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IFAD President and Angolan President to discuss investment in rural youth employment

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IFAD President and Angolan President to discuss investment in rural youth employment

Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), will meet Angolan President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, and other officials of the Republic of Angola, to discuss investing in rural communities to improve food security and provide employment opportunities for rural youth.

During Houngbo’s official visit to the country on 4-6 April, a financing agreement will be signed for the new Agricultural Recovery Project. The project is designed to address the country’s food insecurity issues, which have been aggravated by repeated climate events, such as El Niño (drought) and La Niña (flood), in the target areas.

In Angola, the agriculture sector contributes on average only 10 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 44 per cent of the population. In addition, more than half of Angola’s poor are located in rural areas and depend exclusively on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods. Young people in rural areas are faced with the dual challenge of wanting to explore alternative livelihood opportunities to subsistence farming or small-scale fishing, while at the same time having little formal training to equip them to face the labour market.

“Agriculture and agroindustry have great potential to provide jobs and livelihoods,” Houngbo said prior to his departure. “We need to provide investment and support to help young people to find employment. Empowering rural youth can be a catalyst for achieving the global development agenda, and we need the energy, strength and creativity of young people to drive rural transformation and build sustainable food systems.”

Since 1991, IFAD has financed seven rural development programmes and projects in Angola for a total cost of $147.3 million, with an IFAD investment of $82 million. The projects have directly benefitted 268,600 Angolan rural households.

In addition to meeting with the President of Angola, Houngbo will meet with Vice President Bornito de Souza Baltazar Diogo; Minister of Agriculture and Forests, Marcos Alexandre Nhunga; Minister of Finance, Augusto Archer de Sousa Mangueira; Minister of Economy and Planning, Pedro Luís da Fonseca, and other members of Government. Their discussions will focus on the role of smallholder farmers in ensuring food security in Angola, the challenge of climate change, and the opportunities agriculture can offer to the rural youth.

Houngbo also will visit an IFAD-supported project to see first-hand how project participants have improved their lives in the provinces of Huambo and Bie.

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H&M, IKEA and Stora Enso backed TreeToTextile builds sustainable fibre demo plant

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H&M, IKEA and Stora Enso backed TreeToTextile builds sustainable fibre demo plant 1

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – A venture part-owned by Finnish forestry group Stora Enso, Sweden’s H&M and IKEA said on Tuesday it was set to build a demonstration plant in Sweden for a new, more sustainable wood-based textile fibre after years of research.

To markedly reduce their climate footprint and pollution, large apparel and furniture brands are in dire need of affordable greener alternatives to cotton, traditional viscose and polyester. Several Nordic pulp makers are part of projects developing new clean ways https://www.reuters.com/article/us-nordics-forestry-idCAKCN0WF076 to turn trees into textile fibre.

TreeToTextile said in a statement its plant would have a production capacity of 1,500 tonnes and its owners would fund the bulk of the 35 million euro ($42.6 million) investment.

“The novel process is deliberately designed to have low energy demand and low chemical need. It is engineered to suit large scale production and includes a recovery systemfor reusing chemicals,” it said.

“By investing in a demonstration plant, we are finally on the go. With it we are turning years of R&D into reality to increase the biobased share on the textile market to support climate action.”

TreeToTextile, whose fourth part-owner is innovator Lars Stigsson, said the plant would be located at Stora Enso’s Nymolla mill in Sweden, and its construction would start in the near future.

Viscose is the main existing textile fibre from wood pulp – followed by the newer lyocell which has a cleaner manufacturing method. Production is dominated by Austria’s Lenzing, India’s Aditya Birla and China’s Sateri.

($1 = 0.82 euros)

(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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IHG books $153 million loss, Holiday Inn softens coronavirus blow

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IHG books $153 million loss, Holiday Inn softens coronavirus blow 2

By Tanishaa Nadkar

(Reuters) – InterContinental Hotels booked an annual loss of $153 million on Tuesday, pummelled by repeated COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, but said a faster recovery in its Holiday Inn Express brand had helped it outperform in key markets.

The company, which previously scrapped its final dividend, said 2020 was the most challenging year in its history as revenue per available room slumped 52.5%, with global travel and entertainment spending remaining under pressure.

Pinning its hopes on the global roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines and a wider economic rebound, IHG said the industry was unlikely to see a recovery until later in the year but hinted that global travel was starting to recover.

“People want to travel again…It is the thing that people have missed most and so there is enormous pent up demand to travel,” Chief Financial Officer Paul Edgecliffe-Johnson said, adding that “travel will come back very rapidly.”

Shares of the company were up 3.8% at 5,516 pence by 0845 GMT, amid a near 3% rise on the FTSE 350 travel and leisure index as Britain saw a surge in flight and hotel bookings after the government said would-be holidaymakers will be given clarity on making plans for the summer by April 12.

Demand remained stronger in IHG’s Holiday Inn Express business, which represents about 70% of its rooms in the U.S. market and has historically been impacted less and recovered faster than other segments in economic downturns, the company said.

“IHG is at the start of a prolonged period of commercial recovery,” Peel Hunt analysts said in a note.

Still, IHG reported a group operating loss of $153 million for the year ended Dec. 31, compared with a profit of $630 million last year.

(Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Alexander Smith)

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Aviva sells French business to Macif’s Aéma Groupe for $3.9 billion

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Aviva sells French business to Macif's Aéma Groupe for $3.9 billion 3

LONDON (Reuters) – Aviva has agreed the sale of its operations in France for 3.2 billion euros ($3.89 billion) to Macif’s Aéma Groupe, as part of the British insurer’s shift to focus on its core operations in Britain, Ireland and Canada.

London-based Aviva, led by boss Amanda Blanc, said the sale would increase excess capital by 2.1 billion pounds ($2.95 billion) and cash of around 2.8 billion pounds.

Aéma Groupe, formed in January through the merger of French mutual insurer Macif Group and Aésio Mutuelle, has 8 million customers and a turnover of 8 billion euros.

Aviva France has 3 million customers and 7.8 billion euros in revenue. It covers life insurance, property and casualty and asset management markets in France.

Aviva’s share price rose by 1.7% at the open in London.

“The transaction will increase Aviva’s financialstrength, remove significant volatility and bring real focus to the Group,” Chief Executive Officer Blanc said.

Aviva expects to use the proceeds of the sale to support debt reduction, invest for long-term growth and return excess capital to shareholders.

The sale is central to Blanc’s turnaround plan aimed at streamlining its business after prolonged share price weakness has concerned investors.

The insurer, which aims to complete the disposal by the end of 2021, is looking to sell its continental European and Asian businesses, it said last year.

Final bids for its Polish operations that could fetch around 2 billion euros are due on Friday, sources have previously told Reuters.

It is also in the process of selling its Italian business, sources had said.

($1 = 0.8218 euros)

($1 = 0.7108 pounds)

(Reporting by Clara Denina; Editing by Rachel Armstrong, Louise Heavens and David Evans)

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