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Investing in resilience and food security leads to peace

Investing in resilience and food security leads to peace

Abebe Haile-Gabriel
FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa.

In a region beset with conflict, the uptick of numbers paint a grim foreboding. Hunger is on the rise again in Africa, reversing the gains and derailing the efforts made in the last few years.

Recent years brought recurrent conflicts in the region. In 2018 alone, there were over 90 conflicts in Africa, a quarter of such occurrences globally. Conflicts in ten African countries left millions of people in need of urgent food assistance and hundreds of thousands to quickly flee their homes and involuntarily abandon their livelihoods.

Most of these livelihoods are dependent on agriculture and the emergence of conflict has life-changing and serious implications. For people who rely on agriculture, conflicts destroy food systems, decimate crops and livestock resources, and cause loss of assets and incomes. These trigger food insecurity, and malnutrition and hunger.

People living in countries affected by conflict are more likely to be food insecure and malnourished. For some African countries, the prevalence of undernourishment is about two and a half times higher in countries affected by a protracted crisis than in other development contexts. Nutrition outcomes are also worse in conflict situations, where almost 122 million, or 75% of stunted children are under the age of five.

Additionally, conflicts harm national economies. Agriculture in Africa contributes a sizeable proportion of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employs more than half of the total labor force, and provides livelihood incomes for smallholder farmers, who usually constitute approximately 80% of the total population. When conflicts occur, agricultural activities are disrupted, resulting in massive youth unemployment, displacement, strife and discord.

Conflicts trigger a domino effect. They lead to food insecurity and malnutrition, which are also conflict multipliers, especially in fragile states. The relentless cycle goes unchecked if collective action is not in place.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for a transformative approach pointing to an improved collaboration on conflict prevention and resolution. The African Union Agenda 2063 likewise prioritizes peace and security to reposition Africa on a sustainable route of transformation and development.

The commitment of the African leadership to change course has been confirmed in the 2014 Malabo Declaration on “Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods” in the framework of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) agenda. The goal to ending hunger in Africa by 2025 stands out among the prominent commitments of the Malabo Declaration, stressing the notion that peace and stability are the prime preconditions to achieve this goal.

It is in this context that the African Union has selected the theme of the year 2020 to be “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”. As a flagship project of the Agenda 2063, this initiative would have a greater impact in promoting peace and stability in Africa, with the goal of ending all wars and civil conflicts, thereby achieving concrete development goals, including the eradication of hunger.

FAO and its partners have a key role to play in supporting the Silencing the Guns Initiative. FAO is poised to tap into the potential of agriculture to lift large numbers of the rural poor out of poverty, contributing to peace and security. Under FAO’s flagship Hand-in-Hand initiative, FAO aims to actively collaborate with member countries and development partners taking a bold step towards achieving the SDG goals of eradicating poverty, hunger and malnutrition, through accelerating agricultural transformation and sustainable development. The initiative offers opportunities to use the most advanced tools available, including advanced geospatial modelling and analytics, to improve targeting and tailoring policy interventions, innovation, finance and investment and institutional reform in a comprehensive approach.

On the margins of the AU Summit this year, FAO, in collaboration with the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the African Union Commission, is organizing a High Level side event, “Hand-in-Hand in Partnerships towards Maintaining Peace through Improved Food Security and Nutrition in Africa.” The engagement will delve into the critical role of enhancing inclusive investments and innovative solutions to support resilient food and agriculture systems that would make sustainable peace possible, which in turn would be key to reverse the worsening trends of food insecurity and malnutrition in Africa. At the side event, FAO, ECA, and AU will also launch the regional flagship publication ‘Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition,’ which reports on the food security situation in the continent as driven by conflicts and other factors such as climate shocks and economic slowdowns and downturns.

FAO extends its gratitude to the government of the host country, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, whose Prime Minister is the 2019 World Peace Prize recipient, and to the African Union Commission, for collaborating with FAO to organize the event.


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Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia


20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.