan, and the prolonging of a senseless war in your country.  This is unacceptable, both morally and politically.  On behalf of the people of Ethiopia, and the people of the entire IGAD region, we stand with you at this difficult and disappointing time: we remain hopeful that the promise of peace will be fulfilled in the near future.
My dear brothers and sisters, the people of South Sudan,
Leadership is never easy, but continuing a war flagrantly disregards the interests of you, the people.  It is an abdication of the most sacred duty leaders have to you, their people: to deliver peace, prosperity and stability.
Both President Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar have assured the Leaders of the IGAD Member States that they are committed to peace.  At the same time, there are individuals on both sides who continue to beat the drums of war.  This cannot be right.  There can be no justification for the continuation of this conflict.  The war must end now.
On March 3rd , I urged President Kiir and Dr. Machar to make the necessary and difficult compromises to move out of this crisis.  I asked them to be courageous in offering compromises and alternatives, rather than only reiterating old positions.  Both regional and world leaders joined this call. Unfortunately, as the missed deadline shows, our pleas have not been heeded.
IGAD has tried to mediate the crisis as best it can, but we must acknowledge that our efforts have not yet produced the necessary results.  Our efforts cannot continue unaltered and expect a different outcome; the peace process must be reinvigorated and reformed.  In the coming days, I will consult with my colleagues, the IGAD leaders, partners and friends in the region, on the continent, and beyond to agree a common plan of action.

My dear brothers and sisters, the people of South Sudan,
Together, we will hold the Parties to their commitment to form a transitional government by July of this year.  To achieve that goal, IGAD, joined by the friends of South Sudan from Africa and abroad, intends to implement a common plan and table a reasonable and comprehensive solution to end the crisis in South Sudan.
While the Parties may see the peace talks as a process that can continue indefinitely, you, the people of South Sudan, including the millions directly affected by the conflict, know that peace is needed, and is needed now.
At the highest level, the world must speak with one voice on South Sudan.  We will assist the Parties to make the compromises that have so far eluded them.  We will use all influence at our disposal to convince those that remain intransigent.  And we willensure that the voices of the silent majority of South Sudanese prevail: peace, reform and justice.
We ask you, the people, to refuse to support those who militate for war, destruction and killing.  We want you, the people, to be unequivocal with your leaders: choose reconciliation and not injustice; choose dialogue and not rigidity.  Choose peace and not conflict.
My dear brothers and sisters, do not lose hope.  The region, and the world, stands with you.  Peace is our only priority.  Peace will be achieved.  You, the people of South Sudan, need and deserve no less.

South Sudan's delayed peace means no justice for war crime victims

By Andrew Green

Will there be a reckoning when the fighting ends?

KAMPALA, 6 March 2015 (IRIN) – Regional negotiators had warned that yesterday was the “last chance” for South Sudan’s warring parties to reach a resolution, but even a renewed threat of sanctions from the international community was not enough to bring the two sides to an agreement.The talks are scheduled to resume today in Addis Ababa, though participants are cautioning that there is little common ground. This round of negotiations has taken on heightened significance and if it ends in failure it will be a significant blow – not just to hopes that an end to the fighting is near, but to efforts at seeking justice for victims of the horrific human rights abuses that have taken place over the past 15 months.Peace, civil society activists said, is necessary to fully pursue accountability for these crimes, which include ethnically targeted killings, torture and rape. And accountability is critical if the country hopes to break what some activists describe as a cycle, not just of impunity, but of rewarding violence with political power.But faced with the reality of the faltering talks, local and international human rights groups are suggesting that justice need not be held hostage to the negotiations in the Ethiopian capital. Instead, they are pushing for the United Nations and the African Union to at least begin assembling a mechanism for accountability so that perpetrators know that when the fighting finally ends, there will be a reckoning.A May United Nations report is the closest thing to a comprehensive investigation of the crimes against humanity that have occurred in South Sudan – and it is nearly a year out of date. Still, it offers a window into the scale of the abuses citizens have suffered.It documents an incident at the outset of the fighting when government soldiers are accused of having rounded up and killed more than 300 civilians who shared the same ethnicity as former vice president Riek Machar, now the leader of the rebellion. In another instance in April, after overrunning Unity state capital, Bentiu, forces loyal to Machar allegedly massacred hundreds of civilians hiding in hospitals, mosques and churches.The killings and rapes have continued alongside other horrors. In February, hundreds of children were forcibly conscripted in the northeastern town of Malakal by a government-aligned militia. There is still no official number of dead since the fighting started, but officials estimate in the tens of thousands, while an additional 1.5 million people have been internally displaced and 500,000 have fled abroad.
Burying the crimes 
South Sudan has a record of burying these types of crimes. In its short history, the government has offered blanket amnesties to rebel leaders “who are responsible for some of the worst acts that humans can do to one another”, said David Deng, the director of the South Sudan Law Society – part of a pattern established even before South Sudan’s 2011 independence from Khartoum.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Army’s (SPLA) decades-long rebellion against the north was marred by internal conflicts. The most infamous episode came when Machar, a senior commander, defected from the SPLA in 1991. The troops who left with him went on to slaughter thousands of civilians in the Jonglei state capital in an episode known as the Bor massacre. It did not prevent Machar from rejoining the SPLA more than a decade later and rising to vice president in the country’s first government.In sidestepping atrocities like this, the leadership hoped “to keep the region rallied together for the big cause, the liberation effort”, Jok Madut Jok, the founder of the Juba-based think tank The Sudd Institute, wrote in a recent paper. But it also entrenched grievances and, in the current conflict, fueled many opposition fighters’ decision to take up arms against the government.Machar’s rise and the amnesty of the rebel leaders also contributed to a perception in South Sudan that “unless you’re killing people, you don’t matter, you don’t get a seat at the table”, said Niccolò A. Figà-Talamanca, the secretary-general of the Rome-based group No Peace Without Justice. “Breaking the cycle of impunity is about breaking that dynamic” and setting South Sudan on a different course.From the outset of the fighting in December, a group of South Sudanese religious and political leaders was determined this time there would be no impunity. Alongside international human rights groups, they called early and often for potential war crimes and crimes against humanity to be investigated and perpetrators to be held accountable.

1.5 million have been displaced by the violence, 500,000 more have fled the country

That reflects the will of many South Sudanese, said William Ongoro Peter. He is the coordinator of the National Platform for Peace and Reconciliation, an independent body charged by religious and political leaders with bringing South Sudan back together. In his time canvassing the country, he has heard calls for peace, but rarely at the expense of accountability. People want to discuss “what could be the way forward for those who might have committed crimes against their fellow brothers and sisters”, he said.
A hybrid court or the ICC
Civil society has ultimately hit on a hybrid-court model — a combination of international and South Sudanese staff and judges assembled to investigate and try the most serious cases. The court could be based in South Sudan or shifted to a neighboring country if there were concerns about objectivity or security. In an SSLS working paper, Deng argued the hybrid model would “help South Sudan to overcome capacity constraints” — including an underdeveloped judiciary — while conducting trials “that meet international standards.”For a while, it even appeared their proposal was going to get a vote of confidence from the African Union. In March 2013, the AU created an unprecedented commission of inquiry led by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and tasked with investigating human rights violations in the conflict.Obasanjo acknowledged he was leaning toward recommending the creation of a hybrid court. Civil society groups anticipated the committee’s final report in January would help them galvanize support around their preferred justice model. But the AU Peace and Security Council opted, instead, to delay the report’s release indefinitely so it would not disrupt the talks.”That sucked a lot of air out of the room for these efforts,” Deng said.The lack of peace is made all the more devastating because, until the fighting stops, there are few options for moving forward with accountability. “To get the evidence that would be required and to carry out investigations can’t really be done in the middle of the conflict,” Deng said.Elise Keppler, an associate director in Human Rights Watch’s International Justice Program, said there is still an opening to push for a hybrid court. In a February agreement, both sides actually signed on to the creation of an “independent hybrid judicial body” that would investigate and try the gravest human rights violations. “This is an excellent signal to the AU and the UN to begin to work with them on it,” Keppler said. “They’ve put it out there and now it’s time for the other players to move,” beginning with what promises to be a lengthy process of drafting a possible mandate for the tribunal and agreeing on a structure.And if peace is indefinitely delayed? Keppler said maybe it then becomes time to start looking at referring the situation to the International Criminal Court. That move comes with its own complications, not least of which that South Sudan is not a signatory to the Rome Convention establishing the ICC. But after 15 months of atrocities without justice, Keppler said, “there’s got to be some real moves for criminal accountability.”
ag/oa

Information Technology Incubator Costs Akz 93 Million

The rehabilitation and equipping of the Information Technologies Incubator inaugurated Friday in Luanda by the minister of Economy, Abrahao Gourgel, has cost the State?s coffers Akz 93 million (Usd 930,000).
The information was released by the CEO of the National Institute of Support for Small and Medium-sized Companies (INAPEM), António Francisco Assis.
According to the official, the infrastructure will serve businesspeople operating in the field of Information and Communication Technologies.
He said INAPM is strongly committed to advancing with the national priorities concerning capacity building of entrepreneurs in the Small and Medium-sized businesses (PMA) focusing on the Information and Communication Technologies.
The concretisation of the project has had the assistance of the oil company (Chevron) through the Cabinda Gulf Oil Company that has contributed equipment and technical assistance worth Usd 450,000.
The project is designed to increase the information flow and technological upgrading, seeking to make Angola more competitive with leading countries like South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda and Tunisia.

There's No Proof FG Bribed Pastors With N6 Billion – Ocj Okocha [interview]

Former president of the Nigerian bar Association, Onueze Chukwujinka Joe Okocha, is a respected voice in the law profession in Nigeria. In this no-hold-barred interview with Senior Correspondent, Daniel Abia, in Port Harcourt, OCJ, as he prefers to be called, discussed the politics of Nigeria and Rivers State
Despite the signing of a peace accord between presidential candidates as well as governorship candidates in all the states of the federation, political violence has risen in recent times, what is your take on this?
I hope that the accords signed by the presidential candidates at Abuja and the one signed by three of the leading gubernatorial candidates in Rivers State will work. These are all responsible citizens of Nigeria. They are citizens who have reached the level of being nominated by political parties to represent them at various elections throughout the land in the presidential election on March 28 and the next one on April 11 for the gubernatorial and House of Assembly seats. I hope that those who signed the accord will be responsible enough to insist that, not only themselves but also their followers, will try as much as they can to allow peace to reign, and abide by the accord. We want peace in Rivers State and in Nigeria. My hope is that even after the election, Nigeria will still be a peaceful country for everybody to live in. It should be a place where all of us can go about our various businesses without let or hindrance. But I get alarmed when I hear various reports of untoward happenings. I get alarmed by orchestrated and intensive shout of violence by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its members. Most of these things we hear, I see them as irresponsible allegations. You don’t just wake up and accuse your opponent of doing this havoc or that one without any evidence. I want to understand that they know that these are issues that touch so much on law and order. If they have any evidence, they should furnish the security agencies so that investigation can be properly articulated. This will make a way for those who are responsible for such crimes to be brought to book at the earliest opportunity. I think that all of us need to act responsibly, particularly at this point of our country’s development.
A fortnight ago at Okrika, the APC alleged that the thugs that disrupted its rally were sponsored by Patience Jonathan, Nyesom Wike and Evans Bipi, which has sparked a lot of condemnation across the country; what do you think of this?
Let me first say that it is totally regrettable, the incident that occurred in Okrika few weeks ago. As I said earlier, we need to conduct this election with decorum and allow the various candidates to articulate the opportunities available to them. I believe that in a democratic society people should be free to associate with others and should be able to go anywhere to preach the message of their political parties and manifestoes. I am not happy about what happened in Okrika. Having said that, let me come back to this issue of people making irresponsible and unguarded statements. At a time, I saw on networks that the First Lady was bereaved over the loss of close female political associates in Bayelsa State, who died in an auto crash. I understand that only one woman escaped from that inferno with very serious burns. Evans Bipi had issued a statement that he was not in Okrika on the day in question. Of course nobody would say he or she saw Wike at Okrika on that day. No matter how badly anybody may feel about that unfortunate incident at Okrika, let us also understand that these are issues of law and order and it gives police the opportunity to unearth the culprits. I have joined some Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rallies because I strongly believe in the candidature of Wike with some of my colleagues and I know that the PDP rallies were attacked. The most vivid is the one of Abua in Abua/Odual, where gunshots were fired. These are the things we should take to the law enforcement agencies, rather than take the law into our hands, and let them investigate and bring the culprits to book.
APC is confident to winning the 2015 presidential election, what do you think are the party’s chances?
Let me say this, we have to commend them for having that confidence of winning a general election in Nigeria, particularly the presidential election. But I think they are daydreaming. APC is not on ground in this country. True, they have access to information dissemination machines like newspapers propagating their dreams. APC is a party that was just formed about a year ago. It is not on ground particularly in Rivers State. You see their billboards and posters everywhere. The point is that all of them in the so-called APC today were all PDP members. PDP is well spread because it has been on ground and is still on ground. They are entitled to be confident but I know that APC will not win the presidential election. Certainly, APC cannot win with a candidate like General Muhammadu Buhari. APC will not also win the governorship election in Rivers. They will be lucky if they win three or four seats in the House of Assembly. I can tell you that this is a PDP state. As I said before, all of them who are now in APC were in PDP before. From the governor to whoever he has appointed as the caretaker chairmen of the local government areas were all PDP members. The governor knows this truth. Their message is just to pull down PDP, to pull down the candidature of President Goodluck Jonathan. They want to pull down Nyesom Wike. I am liberal enough to say that they will win a few seats in the Assembly. They will not win presidential election no matter what they do. They will not win the governorship election either. The APC people want to gain a few more seats in the National Assembly so that they can have leverage in Nigeria’s post-2015 elections. That is their gamble. They believe that with the fanatical support that Buhari seems to have in some parts of northern Nigeria, they can get some more seats to give them more power in the National Assembly. That is their gamble. Buhari may not win the election in three or four states of the South-West. In the North-Central, he cannot win there. In the North-East he may win some states there and in the North-West he may get some states also. He has a popular support from some areas of this country. I know what I am saying here. Buhari has crowd appeal in some states in the North-East and North-West, but have you sat down to reflect whether those in the crowd have their permanent voter cards? A lot of those boys are rented and hired.
With the sensitivity of the 2015 general elections and the need to stamp out rigging, do you think Nigeria is ripe for the card reader technology in the elections?
It depends on what the electoral umpire has said, I mean the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The way they have tried to package the coming election is that everybody must have PVC. To be accredited to vote, they said your card must be tested to ascertain that you are actually the owner of the card which makes you eligible to vote in the elections. If this is to effectively checkmate rigging, I give my support.
If you also can effectively identify registered voters, then I give my support. But some of these devices of electronic methods sometimes fail. In the 2011 elections we were talking about electronic voting. Some electronics whiz kids tried to demonstrate how electronic voting works. But knowing Nigeria and the kind of electric power we have, it was discarded. This time around we are talking about a card reader that works with battery and not necessarily electricity. If they are certain it will work, let them use it. But if for any reason they know that this will not work, they should discard it and people should be physically identified and allowed to cast their votes.
In view of the discrepancies surrounding the distribution of the PVCs, many people have called for Attahiru Jega’s sack; do you think he still has the integrity to conduct elections?
This is not the first time that INEC under Jega’s watch has postponed elections for one reason or the other. True, the reason this time around appears cogent such as the security issue, the NSA’s intervention that he cannot guarantee security of voters and the electoral process in some parts of the country and so wanted some shifts to enable the military put their house in order. That is just one aspect. The other is the phony way of reporting the distribution of the PVCs. I have this niggling feeling within me that Jega and INEC have bungled the process. Here is a commission that conducted voters’ registration four years ago, why should it take four years to produce permanent voters’ cards? You produce PVCs and they are not even enough and not evenly distributed. People in Cross River State said that their PVCs were sent to a particular state in the North. These are things that indicate clearly that there had been some incompetence on the part of INEC. The buck stops at the table of Jega. He must accept responsibility for these unpardonable lapses on the part of INEC, particularly with the production and distribution of the PVCs. There are also serious security issue. The Electoral Act says that a state of war can actually justify why an election can be postponed. Because we want a free and fair election, we believe that INEC can conduct itself fairly and the security agencies can guarantee our safety before, during and after the elections. The other issue is that of Jega having consultations with the APC people. I think I will like to give him the benefit of the doubt. Jega’s background indicates a man that rose to limelight by merit. This means that his personal integrity is at stake having become the chairman of Nigeria’s independent commission, he will do himself grave damage if he does not debunk the allegation that he cohorts with the APC. You can only do so much to rig an election because people are so much aware on how to police their votes.
Would you comment on the conduct of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who just dumped the PDP by publicly shredding the his membership car
In essential terms, a membership card that someone carries as a member of a political party, is a property of that party. It is just like you working in any company, when you are leaving that organisation, you have to surrender the ID card and other items belonging to the company. Obasanjo has engaged himself in malicious damage of a property that belongs to the party. He can be prosecuted. But you know, Obasanjo is an old man, he is more than 80 years. He has been a father of this nation on two occasions. He commands international acclaim. He has been sent as a peace envoy. But by that conduct, he has belittled himself by ordering his ward chairman to publicly tear the card. He should be grateful to the PDP that gave him eight years to rule this country. I think the party deserves respect from him. I don’t think he is doing well for his reputation. He has a freedom of association as a right, but he ought to have left the party honorably. Let Obasanjo carry his own cross. We all have our own to bear.
Can PDP sue him for the destruction of its property?
That is a distraction. What is a membership card? Sometimes you look at the character involved in the matter and you say, I will not dignify this chap. There is a common saying that silence is the best answer to a fool.
President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration does not seem to have good rapport with the international community, especially the West, could this be as a result of his poor handling of terrorism in the North-East?
I don’t know where you get that impression from. He enjoys the cooperation of the international community. International commentators see Jonathan as the most democratic President in the history of Nigeria. He has opened up Nigeria and allows the rule of law to be used as a governing tool of this country. The Western countries are doing business with Nigeria. China is in the country doing business here. The Koreans are here. Many heads of states in Africa see Nigeria as God’s gift to Africa. They may not agree on a few issues, like corruption and others, but nobody should hold Jonathan on the current problem in Nigeria. Boko Haram did not arrive in Jonathan’s tenure. They started in Obasanjo’s government. Corruption has been in Nigeria for a long time even before the military took over in 1966. Nigeria has always had corruption problem. Jonathan has done his best to fix Nigeria. He cannot take up a riffle against Boko Haram. The average Nigerian is corrupt. Carrying money is not the only corrupt practice that we know. Anything that is tainted is corrupt. Anything that is rotten is corrupt. Fear is also a corrupting influence. This was said by one eminent judge of the Supreme Court, that fear is a corrupting influence. A judge cannot give a judgment because he is afraid that they may kill him. That is corruption. These are problems that have eaten deep into our national fabric. Corruption is not just in Nigeria. It is there in England. It is there in China. In China, sometimes they execute people for corruption by firing squad or hanging. Jonathan must be given credit for dealing with these issues.
For six years, the Nigerian Army could not defeat Boko Haram, but in recent weeks they appear to be winning the war against insurgency, why is this so?
Everybody in Nigeria is talking about the menace of Boko Haram. It got to an alarming point when the Chibok schoolgirls were abducted last April. So far, there appears to be no serious hope of their release. We have heard about women who have also been captured. The military in Nigeria must also be commended. Before now, monies meant to equip the military were diverted. Equipment was not bought and soldiers were not sent for training. This was when our military started to suffer neglect over the years. Our military has been commended for its success in peacekeeping operations. We are now seeing the result of the supplementary budget of $1 billion that the President sent for approval by the National Assembly. The military is now better equipped to deal with the insurgents who themselves are so well equipped, by what we see on television. We have seen the reinvigoration of the effort by the President and the Nigerian military to deal with insurgency and this is bringing good result. We have so far recovered some of the villages taken over by these insurgents and I believe that before the rescheduled election, more will be recovered.
The Rivers State judiciary complex seems to be under lock and key, despite the suspension of judiciary workers’ strike.
It worries me and has worried me right from the first day when JUSUN (Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria) said they were going on strike. It worries me much more that they used metal bars to weld the gates of the Port Harcourt court complex, which houses many courts. The courts by the principles of our laws and jurisprudence must always remain open. They symbolise the rights of the citizens. When there are holidays, one or two judges are appointed as vacation judges to take care of some cases that may come in during the holiday period. We know where this problem came from, because of the appointment of the chief judge of the state. JUSUN are the junior workers of the judiciary. They are not up to 40 percent of the personnel in the Rivers State judiciary. Some of them said that the Presidency was to blame for the shutdown of the judiciary. Sometime last year, they said OCJ Okocha was to blame, because I was a member of the National Judicial Council (NJC) and I wanted to impose my sister as chief judge. At some point they said it was Justice Aloma Mukhtar, former chief justice of Nigeria. This started in August 2013 when the governor appointed a wrong person as acting chief judge. I want to believe that they will realise the error they have done to the judiciary and retrace their steps even though it is becoming late.
You mentioned inducement, but about N6 billion was allegedly paid from the Presidency to induce some pastors to support Jonathan, do you believe this?
There is what we called circumstantial evidence. JUSUN is a junior staff in Rivers State. They said their safety could not be guaranteed because courts were attacked. At some point, they said who would they be answerable to and all that! A junior worker cannot decide who becomes the CJ of Rivers State. Even at that they were still going to work because the government was paying them, yet health workers are not paid. Civil servants have not been paid. Assembly workers are not paid. This is why I said they were induced. On the N6 billion, I challenge who made that statement to come up and clarify his position. I can only say let him produce evidence because, a man in that position, he must produce evidence. We are watching who was given that money. We are waiting patiently.

Five things that will pull farmers out of poverty (Daily Nation (Kenya))

The end of 2014 brought the conclusion of the African Union’s Year of Agriculture and Food Security.
However, most Africans work in some aspect of agriculture, and for them, every year is dedicated to agriculture and food security.
As farmers head out into their fields today, they are likely giving little thought to meetings underway in South Africa focused on energising the AU’s Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
AU leaders have vowed to move quickly in 2015 to fulfil the promises enshrined in last year’s Malabo Declaration, which reaffirmed the commitment of AU member states to allot 10 per cent of national budgets to agriculture, double productivity on African farms and cut post-harvest losses by half.
For the last eight years, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra) has been seeking out public and private sector partners committed to triggering a uniquely African green revolution; one that revolves around the smallholder farmers who produce the majority of what Africans eat.
Here are a few lessons we have learned in places like Ghana, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Malawi, where many are now embracing the potential of agriculture to anchor a new era of sustainable and equitable economic growth.
1. Create conditions for smallholder farmers to adopt new inputs and practices by raising awareness.
The only way to sustainably and inclusively raise agricultural productivity is to ensure farmers are aware of the potential of new seeds, fertilisers and basic agricultural practices that can more than double their yields.
Agra’s partners in national research systems have developed nearly 500 locally adapted crop varieties that are just as competitive as anywhere in the world.
Our partners and private equity firms, like INJARO and PEARL, have helped launch 90 seed companies that collectively constitute the largest producer of certified seeds in sub-Saharan Africa, and 80 fertiliser companies that can help blend, distribute, and sell the produce to smallholder farmers through market-led solutions such as local agro-dealerships.
2. Think outside the bank to consider new ways to deliver financing to farmers.
There are multiple opportunities to go beyond brick-and-mortar banks to help deliver financing that is still in short supply to smallholder farmers.
For example, Mpesa is reaching out to farmers with its popular mobile phone banking services. Microfinance institutio­ns are partnering with commercial banks to provide new streams of affordable capital for agriculture ventures.
And the MasterCard Foundation recently launched a campaign to expand financial services to rural Africa through Agra and other partners.
3. Develop structured and efficient grain markets that are accessible for smallholder farmers.
As farmers produce more, they increasingly need access to markets for their goods.
Newly established warehouse receipt systems in Ghana and Kenya are providing safe and secure facilities to store grain while farmers negotiate with potential buyers.
National and regional commodity exchanges are needed to attract more buyers for this produce. One potential model is being developed by African Exchange Holdings (AFEX).
It’s a new partnership working to combine warehouse storage options with commodity exchanges to serve smallholder farmers in the East African Community.
4. Support efforts to match smallholder farmers with large-scale buyers.
Over the last few years, farmers’ organisations in Ghana, Mali, Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, Rwanda, Burkina Faso and Malawi have established aggregation centres where growers can pool their harvest to meet the demands of large institutional buyers, like the World Food Programme.
In West Africa, a major rice miller and a large brewery have both seamlessly integrated smallholders into their network of suppliers.
5. Support women in agriculture
Most smallholder farmers and many new agribusiness leaders are women, and they have a significant role to play in Africa’s agriculture.
Priority actions include developing and promoting improved seeds that take into account women’s preferred characteristics such as taste and cooking time and targeting increased inclusion by women farmers in producer groups.
We need more support for groups that are putting women first in their development of solutions, as well as for others like the African Enterprise Challenge Fund that are putting in place targeted finance for women in agribusiness.