Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 08 January 2019
In a year when the biggest names in tech were embroiled in scandals, there's at least one executive who managed to get out of 2018 unscathed: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who saw his net worth increase by more than any of his billionaire peers.
 
Bezos claimed the title of world's richest person at the beginning of the year and unseated the Microsoft founder Bill Gates from his 24-year streak at the top of Forbes' ranking of the richest Americans. Now the Amazon CEO can say he increased his wealth in 2018 - by $24 billion, to be exact - by more than any of the richest 500 people in Bloomberg's Billionaires Index.
 
Bezos finished off the year with a net worth of $123 billion, and he's the only person on the list to have a 12-digit net worth. But that isn't even Bezos' peak net worth - over the summer, he surpassed a net worth of $150 billion to become the richest man ever in modern history.
 
To put that in perspective, Bezos makes almost $4.5 million in a single hour. With that wealth, spending $88,000 to him is like an average American spending $1, Business Insider calculated.
 
Bezos hasn't shown any signs of slowing down, if Amazon's rapid expansion in 2018 into cloud computing, pharmaceuticals, and other industries is any indication.But while Bezos saw his net worth rise, other billionaires didn't see the same success. Amid Facebook's year of data leaks and a rise in public distrust of the company, CEO Mark Zuckerberg lost more money than anyone else on Bloomberg's index. Zuckerberg's net worth took a hit of almost $20 billion this year and is now pegged at a cool $52.9 billion.
 
Rounding out the top five billionaires on Bloomberg's ranking are Gates ($90 billion), the investor Warren Buffett ($82.9 billion), the CEO of LVMH, Bernard Arnault ($67.3 billion), and the Spanish fashion executive Amancio Ortega ($58.7 billion).
 
 
Source: Business Insider
Published in Business
A report by the Secretary General of the United Nations on the activities of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, UNIWAS, has said that Nigeria lost an estimated $2.8 billion in revenue due to oil related crimes in 2018.
 
The report, which was released in New York on Monday, covered from July 1, 2018 to Dec. 31, 2018.
 
The report said: “Maritime crime and piracy off the coast of West Africa continued to pose a threat to peace, security and development in the region.
 
“Oil-related crimes resulted in the loss of nearly 2.8 billion dollars in revenues last year in Nigeria, according to government figures.
 
“Between January 1 and November 23, there were 82 reported incidents of maritime crime and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.’’
 
It also noted, that compared to what obtained in the previous report, there was an increase in drug trafficking throughout West Africa and the Sahel.
 
“In Benin, the Gambia and Nigeria, more than 50 kilogrammes of cocaine were seized between July and October by joint airport interdiction task forces.
 
“During the same period, joint airport interdiction task forces seized more than six kilogrammes of methamphetamines, eight kilogramme of heroin (double the amount in the first half of 2018) and 2.6 tonnes of cannabis.
 
“Drug production across the region was also reportedly on the rise, with more than 100 kilogrammes of ephedrine and phenacetin seized by competent authorities,’’ the report said.
 
The UN report further revealed that the during it covered, conflicts between farmers and herders resulted in loss of lives, destruction of livelihoods and property, population displacements and human rights violations and abuses.
 
It also added that outbreaks of violence were recorded in many states across Nigeria, although with more frequency in the Middle Belt region, as well as Adamawa and Taraba, adding that the rise in conflict between farmers and herders was closely linked with demographic pressures, desertification and the attendant loss of grazing reserves and transhumance routes, which had been exacerbated by climate change.
 
The report further identified others to include challenges in the implementation of effective land management and climate change adaptation policies, and limited enforcement of existing pastoral laws.
 
Political and economic interests, the erosion of traditional conflict resolution mechanisms, and weapons proliferation, were also listed as some of the other factors attributed to the increased cases of herders-farmers conflict.
 
 
Source: The Ripples
Published in Business
2018 was a year characterised by abysmal stock-market performances all over the world. South African shares lost more than 11% this year. Europe had its worst year since the financial crisis, and in the USA, barring a drastic upswing on New Year's Eve, the same is likely to be true.
 
One nation's stock market, however, takes the crown as the world's worst in 2018: China.
 
The CSI 300, China's benchmark share index, finished trading for the year on Friday, December 28, and at its close had lost roughly 27% of its value, almost double the fall of its closest rival, Japan's Nikkei 225, which slid 14%.
 
Reasons for the Chinese stock market's slump are numerous, with global factors such as the continued tightening of monetary policy in developed nations and the ongoing trade dispute between Washington and Beijing helping to subdue stocks in the country.
 
Chinese investors, however, have also been forced to contend with a whole other set of concerns.
 
Investors realised the blockbuster growth China has enjoyed over the last decade is on the decline, and that things are likely to slow down to a strong, but not stellar, rate.
 
That view was exacerbated by the rise of the trade war between the US and China, which has seen the world's two largest economies exchange tit-for-tat tariffs, which now apply to goods totaling close to a cumulative $300 billion.
 
Many economists see the trade war having a major negative impact on Chinese growth, with JPMorgan in October saying a full-blown trade war could have a 1% shrinking effect on the economy. Tensions may have thawed a little after the Xi-Trump summit in Argentina, but 2019 could see the fight kick off once again.
 
Not only is the trade war helping to subdue the Chinese economy, there are also fears that something much more devastating is lurking beneath the surface. Numerous major institutions have warned of worrying trends, with the ratings agency S&P Global in October highlighting a hidden debt pile in the country worth as much as $6 trillion.
 
 
Source: NAN
Published in Bank & Finance
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria has told the Gabonese military that military coups and government are out of vogue and urged it to respect the country’s constitutional provisions.
 
President Buhari, who was once a military head of state between 1 January 1984 and 25 August 1985, said:
 
“The military officers in Gabon should understand that the era of military coups and governments in Africa and indeed worldwide, is long gone.
 
“Democracy is supreme and the constitutional stipulations on the peaceful change of administration must be respected. That is the only way we can ensure peace and stability not only within the country but also in the region.”
 
President Buhari expressed his view in the aftermath of the aborted coup in Gabon on Monday.
 
Some renegade soldiers, led by a Lieutenant Ondo Obiang Kelly seized the state-owned radio station, sacked the government of President Ali Bongo and announced the formation of a National Restoration Council.
 
Obiang Kelly was the deputy commander of the Republican Guard and head of a previously unknown group, the Patriotic Youth Movement of the Gabonese Defence and Security Forces. He said he was reading a communique by the military and urged the people to join his rebellion.
 
But hours after, the Gabonese government restored order, killed two of the plotters and arrested the chief plotter.
 
President Buhari, who is also the ECOWAS Chairman, urged military officers with political ambitions to resign or face their constitutional role.
 
He also enjoined the people of Gabon to remain on the side of peace, security, stability and democracy in their country.
 
 
Source: PmNews
Published in World

On December 30, 2018, 46 million citizens cast their votes in a historic election in the Democratic Republic of Congo. There hasn’t been a peaceful transition of power in this country since the end of Belgian rule in 1960. If this election produces a result that’s widely viewed as credible, it will cement a new era of representative government in Africa.

The deferral of representative government in the DRC has a long history. After the Berlin Conference (1884-85), Belgium acquired the Congo as a colonial territory and, from Léopold II to King Baudoin I, Belgian administrators oversaw one of the most brutal regimes on the continent. In 1960, Patrice Lumumba became the first prime minister, sharing power with Joseph Kasa-Vubu as president. A confluence of internal and external factors unleashed a crisis that led to Lumumba’s assassination in 1961 and Mobutu Sese Seko’s rise to power in 1965. With the support of Western nations, Mobutu presided over the looting of his country’s natural wealth as one of the most tenacious gatekeeping dictators of the 20th century. He clung to power for more than 30 years.

In 1997, Laurent-Désiré Kabila took over as president in the midst of conflict that spilled over from the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Assassinated by his bodyguard in 2001, Kabila was succeeded by his son Joseph who has been in office ever since. Violent protests followed rigged elections in 2006 and 2011.

The quiet work of pro-democracy activism has been ongoing in the Congo since 2012 and the process of cultivating a demanding citizenry is visibly yielding results. A recent example was when 21 civic organisations mobilised, vowing to use non-violent protest to defend the outcome of the election.

There can be little doubt that a paradigm shift of historic importance is underway.

Widespread irregularities have been documented in the recent election despite the presence of 40,000 observers. Nonetheless, preliminary reports by the powerful Catholic church with direct knowledge of the process, claim that one presidential candidate has clearly won. Diplomatic sources identify the winner as Martin Fayulu.

Once results started to come in on December 31, confirming Fayulu’s overwhelming victory, the government shut down the Internet, Radio France Internationale’s FM broadcasting signal, and cell phone service across the country. Many believe Kabila’s attempt to fix the election in favour of his handpicked successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, didn’t work. They interpret the information blackout as stalling and censorship, rather than a means of avoiding false news as alleged.

As the world waits amid growing international pressure for the national electoral commission to make official the results, it’s already possible to see that significant change has come to the Congo.

Massive voter turnout under very difficult circumstances is compelling evidence of the people’s commitment to a democratic transition, even though the process was far from perfect.

Wave of progressive political change

Recent civic engagement in the DRC has emerged as part of a pan-African trend. In 2012, students in Goma founded La LUCHA, shorthand for “struggle for change.” La LUCHA is a non-partisan citizen movement with as many as 3,000 activists who engage in non-violent campaigns to raise awareness of human rights and cultivate a demanding citizenry.

Another citizen’s movement is Filimbi, which means “blow of the whistle” in Swahili.

In 2011, rappers and journalists in Senegal founded Y’en a marre (“We are fed up”). They protested against unreliable electricity and corruption, registered young voters and ousted Abdoulaye Wade. In 2013, hip-hop artist, Smockey Bambara, and reggae artist, Sams’K le Jah, joined forces in Burkina Faso to create Balai Citoyen (“Citizen’s Broom”). They led an uprising that evicted Blaise Compaoré after 27 years and then swept the streets as a symbolic gesture of civic engagement inspired by Thomas Sankara.

In 2015 and 2016, massive mobilisation in the DRC, supported by activists from Senegal and Burkina Faso, put pressure on Kabila, who ultimately decided not to cling to power. A coalition in the DRC formed the “2016 Citizen’s Front,” including Filimbi, la LUCHA, Katumbi, Fayulu calling for Kabila to respect the Constitution.

In 2016, la LUCHA shared Amnesty International’s Ambassadors of Conscience Award with Angelique Kidjio, Y’en a marre and Balai Citoyen.

Breaking a cycle of violence

Fayulu is an anti-corruption reform candidate. He ran on a platform promising to restore dignity, to invest in education and to enforce the rule of law. Educated in France and the US, he was an executive at Exxon Mobile before being elected to Parliament in 2006.

Fayulu has said he’ll create jobs in agriculture, tourism and develop local expertise to add value to the Congo’s natural resources. He was backed by an opposition coalition and supported by two powerful figures: Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former warlord, and Moïse Katumbi, a wealthy businessman from Katanga.

If Fayulu becomes president, the cycles of violence that brought dictators to power will have finally come to an end. There’s no disputing that Kabila’s regime did use violence to intimidate citizens during the election process. But it doesn’t appear to have completely undermined the process.

To be sure, some observers will dismiss the election as late, flawed and a chaotic mess. Doubtless more remains to be done to guarantee the integrity of future elections. And whoever wins will have much to do to recover from decades of corrosive violence and autocratic rule.

Yet it’s also possible to look at this election as evidence of the people’s commitment to democracy, even when the process is messy. The fact is that this election – and its promise for the future – adds to a wave of progressive political change across Africa led by students, musicians, journalists and activist citizens.The Conversation

 

Phyllis Taoua, Professor of Francophone Studies (Africa, Caribbean), Faculty Affiliate with Africana Studies, World Literature Program and Human Rights Pracice, University of Arizona

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis
Tuesday, 08 January 2019 08:35

World Bank president steps down

The World Bank Group president, Jim Yong Kim, on Monday announced he would be stepping down from his position effective February 1.

Mr Kim’s announcement is coming more than three years ahead of the end of his tenure in 2022.

“It has been a great honour to serve as President of this remarkable institution, full of passionate individuals dedicated to the mission of ending extreme poverty in our lifetime,” Kim said his statement on Monday.

In his place, the World Bank Group CEO, Kristalina Georgieva, will assume the role of interim president effective February 1. Mr Kim said the work of the World Bank Group is more important now than ever as the aspirations of the poor rise all over the world.

He said problems like climate change, pandemics, famine and refugees continue to grow in both their scale and complexity. 

“Serving as President and helping position the institution squarely in the middle of all these challenges has been a great privilege,” Kim said.

As World Bank President since July 2012, the outgoing World Bank Group head noted infrastructure finance as one of the greatest needs in the developing world. He said he led the Group to mobilize its financing by working with private sector partners to build sustainable, climate-smart infrastructure in developing nations.

Immediately after his exit, Mr Kim said he would join a firm focussing on increasing infrastructure investments in developing countries. He said details of his new position would be made public later. 

Under his Presidency of the Group, Mr Kim said the World Bank set the target of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and to grow shared prosperity, by focusing on the 40 percent of the population in developing countries.

Besides, he said the Bank enjoyed strong support from shareholders to better position it to respond to the development needs, particularly its Fund for the poorest, the International Development Agency (IDA), which achieved record replenishments that enabled it increase its work in areas suffering from fragility, conflict, and violence.

Published in World

Mobile money transactions have increased by about 177 per cent between 2013 and March 2018, reaching GH¢312. 93 million and valued at GH¢52.35 billion transactions in March this year, Dr Ernest Addison, the Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), has said.

He said companies with GH¢48.24 million transactions were valued at GH¢5.91 billion in March 2015, whilst mobile money accounts had increased from 8.20 to 25.3 million.

He said the increase in mobile money transactions present a huge opportunity to mobile money operators to bring on-board all economically-active people into the formal economy and good prospect for domestic revenue mobilisation drive in achieving the ‘‘Ghana beyond aid’’ agenda, and that of Africa’s economic emancipation.

Dr Addison, speaking at the launch of the Mobile Money Interoperability Project, in Accra on Thursday, urged banks and mobile money operators to continue working together to develop new, innovative and efficient mobile-based products and services at reasonable costs to meet the demands of consumers.

The Mobile Money Payment Interoperability is the service which allows direct and seamless transfer of funds from one mobile money wallet to another mobile money wallet across networks, which was developed by the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS).

It creates convenience for mobile money users to transact business and drives financial inclusion, lowers cost of transaction, increase service reach and reduces reliance on cash for payments.

It also provides a financial transaction engine that is versatile, efficient and robust and enhances patronage by both banked and unbanked segment of the population.

Dr Addison said the rolling out of the initiative marked a significant milestone in the collaborative efforts between stakeholders in the financial services sector to push the boundaries of Ghana’s payment systems.

He said the launch further attested to the BoG’s broad objective of promoting an all-inclusive, safe and sound financial sector, noting that collaboration between the financial institutions and the telecommunications sector would accelerate national economic growth and alleviate poverty.

Dr Addison commended the Vice President for his encouragement and supporting the realisation of the system into the financial landscape and pledged the support of other market participants in ensuring the success of the programme.

He said with the implementation of the system, banks could leverage on the existing 143,418 mobile money agents and 25 million mobile money accounts to expand the scope and appeal of electronic payments,

The BoG Governor challenged financial institutions to offer more innovative payment products that provide convenient, simplicity and speed at minimal transaction costs as well as ensuring efficient means of delivering financial services in deprived communities.

‘‘Today’s launch started about a decade ago with the establishment of the Real Time Gross Settlement System, the Electronic Central Securities Depository, the Automated Clearing House system and Codeline Cheque Truncation system.

‘‘All these systems have been working smoothly over the years and today, we are adding another layer to harness the advantages of technology and bring most economic activities into financial system,’’ he said.

Dr Addison assured that the development of the country’s financial sector was on course, noting that the unveiling of the payment system was fundamental to that process.

‘‘The full implementation of the system is expected to further deepen financial inclusion, promote the country’s cash-lite agenda and most significantly, serve as a viable vehicle for financial intermediation.

‘‘Presently, the country is witnessing a shift to a new kind of retail banking system where a large segment of the population, previously unbanked, are being absorbed into the financial services sector, via mobile money, ‘’he noted.

He said over the years the BoG had taken measures aimed at strengthening the corporate governance and risk management structures and practices of the banking sector.

He noted that a stronger and resilient banking sector, together with the continued improvements in the payment systems would help support the country’s growth agenda.

The BoG Governor underscored the need to enhance consumer confidence in the reliability of mobile money networks, safety and security of transfers for mobile payments to thrive as means of access to financial services.

 

1 GHS = 0.204570 USD

 

GNA

Published in Bank & Finance

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