Return to Transcripts main page

QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

Cease-Fire in Libya?

Aired March 18, 2011 - 14:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


RICHARD QUEST, HOST, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: Good evening.

Few could ever accuse Colonel Gadhafi of being predictable, but his actions came as a surprise today. And Libya now, perhaps, appears to be backing down in the face of possible foreign air strikes and a no-fly zone. Libya agreeing to immediately stop all military operations against rebel forces. Some, of course, are cautious, even skeptical. Saying Gadhafi will be judged by his actions on the grounds and not his words.

Tonight on the program we will hear from the World Bank president, who tells me why these events need to be seen in a global context.

Also, in the next few moments, we will take you live to Washington, D.C., White House, and the East Room. This is where we are waiting for President Obama to make a statement on Libya, in just a few moments. We expect the statement to be no more than five to 10 minutes long. But as soon as it does happen we will bring it to your attention, to you live.

Now, a cease fire, perhaps-and yet no peace in Libya. Moammar Gadhafi's regime says it is laying down its arms as it stares down the barrel of possible military action from abroad, especially, in the face of the U.N. resolution, authorizing the no-fly zone. The Libyan foreign minister says the regime is ready to talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOUSSA KOUSSA, LIBYAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): We emphasize and agree to the article regarding the protection of civilians and the territorial unity of Libya.

And therefore, building on this, the Libyan state encourages the opening of all dialogue channels, with everyone, with everyone interested in the territorial unity of Libya.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: Those are the words of the foreign minister, but even as he was speaking we were hearing unconfirmed reports that fighting was going on in the city of Misrata. The international community is still on course to intervene, making planes, airbases, and ships ready for action in support of the U.N. Security Council resolution, which authorizes states to take all necessary measures to protect civilians. It also imposed the no-fly zone, but so far has ruled out any foreign troops.

We don't exactly what action international forces might take, but it could airstrikes and cruise missile attacks designed to cripple Libya's air defense, or stop troops loyal to Gadhafi. The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she needs to be sure that the violence will halt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: There will have to be an accounting of what has already occurred. There are many stories, as you know, of massacres, abductions. Until we can have a better idea of what actually happened it is hard to know what the next steps will be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. We need to know what is happening on the ground in Libya. Our Senior Correspondent Nic Robertson is in Tripoli and joins me now.

Nic, we have much ground to cover. So, let's begin. The ceasefire was announced by the foreign minister. But does it-from what you are hearing, is it actually holding or even taking place at all?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in the towns of Misrata and Ajdabiya it seems not. The reports that we're getting, the independent reports from the Ajdabiya, it seemed to indicate that there is still heavy fighting going on. That is what rebels are telling reporters there.

In Misrata, where we have not independent reporting there are members of the opposition who have told us that as many as 20 or more people have died in heavy fighting today. The government, they say, shelling them. There are fires and smoke all over the city. So, that doesn't reinforce, in any way, really, what the foreign minister has said. State television, on the other hand, is telling its viewers here that the government is abiding by a ceasefire and any other information is misinformation.

Misrata is just two to three hours drive from here, Richard. If the government wanted to it could arrange transportation for us to get there. Take a look at their cease fire that they say they are holding to. But so far that hasn't happened, Richard.

QUEST: All right. So, the U.N. resolution and the authorization of force in-to protect civilians, how is that being regarded, honestly, if you like, in Tripoli?

ROBERTSON: There are two ways that this is being regarded, principally. One is that the government is plucking from this resolution what it can to save face, if you will, publicly. Saying it supports it. Saying that it upholds the rights of civilians, although people will note what has happened in other battles here, in Zawiya, where civilians were the casualties. And saying that it upholds what the government has always said that the territorial integrity of this country is most important. The government has been saying that for the past few weeks.

But there are certainly elements within the government-we don't know what the army is thinking right now-that have objectives, military objectives on the ground, that they have been stopped short of taking. And the appearance on the ground is that the government is continuing to push ahead to try and achieve those particular objectives, perhaps before the international community can take any military action, Richard.

QUEST: You see now that really is what this is now about, isn't it, Nic? It is how much-how much of ground can be regained before the community gets its act together.

ROBERTSON: Well, it is very interesting because today we heard U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton say what she wants to see, and it is essentially the government rolled back, way back westward, away from the rebel stronghold in Benghazi. But the way the government will view the situation here, and has viewed it, is they saw a rebel stronghold in Benghazi. They saw the rebels then come out and then move further westwards, Ajdabiya, and then Ras Lanuf, Baraga, and Binjuwad (ph). All these towns, when the government, from its perspective has now rolled that rebel advance back. But now they are going to hear from the United States that what is expected is not just a cessation of military activities, not just respecting civilians' rights, but for the government to actually to wholeheartedly withdraw from areas even that they lost in the past few weeks to the rebels. That, I am absolutely sure we are gong to hear from the leadership here, it is going to be very, very hard for them to swallow, Richard.

QUEST: Nic Robertson, who joins me there from Tripoli tonight. Nic will be back as the events unfold. Essentially, of course, what we are now waiting for is President Obama at the White House, who is going to address Libya. And this is a live picture of the East Room where we are waiting for the president.

I don't think we are even a two minute warning for him to come out yet. So we probably have some time to go before we hear from Mr. Obama. You never know, you pays your money, you takes your choice.

While we wait for the president, let me show you how events in Libya reverberate through the oil markets. Brent crude is currently down about $1.40, $113.56, down from the sizable $143. It has been a volatile 24 hours for traders. In London trade, Brent was on course to hit a two and a half year high above $117. But as you can see, it is now back off the top.

To put all this into perspective and to get some real idea of where we may be headed, I spoke to the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick. We'll hear his thoughts on the situation in Libya in just a moment.

The World Bank, though, on Monday is preparing to hold a conference on this crisis. Talking to people and showing them how they can use social media and the like to aid in transparency and the reform of government. So, I asked the president, which direction this change in the Arab World is now going?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERT ZOELLICK, PRESIDENT, WORLD BANK: I think, as you properly say, Richard, there's a huge amount of uncertainty. And that's one reason we wanted to -- to sponsor this conference, to try to welcome some of the new voices -- women, some of the young people, some of the analysts, some of the activities.

And we're trying to really focus on two issues. One is this issue of social accountability, which we think will be important for any economic success. And how some of the new media that we saw trigger some of these events might be used in social accountability, which we've seen elsewhere around the world.

And the second is equal access to jobs.

But I think we're in a period where there's going to be high degrees of uncertainty. And, ultimately, that's going to be determined by the people in the region.

QUEST: The problem with teaching them or talking to them about this is that their experience of having started a revolution, partly by social media, but not seeing the full fruits of democracy or transition taking place gives them a slightly bitter taste.

ZOELLICK: Well, I think one of the opportunities here is to create a new social contract. In the field of economics, people have talked about public choice. And this is public choice in the streets.

And the question is, will these governance systems adapt?

Now, you know, we had tried to work, for example, in Egypt in putting in a Freedom of Information Act. And we'd gotten partly along the way. But that's a way where you open up a society, you allow the types of discord.

So these are issues beyond fighting corruption. They're beyond sort of overall improvement in governance to an inclusive have participatory system of -- of economic development.

And I think that's what the people are -- are crying out for...

QUEST: Well...

ZOELLICK: -- and I hope we can push it.

QUEST: But do you see that there is -- that the systems in countries like Egypt and certainly Bahrain today -- we can talk -- Libya, we can put to one side, bearing in mind what's happening.

But are the systems ready yet to -- to allow for what you're talking about?

ZOELLICK: Of course it varies by country. But the -- the general answer is not yet. And, of course, you've got some issues that you're going to have to deal with, such as rising food prices, which you and I have discussed, which I think is going to need to have focus on targeted safety nets so people can deal with the current expectations and get onto the later stages.

And then the huge issue is the youth bulge, trying to create jobs for a lot of these young people.

QUEST: Let's just briefly refer to Libya, if we may, because the situation there is dire, becoming worse in many ways.

From your perspective, how do you see this playing out?

ZOELLICK: Well, you know, it's too early to tell. I'm very glad that the UN actions have taken what they have. I don't know whether it will be in time. The type of things, as a development institution, we're trying to focus on is, you've had a large flight of people, including to places such as Tunisia and Egypt, that are already under stress. Some of them, in this case, and most of them are not from Libya, they're from other places.

So we're trying to actually support some of the UN agencies in bringing them back to Bangladesh and, for example, for some of the South Asians and giving them a -- a fair start.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

QUEST: We be returning to hear from President Robert Zoellick of the World Bank later in the program, to hear his thoughts on Japan's economy and the world's response to the disaster as it still unfolds over there.

The decision to impose a no-fly zone is proving to be somewhat of a hot topic for business and political leaders, essentially on the world of Twitter.

And, of course, as the U.S. Senator John McCain has "Tweeted From The Top" that, he says, "I applaud the U.N. Security Council for authorizing all necessary measures to impose a no-fly zone in Libya and protect civilians under attack."

John McCain, of course, a military man himself, and a very much decorated war veteran.

The business leader, Lord Allan Sugar wrote another view. He says, "Prime Minister Cameron of the U.K, and House of Commons, basically saying U.K. supports no-fly zone, but looks like we are ready to commit U.K. on forces." And this is, of course, the core bit of his view. "Here we go again."

Probably a clear reference to Iraq and Afghanistan.

And finally, the Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt has Tweeted. Now he is a very prolific Tweeter, is Minister Bildt. "Seems things are slowly moving in the right direction, on U.N. Libya, but stop Gadhafi only beginning. Building new Libya real challenge."

And that, of course is very much a reference to the rebuilding and construction that of course, had to take place in Iraq. What was seen as one of the failures of the invasion there.

And extraordinary rescue mission. The world's economic super powers have stepped in; they are driving down the rising yen. When we return we take a look at whether their action is working.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: The nuclear crisis in Japan has been raised by a notch. Japan's nuclear agency has lifted level of the crisis from level four to five. And that puts it on a par with the Three Mile Island in the United States, in 1979. On the scale up to seven, Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union rated seven.

Emergency crews have been battling to cool the four reactors and today they doused the spent fuel pool at reactor No. 3. Experts believe the gasses from this maybe releasing radiation into the atmosphere. Japan's nuclear agency has also raised the possibility of a Chernobyl solution. Burying the reactors in sand and concrete.

And the human cost, well, that gets higher. Nearly 7,000 people have been found dead. The number of missing tells its own story. More than 10,300 remain unaccounted for. And the prime minister has called the situation very grave.

NAOTO KAN, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We don't have any room to be pessimistic or to be dis-encouraged. We cannot do so. We are going to create Japan, once again, from scratch. That is the strong resolve that we all must share. He says, that he hopes that all of the Japanese people will face this challenge together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: While Japan deals with a nuclear crisis and the aftermath of the natural disaster, it is also getting help on another front and that is reigning in the currency. For the first time in more than a decade, the Group of 7, the G7, has been intervening in currency markets, to help slow the yen's rise.

Reports also suggest the bank of Japan alone has spent more than $25 billion, and buying dollars to push down the value of the yen. This is what is happening to the dollar/yen movement this week. And it is worth looking. You can see the yen's movement on the graph. It clearly shows, that is obviously inverted, as it goes down, that shows the yen actually rising in value. And then, of course, the intervention and that somewhat unwinds.

The point about this, the yen is rising very strongly because the theory is that people investors, and pension companies, insurance companies, will repatriate assets back into Japan and that, of course, will be a conversion back into yen.

We need to look at the different ramifications of all of this and the effects of the G7 decision. Jim Boulden is with me.

JIM BOULDEN, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

QUEST: Not just with the yen, but on the wider issues that are taking place.

BOULDEN: There are all these secondary affects when you have events like Japan and affects like the Middle East. And we thought we would look at some of that.

QUEST: Because you have to admit, Jim, it does at first blush seem very odd, doesn't it? That the yen should rise when traditionally you would have thought the country is in trouble. As you can see the country is in trouble, you would have thought the currency would collapse.

BOULDEN: But in Kobe we saw the yen rising 33 percent in three months after that earthquake. So we have that history of it as well. And then you have the secondary affects. And we thought we would look at some of these.

One of them is the VIX Index. This measures volatility in the markets. Usually the VIX index goes the opposite of stock markets. And it is about the perceived risks in stocks. And you can see exactly what has happened. It was going on a little bit on the Middle East and of course, then we see a real pick up because of not only Japan but also of Libya. And it has come off just a little bit, this volatility index, once we have the intervention of the G7. People trade off of the VIX and people look at the VIX very carefully to see if they think too much volatility in the markets. A lot of people, of course, you know stocks are going to go up or down. It is just the volatility that really upsets some of the market participants. So, you see here, coming down a lot.

Now, let's look at the-another secondary affect, I think is very interesting. Cancelled IPOs, now we have seen some companies, this week, say they will no longer go with IPOs. The biggest, ISS, out of Denmark. It has pulled its pulled its $2.8 billion float, because again, of the volatility. And also Lagardere decided to postpone its IPO of a 20 percent stake in Canal +, plus, Canal Plus in France.

Now let's look at another one. This hit a lot of debate in the markets. Will the rate decisions this year be affected by Japan? Of course, many people thought the ECB and the Bank of England would certainly raise interests rates this year, maybe as soon as April or May. Now a lot of talk in the markets, Richard, maybe those interest rate rises won't happen-not because inflation hasn't changed, but because too much volatility, and will we see a slow down in the economies because of Japan?

QUEST: And I just re-fixed my mortgage, instead of-

(LAUGHTER)

QUEST: Just last week, instead of going to the standard rate.

BOULDEN: Yes, well, a lot of people got caught last week when it comes to oil, currencies, everyone got caught off guard.

QUEST: Yes. All right. Jim Boulden, many thanks indeed. Thank you.

Now, we are now within the two minute warning for the president of the United States, President Obama; who will be speaking. He is going to give a statement on the situation in Libya.

(BEGIN LIVE FEED, IN PROGRESS)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to take this opportunity to update the American people about the situation in Libya.

Over the last several weeks the world has watched events unfold in Libya with hope and alarm. Last month protestors took to the streets across the country to demand their universal rights, and a government that is accountable to them, and responsive to their aspirations. But they were met with an iron fist. Within days whole parts of the country declared their independence from a brutal regime. And members of the government serving in Libya and abroad choose to align themselves with the forces of change.

Moammar Gadhafi clearly lost the confidence of his own people and the legitimacy to lead. Instead of respecting the rights of his own people, Gadhafi choose the path of brutal suppression. Innocent civilians were beaten, imprisoned and in some cases, killed. Peaceful protests were forcefully put down. Hospitals were attacked and patients disappeared. A campaign of intimidation and repression began.

In the face of this injustice the United States and the international community moved swiftly. Sanctions were put in place by the United States and our allies and partners. The U.N. security council imposed further sanctions, an arms embargo, and the specter of international accountability for Gadhafi and those around him. Humanitarian assistance was positioned on Libya's borders and those displaced by the violence received our help.

Ample warning was given that Gadhafi needed to stop his campaign of repression or be held accountable. The Arab League and the European Union joined us in calling for an end to violence. Once again, Gadhafi chose to ignore the will of his people and the international community. Instead he launched a military campaign against his own people. And there should be no doubt about his intentions, because he, himself, has made them clear.

For decades he has demonstrated a willingness to use brute force through his sponsorship of terrorism against the American people, as well as others. And through the killings that he has carried out within his own borders. And just yesterday, speaking of the city of Benghazi, a city of roughly 700,000 people, he threatened, and I quote, "We will have no mercy and no pity." No mercy on his own citizens?

Here is why this matters to us. Left unchecked we have every reason to believe that Gadhafi would commit atrocities against his people. Many thousands could die. A humanitarian crisis would ensue. The entire region could be destabilized, endangering many of our allies and partners. The calls of the Libyan people, for help, would go unanswered. The democratic values that we stand for would be overrun. Moreover the words of the international community would be rendered hollow.

That is why the United States has worked with our allies and partners to shape a strong international response at the United Nations. Our focus has been clear. Protecting innocent civilians within Libya and holding the Gadhafi regime accountable. Yesterday, in a response to a call for action by the Libyan people and the Arab League, the U.N. Security Council passed a strong resolution that demands an end to the violence against citizens. It authorizes the use of force with an explicit commitment to pursue all necessary measures to stop the killing. To include the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya.

It also strengthens our sanctions and the enforcement of an arms embargo against the Gadhafi regime. Now, once more, Moammar Gadhafi has a choice. The resolution that passed lays out very clear conditions that must be met. The United States, the United Kingdom, France and Arab states, agree that a cease fire must be implemented immediately. That means all attacks against civilians must stop. Gadhafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi, pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misrata, and Zawiya, and establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya.

Let me be clear. These terms are not negotiable. These terms are not subject to negotiation. If Gadhafi does not comply with the resolution the international community will impose consequences. And the resolution will be enforced through military action.

In this effort the United States is prepared to act as part of an international coalition. American leadership is essential but that does not mean acting alone. It means shaping the conditions for the international community to act together.

That is why I have directed Secretary Gates and our military to coordinate their planning; and tomorrow, Secretary Clinton will travel to Paris for a meeting with our European allies and our partners about the enforcement of Resolution 1973. We will provide the unique capabilities that we can bring to bear to stop the violence against civilians. Including enabling our European allies and Arab partners to effectively enforce a no-fly zone. I have no doubt that the men and women of our military are capable of carrying out this mission.

Once more they have the thanks for a grateful nation and the admiration of the world. I also want to be clear about what we will not be doing. The United States is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya. And we are not going to use force to go beyond a well-defined goal. Specifically the protection of civilians in Libya. In the coming weeks we will continue to help the Libyan people with humanitarian and economic assistance, so that they can fulfill their aspirations peacefully.

The United States did not seek this outcome. Our decisions have been driven by Gadhafi's refusal to respect the rights of his people and the potential for mass murder of innocent civilians. It is not an action that we will pursue alone. Indeed, our British and French allies, and members of the Arab League, have already committed to take a leadership role in the enforcement of this resolution, just as they were instrumental in pursuing it. We are coordinating closely with them. And this is precisely how the international community should work, as more nations bear both the responsibility and the cost of enforcing international law.

This is just one more chapter in the change that is unfolding across the Middle East and North Africa. From the beginning of these protests we made it clear that we are opposed to violence. We made clear our support for a set of universal values and our support for the political and economic change that the people of the region deserve.

But I want to be clear, the change in the region will not and cannot be imposed by the United States or any foreign power. Ultimately, it will be driven by the people of the Arab world. It is their right and their responsibility to determine their own destiny.

Let me close by saying that there is no decision I face as your commander-in-chief that I consider as carefully as the decision to ask our men and women to use military force, particularly at a time when our military is fighting in Afghanistan and winding down our activities in Iraq, that decision is only made more difficult.

But the United States of America will not stand idly by in the face of actions that undermine global peace and security. So I've taken this decides with the confidence that action is necessary and that we will not be acting alone. Our goal is focused, our cause is just and our coalition is strong.

Thank you very much.

QUEST: An extremely serious speech by the president of the United States, President Barack Obama, setting out the terms which he said were non-negotiable -- a cease-fire immediately, stop advancing troops and to pull them back from where they are and humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people in need, referring to Moammar Gadhafi and Libya.

And then saying that if this was not allowed to take place, under the U.N. Resolution 1973, that the international community, specifically, in this case, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and some members of the Arab League, would impose consequences. They would "resolutely enforce using military action," said President Obama.

And putting it into the U.S. domestic terms, he went on to say that the leadership demanded this from the United States but that they would -- that they would not be deploying ground troops.

Even so, tonight we had the call there from President Obama that military action is now on the cards and it will be led by the United States.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy will hold a high level meeting tomorrow on the cease-fire. President Obama says that Hillary Clinton will be going to Paris to take part in those talks.

Our correspondent, Jim Bittermann, joins me now.

He is live for us tonight in Paris and was listening to President Obama with us.

No -- no equivocation there, was there?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not at all, Richard and I feel -- I have a feeling this meeting tomorrow is going to be the last kind of political/diplomatic discussion before the military takes over. That was kind of what we heard today -- a hint at that, anyway, when we heard from Alain Juppe, how is the French foreign minister, as he came out of a meeting in the prime minister's office here, where they were discussing the military plans along with the members of the national assembly.

Juppe said as he came out: "Everything is in readiness."

That meeting tomorrow here, with President Sarkozy at the helm, but also some of the other people that you've talked about, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also, Ban Ki-moon is coming from the United Nations and the secretary-general of the Arab League. Quite a high level meeting.

The idea that Gadhafi might install or might instigate a cease-fire just is not being taken very seriously here. At the French foreign ministry this afternoon, the spokesman said basically it doesn't change a thing.

And as far as that promise of a cease-fire, one of the things that we're hearing from some Mideast experts is that, in fact, may be Gadhafi's plan in the first place, in the sense that going into Benghazi, which is where the rebels are holed up, may have just been too difficult for him to pull off. And he has everything he needs. He has all the resources he needs to maintain his control over the country. And he doesn't have those rebellious Benghazians giving him trouble. That's at least what we heard from a gentleman from the London School of Economics, a real Middle East expert, Fawaz Gerges, earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAWAZ GERGES, PROFESSOR, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Does Gadhafi care about Benghazi?

No, he does not. He has the money. He has resources. He has the population. And he has oil.

The question is, in the short-term and the mid-term, he will survive?

I doubt whether he will survive in the long-term, because the noose is tightening against his neck.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BITTERMANN: And, Richard, I guess what Mr. Gerges said in -- in -- in summary is pretty interesting, as well, and that is basically that if the goal of this military option in supporting the rebels -- is to support the rebels, that is likely achievable. However, if it's to overthrow Gadhafi, that may be something else again -- Richard.

QUEST: Jim, on that question, the -- the president was -- was really -- he -- reading between the lines, when he says we will -- we are not going to deeply ground troops, this is a carefully targeted mission, the force has got a fairly -- a very straightforward goal, that is basically saying, is it not, in support of 1973, that regime change is not on the agenda or part of any military mission?

Or do you think regime change becomes part of it?

BITTERMANN: Well, I think, as we saw in the case of Iraq earlier, not the last Iraq War, but the previous Iraq War, that regime change didn't come about automatically when the bombing started. So I don't think it's necessarily true that just by an aerial campaign, you're going to be able to so intimidate Moammar Gadhafi that he's going to step down from power or in any way inhabit his way -- his ability to act.

So that -- I think if it's regime change you're talking about, a lot of experts will tell you that you're not going to be able to do that unless you do employ ground troops. And everybody says, including the French, by the way, that ground troops are not in the card -- Richard.

QUEST: Jim Bittermann, who is in Paris tonight.

And Jim will obviously be watching those meetings taking place, as Hillary Clinton, the UN secretary-general and others all meet in Paris to start working on the reflections, if you like, the ground rules and maybe the last political gestures before military action.

Jim, many thanks.

Now, as we come back in just a moment, it's only natural given the images we're seeing every day in Japan to want to help, even if that means interfering with the workings of the currency markets. In a moment, you'll hear what the president of the World Bank says on whether the G-7 did the right thing to get involved.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: So the other main story, of course, is the Japan and the economic implications of what's been taking place.

QUEST: Let's now return to the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick.

In our discussion earlier today, we talked about how Japan's economy can weather this disaster.

And I asked President Zoellick whether it was right for the G-7 to intervene to weaken the yen against the dollar.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZOELLICK: I was on the phone call with the -- with the G-7 finance ministers. And the Japanese reported that some of the things that you see in the papers, that people are going to have to sell their securities overseas and then come back and bring back yen, which would increase the value of the yen really aren't necessary for the insurance companies and others.

So you're getting a market reaction. And what the purpose of that is to demonstrate is that the Japanese government, backed by other governments, are going to try to deal with the currency if they think that it is fundamentally dislocated because of immediate events.

QUEST: So -- so you agree with the short-term policy of intervention for the purposes of getting rid of that dislocation and volatility?

ZOELLICK: Yes. And, indeed, it fits one of the points I've been making. This shows the G-7 being able to have a flexible exchange rate system, but then they do intervene to act, to act in a coordinated and cooperative fashion.

So in that sense, it's a good statement about the monetary system, too.

QUEST: Do you -- finally, do you have worries that the Japan situation has any meaningful effect on global economic growth in the developed world?

ZOELLICK: Look, it's my job. I'm paid to try to worry about contingencies. I think right now, I think this is a manageable aspect, but it goes to some of those uncertainties that we talked about, particularly related to supply chain and related to the overall effect of -- of the nuclear radiation.

But I -- I think that under the standard issues, you would see a slowdown and then you'd see an investment recovery. And, you know, the Japanese people have certainly shown the fortitude to be able to scrabble back. And they are definitely -- got the resources to be able to do that.

QUEST: I -- I make an apology for my last question, because it's the -- it's the travel devil in the deep blue sea type.

If you take, on the one hand, Japan, the tsunami, the earthquake and the nuclear issue, and, on the other hand, the Middle East unrest and the potential for that escalation with Libya, which gives you most cause for concern?

ZOELLICK: I look across things as a portfolio. So they all had -- they all interact to me. I'm also watching the rising food prices and some of those challenges. I'm worried that in some of the developing world you've had good growth and now they're going to have to level off.

So I'm afraid, you know, part of my job is to try to see the interactions, try to anticipate them and try to position to help address them and also find the consecutive parts where we can make something better out of this.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

QUEST: That's the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, talking to me earlier.

It's been a week of wintry weather and bitter cold temperatures in parts of coastal Japan. And now, though, of course, a new concern, which is flooding.

Pedram Javaheri joining me now from the World Weather Center.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST:

Yes, Richard, it's going to be tough as the week gets out there around parts of Japan. And you just take a look at the graphic here depicting nearly 550 aftershocks in the past seven days in and around the region just offshore there, in the northeastern portions of Japan.

If you tabulate the numbers, you can see where we are on the scale of, say, 4 to 4.9, 5 to 5.9 being the bulk of them. And, again, approaching some 550 aftershocks.

And if you recall, we've talked about how Japan now has been observed that it's moved some 2.5 meters or so to the east because of the large magnitude associated with this quake.

And some of the coastal regions have now sunk. We know the elevation has changed a little bit along the coastal regions, so the tides are running a little higher and tides are running a little farther inland. So that's affecting some of those coastal communities as the elevation has changed with the -- with this quake.

So the Japanese Meteorological Agency there has issued a tidal surge advisory right along the coast for those low-lying areas.

And you put this together, we know this week we have a spring tide taking place. That's where we have the sun, the earth and the moon in alignment. When this happens, we get the highest tides right along those coastal regions, during a full moon and during a new moon.

Now, of course, this 19th here on Saturday, we are going to experience a full moon around the world. And when this happens, we're going to see the earth at its closest approach since 1993 to the earth.

So astronomically higher tides are expected with this extreme full moon that we're going to experience. So that's certainly worth nothing here as we go on in the next couple of days, as the weather pattern has improved, at least, for Saturday. But it looks like, Richard, the tides are going go be increasing as we head on into Sunday before yet another storm system comes their way early next week -- Richard.

QUEST: Pedram, many thanks.

JAVAHERI: OK.

QUEST: And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight, and, indeed, for this week.

I'm Richard Quest in London.

MARKETPLACE AFRICA is next.

And I'll see you on Monday.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBYN CURNOW, HOST: Hello and welcome to MARKETPLACE AFRICA.

I'm Robyn Curnow here in Johannesburg city center.

Now, about a 15 minute drive away from here is the township of Alexandra. It's a pretty notorious neighborhood that's sometimes known for all the wrong reasons. It's not an obvious place to find business opportunity.

But one entrepreneurship is trying to change all of that. She's trying to give women a chance in a typically male-dominated industry.

Here's an In Focus look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW (voice-over): Down Twelfth Avenue, past the overflowing drains, deep in Alexandra Township, is Joy Maloi's plumbing business.

JOY MALOI, FOUNDER, MALOI PLUMBERS: Good morning.

Maloi Plumbers.

How can I help you?

CURNOW: Plumbing was not her dream job. Instead, Joy Maloi yearned to be a travel agent.

J. MALOI: If you say plumbing, people just think of (EXPLETIVE LANGUAGE), you know?

So you just have to (EXPLETIVE LANGUAGE) deal with it.

CURNOW: But when her parents died, leaving her responsible for her younger siblings, Maloi took control of the struggling family business.

J. MALOI: Your (INAUDIBLE) is too full.

CURNOW: Nowadays, younger sister Petunia (ph) is running this project in a local hostel. Their brother manages others. All the Maloi get their hands dirty, but Joy says the real messy business is sorting out the administrative responsibilities.

J. MALOI: The company was so poorly managed, I couldn't go in -- on site and do the physical stuff of which I was trying to formally, you know, know that the books are in order, you know, that -- just on the business side of it, to -- to see are we -- is the business worth it, to save?

Because my dad was like a (INAUDIBLE) person, you know?

They never knew about how to run a business so that I have money, I can school my kids, I can clothe my kids.

CURNOW: She says she hires 10 plumbers, two of whom are women, to service the pipes of Alexandra.

(on camera): So the thing about this area is that there are a lot of people sort of jammed into quite a small area, aren't there?

J. MALOI: Yes, there is. I mean in this yard, we have 10 families. And then in each family, you get like seven to 10 people staying in their house. And then with the two toilets that we use, you must know we have kids...

CURNOW: All in one yard?

J. MALOI: For all -- yes, for everybody in this yard.

CURNOW (voice-over): She says the more people move into the area, the more makeshift their plumbing solutions become.

J. MALOI: Surely you can see that not a professional would do something like this. You know, pipes are exposed, that's number one. So a plumber will not leave the pipes exposed like this. So people try to make their life much easier. And whatever material they can get, you know, they can just come out and (INAUDIBLE) and do everything.

CURNOW (voice-over): Being a longstanding part of a community is one of the strengths of Maloi's business. The local municipality often hires them to unblock pipes and maintain the water system, as well as upgrade rundown buildings like this one.

PETUNIA MALOI: So we strip down that...

CURNOW: Joy Maloi's sister Petunia tells me...

P. MALOI: The toilet -- the toilet is the same. We just take out the seven toilets. Take out the seven toilets, install piping in between the passage and install new toilets.

CURNOW: Other jobs, though, are smaller and less profitable.

(on camera): Do you find yourself under charging because you feel sorry for -- for the people around here?

J. MALOI: In Alexandra, most of the time we try not to charge like the call out fees. And if -- if it's something that -- if it's an expense that we can work around with, you know, if maybe in a normal household you'll need two plumbers to fix that problem and it will take 30 minutes.

So in Alexandra, we'll have at least one plumber. Then it's a longer time. But we know that, you know, another plumber can do something else somewhere else that can actually compromise that loss.

CURNOW (voice-over): Maloi Plumbers makes about $14,000 a month. Half of that goes to salaries. Even though none of her plumbers are fully qualified, she says she wins enough business because her people have experience and they ask for help if they need it.

J. MALOI: So we try to work with other plumbers, qualified plumbers. They are very scarce, qualified plumbers.

CURNOW: South Africa's plumbing industry is unregulated. No one knows how many people, qualified or unqualified, are working as plumbers. There's even less information on how many women are in the business.

J. MALOI: Well, you do get people who will say, you know, like, who do you think you are, you know, because now you can join a -- a pipe or fix a toilet?

Do you think you're a man, you know, something like that. But you just -- you just brush those things off. You know, you -- we're not here to cause trouble.

It's a copper fitting. This is used for hot water but these are like our daily -- every day.

CURNOW: Surrounded by her pipes and spare parts, Joy Maloi says business remains precarious but that she's trying her hardest.

J. MALOI: For a normal person who has no clue of why is this water coming here...

CURNOW: (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO TAPE)

CURNOW: OK. Let's take a look at some more numbers.

Now, to become a plumber here in South Africa, you need to work as an apprentice for five years. You need to take a three month course at an accredited college. That all costs more than $4,000 U.S.

And coming up after the break, we meet the former president of Ghana. He tells us about his role in Ghana's economic transformation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CURNOW: You're watching MARKETPLACE AFRICA.

Now, our guest on Face Time this week is the former president of Ghana, John Kufuor. He stepped down in 2009 after losing the election.

Now, after two terms in office, he says his administration helped to quadruple Ghana's gross domestic product.

Well, he sat down with Max Foster in London recently to talk about his legacy in helping to transform Ghana into one of Africa's success stories.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Ghana is seen as a real champion...

JOHN KUFUOR, FORMER PRESIDENT OF GHANA: Yes.

FOSTER: -- economically speaking...

KUFUOR: Yes.

FOSTER: -- in Africa. And there are economists that say that's where you need to invest if you're going to invest in Africa.

KUFUOR: True. True.

FOSTER: So this year, it is one of the great hot places to invest in.

KUFUOR: Surely.

FOSTER: An incredible turnaround and the Western governments that you were going to for help earlier on are going through similar things themselves right now, aren't they?

KUFUOR: Well, I will leave that to them to (INAUDIBLE)...

FOSTER: Are you being asked for your advice on how to deal with...

KUFUOR: Well, it would be OK to write me. I -- I might avail them of how we managed the Ghana situation.

FOSTER: But it's an ironic situation, isn't it, that they're now going through?

KUFUOR: Which shows how uniform things could be among nations.

FOSTER: And do you think now that Ghana and sort of had a taste of a stable, growing economy, that things won't go back to how they used to be, they will respect transparency, they will respect (INAUDIBLE)...

KUFUOR: Well, I believe these things you're talking about are becoming more and more global. Everywhere, people want to be included in governance. And people have found their voices. People's power is becoming a reality. And I just hope that Ghanaians would -- would cherish these rights to keep their government -- successive governments on their toes so we then will continue to enjoy sustained good governance.

I have always believed that for development, there should be a partnership between the public and private sectors. In fact, the public sector should be the infrastructure for the private sector. Because the slogan has been the private sector is the engine of growth. Well, the pri -- private sector is not growing.

How, then, will have general growth in the economy for the people (INAUDIBLE)?

One of the slogans we used in coming to power that our government would usher in the golden age of business in Ghana, indicating clearly that to us, the private sector was the -- the touchstone for the country to move ahead.

And so we needed to get the private sector to access credit. And on that basis, there would be investments with good management. There would be wealth that would be generated to fight the poverty we were suffering. You know, we -- we fight poverty with wealth creation. Otherwise, it's charity. And that's not what we came into government for.

FOSTER: Some people suggest that you could become a victim of your own success, because Ghana is a really hot place to invest right now.

KUFUOR: Yes.

FOSTER: And there's concern that Western investors may pile money in and make a quick buck and then pull the money out.

Is that something you're concerned about?

KUFUOR: Good governance is the main thing. It would be the main thing. Good governance but a good legal framework, which would generate a business-friendly atmosphere. If the investor comes to find it's a safe place for the investments, find that the infrastructure is in place for business to grow, finds the social atmosphere such that the personnel that were coming would not feel endangered.

And in Ghana, people walk around so freely. They won't pull out easily, especially where, again, Ghana is so situated geographically -- six hours and you are in London, you are in Paris, you are in Berlin, you are in the Middle East, the United States, New York, eight hours or so you are there. Accessibility is so easy. I -- I don't know who would want to just come and make a quick buck and run away, that's because -- you don't feel threatened at all.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

CURNOW: Former Ghanaian president there, John Kufuor, selling Ghana as an investment location.

Now, here's what's trending this week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW (voice-over): Newly released numbers are pointing to a continued trend of diminishing gold output in South Africa. Gold production fell 6.4 percent last year. South Africa was the world's largest gold producer for much of the past 100 years, until 2006.

Then, production began to fall when safety-related limitations forced companies to mine at deeper levels. The drop also coincided with a rise in production in China and Australia.

Also trending, nearby oil discoveries have prompted Cameron and Nigeria to cooperate in the search for their own oil. The two countries have agreed to share reserves found in the Bakassi Peninsula. Rebel attacks there have made exploration difficult, but oil finds in the Gulf of Guinea have suggested at the potential of the Bakassi Region.

Nigeria is recommending the oil exploration is done by Chinese-owned Addax Petroleum.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

CURNOW: Well, that's it for this week's show. I'm Robyn Curnow here in Johannesburg.

Please do go to our Web site, which is CNN.com/marketplaceafrica.

All of our interviews and stories are online, as well as my Twitter address.

And until next week, good-bye.

END