afrol News, 5 March - Following the upheaval experienced in 2009 when a series of political assassinations threatened security and stability in Guinea-Bissau, "current conditions bode well for progress towards peace and prosperity" in the West African nation, a top UN official said today.
Joseph Mutaboba, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative in Guinea-Bissau, told the UN Security Council that 2010 could be "a turning point" for the troubled country.
"The country is experiencing a relatively stable political environment and growing international attention. This unprecedented window of opportunity for Guinea-Bissau should not be missed," said Mr Mutaboba, who also heads the UN Integrated Peace-building Office in Guinea-Bissau, known as UNIOGBIS.
Presenting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's first report on the peace-building mission, which is in its third month of operations, Mr Mutaboba added that there is a lot to be done and the government had continued to make progress in re-engaging the country's international partners and pursuing its reform agenda.
He said that with the various fiscal and administrative reforms taking place and the prospect of debt relief, the conditions are in place for political stability and tangible improvements in the lives of the people in the short- to medium-term.
Mr Mutaboba further noted that security sector reform remains at the centre of the country's stabilisation and development agenda, and that the government, with international support, had made some progress in the last few months.
The UN Security Council has tasked UNIOGBIS with coordinating international efforts on security sector reform. It is also to take a lead role in providing support to national authorities in the reform of internal security institutions, focusing on the police.
Mr Mutaboba added that the country's journey towards peace, democracy and prosperity was taking place in a difficult regional environment. "The political and security situation in West Africa remains highly precarious and we see worrying signs of military coups, of ethnic and inter-religious conflicts and of political intolerance."
The UN envoy also cited increasing threats from international crime, illicit drug trafficking, smuggling, the unfair exploration of natural resources and illegal fishing taking hold in West Africa, mostly by EU vessels.
"Given the inter-dependence of most countries in the sub-region, this could further threaten Guinea-Bissau's stability," he stated. "On the other hand, a successful and peaceful Guinea-Bissau could have a positive influence on the developments in the region."
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.