Items filtered by date: Sunday, 27 May 2018

The Trump administration told lawmakers the U.S. government has reached a deal to put Chinese telecommunications company ZTE Corp back in business, a senior congressional aide said on Friday.

As with a similar announcement earlier, the proposed deal ran into immediate resistance in Congress, where Democrats and Trump's fellow Republicans accused him of bending to pressure from Beijing to ease up on a company that allegedly poses a significant risk to U.S. national security.

ZTE was banned in April from buying U.S. technology components for seven years for breaking an agreement reached after it violated U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea. It would now be allowed to resume business with U.S. companies, including chipmaker Qualcomm Inc.

The deal, communicated to officials on Capitol Hill by the Commerce Department, requires ZTE to pay a substantial fine, place U.S. compliance officers at the company and change its management team, the aide said. The Commerce Department would then lift an order preventing ZTE from buying U.S. products.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday floated a plan to fine ZTE up to $1.3 billion and shake up its management as his administration considered rolling back more severe penalties that have crippled the company.

The White House did not immediately confirm reports of the latest deal, but a spokeswoman said, "This is a law enforcement action being handled by Commerce. We are making sure ZTE is held accountable for violating U.S. sanctions, pays a big price, and that we are protecting our security infrastructure and U.S. jobs."

Fox News said Trump told them on Thursday that he had negotiated the $1.3 billion fine with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a phone call.

ZTE, which is publicly traded but whose largest shareholder is a Chinese state-owned enterprise, agreed last year to pay a nearly $900 million penalty and open its books to a U.S. monitor for breaking a 2017 agreement after it was caught illegally shipping U.S. goods to Iran and North Korea, in an investigation dating to the Obama administration.

The company has lost over $3 billion since the April 15th ban on doing business with U.S. suppliers, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Responding to news of the administration's proposed settlement with ZTE, Republican Senator Marco Rubio tweeted: "Yes they have a deal in mind. It is a great deal ... for #ZTE & China. #China crushes U.S. companies with no mercy & they use these telecomm companies to spy & steal from us."

Rubio, as well as Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Chris Van Hollen, said Congress should act to stop Trump from letting ZTE get back into business.

U.S. intelligence and U.S. law enforcement agencies have serious concerns that ZTE and other Chinese telecommunications firms use their equipment to gather intelligence on U.S. citizens.

William Evanina, the acting director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said at his May 15 confirmation hearing that he would not use a ZTE phone nor recommend that anyone in a sensitive position in government use one.

Chinese officials sought a pullback on ZTE as part of any broader deal to prevent a trade war between the world's two biggest economies. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is scheduled to visit China next week for another round of talks.

ZTE needs U.S. components for its mobile phones and network equipment. U.S. companies provide an estimated 25 percent to 30 percent of components in ZTE's equipment.

As part of the agreements ZTE made last year it dismissed four senior employees.

Shares of ZTE's U.S. suppliers traded higher on Friday. Optical networking equipment maker Acacia Communications Inc, which got 30 percent of 2017 revenue from ZTE, rose 4.4 percent. Optical component company Oclaro Inc, which received 18 percent of its fiscal 2017 revenue from ZTE, rose 2.7 percent.

 

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Published in World

Ride-hailing service Uber hopes the launch of its latest safety feature will further improve the safety of drivers and passengers.

It announced that it was partnering with Aura, a security technology service that would allow Uber drivers to be connected to the closest private security response vehicle through a nationwide network of security and medical response partners.

Uber's partnership with Aura started in 2016 during a three-month long pilot of SOS buttons for Johannesburg Uber drivers. This was followed in 2017 by a telephone number provided to Uber drivers, which was linked to Aura's central control room.

The latest feature would bypass the need to make a phone call, and connect Uber drivers in an emergency situation with the nearest security. Alon Lits, Uber's general manager in Sub-Saharan Africa, said he hoped the latest feature would show the company was committed to the safety of its "driver-partners" and passengers.

"The new introduction of our technology builds on Uber's philosophy, and has helped evolve security by offering smart technology that cuts out the middleman, enabling driver-partners to connect with the closest security or medical response partner at the touch of a button," he said.

Lits said the company had implemented a host of new security features over the past few years, as violence between the meter taxi industry and drivers of ride-hailing services increased.

'We need to see more arrests made'

He said the added security features had seen a big decline in weekly incidents involving Uber drivers, but he called on more government and law enforcement engagement. "Hopefully we are close to seeing an end to the taxi intimidation," he said.

"We need to see more arrests made, and that (the violence) is unacceptable. We call on law enforcement to ensure that arrests are made."

Aura CEO Warren Myers said, not only would drivers be able to connect to the nearest private security vehicle, but that they would also be able to connect with the South African Police Service and emergency services if needed. 

"The new introduction of our technology builds on Uber's philosophy, and has helped evolve security by offering smart technology that cuts out the middleman, enabling driver-partners to connect with the closest security or medical response partner at the touch of a button," he said. 

"We are proud champions of the 'Uberisation' of on-demand security app for businesses. The ability to offer our rapid mobile response technology to drivers and delivery partners across the Uber platform itself is an exciting venture."

Uber said the new safety feature would be implemented in a phased rollout, meaning it wouldn't immediately be available to all drivers.

 

Source: news24

Published in Travel & Tourism

Brand Africa in association with the JSE, announced the Top 100 best brands in Africa on their 6th annual Brand Africa 100: Africa's Best Brands at the JSE in Johannesburg.

The US sports and fitness brand, Nike, is the overall #1 brand in Africa spontaneously recalled by consumers. South African tele-communications brand MTN is the #1 African brand spontaneously recalled irrespective of continent of origin, while Nigerian industrial brand Dangote is the #1 African recalled when consumers are prompted about the continent (Africa) of origin.

The Brand Africa 100 ranking is based on a survey among consumers 18 years and older, conducted in 23 countries across Africa. The countries, representing all African economic regions, collectively account for 75% of the population and the 74% of the GDP of Africa.

African brands rose slightly to account for 17% of the Top 100 brands in Africa, non-African brands retained their firm position in Africa with 83% share of the Top 100 most admired brands in Africa. Europe leads the table with 40/100 (-2), North America at 24/100 (- 2) and Asia 19/100 (+2). West Africa (6) with only Nigerian brands (6) and Southern Africa (6) with South African brands (5) lead the table, East Africa (5) leads with Kenya (2) among brands recalled spontaneously.

The Top 100 is dominated by technology and electronic brands (29%), consumer (non-cyclical) (19%), apparel (15%), automobile (8%), food (7%) and sports & fitness (5%) categories are the top categories.

Top 10 Most-Admired Brands in AFrica

 

Overall, the 2017/18 Brand Africa 100 list, which started out with over 15,500 brand mentions covering over 2,200 admired brands, illustrates a very diversified portfolio of categories and brands in Africa. There is an incredible year-on-year consistency, with 60% of the Top 10 brands common among the Top 10 Most Admired African Brands and Most Admired Brands in Africa, led by Nigeria's Dangote and Glo, South Africa's MTN and Shoprite, Kenya's Tusker and Ethiopia's Anbessa. Out of the 16 African brands in Top 100 in 2016/17, 6 exited and 7 entered the Top 100 in 2017/18.

Top 10 Most-AfriCAN Brands in AFrica (Prompted) 

 

The major change on the list is the status of the Safaricom/Mpesa brand. Because Vodacom/Vodafone recently became majority owner of the business, in the 2017/18 tables the Safaricom/Mpesa brand was consolidated into the Vodacom/Vodafone brand. Singled out, the Safaricom/Mpesa brand ranked 27, higher than the Vodacom/Vodafone brand, which is at #31. Collectively, the Vodacom/Vodafone/Safaricom brand is now at #17. But Safaricom/Mpesa remains a highly recalled 'African' brand among Financial Services and the Most Admired Brands in Africa. Zimbabwe's Econet made the most spectacular first time entry into the Top 100 at #40. After a long stay on the list despite its innumerable challenges, BlackBerry finally fell off the list as the brand exited the consumer markets. On the other hand, Etisalat, which dropped 31 spots remains on the list of the Top 100 despite exiting Africa in 2017.

The highest gains are dominated by apparel and lifestyle sport brands Ralph Lauren (+48), Versace (+41) and a resurgent Reebok (+43). The sports category, led by Nike (#1), remains a strong performer, due to streategic repositioning or expansion in their positioning towards lifestyle and high profile endorsements and partnerships which have freshened and broadened the brands' appeal, particularly to youthful and young consumers.

The biggest faller was Ford, dropping 78% from 50 to 89, possibly due to their much publicized safety issues and recall of the Kuga and Focus brands. Sprite also lost some fizz, dropping 38 spots and Etisalat dropped 31 positions.
In a country-by-country analysis, non-African brands are #1 in 17/23 countries, led by Samsung (8/23), Nike (6/23), Coke (2/23), Gucci (1/23). African brands are #1 in 6/23 countries, led by MTN (2/23), Econet (1/23), Trade Kings (1/23) and Azam (1/23).

Because of their transformational impact in Africa, Brand Africa also includes a focused prompted media and financial services sub-survey.

In the media sub-survey, DStv (incorporating GoTV, Multichoice and Supersport) is the lone pan-African media brand within the Top 10 media list. The media list is led by BBC, which has an extensive history and coverage of Africa through its BBC Worldservice radio and specific African programming. The media list is dominated by America (40%), Europe (30%) and Asia (20%). A deeper analysis of the media category shows high levels of fragmentation, with many local and regional players - thus in general only global players with extensive African reach and resources dominate the top of the list.

In the financial services sector, 60% of the Most Admired Brands are made in Africa. GTB retains its #1 position as the Most Admired Financial Services Brand, and Safaricom Mpesa retains its pole position among mobile money brands. Mobile money brands, Safaricom Mpesa (#9), Airtel Money (#21), PayPal (#24) and Orange Money (#25)'s presence underscore the impact of not only Mpesa as the catalyst, but mobile as a key enabler for financial access. Nigeria (6), South Africa (5) and Kenya (3) lead the finance brand tables in a continent that's cash rather credit led.

"African brands have an important role in helping to build the African brand," says Thebe Ikalafeng, Founder and Chairman of Brand Africa and Brand Leadership. These rankings are an important metric of the progress Africa is making in creating home-grown world-class brands that are changing the narrative on African competiveness, image and reputation and contributing to its socio-economic transformation."

Brand Africa 100 was developed by pan-African branding and reputation advisory firm, Brand Leadership Group supported by GeoPoll, the leader in mobile-based market research throughout Africa, and strategic analysis and insights by Kantar TNS, the world's largest information research firm and Brand Leadership, Africa's premier brand and reputation consultancy.

Top 10 Most-Admired Brands OF AFricaN OrigiN (Spontaneous/Unprompted) 

 

GeoPoll used their sophisticated mobile survey platform to identify the most admired brands in Africa among a representative sample of African consumers in 23 African countries. These countries collectively represent an estimated 75% of Africa's population across all political and economic regions.

"GeoPoll's multi-modal survey platform and panel of respondents across Africa allowed us to quickly reach a large sample of respondents in multiple countries, providing brands with valuable data on their standing in the continent that they can utilize to track brand health over time" said Nick Becker, CEO, GeoPoll.

"'Success for brands is about establishing an emotional connection, creating intimacy and being more present in consumers everyday lives. This survey is a critical assessment of the various brands that play that vital role in Africa," says Karin Du Chenne - CEO, Kantar.

"The JSE is a platform of African and global companies alike to raise capital and grow their businesses and brands. It is our continuous aim that as an exchange we continue to provide a platform for growth with innovative products to meet the needs of our clients and grow the African continent from strength to strength," says Zeona Jacobs, Director Marketing and Corporate Affairs at the JSE.

Published in Business
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