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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Government, private sector agree to dialogue on policy ………. ‘I’m committed and ready to listen and embrace the private sector’s concerns to grow economy’-Mwanakatwe

Mwanakatwe---I''m committed, ready to listen to your concerns
Feb. 21 (Zambia Informer) -----The Zambia’s Government and the private sector, partners in economic development have embraced each other to accelerate economic growth devoid of policies that hamper development.

The players have resolved to dialogue, often, on matters of legislation and other concerns that have for long stifled economic growth in Africa’s second rich copper producer and one of Africa’s fastest growing economies for want of information sharing.

During a Public-Private roundtable discussion on local procurement and supplier development organized by the Private Enterprise Programme (PeP Zambia) in Lusaka, Tuesday, the Government and the private sector resolved to amicably to dialogue on matters that are likely to stifle economic growth of the country while taking cognissance that both players have equal and vital roles to contribute to the growth of the Zambian economy.

While the Government has the monopoly to devise legislation as a yardstick for economic growth, the private sector feel left out and seek to dialogue on legislation to avoid slowing down the growth of the economy as well as the development of the private sector, chiefly the Small and Medium Entrepreneurs, who are a vital cog in the grow the economy, comparable to Europe including the United States where 80 percent of economic programmes are initiated by the private sector through SMEs.

Scholars have arguably stated that the role of SMEs in economic development and employment creation has occupied most of the discussions among government, policy makers, academicians/ researchers/ scholars and economists in Kenya and other countries.

It has been established that small business owners globally have the same characteristics, face the same obstacles but differ in their understanding of how small businesses assist in economic growth. SMEs have ability to fuel economic growth because they create new jobs, expand the tax base, and are drivers of innovation.

According to a research paper by Dr. Ngui Thomas Katua titled: “The Role of SMEs in Employment Creation and Economic Growth in Selected Countries”, Katua  argues that SMEs enhance competition and entrepreneurship hence have external benefits on economy wide efficiency, innovation and aggregate productivity.

Katua, a Lecturer at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, in various citations argues that SMEs are the primary vehicles by which new entrepreneurs provide the economy with a continuous supply of ideas, skills, and innovations (CACCI, 2003).

Globally there is an agreement that MSMEs hold the key to economic growth based on the fast growth of enterprises and the role of SMEs in generation of employment.

The concentration of SMEs has a close relationship with the dominant economic activities. SMEs dominate the world economies in terms of employment and number of companies, yet their full potential remains remarkably untapped.

These shortcomings he cites to a number of reasons including legal, institutional, cultural, societal, among others which make the role of SMEs on economic development different across countries.

The same can be said about the United States in which the Government has made a deliberate policy to relax laws that make the economy private sector driven with SMEs contributing about 80 percent of the economic programmes of the country.

During the meeting Zambia Association of Manufacturers leader Rosetta Mwape Chabala argues that the unstreamlined legislation including that of the Citizen’s Economic Empowerment Commission’s Act need urgent review to make the private sector thrive.

Mwape-Chabala who is  Chief executive officer at Zambia Metal Fabricators, manufacturers of copper-related products regrets delayed payments to suppliers of goods and services by Government which affects operations, lack of a systematic mindset among consumers of products and services and the influx of unforeseen middlemen, chiefly created by the chain stores in Zambia as some of the setbacks.

The CEEC act needs urgent review to meet the dictates of the current economic trends, support to local producers while the law on the promotion of local content as a driver to diversification and economic growth, which has remained on the shelves since 2010, needs to be hastened if Zambia is to remain competitive, among other concerns.

Jackson Sikamo,  who  is pioneering  the  Business Linkages Champions Group, embracing various players in the demanded that while the private sector seeks to thrive in the country’s fledgling economy called for improved standards on various goods and services provided to remain competitive.

He noted that the majority of suppliers lacked specialization while others invest in businesses which they lack innovation or product improvement to sustain their operations.

Peggy Chituta,  the deputy director-Inspections at the Zambia Bureau of Standards called for standard practices among suppliers and manufacturers of products and avoid the risk of being thrown out of the market.
ZABS is presently considering including in the curriculum subjects related to standards from lower to senior education schools to inculcate a culture of proficiency.

Other players regretted  the escalating cases of corruption when providing services to would be customers noting that some seek to be bribed before services including inclusion into bidding for contracts or provision of services are rendered.

However, commerce trade and minister Margaret  Mwanakatwe, noted the concerns of the stakeholders and pledged commitment by the Government to dialogue with the private sector on matters of mutual interest to develop the country’s economy noting that Government alone cannot develop the economy with an exclusion of other players.

“I’m ready to listen and embrace the private sector’s concerns……as Government, we are willing and I’m here and now pledging my commitment to promote and work with the private sector in this marriage of the future convenience”





FULL REPRODUCTION OF THE DECLARATION OF CIVIL RIGHT CAMPAIGNERS AT THE ALTERNATIVE MINING INDABA IN CAPE TOWN RECENTLY

Some opf the placards displayed during the 2017 AMI in Cape Town recently

Monday 6 February – Wednesday 8 February 2017

DoubleTree Hotel, Brickfield Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town
The Economic Justice Network of the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa (EJN of FOCCISA), in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA), Publish What You Pay (PWYP), Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), South African Council of Churches (SACC), Mozambique CC, Benchmarks Foundation, Diakonia, Council of Churches Zambia, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches and Oxfam, are among some of the interest groups that attended and made resolutions on teh future of the mining sector on thecontinent.


Objectives of the AMI2017:

  • To provide a platform for communities affected by the extractives industries to reclaim their rights through the formulation of alternatives.
  • To advocate for transparent, equitable and just extractives practices in the management, governance and distribution of national resources through policy and legislative reform.
  • To create meaningful decision-making processes for communities, advocating for just national and regional policies and corporate practices.
  • To provide space for engagement for the inter-faith communities, governments, CSO’s and private sector to share information and experiences.
  • To provide space for the inter-faith community to lead and accompany affected and impacted communities.

BELOW IS THE FULL REPORT (UNEDITED) OF THE DEMANDS MADE BY CIVIL RIGHT CAMPAIGNERS ON THE FUTURE OF THE MINING INDUSTRY IN AFRICA.

2017 AMI DECLARATION OF THE 8TH ALTERNATIVE MINING INDABA “MAKING NATURAL RESOURCES WORK FOR THE PEOPLE: DOMESTICATION OF THE AFRICA MINING VISION: FROM VISION TO REALITY’’

We, representatives of over 450 members of faith-based organisations,  civil society organisations, community-based organisations, Pan-African networks and organisations, labour movements, women movements, human rights activists, media, students from African countries and our international partners met on February 6 – 8, 2017 in Cape Town to share experience, lessons and deliberate on the role and the impacts of extractives on communities, national economies, the environment and society at large.

This marks the eighth (8th) year of the Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) which has grown from a modest 40 to over 400 delegates from the whole of Africa and other parts of the world. Cognisant of the adoption of a new global pact, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the ongoing fragility in the global economy but more especially in Africa following the collapse in commodity prices and dwindling levels of external funding, mobilising domestic adequate resources and financing for development remains a national obligation and a challenge.

Recognising the rising vulnerability of African economies complicated by the looming debt crisis, balance of payment deficit, over exposure of African economies to external fragilities and unstable weather patterns made worse by climate change.

Noting that the African Mineral Governance Framework (AMGF), a policy instrument of the Africa Mining Vision (AMV developed by the African Union (AU) and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in collaboration with civil society, and endorsed by AU Ministers of Trade, Industry and Mining in May 2016, presents an institutional, analytical and methodological framework that can be used by all stakeholders at continental, regional and national levels to monitor the operationalization of the AMV.

Further noting that the need for a comprehensive analytical framework to diagnose, assess, monitor and support peer review for mineral sector governance is a direct response to African governments request to develop an Africa-led and owned mineral sector governance framework, Convinced that AMV is an important vehicle to stimulate inclusive economic development, which doubly serves as an aspirational standard for the extractive industries (EI) in Africa.

Conscious that the AMV goes beyond other EI governance frameworks by covering the entire mineral value chain beyond revenue maximisation, and embodies often neglected areas such as the human rights of affected communities, artisanal and small scale mining, and skills building, linkages and diversification.

2 To this end, several CSOs, movements, coalitions, networks, and alliances are mobilising civil society, affected communities and other constituencies to engage with AMV implementation across Africa.

Aware, however, that eight years after the AMV’s adoption, there is little community and civic awareness of the AMV – it is seen as a highly technocratic policy document that is beyond the scope of ordinary African citizens. Likewise, African countries have been slow, at best, to align their national laws and other regulatory frameworks to the AMV.

This is further compounded by a paucity of awareness among senior public official circles across the continent Recognising that the African Minerals Development Centre, a specialised technical agency of the AU charged with implementing the AMV Action Plan, is now supporting African governments to roll out national AMVs or Country Mining Vision (CMVs) in many countries, Conscious of the increasing deterioration of the quality of life of communities living in the shadows of mining projects, Further conscious of the precarious state of job security in the various mining countries and the threat of and indeed mine closures following the collapse of commodity prices.

Aware of the still dominant role of mining MNCs vis-à-vis the subservient role of African states. Concerned with the increasing scale and extent of Illicit Financial Flows [IFFs] from Africa as further demonstrated by the Panama Papers and recent court rulings against major Multinational Corporations (MNCs) and their tax dodging practices which deprive the continent’s resource-rich economies vital investible capital, HEREBY CALL FOR: FISCAL REGIME AND REVENUE MANAGEMENT

· Cognisant that institution of mechanisms for improved geological information on mineral resources will strengthen bargaining positions for African governments and allow for better pricing of countries’ mineral resources,

· We call on African governments to develop an optimal land-use framework to determine whether mining should or not take place in a given area. Furthermore, African governments should invest heavily in gathering geological information. This information should inform the terms of extractive concessions,

· We call on our governments to recognise that the economic value of local ownership of mining rights is higher than foreign MNCs,

· We urge African governments to push hard for stronger and better regulatory institutions to ensure that the benefits of extraction are shared equitably

· We call on our governments to pursue legislation including strong regulatory institutions to ensure that African countries derive their fair share of the benefits of their extractive resources,

· We urge our governments to domesticate the progressive regional processes and instruments at the national level like the AMV.

· We urge African nations to dispense with the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) logic of the MNCs, which invariably results in these countries unnecessarily competing against each other for foreign investment by lowering tax thresholds, thus further undermining their ability to mobilise adequate domestic revenues,

 · We call on governments to invest resources in their Sovereign Wealth Funds from minerals so as to create inter-generational equity, instead of just saving the money,

· We call on governments to not only focus on revenue mobilisation but also the distribution end to ensure that the poorest in society also benefit from the mineral wealth transparently and accountably

· We urge our governments to identify processes of the mining chain where corruption is most likely to occur, starting from concession-granting to revenue collection to demobilisation and bloc these loopholes,

· We urge our governments to employ taxation as an important strategic tool to foster linkages between mining activities and the larger national economy,

 · Furthermore we call on our governments to harmonise regional policies to improve the benefit of extractives to African citizens,

· We call upon African governments to fully optimise mining revenues by tackling over generous fiscal incentives, corruption and lack of transparency;

· We call on our governments to review/re-negotiate contracts unfavourable to their countries to raise revenue to fund structural transformation of their economies

· Also, we urge our governments to exercise maximum restraint in negotiating Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) including Double Tax Agreements (DTAs) as they have been noted to undermine African countries’ ability to mobilise domestic revenue. ENVIRONMENT, ARTISANAL & SMALL-SCALE MINING & SOCIAL PROTECTION

· We call on African governments to set aside part of revenues from extractive industries to fund basic income/grant to vulnerable groups in society,

· We call on African governments to improve the investment climate for enterprise developed, shaped by tax regime, where there is a balance between tax regime that is business and investment friendly and raises optimal revenues to fund socio-economic development.

· We encourage communities and their allies to develop alternative environmental impact assessment studies/reports to compare and challenge those prepared by companies
 · We urge our governments to legislate Corporate Social Responsibility programmes and not view them as philanthropic practices by the private sector,

· We call on government to recognise that ultimate political power resides in the citizens and they can stop their governments from accepting non-beneficial agreements.
· Decriminilisation and regulation of the Artisanal Mining sector LINKAGES, INVESTMENTS AND DIVERSIFICATION

· We call on African governments to improve the capacity of public officials involved in mining legislation and contract negotiation to better understand implications of the mining regimes they enact and contracts they negotiate with the private sector.

· We challenge CSOs to play a bigger role in monitoring and putting checks to prevent the occurrence of state capture.

· We call on our governments to be transparent and involve the broader nation when negotiating contracts on the extractive sector.

· Furthermore, on contract negotiations we call on our governments to hire experts from outside government circles to strengthen state capacity in negotiating better agreements,

· There is need for structural changes to the extractives industry so that there is a positive link between resource exploitation and economic growth.

· We call on African governments to minimize the export of raw minerals and actively shift to domestic value addition to create jobs and better linkages between the extractive sector and the broader national economy

· Our governments must leverage minerals to create wealth, higher taxes and invest these revenues to improve the quality of life of their citizenry,

· We urge our governments to work better with CSOs to identify and investigate trade mispricing and thereafter sue for losses incurred thereof

· We call on our governments to work more closely and CSOs in identifying and investigating trade mispricing, and thereafter sue for the losses incurred thereof.

· We urge African governments to use their natural resource endowments to underpin and accelerate the industrialisation and diversification of their economies,

· We urge African governments to negotiate conditionalities into mining contracts to ensure that they benefit the citizens of their countries, LEGAL AND INSTITUTIONAL MANAGEMENT

· We urged African governments to embark on policy reforms and improve the capacity of state agencies in charge of the extractive sector to discharge their duties effectively and efficiently.

· We urge companies to recognise that traditional leaders are not community members and therefore they need to carry out proper and thorough consultation.

 · We call on communities to build linkages with strategic key resource professionals such as lawyers and accountants to assist them in their engagement with governments and companies.

· We urge different stakeholders including MPs, public officials, CSOs community and the media members to improve their capacities on and popularise the AMV principles.

· We further urge our governments not to politicise the AMV and CMV processes.
CONCLUSION

· As citizens and representations citizen-organisations we wish to express our willingness to work with African governments and other stakeholders in the quest to harness the continent’s vast extractive resources to underpin Africa’s socio-economic transformation and the AMV lays a foundation for this.

SIGNED Malcolm Damon,
AMI Secretariat



Humanitarian news: Rwandan-Zambia-based refugees will return home if……. ………..’Rwandan nationals seeking asylum in Zambia should provide data’

There is contrasting feeling about the Rwandese return to their 'homestead'
Feb. 4 (Zambia Informer)------Some Rwandan nationals seeking to be integrated into Zambian communities have defied moral and legal suasions by authorities to secure mandatory passports from their country as part of the ongoing integration in various local communities fearing persecution, among other concerns, thereby posing a national security risk.


Presently about 4,200 Rwandans seeking asylum in Zambia have been directed to secure passports processed from their country of origin as a security measure as well as ensure they access resident permits as part of the initiative to ensure the durable solutions for their resettlement in the country is attained.


In 2013 two Rwandan delegations visited Zambia seeking to regularize the stay of their nationals that have sought sanctuary in Zambia following the cessation of their refugee status in Zambia in June and October 2013 to try and persuade their nationals to cooperate with the Zambian Government but the event was shunned.

This meant that any Rwandan national seeking to remain in Zambia needed to undertake various obligations including securing a Rwandan passport, meaning the concerned national will have renounces refugee status and becomes a “normal migrant” in Zambia, like a newly arrived Polish or Chinese migrant.

However, Professor Elwyn Chomba, the Permanent Secretary at the ministry of home affairs says various efforts to compel all Rwandese living in Zambia to secure passports have proved difficult despite being mandatory.


She however, warned of punitive measures for those flouting the law and opt to live in the country without the passports as agreed with the Rwandan Government.


Chomba was speaking on the sidelines of the just ended UNHCR consultative meeting held in Lusaka to compare notes with various countries that have undertaken local integration in Africa including Tanzania.


She added that while the Government was willing to provide sanctuary to Rwandese or indeed any person seeking to live in Zambia, all were obliged to ensure they submit their details to immigration or relevant security wings as a security measure and there is accountability of all people staying in Zambia.


“Law is law and we cannot allow people to just opt to live in Zambia without any documentation because they will be a security risk,” she said in an interview. “Our hope is that the Rwandan nationals that seek to remain in Zambia should oblige to what the law says, otherwise they will be deemed illegal immigrants”


During the two meetings held in 2013, the Governments of Zambia-Rwanda and the United Nations for Refugees (UNHCR) had tries to persuade the affected asylum seekers to abide by the conditions set for one to be integrated in various communities, but most of the Rwandan nations had shunned the exercise citing among other reasons, alleged persecution or fear of the unknown once they are traced or their identities are known.


However,  UNHCR country representative  in  Zambia Laura Lo Castro warned those flouting Zambian laws of possible prosecution and appealed to all those affected to abide by the demands of the Government, whose hospitality for refugees is in conformity with the UNHCR convention of 1951 and the protocol of 1961.


“We have and are still doing our best to convince the Rwandan nationals living in Zambia to regularize their stay through acquisition of passports but many are giving excuses, but that is what the law requires,” she added.


Zambia presently hosts over 53,000 refugees, with many in camps and other settlements manned by the UNHCR and the Government. Zambia has hosted refugees from the region since the 1960s under the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol –key international legal documents defining who is a refugee, their rights and the legal obligations of states.

However, some of the Rwanda nationals say while they are willing to follow the formalities, the conditions were stringent and unaffordable.
They argue that under the cessation clause entered in 2013 regarding the Rwandese asylum seekers meant that in addition to one holding a passport, among other obligations, a self-employed Rwandan migrant will need to show US$ 25,000 capital.
A Rwandan migrant may not receive an employment permit if the employment offered can be done by a Zambian national. Similarly the Rwandan Student, they argue will need to pay high cost “economic” fee paid by any Foreign Student.  Failure to fulfill these immigration requirements may compel the Rwandan migrant to return to Rwanda.




'Operationalise instruments to make mining better lives of the poor-demand Civil Right Campaigners ...……….. Governments should invest heavily in gathering geological information

Africa needs to operationalise policies to better the living standards of people
Feb. 21. (Zambia Informer)-----African Government need to streamline and operationalise without further delay, various instruments aimed at developing and operationalising the mining sector in mineral-rich countries and ensure the continent benefits from its vast natural wealth, fraught with exploitation by investors for lack of a policy direction to govern the industry amid calls for beneficiations.

African Governments need to improve investment climate for enterprise development, shaped by tax regime which balances between tax regime that is business and investment friendly to raise optimal revenues to fund socio-economic development in mineral rich countries, where many nationals wallow in abject poverty amid plenty.

These are some of the resolutions made at the Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) by over 450 civil society groups, faith based organizations and other interest groups, biased towards the extractive industry during the Alternative Mining Indaba held in South Africa recently.

The meeting held in Cape Town and dubbed: “making natural resources work for the people:  domestication of the Africa mining vision: from vision to Reality” the interest groups urged African Governments  to  encourage communities and their allies to develop alternative environmental impact assessment studies or reports to compare and challenge those prepared by companies.

The stakeholders, in their declaration urged the leaders on the continent to legislate Corporate Social Responsibility programmes and not view them as philanthropic practices by the private sector, with a call to government to recognise that ultimate political power resides in the citizens and they can stop their governments from accepting non-beneficial agreements.

The alternative mining indaba, regretted that despite concerted efforts and recognition of various initiatives to fight or reduce poverty levels among the people through,  the  adoption of various countervailing measures including Sustainable Development Goals among others was a yardstick for Africa to up its policies and legislation to better the lives of the people, many wallowing in abject poverty.

The alternative mining indaba was held on the sidelines of the eighth International mining indaba in Cape Town and attracted over 400 delegates which seeks to promote investment in Africa, endowed with vast mineral resources including tin, copper, gold, uranium, among others that remain unexploited yet investors remain unaccountable for its production and revenue realized from sales.

“The stakeholders noted that the ongoing fragility in the global economy but more especially in Africa following the collapse in commodity prices and dwindling levels of external funding, mobilising domestic adequate resources and financing for development remains a  national obligation and a challenge.” Reads part of the declaration.

Recognising the rising vulnerability of African economies complicated by the looming debt crisis, balance of payment deficit, over exposure of African economies to external fragilities and unstable  weather patterns made worse by climate change. There is need to negotiate conditionalities into mining contracts to ensure that they benefit the citizens of their countries, it adds.

The indaba further regretted that various policy instruments including the African Mineral Governance Framework (AMGF), a policy instrument devised of the Africa Mining Vision (AMV developed by the African Union (AU) and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Mining Vision (AMV) agreed in collaboration with  the with civil society, and endorsed by AU Ministers of Trade, Industry and  Mining  last year,  remain underutilized.

This has resulted in many citizens in mineral rich countries, Zambia included,  lacking  awareness about most of the instruments  that seek to empower them and create debate for lack of information.

The meeting further appealed to affected governments to develop an optimal land-use framework to determine whether mining should or not take place in a given area while investing in geological information.

“African governments should invest heavily in gathering geological information. This information should inform the terms of extractive concessions” the declaration added in part.


Thursday, 9 February 2017

‘Red locust invasion in Africa, Zambia, not a new plague’-report ……………Over 15 million Africans have endured famine spurred by the Reddish leaf-to-root eating pest, estimates by food experts show


The locust has 'appetite' to wipe the crop within seconds.pix: i.dailymail.co.uk
News Feature:
Feb. 9 (Zambia Informer)------The invasion of the red-desert locusts in many of the African countries, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Egypt, Malawi and also Madagascar and Reunion, among others,  is not a new phenomenon and  its devastation on new crops has cost the lives of  over 15 million Africans on the continent because of famine, a research has shown.

The red locust, commonly referred to as Nomadacris septemfasciata, is a large grasshopper species found in Sub-Saharan Africa whose name refers to the colour of its hind wings. If left unchecked, each locust can eat its weight in plants each day.  A swarm of such size would eat 423 million pounds per day, leaving an infested area ‘dried out’.

Another locust- referred to as Desert can also be devastating. If food is in adequate supply and the hoppers are not forced to crowd together when they emerge from the eggs, the locusts live their lives separately as do other grasshoppers.
If, however, the hoppers are crowded together for one reason or another, they enter a gregarious phase of activity. The hoppers tend to keep together in a band and move forward together.
The crowding effect also results in a change of colour from the normal green, buff or brown to a striking black and yellow (or orange) coloration.
There are also structural differences from the solitary form. The bands of hoppers vary in size from hundreds to millions, covering a few square metres or several square kilometres, depending partly on the age of the hoppers and how many bands have combined.
As hoppers, they migrate only a few kilometres each day, basking in the early morning sun until their body temperature rises to a level which allows them to move off and eat all the vegetation in their path. When the temperature drops at night they climb bushes and plant stems and remain immobile.
After the final ecdysis, the adult locusts take to the wing and after a few days of short flights set off on extensive migrations, settling at night and in the middle of the day when it is hottest.
A medium-sized swarm may contain a thousand million locusts and cover an area of 20 square kilometres. Such a swarm will consume some 3000 tonnes of vegetation per day; and so if a swarm lands on agricultural crops, the locusts will strip them of every vestige of leaf and edible stem.
The swarms may travel many hundreds of kilometres from their place of origin, e.g. from Africa to India, and the females will lay eggs during their journey, so leaving the nucleus of successive swarms within a few weeks, scientific reports add.
However, Wikipedia and other scientific journals trace the origin of the pest  which they say first invaded Africa through  Zimbabwe in 1561,  South Africa between the years 1609 until later in 1797 before migrating to other neighbouring countries including Malawi, Madagascar among others.

 Zambia, first met its fate  around 1892,  in 1947 and  later  in 1951 until the present invasion by the Red or Desert locusts, sometimes called the Criquet  nomade in French because of its nomadic movements in the dry season.  When it forms swarms, then it’s described as a locust, scientific findings show.

Around 15 million people of Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe were estimated to be extremely vulnerable and at risk to additional livelihood-threatening shocks. An unchecked Red Locust plague would have added to risks in the humanitarian crisis in the region,

In 2008 aerial surveys undertaken by the International Red Locust Control Organization for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCO-CSA) detected an unusual increase in locust numbers. The extent of the increase of the infestation was more dangerous compared to the last major upsurge in 1994-96 because outbreaks took place simultaneously in three countries: Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique.

This situation risked overstretching the limited capacities of IRLCO-CSA and the affected countries and posed an immediate threat to marginal and small-scale agricultural production, not only in the directly affected countries but in the whole region.

Its effects, according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) forced the United Nations agency to launch intensive survey and control operations by no later than May 2009, although effects have failed to yield intended results to eradicate the notorious and crop ravaging pest, which has now invaded Zambia-claiming over 800 hectares of maize fields in Mumbwa in Central region, about 130 kiometres south of the capital, Lusaka. 

According to authorities, an estimated 801 hectares of maize fields in Central Province has been invaded by the Red Locusts amid a recent invasion of the country’s staple food-maize by army worms which ate out 10 percent of 1.4 hectare of land reserved for growing corn, the country main food basket shared with neighbors.

The Red Locusts have so far attacked maize fields in Mumbwa and Itezhi-Tezhi districts, local reports say citing Central Province minister, Sydney Mushanga who cited the extent of damage by the Red Locusts to the country’s vice President, Inonge  Wina.

The Red Locust invasion comes barely month since the IRLCBSA warned the Government of possible invasion of the country’s corn fields by the Red Locust Kafue Gorge area, one of the affected parts in the countryside.
Recent efforts to fight the red Locusts have been hampered by the heavy rains that have characterized Zambia in recent months spurred by the El Nina with the IRLCo-CSA scientists  sent to the Kafue flats to assess the extent of the outbreak of locusts failing to break through, local reports say citing its director-Moses Okhoba.
The mission has been affected by the heavy which has made roads impassable to affected areas where the migratory locusts are breeding at a faster than anticipated rate.
“We have identified the areas in Southern Province where the red locusts and the African migratory locusts are breeding at a fast rate and we would intervene by beginning to spray the areas that are near the fields for the local farmers to protect the crops,” Dr Okhoba is further cited by local media as adding while seeking aerial survey to help detect the pest and the breeding grounds.
“We need to contain the whole area in Kafue. The markings will be done by a helicopter as soon as the resources are available,’’
If the locusts reach their fourth and fifth stages of development, there would be a serious outbreak and the organization hopes to target areas that are near the maize fields to protect the crops from damage by the locusts, the red locust experts’ fear.
Recently, President Edgar Lungu directed the treasury to release US$2 million, of which K20, 000 was released to contend both army worms, stock borers as well as the Red Locusts.
Methods of Control:
The range of the adult locusts is so great that international cooperation is essential for effective control. A swarm may originate in India but cause devastating damage to crops in Africa. Sixty countries in Asia and Africa are threatened by swarms of the desert locust.
The main method of control is by spreading poisoned bait, for example bran containing insecticide, in the path of the migrating bands of hoppers. The insecticide kills them by being eaten and by its contact with their bodies.
Poisoned bait can be used only when the locality of the hoppers is known, and a careful watch must be kept over wide areas so that swarms are discovered as soon as possible after they emerge. The information is then sent to anti-locust centres, like in Nairobi or London, and trucks and personnel are mobilized to take the bait to the appropriate location.
Other methods employed are to spray insecticides over swarms of hoppers or settled adults using aircraft or motor vehicles, or to spray the vegetation in the path of the hoppers. If the region of egg-laying is known, the vegetation in the area can be sprayed with an insecticide which kills the hoppers at their first meal.
The danger with all spraying techniques is that the chemicals used may be poisonous to humans and other animals, particularly if used on food crops.

Two other species, the red locust and the migratory locust, have been held in check for many years by effective control measures, but the desert locust still constitutes a major threat. Constant vigilance and international cooperation are needed if crops are to be protected against this insect.

News just in!!!



·          1--------Red Locusts invasion in Africa, Zambia included, not a new plague-research

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Cape Town Mining Indaba reaches epic stage ………As Zambia envisage improved investment in copper and emerald sectors

The mining indaba has remained thje meeting point for various investors
Feb. 8 (Zambia Informer)-------With over 6,000 reputable companies and  captains of industry continue to converge at Santon Convention Centre in Cape Town, South Africa at the 8th Mining Indaba, there are mixed feelings on the future of the copper sector despite the industry inching to better notches since last year with gemstone mining remaining relatively slow in growth.
The traditional indaba which opened its doors from Feb. 6 and winds up Thursday, Feb. 9 with investors and various world renowned mining companies converging to brainstorm on among other issues, how to tap into Africa’s underutilized resources, there are mixed fortunes with some bracing for an uptick in commodity prices while others keep their fingers crossed over unpredictable global metal prices.
While copper prices have increased well-above US$6,000/ton with many hoping it could further shore up investment in the sector after sluggish years of downturn, the four day event is hoped to devise various strategies’  that will either keep the metal prices afloat or compel some companies to shut their plant and refinery machinery for want of business.
Analysts argue however that with China seeking to consume more of the copper-predicting stability on the copper and metal markets many are raising eyebrows on various commodities including nickel, iron, tin which have performed dismally and needs a new wave of investment.
"A lot of these prices are up 100 percent from what they were a year before, some only fifty percent, but some three or four hundred percent, so this should be the biggest Indaba we've seen in a couple (of) years,"  Peter Major, mining analyst at Cadiz Corporate Solutions is cited as saying during the indaba.

The World Bank views otherwise and in its latest report on commodities forecasts, confirm the worst is finally over, with prices on a solid climb thanks to strong Chinese demand and a tightening supply.
Copper prices jumped 10 percent in the last quarter of 2016, "the first double-digit quarterly gain in nearly five years, it adds in the report while projecting metals prices to rise by 11 percent in 2017, a significant improvement from an earlier forecast of just 4 percent.
According to reports by the end of 2016, iron ore was selling at $80 a ton, nearly double its price a year earlier, and metals like zinc were both up for the fourth straight quarter.
However, while the participants continue beaching in the iconic mountains and vineyards, analysts argue that the ray of hope for increased investment in the sector looks gloomy spurred by various fundamentals including industry’s investments flowing the opposite way.

A mixture of shrinking reserves, rising labor costs, frequent stoppages and regulatory uncertainty, spurred by power deficiency in copper producing countries including Zambia, the mood looks gloomy, forcing major miners to return to drawing boards has prompted major miners to rethink their presence in the country,  home  to the world’s largest platinum, chrome, and manganese reserves and the source of one-third of all gold ever mined.

Reports citing Anglo American, once a keystone of the economy, says the miner is literally slowing down and is selling half its assets in the country, while BHP Billiton and Gold Fields both spun off their local operations in the past four years. AngloGold Ashanti tried to do the same. SA, which was the world’s largest gold producer for a century until 2007, has now dropped to sixth place.

However, Zambia says it is optimistic of economic recover with the rebounding copper prices on the global market, expected to bolster investments in the mining and copper sector with the Government relying heavily on key mining companies, Lumwana, Konkola, among other mines to prop up copper output.
Mines minister Christopher Yaluma, reports say is optimistic of better things to come and assured of Konkola Copper Mines,a unit of Vedanta Resources Plc’s continued stay in the country-what with the dangled US$4 billion investment since early 2006.
He told reporters in Cape Town on the sidelines of a brighter future  for  Zambia’s economy with the rebound in copper prices coupled with favourable regulatory policies seen to be  motivating mining companies to expand mining operations.

Yaluma is banking his hopes of metal recoverable on the mining companies, Glencore owned Mopani Copper Mines and KCM recalling fired workers which is envisaged will bolster  economic activities on the Copperbelt and the country as a whole having come from a depreciation.

“We went into a depression as a country due to a decline in copper prices and the painful decision taken was the laying off of workers but with the prices of copper being on the right track, mineworkers are being recalled,”

On the other front, operations at the once 56,000 nickel producing Munali mine , off the Zambian capital Lusaka are poised to resume, having ceased operations in 2011 citing depressed prices of the metal on the global market, according to reports citing company general manager Matthew Banda.

An estimated US$40 million is planned for investment in the mining operations in the initial stages and further raise more resources to bolster production of the alloy. An estimated US$100 million is expected to be invested to start full operations and will result in the creation of 400 direct jobs and 300 indirect jobs through contractors to be engaged by the mine.

“Once operational, the mine will boost economic activity and broaden the income-generating base in Mazubuka, which is currently driven by sugar production.

“We have been looking forward to re-open, the mine. We have done feasibility studies and are looking at how best we can to lower the cost of production at the mine and we now want to start operations,” Banda is cited as saying. An estimated US$ 250,000 is being spent on care and maintenance monthly.

The mine is expected to in the third quarter start producing nickel concentrate with finished nickel expected to be produced next year once the processing plant is upgraded. The company is expected to produce about 5,000 tons of nickel concentrate at initial stage.

“On the concentrate side ,we are looking at around 5,000 tons of nickel in concentrate, so if the concentrate is going to be around 12 percent, we are looking at over 40,000 tones at the end of the year,” Banda stated adding that the recruitment of employees and buying of more equipment will be concluded by June, 2017.
Yaluma is further seeking for increased investment in gemstone value addition with Zambia aspiring to increase its revenue through diversification and value addition. Investing in lapidaries for gemstone cutting and polishing will significantly help unlock the gemstone industry’s potential that can increase export earnings.

With production of emeralds increasing, it is important to develop a robust lapidary industry to cut and polish gemstone unlike the current status of exporting rough gems and the production of emeralds and pearls increased from 52,833 kilogrammes in 2015 to 74,742 kilogrammes in 2016.

“Government is focusing on the promotion of value addition to diversify the economy. However, there are only a few lapidaries adding value to gemstones. Cut and polished gemstones would significantly contribute to export earnings and employment generation,” Yaluma is further cited as
saying.