Connect with us

Newsdesk

Boosting the dialogue on the Fourth Industrial Revolution at the 11th Africa Energy Indaba

Newsroom

Published

on

photo: UNIDO

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has brought industry and academia experts together for a panel discussion during the 11th Africa Energy Indaba. Focusing on the opportunities and challenges stemming from the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the discussion was another example of UNIDO’s convening function in support of knowledge transfer, networking and industrial cooperation.

The 4IR will impact the way everyone works, lives and interacts, affecting industrialized as well as industrializing economies. It has the potential to enhance productivity and generate economic growth, ultimately resulting in higher social welfare. However, countries’ ability to benefit from its potential will be determined by the capacity to innovate and adapt to new technologies, and there is a risk of a widening of the development gap.

In his welcoming address, UNIDO Representative and Head of the South Africa Regional Office, Khaled El Mekwad stressed that innovation, knowledge sharing and multi-stakeholder partnerships are key for developing countries to unlock the potential of 4IR technologies to achieve the SDGs. He also noted that the concept of the 4IR is currently gaining momentum in South Africa; pointing to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent state of the nation address when he said the country had “a choice between being overtaken by technological change, or harnessing it to serve our development aspirations.”

Mekwad added that: “In South Africa, UNIDO has been engaging with the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) and other stakeholders on structuring interventions on the 4IR based on its expertise, experience and lessons learnt from other countries.”

One of the panellists, Roula Inglesi-Lotz, Associate Professor at the University of Pretoria’s Department of Economics, said that life-long learning is crucial for adapting to the ‘technology tsunami’ that we are facing. She emphasized the importance of tailored universities curricula in preparing youth for the 4IR, saying that, in addition to technical abilities, students will need soft skills, including the ability to work in heterogeneous teams. She also stressed the importance of government, academia and industry working together to prepare youth for the new reality. A current example is an initiative between Telkom (the main telecommunications provider in South Africa) and the Universities of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and Fort Hare, focusing on how South Africa should respond to the 4IR.

Echoing Inglesi-Lotz’s thoughts, Weza Moss, Chairman of the Board of the Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC) called for industry to invest in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges so they can provide youth and unemployed with upskilling opportunities in line with the sector’s current and future requirements.

“To embrace this digital revolution, policy and institutional development needs an aesthetic sensibility, or a creative, adaptive approach. Policy is to understand that it is part knowledge-making, part art and part ethics. Policy that can work not only with what has been, but what is yet to come. This must be embedded in democracy, as ongoing engagement to reach a dynamic political consensus,” said Lauren Hermanus, Director of Adapt. “If we are successful, this digital revolution, like the industrial revolutions before it, promises jobs, increased livings standards, and better health for more people.”

Continue Reading
Comments

EU Politics

Afghanistan: EU reinforces humanitarian support with €40 million as crisis worsens

Newsroom

Published

on

The European Commission has allocated an additional €40 million in emergency assistance for those affected by the worsening humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, as well as for Afghan refugees in neighbouring Pakistan and Iran. This brings total EU humanitarian aid for the Afghan crisis to €77 million in 2019: €61 million in Afghanistan, €9 million in Pakistan and €7 million in Iran.

The humanitarian outlook in Afghanistan is as bleak as ever. Not only has the conflict between the government and non-state armed groups intensified since the beginning of the year, but devastating floods have also hit this war-torn country. The EU is boosting humanitarian aid to help those most in need, especially children,” said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.

The new funding will get aid to the most vulnerable families across the country, focusing on the victims of war, forced displacement and natural disasters, as well as returning Afghan refugees. This includes providing emergency healthcare, shelter, food, access to clean water and sanitation facilities, and protection services, targeting women and children. The EU will also continue to provide education for children who have had to leave their schools.

In Pakistan, the EU funding will provide assistance to Afghan refugees, as well as internally displaced Pakistanis. In Iran, EU aid will ensure the delivery of vital assistance, including protection and access to basic services such as education and healthcare, to Afghan refugees in the country.

The EU has funded humanitarian operations in Afghanistan since 1992, providing up to €872 million to date. Funds are allocated strictly on the basis of the humanitarian principles of independence, impartiality and neutrality to ensure access to those in need and are only provided to humanitarian organisations.

Background

Afghanistan is one of the most violent crisis-ridden countries in the world. The worst-hit communities are those that have been displaced or have lost access to basic services due to the conflict between government forces and armed opposition groups, which has worsened since the beginning of 2018. While the conflict continues to limit people’s access to basic services and lifesaving assistance, the total number of displaced people has risen to almost 3.4 million. Meanwhile, at least 6 million Afghans still live as refugees in neighbouring Iran and Pakistan, many of them without registration or legal status.

The risks of natural hazards further aggravates the humanitarian needs. The aftermath of the 2018 drought and 2019 floods continue to affect over 6.2 million people in 22 out of 34 provinces across Afghanistan.

Continue Reading

Environment

Regional Conference on Air Quality Management in the Western Balkans

Newsroom

Published

on

Government representatives from North Macedonia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Serbia met today in Skopje for a regional conference on Air Quality Management – Issues, Solutions, and Financing Approaches. Jointly hosted by the Government of North Macedonia and the World Bank, the conference was an opportunity to learn from experiences from the Western Balkans and from EU and other countries (such as India and China) about innovative ways to approach air quality management, mobilize knowledge, and encourage stronger regional cooperation in this area.

Ambient air pollution (AAP) is a serious global health problem that accounts for an estimated 4.2 million premature deaths per year worldwide. Exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is especially dangerous to human health because these particles find their way deep into lungs and bloodstream resulting in serious health effects. Premature deaths and illnesses caused by air pollution can result in increased health expenditures and labor productivity losses. People in Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans are frequently exposed to extremely high air pollution in urban areas often exceeding the levels considered safe by the WHO.

“Addressing air pollution in the Western Balkans is an environmental and public health challenge that needs to be urgently addressed and it is high on the agenda of the World Bank as well as many other partners working in the region,” said Marco Mantovanelli, World Bank Country Manager for North Macedonia and Kosovo. “We are pleased to be a part of these discussions today and are committed to continuing to support action to reduce air pollution and establish credible Air Quality Management systems in the region through advisory services, technical assistance, and mobilizing financing for investments.”

“We value the analytical support from the World Bank and are looking forward to working with them and other development partners to mobilize the needed financing to help improve our air quality and reduce the impacts poor air quality has on people’s health,” said Jani Makraduli, Deputy Minister of Environment and Physical Planning, also emphasizing the need for regional collaboration. “These discussions help to strengthen cooperation in the Western Balkans, which is particularly important given that a significant portion of air pollution is transboundary.”

The conference provided an opportunity to the World Bank to catalyze regional exchange and knowledge sharing and to present analytical findings from upcoming studies on the health and economic damage from air pollution in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and North Macedonia.  

The conference also discussed that a comprehensive approach to tacking air pollution in the Western Balkans could be composed of three core components: (a) Data, knowledge, and strategy, including development of comprehensive air quality management plans and investment strategies; (b) Measures to reduce exposure to air pollution in short-term, especially for the young, weak, and vulnerable; and (c) Measures and investments into the persistent medium- to long-term reduction of pollution levels below internationally accepted standards.  

Continue Reading

Newsdesk

Ambitious Reforms for Stronger Economic Growth in Ukraine

Newsroom

Published

on

Economic growth in Ukraine picked up to 3.6 percent in the first half of 2019 and 4.2 percent in the third quarter driven by a strong agricultural harvest and consumption growth from higher wages, remittances, and a resumption of consumer lending, according to the World Bank’s latest Ukraine Economic Update. At the same time, investment growth has not yet picked up to levels needed for stronger and sustained economic growth.

“Delivering on the ambitious reform agenda of the new government to boost investment and economic growth will help create jobs and improve living standards,” said Satu Kahkonen, World Bank Country Director for Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. “The key reforms include establishing a transparent and efficient agricultural land market, demonopolizing the gas sector through ownership unbundling of Naftogas, and increasing the efficiency of bank lending to the private sector by reducing non-performing loans in state-owned banks.”

If the key reforms move forward expeditiously, economic growth is projected at 3.6 percent in 2019, 3.7 percent in 2020, and 4.2 percent in 2021.

Sound fiscal and monetary management, including efforts to keep current public expenditures under control, are helping reduce public debt, inflation, and interest rates in 2019. Public and publicly guaranteed debt is projected to decline to 52 percent in 2019 from a peak of 81 percent in 2016. Inflation declined to 6.5 percent in October 2019 from 9.8 percent at end-2018, which has allowed the National Bank of Ukraine to reduce the key policy rate to 15.5 percent in October from 18 percent in April.

Continuing the prudent fiscal management going forward by addressing expenditure pressures from wages and social benefits will be important to further reduce inflation and interest rates and support stronger economic growth and higher living standards.

It will also be important to mobilize adequate external financing to meet significant public debt repayments in 2019-2021.

Establishing a land market for agricultural growth

According to the World Bank’s Special Focus Note, lifting the moratorium on agricultural land sales and establishing a transparent and efficient market for agricultural land has the potential to boost economic growth in Ukraine by 0.5 to 1.5 percent per year over a 5-year period.

Ukraine has the largest endowment of arable land in Europe, but agricultural productivity in Ukraine is a fraction of that in other European countries.

The moratorium on agriculture land sales is a major impediment to attracting investment and unlocking productivity in agriculture. The moratorium undermines the security of land tenure and incentives to undertake productivity enhancing investments such as irrigation, move into higher value-added crops, and adopt new technologies.

“The Draft Land Turnover Law passed the first reading in Rada last week in an important breakthrough,” said Faruk Khan, World Bank Lead Economist for Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine. “Enactment of the land turnover law, along with complementary legislation needed to safeguard transparency and efficiency, will be a major milestone in strengthening Ukraine’s growth prospects going forward.

Access to financing for small, credit-constrained farmers will be important to enable them to participate in the market and improve their productivity.  Financing instruments should be effective and sustainable, which means targeting them to small farmers and designing them in a manner that provides incentives to improve productivity and adopt higher value-added crops and new technologies, at an affordable fiscal cost.

Continue Reading

Latest

African Renaissance5 hours ago

A lesson in Naomi Wolf’s promiscuities and an open space where poetry matters

Shut the door. Shut out the quiet light. Tell yourself to swim away from the tigers with arms pillars of...

Defense7 hours ago

Overcoming today’s challenges for tomorrow’s security

In a world where technology such as artificial intelligence and robotics is evolving rapidly, defence organisations that are steeped in...

EU Politics9 hours ago

Afghanistan: EU reinforces humanitarian support with €40 million as crisis worsens

The European Commission has allocated an additional €40 million in emergency assistance for those affected by the worsening humanitarian situation...

Environment11 hours ago

Regional Conference on Air Quality Management in the Western Balkans

Government representatives from North Macedonia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Serbia met today in Skopje for a regional conference...

Africa13 hours ago

A New Currency Offers New Hope for Zimbabwe

For many Zimbabweans queuing up outside banks last week, it must have felt like the beginning of a new era....

Intelligence15 hours ago

It’s Hard to Find a Black Cat in a Dark Room, Especially If It Isn’t There: RAND on the Search for Cyber Coercion

What is cyber coercion and how have states used cyber operations to coerce others? These are the questions addressed in...

Reports17 hours ago

Post-Brexit UK will continue to offer significant opportunities

PwC’s new report, Brexit and beyond: Assessing the impact on Europe’s asset and wealth managers, outlines the chief findings from...

Trending

Copyright © 2019 Modern Diplomacy