In May, a month dedicated to women’s rugby in Africa

In May, a month dedicated to women’s rugby in Africa

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, April 10, 2018/ — At its last General Assembly in London in November 2017, World Rugby launched a new global strategy to promote women’s rugby for the period 2017 to 2025. Now it’s up to Rugby Africa to follow this example and formulate its own strategic plan adapted to take account of the geographical, economic and cultural needs and realities of the African continent to promote the practice of rugby among young girls and women.

With this in mind, the association for the continent has made May Women’s Rugby Month in Africa. A two-day forum on women’s leadership in rugby will be held in Gaborone, Botswana, on May 22-23 just before the opening of the Women’s Rugby Sevens African tournament organised for May 26-27, 2018. The choice of dates and venues was not accidental as Rugby Africa seeks to capitalize on the forum, the International Working Group on Women and Sport, taking place from 17 to 20 May in Gaborone.

At the centre of the debate is the growth of women’s rugby and the increase of the number of African female players but in addition, it will explore the role of women in our sport more generally, from their work in the technical support of the teams to their involvement in the management structures of rugby in Africa. It has to be acknowledged that Africa is lagging behind the rest of the world in women’s rugby since, for the time being, it has no team representing the continent at the Women’s Rugby World Cup and only South Africa is sending a team to participate in the Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco in July. Fair enough, but at the urging of Katie Sadleir, director for women’s rugby at World Rugby, the management team of Rugby Africa intends to change this situation and plans to work with the most motivated federations to create centres of growth for women’s rugby in Africa and to establish as quickly as possible role models to be emulated. The president of the rugby federation of Burkina Faso, Mrs. Rolande Boro, and the general director of the Tunisian rugby federation, Mrs. Maha Zaoui, will carry the torch for this African initiative and their efforts have already resulted in the establishment of a progress scholarship by World Rugby. It should also be noted that the all-inclusive Get Into Rugby program is very popular with young African girls with a participation rate of 46% and 412,841 girls registered in 2017, a good portent for the future.

For Katie Sadleir this exceptional week for women’s rugby in Africa is an opportunity not to be missed: “The increasing involvement of women in rugby presents the single greatest opportunity for our sport in the next decade. It is critical to World Rugby’s vision of a ‘sport for all, true to its values’ and its mission to grow the global family … Women’s rugby is experiencing unprecedented growth and participation levels are at an all-time high. Women’s rugby in Africa is leading the way in terms of numbers of female players registered globally. This important conference hosted by the Botswana Rugby Union will enable the leaders of the region to take the next step in accelerating the development of women in rugby in Africa.”

As for the competition, the competing teams will approach this tournament with a view to preparing for the qualifications for the Olympic Games to be held next year. Teams from South Africa, Kenya, Mauritius, Madagascar, Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Uganda and the host, Botswana, are expected in Gaborone. Mr Dave Gilbert, President of the Botswana Rugby Federation, is delighted to host the event: “It is wonderful for Botswana Rugby to showcase Women’s Rugby and be part of the future pathway for these female athletes. The Botswana Rugby Union and the Botswana National Sports Commission are very excited to be organizing and hosting this event which is the first of its kind in Rugby in Africa “.

These events are an opportunity to develop women’s rugby in Africa, an issue close to the heart of the president of Rugby Africa, Abdelaziz Bougja, who sees this as a strategic priority for the continent and the sport: “Women’s rugby is a real challenge in terms of development and competitions. We look forward to discussing this with the most active federations on the continent and to bringing women’s rugby up to the next level. Women’s rugby is without doubt top of Rugby Africa’s priorities for the years to come, since without women we will not be able to develop rugby, attract new fans and new players.”

In May, a month dedicated to women’s rugby in Africa

In May, a month dedicated to women’s rugby in Africa. (Source: Aop Group on behalf of Rugby Africa

APO Group on behalf of Rugby Africa

In May, a month dedicated to women’s rugby in Africa. (Source: APO Group on behalf of Rugby Africa

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Staff Reviews Progress of Madagascar’s Economic Program

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Staff Reviews Progress of Madagascar’s Economic Program

WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, March 28, 2018/ — A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) led by Marshall Mills, Mission Chief for Madagascar, visited Antananarivo from March 14–28, 2018 to hold discussions on the third review of Madagascar’s economic reform program supported by the IMF’s three-year Extended Credit Facility (ECF) [1]. Good progress was made during the discussions, and they will continue in the coming weeks. Following conclusion of ongoing discussions, the IMF Executive Board could consider the third ECF review in June 2018. 

At the end of the mission, Mr. Mills issued the following statement: 

“Madagascar’s economic conditions remain favorable, with sustained growth and macroeconomic stability in spite of some shocks. Economic growth was estimated at 4.2 percent in 2017, despite the effects of a major cyclone and drought on agriculture and hydropower, as well as an outbreak of the plague on tourism. Growing export revenues from vanilla—boosted by high prices—and light manufactured goods led to a strong currency and created room for a substantial accumulation of foreign exchange reserves, which exceeded 4 months of imports at end-2017. The central bank has appropriately managed an associated increase in bank liquidity. Growth is projected to accelerate to 5.0 percent in 2018, led by rising public investment, continued growth in manufacturing, a rebound in agriculture and a recovery in the mining sector. Inflation is expected to decline gradually to below 8 percent by end-2018, after it rose slightly to 9 percent in 2017 due to weather-related shocks. 

“Performance under the ECF-supported program remains broadly satisfactory. Based on current data, all quantitative performance targets for end-December were met and for most with a large margin. In particular, reserve accumulation and the fiscal balance continued to exceed program targets. Implementation of structural reforms in the program generally advanced as planned, except for fuel pricing and a minor delay in the new statistics law. 

“Staff urged the authorities to maintain the momentum of the program to date. In particular, shifting from less productive public spending to investment and social spending is a core program objective. In the context of discussions between the authorities and the fuel distributors on a new price structure, there were delays in adjusting pump prices to rising world prices, which led to the authorities accumulating liabilities to fuel distributors. Staff recommended that the authorities adjust pump prices gradually to align them with world market prices and to eliminate the liabilities by year end. 

“Financial difficulties at the state-owned public utility JIRAMA continue to weigh heavily on public finances despite the launch of an ambitious plan to restructure the company. Large losses last year exacerbated by the drought exceeded budgeted transfers, putting additional pressure on public resources. Under the authorities’ current plans, JIRAMA’s transfer needs are also expected to exceed budgeted transfers this year, as higher world fuel prices and service on the debt accumulated in recent years offset the impact of favorable rainfall on hydropower production. Staff urged the authorities to implement measures to limit these operational losses and JIRAMA’s need for government transfers. In addition, higher than expected needs for the government’s wage bill and pensions will also require increased public resources. 

“Discussions also addressed priority medium-term structural reforms in monetary policy, financial sector development, and public investment. The BFM continues to develop its operational framework for monetary operations, through a better focus on managing excess bank liquidity and strengthening the legislative framework. The central bank and the ministry of finance and budget also plan to update the legal and regulatory framework for the operation of the foreign exchange market. Building on the Financial System Stability Assessment (FSSA), the authorities will update the legal and regulatory supervisory framework, move towards risk-based prudential supervision, and submit a revised banking law by year end. They are also working to speed up the execution of investment spending that is central to the program’s growth strategy. The recently adopted investment management strategy should improve implementation monitoring and ensure the consistency of new investment projects with the national development strategy. 

On governance, staff stressed the vital importance of enacting the asset recovery and Anti-Money Laundering laws submitted to parliament, to fight corruption and maintain good banking relationships internationally. It also remains important to follow through with implementation of the strengthened anti-corruption legislation, asset declaration framework, and improvements to public financial management. 

“The mission met with President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, Minister of Finance and Budget Vonintsalama Andriambololona, Minister of Economy and Plan Herilanto Raveloharison, Central Bank of Madagascar Governor Alain Rasolofondraibe, senior officials, as well as private sector representatives, and development partners. 

“The mission thanks the Malagasy authorities for their strong cooperation and the constructive discussions.” 

[1] The ECF is a lending arrangement that provides sustained program engagement over the medium to long term in case of protracted balance of payments problems. The arrangement for Madagascar in the amount of SDR 220 million (about US$304.7 million or 180 percent of quota) was approved by the IMF Executive Board on July 28, 2016. Augmentation of access was granted under the program for SDR 30.55 million (about US$42.39 million or 12.5 percent of the country’s quota) following the IMF Executive Board meeting on June 28, 2017. 

Eight under-20 African national teams compete in the Barthés U20 Trophy for a place in the 2018 Junior World Trophy

Eight under-20 African national teams compete in the Barthés U20 Trophy for a place in the 2018 Junior World Trophy

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, March 27, 2018/ — The competition was renamed in 2016 in honour of the late Mr. Jean-Luc Barthés who worked tirelessly for fourteen years as Rugby Service Manager for Africa at World Rugby to encourage the development of African rugby.

We all know that youth represents the future and it is Africa’s greatest resource. By United Nations estimates, in 2050, one-third of the world’s population aged between 15 and 29 will be living in Africa, providing a tremendous pool of athletic talent to boost African rugby.

“The U20 competition is the culmination of the development policies pursued for the continent by the federations with the support of Rugby Africa and World Rugby. Encouragement begins early with the all-inclusive Get Into Rugby program, which has been a huge success in Africa since its launch in 2013. In 2017, nearly 400,000 girls and boys were introduced to rugby throughout the continent of Africa,” said Abdelaziz Bougja, President of Rugby Africa, for whom the development of African rugby and education through the values of rugby are the key elements of the association’s strategy.

The federations have understood the importance of developing youth sections in their clubs and of establishing national championships for juniors who will later become the talent for the senior national teams. Already, the Barthès U20 Trophy has become a major venture, as the U20 African champion will qualify for the Junior World Rugby Trophy.

In 2018, the teams competing in the Barthès U20 Trophy are divided into two geographic pools. The North group, composed of Tunisia, Senegal, Morocco and Ivory Coast, will play their matches in Monastir in Tunisia, while the South group, including Namibia, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Madagascar will play their matches in Windhoek, Namibia. The final between the winners of the two pools, organised by Rugby Africa, will take place about a month later.

“Ideally, we would like to organize a mini U20 Africa Cup with the eight countries gathered in one location for a tournament, but we don’t yet have the resources necessary to make this project come to fruition. I’d like to take this opportunity to launch an appeal to both institutional and private partners to help us in this endeavour and to support young African rugby players,” declared Guédel N’Diaye.

The Junior World Rugby Trophy, meanwhile, is an annual international competition of eight teams, comprised of the host team, the relegated team from the top division of the World U20 Championship and six regionally qualified teams. Last year in Uruguay, Namibia had a great performance, finishing in 4th place. “In summary, the winner of the Barthés U20 Trophy qualifies for the Junior World Trophy whose winner in turn qualifies for the World U20 Championship, with the possibility of becoming the under-20 world champion,” outlined Guédel N’Diaye, director of competitions for Rugby Africa.

The two host federations are excited about the kick-off of the first competition of the Rugby Africa season. “The Namibian team has been training since the beginning of last week. We are all excited about the challenge of maintaining our status as the U20 Rugby Africa Champion. The Namibian coach, Roger Thompson, is optimistic about his team’s chances of winning the tournament and is eager to demonstrate the talent of his young team,” said Mervin Green, chief executive of the Namibian federation.

The president of the Tunisian federation, Mr. Aref BELKHIRIA, reiterated his loyalty and enthusiasm for African rugby. “It is important to re-emphasise from time to time our gratitude to and respect for World Rugby and Rugby Africa for the confidence they have shown in our federation for the organization of the North pool of the Barthes U20 Trophy tournament for the second successive year. We want to ensure that our guests leave with the most positive memories possible of our country, reassured of the important place occupied by rugby within the Tunisian strategy for sport.”

The match programme for the Barthès U20 Trophy:

SOUTH GROUP

Wednesday, 28th March 2018:
15:00 – Kenya v Madagascar
17:00 – Namibia v Zimbabwe
Stadium:  Vegkop, Windhoek High School

Saturday, 31st March 2018:
15:00 – Loser Match 1 v Loser Match 2
17:00 – Winner Match 1 v Winner Match 2
Stadium:  Hage Geingob Stadium, Windhoek

NORTH GROUP 

Wednesday, 28th Mars 2018:
15:00 – Tunisia v Côte d’Ivoire
17:00 – Senegal v Morocco
Stadium: Mostapha Ben Jannet Stadium, Monastir

Saturday, 31st Mars 2018:
15:00 – Loser Match 1 v Loser Match 2
17:00 – Winner Match 1 v Winner Match 2
Stadium:  Mostapha Ben Jannet Stadium, Monastir

From 28th to 31st of March 2018, the Barthés U20 Trophy (for under 20 year olds), will kick-off the Rugby Africa 2018 competition season

Rugby Eight under-20 African national teams compete in the Barthés U20 Trophy for a place in the 2018 Junior World Trophy. (Source: APO Group on behalf of Rugby Africa.

Rugby: Eight under-20 African national teams compete in the Barthés U20 Trophy for a place in the 2018 Junior World Trophy

Rugby Eight under-20 African national teams compete in the Barthés U20 Trophy for a place in the 2018 Junior World Trophy. (Source: APO Group on behalf of Rugby Africa

Orange aims to become a key player in energy transition in Africa and extends its services to five new countries

Orange aims to become a key player in energy transition in Africa and extends its services to five new countries

 

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, March 27, 2018/ — At the Africa CEO Forum, which is currently being held in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), Orange confirms its desire to become a key player in the energy transition sector in Africa, by providing services directly to the general public or as a wholesaler to public operators. Orange already provides a service offering rural populations access to solar energy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Madagascar. Today Orange is announcing the launch of this service in Burkina Faso, and further ahead in Senegal, Mali, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire.

Africa has a population of 1.2 billion, but 50% do not have access to electricity. In rural areas, far from the national electrical networks, this rate reaches 82% of the population, i.e. over 600 million people [1], making it particularly important to bring electricity to these zones.

Electricity at the heart of Orange’s ambitions in Africa

Committed to providing access to energy for many years, Orange has chosen to contribute to the challenge of electrifying Africa in countries within its footprint.

After the launch of Orange Energie (https://goo.gl/TSeSFZ) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in December 2017, then Mijro in Madagascar in February, Orange now is moving forwards in the deployment of its electrification programme for rural zones by launching the service in Burkina Faso.

Offered in the form of a kit including a solar panel, a battery and accessories (LED lightbulbs, kit to recharge several telephones, a radio and/or television), the equipment is provided by partners (BBOXX in the Democratic Republic of Congo, D Light in Madagascar and Niwa in Burkina Faso) selected by Orange for the quality of their products and their ability to respond to a massive demand.

The solar kits that Orange is offering are robust and can light up a whole house, charge the household’s mobile phones, and power a radio or even a television. Quick and easy to set-up, all you need to do is install a solar panel on the roof and a control unit in the house. Users also benefit from a full guarantee from Orange, which covers the entire installation, maintenance and repairs, in conjunction with technical partners.

Several packages exist to suit the pace of each household’s life with daily, weekly or quarterly subscriptions. The monthly subscriptions start at USD 15 for example in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Payment via Orange Money makes it possible to automatically grant or re-establish the service remotely for the requested period. This innovative service makes solar energy more widely accessible thanks to the great flexibility of mobile payments.

Towards an acceleration of ecologically-responsible economic development

The energy sector is a significant opportunity for Orange’s plan for diversification in Africa where it is particularly difficult to access reliable sources of electricity. Especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 70% of the population does not have access to the power grid and power cuts are frequent, even in large cities.

A new milestone will be reached in the first quarter of 2018 with the distribution of 12,000 “Orange Energie” kits and the launch of the service in four new countries (Senegal, Mali, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire) for the Football World Cup in June. The next step will involve the massive deployment of the Orange Energie service in other countries across Orange’s footprint, and the sale of several hundred thousand kits in the next five years, particularly through the extension of the partnership already established in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with BBOXX.

“Orange wants to be much more than a telecoms operator in Africa. We want to be a provider of essential services for our customers. The development of solutions that allow as many people as possible to access everyday essentials such as sustainable energy is a strong message in this direction,” says Bruno Mettling, CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa. “We think first and foremost of children who will be able to do their homework in the evening, but also of professionals who will gain in efficiency thanks to more readily available energy.”

Orange is present in 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East where it has over 130 million customers (December 2017). Generating 5 billion euros in sales in 2017, this zone is a strategic priority for the Group. Its flagship mobile-based money transfer and financial services offer, Orange Money, is available in 17 countries and has over 37 million customers. The Group’s strategy in Africa and the Middle East is to position itself as a major partner of the digital transformation and to provide its international expertise to support the development of new digital services.

[1] Source: Africa Progress Panel 2017

New World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Agenda for Africa moves ahead in Berlin

New World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Agenda for Africa moves ahead in Berlin

BERLIN, Germany, March 13, 2018/ — An African ministerial working meeting conveyed by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) during this year’s Berlin International Tourism Fair ITB (8 March) agreed to move ahead with a new ten-point UNWTO Agenda for Africa. The final document will be adopted at the UNWTO Commission meeting for Africa, taking place in Nigeria in June this year.

Against the backdrop of international tourist arrivals expanding 8% in Africa in 2017, thus outgrowing the world average increase in arrivals, tourism is gaining weight as a development opportunity for the whole continent, with its vast diversity of nature, culture and wildlife its greatest vehicle for development.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili stressed that “tourism has huge potential to generate lasting development opportunities in Africa if we manage it in the right way, which is economic, social and environmental sustainability”.

The participants from 17 countries, including 14 ministers, supported a coordinated approach to seizing the continent’s potential for tourism, a sector that last year attracted more than 62 million international visitors. Issues on the UNWTO Agenda for Africa include, among others, connectivity, the image and brand of Africa, poverty alleviation, climate change, education and skills development, and financing. Delegates underscored the importance of educating other economic sectors on the broad impact of tourism for the benefit of societies and its people, and promoting tourism as a priority in national agendas.

The detailed, four-year UNWTO Agenda for Africa will be approved at the upcoming 61st Regional Commission for Africa – UNWTO’s annual gathering of all its member countries of the continent – in the Nigerian capital of Abuja (4-6 June).

The following countries were represented at the meeting at ITB: Angola, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gambia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.