Items filtered by date: Friday, 20 July 2018
25 men were arrested in India after a 2,000-person mob killed a 27-year-old man over baseless rumours that he was a child kidnapper. 
 
The deadly incident was the latest in a flood of deadly lynchings across the country sparked by hoaxes on social media — and now the Indian government is threatening WhatsApp with legal action over them. 
 
AFP reports that the Indian government has now publicly warned that it may take action against WhatsApp over the issue, with the information technology ministry issuing a harshly-worded statement on Thursday.
 
"Rampant circulation of irresponsible messages in large volumes on their platform have not been addressed adequately by WhatsApp," says the statement. "When rumours and fake news get propagated by mischief-mongers, the medium used for such propagation cannot evade responsibility and accountability."
 
"If (WhatsApp) remain mute spectators they are liable to be treated as abettors and thereafter face consequent legal action."
 
The Facebook-owned messaging app has come under intense scrutiny in recent months over hoaxes and disinformation circulating on its platform, leading to sometimes deadly mob violence. There have reportedly been at least 20 lynchings in the last two months caused by child abduction allegations, according to The Guardian.
 
WhatsApp's messages are end-to-end encrypted for security, meaning the company cannot monitor users' messages for misinformation or deliberate hoaxes the way Facebook can on its Messenger app. The company is taking some steps to try and tackle the issue, including flagging messages that have been forwarded, to make it clear that the sender isn't the original author of the post. It has also taken out full-page newspaper ads to warn about these hoaxes.
 
Source: Business Insider
Published in World

The end of hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea has been met with relief in the region as well as globally. But what does it mean for Eritrea, which has been dubbed the North Korea of Africa. The Conversation Africa’s Julius Maina spoke to Martin Plaut about the implications for the small and reclusive state.

How did Eritrea earn its reputation as a reclusive state?

Isaias Afwerki, the Eritrean president, has operated on the presumption that no-one would come to Eritrea’s aid after it launched its armed struggle for independence from Ethiopia in 1961. It was never entirely true, but they certainly didn’t have the support of any major power.

When Eritrea gained its independence in 1993 he saw no reason to alter his view. As a result, major international aid agencies were made unwelcome. Even the United Nations has found it difficult to work in the country.

After 2001, when the president cracked down on all opposition – including from within his own party – all major news organisations, including the BBC, Reuters and AFP – were banned from having offices in the country. International journalists have only been allowed to visit sporadically. This has left Eritrea under-reported.

Isaias is moody and reclusive by nature. Since the regime is a dictatorship which has never allowed elections of any kind, the country reflects the politics of its leader.

The country has been named as a sponsor of regional terrorism. To what extent is this still the case?

Following Eritrea’s bitter border war with Ethiopia between 1998 and 2000, the government in Asmara became a sponsor of the Somali Islamist group, Al-Shabaab, and a number of Ethiopian rebel groups . It did so to undermine the Ethiopian government, which was fighting a war in Somalia against the Islamists. Eritrea’s support for Ethiopian rebel groups had a similar aim in mind.

These activities – as well as a border clash with Djibouti – led to the UN Security Council imposing an arms embargo against Eritrea in 2009. The embargo didn’t include economic sanctions.

UN appointed experts monitored the arms and logistical support Eritrea provided to Al-Shabaab in great detail. In recent years they’ve reported back that they have no evidence of current Eritrean backing for Al-Shabaab.

In the last few weeks the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has said he thinks the sanctions regime will become obsolete, since Eritrea and Ethiopia have resolved their differences.

How will recent events affect politics and commerce in the Horn?

The prospects for the Horn could be transformed if the Ethiopia-Eritrea rapprochement holds and their border dispute is truly resolved.

The closure of their mutual frontier for the past two decades has had a terrible effect on people all along the 1,000 km long border. Family ties and trade patterns were severely disrupted.

The people of the two countries have never been at loggerheads: there is little real animosity between them. The divisions have been between the ruling parties of both countries.

With these apparently resolved, life in the Horn can resume as normal. The Eritrean ports of Massawa and Assab will hum with life once more, as Ethiopian trade flows through them. And the potash deposits on their border can be developed. Since Ethiopia is currently Africa’s fastest growing economy this could ease bottlenecks such as international investment in Eritrea which will no longer be viewed as a war-risk. And instead of competing to fund and support rebel movements in each other’s countries, Ethiopia and Eritrea can combine to tackle the real enemy: poverty.

What will the impact be on Eritrean society?

This is the most difficult question and predictions are fraught with difficulty. Having been such a closed dictatorship it is impossible to say with any certainty how the country will be transformed.

On the one hand, Isaias could allow democracy to emerge, since he no longer has a foreign enemy on his doorstep. The constitution, which was ratified by the National Assembly, could be implemented. Free and fair elections could be held and a multi-party system allowed to emerge. The president might even decide to retire now that peace has been achieved – he is 72 years old.

This is all possible. But it’s not very likely. The president is extremely cautious and believes he is indispensable to the country: without him it will lose its way. He is more likely to move only gradually towards allowing limited freedoms. This could include ending indefinite conscription, since the rationale for this has ended. Such an approach would be consistent with his past behaviour. But it might result in growing frustration from citizens who have accepted economic hardship and a lack of democracy during a time of war, but might do so no longer. What forces this might unleash and how the citizens will react, only time will tell.

How do these developments affect Eritrea’s refugee outflow?

The end of hostilities should mean that Eritrea’s indefinite National Service is ended. National Service (or conscription) is required of all citizens between 18 and 40 years old. In theory this lasts for no longer than 18 months. Yet many Eritreans have served for 20 years and more. Pay is minimal and conditions harsh: for women there is the threat of rape or sexual abuse. This has been – by a long shot – the main driver of the refugee exodus that has seen up to 5,000 people leaving the country every month.

Freed from conscription, some servicemen and women will return to their farms or seek employment in towns. One possible consequence is that unemployment could become serious, unless inward investment takes up the slack.

If the border with Ethiopia is opened up again thousands of people in refugee camps in Ethiopia might return home. The refugee outflow might even be reversed. This is an optimistic prognosis. More likely, refugees who have risked everything to reach safety will remain in the camps until the outcome of the dramatic changes can be assessed and the transformation is made permanent.

Eritrea’s refugee outflow will only end when both prosperity and freedom become established facts. Until then it is likely that some will continue to seek a better life abroad, even if in smaller numbers.

 

Martin Plaut, Senior Research Fellow, Horn of Africa and Southern Africa, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study

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

Published in Economy
The Board of Directors of Ecobank Nigeria Limited has announced, the appointment of Patrick Akinwuntan as the Managing Director designate of Ecobank Nigeria, subject to the approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
 
Prior to this appointment, Akinwuntan was the Group Executive, Consumer Banking responsible for leading the Consumer Banking business across Ecobank’s global network of 40 countries, 36 of which are in Africa.
 
As a seasoned banker with over 20 years of senior and executive management experience, Akinwuntan has held several strategic positions for the Ecobank Group in Ghana, Togo, and Nigeria.
 
He had previously been a Group Executive Director on the Board of ETI and earlier, Executive Director in Ecobank Nigeria.
 
Akinwuntan started his career with Ecobank in 1996 as Head of Commercial Bank and Regional Head in Ecobank Nigeria and since then he has held various senior and executive positions in Nigeria and within the Ecobank Group, including Executive Director, Retail Bank, Ecobank Nigeria, Group Chief Finance Officer, ETI, Group Executive Director, Operations & Technology, amongst others.
 
Prior to joining Ecobank, Akinwuntan was a General Manager, Springfountain Management Consultants, Lagos from 1993 – 1996; Deputy Manager – Corporate Finance, Credit and Marketing, Manufacturers Merchant Bank Plc, Lagos from 1991 – 1993, and; was a Supervisor in Ernst & Young International (Chartered Accountants), Lagos from 1987 – 1991.
 
A fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (FCA), Patrick also holds a Masters in Business Administration from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife. He is an alumnus of the senior executive program (SEP) of the Harvard Business School, an honorary senior member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria and an associate of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria.
 
In line with our leadership and business continuity procedures, the outgoing Managing Director, Charles Kie, will continue to manage Ecobank Nigeria throughout the transition period and ensure a smooth handover to Akinwuntan.
 
Meanwhile, Chairman, Board of Ecobank Nigeria, John Aboh, has congratulated Patrick on his new appointment.
 
He said: “We warmly welcome Patrick back to Ecobank Nigeria and look forward to providing him with full support from the Board. I must, once again, extend our most sincere gratitude to Charles for his tremendous contributions to Ecobank Nigeria’s development and wish him every success in his future endeavors.”
 
Source: The Guardian
 
Published in Bank & Finance

The Federal Government of Nigeria have unveiled the branding and livery for the new national carrier, Nigeria Air, and stated that the airline would be inaugurated at the end of this year.

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Aviation in Abuja, the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, unveiled the carrier at a press conference during the Farnborough Air Show in London. 

Sirika was quoted as saying, “I am very pleased to tell you that we are finally on track to launching a new national flag carrier for our country, Nigeria Air. We are all fully committed to fulfilling the campaign promise made by our President, Muhammadu Buhari, in 2015. We are aiming to launch Nigeria Air by the end of this year.

“We obtained the Certificate of Compliance from the Nigerian Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission two weeks ago and can now go into the investor search. I am confident that we will have a well-run national flag carrier that is a global player, compliant with international safety standards and one which has the customer at its heart.

“We hope to establish an airline that communicates the essence of our beautiful country; an airline we can all be proud of.”

The ministry said the branding and naming of the new national carrier came after a social media campaign that was undertaken by the Ministry of Transportation (Aviation).

It said invited Nigerian youths were asked for their input in order to come up with a name for the new flag carrier, adding that the ministry’s Facebook page and website engaged over 400,000 people.

The ministry said extensive market research was carried out, which involved focus groups across the country, and over 100 interviews with aviation stakeholders and professionals, politicians as well as business owners.

It also stated that it was currently running an aviation road map that includes airport concession, aerotropolis, an aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul centre, agro allied terminals, the national carrier and an aircraft leasing company. 

“The government will support the launch of the new flag carrier with viability gap funding in a public private partnership arrangement to deliver a national flag carrier guided by international standards,” the ministry added.

Sirika said the Federal Government had learnt a lot of lessons from the experience of the defunct Nigeria Airways, and was now determined not to repeat the mistakes that led to its demise.

Meanwhile, Sirika has stated that the Federal Government has selected 81 routes for the commencement of operation of Nigeria Air.

Speaking at the Farnborough Airshow in London following the unveiling of the new national carrier, the minister was quoted to have said that for a start, the airline would operate 40 domestic, regional and sub-regional and 41 international routes.

He added that the airline would operate on a Public-Private Partnership model, while investors and strategic partners would decide who would run it.

He said, “This airline is a business and not a social service. It is not intended to kill any airline in Nigeria but complement it and promote it. It must be done in the right way so that it will be here to stay. 

“Government will not hold shares beyond five per cent at the topmost. This airline has the backing of the government. Government will come up with funding according to the business case that has been delivered to the government. We will engage the youth of Nigeria because we do believe in the ‘Not Too Young to Run’.

“We engaged them in the campaign to name this airline. We engaged 400,000 Nigerian youths to arrive at the name of the airline. All of their ideas were taken and digested and we came up with what is an average. The airline will take into cognizance the multicultural nature of the nation through its diversity. We want to use this airline to make a statement that yes, we can do it.”

The minister also said the government would fast-track the airline’s International Air Transport Association’s membership and safety audit.

An aviation expert, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (retd), however, stated that the Federal Government’s route plan was not properly thought out. 

He said the routes were already saturated with the new airline’s competitors, adding that this might stifle its growth.

“Whoever is planning these routes for the new national carrier should go into records and see what happened along same routes between Nigeria Airways and KLM; Nigeria Airways and South Africa Airways and Nigeria and Virgin Atlantic. You cannot go into the same business with your competitor(s) as partners,” he said.

Published in Travel & Tourism
Shoprite's weak sales could indicate that Pick n Pay may be taking market share, an analyst believes. 
Shoprite posted turnover growth of only 3.3%, to R145.6 billion, on Wednesday morning.
Its share price was slaughtered on Wednesday.
Shoprite’s weak sales performance could indicate that the long-suffering Pick n Pay may be taking some of its market share, an analyst said on Wednesday.
 
Earlier on Wednesday, Shoprite reported a trading update for the year to end-June. Turnover rose only 3.3%, to R145.6 billion.
 
Gryphon research analyst and portfolio manager Casparus Treurnicht said the update shows that the past six months were clearly horrible for Shoprite.
 
The group previously reported turnover of 7.4% for the first half of the year, which means that turnover must have lost considerable momentum over the last six months.
 
By comparison, Pick n Pay’s South African sales grew by 8.0% in the three months to end-February. 
 
After bleeding customers in recent years, Pick n Pay has reduced its labour force by a tenth and streamlined operations. It has also invested in logistics and new stores, and within six months, over R1 billion had been extended to new Pick n Pay credit card holders. And in the past year, Pick n Pay invested R500 million in price cuts to become more competitive. 
 
"I believe Shoprite took some strain due to Pick and Pay getting more competitive but just as important, Shoprite suffering from a much weaker than expected economy," says Treurnicht. 
 
The trading environment is extremely tough, as is evident from Statistics SA latest retail sales number, also released on Wednesday: retail sales rose only 1.9% in the year to May.
 
Shoprite also faced hard times in some of its African markets. Its latest trading update had to account for the effect of hyperinflation in Angola. 
 
By late afternoon, Shoprite’s share price was down more than 5% to R208.89, though it recovered slightly to above R211. Treurnicht thinks that the share, which is still trading at a price-earnings ratio of more than 20 times, is still expensive.
 
“I think we’ll see the retail sector sell off in general but also Pick n Pay starting to outperform Shoprite. Pick n Pay grew sales between 5% and 5.5% consistently over each half for the last two years. It seems [Pick n Pay CEO Richard] Brasher has a clearly-defined strategy.”
 
 
Credit: Fin24
Published in Opinion & Analysis

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