Daily Archives: March 16, 2015

Global Sustainability Initiative To Be Headquartered In Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland and Create More Than 250 Jobs (PR Newswire)

Ireland Prime Minister Enda Kenny Helps Launch Visionary Initiative to be Supported by 300 Million Euro Fund

WASHINGTON, March 16, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Global Sustainability Initiative (“GSI”), an innovative global impact investment project, joins the fight against climate change with the creation of a safe economic model for the sustainable production and consumption of food, water and energy in disadvantaged regions of the world with an initial focus on Sub-Saharan Africa.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Mayo County Council Cathaoirleach Damien Ryan and Mayo County Chief Executive Peter Hynes were on hand in Washington, DC for today’s announcement and welcomed GSIs launch, the result of five years of development and planning by Dublin-based OpenSparkz LP and its partners.

Mayo County Council Enterprise and Investment Unit has worked with OpenSparkz to select suitable sites for GSI operations in the county and is delighted with this significant announcement today following detailed discussions regarding the project since last summer.

Ireland was chosen as headquarters for GSI given the country’s strong technology and skills base in sustainability, and in particular, its leadership in food technology and its long-term friendly relationships with Africa and other lesser-developed markets,” says Paul Lindsey, CEO of OpenSparkz. “In addition, the level of practical support we have received from the Mayo County Council and the Irish Government agencies provided a concrete stepping stone towards securing the necessary locations to allow substantial operations take place in Co. Mayo

OpenSparkz and its leading innovative partner companies will develop a technology hub within the Castlebar facility to be called the “Global Sustainability Centre”, expecting to generate more than 250 new jobs.

The financing of the Centre and GSI’s initial projects in Africa are led by investment bank BPA International Group in partnership with OpenSparkz.. After receiving formal approvals from the Luxembourg Regulator, the CSSF, BPA has launched an alternative investment fund “GSF1” in Luxembourg and is now taking investment commitments for some EURO 300 million, forming the basis of a listed offering when GSI’s projects are sufficiently developed. 

“Investments into GSI projects will come from the impact investment sector, as well as sovereign wealth funds, multilateral and supranational bodies and the multinational corporate and.  institutional brands.” says Stephen Johnson, Chairman of the BPA International Group. “In fact, these organizations strongly supporting global sustainability and are actively increasing their investments in development projects like GSI.”

GSI and GSF1

The GSI initiative will help to provide solutions for a series of global challenges, including the development of viable new sustainable biomass fuel supplies, which will be essential in helping governments tackle the threat of climate change.

GSF1 intends to ecure land rights in South Africa which will be used to produce these biomass-derived energy fuels in collaboration with local communities, who will benefit from the investment that will be made in improving their nutritional, health, education and technology conditions. The land will also be developed to produce large scale supplies of nutrient-rich, organic foods and to protect endangered species, including animals like the rhino, which are under increasing threat from poaching. 

The GSF1 approach is unique in that 40% of the profits generated by the initiative will be reinvested as “social dividends” dedicated to the development of urgently needed social projects within these local and other communities, such as improved farming methods to increase the food supply, water purification, health clinics, schools for education, energy and IT/tech connectivity.

Global Sustainability Center Partners

Research and development at the GSC will be supported by Irish universities and institutions, including the NUI Galway, GMIT and Mountbellew Agricultural College as well as the Western Development Commission.

OpenSparkz is also working closely with the IDA and Enterprise Ireland to help us to attract more leading global companies into the Centre and Ireland.

OpenSparkz has already started to attract global partners to the GSC in Castelbar including:

Viridis Aquaponics (U.S) – which is focused on certified organic food production through the use of aquaponics and high tech methodologies. ( www.viridisaquaponics.com)

New Generation Biogas ( England) – technologies and equipment for local community power production and bio-fertilizers through anaerobic digestion. ( www.ngbiogas.com)

iFood Systems ( Canada) – packaging technology that extends the shelf life, safety and vitality of agricultural food products. ( www.ifoodsystems.com)

Flexiway Solar Solutions ( Australia) a subsidiary of NRS International that creates fit-for-purpose solar lights for the humanitarian aid and international development sectors ( www.nrs-international.com)

Hedviga Group ( Czech Republic) products that convert organic materials from waste (rubber granules, sorted plastics, biomass and sorted municipal waste) into useable products and fuel.( www.hedviga.cz)

Arcadian Biomass (U.S.) expertise in project development, construction, commissioning and operation of lumber, wood chipping, co-generation and wood pelletising operations. ( www.arcadianbiomass.com)

Aquiva Foundation ( England) a registered charity delivering sustainable desalination project based on the innovative memsys technology in developing countries using waste heat from power generation or solar  ( www.aquiva-foundation.com)

Risk Management International, Ireland’s longest established firm providing risk management and project assurance. ( www.rmi.ie)

Indaba Mobile, a South African-based mobile-focused enabling company that extends social networking and communication to the last mile in frontier markets. ( www.indabamobile.co.za)

OpenCarb LP, an Irish-based enterprise, that secures, trades and assures biodiversity rights from sustainable  projects for the benefit of those communities protecting the environment. ( www.opencarb.com)

“This project has resulted from many years of research and development on a new economic model and best in class technologies that will work in lesser-developed markets and deliver impact at scale to communities. The GSC will be a one-stop shop to facilitate the delivery to communities of both capital and technologies. It will focus on the big six basic community needs including food, energy, water, healthcare, education and IT access, using an economic model based on trade rather than aid. This new approach of investment for impact provides both investors and communities alike better outcomes at scale” says Declan Conway, Chairman and Founder of OpenSparkz LP.

This is just the beginning of what is to become a major co-operation between developed countries and the developing ones but also the many powerful institutions, organisations and businesses that have already expressed interest in being involved – for a better world for everybody.

The Global Sustainability Initiative was inspired from a commitment to action with the Clinton Global Initiative, a US-based group which was established by Bill Clinton to help support worthwhile projects globally. Accordingly, GSI is looking to play it’s part in helping to solve some very big world-scale issues, including developing new sustainable fuel supplies to replace coal with biomass and providing sustainable food production which can help us all to tackle the catastrophic risks created by the threat of climate change.

About BPA International Group (www.bpa-intl.com)
BPA International was founded in 2003 as a financial group principally focused on the global Emerging Markets. It provides Investment Banking and Fund Management Services.

BPA International formed a SICAV-SIF alternate investment funds platform which received regulatory approval in August 2013 from the Luxembourg Regulator, the CSSF. BPA International Directors and two Non-Executive Directors have been appointed to manage the SICAV-FIS platform, and each sub-fund is supported by industry experts and established and recognized market leading Service Partners.

About OpenSparkz (www.opensparkz.com)
OpenSparkz LP is an Impact Investment Advisor creating value and sustainable impacts by tackling the growing global issues of resource scarcity and environmental degradation, which are now affecting the ability to provide the basic needs of energy, food, water and infrastructure to frontier markets. It acts as Investment Advisor to the GSF1, a Luxembourg regulated alternate investment fund.

Contact:
Niall Shanahan, COO, OpenSparkz
Tel +353 1443 3396
Niall.Shanahan@OpenSparkz.Com

SOURCE OpenSparkz LP

AGT Food and Ingredients Inc. Announces Year End 2014 Release Date and Conference Call (PR Newswire)

SYMBOL: TSX: AGT

REGINA, March 16, 2015 /CNW/ – AGT Food and Ingredients Inc. (TSX:AGT) (” the Company” or ” AGT“) has announced its Year End 2014 results will be released prior to market open on Monday, March 23, 2015.

A conference call to discuss year end results is scheduled for Monday, March 23, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time. To join the conference, please dial 1-800-319-4610 (toll free from Canada & the U.S.) or +1-604-638-5340 (from outside Canada & the U.S.).

A recording of the call will be available at www.agtfoods.com on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.  A telephone replay will also be available until midnight Eastern time, Monday, April 20, 2015.  To access the replay, please call 1-800-319-6413 (toll free from Canada & the U.S.) or +1-604-638-9010 (from outside Canada & the U.S.).  When prompted, enter the code 4537, followed by the number sign (#).

The financial statements and notes thereto for the twelve months ended December 31, 2014 as well as the related management’s discussion and analysis will be filed on SEDAR at www.sedar.com and will also be available on the Company’s website at www.agtfoods.com prior to the conference call.

AGT Food and Ingredients Inc. Profile
AGT Food and Ingredients Inc. (AGT) is a processor of value-added pulses, staple foods and ingredients for export and domestic markets as well as a supplier of retail packaged and canned foods to retail and food service sectors. Through its offices and processing facilities located in some of the best agricultural growing regions in Canada, the U.S., Turkey, China, Australia and South Africa, merchandising and sales offices in the U.K., the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and India and origination offices in Russia, AGT produces a full range of pulses and specialty crops including lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans and canary seed as well as food ingredients such as pulse flours, proteins, starches and fibres.  Through its subsidiaries in Turkey, the Arbel Group, AGT also produces staple foods such as Arbella Pasta, rice, and milled wheat products, including bulgur and semolina.

Cautionary Statements
Certain statements in this press release are forward-looking statements. The reader is cautioned that assumptions used in the preparation of such information, although considered reasonable by AGT at the time of preparation, may prove to be incorrect. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of AGT (including its operating subsidiaries) to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, among others, the actual results of harvests, fluctuations in the price of lentils and other crops, failure of plant, equipment or processes to operate as anticipated, accidents or labour disputes, risks relating to the integration of acquisitions or to international operations, as well as those factors referred to in the section entitled “Risk Factors” in the Annual Information Form of AGT dated March 31, 2014 which is available on SEDAR at www.sedar.com, and which should be reviewed in conjunction with this document. Although AGT has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual actions, events or results to differ materially from those described in forward-looking statements, there may be other factors that cause actions, events or results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that forward-looking statements will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements.  AGT expressly disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except in accordance with applicable securities laws.

SOURCE AGT Food and Ingredients Inc.

IBM Helps Angola Develop Smarter Healthcare and Education Capabilities (PR Newswire)

Pro bono projects with government agencies and institutions support Angola’s economic growth agenda

LUANDA, Angola, March 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — A team of IBM (NYSE: IBM) specialists has presented recommendations to Angolan authorities on a range of issues aimed at supporting Angola’s drive for economic and social transformation. These include academic training, technical skills development, and healthcare management strategies.

The team’s month-long, pro bono consulting assignment in the capital of Luanda saw them working on several projects at the country’s Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Higher Education and other agencies responsible for healthcare delivery, academic accreditation, vocational training, and education standards monitoring.

The 13-person IBM team, from eight countries, was the second group since 2011 to provide assistance to Angola as part of IBM’s Corporate Service Corps, which provides problem-solving support to educational institutions, small businesses, non-governmental organizations, and governmental agencies in emerging markets. Africa has become a strong focus for IBM’s Corporate Service Corps as IBM expands its operations across the continent and forges new strategic relationships with governments, clients and not-for-profit organizations.

Other organizations with which IBM worked in Angola included the Institute for Training of Local Administrators (IFAL), the National Institute for Employment and Vocational Training (INEFOP) and the National Institute for Assessment Accreditations and Approval of Higher Education Degrees, Diplomas and Courses (INAAREES), whose mandate includes certification of higher studies in Angola.

Currently ranked as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, Angola has achieved a major decline in poverty rates in recent years, according to the World Bank. Keen to reverse decades of underdevelopment and skills shortages, the Government of Angola has stipulated higher education benchmarks and milestones in its Vision 2025 agenda, its blueprint for growth and national development.

Angola is on the verge of a new dawn,” said Mr. Carlos Alberto Masseca, Angola’s State Secretary for Health. “Notwithstanding the tough global investment climate, we continue to attract investments into key economic sectors such as health, construction, education, and transportation. We truly appreciate the collaboration with IBM’s Corporate Service Corps program and the Ministry of Health Angola (MINSA).”

IBM presented its recommendations and findings to four clients, which included:

The Ministry of Health: an IBM team established strategies to decrease inefficiencies in the nation’s hospital management system. The team made recommendations for hospital funding models, identifying pros and cons of each model, taking local environmental, socio-economic and cultural realities into account.

Institute for Training of Local Administrators (IFAL): IBM recommended a monitoring and evaluation system to measure the impact of training programs for local government officials across municipalities in Angola. The team implemented a training program complete with tools and methodologies for data gathering, which will inform ongoing training curricula and processes, and help identify key performance indicators needed for future planning.

National Institute for Employment and Vocational Training (INEFOP): IBM helped develop a system for the delivery of vocational training and a roadmap for the collation of data on employment and vocational training across Angola’s 18 provinces and the General Directorate in Luanda. The system, coupled with other recommendations, will help INEFOP to accurately report statistical data on activities at 181 employment and training centers across Angola. This information is a crucial ingredient for decision making pertaining to fiscal planning, training resource management and training delivery. Also included was a blueprint for a proposed digital library to be accessed by INEFOP provincial centers.

National Institute for Assessment Accreditations and Approval of Higher Education Degrees, Diplomas and Courses (INAAREES): IBM’s recommendations for INAAREES were consistent with Angola’s Vision 2025 long range plan. The IBM team developed a road map for setting up cost effective procedures and processes of academic accreditation, and made recommendations to help automate, accelerate, and evaluate certification and accreditation of studies. In addition, the team helped define a technology-based solution for better coordination between INAAREES departments.

“Proactive policy design, planning and execution has been the hallmark of the Angolan government for many years,” said Paulo Falcao, IBM’s Country General Manager for Angola. “IBM’s latest contribution to this economic transformation agenda will help instill sound management strategies and ensure there will always be a pipeline of skilled citizens who will maintain and manage Angola’s healthcare systems and infrastructure across the country.”

The Corporate Service Corps Program is a powerful way for IBM to provide national, municipal, civic and social institutions across emerging markets with the same expertise that the company provides to its commercial clients.

IBM opened an office in Angola in 2011. The company has been a key contributor to the country’s ongoing technology advancement and continues to support government and private firms across a range of sectors and industries, including the banking, oil and gas, telecommunications, mining, construction, and public sectors.

About IBM Corporate Service Corps

IBM’s Corporate Service Corps is a global pro-bono initiative through which IBM deploys teams of top achieving employees to emerging market countries. These global and multicultural multi-ethnic teams spend one month on the ground working with local government, nonprofit civic groups, and small business to develop blueprints that touch issues ranging from economic development, energy and transportation, to education and healthcare. Participating IBM employees offer skills that include technology, scientific research, marketing, finance, human resources, law, and economic development.

By the end of 2015, IBM Corporate Service Corps will have dispatched approximately 2,800 IBM employees originating from over 60 countries on engagements to 38 countries — making this pro bono problem solving program one of the world’s largest. Africa, a growing market for IBM, is one of the focal points of the program. By year’s end, the program will have deployed approximately 800 IBM employees for projects in South Africa, Ethiopia, Angola, Senegal, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, and Egypt.

To learn more about IBM’s Corporate Service Corps, please visit http://citizenibm.com/category/corporateservicecorps

To learn more about IBM’s corporate citizenship initiatives, visit: http://www.citizenibm.com and http://www.youtube.com/user/citizenIBM.  Follow us on Twitter @citizenIBM

Contact(s) information:

Charles Moyela
IBM Media Relations, Central Africa
+ 234 808 667 5257; +233 (0) 262 718756
charlesm@ng.ibm.com

Ari Fishkind
IBM Media Relations
01-914-499-6420
fishkind@us.ibm.com

SOURCE IBM

China Is Now Third-Largest Arms Exporter (International Business Times)

Military delegates from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army arrive at Tiananmen Square for a meeting during the annual session of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, in Beijing, March 4, 2012.Reuters

China is expanding its global military influence to become the world’s third-largest arms exporter as it produces more sophisticated weaponry. According to new data by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), during the five-year period between 2009 and 2014 China has solidified its role as a global supplier of arms, behind the United States and Russia.

China now represents 5 percent of a global export market valued at more than $300 billion a year. While China has managed to narrowly unseat Germany and France as an arms exporter, it’s slice of the market is still a long ways behind America’s 31 percent and Russia’s 27 percent.

China’s state-run companies have become increasingly popular names in defense weaponry, contributing to the 143 percent rise in exports during the five-year period. More than 68 percent of Chinese exports are sold to three countries: Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Though China’s exports are predominately sold to countries in the Asia-Pacific region, they are increasingly brokered in Africa, with major arms being exported to 18 African states during the time period. This includes armored vehicles, transport and training aircrafts, and drones. According to the Wall Street Journal, China’s Norinco Group is one of the state-owned companies leading the charge in expanding arms into new territories. The company has sold armed drones to Nigeria to help combat the growing Boko Haram rebel forces. China has also been making strides in modernizing and improving the quality of sales.  

“The equipment you get nowadays from China is much better than 10-15 year ago,” Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher at SIPRI said, adding that China can produce some of the same equipment that the U.S. and Russia can, but at cheaper prices.

China’s military export modernization is just a part of its larger military plans, and the improvement in China’s military prowess has become a central part of the country’s development into a global superpower. Geo-political dominance, particularly in the South China Sea, is supported by China’s increasingly modern military and growing defense budget. China’s reclamation efforts and military presence in the area has raised concern among its Southeast Asian neighbors, like Vietnam and the Philippines, which are embroiled in territorial disputes in the region.

Beefing up China’s military has been one of President Xi Jinping’s priorities since he took office in November 2012. China said it plans to raise its defense budget in 2015 for the second year in a row by about 10 percent to $141 billion, making it the second-biggest military spender in the world.

Country-level Champions: Zambia Drives Progress for Women and Girls

– The Aspen Institute, the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, thePermanent Mission of Zambia to the United Nations, Plan International USA and the U.S. Agency for International Development

WASHINGTON, March 16, 2015 / PRNewswire — The Aspen Institute Global Health and Development, the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, Plan International USA and the U.S. Agency for International Development hosted a dialogue with the Honorable Nkandu Luo, Minister of Gender and Child Development of Zambia, and Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez, Assistant Administrator for Global Health and Coordinator for Maternal and Child Survival at the U.S. Agency for International Development.The conversation was moderated by Peggy Clark, Vice President of Policy Programs and Executive Director of Global Health and Development at The Aspen Institute.

Global%20Leaders%20Council%20logo Country level Champions: Zambia Drives Progress for Women and Girls

Global Leaders Council logo.

Logo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150315/181825LOGO
Logo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130417/DC96489LOGO

Watch the full conversation: http://as.pn/14q.

As the new global development agenda takes shape, leaders must consider global priorities for maternal and child survival and what is needed to drive progress for women and girls at the country level. This conversation explored the impact of public sector leadership for reproductive health, opportunities to build support across ministries and other public offices, as well as meaningful engagement of civil society in informing policy and funding priorities.

“Empowering girls and women with modern contraceptive methods is very important, and it helps. You empower women, through education and better health, and everything else, from the environment to the economy, works better,” said Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez.

Zambia is a prime example of strong public sector leadership for reproductive health as it tackles the most pressing needs for women and girls including family planning and reproductive health, child and early marriage, and gender-based violence.

“Zambia is very committed to the reduction of maternal deaths and child deaths through the promotion of reproductive health rights. Our major focus is on girls and children, because we believe that investments in children will give us a healthier population in Zambia, and this has strong implications on economic development,” The Honorable Nkandu Luo added.

image Country level Champions: Zambia Drives Progress for Women and Girls

Aspen%20Institute%20logo. Country level Champions: Zambia Drives Progress for Women and Girls Aspen Institute logo.

In September 2015, Member States of the United Nations will decide on a new set of global goals to guide policy, programming, and funding for sustainable development. These Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will follow the Millennium Development Goals, which expire in 2015. Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are fundamental human rights and drivers of progress that are central to achieving many sustainable development priorities. These include maternal and child health, education, poverty eradication, women’s empowerment, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health established by The Aspen Institute in 2010, is composed of sixteen sitting and former heads of state, high-level policymakers and other leaders who build political leadership for increased financial and technical support for reproductive health. The Council works to revitalize political commitments to reproductive health by increasing awareness of reproductive health issues, supporting the effective use of donor resources, and championing policies dedicated to achieving universal access to reproductive health.

The Permanent Mission of Zambia to the United Nations joined the United Nations on 1st December 1964 after gaining its independence on 24th October the same year. Since then, Zambia has and continues to be an active member of the UN. Zambia plays a critical role in promoting international peace and security, human rights, gender equality and democracy, the rule of law, and good governance. Zambia forms part of the international community supporting sustainable development through the promotion of environmental sustainability, social development, and economic growth.

Plan International USA is part of the Plan International Federation, a global organization that works side by side with communities in 50 developing countries to end the cycle of poverty for children and their families. Plan works at the community level to develop customized solutions and ensure long-term sustainability. Our solutions are designed up-front to be owned by communities for generations to come and range from clean water and health care programs to education projects and child protection initiatives. For more information, please visit www.PlanUSA.org.

U.S. Agency for International Development is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. USAID’s mission statement highlights two complementary and intrinsically linked goals: ending extreme poverty and promoting the development of resilient, democratic societies that are able to realize their potential. We fundamentally believe that ending extreme poverty requires enabling inclusive, sustainable growth; promoting free, peaceful, and self-reliant societies with effective, legitimate governments; building human capital and creating social safety nets that reach the poorest and most vulnerable.
www.aspeninstitute.org