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We have high hopes and expectations for your country, Adesina tells President of São Tomé and Príncipe

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We have high hopes and expectations for your country, Adesina tells President of São Tomé and Príncipe

The International Center for Tropical Agriculture, established by the government to oversee phytosanitary inspections, received US $5 million in funding from the African Development Fund

African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org) President, Akinwumi Adesina, met with São Tomé and Príncipe (https://goo.gl/oL4eNM) President Evaristo Carvalho on Wednesday, just as the Bank’s Board of Directors in Abidjan approved the island nation’s new Country Strategy Paper 2018-2022.

“We have long been a supporter of your country and have great hopes and expectations for it. You have a clear vision for the country. A new Country Strategy Paper was approved, defining our new collaboration. Together we will focus on agriculture, the blue economy, employment for women and youth, and the financial sector.”

Carvalho said, “I will do everything possible to make our partnership better than ever. I will make sure that our country maintains its current performance.”

Earlier in the day, President Adesina visited two Bank-financed centres, part of the first phase of the Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Food Security Support Project.

The International Center for Tropical Agriculture, established by the government to oversee phytosanitary inspections, received US $5 million in funding from the African Development Fund (ADF) (https://goo.gl/qQd81J) for rehabilitation, new laboratory equipment and staff training to strengthen quality control procedures for products and services offered to farmers. PaqueteIdalina, an entomologist at the centre, said, “the technical and financial support we have received allows us to help 1,586 maize farmers today.”

The Advanced Agro-Pastoral Training Center is the only facility in São Tomé and Príncipe to offer technical training in agriculture and promote agricultural entrepreneurship. The centre received US $47.19 million in funding from the ADF, making it possible to increase the number of students from other parts of the island. Adesina told students, “Agriculture must be seen as a business, a source of wealth. I encourage you to become entrepreneurs to contribute to wealth creation in your country.”

The second phase of the Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Food Security Support Project is already underway and is promoting the development of fishing and farming infrastructure to facilitate production, storage, processing, distribution and capacity-building in both sectors.

The project is expected to boost food production for local consumption from agriculture and fishing. Agricultural products for the local market are expected to increase from an average of 58,000 tons in 2009-2011 to 75,000 tons in 2020, while fishing products are anticipated to grow from an average of 4,800 tons in 2009-2011 to 6,200 tons in 2020. Local products are expected to comprise a larger percentage of the supply, rising from 58% in 2012 to 75% in 2020.

Bank support for the education sector in São Tomé and Príncipe dates back to the 1990s when US $19.4 million in ADF funding went to the Teaching Facilities Rehabilitation Project to improve teacher qualifications and expand access to high-quality teaching.

At the Higher Polytechnic Institute of São Tomé, another Bank-financed facility, Adesina encouraged students: “You are the future leaders of this country. You must release the potential of São Tomé and Príncipe by aiming high, by keeping abreast of labour market needs and by preparing for the careers of the future.”

The polytechnic has more than 2,000 students today compared with 118 when it first opened about 20 years ago, and offers courses in 16 subjects, including biology, mathematics, economics, tourism, agronomy, electronics, ITC, public relations and communications. “I believe in you,” he said. “Be entrepreneurs and become the country’s multi-millionaires!”

Adesina also held meetings with Agripalma Ltd., an affiliate of the Socfinaf Group that has owned and planted 5,000 hectares of oil palms in the south of the island since 2009, and with Claudio Corallo, one of the world’s leading chocolatiers, who employs about 300 people and processes nearly 1.5 tons of cacao every month.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Development Bank Group (AfDB).

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Duo glide around world’s largest fountain in Dubai

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Duo glide around world's largest fountain in Dubai 1

Paragliders Llorens and Goberna take magical flight above the Palm Fountain.

Horacio Llorens and Rafael Goberna defied gravity to perform The Breaking Pointe flight around the world’s biggest fountain at The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. Here is all you need to know:

– Spaniard Llorens is a five-time world champion and Infinity Tumbling Guinness World Record holder, who has performed a series of spectacular projects during the last five years including paragliding with a flock of starlings and with the beautiful Aurora Borealis as a backdrop.

– Brazilian Goberna was a Guinness Book of World Records winner at only 12-years-old and, in December 2016, he took to the skies above one of the seven wonders of the natural world when paragliding at Iguazu Falls.

– This time around, the duo teamed up in Dubai to showcase The Palm Fountain at the Pointe, Palm Jumeirah. They overcame a tricky preparation period to expertly glide between the fountain’s powerful jets of water.

– Spanning across the boulevard, the Palm Fountain features two giant floating platforms covering 14,000 square metres of sea water. Reaching an impressive 105 metres high and lighting up the Dubai sky with 3,000 LED lights, the fountain “dances” to hit songs from sunset until midnight.

– They undertook training first at Paramotor Desert Adventure on January 12 to test out their brakes and motors with technician Ramon Lopez finally arriving after being held up by the heavy snow in Madrid.

– Training was crucial for the challenge of flying during the night with low visibility as safety director Alan Gayton ensured they had a reserve parachute in case of a technical issue with the main parachute. Llorens and Goberna also had to study the movement of the water with great precision in order not to get caught up in the jets of water

– Flying over water, it was also mandatory to have a lifejacket with rescue boats, jet skis and divers on hand which came handy when Goberna suffered a technical malfunction on the first January 14 practice run.

– After repairs long into the night, they returned to Paramotor Desert Adventure to test out the motors again before completing the stunning flight on January 15 with Llorens and Goberna performing in harmony.

– Llorens, 38, revealed: “As soon as we got the opportunity, we wanted to fly there. We needed to know the area really well beforehand and we needed to know how to ‘play’ with the fountain – this was new for us. Such strong streams of water shooting 100 metres up is a lot, so we had to be really prepared.”

– Goberna, 26, explained: “The motor wasn’t flying so good because, prior to arriving in Dubai, it was last used in Europe at high altitude. I needed to adjust the carburettor in the air inside the motor. In the first practice flight over the water, I broke one propeller. I really couldn’t understand what was happening and then another one broke. Eventually, a backup motor was required. After a long journey, the final result was beautiful! The team worked incredibly hard to make it.”

– Llorens added: “The highlight for me was playing between the super shooters with Rafael, because it’s something we’ve never done before; it felt really new and really powerful.”

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EU sets itself jobs, training and equality targets for 2030

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EU sets itself jobs, training and equality targets for 2030 2

By Jan Strupczewski

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission on Thursday announced goals for the 27-nation bloc to reduce poverty, inequality and boost training and jobs by 2030 as part of a post-pandemic economic overhaul financed by jointly borrowed funds.

The EU executive arm said the European Union should boost employment to 78% in 2030 from 73% in 2019, halve the gap between the number of employed women and men and cut the number of young people neither working nor studying to 9% from 12.6%

“With unemployment and inequalities expected to increase as a fallout of the pandemic, focusing our policy efforts on quality job creation, up- and reskilling and reducing poverty and exclusion is therefore essential to channel our resources where they are most needed,” the commission said.

The goals, which will have to be endorsed by EU leaders, also include an increase in the number of adults getting training every year to adapt to the EU’s transition to a greener and more digitalised economy to 60% from 40% now.

Finally, over the next 10 years, the EU should reduce the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by 15 million from 91 million in 2019.

“These three 2030 headline targets are deemed ambitious and realistic at the same time,” the commission said.

The goals are part of the EU’s set of 20 social rights, agreed on in 2017, to make the EU more appealing to voters and counter eurosceptic sentiment across the bloc.

They say everybody has the right to quality education throughout their lives and that men and women must have equal opportunities in all areas and be paid the same for work of equal value.

The unemployed have the right to “personalised, continuous and consistent support”, while workers have the right “to fair wages that provide for a decent standard of living”.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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UK aero-engineer Meggitt eyes return to growth after pandemic slump

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UK aero-engineer Meggitt eyes return to growth after pandemic slump 3

LONDON (Reuters) – British engineer Meggitt said that it could return to profit growth in 2021 provided there are no further lockdowns, despite a weakening in the struggling aviation market at the end of 2020 and early this year.

Pandemic restrictions halted much flying globally last year and forced plane makers Boeing and Airbus to cut production rates, dragging down suppliers like Meggitt, which makes and services parts for such aircraft.

Meggitt’s underlying operating profit plunged by 53% to 191 million pounds ($267 million) in 2020, it said on Thursday, despite continued growth in its defence business which makes parts for military jets and accounts for about 45% of the business.

Meggitt, however, said it expected air traffic to recover in the second half of the year which would help it return to profit growth over the year, although its guidance for flat revenue disappointed analysts who had expected growth of 6%.

Meggitt’s Chief Executive Tony Wood said in November that he had expected flying to start to recover by Easter, but new variants have led to more restrictions and delayed the recovery.

“It has gone back a couple of months… it’s now very much in the summer,” Wood said of the recovery in an interview on Thursday.

Further in the future, Meggitt is positioning itself for the move to lower emissions flying, and its sensors and electric motors will be used on electric urban air mobility platforms, such as flying taxis, and in hybrid aeroplanes being developed.

But Meggitt said new tax breaks announced in Britain’s annual budget on Wednesday aimed at encouraging investment would not change its plans.

“Yes, it will be a benefit. Are we looking at any acceleration as a result specifically of that? Not really,” Woods said.

Shares in Meggitt were down 1% to 427 pence at 0943 GMT. The stock has risen by 50% since news of a COVID-19 vaccine last November, but is still down 23% on where it was pre-pandemic.

($1 = 0.7165 pounds)

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Alistair Smout and Susan Fenton)

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