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Ghana, Togo to sign maritime boundary treaty 2019

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The timetable is one of many provisional arrangements from the second joint Ghana-Togo Maritime Boundary Delimitation Meeting held in the Togolese capital, Lome, last week.

Arrangements

The two parties also agreed that pending the final resolution of the boundary delimitation, provisional arrangements be implemented to allow both countries to continue activities within the disputed area, in accordance with the relevant articles of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Briefing the Daily Graphic, the Head of the Ghanaian delegation to the Togo meeting, Mr Lawrence Apaalse, said the latest meeting was an advancement of the first meeting held last June in Ghana which ended with various disagreements.

“I must say that today we have various points of agreement, which is a huge milestone in our deliberations. The two countries have agreed on a timetable that will result in a final maritime boundary treaty by the end of the second quarter of 2019,” he said.

2019 target

Mr Apaalse served as technical advisor to Ghana’s legal team on the Ghana-Cote d’Ivoire maritime boundary dispute arbitration at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) and was also the National Coordinator of the Ghana Continental Shelf Project that made the submission to the United Nations for the establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles.

He said although the timelines were ambitious, they were achievable.

“The 2019 target is an ambitious programme, but with the commitment and determination shown by both sides, it will be achieved,” he added.

He said in order not to limit the interaction between the two countries to only scheduled meetings, the two sides had nominated permanent focal persons to facilitate regular communication on a day-to-day basis.

The two sides, Mr Apaalse said, had also agreed to propose an agenda that would deal with the purely technical issues of the negotiations, with the technical session slated for the middle of this month.

Joint communique

In a communique signed by Mr Apaalse and the Leader of the Togolese delegation, Mr Stanislas Baba, the two countries stressed that dialogue was essential in the process, “considering the special bonds of kinship, brotherhood and friendship, as well as solidarity, which existed between Ghana and Togo, sustained through our history, geography and culture”.

The communique said the two sides had committed themselves to negotiating in the spirit of friendly relations and good neighbourliness on the basis of a special bond which would ensure the maintenance of peace and stability between the two countries.

Background

Ghana’s upstream oil and gas activities toward its eastern border with Togo have, in the recent past, met firm opposition from Togo, leading to the cessation of activities between December 2017 and May 2018.

Officials from Togo also stopped two vessels from Ghana from undertaking seismic activities to acquire data.

Togo had claimed ownership of the disputed maritime boundary.

This comes on the heels of the landmark resolution of a similar impasse between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire over a maritime border demarcation.

SWIFT Caves To US Pressure By Cutting Off Iranian Banks

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Shortly after Trump reimposed nuclear sanctions on Tehran on November 5, the international financial messaging system SWIFT announced the suspension of several Iranian banks from its service. “In keeping with our mission of supporting the resilience and integrity of the global financial system as a global and neutral service provider, SWIFT is suspending certain Iranian banks’ access to the messaging system,” SWIFT said.

The Belgium-based financial messaging service added:

“This step, while regrettable, has been taken in the interest of the stability and integrity of the wider global financial system.”

SWIFT’s decision has further undermined EU efforts to maintain trade with Iran and save an international deal with Tehran to curtail its nuclear program, after President Donald Trump pulled the US out in May. Being cut off from SWIFT makes it difficult for Iran to get paid for exports and to pay for imports, mostly of oil.

As a further note, the EU was one of the few entities not to receive a sanctions waiver from the US earlier this week.

The European Commission was understandably displeased, and on Wednesday said it found the SWIFT decision “regrettable”.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned SWIFT it could be penalized if it doesn’t cut off financial services to entities and individuals doing business with Iran. However, by complying with Washington, SWIFT now faces the threat of punitive action from Brussels.

Washington has been pressuring SWIFT to cut off Iran from the financial system as it did in 2012 before the nuclear deal. Six years, ago the EU imposed sanctions on Iranian banks, forcing SWIFT, which is subject to EU laws, to cut financial transactions with at least 30 of Iran’s financial institutions, including the central bank.

Iranian banks were reconnected to the network in 2016 after the Iran nuclear deal came into force, allowing much needed foreign cash to flow into Tehran’s coffers.

Gold is back. That’s a worrying sign

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Gold has been a dud of an investment for much of the year, but it has started to regain some of its luster.

The price of gold is up 3.5% since the start of October. During the same period, the S&P 500 has fallen 6.5%.
Gold tends to do hold up well in times of turmoil and it’s a particularly compelling investment when people are worried about inflation — like they are now. Wages grew at their fastest clip since 2009, according to October’s jobs report.
Gold is particularly attractive to central banks looking for safe, liquid assets. Central bank purchases of gold increased by 22% during the third quarter . That’s the fastest pace since the fourth quarter of 2015, according to Natalie Dempster, managing director for central banks and public policy at the World Gold Council.
During the past couple of years, most gold purchases had been made by Russia, Turkey and Kazakhstan. They are still major gold buyers, and countries like India, Poland and Hungary, have aggressively ramped up purchases lately, Dempster noted. But central bank purchases are drawing attention.

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Glencore’s Katanga unit halts cobalt exports from Kamoto mine

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The copper and cobalt producer said levels of the radioactive metal exceeded the acceptable limit allowed for export through major African ports.

The suspension is expected to defer Katanga’s revenue from cobalt sales to the second half of 2019 from the fourth quarter of 2018, and the first two quarters of next year.

The company noted it would build an ion exchange system to remove uranium, which is expected to cost about $25 million and be ready by the end of the second quarter. In the meantime, it will stockpile the vital battery ingredient while continuing to mine both cobalt and copper.

Shares in Katanga fell as much as 33% in Toronto to the lowest since May 2017, while Glencore’s dropped almost 2.9% in London by closing time.

Katanga’s assets include the Kamoto underground mine and KOV open-pit mine, providing sulfide and oxide ores respectively. It also owns the Kamoto concentrator and Luilu metallurgical plant for the onsite production of refined copper and cobalt.

The decision of halting exports comes almost a year after Katanga resumed processing of copper and cobalt, which had been suspended since Sept. 2015, during the construction phases of the ore leach project.

Katanga contributed 102,600 mt of copper and 6,500 mt of cobalt to Glencore’s nine-months 2018 production totals.

For the full year 2018, the Swiss miner and commodities traders expected to produce 39,000 mt of cobalt, plus/minus 2,000 mt, and 1.465 million mt of copper, plus/minus 20,000 mt, with Katanga expected to contribute around 11,000 mt of cobalt and 150,000 mt of copper.

Uganda, UAE sign deal to boost food, beef export

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Minister Vincent Sempijja flanked by state minister for economic monitoring Hood Katuramu, UAE’s minister for food security, Mariam Al Mehairi and other officials at the signing of the pact. Photo/ Courtesy

Uganda and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed a deal to establish one of the world’s only agricultural free zones in a bid to enhance food security in the Emirates.

The agriculture, fisheries and animal industry minister, Vincent Sempijja said, the 2,500 hectare free zone will allow private companies from the UAE to invest in agricultural production and development in Uganda.

The UAE’s minister for food security, Mariam Al Mehairi said, it will also act as a launch pad for further investment into East and central Africa. “There is a lot of potential to be unlocked in that area,” she said.

The agreement was signed on Monday at Agriscape, a two-day exhibition in Abu Dhabi convening dozens of producers, suppliers and investors from across the globe.

It is expected to promote agribusiness between the two countries and will see Ugandan exports of crops and beef rise.

Uganda could also feed its population, bolster agricultural production and begin to export with agribusiness investment, bringing jobs and wealth.

Uganda imports from UAE was $659.72 million during 2017, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade. UAE ranks 3rd after China and India in countries making a killing from Uganda in exports.

Food security, the accessibility of safe and nutritious food for all is an area of critical importance for the UAE, where land is largely arid and water is scarce.

As a result, the country imports around 90% of its food and is pursuing mutually-beneficial opportunities in Africa and beyond.

Talks began with the Ugandan Government last year following the Gulfood exhibition in Dubai in February.

Since then, around 14 UAE companies have expressed interest in investing in Uganda, a ministry of agriculture spokesperson said.

“Uganda is very promising,” Khadim Al Darei, deputy chairman of Aldahara, the headline sponsor of Agriscape, was quoted by a UAE based website, the National .

“Currently, only 5% of African land has been utilised for agriculture and the consumers are also coming from Africa. Imagine if we find a way to tap into that. We would reduce speculation in prices and also feed the continent,” he added.

“How can it be that 800 million are suffering from hunger, while we have 600 million people suffering from obesity?”

Food security has topped agendas all over the world as temperatures rise, but it is perhaps most pressing in Africa, where hunger is widespread and conflict and political instability deter investors.

With the continent’s population expected to grow by 1.3 billion by 2050, farming yields will need to increase.

AGRICULTURE AND FOOD INSECURITY RISK MANAGEMENT IN AFRICA

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Effective agricultural risk management strategies play a vital role in fostering productive and sustainable investment across the food and agricultural value chain in order to ensure food and nutrition security, eliminate hunger and reduce poverty, and achieve the annual target of 6 percent agricultural GDP growth.A real paradigm shift is necessary in order to manage risks efficiently. The underlying approaches to risk management and resilience building need to be based on market, policy and institutional reforms. It is against this background that the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD/CAADP), in collaboration with FAO, decided to prepare this review of innovative approaches and guidelines for mainstreaming agricultural risk management.

Food and agricultural markets in Africa are affected by macro-economic disturbances, oil price shocks, disease outbreaks, and adverse weather events, such as floods and droughts, which may have become more frequent because of climate change. On a smaller scale, accidents, illness, death, fire risks, theft and divorce are examples of personal risks that can undermine livelihoods. The problem is compounded by limited access to healthcare services in rural areas.
Weather variability, price uncertainties, unexpected institutional and policy changes, personal risks, and so on strongly influence decisions pertaining to input use, investments and technology adoption. Production and price risks are major impediments to investment in land improvement, irrigation, farm equipment and inputs, including fertilisers and seeds. Agricultural risks are among the major reasons for poverty traps as they may influence decisions of smallholders in favour of subsistence farming with low risks but also low returns, rather than expanding investment into high-return farming enterprises. Unmanaged risks can lead to a cycle of shock, (partial) recovery, shock, eroding capital and natural resources with every shock. Production and price shocks compromise the food and nutrition security of poor consumers in urban and rural areas. Poor net food buyers could be forced to draw down on their capital (distressed sale of assets, such as land or livestock) to maintain food intake in the event of high food prices. Other common coping mechanisms may include a reduction of food consumption, cut-downs on school fees, and cuts in health care spending. Reduced income levels have greater impacts on rural women and female-headed households, as they are less likely to be net sellers of food, and have less access to land and other resources.

Apart from producers and consumers, a large number of industries (textiles, biofuel, beverage, food, etc.) along the food supply chain are affected by unchecked risks that can significantly disrupt them. The high cost of doing business (due to production and market risks) can prevent suppliers, processors, transporters and marketing companies from expanding and improving their services. More importantly, shocks impacting the agricultural sector can adversely impact national gross domestic product (GDP) with long-term consequences for the country’s economic growth. Agricultural production and price volatility may also induce instability in government tax revenues and balance of payments, weakening governments’ fiscal positions especially in countries heavily dependent on agriculture.
Africa is one of the regions in the world most affected by food price volatilities and production variability. Spiking and volatile food prices have created uncertainty and risks for producers, traders and processors, resulting in increased food insecurity for consumers. At the root of the food price and production variability are hydro-meteorological disasters which comprise cyclones, floods, landslides, wild fires and dry spells. Drought affects the largest number of people on the continent, followed by floods and storms. Geological disasters, such as earthquakes and volcanoes, are relatively less frequent and impact fewer countries. At household level, multiple covariant and idiosyncratic shocks have made farming, livestock rearing or fishing very risky in Africa. Crop failure due to erratic rains is often followed by very high prices, starvation and outbreak of diseases. Livestock and crop pests and diseases tend to be rampant in many areas. Rural households may suffer from vulnerabilities associated with chronic illness, disability and death. Valuable possessions such as crops in the field or stocks of grain and livestock can be stolen. Pastoralists living in the border regions (e.g. Uganda, Kenya and Sudan) are affected by cattle rustling which has become more common and dangerous. Fishers and fish farmers are affected by asset risks, production and management risks, market risks, and personal and health risks.
Dealing with production, market and other shocks would require various types of risk management techniques, ranging from those managed through market mechanism to catastrophic risks with high rates of frequency that require government intervention. In general, these strategies can be classified into four categories: (i) risk mitigation and reduction; (ii) risk transfer; (iii) risk coping mechanisms; and (iv) failure range. Risk mitigation (ex-ante) and reduction strategies are designed to limit the impact of the disasters and prevent risks while risk transfers (ex-ante) refer to the transfer of potential financial consequences of particular risks from one party to another to manage agricultural risks. Risk coping mechanisms include actions taken after the shocks (ex-poste) to mitigate or insulate the welfare impacts of the shocks. Failure range refers to catastrophic risks that occur very frequently, implying the activity under consideration needs to cease and households need to adjust to a new form of livelihood.

An effective risk management strategy allows producers to: (i) invest in higher payoff activities, instead of low-risk and low-return outcomes; (ii) invest in more resilient and dynamic farming systems, instead of depleting their assets and falling into a poverty trap; (iii) undertake longer-term investment, rather than being risk-averse with limited investment in land improvement or infrastructure; and (iv) access oans to finance procurement of inputs and investment. Reducing food price risks not only ensures food
security and reduces poverty among consumers, but also enhances investment along the value chain and fosters overall economic growth. Market failures due to the presence of asymmetric information lead to adverse selection and moral hazard problems in market-based risk management for agricultural producers. For instance, private insurance is generally not available, or is unaffordable for smallholders. On the other hand, index insurance products are being tried in many countries to overcome the problems of adverse selection, moral hazard, and high transaction costs. Government intervention is needed to lower the cost and risks of introducing risk management tools, address distributional concerns and create markets.
Unlike in other parts of the world, most producers, consumers and operators along the food value chain in Africa have limited access to government or market-based risk management tools. Insurance and other forms of protection against natural disasters are rare in Africa, and rural women in particular experience shocks more severely than men do.
Despite the high variability and inadequacy of rainfall, investment in irrigation sub-Saharan Africa is very limited. The irrigated area in the region, extending over six million hectares, makes up just 5 percent of the total cultivated area, compared to 37 percent in Asia and 14 percent in Latin America. Two-thirds of that area is in three countries: Madagascar, South Africa, and Sudan. Spending on social protection is generally low in Africa, only 2.8 percent of GDP compared to 7.6 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, 3.7 percent in Asia and the Pacific, or 18 percent in Western Europe.

A review of best practices and country experiences has demonstrated that there is no agricultural transformation without risk management. Therefore, mapping the various risks faced by farmers, value chain operators, and the households’ access to food is fundamental. Governments support appropriate risk-hedging instruments, and engage in capacity development to increase the effectiveness of the different measures applied. It should, however, be noted that risk management strategies are context specific and vary from one region to another. For instance, developed countries and most countries in Latin America and Caribbean stress market-based instruments, such as commodity exchange, contract farming, and food and agricultural market information system, while many Asian countries rely on irrigated agriculture as well as government-based buffer stocks and strategic grain reserve to stabilize prices and support producers.

NEPAD, in partnership with FAO and the Platform for Agricultural Risk Management (PARM) hosted by IFAD, is supporting African countries and regional economic communities in mainstreaming agriculture and food-security risk management into investment plans to make sure that risk management interventions are planned, coordinated, budgeted and effectively implemented. For FAO, reducing risks by enhancing resilience to shocks and stresses of member countries is a new paradigm that is being promoted through its overarching goals to eradicate hunger, food insecurity, malnutrition, and poverty in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner.

The last parts of the document summarize the procedures for effective integration of risk management tools into national investment plans. Effective integration of risk management tools into national investment plans should begin with a situation analysis of the risk profiles, inventory of existing management practices, institutional context and capacity (stakeholder analysis), policy environment, and regulatory and enforcement capacity. The extent and trend of price variability, production and yield fluctuations, income variability and vulnerability of consumers need to be part of the situation analysis, which is to be presented and discussed at stakeholders’ workshop. Major national studies and findings in the area of agricultural risk management and related areas, as well as international and regional best practices, are also to be presented and discussed at the event. The goal for showcasing them is the creation of a committee for developing a roadmap with a comprehensive strategic framework for identifying multiple agricultural risk management tools and facilitating a holistic approach to their implementation and mainstreaming into investment plans and policies.

Among the major elements of the roadmap are: (i) policy and strategic framework using a holistic approach to address missing markets and support agricultural risk reduction, mitigation and coping, and making certain that all food security and agricultural development policies, programmes, and projects do not inadvertently increase vulnerability of the poor, especially women; (ii) programmes for institutional coordination and capacity development for enforcing contracts; (iii) steps in finalizing the integration of risk management tools into CAADP investment plans; and (iv) analytical works and database on price and production variability and risk management tools. The roadmap provides a guideline for generating and sharing knowledge, exchanging experiences, and fostering dialogue among public and private stakeholders in the field of agricultural risk management.

Dry weather forces Mauritius to cut 2018 sugar output forecast again

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The Chamber said it now expects production of 324,000 tonnes this year, down 1.8 percent from its 330,000 tonne forecast in September, which was also a reduction.

“A water shortage over the island during recent months has impacted negatively on the growth of the sugar cane plant,” the chamber said in a statement. Three quarters of the surface under sugar cane cultivation has already been harvested the chamber said, adding the crop harvesting season will end by mid-December. Sugar farming contributes about 1 percent of the Indian Ocean island nation’s $13 billion annual economic output.

Once focused on sugar and textiles, Mauritius has diversified into tourism, offshore banking and business outsourcing to cement its reputation as one of Africa’s most stable and prosperous economies. (Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff Editing by Alexander Smith)

AngloGold Ashanti may sell Mali mine after failing to agree investment

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he news came as AngloGold, Africa’s biggest gold miner by output, said it expected full-year production to reach the upper end of its guidance range, helping to push its shares as much as 9 percent higher. Mali, Africa’s third biggest producer of gold after South Africa and Ghana, has struggled to attract investment since Islamist militants seized the desert north in 2012.

AngloGold said it had started the process of selling the Sadiola mine, a joint venture with IAMGOLD, after failing to agree the terms of an investment project with the Malian government. The South African company and IAMGOLD had been in talks with Mali about a project to add sulphide-ore processing capability to a plant.

“While this agreement has not yet been reached, AngloGold Ashanti and IAMGOLD, who collectively own an 82 percent interest in Sadiola, have initiated a process to identify third parties that may be interested in acquiring their collective interests in Sadiola,” AngloGold said.

The company reported a 15 percent fall in production to 851,000 ounces in the quarter ended Sept. 30 from the same period a year earlier, after it sold some South African assets. Output from retained operations was broadly flat at 851,000 ounces, as a rise from its Mponeng mine in South Africa and a fully-ramped up Kibali mine in Democratic Republic of Congo offset falls at Siguiri in Guinea and AGA Mineração in Brazil. AngloGold said it expected full-year production to reach the upper end of its guidance of 3,325,000 to 3,450,000 ounces. All-in sustaining costs for the retained South African operations fell 11 percent to $920 per ounce, while net debt was down 15 percent to $1.75 billion.

“The net debt was lower, they managed to bring down all-in costs so generally I think it is looking quite positive,” said Vasili Girasis, market trader at BP Bernstein.

AngloGold shares were up 6.7 percent to 150.42 rand at 1015 GMT.

MB crushes basalt in Djibouti

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This is one of the reasons that motivated the Djibouti Ports & Free Zones Authority to begin construction of a $3.5 billion free trade zone, which extends over 4,800 hectares.

The initiative is expected to create 200,000 new jobs, and cement Djibouti’s role as the strategic link between global maritime trade routes, within the Belt and Road Initiative.

MB Crusher technology is playing a key role in the development of this crucial project.

At the beginning Mr Yangkai, the general manager responsible for the DIFTZ project, was impressed by the power of MB Crushers, simply by watching it working. Quality and quantity of recycled material daily obtained by the MB Crusher BF120.4, was one of the main aspects that the company took in consideration when decided to buy it.

Once Mr Yangkai had the BF120.4 working at the Djibouti project, and verified first-hand the MB Crusher bucket performance and the benefits gained from it, he simply wouldn’t consider any other options.

The MB crusher bucket will crush over 1 million cu m of basalt for road construction purposes.