Items filtered by date: Thursday, 07 February 2019
US President Donald Trump has named senior Treasury Department official David Malpass to lead the World Bank.
 
If approved, he is expected to push the bank to narrow the focus of its lending to the world's poorest countries, among other changes.
 
His nomination has stirred debate, as some worry that Mr Malpass, a critic of the bank, will seek to reduce its role.
 
White House officials said Mr Malpass, a long-time Republican, would be a "pro-growth reformer".
 
At a press conference in Washington, Mr Trump praised Mr Malpass as a "strong advocate for accountability at the World Bank for a long time".
 
The president, who frequently criticises multilateral institutions, said he expected Mr Malpass to ensure that the bank's dollars "are spent effectively and wisely, serve American interests and defend American values."
 
The White House describes Mr Malpass as a "pro-growth reformer"
Who is David Malpass?
Mr Malpass, a Trump loyalist, was a senior economic adviser to the US president during his 2016 election campaign.
 
He has served as the Treasury Department's undersecretary for international affairs since August 2017.
 
The 62-year-old has criticised the World Bank, along with other institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, for being "intrusive" and "entrenched".
 
He has also pushed the bank to reduce its lending to China, which he says is too wealthy to deserve such aid, and deploys harsh practices when lending to other countries.
 
Who is Trump's World Bank pick Malpass?
The US, the World Bank's largest shareholder and a major source of its funding, has traditionally held sway over the selection process for president.
 
An American has led the institution since its start in the 1940s, when it was created to help rebuild Europe in the aftermath of World War II.
 
However, there has been increased pressure to diversify the bank's leadership, reflecting the economic rise of other countries in recent decades.
 
Counting the votes
It is not clear if other countries will propose alternatives to challenge Mr Malpass for the presidency.
 
The World Bank, which has 189 members, is accepting names until 14 March and plans to create a shortlist of up to three candidates for interviews.
 
Its executive board expects to vote on candidates before its April meeting.
 
The US controls 16% of the 25-member board's voting power.
 
European shareholders, who control another significant chunk of voting power, are also unlikely to block the pick, according to News reports.
 
The World Bank helped to fund repairs of the Kariba Dam
White House officials said Mr Malpass would champion "pro-growth" policies, emphasising the role of the private sector, increased lending transparency and more "competitive" tax systems.
 
He will also oversee implementation of reforms the US pushed last year, which coupled an increase in money for the bank with changes aimed at reducing lending to China.
 
Officials said Mr Malpass's nomination did not signal a lack of support for the organisation, which helps finance development projects with loans, credits and grants, committing more than $60bn (£46.3bn) in its most recent financial year,
 
However, they said the administration did want to see changes to make it more effective.
 
"Sometimes that does require real reform and modernising ways of doing business," a senior administration official said during a background briefing with reporters.
 
The World Bank's search was triggered by the unexpected resignation of Jim Yong Kim
If approved, Mr Malpass would replace Jim Yong Kim, a doctor and former president of Dartmouth University, who unexpectedly resigned last month.
 
Mr Kim, whose tenure had been rocky, is joining a private equity fund.
 
 
Source: PmNews
Published in World
The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has said that the Federal Government recorded fiscal deficit of N910.41 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018.
 
The CBN stated this in its latest economic report.
 
It said: “Federally-collected revenue, at N2.41tn, in the fourth quarter of 2018, was 27.4 per cent and 4.8 per cent lower than the estimate and the receipts in the preceding quarter, respectively.
 
“The development relative to budget estimate was due to the shortfall in receipts from both oil and non-oil revenue in the reviewed quarter. Federal Government estimated retained revenue and total expenditures were N916.44bn and N1.826tn, respectively, resulting in an estimated deficit of N910.41bn in the fourth quarter of 2018.”
 
According to the report, the cessation of rainfall in the period led to widespread dryness across the country.
 
The report also said that agricultural activities in the fourth quarter were dominated by harvesting of tubers, grains and vegetables.
 
“In the livestock sub-sector, farmers continued with the breeding of poultry birds and fattening of cattle in anticipation of the end of year sales,” the CBN said.
 
It said the end-period headline inflation on year-on-year and 12-month moving average bases for the review period were 11.44 per cent and 12.10 per cent, respectively.
 
The apex bank maintained a non-expansionary monetary policy stance in the fourth quarter of 2018, aimed at further curbing inflationary pressure.
 
Broad money supply (M3), on a quarter-on-quarter basis, grew by 8.3 per cent to N33.42tn at end-December 2018, compared with the growth of 5.1 per cent at end-September 2018.
 
The development, the report said reflected, wholly, the 4.5 per cent increase in domestic credit (net) of the banking system, adding that broad money supply grew by 16.6 per cent, compared with the 7.6 per cent and 0.6 per cent growth recorded at the end of the preceding quarter of 2018 and the corresponding quarter of 2017, respectively.
 
The report also indicated that growth in M3 was due to the 6.4 per cent and 18.5 per cent increase in domestic credit (net) and foreign assets (net) of the banking system, respectively.
 
On a quarter-on-quarter basis, narrow money supply (M1), rose by 9.2 per cent, compared with 0.5 per cent and 11.0 per cent at the end of the preceding quarter, due largely to the 19.4 per cent and 7.5 increase in its currency outside banks and demand deposit components, respectively.
 
Developments in banks’ deposit rates were mixed, while lending rates trended downwards in the review quarter.
 
With the exception of the one-month and three-month deposit rates which fell by 0.26 and 0.04 percentage point to 8.79 per cent and 9.43 per cent, respectively, all other deposit rates of various maturities rose from a range of 3.68 – 10.10 per cent to 3.86 – 10.52 per cent at end-December 2018.
 
The CBN report further stated that average savings rate remained unchanged at 4.07 per cent, same as at the end of the third quarter of 2018, while the average term deposit rate rose by 0.12 percentage points to 8.63 per cent at end of the review quarter.
 
 
Source: NAN
Published in Bank & Finance
Thursday, 07 February 2019 10:36

French-German rail merger blocked by Brussels

Brussels has knocked down a proposed French-German rail merger, designed to help Europe compete with China.
 
The EU's competition commission blocked the tie-up, saying uniting France's Alstom with the rail arm of Germany's Siemens would lead to higher prices.
 
The firms had said the merger would create an industrial champion on a par with other global players.
 
France's finance minister, Bruno Le Maire said the decision would "serve the interests of China".
 
"The Commission prohibited the merger because the companies were not willing to address our serious competition concerns," Margrethe Vestager, the European competition commissioner said in a statement.
 
"Without sufficient remedies, this merger would have resulted in higher prices for the signalling systems that keep passengers safe and for the next generations of very high-speed trains," she added.
 
Siemens makes ICE trains for Deutsche Bahn and builds units for Channel Tunnel operator Eurostar. Alstom manufactures France's TGV bullet train amongst other rolling stock and signalling systems.
 
The tie-up would have created an entity with revenues of approximately €15bn (£13bn) with significant operations across Europe's rail network.
 
But China's state owned railway behemoth CRRC, the largest global player, has been competing more aggressively for overseas contracts in recent years.
 
Change rules:
In December Alstom and Siemens submitted proposals to address the Commission's competition concerns. These included selling signalling and rolling stock products. But the measures failed to satisfy the competition authority.
 
But those supporting the deal, including government ministers in both France and Germany said the Commission should look beyond Europe in sectors such as transport and banking.
 
German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said Berlin and Paris were working on a proposal to change European competition rules.
 
Siemens' chief executive Joe Kaeser said: "Europe urgently needs structural reform... protecting customer interests locally must not mean that Europe cannot be on a level playing field with leading nations like China, the United States and others."
 
 
Source: BBC
Published in Business
President Muhammadu Buhari has announced that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will soon commence drilling for a deeper search for oil and gas in the Benue Trough.
 
This, he said, is the next step following the commencement of drilling in the Kolmani River area, located within Bauchi and Gombe States.
 
President Buhari, who made the announcement on Wednesday while addressing traditional rulers at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Makurdi, Benue State, recalled that as Minister of Petroleum in the 70s, he had seen “very interesting seismic surveys” that promised oil and gas from the Chad Basin through the Benue Trough down to the Delta region.
 
He said for mostly commercial reasons, investment was directed to the Niger Delta given the promise of quicker results.
He narrated past efforts by him as Military Head of State to diversify the country’s sources of oil to strengthen its unity, promising that his administration will intensify efforts in this direction.
 
President Buhari welcomed the observation by the Tor Tiv, His Royal Majesty, Professor James Ayatse, that peace had been restored to Benue State following the spike, sometimes back in farmers and herders’ clashes as well as the fact that the President had so far conducted a decent and peaceful campaign.
 
The President promised to look at requests for more roads, bridges and tertiary institutions made by the royal father.
 
Earlier, the Tor Tiv had expressed appreciation to President Buhari, “for the way and manner you have conducted peaceful campaign, no riots, no violence, setting good example. We had a challenging time in 2016. Thanks for your intervention, for accepting our appeal to step up security. Operation Whirl Strike has succeeded in chasing away violent herders.”
 
The Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom in his remarks, called for free and fair elections, urging all contestants to abide by the outcome.
 
 
Source: The Ripples
Published in News Economy

Much has been made about China’s role and profile in Africa and the factors underlying its activities on the continent. Less debated is the spread and depth of Russia’s contemporary presence and profile in Africa.

There was a strong Russian influence in Africa during the heyday of the Soviet Union. The post-independence governments of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda and Benin at some point all received diplomatic or military support from the Soviet Union.

But this began to change after the superpower started to collapse in December 1991. More than a quarter of a century later Russia’s President Vladimir Putin seems to have new aspirations in Africa. This is in line with his desire to restore Russia to great power status.

Putin places a high premium on geopolitical relations and the pursuit of Russian assertiveness in the global arena. This includes reestablishing Russia’s sphere of influence, which extends to the African continent.

Like Beijing, Moscow’s method of trade and investment in Africa is without the prescriptions or conditionalities of actors like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Russia is gradually increasing its influence in Africa through strategic investment in energy and minerals. It’s also using military muscle and soft power.

Increasingly, the pressing question is: is the relationship between China and Africa as good for Africa as it is for China? The same question applies to Russia-Africa relations.

Energy and minerals

Interaction between Russia and Africa has grown exponentially this century, with trade and investment growing by 185% between 2005 and 2015.

Economically, much of Russia’s focus in Africa centres on energy. Key Russian investments in Africa are in the oil, gas and nuclear power sectors.

The fact that 620 million people in Africa don’t have electricity provides Russia’s nuclear power industry with potential markets. Several Russian companies, such as Gazprom, Lukoil, Rostec and Rosatom are active in Africa. Most activity is in Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Nigeria and Uganda. In Egypt, negotiations have already been finalised with Moscow for the building of the country’s first nuclear plant .

These companies are mostly state-run, with investments often linked to military and diplomatic interests.

Moscow’s second area of interest is Africa’s mineral riches. This is particularly evident in Zimbabwe, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia and the Central African Republic.

In Zimbabwe, Russia is developing one of the world’s largest deposits of platinum group metals.

Russia has also been reestablishing links with Angola, where Alrosa, the Russian giant, mines diamonds. Discussions between Russia and Angola have also focused on hydrocarbon production.Uranium in Namibia is another example.

Russia’s current controversial involvement in the Central African Republic (CAR) began in 2017, when a team of Russian military instructors and 170 “civilian advisers” were sent by Moscow to Bangui to train the country’s army and presidential guard. Shortly after that, nine weapons shipments arrived in the CAR.

Interest in the country has focused on exploring its natural resources on a concession basis. The murder of three Russian journalists in a remote area of the country last year focused the world’s attention on what looked like a Kremlin drive for influence and resources.

Military influence and diplomacy

Russia is the second largest exporter of arms globally, and a major supplier to African states. Over the past two decades it has pursued military ties with various African countries, such as Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Military ties are linked to bilateral military agreements as well as providing boots on the ground in UN peacekeeping operations. Combined, China and Russia outnumber the other permanent members of the UN Security Council in contributing troop to UN peacekeeping efforts.

Russia has also been actively supporting Zimbabwe. Shortly after it was reported in 2018 that China had placed new generation surface-to-air missiles in Zimbabwe, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced that his country was pursuing military cooperation.

Significantly, Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said that his country may need Russia’s help with the modernisation of its defence force during a recent visit to Moscow.

Russia, Africa and the future

Both Russia and China are keen to play a future role in Africa. The difference between these two major powers is that China forms part of the Asian regional economy. This will surpass North America and Europe combined, in terms of global power - based on GDP, population size, military spending and technological investment.

China and India have sustained impressive economic growth over many years. And, their enormous populations make them two world powers of extraordinary importance. Growth prospects for the Russian economy, on the other hand, remain modest - between 1.5% and 1.8% a year for 2018-2010, against the current global average rate of 3.5% a year.

Still, Russia remains a major power in global politics. For African leaders, the key word is agency and the question is how to play the renewed Russian attention to their countries’ advantage, and not to fall victim to the contemporary “geopolitical chess” game played by the major powers on the continent.The Conversation

 

Theo Neethling, Professor and Head: Political Studies and Governance in the Humanities Faculty, University of the Free State

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

Published in Opinion & Analysis

China firmly opposes mercenary activities in Africa, and will always support African nations' pursuit of peace and prosperity, said Chinese Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ma Zhaoxu.

Mercenary activities are a threat to peace and stability in African countries, and China calls for greater international efforts to address the problem, said Ma, as Chinese President Xi Jinping's special representative at a UN Security Council meeting on mercenary activities in Africa.

He said these activities interfere with the internal affairs of the developing countries, and infringe on their sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, adding that China stands firmly against such activities.

The Chinese representative urged the international community to support African countries in accelerating their development, reducing poverty, eliminating the root causes for conflict and turmoil, and stepping up socio-economic development in African countries.

Ma also pledged China's continued support for Africa to achieve peace, stability and development, and expressed the hope for China and Africa to jointly build a closer community with a shared future.

Monday's meeting was called by Equatorial Guinea, which holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council in February.

Shortly before the meeting, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, president of Equatorial Guinea, spoke highly of the bilateral relations between his country and China during his meeting with Ma.

Obiang also said he attached importance to Equatorial Guinea's relations with China, adding that he was willing to further promote cooperation between the two countries in various fields.

GNA

Published in World
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