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China has agreed to restructure some of Ethiopia’s loans, including a loan for a four billion dollars railway linking its capital Addis Ababa with neighbouring Djibouti, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Thursday.
 
“`During our stay, we had the opportunity to enact limited restructuring of some of our loans.
 
“In particular, the loan for the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway which was meant to be paid over 10 years has now been extended to 30 years.
 
“Its maturity period has also been extended,” Ahmed told newsmen in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, upon return from a summit in China.
 
President Xi Jinping announced 60 billion dollars in aid and loans for Africa on Monday while hosting more than 40 of the continent’s leaders in Beijing, saying that the money came with no expectation of anything in return.
 
Beijing pushed back on criticism that it was shackling poorer countries with heavy debt burdens they will struggle to pay back, portraying the Chinese government as a magnanimous one motivated only to share its experience of rapid industrialization.
 
“China’s investment in Africa does not come with any political conditions attached and will neither interfere in internal politics nor make demands that people feel are difficult to fulfill,” Xi said during a keynote address to the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation on Monday.
 
Zi said the money will be focused on infrastructure to help speed African countries’ development, not on “vanity projects.”
 
The package outlined by Xi also includes medical aid, environmental protection, agricultural training and assistance, and government scholarships and vocational training for more than 100,000 young Africans.
 
At the last forum, held in Johannesburg three years ago, Xi also pledged $60 billion in investment.
 
He said Monday that this money had already been granted or earmarked, so the latest announcement represented a second round of 60 billion dollars.
 
The program is part of Xi’s broader Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious $120-billion-plus project that aims to link 65 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa — together accounting for almost two-thirds of the world’s population — through infrastructure projects and trade.
 
At a time when President Trump is engaged in trade fights with the United States’ neighbors and allies, the Chinese leader seems to relish the opportunity to appear as a popular international statesman and champion of the liberal economic order.
 
For two days in a row, every headline on the front page of the state-run People’s Daily started with the words “Xi Jinping,” as the president met with the leaders of Angola, Gabon, Mauritius, Senegal and elsewhere.
 
He also hosted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has been charged by the International Criminal Court with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
 
Analysts have raised concerns about African countries, many of which are subject to the whims of commodity markets, not being able to repay Chinese loans.
 
The three countries most vulnerable because of large debts owed to China are Djibouti, Congo and Zambia, say academics at the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University.
 
Zambia, which has a gross domestic product of 19.5 billion dollars, according to the World Bank, had taken about 6.4 billion dollars in loans from China, the researchers wrote in a briefing paper last month.
 
But Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who chairs the African Union, said that rather than viewing the investment as a “debt trap,” other countries should be asking why they’re not giving Africa as much assistance as China.
 
“We have benefited a lot from China’s support in our social and economic programs, and that has continued to strengthen the partnership between China and Rwanda,” Kagame told the People’s Daily.

The Statistician-General of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Yemi Kale, said the Nigerian economy could be regarded as a diversified economy based on the Q2 2018 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures released recently.

Kale made this disclosure while answering questions on the effectiveness of the Federal Government’s diversification policy in a tweet chat on Thursday.

The NBS boss said the services sector grew by over 50 percent in the second quarter of the year, adding that the performance was the first since the 2016 economic recession.

According to him, the 1.50 percent real GDP growth recorded in Q2 was largely driven by the services sector.

“The best assessment of any plan or policy of government is to look at the underlying statistics. If you look at the GDP numbers for Q2 2018 published early this week by our Office, you will observe that the economy is quite diversified.

“The services sector accounts for over 50% of our economy, and for the first time since the recession, the services sector posted positive numbers and was mainly responsible for the growth recorded during the quarter,” Kale said.

He, however, said the benefits of diversified growth would become more evident and impacting on the citizenry if the government could provide incentives to support domestic production and stimulate consumption.

The NBS had released the GDP report for Q2 2018 on Monday, the report noted that the rate at which the Nigerian economy grew in the quarter slowed to 1.50 percent when compare with 1.95 percent recorded in the previous quarter.

Despite the sluggish growth, the non-oil sector of the economy grew by 2.05 percent from 0.76 percent in Q1 2018, while the oil sector contracted by -3.95 percent from 14.77 percent in Q1 2018.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Undo Udoma, had said the growth in the non-oil sector was an evidence that the implementation of the targeted policies and programs of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) by the Federal Government was yielding positive results.

The ERGP is a four-year medium term strategic blueprint of the Federal Government aimed at diversifying the economy away from dependence on the oil and gas sector.

The plan covers 2017 to 2020 and focuses on human capital investment, restoration of economic growth, and building a competitive economy.

The Ripples

The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has reported that for the first time since Nigeria’s exit from recession, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has recorded growth.
 
Driven by the non-oil sector, GDP which grew by 2.05 per cent in the second quarters of 2018 represented the strongest growth in non-oil GDP since fourth quarter of 2015.
 
“Non-oil GDP growth was -0.18% in Q1 2016, -0.38% in Q2 2016, 0.03% in Q3 2016, -0.33% in Q4 2016, 0.72% in Q1 2017, 0.45% in Q2 2017, -0.76% in Q3 2017, 1.45% in Q4 2017and 0.76% Q1 2018.
 
“GDP grew strongly in Q2 2018 by 2.05%. Non-oil growth was driven by transportation which grew by 21.76% supported by growth in construction which grew by 7.66% and electricity which grew by 7.59%.
 
“Other non-oil sectors that drove growth in Q2 2018 include telecommunication which grew by 11.51%, water supply and sewage which grew by 11.98% and broadcasting which grew by 21.92%.’’
 
The non-oil sector performance was however constrained by agriculture that grew by 1.3% compared to 3.00% in Q1 2018 and 3.01% in Q2 2017.
 
Q2 2018 GDP growth was also constrained by oil GDP with crude oil and gas production contracting by -3.95% compared to 14.77% in Q1 2018 and 3.53% in Q2 2017
 
Services GDP recorded its best performance in 9 quarters, growing by 2.12% in Q2 2018 compared to -0.47% in Q1 2018 and -0.85% in Q2 2017.
 
Statistician General and Chief Executive Officer of National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Dr. Yemi Kale, last week denied reports quoting that Nigerian economy had yet to recover from recession.
 
Kale categorically said that Nigeria was out of recession and that at no time did he suggest otherwise.
 
His denial was contained in a statement released on Monday by the Bureau’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. J. Ichedi.
 
NBS said that it reported in the second quarter of 2017 that the country was out of recession as the country recorded the first positive growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) following five quarters of contradiction.
 
He said that economic growth as measured by GDP has remained positive ever since with 0.72% in second quarter of 2017; 1.17% in third quarter of 2017; 2.11% in fourth quarter; and 1.95% in first quarter of 2018.
 
Ichedi said that NBS had continued to explain that there would be economic recovery after the recession.
 
The economic after recession moves gradually towards sustainable strong growth which “is the stage we are now’’.
 
This is the position which the CEO told Arise Television in an interview, he said.
 
The CEO, he said, told the television that the economy was in the second state of recovery and heading toward sustainable growth which is the last stage’’.
 
“This should not be wrongly interpreted as the economy is still in recession,’’ Ichedi said.
 
According to a report by a local newspaper on Monday, the Statistician-General was quoted to have lamented the performance of the nation’s economy in the second quarter of the year.
 
 
Source: NAN
Indications have emerged that the nation may soon begin to earn less from crude oil as the monthly volume of Nigerian oil imports into the United States dropped to 2.89 million barrels in May, the lowest since February 2016.
 
Crude oil accounts for over 70 percent of the Nigeria’s revenue and more than 95 percent of its foreign exchange earnings, while the United States (U.S) was the country’s fourth largest export destination, according to a recent Foreign Trade Statistics by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
 
The latest data obtained by our correspondent from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) during the weekend showed that the United States reduced its importation of Nigerian crude oil by 62.65 percent from 7.75 million barrels recorded in April.
 
Nigeria may start earning less as U.S slashes oil importation by 62%
 
The depreciation in the demand of the commodity, which was the largest monthly decline in more than three years, was occasioned by the increase in the production of the U.S crude.
 
Read Also: Nigeria earns $26bn from oil in 7 months as oil prices rise
 
An analysis of the data from the statistical arm of the U.S Energy Department revealed that, the country imported 10.03 million barrels of Nigerian crude in January.
 
It, however, reduced the importation of the commodity for the first time this year from 10.34 million barrels in February to 3.92 barrels in March, indicating 62.08 percent drop. In April, 2018, the U.S bought 7.7 million barrels of the commodity.
 
Within the first five months of 2018, the total Nigerian crude imports by the U.S stood at 34.93 million barrels, this is over 20 percent drop from 43.83 million barrels imported in the corresponding period last year.
 
The U.S crude imports from Nigeria was on a steady decline since it peaked 368.42 million barrels in 2010, it fell to 21.46 million barrels in 2014 and 19.86 million barrels in 2015 following the drop in the prices of crude oil in the international market.
 
However, the oil imports rose to 75.81 million barrels in 2016 and further increased to 112.92 million barrels in 2017.
 
But since crude oil production in the U.S began to boom in recent months, reaching 10.9 million barrels per day (mbpd) in June and 11 mbpd two weeks ago from 2.33 mbpd in April, the country has continued reduce its crude importation.
 
The EIA had reported last week that the U.S net import of the commodity fell by 1.05 mbpd to an average of 6.36 mbpd, with 10.7 mbpd and 1.7 mbpd as projections for the country’s crude oil production for 2018 and 2019, respectively.
 
 
Ripples news.
 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday signed an Instrument of Accession to the International Cocoa Agreement (ICA), 2010.

The pact was the seventh ICA adopted at the United Nations Cocoa Conference in 2010 following the contribution of ICA, 1972, 1975, 1980, 1986, 1993 and ICA, 2001 to the development of the world cocoa economy.

The ICA, 2010 was administered by the International Cocoa Organization, which was established by the ICA, 1972 and functions through the International Cocoa Council, the highest authority of the organization.

A statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, said that decision followed the approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for Nigeria to accede to the agreement.

Following the execution of the instrument of accession, Nigeria undertakes “faithfully to abide by all the stipulations therein contained” in the agreement, according to the statement.

“Among other benefits, the agreement is expected to strengthen cooperation between exporting and importing member countries; improve their cocoa economies through active and better focused project development and strategies for capacity-building,” the statement read.

It is also expected to build on the successes of the 2001 Agreement by “implementing measures leading to an increase in the income of cocoa farmers and by supporting cocoa producers in improving the functioning of their cocoa economies.”

The statement added that the 2010 agreement would also “deliver cocoa of better quality, take effective account of food-safety issues and help establish social, economic and environmental sustainability, so that farmers are rewarded for producing cocoa that meets ethical and environmental considerations.”

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the ICA, 2010 was agreed with a view to strengthening the global cocoa sector, supporting its sustainable development and increasing the benefits to all stakeholders.

It highlighted eleven objectives as rationales for the pact, they comprise to; promote international cooperation in the world cocoa economy; provide an appropriate framework for discussion on all cocoa matters among governments, and with the private sector; contribute to the strengthening of the national cocoa economies of Member countries; obtain fair prices leading to equitable economic returns to both producers and consumers in the cocoa value chain.

The objectives also include to; promote a sustainable cocoa economy; encourage research and the implementation of its findings; promote transparency in the world cocoa economy, and in particular in the cocoa trade, as well as to promote the elimination of trade barriers; promote and to encourage; consumption of chocolate and cocoa-based products in order to increase demand for cocoa.

Others include to; encourage Members to promote cocoa quality and to develop appropriate food safety procedures in the cocoa sector; encourage Members to develop and implement strategies to enhance the capacity of local communities and small-scale farmers to benefit from cocoa production and thereby contribute to poverty alleviation; facilitate the availability of information on financial tools and services that can assist cocoa producers, including access to credit and approaches to managing risk.

Currently, Nigeria rely on crude oil as its major source of revenue, accounting for about 70 percent of its total revenue and over 90 percent for its export earnings. The nation’s economy recorded its worst decline since 1987 in 2016 on the back of drop in the prices of crude oil in the international market in 2014.

Nigeria recorded five consecutive negative Gross Domestic Product growth rates from -0.67 percent in Q1 2016 to -0.91 percent in Q1 2017. It officially emerged from recession in Q3 2017 after two consecutive positive GDP growth. A development which had prompted the Federal Government to devise other means to diversify the economy away from oil into solid minerals, agriculture, among others to forestall a recurrence of the 2016 economic distress.

With the latest agreement, Nigeria is now a cocoa exporting member of the International Cocoa Organization and the International Cocoa Council, implying cocoa could become another alternative source of revenue generation and foreign exchange earnings as global organizations renewed their efforts to develop the cocoa sector.

Nigeria’s revenue from oil export hit an estimated $26 billion between January and July this year as the price of global oil benchmark, Brent crude, rose to the highest level in two weeks on Wednesday.

According to the new OPEC Revenues Fact Sheet recently released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), revenue from oil export rose by 30 percent to $34 billion in 2017 from $26 billion in 2016.

The oil price appreciation followed a sharp drop in the United States crude inventories and the country’s sanctions on Iran, the third-largest producer in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), causing tighter supply of the commodity.

The price of Brent crude, against which Nigeria’s oil is priced, rose by $1.38 to $74.19 per barrel, the highest since August 8, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) gained $1.28 to $67.12 per barrel.

Nigerian economy was battered due to the fall in the prices of crude oil in the international market in 2014, at the end of 2017, a development which led the country into its worst economy crisis since 1987 in 2016.

However, the country officially emerged from recession in Q3 2017 after two consecutive positive GDP growth. The economy shock occasioned by the drop in crude price prompted the Federal Government to devise other means to diversify the economy away from oil into solid minerals, agriculture, among others to forestall a recurrence of the 2016 economic distress.

But while the Mining and Quarry sector of the economy grew by 14.85 percent (year-on-year) in Q1 2018, 30.25 percentage points and 4.14 percentage points higher than the same quarter of 2017 and Q4 2017, the agriculture sector grew by 3.00 percent (year-on-year) in real terms in the review quarter, a decrease by 0.38 percentage points from the corresponding period of 2017 also a decrease by 1.23 percentage points from the preceding quarter.

Currently, Nigeria still rely on crude oil as its major source of revenue, accounting for about 70 percent of its total revenue and over 90 percent for its export earnings.

The Brent crude price rose to $66.87 per barrel from around $53 per barrel at the beginning of the year.

In May 2018, Brent rose above $80 per barrel for the first time since November 2014 but dropped afterward amid rising US crude inventories.

 

Source: The Ripples

Booking a learners or drivers license test in South Africa has never been the easiest thing in the world. The new online system is sure to change things up.
 
While a strike at the office that makes the license cards had caused some worry in recent weeks, getting a slot for your learners or drivers license test is about to become a whole lot easier. The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) is finally looking to keep up with the digital times in 2018.
 
RTMC to offer new online drivers license test bookings
 
On Friday, the RTMC unveiled a plan that is sure to make millions of young South Africans lives a lot easier. Yes, from September, you will be able to begin to book your learners and drivers licenses online.
 
The new system will begin to be rolled out in Gauteng in September and will then move its way to other provinces after assessing how well the system worked and if there were any issues.
 
Those looking to book their tests will be able to choose the date, time and place for their test. Want to book your test at a traffic department on the other side of the province, that is easily doable. Seriously, you won’t even be required to go in beforehand.
 
RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane has been doing the media rounds explaining why the system was needed and what it does for people.
 
“I think this will be convenient for the members of the public because now you will be going to the centres to pay for your appointment and do the eye test and from there will be no interaction with officials and officials won’t have the opportunity to block bookings.”
 
Zwane explained that fraud and corruption have played a huge part in there being a need for an online method. In some cases, corrupt driving schools are even paying for certain slots to be booked with specific traffic officials.
 
“We have found that spaces are being blocked to enable people who are coming from the corrupt networks to be able to do tests on a particular date and a particular time. We want to deal with that so people have equal opportunity and the handling of officials,” Zwane says.
 
Let’s hope the system launch goes relatively smoothly.
 
Source:IreportSouthAfrica
South Africa’s Upper House of Parliament, the National Council of Provinces (NCP), on Tuesday approved the controversial National Minimum Wage (NMW) Bill which will be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for assent.
 
The Parliament said the NCP approved the bill without amendment.
 
The bill, which Minister of Labour Mildred Oliphant introduced in November 2017, aims to provide for a NMW and the establishment of a commission with clear functions and composition for implementation, Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.
 
The National Assembly (Lower House of Parliament) had earlier approved the bill and referred it to the NCP. Once signed by Ramaphosa, the bill will become law.
 
The bill sets 3,500 rand (about 243 U.S. dollars) per month or 20 rand (about 1.4 dollars) per hour for over six million working people in the country.
 
Trade unions have lambasted the NMW as “slavery wage,” saying the working class cannot make both ends meet with the meagre NMW.
 
In May, massive protests against the bill took place across the country.
 
Trade unions have threatened to stage more protests if the NMW wage is not raised to a living wage.
 
The government says setting the NMW was informed by research and robust analysis of various scenarios and their possible ramifications, not by some idealistic desires.
 
All social partners have worked hard for nearly three years to reach agreement on the NMW to improve the conditions of millions of poor families, according to the government.
 
Ramaphosa has pledged to increase the NMW over time in a way that meaningfully reduces poverty and inequality.
 
Source: PMNEWSNIGERIA
Ethiopian Airlines says it has signed a shareholding agreement with Zambia’s main development agency to relaunch the southern African country’s flag carrier at an initial cost of $30 million.
 
A joint statement with Zambia’s state-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) in Lusaka said that under the plan, Zambia Airways, being revived more than two decades after it was shut down, would operate 12 planes by 2028.
 
The Ethiopian state-owned carrier has outpaced regional competitors Kenya Airways and South African Airways to become Africa’s largest airline by revenue and profit, and has been buying shares in other African airlines to gain a competitive advantage over rivals such as those in the Gulf.
 
Ethiopian Airlines said it would own 45 per cent of the revamped Zambian airline, while Zambia would own 55 per cent.
 
“The initial investment as we start up the national carrier will be $30 million. Obviously, as we operate the airline, we will facilitate the financing necessary to support its growth,” it said.
 
Ethiopian Airlines had earlier said in January that it had signed an agreement with the Zambian government to relaunch Zambia Airways.
 
“Zambia Airways will launch local and regional routes this year, while intercontinental routes, including Europe, the Middle East and Asia, will be added in the near future,” the joint statement stated.
 
It would be recalled that the state-owned Zambia Airways went into liquidation in 1994, while the privately-owned Zambian Airways then emerged as the country’s main carrier with flights to other major hubs in southern Africa, but it suspended operations in 2009.
 
 
NAN
With the myriads of problems facing the nation’s stock market, stakeholders have expressed divergent views on the relevance of the routine ‘Bell Ringing’ exercise at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and the impact on the market.
 
While some stakeholders believe that the ceremony has increased stock market visibility and attracted more stakeholders, others argued that the impact has not reflected on the market.
 
The Managing Director of High Cap Securities, David Imafidon, explained that the NSE uses the gong sounding ceremony to publicise itself and attract stakeholders to its platform.
 
According to him, efforts must be made not to trivialise the programme, considering the level of visibility and competitiveness the exercise has attracted to the exchange.
 
Also speaking, the Managing Director of High Cap Securities Limited, Mike Eze, who described the exercise as a routine, said: “Bell ringing in any stock exchange is the exclusive preserve of the President of the stock exchange.
 
The President, who is not on ground day to day, on his part, delegates this function to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the exchange, who is on ground running the exchange day to day.
 
“The CEO in his wisdom, may decide to invite any reputable hand to assist him in bringing the market to a close. This is the interplay you see going on every day in the last eight years. It is just the process of opening and closing of a stock market.”
 
The Managing Director of Dependable Securities Limited, Chinenyem Anyanwu, said: “It has a way of impacting the market positively by making the stock Exchange and the capital market to always be in the news, sometimes occupying the front pages of the print media.
 
However, the President of Progressive Shareholders association of Nigeria, Boniface Okezie, explained that the exercise has not attracted the expected investments into the market.
 
According to him, it is expected that the ceremony would serve as a platform for listed firms to unfold their growth plans and present their scorecards to stockbrokers for share price appreciation.
 
He noted that in other exchanges across the world, due to the amount of coverage the opening and closing bells receive, many companies coordinate new product launch and other marketing-related events with the day their company representative rings the bell.
 
“The purpose of the exercise is to boost the market in terms of liquidity, volume of shares and attract new investments. Listed companies may also use the platform to inform stockbrokers on new products they are about to lunch or any other information that can boost their share price. But these are not happening.
 
“I have not seen the impact. They should look at how to improve on the exercise, so that it would be more impactful and add value to the market. Those undervalued stocks need to improve.
 
“We need the companies to come to the market and tell stockbrokers their growth plans so that it would lift their stock prices and in turn, grow the market.”
 
The Guardian 
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