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African Financial Institutions: Promoting integration and economic growth

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By AFRICAN UNION
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Aspiration 7 of Africa’s Agenda 2063 envisions “Africa as a strong, united, resilient and influential global player and partner” with a significant role in world affairs.

To achieve this Aspiration, the Agenda 2063 framework identifies the need for Africa to improve its partnerships and refocus them more strategically to respond to African priorities for growth and transformation; ensure that the continent has the right strategies to finance its own development and reduce aid dependency through the establishment of continental financial institutions.

The creation of Pan-African Financial Institutions (PAFI) aims at accelerating integration and socio-economic development of the continent through the establishment of organisations which will play a pivotal role in the mobilisation of resources and management of the African financial sector.

The financial institutions envisaged to promote economic integration are the African Investment Bank (AIB) and Pan African Stock Exchange (PASE); the African Monetary Fund (AMF) and the African Central Bank.

The objectives of the Pan-African financial institutions include:

  • Facilitating the mobilisation of domestic and external resources to foster economic development and integration on the continent (AIB and PASE);
  • Ensuring the stability of exchange rates between currencies and their mutual convertibility for the establishment of the African Central Bank (ACB);
  • Promoting the development of African financial markets (AMF and PASE) and establishing a strong monetary union with a single African currency managed by the African Central Bank (ACB). Progress towards the adoption of a single currency will be monitored by the African Monetary Institute (AMI);
  • Promoting African monetary cooperation in order to achieve African economic integration and speed up the economic development process in Member States (AMF / AMI).

African Investment Bank (AIB)

The purpose of the AIB is to foster economic growth and accelerate economic integration in Africa by financing development projects in Africa.

The AIB’s objectives will be to:

  • Promote public and private sector investment activities intended to advance regional integration of African states;
  • Utilise available resources for the implementation of investment projects contributing to strengthening of the private sector and modernisation of rural sector activities and infrastructures;
  • Mobilise resources from capital markets inside and outside Africa for the financing of investment projects in African countries;
  • Provide technical assistance as may be needed in African countries for the study, preparation, financing and execution of investment projects.

As at 31st December 2018, 22 AU Member States had signed the legal instruments of the AIB –Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Comoros, Congo, DRC, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principe, Togo, and Zambia; while six had ratified –Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo, Libya, and Togo.

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African Monetary Fund (AMF)

The purpose of AMF will be to facilitate the integration of African economies by eliminating trade restrictions, financing deficits, fostering monetary cooperation and integration, and providing technical assistance, particularly for poverty and debt reduction strategies for AU Member States.

The Fund is expected to serve as a pool for central bank reserves and AU Member States’ national currencies. The Fund will prioritise regional macro-economic objectives in its lending policies.

The AMF objectives will include:

  • Providing financial assistance to AU Member States;
  • Acting as a clearing house as well as undertaking macro-economic surveillance within the continent;
  • Coordinating the monetary policies of Member States and promoting cooperation between their monetary authorities;
  • Encouraging capital movements between Member States.

As at 31st December 2017, the texts of the AMF had been signed by nine countries –Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Sao Tome and Principe, and Zambia– and with no ratifications country ratifying the Fund’s legal instruments.

On April 6th 2018, the African Union Commission signed the Host Agreement of the AMF with the Government of the Republic of Cameroon to start the process of operationalization of the AMF in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

The African Central Bank (ACB)

The ACB’s purpose will be to build a common monetary policy and single African currency as a way to accelerate economic integration.

The ACB’s objectives will be to:

  • Create and manage the continental common currency;
  • Promote international monetary cooperation through a permanent institution;
  • Promote exchange rate stability and avoid competitive exchange rates depreciation;
  • Assist in the establishment of a multilateral system of payments in respect of current transactions between members and eliminate foreign exchange restrictions that hamper the growth of world trade.

The ACB will be responsible for managing monetary and exchange rate policy in Africa.

It will be preceded by the African Monetary Institute (AMI), which will lead the technical, political, statistical, legal and institutional preparatory work for the establishment of the ACB based on a gradual approach.

The Fund will lend support to African Union organs and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in the implementation of the monetary cooperation programme, working closely with regional monetary institutes and sub-regions to improve macroeconomic convergence and financial integration.

In this regard, the African Union and the Association of African Central Banks (AACB) set up a joint committee and drew up a joint strategy for the establishment of the African Central Bank, a strategy in which the African Monetary Institute will play a vital role.

Find out more about Agenda 2063 and the Pan-African Financial Institutions by visiting www.au.int.

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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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