Items filtered by date: Sunday, 03 September 2017

Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co. launched a new chipset with built-in artificial-intelligence capabilities to power its next-generation smartphones and take on rivals Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.

Though Huawei is well known in the smartphone business, it is No. 3 world-wide behind Apple and Samsung. It is lesser known as a maker of chips for its own phones. The company says its new Kirin 970 chip will power its forthcoming Mate 10 smartphone, set to launch next month to compete against the coming 10th-anniversary iPhone.

Huawei's new chipset was unveiled Saturday at the IFA electronics trade show in Berlin. It comes as the company has been pouring resources into the more profitable high-end phone market, long dominated by Apple. Its current flagship phone, the P10, launched this year with a base price of $685.

The Shenzhen-based company has said the Mate 10 will have improved camera and battery life. It also said the new Kirin chipset will power stronger image-recognition abilities and other camera features on its phones.

While Huawei's rivals are likely working on chip upgrades as well, "making AI computation faster and more efficient will give Huawei an edge, if it can demonstrate improved performance or battery life when conducting everyday tasks," said Tim Coulling, analyst at electronics-research firm Canalys.

Huawei has been steadily gaining market share from rivals in the smartphone wars. In China, where Apple has been losing ground, Huawei recaptured the top spot from Chinese brand Oppo in the first quarter, according to Canalys.

Globally, it had 10% of the market in the first quarter, according to Canalys, behind Samsung's 23% and Apple's 15%. While it is a major player in Europe, its sales remain low in the U.S.

 

Published in Telecoms

A consortium of public health and civil society organizations hailed the Zambia government's decision to increase tobacco and alcohol taxes to promote healthy lifestyle in the Southern African country.

Price increase is the most effective way to control the consumptions of tobacco and alcohol, especially among the vulnerable groups such as youth, pregnant women and low-income smokers and drinkers, said Fastone Goma, chairman of the Zambia Tobacco Control Consortium.

The organization is confident that lawmakers will approve the tax measure in the interest of both public health and social stability, he said, urging the lawmakers to resist attempts to frustrate the move.

Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya announced that the government will introduce "sin tax" in next year's budget for goods and products harmful to human health such as tobacco, alcohol and junk foods. A first-ever survey conducted in Zambia on tobacco users by the Heart and Stroke Foundation in 2012 revealed that tobacco products were highly affordable in the southern African nation and that the price was too low to motivate smokers to quit.
The World Health Organization recommended a 75-percent tax in the retail price of cigarettes, while Zambia pegged the tax rate at 30 percent.

 

- Xinhua

Published in Economy

Kenya faces an extended period of political and economic uncertainty after the Supreme Court tossed out the results of last month’s presidential election in a stunning decision that’s unprecedented in Africa.

The judges ordered a new vote to be held within 60 days, opening an intense campaign at risk of being marred by violence. The news sparked celebrations in the capital, Nairobi, and in Kisumu, stronghold of opposition Kenya Mappresidential candidate Raila Odinga, who said the ruling marked “a historic day” for the people of Kenya. President Uhuru Kenyatta, winner of the annulled vote, said he disagreed with the decision but would respect it.

With its decision that the electoral commission failed to conduct a fair vote, the six-judge court demonstrated its enduring independence from the government of the day. It came at a time when demands for political change are spreading across Africa. Opposition parties won power in the past five years in Nigeria, the continent’s most populous nation, Ghana, Gambia and Senegal. The ruling also clouds the outlook for the country’s slowing economy.

“The historic Supreme Court ruling pours uncertainty on the Kenyan economy,” said Emma Gordon, an analyst at Bath, England-based Verisk Maplecroft. “Investors will be concerned about the financial implications and the high risk of violence. With the possibility of the new election going to a second round and the result being contested again, political uncertainty could easily last the rest of the year.”

Damning Rebuke

The ruling Chief Justice David Maraga read out Friday to a packed Nairobi courtroom was a damning rebuke to the electoral commission, which repeatedly denied opposition claims that hackers rigged the vote results on its computer systems. The decision helps entrench the rule of law in Kenya, one of the key pillars of the country’s long-term development plan, said Jibran Qureishi, East Africa economist at Stanbic Holdings Ltd.

“This is an extraordinary ruling,” Qureishi said in a research note. “It affirms our narrative regarding institutional strength and maturity.”

The outcome of the new vote is too close to call, with the same officials who ran the last one probably remaining in charge of the rerun, said Phillip O. Nying’uro, chairman of the department of political science at the University of Nairobi.

“It is going to be very tricky; we may end up with the same outcomes,” he said.

Criminal Prosecution

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati said the commission is awaiting the court’s written judgment before making any decisions about what action it will take. Odinga called for six electoral commission officials to face criminal prosecution.

“Clear evidence shows that the commission was taken over by criminals who ran the general elections using the technology system and inserted a computer-generated leadership,” he told reporters on Friday.

Kenya, the world’s largest shipper of black tea and a regional hub for companies including Google Inc. and Coca Cola Co., faces an increased chance of violence, said John Ashbourne, Africa economist at Capital Economics Ltd. in London.

“The ruling leaves the authorities with little time to improve or reform the scandal-plagued election commission, which may throw doubt on the result,” he said. “Opposition supporters –- whose distrust in the voting system appears to have been validated –- may see another win for president Kenyatta as proof that the authorities are conspiring against them.”

Kenyatta rejected the opposition’s demands that electoral officials vacate office and asked the body to announce a date for fresh elections, his office said in an emailed statement Saturday. The current commission will supervise the new vote, Kenyatta said.

Security Forces

Clashes between security forces and Odinga supporters claimed 24 lives after the result was declared on Aug. 11, according to the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights. The opposition put the death toll at more than 100 people, while police confirmed 10 deaths in Nairobi and didn’t release tolls from other areas. The deaths evoked memories of two months of ethnic conflict after a disputed 2007 vote that left more than 1,100 people dead.

Kenyan shares tumbled and the currency dropped after the court ruling, reflecting perceptions that prolonged elections mean more uncertainty, said Razia Khan, chief Africa economist at Standard Chartered Plc in London. The benchmark stock index closed down 3.7 percent, while the shilling weakened 0.1 percent against the dollar. Safaricom Ltd., the country’s largest company, dropped as much as 10 percent, the biggest decline in a year.

East Africa’s largest economy is in the throes of its worst drought in three decades that’s curbed output of corn, a staple, and driven up consumer prices. Gross domestic product expanded at the slowest pace since 2014 in the first quarter as farming output shrank. The government expects growth to slow to 5.5 percent this year, from 5.8 percent in 2016.

“A re-run of the election will contribute to more uncertainty and prolong any return to business-as-usual,” Khan said. “The continuation of sub-par economic performance, and its implications for fiscal revenue, is of course a negative for bonds.”

Odinga, a former prime minister, waged unsuccessful presidential campaigns in 1997, 2007 and 2013. The Supreme Court threw out his allegations of rigging in the 2013 vote that propelled Kenyatta to power, a ruling Odinga has previously described as a “travesty of justice.”

 

Credit: Bloomberg 

Published in Economy

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