Items filtered by date: Sunday, 01 December 2019

India’s finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman said the government will unveil a series of infrastructure projects this month as part of a plan to invest 100 trillion rupees ($1.39 trillion) in the sector over the next five years.

Sitharaman said the investment will spur economic growth.

Her statement on Saturday, as cited in local newspapers, followed data released on Friday that showed India’s economic growth slowed to 4.5% in the July-September quarter – its weakest pace since 2013 – upping the pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to speed reforms.

“A set of officers are looking into the pipeline of projects that can be readied so that once the fund is ready, it could be front-loaded on these projects,” Sitharaman said at a business summit in Mumbai, the newspapers reported.

“That task is nearly completed. Before December 15, we will be able to announce frontloading of at least ten projects,” she said.

Modi came to power in 2014 on the promise to improve India’s economy and boost foreign investments, but he has struggled to meet those aims due to a lack of structural reforms. Modi won a second term in May and has taken various measures since 2014 to spur growth, including cutting the corporate tax and speeding up privatisation of state-run firms.

But several economic indicators show domestic consumption is weak, and many economists expect the current slowdown could persist for another two years.

Published in Engineering

A bronze cockerel taken by British colonial forces and donated to Jesus College Cambridge is to be returned to Nigeria in an unprecedented step that adds momentum to the growing repatriations movement.

The Okukor, described by the college as a “royal ancestral heirloom”, will be one of the first Benin bronzes to be returned to Nigeria by a major British institution since the punitive expedition in 1897 when thousands of bronzes were stolen from Benin City by British forces.

No specific date for return has been released but the college stated that the bronze cockerel “belongs with the current Oba at the Court of Benin”. The return was recommended by Jesus College’s Legacy of Slavery Working Party (LSWP), a group dedicated to looking at the institution’s connections to slavery, which confirmed the piece was donated in 1905 by the father of a student.

Sonita Alleyne, the master of Jesus College, said the decision was not taken to “erase history” but came after “diligent and careful” work that looked into the wider legacy of slavery at Jesus College. “We are an honest community, and after thorough investigation into the provenance of the Benin bronze … our job is to seek the best way forward,” she said.

The cockerel had been removed from its public display following calls from students for it to be sent back in 2016, with the college pledging to begin discussions about its future, including a possible return to Nigeria. In the three years since, the college says it has been in discussion with the Benin Dialogue Group, a collective of artists and museum representatives who meet to discuss the future of the bronzes.

Victor Ehikhamenor, a Nigerian artist and member of the Benin Dialogue Group, said: “No matter how small the gesture may look, it is a huge step towards the realisation of restitution of the works from the Benin Kingdom that were looted by the British. This is very important example, which I hope other Europeans, especially British institutions, will follow without any excuses or delays.”

Dan Hicks, a professor of archaeology at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford and a representative of the Benin Dialogue Group, said: “We have reached a tipping point in our national dialogues about the cultural restitution of objects looted under British colonialism.

“In the past, our attention on this matter was focused on national collections like the British Museum and the V A – but in reality such loot is held in dozens of institutions across the regions: city museums, art galleries and the collections of universities.”

The move follows Manchester Museum becoming the first UK institution to return ceremonial items to Aboriginal groups nearly a century after they were stolen by British forces. The repatriation of the artefacts, which include a traditional headdress made from emu feathers, could be the beginning of the return of tens of thousands of similar items from institutions across the UK.

The Jesus College announcement comes almost exactly 12 months after the release of a report commissioned by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, which recommended the return of colonial-era artefacts by France.

The report’s authors, the Senegalese economist Felwine Sarr and the French art historian Bénédicte Savoy, told the Guardian that the British Museum, which houses a huge collection of the Benin bronzes, was acting like “an ostrich with its head in the sand” by not acting faster on repatriations.

“There’s an expression in French, la politique de l’autruche, which means something is in front of you and you say you can’t see it, like an ostrich with its head in the sand,” Sarr told the Guardian. “They will have to respond and they can’t hide themselves any longer on the issue.”

The British Museum agreed with the report’s call for the establishment of “new and more equitable relationships between Europe and Africa”, and is represented in the Benin Dialogue Group.

Since the release of the report, Ivory Coast, Senegal and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have made formal requests for the return of artefacts. European countries including France and Germany have committed to handing back objects, with the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam opening talks with Sri Lanka and Indonesia and describing the Netherlands’ failure to return stolen artefacts as a “disgrace”.

The news comes a week after Open Society Foundations (OSF) announced a $15m initiative aimed at strengthening efforts to “restore cultural objects looted from the African continent”. It also follows the return of a colonial-era artefact by France, with Senegal receiving a sabre that belonged to a 19th-century Islamic scholar and ruler earlier in November.

Published in World

Uruguay’s Electoral Court has officially proclaimed Luis Lacalle Pou as the country’s president-elect after the final ballot inspection was concluded.

“The president and vice president-elect of the republic for the period of March 1, 2020, to March 1, 2025, are hereby proclaimed as the citizens Mr. Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou and Mrs. Beatriz Argimon Cedeira, respectively,” the electoral body announced in a statement on Saturday.

The official act proclaiming the president-elect was signed by the president of the Electoral Court, Jose Arocena, its vice president, Wilfredo Penco, and the other seven members of the body.

The unanimously approved text will be sent “to the Office of the President of the Republic, the General Assembly, and the proclaimed citizens.”

According to the final ballot count, which was announced on Saturday by the Electoral Court, Lacalle Pou of the National Party obtained 48.8 percent of the votes to the 47.3 percent obtained by Daniel Martinez of the ruling Broad Front coalition.

The ticket headed by Lacalle Pou and Argimon received 1,189,313 votes and that of Martinez and Graciela Villar received 1,152,271 votes.

Blank votes made up 1.6 percent of those counted and annulled votes made up 2.2 percent, for a total of 2,433,196 votes, with 100 percent of polling stations reporting.

Lacalle Pou, a 46-year-old lawyer who created a coalition in the second round presidential election with four other center-right parties, will assume the presidency on March 1, 2020, when the mandate of current president Tabare Vazquez concludes.

Published in World

When one talks about young Africans using smartphones, the dominant narrative is that these gadgets serve mostly as platforms for connection so that users can communicate and share greetings and information via text and images.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp and Signal take pride of place in that description, despite their murkier side. What has perhaps been overlooked is how smartphones are also affecting other facets of young people’s lives. One area is the ever-growing community of sports betting in Africa.

The phenomenon of sports betting among African youths has taken the region by storm. Recent polls and anecdotal reports point to a grim scenario, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. A 2017 GeoPoll survey found that up to 54% of sub-Saharan African youth between 17 and 35 years have engaged in sports gambling. Kenya, with 74% participation in sports betting, had by far the largest percentage of youth involvement in this activity. The survey of some 2,726 African millennials was conducted in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

A core driver of this trend has been the growing ubiquity of mobile telephony around the continent combined with the availability of smartphones. Added to this has been greater connectivity – including satellite access to sport matches – and a ballooning population of young people with high levels of unemployment.

In research on the subject we see that sports betting has brought many ills to young people in sub-Saharan Africa. These include severe gambling addiction and money laundering. Some of these concerns are also experienced in other parts of the world. These include smartphone addiction and a closely related phenomenon: internet addiction. These ills in turn lead to heightened levels of social anxiety and loneliness among the affected population.

The drivers?

Smartphone penetration around the continent has exhibited a remarkable growth rate. Cameroon, for instance, had 72% registered users of social networks among those aged 15 to 24 in 2016. This grew to that level from 43% in the first half of that year. The most popular social networks for that community was Facebook, Google+, Instagram and Twitter. This development has come at a time when there is growing interest in sports betting - the most popular gambling option for African youth. Mobile phones are the preferred avenue for sports betting.

Of course the increasing availability of smartphones is unleashing the innovative potential of many sub-Saharan African youth. The plethora of social media platforms have the potential to change lives around the continent. Many social media adaptions are the result of the ingenuity of sub-Saharan youth, like M-Pesa, Ensbuuko and WorldRemit (financial services); ButterflyiQ, Momconnect, Usalama (health and security); Cityaps, Musanga and Twiga Foods (supply chain platforms); and Ushahidi, tajirat al-Facebook and Kano’s WhatsApp entrepreneurs (to strengthen social cohesion).

A Kenyan man checks out the Football World Cup fixtures. Matches are often screened in small viewing centres. Daniel Irungu/EPA

Another driver is clever marketing and advances in technology - the digital satellite television space across the continent broadcasts sports events of African clubs and popular European soccer leagues. In Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and across much of sub-Saharan Africa, the advent of DStv (Digital Satellite Television) and other broadcast platforms have brought foreign league matches to viewing centres and hence to the doorstep of individuals who on their own who be hard-pressed to afford watching prized league games in their respective homes.

These viewing centres are in the nooks and crannies of urban centres in all these countries. In turn self-acclaimed fans of some of the biggest clubs in the world like Real Madrid, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Barcelona, Manchester City, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Dortmund, Juventus and Paris Germain can keep up with the performance of their teams without ever visiting the homes of these clubs.

A third driver is the youth bulge in Africa. The continent has the youngest population in the world, with an estimated 60% of people under the age of 25. Of the 420 million youth in Africa today, the majority are unemployed, have insecure jobs or are in casual employment. For many on the continent, the slick advertising of sports betting firms provides an irresistible proposition.The Conversation

 

Victor Odundo Owuor, Senior Research Associate, One Earth Future Foundation, University of Colorado Boulder

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

Published in Opinion & Analysis
  1. Opinions and Analysis

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