afrol News, 16 April - The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS, or CEEAC in its French acronym) celebrated the opening of its new regional parliament in Malabo, the Equatoguinean capital, with the presence of all presidents of the Central African region.
President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of the host nation, Equatorial Guinea, received visiting state leaders and led the large inauguration festivities. "The integration of our countries should presume an African reneissance," President Obiang said in his inauguration speech yesterday.
The festivities in Malabo had already started on Wednesday with the arrival of most state leaders of the Central African region. President Obiang received Chad's President Idriss Déby, Gabon's President Ali Bongo, Congo Brazzaville President Denis Sassou Nguesso and Central African Republic President François Bozizé at the Malabo airport on Wednesday.
Cameroonian President Paul Biya and Săo Tomé and Príncipe's President Fradique de Menezes arrived yesterday, with the latter only present as observer to the CEEAC event.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Joseph Kabila did not participate in the Malabo event, as the DRC is turning its focus away from the CEEAC and towards the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which also has a parliament in South Africa.
The formal inauguration of the CEEAC parliament was celebrated yesterday, with hundreds of official participants from member countries. The newly appointed parliamentarians were shown their new working place.
Pierre Ngolo, President of the new CEEAC parliament, held a keynote seech at the ceremony, the CEEAC parliamentarians that "it is you that will be the
President Teodoro Ngeuma Obiang delivering his inauguration speech in the CEEAC parliament in Malabo, flanked by Central African heads of state
actors charged with achieving the tru objectives of this institution, to help resolving the problems of the CEEAC zone in a peaceful manner."
Equatoguinean President Obiang welcomed the parliamentarians, describing the opening of the regional parliament as a "historic event". He also thanked his colleagues for granting Equatorial Guinea the opportunity to house this institution and to "take such an important responsibility."
"This is a very important occasion for my nation," said Mr Obiang. He promised to offer all possible assistance to CEEAC parliamentarians in their "work to consolidate democracy, dialogue and tolerance for the sake of our nations and to develop our activities in total transparency."
Congolese President Sassou Nguesso, the current leader of the rotating CEEAC presidency, in his speech said that "the opening of the common parliament is a result of our expressed joint willingness towards this institution." He declared that the goal of the CEEAC integration and cooperation was that all countries in the region should be "emerging economies by 2025."
With the opening of the CEEAC parliament, the Central African region takes one step closer to regional integration. CEEAC has however been considered a much looser cooperation area than the more established SADC, East Africa's EAC and West Africa's ECOWAS, with a greater emphasis on symbolic institutions and less emphasis on content or results.
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.