EU pledges $675 million toward Mali reconstruction
On the eve of a major international donors’ conference, the European Union announced Tuesday it was pledging 520 million euros ($674.8 million) over the next two years to help rebuild the west African country of Mali as a functioning state.
The announcement was made by Jose Manuel Barroso (pictured above, right,) president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, who said the investment would benefit Europe as well as Africa.
University of Calgary receives $40-million gift, largest in its history
It was half a century ago that Don Taylor was thrust in front of a class. Still a student himself, he had caught on as a sessional instructor – but didn’t know the first thing about teaching.
“I was a 22-year-old kid teaching statically indeterminate structures. I don’t even know what a statically indeterminate structure is today, but at that time I did,” recalled Mr. Taylor, now 77. “Here I am, having never taught a class in my life. It’s absolutely absurd to put a person in front of a class and expect him to teach a subject as complicated as that with no teaching skills. And yet I was there doing that.”
Investing R12 million in Black entrepreneurs – apply today!
Investec and Raizcorp have partnered to provide business support and development, to the value of R12 million, to 12 entrepreneurs. This exciting new partnership will enable entrepreneurs of black-owned businesses to take part in a two-year long programme that facilitates increased profitability in their respective businesses.
The innovative Raizcorp ACUMEN enterprise expansion programme is designed for ambitious and tenacious entrepreneurs to take their business Acumen to the next level through an incredible curriculum of entrepreneurial learning and mentorship support.
Commenting on the partnership, Investec CEO Stephen Koseff said: “Entrepreneurship has always been integral to Investec’s culture and is embodied within our core values and philosophies, how we conduct ourselves and the activities in which we engage. Investec has always supported entrepreneurs, realizing the importance of the role they play in our economy. The partnership with Raizcorp is aligned with our strategy to support and develop small business owners with high growth potential.”
The 12 deserving entrepreneurs selected for the programme will be assigned a dedicated team of five trained Raizcorp guides, who will focus on key areas from strategy, finance and marketing to sales and personal development. Profitability is said to increase substantially for 95% of participating businesses, over a period of two years.
To add to the ambition, entrepreneurs and their staff will have access to Raizcorp Learning, one of the incubator’s core offerings, consisting of courses and workshops tailored to the unique needs of entrepreneurs
- How to apply
Applications are open for entrepreneurs who are active full time in their 51% or more black-owned business. The business must have been trading for at least 12 months and have an average turnover of at least R50 000 per month.
Those interested in applying must complete an online expression of interest before Friday 03 May 2013. The expression of interest form is available at www.raizcorp.com.
For more information, contact Raizcorp on 011 566 2000 or email Andisa Ngqwebo (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Google to invest $390m in data center in Belgium
Internet search giant Google says it is investing 300 million euros ($390 million) to expand its continental European data centre.
Google Inc. said Wednesday it will upgrade the facility in Belgium to meet growing demand for its online services.
The information underpinning Google’s services — Internet search requests, Gmail or YouTube — is processed in industrial-scale data centres such as the Belgian plant in St. Ghislain southwest of Brussels.
Google says the centre currently has some 120 employees and is one of the most energy-efficient facilities of its kind.
The company, based in Mountain View, California operates other data centres catering for the European market in Ireland and Finland.
A three-and-a-half-year heritage project has been launched to trace the origins of ancient buildings in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.
The project, called A Thousand Years of Building with Stone, will investigate a range of historic structures, including castles, bridges and local churches.
The team hopes to be able to match stone used in buildings with forgotten quarries in the two counties.
It has been funded by a £400,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust, which is running the project, said the money would be partly used for research and to train volunteers.
Its findings are expected to be published online and on mobile phone applications.
The trust said the project would also produce detailed information that could help to protect both historic buildings and the natural environment.
Bulgarian government redirects funds to help the poor
Bulgaria’s interim government, installed after the previous administration was toppled by large-scale protests about poverty, will create new jobs and help the poorest with their energy bills ahead of elections.
The government said on Thursday it would find the money by redirecting 41 million levs ($27 million) from day-to-day expenditure by ministries and spending on new highways.
However, it ruled out more borrowing so as not to risk its currency peg to the euro, the centrepiece of the country’s economic policy.
The moves are the latest attempt by the caretaker administration to placate the public before they go to the polls in May, but the inhabitants the European Union’s poorest country are still angry at high utility bills and rampant corruption.
Clinton Awards More Than $700,000 to Haiti Farms
A charity for former U.S. President Bill Clinton (pictured above during a visit to the sisal fiber production company Sisalco S.A. in Port-au-Prince,) awarded more than $700,000 to develop the country’s agriculture sector.
The Clinton Foundation announced Monday that the grants will go toward efforts to plant trees, build a coffee farm and train farmers.
Clinton has been the United Nations’ special envoy to Haiti since shortly before the devastating 2010 earthquake. He left Haiti following a two-day visit accompanied by potential investors representing a perfume company, restaurants and a lingerie company.
“The country has been beat down so long and the controversies are so familiar to people that it’s sometimes too easy to see the down side. I’m not naive. I know what the down side is,” he told The Associated Press. But, even so, he said, “This is a place of staggering potential.”
One of the delegation’s visits on Monday was to a brewery Heineken NV purchased last year. The company announced on Monday that it would invest $40 million to expand the brewery and help farmers who supply it with sorghum.
President Michel Martelly is trying to lure foreign investors to help rebuild the Caribbean nation following the massive quake. His administration has routinely employed the mantra, “Haiti is open for business.”
But analysts in both Haiti and abroad say the nation is held back by an old-fashioned banking system and a dysfunctional justice system that provides little legal certainty for investors.
Other deterrents include U.S. government advisories that alert travelers to security concerns, a cholera epidemic and inadequate infrastructure.
The travel warnings didn’t escape the notice of first-time Haiti visitor Mario Batali, an American celebrity chef, even if he did have the luxury of traveling with Clinton’s security detail.
“The danger is in my opinion very overplayed,” said Batali, wearing his signature orange Crocs and shorts.
Batali said he could imagine introducing Haitian products to customers in his Italian restaurants: “I could see using their coffee. I could see using their mangoes. I could see using their rum. I could see using just about everything we’ve bumped into.”
Nicaragua builds solar farm with Japan’s donation
Nicaragua has inaugurated a solar farm that the government says will benefit 1,100 homes.
The state-owned National Company of Electricity Transmission, or Enatrel, says in a statement that the array includes 5,880 solar panels. It says that Japan donated $11.4 million to build the solar farm and that Nicaragua invested $530,000.
Enatrel said Thursday that the farm will generate enough energy to supply 1,100 homes that consume an average of 150 kilowatt hour a month.
Peru to invest $3.1 billion in Lima water projects
Peru plans to invest $3.1 billion (8 billion soles) through 2016 to bring water to all residents in metropolitan Lima, officials said on Monday.
About $1 billion for the projects would be made available as concessions to private investors, Housing Minister Rene Cornejo said, while the rest would come from the government - financed in part by external debt and higher water fees.
The investments will fund 148 projects to broaden access to drinking water and sewage services across Lima and outlying neighborhoods, benefiting nearly 2 million of the capital’s 9 million inhabitants.
“For every sol invested in sanitation, 7 soles are saved in health costs,” said Cornejo. “This is part of our strategy.”
Orkney wave-testing centre handed £4m boost
The “world’s number one” wave-energy testing centre has been given a £4.1 million expansion grant by the Scottish Government.
The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney has received £3m for a new berth to test wave-power devices and £1.1m to test support vessels serving the energy industry in the area. The money was announced at the RenewableUK Wave and Tidal Conference in London by Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing.
“EMEC is the number one centre in the world for testing marine devices and it is vital that we maintain that lead and continue to reap the economic benefits,” he said.
“Since EMEC was established in 2003, the marine industry has created around 250 jobs on Orkney.”
Denmark to help fund SA renewable energy
Denmark has committed to help South Africa meet its future goals of a low carbon economy and reducing the growth of greenhouse gases through the deployment of low carbon technologies in the country.
An agreement signed between the two governments on Monday will see Denmark providing financial support to South Africa to invest in wind based electricity generations while the Danish will also give technical support to Eskom to integrate renewable energy into the electricity supply.
While the full financial details of the agreement were not immediately available, Deputy President Kgalema Motlante told reporters in Pretoria that the contract will provide the much needed assistance as South Africa embarks in its clean technology trajectory.
It’s understood that the Danish International Development Assistance (DANIDA) will make available an interim grant of DKK40 million to South Africa. Some of the money will be used to further develop the Wind Atlas of South Africa (WASA2) in order for the country to pursue and invest in wind based electricity as opposed to power generation using fossil fuels.
Denmark, which hosted the United Nations climate change summit in 2010, has announced that by the end of this decade, it will produce a third of its energy from renewable sources - wind power and solar power in particular.
The Danish government has also, ambitiously, set a goal of running the entire country on renewables by 2050.
Motlanthe said trade relations between South Africa and Demark had not been reflective of the “good friendship” the two countries had been enjoying. Motlanthe hoped the energy agreement will further strengthen these trade relations between Pretoria and Copenhagen. “We agree that there is a need to do more to strengthen our relations with the government of Denmark as our relations and friendship date back to the time of Apartheid,” he said.
The sentiments were echoed by Prime Minister of Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who told journalists before the signing ceremony at the Union Buildings that South Africa was a “strong partner” of Denmark. “This is a tangible agreement as it will develop our countries in a new and greener way which is something very crucial for the future.”
PICTURED ABOVE: Hammerfest HS1000 Tidal Turbines used in the Orkney Isles in 2011.
Queen’s property manager to fund UK wave, tidal energy projects
The Crown Estate, which manages the British monarchy’s property, wants to spend up to 20 million pounds on two tidal and wave energy schemes to attract other investors.
The wave and tidal power industry is in its infancy in Britain and development costs remain high but the government estimates it could contribute over 10 percent of Britain’s electricity needs by 2050.
The Crown Estate wants marine energy developers to apply for investment by February 15.“By bringing our capital and expertise to bear, we hope to catalyse investments by others and to see projects proceed to construction and operation as soon as possible,” said Rob Hastings, director of the energy and infrastructure portfolio at the Crown Estate, which looks after Britain’s sea shores.
Government subsidies for marine energy projects will more than double from April 1 to help kick start the sector which, as a technology export, could add up to 4.3 billion pounds to the country’s gross domestic product up to 2050. Projects eligible for Crown Estate investment should reach a final investment decision by March 2014, have received a lease agreement and obtained or be close to obtaining planning permits and grid connections.
The Crown Estate also awards leasing rights for areas off the UK coast for renewable energy projects but a spokeswoman said a strict separation of duties within the agency ensured there was no conflict of interest between the leasing and the investment entities. She said there were no plans to launch any further leasing rounds for marine energy projects in the near future.
The Crown Estate has previously invested up to 100 million pounds in the early stages of offshore wind farm development.
PICTURED ABOVE: A woven basket by NACF grantee Teri Rofkar. Source: terirofkar.com
Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Awards $200,000 to 12 Indigenous Artists
The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) has released details on its 2013 grant recipients, and the numbers alone are impressive:
Twelve Native artists, $200,000.
Grantees were selected in the categories of traditional arts, visual arts, literature, music, dance, and film. Each of the eight winners and co-winners will receive $20,000, and four runners-up will receive $10,000 apiece.
“It is NACF’s mission to provide support and to nurture the creativity of this country’s Native artists through our fellowship and other grantmaking programs,” NACF President and CEO T. Lulani Arquette, Native Hawaiian, said in a release. “We congratulate the 2013 fellows for inspiring the nation, for their vision, their innovation, and for bringing the creative spirit of Native peoples to the world.”
The following is a list of the winners; in the coming weeks we will be profiling them and spotlighting their work:
- Bobby Bullet, Chippewa
- Brent Michael Davids, Stockbridge Munsee Band of the Mohican Nation
- Cyril Pahinui, Native Hawaiian
- Natalie Diaz, Mojave
- Joan Kane, Iñupiat
- Kapulani Landgraf, Native Hawaiian
- Rose Simpson, Santa Clara Pueblo
- Andrew Okpeaha Maclean, Iñupiat
- Christopher Kaui Morgan, Native Hawaiian
- Rosy Simas, Seneca
- Ronald Paquin, Sault Ste. Marie Band of Chippewa Indians
- Teri Rofkar, Tlingit
PICTURED ABOVE: Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza.
Burundi gets $2 billion aid pledge, U.N. says
Donors have pledged more than $2 billion for Burundi’s 2012-2015 development strategy to help the central African nation rebuild after civil war, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
“We ended up with more than $2 billion registered commitments at the conference,” Pamphile Muderega of the National Aid Coordination Committee said in a statement. “This represents a doubling of our already optimistic expectations,” he said.
The statement was issued by the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) at the end of two days of talks in Geneva, attended by more than 400 representatives from more than 50 governments and the private sector as well as the European Union, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and African Development Bank.
The World Bank pledged $440 million, and the United States and EU made firm commitments, UNDP spokesman Adam Rogers said.
Burundi’s poverty-reduction strategy focuses on growth, job creation and development of the private sector, with agribusiness, tourism and mining seen as key drivers of growth. The government has projected this year’s growth at around 4 percent. It relies heavily on external aid to fund spending with donors expected to provide 60 percent of its 2012 budget.
Burundi expects its economy to expand by 5 percent annually over the next three to four years, below the rate needed to lift it out of poverty, finance minister Tabu Abdallah said in an interview with Reuters in Bujumbura last week.
With relative peace since rebels joined the government in 2009 after almost two decades of civil war, it is now working to quit the list of least developed countries and to start self-financing its national budget by 2025.
“Burundi is now out of the post-conflict period and is truly committed to the path of development,” President Pierre Nkurunziza said in the UNDP statement.