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Friday, 22 March 2019

The seventh annual Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF 2019), a Varkey Foundation initiative, to be staged at The Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai, UAE on Saturday 23 - Sunday 24 March, will focus on the

theme ‘Who is changing the world?’

The two-day forum will be attended by Global educational leaders and leading personalities from the public, private, social, entertainment and sports arenas, including over five former Presidents and Prime Ministers and 40 Education Ministers.

Among the key speakers spearheading sessions are Julius Maada Bio, President of Sierra Leone, Juan Manuel Santos, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former President of Colombia; Bana al-Abed, the Syrian

schoolgirl whose moving Twitter messages brought home to the world the horror of the siege of Aleppo; and Matteo Renzi, former Prime Minister of Italy.

Other change-makers include Steven Pinker, the world renowned Canadian psychologist, Mark Pollock, the first blind man to run to the South Pole, Kennedy ODede, a social entrepreneur that combats urban poverty and gender equality in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya and Mina Guli, a passionate water advocate and ultra runner.

Commenting on the summit, Founder of the Varkey Foundation and the Global Education & Skills Forum, Sunny Varkey said: “By sharing the stories of grassroots activists, campaigners, philanthropists, tech developers and many more, we can have a much smarter debate about how to solve challenges on a global scale. “Our fervent hope is that education leaders gathered at GESF 2019 will be able to learn from these pioneers to help make the change needed to give every child their birthright: a good education”.

The climax of the GESF will be the award ceremony of the US $1 million Global Teacher Prize 2019 on Sunday 24th March. This is the fifth time the prize will be awarded to one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession. And for the very first time, on the eve of the Global Teacher Prize ceremony, the Varkey Foundation will hold ‘The Assembly: A Global Teacher Prize Concert’ as a joyful ‘thank you’ to teachers all around the world for the unsung work they do every day.


By: Ebenezer Sasu

Published in World

Tropical cyclone Idai has made headlines across southern Africa throughout the month of March. Lingering in the Mozambique Channel at tropical cyclone intensity for six days, the storm made landfall in Beira, Mozambique in the middle of the month, then tracked in a westerly direction until its dissipation.

The greatest impact of the storm was experienced on landfall. It caused flooding, excessive wind-speed and storm surge damage in the central region of Mozambique. Adjacent countries of Malawi and Zimbabwe experienced severe rainfall, flooding and damage from the high wind speed. Madagascar also experienced bouts of high rainfall during the storm’s pathway to Beira.

The flooding has left hundreds of thousands of people homeless and displaced across the region while the death toll has continued to rise in the week following landfall. The effects of the cyclone were felt as far south as South Africa and introduced rolling blackouts due to damaged transmission lines that supply the country with 1100 MW of power from Cahora Bassa in northern Mozambique.

Historically, nine storms that had reached tropical cyclone intensity made landfall on Mozambique. A larger number of weaker tropical systems, including tropical storms and depressions affect the region, with a total landfall of all tropical systems of 1.1 per annum.

The most severe tropical cyclone to make landfall in Mozambique was tropical cyclone Eline in February 2000. It had a category 4 intensity on landfall and resulted in 150 deaths, 1000 casualties from flooding, 300 000 people displaced and four ships sunk.

The storms off Africa’s east coast are weaker than their northern hemisphere counterparts. Category 4 and 5 tropical cyclones make landfall at a near-annual rate in the North Atlantic and North Pacific.

Why the wide impact

Why have so many countries been affected?

Tropical cyclones are large storm systems. Immediately surrounding the eye of the storm – a region of calm weather, no wind and no rain – are spirals of storm clouds that span a minimum radius of ~100km. These cloud bands represent the thunder storm conditions, with the rain and winds typical of a tropical cyclone.

A ~100km radius is typical of category 1 tropical cyclones, the lowest intensity ones. As the storms intensify to categories 2, 3, 4 and 5, the size increases significantly. This means that a high intensity storm, such as tropical cyclone Idai, has a range of impact significantly larger than the storm track that it follows.

In recent years concerns have been growing about the impact of climate change on cyclones. Research has shown that changes to the world’s temperature, as well as ocean warming, are responsible for an increase in the severity of tropical cyclones. This has recently been researched for the South Indian Ocean. As the ocean is warming, the region which experiences temperatures conducive to tropical cyclone formation is expanding and temperatures in the tropical regions are becoming warm enough for cyclone intensification. Category 5 tropical cyclones, which have been experienced in the North Atlantic for almost a century, started to occur in the South Indian Ocean since 1994, and have occurred increasingly frequently since then.

Read more: Rising sea temperatures are shaping tropical storms in southern Africa

This means that as climate change continues and intensifies, so too do these storms. This will mean a greater frequency of not only severe damage from storms, but damage over a larger region. In addition to the impact of warming on the storm intensity, climate warming has also been found to increase the expanse of the storms within any given intensity.

Cyclone Idai

So how intense was tropical cyclone Idai?

Storm track records, which include the geographic location of the storm at set time intervals, the wind speed and the atmospheric pressure, are documented by a number of regional climatological organisations. This data is synthesised by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association, providing a useful resource for scientists to explore storm behaviour.

Tropical cyclones are classified on the basis of their wind speed and central pressure. The weakest storms to be classified as tropical cyclones – category 1 – have a minimum sustained wind speed of 119km/hr. At category 3 the storms have a minimum wind speed of 178 km/h. As the category increases, so too does the potential for damage. Category 1 storms are classified as resulting in dangerous winds that cause some damage, whereas category 3 storms are expected to cause devastating damage.

The history of tropical cyclone Idai is documented in these records. The cyclone reached category 3 intensity between 03:00-06:00 on the 11th March 2019, while positioned at its most easterly extent of the storm track. By 03:00 on the 12th March the storm had dissipated to category 2 intensity, and it fluctuated between intensities of categories 2 and 3 over the 36 hours that followed.

From noon on the 13th March the storm maintained a category 3 intensity which persisted until landfall on the 14th.

What needs to be done

Storms that affect many countries present particular challenges. They clearly have no regard for political boundaries. The fact that they affect lots of countries presents challenges in both preparing for storm events in a proactive way and responding to prevent loss of life and livelihood. This requires countries to communicate effectively with one another, to provide coherent messages about the forecasting of the storm track and potential damage, and to facilitate effective evacuations.

This storm provides a grim prospect of the future of tropical cyclones in a region under continued threat from climate change. Effective adaptation to minimise storm damage is essential in preparing the region for an increase in the severity of these storms. Disaster risk management plans are also very important to minimise the loss of life.The Conversation


Jennifer Fitchett, Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography, University of the Witwatersrand

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

Published in Opinion & Analysis

Education Philanthropy Summit slated for March 22 in Dubai

More than 50 of the world’s leading grant-making foundations involved in education will meet in Dubai on the eve of the Varkey Foundation’s Global Education & Skills Forum to discuss some of the most pressing issues in education philanthropy and share their expertise and experiences.

The summit, in partnership with Co-Impact and Bernard Van Leer Foundation, will be chaired by Vikas Pota, Chairman of the Varkey Foundation.

It will provide an opportunity for attendees to share experience on how the programme has impacted lives of the youth. Workshops on a wide range of issues, including early childhood development, education in emergencies, funding research, innovative school models, grant-making, collaboration and advocacy will also be held.

The President of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Julius Maada Bio, who campaigned on the development of human capital as his first priority, will join the discussion to give his perspective on the discussion.

Commenting on the summit, Chairman of the Varkey Foundation and Chair of the Philanthropy Summit, Vikas Pota, said: “We are honoured to have President Bio join us in our discussions and I applaud his spirit of openness and dialogue on this crucial issue for our time. Through exchanging views with the President, whose country was put under such strain by the Ebola crisis, we can understand how grant-making foundations can help support public education systems, often, in extremely testing circumstances.

I would also like to thank all the foundations that are joining us in Dubai, who will give us a rare opportunity for a focused debate between grant-makers on how we can use our resources to make an outsized impact on global challenges such as those of the SDG’s.

We want these foundations to share the different pathways they are taking to reach their goals and to take stock on what has and hasn’t worked. This sharing of experiences will improve our understanding and better equip us all to achieve the systematic transformation we are looking for”.

The summit recognises that to solve the crisis in global education, government action alone will not be enough. It is estimated that more than 260 million children are out of school globally.

In order to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal of quality education for all, 69 million teachers will need to be recruited by 2030. To meet these serious challenges, the world’s major philanthropic organizations must come together and learn from one another the most effective ways of improving education outcomes and ensuring global access to quality education, hence, the summit.

By: Ebenezer Sasu

Published in World

The New Development Bank plans to lend as much as $780 million to Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. for infrastructure projects this year as the ailing South African power utility battles to keep power supply steady.

Eskom, which on Wednesday entered a seventh day of controlled power cuts, is contending with operational and financial challenges, threatening the productivity of Africa’s most-industrialized economy. The government is considering various interventions to turn the company around, including a $4.8 billion bailout over three years and splitting the organization into three parts to help contain costs.

The NDB, back by the so-called BRICS nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is in talks with the government about loans that could alleviate some of the pressure on the country’s electricity grid, the lender’s president, K.V. Kamath, said by phone.

The development institution is rolling out a $180 million loan to Eskom to build transmission lines and is considering two further projects in 2019, he said. The first is a $480 million loan that will pay for retrofitting flue-gas desulfurization equipment to make the Medupi power plant compliant with new environmental standards. The second is a further $300 million facility to improve the country’s battery-storage capacity, Kamath said.

Critical Infrastructure
“Power is now a critical element in South Africa’s infrastructure and at this point in time it is imperative that we work with the government in alleviating this problem,” Kamath said. Medupi will have about 4,800 megawatts of installed capacity once completed.

The plan to split Eskom into generation, transmission and distribution units is heartening, Kamath said. “We are equally clear that this won’t happen overnight, so there is always a need to extend a hand during the transitioning process and that’s what we are doing.”

BRICS Bank to Boost S. African Loans as Much as $600 Million

The funding planned for Eskom will make up most of the $900 million the NDB will extend in South Africa in 2019. By the end of the year, the lender will have roughly $2.4 billion of loans in the country, Kamath said. Eskom didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The NDB was started in 2015 to support sustainable infrastructure projects across its emerging-market members. The Shanghai-based bank will have extended $7.5 billion to $8 billion across its members by the end of year, bringing its total to assistance to BRICS nations to about $15 billion.


- Bloomberg

Published in Bank & Finance
The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Vera Songwe, has issued a wakeup call to Nigeria and other African countries to improve their fiscal policies and expand their tax base so as to generate revenue to fund development projects, while limiting external borrowing.
This call was made during the 38th meeting of the Committee of Experts of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, which opened in Marrakesh, Morocco, on Wednesday.
The Conference focused on the theme; “Fiscal policy, trade and the private sector in the digital era: A strategy for Africa.”
Songwe also stated that the ability to increase revenue collection was key to the continent’s capacity to finance its development, in particular Agenda 2030 for sustainable development and Africa’s Agenda 2063.
In a statement issued by the Communications Section of the ECA, Songwe was quoted saying, “The potential of Africa is, and has always been, promising. With a growing working-age population; abundant arable land and a multitude of other resources, the continent has all the prerequisites for rapid economic transformation in the next decade.”
“However, ensuring the availability of adequate public resources and quality investments to drive structural change requires responsive policies that promote fiscal sustainability, optimize returns from economic activity, and enable economies to fully participate in an increasingly interconnected and globalised world.”
She said the meeting of experts will discuss possible solutions.
“We are looking for how we can finance better, faster and more equitably our growth and how we can ensure that our young populations can participate in this growth that we are talking about. We can do that by ensuring that we have good fiscal policy. We would want to be like Morocco at 25 per cent so we can actually power growth.”
Speaking on tax collection, Songwe said, “Africa could boost revenues by per cent of GDP by addressing its capacity tax constraints. In addition, by better aligning tax rates and revenues with business cycles, countries can boost government revenue by five per cent.”
“With just over a decade remaining to achieve the sustainable development goals, it is imperative that the scope and mechanisms of domestic resource mobilization be revolutionized to bridge the financing gap, promote macroeconomic stability and limit external borrowing,” she said.
Songwe also spoke on the importance of digitalization and the digital economy in driving growth as well as optimizing fiscal performance on the continent. She added that the continent would need to re-skill its youth to ensure the digital age is used to Africa’s full advantage.
For his part, the outgoing chair of the bureau of the committee of experts, Elsadig Bakheit Ilfaki Adballa of Sudan, also urged the continent to embrace the digital age to expand its revenue base, create employment for the youth and deal with most of its challenges.
“With the advent of the digital age, Africa can use the new technologies to push for sustainable development on the continent,” he said.
Incoming Chair, Zouhair Chorfi, Morocco’s Economic and Finance Ministry’s Secretary General, said digitization was a great opportunity for Africa.
“Our continent is ripe for transformation and Morocco is ready to play its part in making sure we optimize digital tools,” he said.
Published in Bank & Finance
The management of Air Peace on Wednesday said it was awaiting the outcome of the investigation of Boeing before making a decision on its planned acquisition of 737 Max aircraft.
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema said the airline made the order before the model was involved in two fatal accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia respectively.
Soon before the unfortunate incident of crash of Ethiopian Airlines’ 737 Max about two weeks ago, the company had last year ordered 10 Boeing 737 Max for its operations.
Onyema noted that other airlines were also expecting the outcome of the investigation and steps to be taken by Boeing which would determine either to continue with the order or cancel it, although Nigeria, like many other countries, had banned the aircraft in its airspace.
Onyema said, “Air Peace does not have the aircraft in its fleet, so I wonder why Nigerians are attacking the airline, while nobody had attacked the carriers that have the aircraft and are operating the equipment before the accidents.”
“We are not saying we are cancelling neither are we saying we are not cancelling because no airline that ordered for the aircraft had said it is cancelling. Everybody is waiting for the outcome of the investigation.
“What airlines that have the aircraft have done now is ground them until the result of the investigation comes out. And at the same time, countries are banning them from flying in their airspace until the investigation comes out,” he explained.
However, the company confirmed the delivery of its fourth Boeing 777 aircraft on Wednesday which would commence international flights in April with Dubai and Sharjah as first destinations.
Published in Business
Friday, 22 March 2019 06:46

Nigeria’s balance of payment fragile

A new report by the FSDH Merchant Bank has revealed that Nigeria’s balance of payment is still fragile and that it was dominated by transactions in the oil and sector.
In the report titled: ‘Fragile Balance of Payment Position: Policy option’, the FSDH Merchant Bank insisted that Nigerian economy was still vulnerable to movements in the oil and gas market.
The report also noted that this conclusion based on the latest report of the Central Bank of Nigeria on the estimate of Balance of Payment position of Nigeria as of Q4 2018, adding that the weak BOP position buttressed the urgent need to create multiple sources of revenue and foreign exchange earnings for Nigeria.
The report reads: “These transactions are usually carried out by individuals or businesses, or by governments on behalf of their countries. The record of these transactions with other countries is known as BOP and is made up of three major components: Current Account, Financial Account and the Capital Account.
“The Current Account is usually the largest component of the BOP and it measures a country’s trade balance plus the effects of net income and direct payments. The Financial Account measures the changes in domestic ownership of foreign assets and foreign ownership of domestic assets.
“The Capital Account is usually the smallest component of the BOP and it measures the financial transactions that do not affect a country’s income, production, or savings. In some cases, Capital Account may be added to the Financial Account Transitions.”
The report also noted that there the BOP, just like the financial accounts of individuals and businesses, could be in a surplus or in deficit, adding that surplus meant the country received more money from other countries than it paid out.
“In Q4 2018, Nigeria recorded a surplus of $2.8m lower than the surplus of $6.18bn it recorded in the corresponding period of 2017 but higher than the deficit of $4.52bn recorded in Q3 2018. Between Q3 2018 and Q4 2018, Nigeria was able to reduce its imports and increased its export of goods,”a the report added.
Published in Business
The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has estimated that the country’s inflationary rate will rise to 12 percent and thereafter moderate.
The Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele stated this on Thursday in Lagos at the Businessday post election economic agenda conference, adding that the apex bank would also keep the current monetary policy stance of the bank.
“The CBN has set the post-election agenda for the nation’s monetary policy, projecting that the current monetary policy stance of the bank is expected to continue while inflation is estimated to rise to 12 per cent and moderate thereafter,” he said.
The inflation rate is currently put at 11.31 percent for February, according to statistics from the CBN and the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS.
Hinging the monetary policy stance of the bank on rising inflation expectations, the CBN governor however noted that the bank would adjust the policy rate in line with unfolding conditions and outlooks, adding that the bank would continue in its drive to ensure that the policy interest rate was set to balance the objectives of price stability with output stabilisation.
Emefiele, who disclosed that the apex bank based the inflationary projection on productivity gains in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, said the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, was expected to pick up in the first half of the current year owing largely to the continued efforts at driving indigenous production in high-impact real sector activities.
Speaking on the bank’s foreign exchange rate policy, Emefiele said the CBN, in spite of expected pressures from the volatility in the crude oil markets, would maintain its stable exchange rate over the next year.
“Gross stability is projected in the foreign exchange market, given increased oil production and contained import bill,” he said.
Published in Bank & Finance
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