Items filtered by date: Monday, 14 May 2018

Forbes magazine has ranked Nigerian business mogul, Aliko Dangote, among 75 most powerful persons in the world.

Forbes' made this known in its latest 2018 ranking of the World Powerful people, released Wednesday.

The ranking placed Mr Dangote among world leaders like Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Messers Jinping, Putin and Trump were ranked first, second and third respectively in the new ranking.

The Nigerian business tycoon was ranked 66th most powerful person in the world ahead of other influential figures around the world. He is the only Nigerian on the list.

Mr Dangote, Africa's richest man, is also one of only two Africans who made the list. Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who was ranked 45th most powerful, is the other African on the list.

According to the Forbe's list, Mr Dangote, who owns Dangote groups, had an estimated net worth of $14.1 billion in March. He was also ranked among the 100 richest in the world.

As the richest man in Africa, Dangote had held the position for almost a decade. In 2014, he was ranked 23rd richest man in the world and in 2013, he surpassed the Saudi-Ethiopian billionaire Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi by over $2.6 billion to become the world's richest person of African descent.

Mr Dangote, the president of Dangote Group, has several investments in humanitarian interventions through the Aliko Dangote Foundation in Nigeria and across Africa.

The foundation, for instance, has made efforts to rid Nigeria and Africa of polio, malaria and mal-nutrition.

Mr Dangote has also made significant contributions to the establishment of the Business School complex in Bayero University, Kano; the University of Ibadan Business School, among others.

He has also made donations to the World Food Programme as part of efforts to assist Pakistani people devastated by floods in 2010.

Published in World

Consumers are facing trying times following increases in the retail prices of edible oil, which is becoming scarcer with the passage of time.

A random survey carried out by The Citizen has shown that the scarcity started late last month, and is being experienced in many parts of the country, including major cities like Dar es Salaam and Arusha.

The survey also established that the wholesale and retail prices for both locally manufactured and imported cooking oil increased by between 10 and 25 per cent in just two weeks.

Indeed, the retail price for one litre of cooking oil that is produced locally from home-grown oilseeds had increased by 25 per cent, rising to Sh5,000 a litre, up from Sh4, 000 a couple of weeks ago, and retailers are already warning of a possible upward price spiral.

In Arusha, the survey also showed that a ten-litre container of cooking oil is now sold at Sh35,000, compared to Sh31,000 recently - a nearly 13 per cent increase.

Times are bad mainly for consumers who can only afford to purchase small quantities of cooking oil from time to time, ranging from Sh200 to Sh500 per measure when the commodity is aplenty.

But that is not currently the case, as small-scale retailers in Dar es Salaam, for example, were found to have run out of stocks of cooking oil.

The sudden shortage of cooking oil in the country has reportedly been caused by the government's decision to detain for two weeks now two ships with an estimated 62,000 tonnes of crude vegetable oil consignments.

In the event, this has forced six cooking oil millers to suspend production for lack of crude vegetable oil as an input, even as thousands of tonnes of the commodity are held up at Dar es Salaam Port.

The Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) maintains that the held-up consignments are in fact of refined cooking oil, and not crude oil as earlier declared by the importers.

Cooking oil imports are subject to an import duty rate of 25 per cent ad valorem, while crude oil is subject to only 10 per cent import duty.

"It is true that we are holding two ships with cooking oil consignments on which they are required to pay taxes," said TRA director of taxpayer education Richard Kayombo.

The current annual demand for cooking oil in Tanzania is estimated at between 400,000 and 570,000 tonnes, while domestic production is only 210,000 tonnes, leaving a deficit of almost 360,000 tonnes which needs to be covered by imports, including crude for refining into the finished product.

Tanzania spends around Sh190 billion to import assorted cooking oil brands from some Asian and neighbouring countries.

A senior official with the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (TCCIA), Mr Hussein Kamote, told The Citizen that the impasse regarding the two ships detained in port has emerged following a newly introduced tax regulatory framework which was introduced recently, but which the authorities want it to be effective retrospectively.

 
"TRA enacted regulations in February this year which they want to be applied to import consignments that were ordered since November last year. They also demand nonexistent imports documentations," Mr Kamote said.

"Importers are wondering why TRA is insisting that the (detained consignments) are of purified cooking oil, while the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority and the Tanzania Bureau of Standards, have declared them to be unrefined oil," he added.

Indeed, an unnamed TBS official who spoke to this paper confirmed that the held-up consignments are of unrefined cooking oil.

The consignments held up at the port were intended to be used by local manufacturers as raw materials for making cooking oil. These are Bidco, East Coast, Azania and Murza Oil Mills.

Published in Business

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in Abuja inaugurated National Food Security Council, to among others, explore and nip in the bud, issues capable of creating food security crisis in the country.

The council, which comprises six governors drawn from six geographical locations of the country, and ministers and security agents, has among its key mandate to continuously assess existing food security policies, trade and national planning programmes "thereby guaranteeing that they achieve their full potential."

While inaugurating the council which is chaired by himself, the president said the council "shall also develop new programmes and projects that will protect and indeed, create more jobs in farming, fisheries, animal husbandry and forestry."

He also said the council would look at other issues with the capacity to impact on food production ambitions such as population growth, urbanisation, industrialisation, rural infrastructure development and climate change.

The president then proceeded to list the commitments of the council to include investment in research and development, developing local programmes, protecting Nigeria against dumping of foreign goods, and holding consultations with relevant stakeholders.

"These factors will also stress and stretch our land and water resources. This means we must invest in research and development to enhance yields and outputs. Moreover, we are not insulated from global and regional events.

"Accordingly we develop local programmes, but not lose sight of events from a far and their impact on us. Specifically, issues such as smuggling and dumping, it is our responsibility to ensure we develop and enforce strategies to protect Nigeria from these illegal and unhealthy imports.

"The council includes governors representing the six geopolitical zones. Some geopolitical zones have similar eco climatic conditions. The council is therefore a platform to further enhance the collaboration between the federal and state governments. We shall share success stories and collaborate to address common threats.

 

"We will also engage key stakeholders representing the core sectors of the Food Value Chain. Regular consultations will be held with investors, development partners, financiers, academia and our friends and allies abroad.

"Our deliberations will look into all the issues and our decisions will be implementable and impactful. We shall stay focused, first and foremost on securing our food requirements and employment for our people, especially the youths. We shall feed ourselves and build an inclusive Nigeria for ourselves and for future generations," he said.

 

Briefing journalists at the end of the inauguration, Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, said the president had captured the main objectives of the council to include strengthening all existing policies on food security including policies on trade, agronomy, national planning and national security.

According to him, the design was to bring all states together to deliver food security to Nigeria.
 
Also briefing, Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, who said governors were drawn into the council from the six geo-political zones of the country, added that each governor spoke on food security as it affects his zone during the inauguration.

Okowa said in the last few years, a lot had been done on rice production which he said had reduced the amount of money hitherto spent on rice importation adding that the trend had given confidence that in no time, Nigeria would be self-sufficient in rice production.

He listed challenges confronting rice production in Nigeria to include influx of rice through the borders which he said needed to be addressed.

He also said the council discussed the need to develop oil palm plantations and spend a lot of money on wheat production with a view to achieving food sufficiency.

In his own briefing, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, said the military was aware of security challenges facing the country and listed such challenges to include: farmers-herders clashes and militancy, which he said all had direct effects on food value chain.

Submitting that the job of the military is to ensure that a safe environment is guaranteed for food production, Olonishakin listed measures put in place by the armed forces to achieve such a safe environment to include operations Lafiya Dole, Nawase in Niger Delta, Sarendaji in North-west and Safe Haven in Jos, North-central.

In his own submission, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, said the newly inaugurated council looked at all dimensions of food security including the amount of money invested in food production and industry value chain.

The minister said the council would look at the comparative advantage emerging from these and also provide incentives aimed at encouraging local production as well as its sustainability.

In the same vein, the governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, said the inauguration of the council marked the beginning of a paradigm shift in the economy of Nigeria.

According to him, the decision of the president to personally chair the council marked the commencement of the framework meant to take Nigeria from a monolithic economy to a diversified economy.

He said the council would address issues bordering on agriculture and national security, emphasising that everything that will guarantee the security of the nation in all spheres is encapsulated in the council adding that the council is absolutely being supported by governors brought into the council.

On his part, the Minister of State for Environment, Malam Usman Jubrin, said climate change would be on the front burner of the pursuits of the food security council, explaining that if Nigeria must move forward, issues bordering on climate change must be addressed especially as they affect agricultural activities including pollution in the Niger Delta.

Published in Agriculture

It is common when municipal workers go on strike in South Africa to resort to upturning garbage cans and strewing litter around city centres.

Their message is clear: we may be at the bottom of the social heap, and you may think we are human trash, but by God, society needs us, and if you don’t listen to us and give us a living wage, we’ll make you pay for it.

Trashing a city is more than a demand for a better wage. Often, it’s also an expression of rage against employer arrogance or unaccountability, and a demand for basic respect. Such tactics are manifestly expressions of class struggle and class power, workers resorting to their most effective weapon. While they are unlikely, in extremis, to be able to confront the armed might of the state, they may well be able to make city managers and the general population wilt in the face of the stink and mess of uncollected garbage.

Yet such actions are indicative of a discordant society, and a culture of littering can tell us a lot about a society’s ethos.

Littering is an act of individual or group disposal of waste at the public expense in terms, not only of the cost of public collection, but also at worst, of public health, and always in terms of public enjoyment of the environment. It prioritises the private interest over the public, and places the burden of collection or consequences of litter on the collective.

Doubtless too, it is expressive of class, income, status and power. It is no accident that in most – if not all countries – better-off residential areas are likely to be freer of litter than worse off localities. They have more public clout and more private resources.

Littering tells us a great deal about community spirit. It is surely no accident that the Scandinavian countries, which regularly top the World Happiness Index, are relatively litter free. Their governments have long prioritised the collective interest and there is less social inequality than in similarly industrialised nations.

Industrialised countries such as Britain and the US are rich, but they’ve embraced austerity and encouraged rampant consumerism, making them sadly notorious for being far more publicly dirty, as captured by Kenneth Galbraith’s (1958) critique of “Private Affluence and Public Squalor”. South Africa has similarly developed a culture of externalising private costs onto the public, a culture of not caring about the environment which has been emblematic of the country’s mining industry for more than a century.

Public interest

South Africa is a country still deeply divided along lines of race, class, and geography in which there may be a public, but a limited sense of “public interest”. It’s a country where the needs of the better off were historically always prioritised over those of the poor.

For example, the expansion of the road system was accompanied by the massive expansion of white suburbia from the 1960s, where tellingly, pedestrians – many of them black domestic workers going to and from work – were denied pavements and left to walk in the road. Because the white inhabitants of suburbia were ratepayers, and because they employed domestic labour to tend to their verges, they enjoyed a generally litter free environment. The scholarship is not available to tell us about the state of litter and waste in the townships at that time, but we may guess it was distressingly different.

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba, second from left, joins the city’s Are Sebetseng (Let’s work) cleaning campaign. Enoch Lehung

Today, the South African environment is pockmarked by the detritus of mass consumption. The culture of takeaway culture is also the culture of throwaway, and if there is no litter bin available, or if it’s full, too bad. It’s just easier to dump. So, what if it adds to the mess? Does anyone really care about the one more bottle or can lying on the ground?

There are worries, as there should be, that the appalling littering along South Africa’s highways and the litter to be found even in many of South Africa’s beauty spots, is a threat to our tourist industry, and that in turn, means fewer jobs (let alone less general enjoyment). Yet the problems resulting from poor disposal of waste run far deeper.

Yes, the fast food industry and the supermarket chains, which have a fetish for unnecessary packaging, have much to answer for. But the externalisation of production costs onto to the public is hard-wired into South African industry.

South Africa is a country whose industrial origins lie in mining, and mining systematically produces massive waste and pollution which often has hugely detrimental effects on the environment and public health. This culture continues today, sadly encouraged by lax governmental environmental supervision and excessive concern for profits, investment and private gain.

“Littering” by individuals is merely the expression of a far wider selfish – and publicly, costly - culture.

Addressing the issue

There are no great mysteries about how to address the issue of litter. What is needed first is the political will. This in turn requires the recognition of the importance of the problem.

There is more at stake than what many people might consider to be merely a middle class distaste for littering and general physical untidiness. Indeed, any presumption that middle class people have a greater dislike of litter than working class people or the poor needs itself to be questioned. After all, poor people bear the brunt of the problem. Where there is litter, there is filth, and where there is filth, there is disease.

Political will must be backed up by public resources, and all the paraphernalia of waste collection – from collection lorries, appropriate waste sites and disposal mechanisms, and litter bins. So much is obvious. Yet what is also required is far greater effort by government and ordinary citizens to curb the waste encouraged by excess packaging.

South Africa’s recycling industries – providers of thousands of jobs in the informal sector – need to be backed up by greater requirements imposed on retailers to provide collection points for plastic, cans, bottles and so on. The lack of effort by municipalities to encourage recycling by requiring householders to sort their waste into categories is scandalous, especially in middle class, high consumption areas where this would be easy to implement.

Legislation to curb use of plastic is spreading around the world, and South Africa should not want to be left behind.

A cleaner environment, cleaner air, cleaner towns and cities, needs to be placed firmly on the public agenda.

 

Roger Southall, Professor of Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

At least 17 people have died in an outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in the north west of the Democractic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in the town of Bikoro. Ebola is endemic to the country. But the number of deaths in a short period is cause for concern. The Conversation Africa’s health and medicine editor Candice Bailey spoke to Chikwe Ihekweazu in Nigeria.

What are the critical steps that the DRC needs to take now that the outbreak has been confirmed?

Health authorities have learnt many valuable lessons from previous Ebola outbreaks – particularly the outbreak in 2014 in West Africa where more than 11 000 people died.

Because the DRC has had so many outbreaks it’s developed the capacity to deal with new ones. But, as with every other disease that threatens global health security, it is critical for nearby countries to collaborate with it to ensure the outbreak stays under control.

Bringing the outbreak under control has two important phases. Firstly, health authorities in the country must define its scale. Secondly, they have to interrupt its chains of transmission as quickly as possible.

Our colleagues at the Centre for Disease Control in the DRC are currently evaluating the people who are infected. There are several pieces of information that they want to establish: when and where people were infected, where they they’ve been – or travelled to – since being infected. This will give them a better understanding of the extent of the person-to-person transmission.

Once this has been established, the government can respond. Several control activities will be initiated almost immediately covering both prevention as well as treatment. From a prevention perspective, it’s important for the government to engage with communities so that people understand the outbreak and how quickly the virus is able to spread.

From a treatment perspective, health authorities need to set up treatment centres and access to laboratory diagnosis. Given the death rate, epidemiologists will have to be on hand to carry out detailed investigations on the origins of the outbreak. This is the only way the chain of transmission can be broken.

The DRC has had numerous outbreaks of Ebola. What challenges does the country face handling a virus like this?

The DRC has had more Ebola virus outbreaks than any other country in the world. Over the past 10 years there have been five: 2007, from 2008 to 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2017.

As a result the country has gained a lot of experience in how to control the disease. But there are still many unknowns. One of the most critical gaps is understanding the transmission dynamics of the virus from its animal reservoir to humans.

The country has good systems for diagnosing the disease – its reference laboratory was able to test and confirm cases within 24 hours. But when it comes to surveillance and monitoring its systems are weak. Stronger surveillance systems would ensure that cases were reported early, and a country-led response mounted.

Nigeria is on high alert following the outbreak in the DRC. What are the concerns?

Nigeria, as well as other countries in Africa are at medium risk, according to a classification by the World Health Organisation.

Nigeria has learnt that it is better to be prepared than to be caught unaware. To mitigate the risk, the country’s Centre for Disease Control has taken extra precautionary measures. This has included placing its emergency operations centre on alert and issuing a public health advisory. In addition, the national port health services have heightened screening at points of entry.


Read more: How Nigeria beat the ebola virus in three months


There are also protocols in place to ensure that if a case is suspected, it’s detected early and response activities are initiated immediately.

It’s important for countries to ensure that their citizens are well aware of the risk the disease poses. Nigerian health authorities are working hard to ensure that this happens.

What steps will Nigeria take to help the DRC?

During the 2014 Ebola outbreak, the African Union arranged for health workers from Nigeria to go to Liberia and Sierra Leone. As a result of this initiative, Nigerian health authorities have a large cohort of well-trained resources that can be deployed to support the country if that’s needed.

 

Chikwe Ihekweazu, Senior Honorary Lecturer on Infectious Diseases, UCL

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Economy

South Africa has promised another 5 billion rand ($400 million) capital injection to help its struggling state airline meet urgent financial obligations, the CEO of South African Airways (SAA) said.

SAA has not generated a profit since 2011 and has already received state guarantees totalling nearly 20 billion rand. It needs the money to help pay debts and prop up the business as it implements a turnaround plan.

The promise of more government cash comes after SAA Chief Executive Vuyani Jarana told parliament in April that the firm needed the capital injection “now”.

“Government has committed to inject another 5 billion rand into SAA. Part of that 5 billion rand we will repay some of the creditors, suppliers, then the balance will support us for working capital until around October/November,” Jarana told Reuters in an interview.

The Treasury said it would follow its normal budgetary process, which entails seeking cabinet approval.

“The outcome of this process is expected to be finalised in time for the 2018 MTBPS (Medium Term Budget Policy Statement),” the Treasury said.

The MTBPS is usually presented to parliament in October.

Jarana said that while waiting for the funds, the company would negotiate for some breathing space with lenders. 

“If Treasury needs a certain period of time to do this, lets say up to September, between now and then, we are negotiating with lenders to give us a bridging facility on the back of that commitment,” he said.

SAA is regularly cited by ratings agencies as a drain on the government purse, but the Treasury is hopeful that new executive leadership led by Jarana, a former executive at telecoms company Vodacom, would return the airline to profitability. The government has said that SAA needs an equity partner to pump money into the company to address its liquidity crisis and to help with the implementation of a turnaround plan.

The airline was looking at several measures to cut costs and Jurana said reducing the current workforce of about 10,000 people was “inevitable”.

“Whether it’s pilots, cabin crew, administration, we are going to rationalise the workforce. It’s an unavoidable thing. We have been talking to trade unions about how we work together,” Jarana said.

“The first priority for me is job preservation, how do you find alternative jobs for people as a starting point before you go into the hard issues of retrenchments.”

Jarana said the company hopes to break even in three years time and “there onwards, everything else equal, it will be able to start paying for its own operations in terms of positive cash flows.”

 

(Reuters)

Published in Travel & Tourism

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