Daily Archives: March 17, 2015

South West Africa Agribusiness Report Q2 2015 (PR Newswire)

LONDON, March 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — BMI View:

We expect food security in South West Africa to improve over the short term, as we expect higher corn production from Zambia in 2014/15. Over the medium term, we see downside risks to sugar production in the region owing a global glut of the sweetener. Even with reduced production incentives, we expect Zambia to easily remain the region’s largest corn producer and exporter, while other countries in the region will struggle to maintain production surpluses. We believe that the potential in the Angolan sugar sector due to recent investments coming on-stream such as the Biocom production facility will be curbed due to the overall sluggish global prices of sugar.

Food safety standards should be improved in the near term, boosting our confidence for the sector. Indeed, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation will focus on the improving standards for food in partnership with African governments such as Zambia’s to ensure that manufacture adhere to standards and place food safety as a priority.
– 4.0% annually to 3.9mn tonnes. The expectation of high corn prices is likely to lead to a continued rise in corn plantings in the coming years, although reduced government support is a downside production risk and much of this growth will be due to low base effects.
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SOURCE ReportBuyer

Outsourcing asylum

As the EU considers outsourcing asylum screening to North Africa, our Migration Editor looks at what lessons can be learned from Australia’s use of offshore processing for asylum seekers.

LONDON, 17 March 2015 (IRIN) –

As Europe braces for a summer of record maritime migrant arrivals, the EU has revived plans to establish processing centres beyond the borders of the Union. 

All indications are that the onset of calmer waters on the Mediterranean will lead even more people to attempt the crossing this year than did in 2014, when over 170,000 reached Italy’s shores alone. As conflicts in Syria, Libya and elsewhere rage on, over 8,000 migrants and asylum seekers arrived by sea in the first two months of 2015 compared to 5,500 during the same period last year, according to the International Organisation for Migration.
 
Amid a growing sense of alarm, particularly among EU “frontline” states such as Italy and Greece, which receive the vast majority of sea arrivals, some European officials have renewed their enthusiasm for an old proposal to process migrants and asylum seekers outside the EU.

Germany’s Interior Minister was among the first to dust off the idea of setting up asylum centres in North Africa and Italy took up the proposal at a meeting of EU interior ministers in Brussels last week. The EU’s home affairs commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters afterwards that he would be visiting Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco “in order to create a zone in the area” to counter smuggling and irregular migration. 

“It’s about a humanitarian mission which would allow Europe to do screening and to dismantle a huge human trafficking market,” Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, explained. 

The proposal is being sold as a way to reduce the flow of migrants and asylum seekers embarking on perilous journeys to Europe by offering them legal ways to apply for visas or asylum in transit and origin countries. 

However, there are lessons to be learned here from Australia, where offshore processing began, ostensibly at least, as a way to ensure fair distribution of resettlement places; it has now overtly become a policy aimed at deterring migrants and refugees from ever reaching Australian soil. 

Australia started down the road of offshore processing more than 10 years ago when it began transferring asylum seekers intercepted at sea to detention centres on Nauru and Manus Islands. Measures implemented since then have become increasingly draconian and the evidence of human rights abuses at the offshore processing centres has piled up.

Canberra ignored warnings from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) that it was flouting its obligation as a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention to ensure people can access asylum, and recently wrote those obligations out of its domestic migration laws.  

In late 2013, Australia launched a military-led operation that has intercepted and turned back almost every boat carrying asylum seekers from Indonesia. Those detained on Nauru and Manu who are eventually recognized as refugees, can now only be resettled in Papua New Guinea, Nauru or Cambodia, according to bilateral agreements Australia has made with those countries.

“If you follow the logic of Australia’s policy, then you are going down a slippery slope”

“It’s become an out-of-sight, out-of-mind policy,” said Melissa Phillips, a migration researcher with the University of Melbourne. “If you follow the logic of Australia’s policy, then you are going down a slippery slope.”

There is no indication that Europe intends to follow Australia’s lead and intercept boats and send migrants to third countries for detention or processing of asylum applications. But public pressure on European governments to deter new arrivals is increasing – be it by detaining migrants or tightening borders.

However, different countries have different priorities and agendas when it comes to migration, and a system of processing asylum seekers in non-EU countries would depend on an agreement among member states about how recognized refugees would be distributed across the EU. Considering that a Common European Asylum Policy is still something of a pipedream and even the resettlement of Syrian refugees has been extremely uneven, it seems unlikely that member states will reach a consensus on this particular point.

There are a number of other practical hurdles to setting up offshore reception centres, not least the question of their location. As the majority of boat departures in the past year have been from Libya, locating processing centres there would make sense except that Libya is in the midst of a violent conflict that is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco are potential candidates, judging by the EU home affairs commissioner’s remarks, but all three have worrying human rights records. How will the EU ensure that whichever country or countries end up hosting the reception centres, it runs them in compliance with international and EU refugee and human rights laws? 

The legitimacy and legality of the policy would depend to a large extent on endorsement and technical assistance from UNHCR. William Spindler, a spokesperson for UNHCR, told IRIN that although the refugee agency has not ruled out third-country processing of asylum claims through multilateral arrangements “in exceptional circumstances” and “subject to appropriate safeguards”, “UNHCR’s position is that asylum seekers should normally be processed in the territory of the State in which they arrive.”

He added that UNHCR is advocating for offering other legal avenues for those seeking international protection in the EU such as humanitarian visa schemes, extended family reunification and increased resettlement places more evenly distributed across member states. 

Migration researcher Nando Sigona who is based at the University of Birmingham, noted in a recent blog that “proposals like this are easier to write on paper than implement in practice and would require a significant devolvement of financial and human resources”. 

“It is over ten years that similar proposals championing externalisation of asylum processing are on the table but they never fully reach implementation stage,” he added. 

The current sense of urgency driving EU migration policy may be enough to get the current proposal off the drawing board. If so, will Europe avoid Australia’s “slippery slope”?

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JinkoSolar Provides Information on a Fire Accident at One of its Raw Material Processing Workshops (PR Newswire)

SHANGHAI, March 17, 2015 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — JinkoSolar Holding Co., Ltd. (“JinkoSolar” or the “Company”) (NYSE: JKS), a global leader in the PV industry, today provided information in relation to a fire accident that occurred at one of its raw material processing workshops in Shangrao city, Jiangxi Province, China.

The fire broke out on the morning of March 17, 2015 and was put out by firefighters within one hour. There were no casualties and the surrounding area and communities were not impacted. The Company estimates the damages to be between RMB0.5 million to RMB1 million. The incident is not expected to have any material impact on the Company’s operations, financials or delivery commitments to its customers. The Company maintains insurance coverage for all the manufacturing equipment and has started the process to make the relevant insurance claims. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.    

The Company continues to take all necessary steps to ensure compliance with all work safety and environmental rules and regulations.

About JinkoSolar Holding Co., Ltd.

JinkoSolar (NYSE: JKS) is a global leader in the solar industry. JinkoSolar distributes its solar products and sells its solutions and services to a diversified international utility, commercial and residential customer base in China, the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Chile, South Africa, India, Mexico, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, and other countries and regions. JinkoSolar has built a vertically integrated solar product value chain, with an integrated annual capacity of 2.5 GW for silicon ingots and wafers, 2.0 GW for solar cells, and 3.2 GW for solar modules, as of December 31, 2014. JinkoSolar also sells electricity in China, and has connected approximately 500 MW of solar power projects to the grid, as of December 31, 2014.

JinkoSolar has over 13,000 employees spread across its 11 global branch offices in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the United States, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Japan, India, South Africa and Chile; 12 global sales offices in China, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Ghana, Brazil, Costa Rica and Mexico; and four productions facilities in Jiangxi and Zhejiang Provinces, China, Portugal and South Africa.

To find out more, please see:  www.jinkosolar.com

Safe Harbor Statement

This press release contains forward-looking statements. These statements constitute “forward-looking” statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and as defined in the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements can be identified by terminology such as “will,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “future,” “intends, “plans,” “believes,” “estimates” and similar statements. Among other things, the quotations from management in this press release and the Company’s operations and business outlook, contain forward-looking statements. Such statements involve certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. Further information regarding these and other risks is included in JinkoSolar’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, including its annual report on Form 20-F. Except as required by law, the Company does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

For investor and media inquiries, please contact:

In China:
Sebastian Liu
JinkoSolar Holding Co., Ltd.
Tel: +86 21-6061-1792
Email: ir@jinkosolar.com

Christian Arnell
Christensen
Tel: +86-10-5900-1548
Email: carnell@christensenir.com

In the U.S.:
Jeff Bloker
Christensen
Tel: +1-480-614-3003
Email: jbloker@christensenir.com

SOURCE Jinko Solar Holding Co., Ltd.

Country Turns the Tide Against Boko Haram

Less than two weeks before Nigerians vote, the military says it has captured at least 40 towns previously occupied by Boko Haram Islamists. The sudden victories are a sharp contrast to the defeats of the past six years.

Bama town located 60 kilometers (40 miles) from Maiduguri -birthplace of Boko Haram – became the latest territory to be retaken by Nigerian government forces, according to a military spokesman. The battle for Bama began last week and only this week did the town finally fall.

Until the beginning of this year Nigerian security forces seemed helpless as Boko Haram gunmen went on a rampage, bombing and burning down entire villages not to mention the infamous abduction of more than 200 Chibok school girls in April 2014.

By the beginning of this year, Boko Haram had seized territory the size of Belgium in a bid to establish an Islamic caliphate. Nearly 13,000 people have died while 1.5 million others have been displaced since Boko Haram picked up arms in 2009.

The Chadian factor

It all changed early February 2015 when Nigeria’s Electoral Commission said it was postponing the February 14 election for six weeks to allow the military time to reclaim and secure territories they had lost to Boko Haram.

A counter-insurgency operation by Chadian, Cameroonian and Nigerien forces backed by the African Union bolstered the fight against Boko Haram. Chadian troops, who have earned a reputation as one of Africa’s best in terms of counter-insurgency, have helped Nigeria’s military in capturing several key towns including Baga.

Boko Haram insurgents captured the town on January 3 after overrunning a base belonging to the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTSF). Nigerien and Chadian troops who were part of the task force had pulled out prior to the attack.

Rights group Amnesty International reported over 2,000 people lost their lives in one of the deadliest attacks by Boko Haram, the Nigerian military however contradicted the number saying not more than 150 were killed.

Mercenaries on the ground?

When news of the death of Leon Lotz, a South African mercenary, emerged in northeastern Nigeria, residents and military experts began questioning the role of private security contractors in the fight against Boko Haram.

Lotz, 59, was a former Koevoet officer. The Koevoet was a South African special forces unit tasked with clamping down on Namibia’s liberation movement, the South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO). “These people used to be white employees of the former South African Defense Force,” Phillip de Wet, Associate Editor at the Mail & Guardian, a South African daily, told DW in an interview.

According to de Wet, during the late 80s and early 90s, South Africa experienced a surge of people who had received high level military training in counter-insurgency under the apartheid regime. “South African specialists were often engaged in training, de-mining operations, they would also be deeply involved in strategic planning and command, think of them as business consultants of warfare,” de Wet said.

Some unconfirmed reports suggest there could be as many as 100 private security contractors from South Africa currently in Nigeria. Mercenaries from Georgia and Ukraine are also reportedly on the ground. The Nigerian government on Tuesday (17.03.2015) denied any knowledge of mercenaries on its soil, saying it had only hired consultants from South Africa, Russia and South Korea.

New military equipment

Many analysts say the Nigerian forces were poorly equipped and lacked necessary skills to take on Boko Haram. The Nigerian military is a conventional army while Boko Haram mostly employs guerilla warfare tactics. The loss of territory to Boko Haram and lack of morale from government troops had eroded any confidence from Nigerians that the military was serious in tackling the insurgency.

In September 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan got approval from the Senate to secure a $1 billion (940 million euros) external loan. The money which did not come easily due to political bickering in Abuja, was for the procurement of military hardware to stop an insurgency that was quickly getting out of control and spilling into neighboring countries.

DW correspondent Ben Shemang says Nigeria’s military now has sophisticated fighter helicopters, fighter jets and equipments for intelligence gathering and surveillance. “The army seems to have discovered new zeal, new equipment, making this a new fight.”

Borno state governor Kashim Shetima told Nigerians it was time to stop criticizing the armed forces and encourage them instead. “Our military plus their counterparts from Niger, Chad and Cameroon have recorded tremendous success,” Shetima said. “We cannot but commend them for the gallantry they have displayed in recovering some of the lost territory.”

The victories by the Nigerian army and its allies might be interpreted as a boon for incumbent President Jonathan in the upcoming March 28 election. Jonathan is facing a rejuvenated opposition led by former military leader Muhammadu Buhari.

However observers say the fact that Nigerians are applauding their armed forces does not mean they are applauding the commander in chief.

Ambassador Berhane Meets Irish State Minister, Seán Sherlock

State Minister, Ambassador Berhane Gebre-Christos met with Mr. Seán Sherlock, TD, the Irish Minister of State for Development, Trade Promotion and North-South Cooperation on Monday (March 16), to discuss a range of mutually important issues. Ambassador Berhane said Ethiopia attached great importance to its relations with Ireland. Cooperation between the two countries was growing in areas in which where Ethiopia was working to reduce poverty and achieve the targets set in the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP).

Ambassador Berhane said that as Ethiopia is preparing to implement GTP II, focusing on agro processing and manufacturing, Irish experience in the agricultural sector would be an inspiration; the two countries were also working closely on climate change and green energy. Ambassador Berhane also noted Ethiopia was working hard for the resolution of regional interstate conflicts and had committed itself to “Silencing the guns by 2020”, a decision adopted by the last AU summit. He said Europe could play an innovative role to increase its engagement with Africa.

Minister Sherlock said his visit to Africa, and especially to Ethiopia at the time of the celebration of St Patrick, was indicative of the conviction of his Government of the importance of enhancing trade links, investment and other important issues. He said he would be looking at the development of the Double Taxation Agreement between Ireland and Ethiopia, as well as the bilateral Air Transport Agreement signed on his last visit to Ethiopia, in November last year, when he had accompanied Irish President Higgins. Mr. Sherlock described the air transport agreement as a major milestone in relations between the two countries and one which paved the way for a new Ethiopian Airlines route. He said “direct flights between Dublin and Addis Ababa, due to start from June, there is huge potential for boosting trade, investment and tourism between Ireland and Ethiopia.”

Mr. Sherlock said his Government wanted to take advantage of the opportunities in Africa, and Ethiopia would be a key player in this regard, as the country is expected to be among the 20 fastest growing economies in the world this year. There was great potential for Irish companies looking for mutually-beneficial investment opportunities. The Minister underlined that Ireland’s long term development assistance to Ethiopia wasone of the strongest cooperation relationships in Europe.

Ethiopia, he said, was one of Ireland’s Key Partner Countries, and he expressed his satisfaction over the growth Ethiopia has registered over the last decade or so. He said Ireland would support Ethiopia in the implementation of the GTP II, and added that the 20-year roadmap for Irish-Ethiopian relations would heighten the cooperation between “equals” where the private sector would be an active player and Ireland would support Ethiopia’s goals in post-2015 sustainable development.