Development and Social Issues in Africa

Saturday, January 23, 2016

SF-2000 goes for clinical trials after 15 years

By Brenda Zulu

Higher Education Minister Michael Kaingu says enhanced research and scientific investigations are key in addressing various challenges affecting the people. And Dr Kaingu says his ministry will closely work with the Ministry of Health to conduct HIV clinical trials for herbal remedies. Dr Kaingu was speaking at Lusaka’s Kenneth Kaunda International Airport where he witnessed the arrival of processed Twenty three Thousand Sondashi formula – HIV and AIDS herbal Capsules that under went trial in South Africa. And Dr. Ludwig Sondashi the inventor of Sondashi fomula said he is happy that clinical trials will now be done fifteen years since he invented the herbal remedy. Lusaka Times 

Dr Ludwig Sondashi a Lawyer, Politician, Businessman and Herbalist based in Zambia has been covered in the news for the past 15 years over his claims that he has the treatment and cure for the Human Immune-Deficiency Virus (HIV).

Many HIV positive patients have approached him for the Sondashi Formular 2000 (SF2000) and some have testified that they have tested negative after taking the medicine for sometime. 

When I visited Dr Sondashi’s office, I was shown a list with about 7 latest names of people who had been reported to have been negative after taking the medicine for more than six months. 

Dr Sondashi explained that before one starts taking the SF-2000 medicine, they are advise to go for a viral load test in order for them to assess one’s progress whilst taking the SF-2000.  The viral load test is done to determine the number of viruses one has in the body.  After taking the formula for three months or more, one is advised to go for another viral load test.  This will enable one to estimate how much more of the formula one requires. 

Even if one does not have money to go for a viral load test one can still start taking the SF-2000.  A bottle lasts for seven days or slightly over seven days.  In a month or more, as an adult, you require four bottles of the Sondashi formula. One week treatment costs about $40 for the powder and $60 in capsules. 

Dr Sondashi said the price for the medicine had been cheap because in 2000 the formular used to cost $50 US dollars.  “The price has remained the same for the past 13 years,” he said.

What is SF-2000?
This remedy is in powder form and is for the treatment and cure of HIV/AIDS. The powder is a mixture of more than 2 plants coded SF-2000. 

When I tasted the powder, it is tastes bitter. I asked him if he had any plans to add some flavour for easy medicine intake, he said he was scared that some people would take more than recommended since a patient is supposed to take more only three teaspoons a day. He said the powder form was easy to keep and store.

Dr Sondashi explained that the medicine has been tested scientifically in the laboratories in Zambia, South Africa and United States of America and has been found to be non-toxic to normal MT4 cells and efficacious by killing the HIV virus and does not interfere with other medicines that one may be taking. 

It has also been tested in animals and has been found safe.  The Government of Zambia is now preparing to carry out further trials of safety and efficacy in human beings. 

Complementary to these findings, in 2006 the National Aids Council (NAC) conducted an open observational and explanatory clinical study and 10 people were put on SF-2000.  The product showed that six out of ten increased in CD4 cell count correspondent to Viral Load reduction and also their physical and clinical status improved drastically.  No side effects have been noticed in pregnant women or children.  Up to date the improvement in patients suffering from HIV/AIDS has been remarkable.  

The SF-2000 medicine should be taken until a person is tested negative and the period varies from individual to individual. It may take about 6 months or one year, or even longer than this, depending on one’s status of illness.  Remember that SF-2000 has been found scientifically to kill the HIV virus.

It has been discovered that 3 days after taking this medicine one will certainly feel some changes in their body. For instance, symptoms such as sleeplessness, tiredness, lack of appetite, body pains, coughing, rashes etc will start disappearing. Generally, the symptoms tend to disappear after the treatment of at least one to two months; furthermore, the cure requires a much prolonged treatment for people who are very ill and for those who have been on ARVs.  The remedy is also now in capsule form. SF-2000 can also be taken in combination with ARVS.

What to observe?
Patients are advised to go for an HIV test, CD4 count and viral load tests before taking the remedy. This will assist in the monitoring of the progress being made by the patient. HIV, CD4 count and viral load tests are recommended at regular intervals of three months until the patient is tested negative.

And also effective protection is recommended from the day of treatment, even when both partners are under medication. Increased alcohol consumption is not recommended while you are on Sondashi Formula. 
Dr Sondashi founded this medicine in the year 1999, and in 2000, he discovered that the medicine could cure and treat HIV/AIDS diseases. 

“It is GOD who helped me find this medicine. It all started when I was looking for an HIV cure for my first  born son who had suffered from it. After going to western doctors and failing to see my son get healed, I started going the traditional doctors. My son passed away before I found the sondashi formula,” explained Dr Sondashi. 

He added that he paid different traditional doctors money to be shown the cure for opportunistic HIV infections  which after he mixed together the different herbs could cure the HIV.

“If this medicine can cure some HIV opportunistic infections, supposing you combine this together don’t you think this can cure AIDS?” asked Dr Sondashi. 

The following is an analysis of both invitro (laboratory) and vivo (human and animals) tests which have been subjected to the Sondashi Formula.

In the year 2003, Dr Sondashi handed over the herbal medicine to late Dr Patrick Chikusu of the National AIDS Council (NAC), who was Chairman of the National Technical Committee, on traditional and alternative remedies, for testing. 

On 13th September, 2004, after carrying out the laboratory testing, Dr. Chikusu informed the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, that SF-2000 medicine and two other medicines from other herbalists were assessed for safety and were found to have no toxicity to normal MT4 cells and were found to be non-toxic.

The medicines were tested against HIV Sub Type B and found to be efficacious, by killing HIV Sub Type B at specific dilution which is non toxic to normal MT4 cells, and that the interesting finding was of great national importance; especially Sondashi Formulation from herbs of Zambia.

On the 14th October 2004, Dr. S.K. Miti, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health sent Dr Sondashi a letter, enclosing the above stated Report.  It was from this preliminary finding that the late President Levy Mwanawasa obtained funding and directed the NAC to give permission to Dr. Chikusu, as Principal Investigator, to carry out further clinical observations on this herbal medicine among others. 

The letter to the Minister of Health read in part as follows:

“With regard to your requests that consideration be given to the National AIDS Council carrying out research on the Sondashi formulation, as far as I am concerned I do not care which organisation carries out the necessary research. What we want to know is whether this formulation constitutes a cure. I regret that from a layman’s point of view, I see nothing  which has been demonstrated that there have been any appreciable tests carried out on the Sondashi formulation. As I have consistently informed you, I know of at least 5 people who have been cured of this disease after taking the Sondashi formulation in the sense that they have been tested positive before starting and then negative afterwards. The tests have been repeated on at least 3 different occasions of three months intervals. The negative results have remained constant,” said Mr Mwanawasa.

Dr Sondashi was then given ten patients, whom he administered the Sondashi Formula over a period of six months.  

These open observational and exploratory clinical studies lasted from 17th November 2005 to 26th April 2006. The Sondashi formula was best found to be the best among the three herbal medicines submitted for trials. Dr. Chikusu, on 4th April 2007, wrote a letter to Dr Sondashi, informing him of how his product performed in a herbal formulation clinical study.  

The objective of the study was to evaluate Safety and efficacy as well as physical and Clinical status of HIV positive clients. The product was evaluated for any spicing with commonly used antiretrovirals.

Sondashi’s formula was found to be safe as there was no toxicity, which could be attributed the product. On Spicing, there was no commonly used anti retroviral noted in the product. On efficacy the product showed that six out of ten patients increased in CD4 cell count correspondent to viral load reduction.

Clinical, physical status showed an increase in body weight, appetite and there were no opportunistic infections such as meningitis, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and Diarrhoea.

He went on to say that “from this, it is important that further studies be made for a larger group and longer period and that he hoped that Dr Sondashi would enter into discussion with Government to further this work.”

Since these findings of Dr Chikusu were disputed in Zambia, he decided to take his medicine to South Africa for a second opinion. There a Council for Science and Industrial Research (CSIR) under the sponsorship of NEPAD welcomed his medicine and carried out laboratory trials both in South Africa and the United States of America (USA). 

From 2007-2010 the Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (SANBio), a NEPAD Programme, funded a network of laboratories in Zambia and South Africa to scientifically investigate Dr Sondashi’s claims. 

Following a regional consultative Conference of SANBio held in Lusaka in March 2007, SF2000 was selected as the first remedy to be investigated under the NEPAD Drug Discovery Bio prospecting Platform. Through this platform NEPAD with support from the Governments of South Africa and Finland provided US$650 000 for skills training and the purchase and equipment to thoroughly test Dr Sondashi’s traditional plants.

NEPAD established a legal environment for cross-border collaboration among eight research organizations in Zambia and South Africa to work on SF-2000.  The research was aimed at investigating the safety and efficacy of the traditional preparation.  In clinical evaluation of the more effective focus was on isolating and identifying active compounds in the herbs, testing SF-2000 on different types of HIVs, determining acceptable dosage, and manufacturing SF-2000 into capsules as well as quality assurance.  

Extracts of the plants provided by Dr. Sondashi have been tested for their action against different types of human immune-deficiency viruses.  Results show that SF-2000 was effective under laboratory conditions on one particular type of HIV known as HIV Strain C by reducing the viral load.

The findings in both countries confirmed the findings by Dr. Chikusu made in Zambia, precisely their findings were as follows:

That SF-2000 was effective against both HIV sub-type B and sub-type C. That it was more pronounced against sub-type C, the good news being that sub-type C strain is the most relevant type found in Africa.

The safety studies conducted on the mice showed that there was no toxicity which could be attributed to the product.

That SF-2000 attacks and kills the HIV virus irreversibly and does so without harming the CD4 cell etc.

It is from these findings that a combined delegation of NEPAD, CSIR and MRC of South Africa arranged to meet the Zambian team of Scientists in Lusaka to inform them of this good news and to map out the way forward, since under NEPAD which was spear-heading these investigations. Zambia was required to play a role as the owner of the biodiversity and founder of the herbal medicine.

At that meeting which took place at Anina’s Executive Lodge in Lusaka, the South African and Zambian scientists recommended that Zambia played a part in hosting the safety clinical trials and the funding of those clinical trials.

Zambia released about K800 000 ($ 146 000) towards these clinical trials and have chosen to take place at Ndola Central Hospital by Tropical Disease Research Centre (TDRC). It is these trials which are being awaited, once concluded positively, they will open the way for declaring the SF2000 safe for human consumption. Since the medicine has already been found to be efficacious in the laboratory (invitro) tests.

Dr Sondashi said this was an important milestone to clear as it will inspire further, the governments of Zambia and South Africa, the international pharmaceutical companies and well wishers like businessmen in Zambia to offer themselves to fund the final efficacy clinical trials in vivo, in human beings, as well as studies in detecting the active ingredient in the SF2000 to boost commercialisation.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Dangote Foundation and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation commit to reducing under nutrition in Nigeria in a joint $100M partnership

By Brenda Zulu

The Dangote Foundation and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a combined commitment of $100 million over the next five years (2016-2020) towards ending undernutrition in Nigeria. This commitment is expected to improve the lives of at least five million families by 2020 and was announced by Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Bill Gates during a press conference in Abuja, Nigeria. 

In a press released, it was noted that despite rapid economic growth, Nigeria is home to the highest number of stunted children in Africa and the second highest globally. Almost one in five Nigerian children is acutely malnourished and more than one in three children suffer from stunting. With its vital role in child health, growth and cognitive development, better nutrition will be essential to unleashing the potential of Nigeria's next generation. 

"Nutrition is one of the highest impact investments we can make in Nigeria's future growth and prosperity. We know that well-nourished children are more likely to grow up to be healthy, fend off preventable diseases, achieve more in school and even earn higher income as adults," said Bill Gates. "This partnership builds on our foundation's strong commitment to Nigeria - one of several countries where we are working closely with the government, the private sector and civil society to improve health and development outcomes." 

In a joint statement, the two foundations said they will begin a joint planning process to determine the details of the partnership. Programs will include community-based approaches and proven interventions linked to behaviour change, fortification of staple foods with essential micronutrients, the community management of acute malnutrition and investments in the local production of nutritious foods. A key objective will be improving the livelihoods of households by supporting nutrition-sensitive agricultural programs that can increase family income, improve diets and empower women and youth. 

The two foundations also welcomed the increased political attention to undernutrition in Nigeria and noted that leadership will be critical to future progress. 

"In the spirit of our new partnership, we encourage even more deliberate and significant commitments from the Government of Nigeria at all levels to step up investments in nutrition. It is time to make strategic investments in interventions to eliminate malnutrition in Nigeria. This will be achieved through a massive scale-up of interventions, matched with effective coordination of efforts and innovative sustainable solutions. We have to ensure that children who are already malnourished receive help and are prevented from dying while we improve the conditions that led to them being malnourished in the first place'," said Alhaji Aliko Dangote. 

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Privatised mining industry drives growth and development

By Brenda Zulu
Zambia’s modern copper growth story really started around the turn of the century, in 2000, with the privatisation of the country’s copper mines, says Nathan Chishimba, president of the Chamber of Mines.

Speaking at a media conference today, Chishimba says available statistics show a dramatic improvement, from 2000 to 2011, of key indicators not just of the mining industry itself, but the economy in general.

“The newly privatised industry was able to invest and modernise, and so take maximum advantage of the steadily rising demand for copper coming out of China,” he says. 

This drove Zambia’s development, spurring GDP growth and helping the country achieve annual growth rates of 7% to 10%. 

“In the first decade of the new century, the mining industry has ploughed more than US $10 billion into new mining ventures. It has trebled the country’s annual mining output to around 800 000 tonnes and increased employment fourfold to more than 80 000. This mining growth has been key in taking government tax revenue from less than half a billion in 2000 to a peak of K8 billion ten years later,” Chishimba says.

In addition, the mines were able to invest heavily in CSR and socio-economic development in local communities. These include the funding and operation of schools and hospitals; the building of roads, houses and community infrastructure; and the funding of scholarships at school and university level.

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High costs are costing Zambian mines money

By Brenda Zulu
The high cost structure of many Zambian mines means they are losing money, and finding it hard to complete in the global marketplace, says Nathan Chishimba, president of the Chamber of Mines.

Speaking to the media in Lusaka on today, he explains that many mines are producing copper at $5 000-$7 000 per tonne, which is higher than the current copper price of around $4 600 per tonne. The difference represents the loss made on each tonne of copper sold. This can run into millions of dollars a month, depending on each mine’s monthly production figures.

Important reasons for the Zambian industry’s high operating costs, particularly for the older mines on the Copperbelt, are that they are deep ore bodies, which means the copper is harder to find. He added that they are also low grades, which means you get less copper from each tonne of ore mined.

Low productivity, which means you have to do more work overall to produce a tonne of finished copper; and erratic power supply, which makes it difficult to keep operations running efficiently and safely.

In addition, regulatory and policy issues affect the mines high rates of royalty tax, based on turnover, which has to be paid irrespective of whether the mine is making money;  and changing policy regimes, which make it hard for mines to plan for the long term, and deter investors from starting new mines or expanding existing ones.

Chishimba says: “This issue is critical because many mining companies in other parts of the world can produce copper with lower costs, raising the risk of higher-cost producers being squeezed out of the market.”

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Zambian mining industry to drive ‘strategic consensus’ for long-term economic growth

All Zambia conference planned to broaden economy beyond mining 

By Brenda Zulu
Reeling from the worst crisis it has faced this century, and losing millions of dollars a month in a depressed copper-price environment, the Zambian mining industry is to push for a long-term strategic consensus to promote the growth not just of the mining industry, but of the entire country.

 “As an industry, we carry the weight of an entire nation on our shoulders in terms of investment, jobs and foreign exchange earnings,” said Chamber of Mines President, Mr Nathan Chishimba, speaking at a media conference in Lusaka on Wednesday 16th December.

Since 2000, on the back of rising copper demand from China, the Zambian copper mining industry has led the nation’s development, spurring GDP growth and helping to achieve annual growth rates of 7% to 10%. The industry has ploughed more than US $10 billion into new mining ventures, trebled the country’s annual mining output to around 800 000 tonnes and increased employment fourfold to more than 80 000. This mining growth has been key in taking government tax revenue from less than half a billion Kwacha in 2000 to a peak of K8 billion ten years later.

“We are the basket which holds all the proverbial eggs. Working together we have to create a high-growth, diversified economy which spreads risk and opportunities across the economy, creates more jobs and widens the tax base,” said Chishimba. “As we are seeing in the current crisis, Zambia should not be relying only on mining for its future.”

As a measure of the industry’s unity of purpose, the Zambian Chamber of Mines media conference was attended by senior executives of First Quantum Minerals (FQM), Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), Mopani and Barrick Lumwana and other senior industry figures. These are Zambia’s four largest copper mining companies, accounting for around 70% of the country’s annual output.

The objective, according to Chishimba, was to provide context and understanding for the slump facing Zambian and global copper miners after a reduction in demand in the past five years from China, the world’s largest consumer of copper (45% of world production). It has led to a five-year slide in the copper price, which is around 60% off its 2011 peak – triggering production cutbacks and layoffs in all of the world’s major copper-mining nations, from Zambia, Congo and Chile to Australia, Canada and the United States.

The conference also heard that the Zambian mining industry faced specific local constraints such as a debilitating power shortage that has reduced production capacity, increased costs and, in certain cases, forced the closure of operations, with the loss of many jobs.

“We suffer from both production challenges, such as old mines, deep ore bodies, low grades, low productivity, and regulatory challenges – for example, a constantly changing policy and tax environment.  The effect is twofold: our copper is expensive to produce, and investors are reluctant to start new mines or expand existing ones.”

On the long-term prospects for the global mining industry, Chishimba said there had always been demand for copper on the back of industrialisation and modernisation of the world economy, and nothing suggests that this is about to change.  However, for Zambia to benefit from that continued demand, the Zambian mining industry needs to become more competitive.

“There are new, low cost mines coming on stream in other countries that can thrive in this low price environment. Unless Zambia takes action now to address our challenges, so that we can compete with these other countries, our future as a copper producing nation is in peril,” he said. 

Chishimba said the challenge is for both the industry and the country to learn the lessons of the past and present.

“This national crisis poses long-term questions over Zambia’s economic development, which cannot be avoided.  We all need to come together and agree the conditions which best promote the growth both of the mines and the broader economy. As an industry, we are ready to create dialogue on this vital strategic issue on which the future of our nation depends.”

Mr Chishimba concluded by saying that the Chamber of Mines, with the full weight of support of its members, would engage with stakeholders on this topic in the coming year. It is the industry’s intention to host an ‘All Zambia’ conference next year, as part of the drive to reach long-term consensus on economic diversification.

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Growth the answer to Zambia Mining crisis

By Nathan Chishimba, President: Chamber of Mines

It’s easy to be despondent in the current economic crisis facing the country, what with power shortages, a depreciating currency, a sluggish economy, and a mining industry battling shrinking demand, declining profitability and job losses.

But it’s precisely at times like these that we, as a nation, need to focus and learn the lessons from the current crisis, because it need not be permanent.  There’s a saying which argues that being broke isn’t a big deal – it just means you’re short of cash. It’s a temporary situation, and can be remedied by the right measures.

We in the mining industry have been restructuring our operations, lowering our costs and contemplating investments which improve our efficiency and try to keep people in work. But what are the right measures when we’re dealing at the level of an entire country? Is there a magic bullet?  All the research available on how countries get rich and stay rich suggests that there is – and it’s economic growth.

No country has ever lifted itself out of poverty other than through economic growth. Economic growth creates wealth; and wealth creates jobs, disposable income and tax revenue. 

Economists like to talk about the “The Rule of Seventy”, which says that if you divide 70 by a country’s annual growth rate, you get the number of years it takes for the economy to double in size. So with a consistent growth rate of say, 7% (which Zambia has easily achieved before), a country’s economy would double in size within 10 years – in other words, the average citizen would be twice as wealthy.  After another 10 years of 7% growth, the economy would double in size again; and so on.

China has set the standard in recent times. With its average growth rate of 10% a year for nearly four decades, its economy has grown more than 30 times since 1980. People like to talk about the Chinese miracle; but, it’s no miracle – it’s just economic growth.

Perhaps the biggest surprise about economic growth is that any country can achieve it. This emerges in an interesting study, Habits of Highly Effective Countries. It was published in 2006 by the South African Law Review Project to help that country’s policymakers. The study doesn’t advocate particular policies, but merely notes, empirically, which ones are correlated with high economic growth.

It concludes that “the outlook for a country’s economy is dependent on factors within its direct control, and not on such variables as natural resources, climate, size, race, culture or arable land; nor is it dependent on extraneous [factors] like foreign aid or tariff-free access to foreign markets.”
In support of this counter-intuitive statement, the study lists the 20 highest-growth economies over periods of 5 and 10 years respectively, and notes that they cover “the full range of possibilities”, from poor to rich, small to big, formerly capitalist to formerly socialist, resource-rich to resource-poor, countries that were until recently colonised and countries that were not, and which cover a wide range of religions, races and cultures. African colonies feature both among the highest- and lowest-growth countries, and none of the world’s colonisers appear in either [category].

“This reaffirms the evidence suggesting that any country is likely to prosper, regardless of its circumstances or history, if it implements policies that are associated elsewhere with prosperity,” the study notes.

In all fairness, it is only reaffirming what numerous other studies have shown over many years: economic growth is no accident, but the direct result of policy.

This basic truth is tremendously encouraging for us in Zambia, for it tells us that despite the serious situation we currently find ourselves in, there is a way out. This explains why we, as an industry, are calling for a national strategic consensus among all stakeholders to promote the growth not just of the mining industry, but of the economy in general.  The long-term objective is a diversified high-growth economy in which the mining industry is no longer the sole contributor, but simply one of many industries selling products and services, creating jobs, and generating wealth for Zambia’s people and tax revenue for Government services.

It requires tremendous political leadership and courage to implement such policies, for they invariably upset the status quo and create short-term challenges for some even as they generate gains for others.  Recent public pronouncements by His Excellency, President Edgar Lungu on the absolute necessity for a growing, diversified economy are encouraging, and show the government is alive to the need for such a transformation. As an industry, we stand ready to work with government, and all other stakeholders, to help make this a reality. 

Economic growth is not a short-term fix; it’s a long-term imperative. These are policies which must take us not to the next Budget, or the next set of corporate financial statements, but 30 years and more into the future, to the economy that our children and grandchildren will inherit. 

Whether Zambia’s economy will have grown in size several times by then, or merely stagnated, will depend directly on the policies which we have the courage and foresight to implement today.

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Power shortage makes a bad Mining situation worse

By Brenda Zulu

The power shortage in Zambia has made a bad situation worse by placing additional constraints on the mining industry, says Nathan Chishimba, president of the Chamber of Mines.

Amplifying a key point made in his media presentation in Lusaka on 16th December, he says this makes Zambian mines even less competitive in the present crisis relative to their counterparts in other copper-producing countries.

“In all countries, mining is a very energy-intensive business, requiring steady and reliable supply to ensure that equipment and machinery is operated efficiently, and that the safety of workers is not compromised.”

The main effect of the power shortage has been to force mines to operate at reduced capacity. This results not just in lower production, but idled workers and lower productivity. Meanwhile, mines have fixed costs, which have to be met.

Emergency power has to be sourced – whether through generators or imports – and this is invariably more expensive than the traditional supply. In some cases, expansion plans have had to be put on hold, and operations have had to be closed or put on care and maintenance, resulting in layoffs and retrenchments.

“This is the most unfortunate aspect of the power shortage, because it adds to the pressure on jobs already caused by the global crisis and the slowdown in demand for copper,” says Chishimba.

Operationally, the net effect is to push up the costs of production, making Zambian copper even more expensive to produce.  “A low copper price and a serious power shortage are probably the worst possible combination, both for the mining industry and for the country,” says Chishimba.

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How China’s growth stumble affected Zambia

By Nathan Chishimba, President: Zambia Chamber of Mines

There’s a well-known saying in the banking business which goes something like this: if you owe the bank $100, it’s your problem; if you owe the bank $1 billion, it’s the bank’s problem.

Similarly, if a single country consumes 10% of the world’s copper production, it’s not a problem; but if a single country consumes 45% of the world’s copper, then it’s a big problem. Why? Because if that country should suddenly run into economic difficulty and cut back on its copper consumption, then the world’s copper mines would face a serious and sudden drop in their business. 

That, simplistically speaking, is exactly what has happened in the world copper market in the past five years. China is the world’s largest consumer of copper, accounting for some 45% of world production. Barely 10 years earlier (2004), China’s consumption was only 21% of world production; and 10 years before that (1994), it was a mere 8% of world production.

So over the course of the past 15 years or so, particularly since the turn of the century in 2000, China has been like a giant industrial glutton, literally gobbling up much of the world’s copper. Its voracious appetite has been caused by the country’s spectacular economic growth, fuelled by the market reforms initiated in 1979 by the Chinese leader, Deng Xiaoping. Concerned with the depth of poverty in then communist China, Deng astonished the world by permitting free-market practices and the profit principle to operate in the country. 

He said: “It doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice.” This deliberate and strategic policy decision unleashed the spirit of enterprise of the Chinese people, attracted billions in foreign investment and made the country a magnet for the world’s leading manufacturers and industrial companies. Since 1980, the country’s economy has grown more than 30 times, and China has lifted more than 700 million people out of poverty – a feat unequalled in history.

Today, China is the world’s largest manufacturer, the world’s largest exporter, the world’s largest car market, the world’s largest retail market, the world’s largest user of the internet and the world’s leading producer of industrial patents.

This decades-long growth spurt meant the country became a key consumer of industrial minerals like copper and steel. That’s because copper is used in all the areas that one would associate with a growing economy: construction, power transmission, industrial machinery and transportation (cars, trains, planes). Copper wiring and plumbing is also an integral part of household appliances, heating and cooling systems, and telecommunication devices such as cell phones.

Businesses expand to meet demand, and the world’s major mining companies, from Zambia to Chile, expanded production and invested in new mines to be able to supply China’s appetite for copper. Zambia’s newly privatised mining industry caught this wave in about 2000,and expanded massively over the next decade, investing more than $10 billion, trebling employment in the mining industry to around 70 000, and boosting copper production nearly threefold to around 800 000 tonnes.

But about five years ago, in 2011, growth in the Chinese economy began to slow, resulting in a contraction in demand for copper, steel and other industrial metals. After years of double-digit annual economic growth, which reached levels of 14%, the country’s growth rate slowed to around 7%. That’s still spectacular, but the fall was enough to cause a prolonged decrease in demand in copper consumption. 

The resulting oversupply of copper on the market as a result of all that mining investment during the boom years means the price has fallen steadily, from a high of nearly $10 000 a tonne in 2011 to around $4 600 today. From Peru and Zambia to Australia and the United States, copper mines have felt the effect on their operations – shrinking revenue, rising costs and declining profitability. The world’s copper mines have been rocked by retrenchments, layoffs and mines being put on care and maintenance.

The current period of crisis is being used by the world’s copper mines to review the efficiency of their operations, cut their costs, and in many cases automate aspects of their operations to produce copper more cheaply. We in Zambia are in the same boat, and hope to emerge from the present crisis in better shape. It’s the world’s strong, competitive copper mines which will be the least immune to future price shocks.

Nobody doubts that the upturn will come, as it always has in the past; but at this stage, no one is prepared to say when.  The bottom line is that China has not stopped buying our copper; it is still buying increasing quantities of the metal – but just not at the same phenomenal rates as before. For now.

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Friday, November 27, 2015


Brenda Zulu 

The Civil Society for Poverty Reduction welcomes the measures by his Excellency President Edgar C. Lungu to cut on non-core government expenditure during his press briefing held at state house on Thursday 26th November 2015. 

In a Press Release, Nshindano Patrick Kryticous Executive Director, CSPR said the current economic situation is of great concern to every Zambian as the downturn affects every household but especially those already vulnerable. The recent presented 2016 budget, being the primary statement for economic and social development, has clearly demonstrated the dire situation in which the country now finds itself. 

It is the considered view of CSPR that with prudent macroeconomic management, a reining in of consumptive expenditure and strong political will, a considerable turnaround is possible in the short to medium term with profound gains for the long term.

We therefore call on government and implementing agencies to ensure that the presidential speech is actualised and they walk the talk and does not become another political show.

We further call on the government to Contain foreign borrowing (including the Chinese loans) to reduce on the cost of repayments while also reducing domestic borrowing to free some funds for private sector lending and induce the lowering of interest rates. This fiscal measure will complement the effectiveness of monetary policy to cushion the erosion of the Kwacha’s value.

CSPR is a civil society anti-poverty advocacy network working for pro-poor development in Zambia whose vision is; "A Zambia where its entire people enjoy all basic needs”

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Opportunity of Paris: Accelerating Transformation for Climate Action

By Brenda Zulu

Governments are meeting in Paris to reach a new climate change agreement that aims to keep global average temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) – the level beyond which there will be irreversible impacts.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made clear that the longer we delay in tackling climate change, the higher the risks and costs. The next couple of decades are critical.

Halting the growth in global emissions and putting them on a downward path so as to prevent climate disruption is possible, but necessitates a transformation of the global economy that not only addresses climate change, but also powers new growth.

We are at a defining moment for the future of our planet and its peoples,” said Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility.  “Urgent action is needed to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions, invest in adaptation and build resilience to the growing impacts of our rapidly warming world.”

Shifting to a low-carbon and resilient trajectory will require coordinated, integrated solutions to catalyze transformation of three key economic systems: energy—how we power our homes, offices and industry, and move goods and people from one place to another; cities—how we live; and food production—how and where we produce food, and what we eat,” Ishii continued.

The twenty-first meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will take place from 30 November to 11 December 2015.    It is expected to be a turning point, which sends a loud and clear signal to citizens, markets and the private sector that the transformation of the global economy is inevitable, beneficial, and already underway.

Based on our quarter century of experience and a wide network of partners, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) is well-placed to support this transformation,” said Ishii.

The GEF’s commitment to address climate change issues is unequivocal.   In 2013-14, it committed a total US$1.4 billion for adaptation and mitigation action.  By the end of the current funding cycle in June 2018, it’s estimated that the GEF will be making about US$3 billion available to developing countries to help address climate change, with the potential of $US25 billion to be leveraged from other sources.

As a financial mechanism of the UNFCCC, the GEF is supporting developing countries’ shift towards a low-emission development path.  Besides its ongoing support to countries in their UNFCCC obligations (such as national communications and biennial update reports), the GEF has also provided financial support to 46 countries as they prepared their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, and stands ready to help make these “investment plans” operational.

In Paris, the GEF will also be actively supporting the 12 action tracks of the so-called Lima Paris Action Agenda to showcase coalitions, partnerships and integrated approaches for action on the ground in areas such as buildings, forests, transport and private finance.

Rooted in our role as a financing mechanism of the UNFCCC and other key international agreements, the GEF’s resources help catalyze action and direct larger-scale financing flows toward low-carbon and resilient investments,” said Ishii.  “We support partnerships at local, national and regional levels around integrated solutions in areas like energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable cities, land degradation, deforestation, food security and resilience.”

Governments, the private sector and civil society are taking action on climate change because it is in their interest to do so.  Ahead of Paris, almost all countries, as well as states, cities, business and investors, have come forward with the most comprehensive set of pledges and plans ever seen to reduce emissions and bolster resilience. 

Paris is a huge opportunity to demonstrate political ambition and action on climate change.  But, what happens after is as, if not more, important.

The newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals recognize that the health of the global commons is essential for a thriving world,” said Ishii. “A strong climate agreement backed by action on the ground will help us achieve the SDGs. But with the underlying drivers of degradation still at play, our efforts must only intensify.”


Key Questions & Answers on Climate Change Based on Science

Author: Liliana Hisas, Executive Director, Universal Ecological Fund (U.S.) 

Reviewed by Niklas Höhne, PhD, New Climate Institute (Germany)

Up this point, why has so little been accomplished on climate change?

The simple answer is that climate science is complex and has been poorly explained to policy and decision makers and the public. Thus, there has been a major communication gap between the urgency of climate change and the perception of the problem.

The problem is two-sided:
There has been political resistance to change, mainly because with the new Paris Agreement on climate change all countries will have to take action to combat and adapt to climate change. For the last two decades, only a few developed countries have been required to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions that cause climate change. 

The urgency of the problem has been massively misunderstood. Reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the premier scientific body, are highly scientific, written in technical language and extremely difficult to comprehend. Policymakers don't read these reports in their entirety, but rather the Synthesis Report, which summarizes the main conclusions of three voluminous reports. Because the Synthesis Report is a summary, it only partially includes the comprehensive assessment of climate science. Thus, some have not fully understood what the options presented imply.  

From following the negotiations on the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, we have uncovered that many of the negotiators are confused or uninformed on the science and the current situation. The result: the policies and changes that must be made will fall far short and climate change will accelerate.  

Can you simply explain the climate change problem? 

The climate is changing because the Earth's global temperature is increasing. Global temperature is increasing mainly because of the way energy (electricity, natural gas and fuel) is produced and used. About 85 percent of the total energy in the world is obtained by burning fossil fuels -coal, gas and oil, accounting for 29, 21 and 31 percent respectively.  

The burning of fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide (CO2), which accounts for 65 percent of total annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Other activities, such as deforestation, forest fires and land use changes generate 11 percent of CO2 emissions. As a result, CO2 totals 76 percent of all GHG emissions. 

The problem: about half of the CO2 generated every day ends up in the atmosphere where it remains for more than 1,000 years. It is these CO2 emissions that concentrate in the atmosphere, along with those from methane, nitrous oxide and other GHGs, which are causing global temperature to increase, which is driving the climate to change. 

The other half of CO2 emitted is absorbed by trees, plants and the oceans. 

Is climate change accelerating?

Yes and much faster than anticipated.  

Climate change is the changes in temperature, rain and wind (or the elements of weather) over a long period of time. In 2015, some changes have already been experienced as weather events, such as 50 percent of the average rainfall for an entire month recorded in a couple of hours in Calgary, Canada; a doubling of the average rainfall for an entire month in Calcutta, India; 22 flooding incidents in just 90 minutes in London, United Kingdom; a 15 percent decrease of the monthly average rain in Nagpur, India; unprecedented droughts in Brazil, South Africa, Portugal and Spain; a doubling of the number of wildfires in British Columbia, Canada and California and Alaska in the United States. 

Some impacts of climate change are positive, while others are negative. 

For example, about 70 percent of food production in the world depends on rain. Thus, changes in rain patterns will impact food production. Some of the impacts of climate change, such more frequent and intense droughts, will hinder the production of main food staples and drive food prices to increase. As a result, food security will be at risk. 

The negative impacts of climate change will further threaten livelihoods and lives of millions. 

Is a 2ºC increase in global temperature dangerous?

A 2ºC increase in global temperature was considered as the 'upper limit beyond which the risks of grave damage to ecosystems are expected to increase rapidly.' This means that the impacts of climate change will be more abrupt as global temperature increases. 

By 2012, global temperature has increased by 0.85ºC from pre-industrial times, causing numerous impacts around the world. Some examples of the already observed impacts of a 0.85ºC temperature increase:
Extreme precipitation has increased in frequency and intensity.
A robust drying trend has been observed for already drought-prone regions.

Extreme heat events are occurring more frequently.

Since the Climate Change Convention was adopted in 1992, climate-related events have doubled in number. 

An increase in global temperature of 2ºC implies an additional doubling the number of these impacts of climate change. 

Some of the negative impacts of climate change are now unavoidable. 

When will global temperature reach 2ºC? 

There is a 95 percent probability of reaching 2ºC above pre-industrial times by the 2040s, under all four possible representations of the future (or scenarios) analyzed by the IPCC. This is due to the rapid increase in GHG concentrations in the atmosphere. For example, GHG concentrations increased from 375 parts per million (ppm) CO2-eq (CO2-eq or unit to measure all GHGs combined) in 2005 to 430 ppm CO2-eq in 2011, a 12 percent increase in only six years. 

In the future, according to Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided, a report prepared for The World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, if emission reduction pledges are not met and current trends continue, 'there is an increasing probability of reaching 4°C global mean warming by the last quarter of this century' (or in the next 60 years). 

Isn't climate change going to happen only by the end of the century?

No. It is happening now. 

The end of the century is the timeframe used by scientists to analyze changes in the climate, because changes in climate are assessed over a long period of time (usually, 30 years). This does not mean that the global temperature will increase by the end of the century; however, it is what some policy makers and the general public misunderstood. 

Climate scientists used a target of GHG concentrations of 450 ppm CO2-eq by the end of the century to assess emission reductions required to hold global temperature below 2ºC. They also analyzed what would happen if no explicit actions are taken to reduce GHG emissions -which seems to be the trend until the Paris Agreement is adopted. They concluded that the target of 450 ppm CO2-eq could be exceeded between 2020 and 2030. However, it is impossible to project precisely when such a level will be exceeded because it depends on policies and actions taken by countries, not on science.

Is GHG concentration a better target for the climate change negotiations in Paris?

The 2°C has been adopted as the policy target by all countries.  

Climate scientists also use other targets to assess the options required to tackle climate change, such as the level of GHG concentrations.

The 'stabilization of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system' is also the ultimate objective of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

What is the current level of global GHG emissions and what should it be?

In 2010, global GHG emissions reached 49 Gt CO2-eq; and increased by 10 percent to 54 Gt CO2-eq in 2014. 

The emission level consistent with holding temperature below 2°C should be 42 Gt CO2-eq by 2030 (or a 15 percent reduction from 2010 levels), and 22 Gt CO2-eq by 2050 (or a further 48 percent reduction from 2030 levels). 

These figures are consistent with a 55 percent emission reduction (or the average between 40 and 70 percent) by 2050 from 2010 levels concluded by the IPCC. 

What are Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)? 

As part of the negotiations towards the Paris Agreement, all countries were invited to submit Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). 

The INDCs include an overall GHG emission reduction target and describe how each country intends to contribute to tackling climate change through plans and strategies to reduce GHG emissions and adapt to the changing climate. 

These pledges may also include the financial support needed by some countries to implement actions outlined. These INDCs, thus, are considered 'conditional', as opposed to others made on an 'unconditional' basis. 

The timeframe for the implementation of the INDCs is 2020-2030. 

Are the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) adequate?

No. Climate scientists at the UN Environment Programme and the Climate Action Tracker have done preliminary analysis of the INDCs submitted up to October 2015, from 146 countries representing 85-88 percent of global GHG emissions in 2012. Their conclusions are in line with the Climate Change Convention Secretariat analysis of the INDCs. 

If the submitted INDCs are fully implemented by countries between 2020 and 2030, global GHG emissions could increase by about 17 percent from 2010 levels in 2030 (reaching 56 Gt CO2-eq) instead of being reduced by 15 percent (to reach 42 Gt CO2-eq). The increase in GHG emission levels by 2030 is not consistent with holding global temperature below 2ºC.

In addition to inadequate emission reduction targets, there are also inadequate policies to implement those targets. 

Climate scientists concluded that there is a significant gap between current policies and the pledges submitted by countries in the INDCs. Thus, global emissions under currently implemented policies are projected to be higher than the already inadequate INDC levels. 

Are developed countries the greatest GHG emitters?

Not anymore. Middle income counties have taken the lead in the share of global GHG emissions, contributing 56 percent of global GHG emissions in 2014. Since these countries are considered developing countries by the 1992 Climate Change Convention, they have not been required to limit their GHG emissions. In 1990, middle income countries contributed only 40 percent of global GHG emissions. 

For example, China, currently the world's largest emitter of GHGs, is considered a developing country for the 1992 Climate Change Convention but as an upper middle income country for other international organizations. 

High income countries emitted 48 percent of global GHG emissions in 1990, but contributed 36 percent in 2014. 

Low income countries also decreased their share of emissions, from nine percent in 1990 to six percent in 2014. 

The Paris Agreement is expected to set a target for global GHG emissions reductions by all countries -not only developed countries -since all counties contribute to GHG global emissions. 

Are these middle income countries that are huge emitters working on the problem?

Yes, but not enough. Some middle income countries are using their status as developing countries in the Climate Change Convention as an excuse to delay action and continue emitting. One of the reasons argued is that they also have the right to develop and that they should be able to do so in the same way developed countries did -by burning fossil fuels. 

Some middle income countries are making pledges to reduce emissions, assuming that climate finance is available. 

Most countries have adopted a wait-and-see strategy. While pledges have been announced (known as the Cancun pledges), countries are holding back implementation based on other countries doing the same. That is exactly what triggered the necessity for the Paris Agreement where all countries are expected to participate in emission reductions. 

However, the differentiation of countries is still blocking the Paris Agreement negotiations since middle income countries are still advocating to retain their status as developing countries, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

As a result of these deadlocked discussions and conditions, in the five years since 2010, GHG emissions increased 10 percent. 

Is the deliberate removal of CO2 from the atmosphere at large scale realistic? 

Some options analyzed by climate scientists use intentional measures and technologies for the deliberate removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. These 'negative emissions' technologies rely on carbon capture and storage (CCS): large-scale industrial plants that capture and store CO2 by injecting it in geological reservoirs more than 800 meters below the surface. These CCS plants are currently extremely expensive and pose significant risks, such as leakage of CO2 to water, soil or back into the atmosphere. 

Two options were analyzed by the IPCC. One is bioenergy with CCS: instead of burning fossil fuels, energy is produced by burning biomass -fuelwood, and agricultural residues, such as sugar cane, rice husks, and corn, among others. Through CCS, the resulting CO2 emissions from biomass burning are captured before reaching the atmosphere. The additional risks of this option include competition for food, land and water to grow the necessary biomass to produce bioenergy sustainably, which can negatively impact livelihoods. The other option is CCS to capture CO2 from carbon-fueled power plants, refineries, cement plants and steel mills.

How many carbon capture and storage plants will be needed to hold temperature increase below 2ºC? 

The International Energy Agency concluded that, to hold temperature increase below 2ºC, an average of more than 1,000 CCS plants would need to be built and in full operation between 2015 and 2050 to capture 3.5 Gt CO2 a year (or a cumulative 120 Gt CO2). This annual average of 3.5 Gt CO2 is comparable to one third of the current global removal of CO2 by the ocean (absorbing about 9 Gt CO2) or a similar share by terrestrial carbon sinks (trees and plants, currently removing about 10 Gt CO2). 

However, these negative emission technologies are unproven and have not been tested at large-scale. Also, there are no large-scale bioenergy with CCS plants in the world. The 16 CCS plants in operation or under construction will capture less than 0.1 percent of total CO2 emissions a year by 2015.

Additionally, due to past emissions climate warming will continue for at least decades after CO2 removal methods and technologies are applied. 

Why did scientists consider carbon capture and storage technologies? 

Because IPCC scientists had to provide policymakers with the option that would meet the 2ºC policy target. The use of negative emission technologies was needed to compensate for delayed action to reduce emissions by countries. 

Among the hundreds of very sophisticated computer models analyzed by IPCC scientists for their assessments, many models were able to hold temperature increase below 2°C only by relying on massive negative emission technologies. 

Further delaying action to reduce emissions means higher costs and risks, such as much higher rates of global emission reductions and greater dependence on using all available mitigation technologies in the medium-term; greater reliance on negative emissions; and greater risks of economic disruption; and higher adaptation challenges and costs.

I heard that the cost of fighting climate change will be $100 billion a year by 2020. Where will the money come from? 

Developed countries committed to mobilizing jointly $100 billion a year by 2020 from public and private donors. 

The $100 billion will originate from various sources, including donor countries, the private sector, multilateral development banks (such as The World Bank, the European Investment Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, etc., which also include contributions from middle income countries) and bilateral climate-related official development assistance. 

The Green Climate Fund is one of the mechanisms for climate finance. Since its establishment in 2011, it has raised $10.2 billion. 

Will the private sector have a role in climate finance?

Yes. The private sector will play a critical role in climate finance. Investments from the private sector are estimated to double the contributions from donor countries and multilateral development banks, which could result in up to $155 billion in climate finance by 2020.

The private sector, however, is waiting for clear policy and decisions from the Paris Agreement to plan and guide their actions and investments. 

Are there other sources of climate finance?

Yes. Subsidies to fossil fuels totaled $550 billion in 2013. This amount is more than four-times the value of subsidies to renewable energy and more than four times the amount invested globally in improving energy efficiency. 

The $550 billion in fossil fuel subsidies are currently available in national budgets, mostly in middle income countries. 

Shifting these subsidies away from fossil fuels could liberate national financial resources for climate finance, which in turn will attract additional public and private funds and investments. 

Will a transition to 100 percent clean energy solve climate change? 

Addressing climate change will only be possible if energy is used much more efficiently than today and in a different way. For example:
100 percent electricity generation from renewables,
Shifting to electrification in transport and industry.
Using biofuels only where really necessary.
Energy efficiency to the most extent possible. 

Clean or renewable energy only refers to electricity generation, which will address about 20 percent of the global problem -or about 70 percent of GHG emissions from the energy sector (from extraction and conversion to distribution). 

Currently, the global share of non-fossil fuel electricity generation is 30 percent -16 percent from hydropower, 5 percent from renewables and 11 percent from nuclear power. The IPCC concluded that it should be 90 percent by 2050.

A transition to 100 percent renewable electricity generation will not address how electricity is used, how cars are fueled, how new buildings are built, or even how food is produced. The IPCC made a comprehensive analysis by sector to identify measures and policies to be implemented in the next 2-3 decades towards a complete transformation of the world as we know it today. These were the sectors analyzed: industry, transport, buildings and urban planning, and agriculture, forestry and land use. 

Although a tripling of the share of renewables for electricity generation can be achieved, a significant share of fossil fuels will still be required to meet the expected doubling in energy demand due to population growth by 2050. 

Why is it necessary to implement measures in all sectors? 

Policies and measures will have to be implemented in all sectors by 2050 because world population is estimated to increase by 40 percent -from 7 billion in 2010 to almost 10 billion by 2050. 

Population growth will, in turn, double the demand for energy in 2050 and also increase the demand for food, clean water, and other basic human needs.

Further delaying stringent measures to combat and adapt to climate change will only mean higher costs -in more expensive measures to reduce emissions and implement adaptation measures; and most importantly, in higher risks to livelihoods and ultimately, lives due to the increased impacts of the changing climate. 


* * *

Niklas Höhne, PhD is a founding partner of the New Climate Institute, based in Cologne Germany. Since 1995, Dr. Höhne led numerous studies related to the international climate change negotiations and national climate policies. Dr. Höhne is lead author for the IPCC Fourth and Fifth Assessment Report for the chapter on climate policies and international cooperation. He is also lead author of the UNEP Emissions Gap reports 2010 to 2015. In 2009, he created the Climate Action Tracker -a coalition of four research organizations tracking commitments and actions of countries on climate change. He holds a PhD from the University of Utrecht; and is a Special Professor on mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions at Wageningen University, The Netherlands. 

Liliana Hisas is the executive director of the Universal Ecological Fund, US office of Fundacion Ecologica Universal, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a non-profit organization seeking to increase awareness that encourages actions through researching, analyzing, producing and disseminating information. She led various civil society advocacy and capacity development campaigns on global environmental policies and climate change since 1992. She authored various publications on sustainable development and climate change. She holds a Master of Arts degree in journalism from the Universidad del Salvador in Argentina.