5.13.2013

Around the World (5/13/13)

Pakistan

The full scale of Nawaz Sharif's thumping victory in Pakistan's general election became clear on Sunday, making it far more likely the country's next prime minister will be able to govern without coalition deals and be free to push through what supporters see as a potentially revolutionary agenda.

Besides overhauling a moribund economy, Sharif, with his conservative Pakistan Muslim League, wants to end his country's decades-old feud with India and put Pakistan's meddlesome generals in their place.

It is a programme that has won him fans even among left-leaning critics who oppose his conservatism. It has also raised hopes in India and Afghanistan.

~ Pakistan's next prime minister wants to end decades-old feud with India

Botswana

May 12, 2013 (NAIROBI) – South Sudanese citizens intending to travel to Botswana need not apply for entry visas any more, the Southern African nation announced last week.

The move, which took effect from 10 May, was made public in a statement issued by the Botswana High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya.

It however says all those intending to visit the country should ensure their passports are lawfully issued by the relevant South Sudanese authorities with a validity period of at least 12 months.

“All concerned are further informed that the requirements for valid travel documents stated in this communication will still be subject to the regulations of respective airlines and other transportation authorities,” partly reads a statement from the Nairobi-based High Commission

Botswana was among the African countries that recognised South Sudan’s independence, when the latter seceded from neighboring Sudan in July 2011, as part of the 2005 peace deal.

A delegation from South Sudan, in December last year, paid a week-long visit to Botswana as part of efforts to promote stronger ties between the two countries.

~ Botswana abolishes entry visas for S. Sudanese

Singapore

(CNN) -- As regulations tighten in Europe and the world's wealth moves to Asia, Singapore is tipped to overtake Switzerland to become the largest global offshore wealth center in terms of assets by 2020, according to London research firm, WealthInsight.

Although Switzerland easily retains its offshore banking crown with $2.8 trillion in assets under management, or 34% of the global private banking industry, Singapore is now the world's fastest growing market with $550 billion under management at the end of 2011, up from just $50 billion in 2000.

With $450 billion belonging to offshore clients, Singapore has grown to become the fourth largest offshore banking center globally.

~ Report: Singapore to eclipse Switzerland as tax haven by 2020

Lebanon

Saudi Arabia has decided to explore dialogue with its great regional rival Iran for ending the Syrian conflict and assuring Lebanon’s political future, debkafile’s Gulf sources report.

They have given up on US policy for Syria in view of Russian and Iranian unbending support for Bashar Assad; his battlefield gains aided by Hizballah and Iranian Bassij forces; and Turkey’s inaction after Saturday’s terrorist bombings in the town of Reyhanli near the Syrian border which caused 46 deaths.

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal took advantage of the Organization of Islamic Conference-OIC, in Jeddah this week on the Mali conflict for getting together Monday, May 13, with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi who was in attendance.

Our sources report that Riyadh’s first priority is to stabilize Lebanon through a Saudi-Iranian entente on political equilibrium in Beirut. The Saudis would next seek an accord with Tehran on the outcome of the Syrian civil conflict.

The Saudi rulers have come to the conclusion, which the West and Israel have been slow to acknowledge, that since the Iranian-Hizballah-Syrian military alliance is pulling ahead in the Syrian conflict and chalking up victories, they had better look to their interests in Lebanon, which hinge heavily on the Sunni clan headed by Saad Hariri. If they wait till a victorious Hizballah comes marching home and grabs power in Beirut, protecting Lebanon’s Sunni community will be that much harder.

~ Saudis explore Iranian options for Syria & Lebanon in talks with Iran’s Salehi*

Nigeria, Benin, Mali, & Ghana

Researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders working under the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) project from Mali, Benin, Ghana, and Nigeria have converged on the campus of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan to develop work plans towards rapid dissemination and adoption of drought-tolerant maize.

The meeting in Ibadan also provided participants the opportunity to take a retrospect of the past and chart a way forward.

Addressing participants at this year’s annual planning meeting, Dr Tsedeke Abate, Coordinator of the DTMA Project, reminded stakeholders that the project provided a platform for researchers to demonstrate to donors and policy makers in Africa the benefits of research.

“This is an opportunity for us to show our policy makers that with the right kind of approach, we can make a difference,” Dr Abate added.

According to him, increasing the cultivation of drought-tolerant maize varieties in Africa will bring the necessary transformation and the needed boost for maize production in the continent.

Other drivers of adoption of drought tolerant varieties, he noted, include increasing the participation of women in maize projects and also the creation of new/strong partnerships.

Dr Abate said that the focus on women was strategic considering their invaluable contributions to agricultural development in Africa.

~ Nigeria, Benin, Mali, Ghana develop plans for dissemination of drought-tolerant maize*

Africa, a general update

The African growth story continues as investors pour into Africa. Investment is booming and interest in the continent is surging as capital seeks regions still able to flourish despite the broader global economy’s fight to return to robust—or at least decent—health.

Despite the economic doldrums in much of the world over the past decade, Africa has managed to grow at an average of more than 5 percent, notes the 2013 Africa Competitiveness Report, produced by the World Bank, World Economic Forum, and African Development Bank.

“Africa is at an auspicious moment in history, when the successes of past decades and an increasingly favorable economic outlook combine to give the continent an unprecedented opportunity to boost investments and spur regional integration to end poverty within a generation,” note the report’s sponsors.

Indeed, Mohamed El-Erian, CEO of the global investment firm PIMCO, recently authored a piece on the very real rise of Africa’s economic prospects.

~ Africa’s Growing Prospects**

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*These two stories really caught my eye because it shows brown folks just stepping up and handling their business.  No wonder these stories aren't mainstream news.

**Why do "certain" people keep asking if Africa's rise is "real" or not?

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