Main Menu

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

 

Violence politique au Gabon : De qui est-elle réellement l'œuvre ?

D’un côté comme de l’autre, on s’en accuse, on se pointe du doigt. Le pouvoir accuse l’opposition, l’opposition accuse le pouvoir. Pour le pouvoir, les manifestations et autres meetings organisés par l’opposition sont emprunts de violences. Une violence qu’il attribue volontiers à Jean Ping, le principal opposant qui serait, selon lui l’instigateur de la désobéissance civile. Accusé d’avoir prononcé les propos de « cafards », lors de la campagne présidentielle de 2016, Jean Ping est depuis dans le collimateur du pouvoir en place, qui le considère comme le messager de la violence politique au Gabon. Pour mieux punir l’opposant, le gouvernement a pris à son encontre, une série de mesures restrictives, allant de l’interdiction de quitter le territoire national à celle de s’exprimer sur les antennes des médias publics.

Pour le candidat à la présidentielle du 27 août 2016, il n’y a plus de doute, toutes ces restrictions, toutes ces décisions arbitraires et punitives sont une preuve patente de la dictature du régime d’Ali Bongo Ondimba. Un régime qui a décidé de barricader l’opposition en plus de l’avoir réduite au silence. Ce qui, naturellement relève de la violence froide des autorités en place, qui veulent s’appuyer sur les Institutions publiques pour mieux régler leurs comptes à l’opposition dite radicale, qui refuse de reconnaître la légitimité d’Ali Bongo en tant que Président de la République gabonaise.

Une « séquestration » inacceptable pour les tenants de cette aile dure de l’opposition qui, en réponse à ce bâillonnement, tentent d’organiser des meetings de protestation et de démonstration de force. Droit pourtant reconnu par la constitution gabonaise, qui consacre en son préambule, la liberté d’expression, bien que le parti démocratique gabonais, PDG au pouvoir y voie nécessairement une « violence politique inacceptable » de l’opposition pro-Ping.

Politique de deux poids deux mesures

C’est le moins qu’on puisse dire, surtout lorsqu’on entend les communiqués dithyrambiques du PDG qui assimile systématiquement toute manifestation de l’opposition à de la violence politique « insupportable », alors qu’il s’agit plutôt de l’exercice d’un droit garanti par la constitution. Et ce, alors même que les manifestations du pouvoir sont autorisées allègrement. Il y a donc d’un côté le déni du droit à manifester ou à exprimer son opinion à une partie de Gabonais, droit pourtant reconnu par la constitution, et de l’autre, la reconnaissance de ce même droit à une autre partie de compatriotes parce que militants du pouvoir en place. Voilà autant d’agissements qui participent d’une certaine violence d’Etat. Laquelle n’est pas sans exacerber les tensions de ceux de l’opposition qui se sentent lésés, brimés et coffrés.

Des militants de l’opposition qui sont obligés d’exprimer leur ras-le-bol par de manifestations et autres marches de protestation, parfois violentes, faut-il le reconnaître, afin de ne pas se laisser tenir en bride par un pouvoir qu’ils estiment “illégitime”. Et qui, en plus de son illégitimité, les contraint à la « séquestration », pour reprendre les termes du président de l’union nationale, Zacharie Myboto. La violence politique dans ce cas, ne saurait être l’œuvre d’un camp quelconque. Elle émane aussi bien du pouvoir que de l’opposition.


Circulation routière : Pourquoi tant de contrôles ces derniers temps ?

Le comble, c’est l’ennui provoqué aux usagers de la route dont certains sont pressés de rejoindre qui leur lieu de travail, qui un point de rassemblement, qui quelqu’un avec qui ils ont un rendez-vous ferme, qui…Des taximen sont presque tout le temps sifflés et éconduits parfois brutalement de leur véhicule pour être soumis à un exercice auquel il faudra bien qu’ils s’habituent : sortir du portefeuille un billet ou des billets de banque pour satisfaire l’appétit devenu gargantuesque des agents qui ne daignent même plus accorder d’importance aux principes du contrôle routier qui leur recommandent de vérifier l’authenticité des documents afférents à la conduite du véhicule en dehors de se rassurer sur l’identité des passagers et du chauffeur.

Pas plus qu’ils n’avancent, comme cela est écrit dans les textes réglementaires, vers le véhicule au niveau duquel ils doivent accomplir des gestes dignes de soldats formés, à savoir : saluer poliment avant que d’exiger la présentation des pièces à tous les occupants et au conducteur celles du véhicule. Quel désagrément ne subissent pas les Librevillois ces temps derniers surtout ! Désagréments qui suscitent moult commentaires au nombre desquels ceux qui condamnent l’attitude des agents eux-mêmes et la passivité des leur hiérarchie accusée de complicité. Du coup, la comparaison avec des époques révolues se multiplient, ce d’autant plus que l’on ne trouve pas d’explications plausibles à cet état de fait. Sauf si l’on se laisse aller à des commentaires venant du cœur et rien d’autre, ce qui présente le risque de donner lieu à des interprétations parfois fallacieuses et de tout mettre sur le dos des autorités militaires chargées de la sécurité et du gouvernement, car à voir de très près, certains contrôles inopinés ne sont peut-être pas de leur ressort, même s’ils peuvent être accusés trop souvent de fermer les yeux sur ce genre d’agissements.

Quelle image nous offrons ?

Si ces agissements font aujourd’hui partie du quotidien, il reste qu’ils surprennent ceux qui arrivent pour la première fois dans la capitale gabonaise. Combien ne sont-ils pas à décrier cet état de fait qui entache la renommée de ville accueillante affublée à Libreville. En comparaison avec d’autres cités du continent, la capitale gabonaise devient celle de la fouille intempestive, des tracasseries abusives et pas souvent justifiées aux dires de nombreux usagers de la route qui détiennent des informations de personnes bien renseignées, des « rançons » qui ne disent pas leur nom, de la corruption et de bien d’autres maux dont devrait se passer le Gabon en tant qu’Etat régalien à cheval sur les règles de droit.

Le contexte dans lequel baigne le pays, fait de morosité au plan sociopolitique, pour ne pas dire économique également, laisse croire qu’il y a comme une idée dissimulée derrière tous ces contrôles, ce qui fait dire à d’aucuns que ce serait là la raison du « durcissement de ton » des autorités qui tiennent à ce qu’elles soient respectées et que le Gabon poursuive, selon elles, sa marche sereine vers le développement. Mais serait-ce vraiment la raison qui les conduirait à agir de la sorte ? Surprenant lorsque l’on se rend compte que le pays demeure un havre de paix où les populations se côtoient toujours sans qu’il n’y ait, comme dans d’autres Etats du continent, de frictions entre elles. A la longue, les fameux contrôles desserviront l’image que l’on veut renvoyer du pays vers l’extérieur et courent le risque de compromettre l’idéal démocratique.


Plainte contre Pierre Péan : L'audience reportée au 5 octobre

Après le tourbillon de railleries, critiques et colères provoqué par le brulot de Pierre Péan « Nouvelles affaires africaines, mensonges et pillages au Gabon », c’est dans le plus grand silence, loin des commentaires et de l’intermédiation journalistique qu’Ali Bongo Ondimba a porté l’affaire devant les tribunaux français. Accusé entre autres d’assassinat et de « coup d’Etat électoral » en 2009, Ali Bongo Ondimba a porté plainte à Pierre Péan pour diffamation. Selon l’avocat de ce dernier, Delphine Meillet, « ce livre, ce n’est pas de l’investigation, mais du militantisme ».

C’est pourquoi la partie plaignante accuse l’auteur d’avoir baigné dans la facilité en colportant des rumeurs et autres ragots, au grand bonheur de l’opposant Jean Ping, un peu avant la présidentielle d’août dernier. « Pierre Péan parle d’assassinat, de tentatives d’assassinat. Il ne le prouve pas de manière factuelle. (…) toute l’audience a consisté à prouver que toutes ces imputations étaient diffamatoire », souligne l’avocat d’Ali Bongo sur les ondes de Rfi.

Le 5 septembre dernier, date de l’audience au tribunal correctionnel de Paris, ne s’est pas tenue. Déjà en février dernier, le tribunal avait prononcé le non-lieu. La difficulté des deux parties à prouver les faits demeure un facteur bloquant dans cette affaire. Et pour preuve, l’audience vient d’être à nouveau reportée au 05 octobre 2017.


Monnaie : La bonne santé du FCfa !

En Zone franc, notamment au Gabon, Tchad, Cameroun, Guinée Equatoriale, Sénégal et dans bien d’autres pays, cette monnaie, héritage de la colonisation française est accusée à tort ou à raison de participer au retard de développement de cette partie de l’Afrique. Créée au bénéfice de l’ancienne puissance coloniale, la France, cette monnaie connaît cependant quelques heures de gloire, et ce, malgré son procès en sorcellerie. Dans une récente publication, juste au moment où l’Afrique francophone réfléchit sur l’avenir de cette monnaie, une évaluation mise en évidence par l’Indice de suivi des monnaies d’Ecobank Research classe le franc CFA parmi les monnaies les plus performantes d’Afrique.

Dans l’espace économique UEMOA, début septembre, la monnaie a connu une progression de 14% sur le dollar américain tandis qu’en zone Cemac, ses performances tournent autours de 13%, faisant du FCfa, une monnaie performante depuis janvier 2017. Au niveau continental, c’est le Metical, monnaie du Mozambique qui se désolidarise de ce frottement avec une performance de 16% sur la même période. Malgré cette performance à la hausse de la monnaie mozambicaine, les mutations indiciaires du franc CFA ont permis d’affecter la parité avec le dollar.

Autours de 612 pour 1 dollar, la monnaie locale d’Afrique francophone se négocie désormais à 550 points. Cet exploit peu suscité des interrogations sur les marchés en décélération comme celui de la Cemac, mais il se justifie tout de même..

Explications ?

L’une des explications à cette performance tient du fait du rattachement du franc CFA à l’Euro, sur la base d’une parité quasi fixe. Ainsi, indépendamment de sa propre performance, un renforcement ou une dépréciation de l’Euro sur la devise américaine impacte directement la valeur du franc CFA. Et les récents évènements liés aux difficultés économiques d’ordres internes que connaissent les Etats-Unis d’Amérique et la récente catastrophe naturelle Harvey survenue dans le Texas, il y a seulement quelques jours, n’ont fait qu’affecter la structure du dollar. Ce qui offre à l’euro un avantage. En effet, la devise de la zone économique européenne continue de se renforcer face au dollar américain depuis le début de cette année, à la faveur de la difficulté pour l’administration américaine, de trouver des solutions claires pour la réduction de la dette, pour redonner du pouvoir aux investisseurs, et pour maintenir l’inversion de la courbe du chômage.

Pendant ce temps en Europe, le marché semble de plus en plus se calmer, à mesure que les acteurs intègrent le vote favorable pour une sortie de la Grande Bretagne de l’Union Européenne et la victoire de leaders moins enclins aux protectionnismes, en France et au Pays Bas notamment. Toutes choses qui ont contribué à rassurer les investisseurs de cette zone. Ces exploits monétaires augurent peut-être des lendemains meilleurs pour les économies africaines ayant en commun le franc CFA.


Boxe/Affaire Taylor Mabika vs FEGABOXE : La réponse de la CAB

Dans un courrier daté du 6 septembre courant, signé de son président, (Bayor Kelani Azaad), la CAB indique qu’il n’est mentionné nulle part une sanction à l’encontre du boxeur gabonais Taylor Mabika ni contre de la WBC Méditerranée. « La sanction de la confédération Africaine de boxe (CAB) à l’encontre de l’actuelle bureau de la Fédération Gabonaise de Boxe (FEGABOXE), résulte de deux requêtes en invalidation envoyées par Achille Nziengui et Pierre Anguinga Dickson. Lesquels mettaient en exergue la violation des articles 34 et 35 des statuts de l’AIBA, lors du processus électoral du 25 mars 2017 », indique le patron de la CAB dans le courrier.

Touché par les propos des responsables de Yoka qui ont dit clairement que l’AIBA n’a pas le droit de valider ou d’invalider le combat de Taylor Mabika, le président de la CAB a rappelé la définition de l’AIBA est un acronyme combinant le sigle en français AIB expliquant : « Association International de Boxe » et en anglais IBA signifiant : « International Boxing Association ». « Donc elle gère aussi la boxe professionnelle dans les versions APB et WSB. Mais en cas d’organisation d’un combat dans une autre version, le promoteur se doit d’avoir l’accord, l’agrément technique et l’autorisation de la Fédération nationale affiliée à la CAB et à l’AIBA, mais ne lui donne pas le droit de s’affilier ou de se faire affilier à une association quelconque », ajoute le président de la CAB.

Par ailleurs le patron de la CAB a renvoyé les dirigeants de Yoka Com’Event à la relecture minutieuse du point 7 de la notification de la suspension provisoire de la FEGABOXE par la CAB, pour éviter de faire des déclarations non fondées relevant de la diffamation.


Who is the greatest?

Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor–
FOR a long time now, the experts — the country’s football writers and commentators — have led the way in setting the agenda whenever the issue of who is the greatest Zimbabwean footballer of all-time comes long.But, for a refreshing change, the responsibility has been thrown into the hands of the country’s football fans who, for ages, have been left to feast on the crumbs of what the experts would have come up with.

On November 11, this year, the player who the fans believe is the finest footballer to have emerged from this country will be honoured at a star-studded function in Harare when ZIFA hold their inaugural awards.

Fans will vote for their choice of player, from four special footballers who have been short-listed by ZIFA as the best of players to have come out of this country, in a nationwide poll which the association believes could see over a million votes being cast.

Peter Ndlovu, widely considered to be the greatest Warrior of all-time, legendary goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar, five-time Soccer Star of the Year winner George Shaya and the immortal Moses Chunga have been short-listed as the four players from whom the fans can pick their choice of who was the finest of all-time.

‘’It’s the People’s Choice Award, the one voted for by the fans themselves, and we felt that it was important, as we prepare for the big night that we also draw in the participation of the supporters in this exciting venture,’’ said Tendai Taruvinga, vice-chairperson of the ZIFA Awards.

‘’We felt that while the experts have been having their say for a long time, a very influential constituency of our game has been left behind in all this and it was important that we involve them and they get a chance to pick who they feel is their best of the very best.

‘’We have come up with a short-list, which was decided by a special panel that we have been engaging in the process, and from those four players — Bruce Grobbelaar, George Shaya,Peter Ndlovu and Moses Chunga — the fans will vote for the legend they believe is the best of them all.

‘’Like any poll, obviously, there will be a lot of debate, but we believe that when you consider Zimbabwe football, it’s past and it’s present, the selection of these four as the finest is a fair choice but one of them has to be picked as the finest.

‘’The voting process will be through a text message platform and a fan can vote as many times as he or she wishes for whoever they believe is their finest, from those short-listed individuals, and at the end of the day we will announce the winner at the special function.

‘’There are also rewards for those who will take part in the poll because someone will win a car, for merely texting, others will win television sets, others will win bicycles and other exciting prizes in what should be a fun-event.’’

BRUCE GROBBELAAR

The Jungleman made 628 appearances for English Premiership giants Liverpool over 13 years and won six League Championships, three FA Cups, three League Cups and a European Cup for a return of 13 major trophies in 13 years at the Anfield giants. Bought only for £250 000 from Canadian club

Vancouver Whitecaps, Grobbelaar provided real value for money for Liverpool and revealed the highest wage he picked, back in the days when the English game wasn’t this money-making machine that it is today, was £2 800 a week in the colours of Southampton.

‘’I was two months old when I moved over to Rhodesia,’’ he told Liverpool Football Club TV. ‘’My father got a job on the railways and my mother followed soon after with my sister and myself.

‘’I class myself, was a Rhodesian and now a Zimbabwean because that’s the country that I grew up in and learnt my football. Very, very good childhood. It was a great upbringing. We had the weather to do all the sports and the discipline at the school.

“They were fantastic days at Liverpool but whatever happens now in my life I can’t complain too much. I came to this country with £10 in my pocket and after the Law Lords had finished with me, I had £1. That’s quite some life I’ve had on £9.’’

Grobbelaar also starred for the Dream team.

GEORGE SHAYA

He is regarded by many as the finest talent to come out of Zimbabwean football and there are even others who pity him that he played at a time when the country was largely frozen from the international game.

A cult-hero at his beloved Dynamos, he was a natural and, on five occasions, was voted the Soccer Star of the Year, a feat that is yet to be matched by any player.

“When Shaya is out of the game. Dynamos are reduced to an ordinary team. When he is playing, all of the team’s magic is woven around him,’’ The Herald football writer, the late Alan Hlatywayo, himself a former player of note, wrote in 1976.

‘’Others have called Shaya Rhodesia’s Pele. Whatever the accolades, there was never any doubt about Shaya’s outstanding ability, which, combined with his power to create openings, made him stand out from other very good players.’’

PETER NDLOVU

Widely regarded as the greatest Warrior of all-time, another natural talent, who made history as the first African to play in the English Premiership.

At the height of his athletic powers, he was being mentioned alongside the likes of Ryan Giggs and George Best, not bad for a lad from Bulawayo who arrived in England as a raw talent and exploded on the scene. Crucially, he led his country with distinction and twice shepherded them to the Nations Cup finals, including our first appearance in Tunisia in 2004.

MOSES CHUNGA

A maverick who was as good as they will come, in terms of talent, and that he was signed by a Belgian club, at a time when there were few African players in Europe, speaks volumes about his unquestionable talent.

He played in Belgium at a time when Kalusha Bwalya, the Zambian legend, was also in that country and won the African Footballer of the Year in 1988 while playing for Cercle Brugge. Chunga’s 46 goals, in one season in a domestic campaign, remains a benchmark of goal-scoring brilliance, 30 years down the line, and he was honoured by his Belgian club as one of the greatest to grace their dressing room in history.

In an interview with our sister newspaper, Kwayedza, he joked that he felt he was even better than Lionel Messi, when he was at his peak before injuries ruined his career, and while that will certainly create a storm of debate, there is no questioning he was very, very good.


Zanu-PF reins in Mutodi, Chinomona •Votes of no confidence upheld, some nullified •Heavyweights reduced to ordinary members

zanu-pf President and First Secretary President Mugabe, flanked by First Lady and zanu-pf secretary for Women’s Affairs Amai Grace Mugabe, shares a lighter moment with Politburo members Cdes Cleveria Chizema (left) and Sithokozile Mathuthu on arrival for the organ’s meeting at the party’s national headquarters in Harare yesterday. — (Picture by Kudakwashe Hunda)

Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter—
THE Zanu-PF Politburo yesterday relieved Women’s League Political Commissar Cde Mabel Chinomona of her duties, while Energy Mutodi was expelled from the ruling party following deliberations by the disciplinary committee.Votes of no confidence in national youth league executive members — secretary for Administration Lewis Matutu and his deputy Sibongile Sibanda — were upheld, but the two will remain ordinary members of the party.

WATCH VIDEO:
[embedded content]

The disciplinary committee nullified votes of no confidence against Mashonaland Central provincial chairman Cde Dickson Mafios and secretary for Administration Cde Wonder Mashange, while Cde Jappy Jaboon was restored as political commissar for Masvingo Province.

In Manicaland, suspensions against Cdes Enock Porusingazi and John Chirimambowa were lifted, while the suspension of former Harare provincial executive members, Cdes Goodwills Masimirembwa, Danny Musukuma, Happiness Nyakuedzwa and Chiratidzo Mukarati, were also lifted.

Zanu-PF secretary for Information and Publicity Cde Simon Khaya told the media of the Politburo’s decision during its meeting at the revolutionary party’s headquarters.

“Cde Mabel Chinomona’s case has been debated at length and the decision by the Politburo is that she has been relieved of her duties in the Women’s League,” Cde Khaya Moyo said.

The nature of the allegations she was facing were not clear by the time of going to print. Cde Khaya Moyo said the disciplinary committee notified the Politburo of verdicts on a number of disciplinary cases that were before it.

In Mashonaland East, former Provincial Women’s League chairperson Cde Apolonia Munzverengi and Cde Petronella Kagonye were reduced to ordinary card carrying members.

In Manicaland, votes of no confidence on former provincial youth league executive members Cde Kelvin Manyengavana, Getrude Mutandi and Washington Zihwihwi were nullified. They revert to be ordinary card carrying members as their posts had already been filled.

In Bulawayo, provincial Youth League Secretary for Indigenisation Cde Obert Msindo’s vote of no confidence was nullified together with those that were passed against other executive members, Maqawe Sibanda and Leo Nyoni.

Cde Khaya Moyo said votes of no confidence against war veterans that attended a meeting addressed by former chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, Jabulani Sibanda last year were declared null and void.

These include Cdes Angeline Masuku, Oppah Ncube, Eliphas Tshuma, Molly Mpofu, Christipher Sibanda, Rose Kandiero, Charles Ndlovu, Rejoice Sibanda, Cecilia Verenge and Garikai Zvonde.

“Votes of no confidence on them is null and void and members of National Consultative Assembly from the above will continue as members and others whose positions have not been filled will revert to their positions,” Cde Khaya Moyo said. He said the lifting of the suspensions and votes of no confidence were a result of failure to follow laid down procedures in most cases.

“The Secretary of Legal Affairs has written to all provinces on these votes of no confidence on what they mean and how they should be done and he would soon be moving around conducting workshops on that,” Cde Khaya Moyo said.

He, however, said the issue on the alleged poisoning of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was not discussed as it was not on the agenda including his defence against allegations raised against him by Professor Jonathan Moyo in the previous Politburo meeting.


RG’s Office rolls out mobile registration

Mr Tobaiwa Mudede

Felex Share Senior Reporter—
The Registrar General’s Office has begun the national mobile registration for people to acquire identity documents as part of preparations for next year’s harmonised elections.The department is focusing on registration of national identity cards, births and deaths certificates. The mobile registration exercise, which will run for three months, will end on November 30. Registrar-General Mr Tobaiwa Mudede yesterday said every district in the country’s 10 provinces had mobile teams. “We started mobile registration on Monday at our designated centres and static offices,” he said.

“Everything is in place. Every province now has the itineraries. We appeal to all citizens to come forward and register for personal documents. On the turn out so far, we still have to check. We are not yet getting figures daily because people were setting up.” Identity card replacements and verification is also being done during the same period.

Zimbabwe goes for harmonised elections next year and no one will be allowed to vote without a national identification card. Mr Mudede said for one to register for a particular document, certain requirements had to be met as prescribed by the law.

“We reaffirm that citizens should bring with them the birth confirmation records from health institutions and their identity document to enable them to register their child for birth certificate,” he said.

“For those registering for national identity documents, they should produce their birth certificates. Those who do not meet the said registration requirements should not delay the registration process.” Mr Mudede said the exercise was not for granting citizenship. “Citizenship has procedures that we go through,” he said.

“We have our friends — foreigners and aliens who are here. Some have entered through immigration points and have been in this country for some time. There is time which is statutorily provided for them. The procedure is that they will come to our offices not mobile offices. When they come, we do checks together with the immigration department, the time provided by the law they have stayed in this country. If they clear themselves through immigration they come we give them forms and after completion there are checks, the vetting processes we go through. This is international. There is no country on earth that just gives citizenship. After vetting they will then be granted citizenship. This time of three months (of national mobile registration) does not finish that business. Those who would like to have their citizenship status regularised must come through our offices. Citizenship is not de-centralised, it is centralised.”


Dominica’s Geothermal Dream About to Become Reality

Dominica says it plans to establish a small geothermal plant despite a few “hiccups’’ with investors. Credit: Charles Jong

By Desmond Brown
ROSEAU, Dominica, Sep 6 2017 (IPS)

The tiny Caribbean island of Dominica has moved one step closer to its dream of constructing a geothermal plant, a project that is expected to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels.

The Dominica government is contributing 40.5 million dollars towards the project and has been seeking to raise the additional funds from various sources.The road towards geothermal has been a long and arduous, not only for Dominica but also its Caribbean neighbours.

“In addition to government’s contribution we have secured all the funds required to construct the plant from our development partners,” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said, noting that the funding will include EC$30 million from Britain, EC$5.4 million from New Zealand and also EC$5.4 million from SIDS DOCK.

SIDS DOCK is an initiative among member countries of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) to provide the Small Island Developing States with a collective institutional mechanism to assist them transform their national energy sectors into a catalyst for sustainable economic development and help generate financial resources to address adaptation to climate change.

It is called SIDS DOCK because it is designed as a “DOCKing station,” to connect the energy sector in SIDS with the global market for finance, sustainable energy technologies and with the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) carbon markets, and able to trade the avoided carbon emissions in those markets. Estimates place the potential value of the US and EU markets between 100 to 400 billion dollars annually.

Skerrit noted that the environmental and social impact assessment for the geothermal project is ongoing in the Roseau valley.

“Every effort will be made to ensure that adverse impacts on the communities and the environment will be mitigated,” he said, adding that land owners in the area can also expect to be compensated for use of their property and support will be provided to residents who occupy lands to ensure that they are not left worst off.

The designs for the plant are progressing and should be completed by the third quarter of 2017.

“Once the plant has been commissioned, the DGDC will sell power to DOMLEC (Dominica Electricity Company) to be distributed throughout the country.

“So far, I have been advised, that based on the regulations of the Independent Regulatory Commission (IRC) DOMLEC must pass on the lower tariff to the consumer. That is to say DOMLEC is not allowed to add to the cost at which the power will be sold. This will ensure that the lower cost of electricity from geothermal will pass through to the consumers of our country,” Skerrit said, adding that negotiations are ongoing with DOMLEC to finalize the terms of the power purchase agreement.

Dominica has also applied for grant funding from the United Arab Emirates Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund and is expecting between EC$8.1 million and EC$13.5 million to fund a battery storage system to be used on the national electricity grid.

Skerrit said funding for this project will also be obtained from the World Bank in the form of a loan of EC$16.2 million at a highly concessionary rate of 0.75 per cent with a 10-year grace period and 44-year repayment plan.

“We have invested millions thus far,” Skerrit said, adding he is confident citizens “all look forward to the significant reduction in the cost of energy that will follow”.

He said the development of the plant “will be a positive impact on businesses and this should also stimulate investments by others establishing new businesses”.

The road towards geothermal has been a long and arduous, not only for Dominica but also Caribbean neighbours St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Last December, Energy Minister Ian Douglas said Dominica was moving closer to harnessing geothermal energy.

He said the Dominica Geothermal Company had been registered, and planning of the power plant is progressing.

“We are moving ever closer to the vision of realizing power from our geothermal resources. The Dominica Geothermal Company has been duly registered, and plans for the construction of the power plant are progressing satisfactorily,” he stated.

This follows a decision made by the government to run the geothermal project as a company solely owned by the government and people of Dominica.

Earlier this year, the St. Lucia-based Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission said financing and government policy had been identified as the major challenges to the development of geothermal energy in the Eastern Caribbean.

A survey, conducted by the Energy Unit of the OECS Commission, gathered the views of 86 people involved in geothermal energy, half of whom were based in the OECS region.

The respondents of the survey were geothermal stakeholders working with or with an interest in geothermal energy in the nine-member sub-region.

According to the OECS Commission, most of the respondents (82 percent) were employees of government or utility companies pursuing geothermal energy initiatives.

With respect to non-OECS respondents, almost 50 percent were private sector geothermal experts with past experience working on geothermal projects.

“There was clear consensus amongst all survey participants that finance and government policy are the main challenges to geothermal energy development in the region. These were followed closely by competition from other energy sources, and technological issues,’ the Commission said.

It said the majority of survey participants would like to see the establishment of a regional mechanism to support geothermal development in the region.

“The geothermal stakeholders are convinced that such a mechanism would be beneficial to the industry, especially as it relates to policy, legislation, and regulations.”

The Commission noted that all countries of the Eastern Caribbean are almost totally dependent on imported fossil fuels, despite their significant potential for renewable energy such as solar, hydro, wind, and geothermal.

In recent years geothermal energy has emerged as a priority for the OECS region. Currently, seven of the ten OECS member states are working towards the development of their geothermal resources. The scientific evidence shows a strong potential for development as countries continue to assess and quantify their geothermal potential.

The Bouillante geothermal plant on the French island of Guadeloupe is the only geothermal power plant currently operating in the Caribbean. It’s been operating since 1986 and currently provides about six percent of the electricity in Guadeloupe.

The post Dominica’s Geothermal Dream About to Become Reality appeared first on Inter Press Service.


Sixth North Korean Nuclear Test Creates New, More Dangerous Phase in Nuclear Crisis

Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director of the Arms Control Association

By Daryl G. Kimball
WASHINGTON DC, Sep 6 2017 (IPS)

North Korea’s 5.9 to 6.3 magnitude nuclear test explosion September 3 marks a new and more dangerous era in East Asia.

Daryl G. Kimball

The explosion, which produced a yield likely in excess of 100 kilotons TNT equivalent, strongly suggests that North Korea has indeed successfully tested a compact but high-yield nuclear device that can be launched on intermediate- or intercontinental-range ballistic missiles.

Still more tests are likely and necessary for North Korea to confirm the reliability of the system, but after more than two decades of effort, North Korea has a dangerous nuclear strike capability that can hold key targets outside of its region at risk. This capability has been reached since U.S. President Donald Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” if Pyongyang continued its nuclear and missile pursuits Aug. 8.

The inability of the international community to slow and reverse North Korea’s nuclear and missile pursuits is the result of missteps and miscalculations by many actors, including the previous two U.S. administrations—George W. Bush and Barack Obama—as well as previous Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean governments.

Unfortunately, since taking office, President Donald Trump and his administration have failed to competently execute their own stated policy of “maximum pressure and engagement” with North Korea. Trump has greatly exacerbated the risks through irresponsible taunts and threats of U.S. military force that only give credibility to the North Korean propaganda line that nuclear weapons are necessary to deter U.S. aggression, and have spurred Kim Jong-un to accelerate his nuclear program.

The crisis has now reached a very dangerous phase in which the risk of conflict through miscalculation by either side is unacceptably high. Trump and his advisers need to curb his impulse to threaten military action, which only increases this risk.

A saner and more effective approach is to work with China, Russia, and other UN Security Council members to tighten the sanctions pressure and simultaneously open a new diplomatic channel designed to defuse tensions and to halt and eventually reverse North Korea’s increasingly dangerous nuclear and missile programs.

All sides need to immediately work to de-escalate the situation.
• The United States needs to consult with and reassure our Asian allies, particularly South Korea and Japan that the United States, and potentially China and Russia, will come to their defense if North Korea commits aggression against them.
• As the United States engages in joint military exercise with South Korean and Japanese forces, U.S. forces must avoid operations that suggest the Washington is planning or initiating a pre-emptive strike on North Korea, which could trigger miscalculation on the part of Pyongyang.
• Proposals to reintroduce U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea are counterproductive and would only heighten tensions and increase the risk of a nuclear conflict.
• The United States must work with the world community to signal that international pressure—though existing UN-mandated sanctions on North Korean activities and trade that can support its illicit nuclear and missile activities—will continue so long as North Korea fails to exercise restraint. Better enforcement of UN sanctions designed to hinder North Korea’s weapons procurement, financing, and key sources of foreign trade and revenue is very important.
• Sanctions designed to limit North Korea’s oil imports should now be considered. While such measures can help change North Korea’s cost-benefit calculations in a negotiation about the value of their nuclear program, it is naive to think that sanctions alone, or bellicose U.S. threats of nuclear attack, can compel North Korea to change course.
• The United States must consistently and proactively communicate our interest in negotiations with North Korea aimed at halting further nuclear tests and intermediate- and long-range ballistic missile tests and eventually to verifiably denuclearize the Korean peninsula, even if that goal may no longer be realistically achievable with the Kim regime in power.
• Washington must also be willing to do more than to simply say it is “open to talks,” but must be willing to take the steps that might help achieve actual results. This should include possible modification of U.S. military exercises and maneuvers in ways that do not diminish deterrence and military readiness, such as replacing command post exercises with seminars that serve the same training purpose, dialing down the strategic messaging of exercises, spreading out field training exercises to smaller levels, and moving exercises away from the demilitarized zone on the border.
• This latest North Korean nuclear test once again underscores the importance of universalizing the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Unless there is a more serious, more coordinated, and sustained diplomatic strategy to reduce tensions and to halt further nuclear tests and long-range ballistic missile tests in exchange for measures that ease North Korea’s fear of military attack, Pyongyang’s nuclear strike capabilities will increase, with a longer range and less vulnerable to attack, and the risk of a catastrophic war on the Korean peninsula will likely grow.

The post Sixth North Korean Nuclear Test Creates New, More Dangerous Phase in Nuclear Crisis appeared first on Inter Press Service.