Items filtered by date: Monday, 01 April 2019

Ethiopia will release a preliminary report on Monday into the cause of an Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people in March.

The incident led to worldwide grounding of U.S. plane maker Boeing’s top-selling 737 MAX jet.

The report will be closely examined for clues to any similarities between the March 10 accident and a Lion Air crash in October, also involving a 737 MAX that killed 189 people.

The stakes are high, with Boeing trying to hold on to nearly 5,000 MAX 737 orders; air safety regulators facing questions over their scrutiny of the aircraft and airlines and victims’ families looking for answers and potentially compensation.

Liability claims related to the Ethiopian crash and 737 MAX grounding could be the largest aviation reinsurance claim outside of war on record, broker Willis Re said on Monday.

Separately, Norwegian Air said its Chief Executive Bjoern Kjos would travel to meet Boeing in Seattle on Monday.

Norwegian, which has 18 737 MAX 8 in its fleet and is scheduled to take delivery of 12 more in the coming months and years, said

They also said in March they had sought compensation from Boeing over the grounding.

Ethiopia’s foreign ministry spokesman Nebiyat Getachew said the preliminary crash report would be released by the ministry of transport on Monday, although a time had not yet been set.

Flight 302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi crashed six minutes after take off.

Citizens of over 30 nations were on board.

Three people briefed on the matter told Reuters on Friday that an anti-stall system at the centre of a probe into the Lion Air 737 MAX crash was also at play in the Ethiopian accident.

“Data pulled from the Ethiopian Airlines flight recorder suggest the so-called MCAS system, which pushes the nose of the jet downwards, had been activated before the plane plunged to the ground, the people said.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity, ahead of the interim official report.

That was the second related piece of evidence to emerge from the black boxes of the Ethiopian flight after an initial sample of data recovered by investigators in Paris suggested similar “angle of attack” readings to the Lion Air crash.

These initial airflow readings from the Ethiopian jet, first reported by Reuters, refer to stall-related information needed to trigger the automated nose-down MCAS system.

 
Published in Travel & Tourism

Nigerian Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said the plan by the Nigerian government to connect major cities with rail way may be far from being a reality.

He said the country needs an investment of about $40bn, representing about N12.24trn at the exchange rate of N306/$1).

In other words, the government needs about 150 percent of the 2019 budget estimate.

Amaechi disclosed this over the weekend in Ibadan, Oyo state during his routine inspection of the 156km Lagos to Ibadan double gauge rail project under construction.

The former governor of Rivers State called on private investors to invest in the project.

He, however, urged Nigerians to be patient until these challenges were overcome.

“I tell Nigerians, everybody has to be patient because we need between $36 to $40bn to be able to do that connectivity,” he said.

The inspection began from Lagos and ended in Ibadan at the site of the Nigeria’s Shippers Council supported dry port Ibadan.

On the lingering coastal rail he explained “we have not gotten money. We are even still looking for money for Lagos to Kano.

”I come from South-South and I am emotionally attached to that project but it is unfortunate that we have not gotten money. It was awarded under President Jonathan and President Obasanjo. The directive of the President is that we should do everything possible to get the inter-connectivity of the tracks.’’

On the entourage was a delegation from the Ghanaian transport ministry led by the minister, the senate committee on land transport and the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council, Mr. Hassan Bello.

Published in Engineering

The British pound rose on Monday as investors prepared for parliament to vote on a series of Brexit options, with some hoping that the current uncertainty will end in a softer Brexit than Prime Minister Theresa May’s defeated withdrawal agreement.

May’s deal was voted down for a third time by lawmakers on Friday, sending sterling plunging to below 1.30 dollar.

But the British currency has held at or above that level since, suggesting some investors have priced out the prospect of Britain crashing out of the European Union without a deal and instead expect a long delay to the exit or Brexit to emerge eventually where closer ties are maintained to the trading bloc.

“There is a growing expectation that a (House of) Common’s majority could coalesce around a softer Brexit that includes a custom’s union but she is facing more threats from cabinet members to resign if she decides to pursue a softer Brexit,” MUFG analysts said.

Sterling rose 0.4 per cent to 1.3083 dollar, also finding support from better-than-expected manufacturing survey data.

The pound gained 0.1 per cent to 85.980 pence per euro.

The analysts at MUFG said that while a no-deal Brexit on April 12 remained a risk for the pound, an emergency EU summit on April 10 could – if British lawmakers cannot agree anything this week – see a long delay to Brexit.

Parliament will vote on different Brexit options on Monday and then May could try to bring her deal back to a vote in parliament as soon as Tuesday.

But May’s government and her party remain in open conflict.

Marshall Gittler, a strategist at ACLS Global, said he considered a no-deal Brexit “as a higher possibility, even though it’s officially been ruled out, simply because I don’t see any of the other endings as particularly possible.”

The IHS Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index in at a reading of 55.1 for March, above the 51 level forecast by economists polled by Reuters.

The survey showed that factories in Britain stockpiled for Brexit at a frenzied rate last month, pushing manufacturing growth to a 13-month high.

Published in Business

Fc Barcelona forward, Lionel Messi is currently leading the race for the highest goal scorer in the Top 5 leagues in Europe.

Messi has scored 31 league goals (4 penalties) with 12 assists in 27 league appearances this season, with a ratio of 72 minutes per goal.

He is currently followed by Kylian Mbappe of PSG, who has scored 27 league goals.

Messi’s arch rival, Cristiano Ronaldo has 19 league goals.

Here are the the players contending for the Golden boot award:
PLAYERS – CLUB – GOALS
Leo Messi: FC Barcelona 31

Kylian Mbappé: PSG 27

Fabio Quagliarella: Sampodoria 21

Krzysztof Piątek: AC Milan 19

Sergio Agüero: Manchester City 19

Duvan Zapata: Atalanta 19

Robert Lewandowski: Bayern Munich 19

Cristiano Ronaldo: Juventus 19

Luis Suárez: FC Barcelona 18

Published in World

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party suffered a major upset on Monday after local election results showed it lost the capital Ankara and Istanbul after a decade and half in power.

Losing the country’s two major cities would be a stunning defeat for Erdogan, a former Istanbul mayor himself, whose ability to win at the ballot box has been unparalleled in Turkish history.

Erdogan campaigned hard, portraying Sunday’s vote for mayors and district councils as a fight for the nation’s survival, but the election became a test for his Justice and Development Party (AKP) after Turkey slipped into a recession for the first time in a decade.

The opposition CHP party candidate for Istanbul mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, was leading by nearly 28,000 votes with most ballot boxes counted, Supreme Election Board (YSK) chairman Sadi Guven said.

Imamoglu won almost 4.16 million votes while the AKP candidate, former premier Binali Yildirim, won 4.13 million.

Both claimed victory in the early hours following a tight race for the country’s largest city after results showing them in a dead heat.

“We want to start working as soon as possible to serve people,” Imamoglu told reporters on Monday. “We want to cooperate with all institutions of Turkey to quickly meet the needs of Istanbul.”

In Ankara, opposition mayoral candidate Mansur Yavas had 50.89 percent of votes ahead of the AKP’s Mehmet Ozhaseki on 47.06 percent, Anadolu state agency reported, with 99 percent of ballot boxes counted.

“Ankara has won. The loser in Ankara is Ozhaseki, dirty politics has lost,” Yavas told supporters who were waving Turkish flags and setting off fireworks at a celebratory rally.

But in a sign of possible turmoil ahead, AKP officials said they would challenge the alleged invalidation of tens of thousands of votes in both cities.

AKP secretary general Fatoih Sahin said the party will appeal in Ankara, saying the gap between the candidates “will narrow down and I believe it will eventually turn into a positive result for us.”

Speaking to supporters in Ankara after Sunday’s polls closed, Erdogan had said the election was a victory for the AKP, which along with its coalition partner, the rightwing Nationalist Movement Party, won more than 50 percent of votes overall.

The loss in Istanbul, analysts said, would be especially sensitive for Erdogan, who grew up in the city’s working-class Kasimpasa neighbourhood, and liked to tell AKP rank-and-file that victory in the city was like winning all of Turkey.

Published in World

The coming on stream of two major business initiatives, the Dangote Refinery and Dangote Fertilizer, is set to make Nigeria a leading exporter of petroleum and fertilizer products.

This comes against the background of claims by Dangote Industries Limited that its crude oil refinery is expected to produce 65.4 million litres of petrol, diesel, aviation fuel and Kerosene daily when it becomes operational.

The company, in a statement on Sunday, described it as the world’s largest single-train refinery, with a capacity of 650,000 barrels per day.

According to the Group Executive Director, Strategy, Capital Projects & Portfolio Development, Devakumar Edwin, the refinery is being designed to refine multiple grades of domestic and foreign crude as well as process them into high-quality gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and aviation fuels that meet Euro V emissions’ specifications, plus polypropylene.

The high volume of petroleum products from the refinery is expected to transform Nigeria from a petrol import-dependent country to an exporter of refined petroleum products.

 

He added that the refinery would also include a crude distillation unit, single-train residual fluid catalytic cracking unit, diesel hydro-treating unit, continuous catalyst regeneration unit, alkylation unit, and a polypropylene unit.

Mr, Edwin said the company is also constructing the largest fertilizer plant in West Africa with capacity to produce 3.0 Million Tonnes of Urea per year.

The Dangote fertilizer complex consists of Ammonia and Urea plants with associated facilities and infrastructure.

“The project will provide thousands of direct and indirect jobs and add value to Nigeria’s economic development. It will lead to significant skills transfer and technology acquisition opportunities in the country,” he added.

“Dangote fertilizer project is planned to possess unique features like having the largest granulated Urea fertilizer complex under development in the global fertilizer industry, with an investment of $2.0 billion and a capacity of 3 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), covering some 500 hectares of land,” he said.

He said Dangote Fertilizer would guarantee substantial saving of foreign exchange in Africa and create surplus Urea for farmers to enhance production of food grains and vegetables.

The fertilizer plant is also expected to create massive employment.

Published in Business

The US has announced it is ready to support Ghana to deal with the issue of political vigilantism – a growing threat to peace and security in the country.

The Conversation Africa’s Moina Spooner spoke to Justice Tankebe about the phenomenon and what can be done to address it.

What’s meant by political vigilantism and how long has it been an issue in Ghana?

Vigilantism is when people “take the law into their own hands” in order to protect or advance their interests. In this way, all vigilantism is political because it always involves the use of (illegal) power against others who are perceived to be a threat to those interests. However, when we speak of “political vigilantism” we mean specifically the use of vigilantes in the name of partisan politics.

In Ghana, political parties – whether in government or the opposition – are known to form and use vigilante groups who then act on their behalf. This has been highlighted in various reports, such as one put together by the Institute for Security Studies as well as academic research papers. These vigilante groups are often violent, target opposition groups and public officials, and seize property or assets.

But vigilantes aren’t just thugs who operate at the street level. Based on my research of over ten years into vigilantism in Ghana, I have started to focus on what I call “vigilantes-in-suits”. I use the term to refer to people in positions of authority – for example, policy makers, lawmakers and various political appointees – who will pursue their party’s interests by any means.

Political vigilantism isn’t a new feature of Ghanaian politics. Some researchers say that it has its roots in the country’s independence movement from British colonial rule. The Convention People’s Party, led by Kwame Nkrumah – Ghana’s independence leader and first president – and the National Liberation Movement were engaged in fierce political struggles over whether Ghana should be a federal or unitary state. The struggle involved violent vigilante activity by elements on both sides.

Today, Ghana’s two main political parties – the National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party – have vigilante groups who wear T-shirts branded with their group’s logo. These include the “Azorka Boys” and the “Hawks” for the National Democratic Congress and the “Invincible Forces” and “Delta Forces” for the New Patriotic Party.

How does it manifest itself?

Political vigilantism often involves violence, both physical and psychological.

Vigilantes engage in riots, violent protests and property destruction. They’re also known to target elections, intimidating voters or mounting roadblocks to prevent “outsiders” from observing polls.

Vigilantes have also been known to harass, threaten, assault, and assassinate opponents.

Who perpetuates it?

Ghana’s two main political parties recruit, train and fund vigilantes.

These are young people who feel that the state doesn’t represent their interests. They also feel powerless because they don’t have many opportunities to improve their situation or are poor. These frustrations make them vulnerable to indoctrination by older generations – largely politicians – who give the young recruits ideological direction and justification for their actions.

Vigilantism has also flourished because of a lack of deterrence. Criminal justice agencies – particularly the police – are highly ineffective against vigilantes. Based on the insights I’ve gained from my research, I believe this is because of significant partisan interference in police work which has left them powerless. They either don’t make arrests or, if arrests are made, suspects are released because a politician intervened through the back door.

What can be done to put a stop to it?

Tackling political vigilantism won’t be easy because young people may feel that being a member of a vigilante group defines and gives meaning to their life. It might give them power, esteem, prestige and a sense of belonging.

It, therefore, won’t be enough to just disband the groups and give them moral lessons on the perils of vigilantism. They must be given enough support to find alternative livelihoods. Ghana could draw lessons from Sierra Leone who successfully demobilised and re-settled ex-combatants after conflict.

Longer-term strategies must address the issues of unemployment and Ghana’s deeply unequal society. Unless government policies create a more equal society, for example, through better employment opportunities for young people, vigilantism will remain a stable feature of Ghanaian politics.

Tackling inequality also means more decisive action against corruption, which is widespread and vicious. Corruption allows the rich to get richer and prevents people from being held accountable for their actions. This creates conditions for vigilante activity.

Lastly, the police service must be independent, well-resourced and insulated from partisan politics. To do this, there must be an overhaul. The police service must be decentralised to improve community-police relations and the current political appointment of police chiefs should be replaced by a competitive recruitment process. A new governance structure made up of people with expertise in police work, like academics and practitioners, should be created to oversee police work.The Conversation

 

Justice Tankebe, Lecturer in Criminology, University of Cambridge

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

Published in Economy

There is a commonly held view that Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of Africa, although the specific timeframe in history is usually unclear.

This vague narrative gives an impression that Zimbabwe lost its “breadbasket” status during former President Robert Mugabe’s tenure. While Mugabe’s land reform programme seemingly contributed to a decline in Zimbabwe’s agricultural output, there’s limited evidence to suggest that the country was a dominant player in Africa’s food production prior to that period – at least from a staple food production perspective.

Zim’s production never topped 10% share

A country should be able to meet its staple food consumption needs and simultaneously command a notable share in exports of the same food commodity to be considered a “food-basket”.

Looking at the production data of the key staple foods maize and wheat, Zimbabwe’s production of these commodities has never surpassed a 10% share on the continent over the past 55 years. (Note: The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations started recording African agricultural statistics in 1961.)

While that is the case, a closer look at the data paints a fuller picture.

For example, in the two decades prior to Mugabe’s leadership (1960–1980), Zimbabwe contributed an average share of 6% of Africa’s maize production, almost at par with Nigeria, but lower than Kenya’s contribution of 7%. During that period, Zimbabwe’s maize production outpaced consumption by an average 400,000 tonnes a year – making it a net exporter.

During the first half of Mugabe’s rule (1980–2000), the country’s maize production contributed a share of 5% to Africa’s output. While it was a net importer in most years, on average, the country remained a net exporter of maize, with a declining maize trade balance (the difference between a nation’s exports and imports).

The decline in Zimbabwe’s maize production and trade balance worsened following theintroduction of the country’s Fast-Track Land Reform Programme in 2001.

The country’s share of maize production on the continent dwindled to an average of 2% between 2001 and 2016. During this period, Zimbabwe’s maize consumption outpaced production by an average of 550,000 tonnes per year – turning it into a net importer.

Wheat and other grain commodities present a similar trend in Zimbabwe’s contribution to Africa’s food system.

Fails to fit idea of food-basket

A woman smiles as she inspects the maize crop on a small-scale farm in Chinhamora, Zimbabwe, in February 2011. Photo: AFP/ALEXANDER JOE

The available data, which covers three distinct phases in Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector, suggests that the country was self-sufficient before and in the two decades after Mugabe came to power.

Even then, Zimbabwe’s maize and wheat output were generally modest and volatile. It wasn’t sufficient to support strong exports to the rest of the continent and world – which fails to fit the idea of a food-basket.

In the third phase, the country’s maize and wheat production significantly declined, which further weakened Zimbabwe’s standing in the continent’s food system.

Overall, we view Zimbabwe as a self-sufficient food producer prior to its land reform programme. However, there is limited evidence to support the notion of Zimbabwe having ever been “the breadbasket of Africa”.

Wandile Sihlobo is an agricultural economist at Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz). Additional reporting by Sifiso Ntombela, trade economist at Agbiz and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pretoria.

 

© Copyright Africa Check

Published in Opinion & Analysis

Xenophobic South Africans, mostly in Durban, have been attacking and displacing black immigrants, mostly from Malawi, Nigeria, Somalia and Zimbabwe, away from their homes. As a result of the attacks, pregnant women and babies have been forced to sleep in the open by the attackers.

The attack has attracted strong condemnation from all corners with many demanding immediate action to stop the violence.

Speaking on Sartuday at a rally, Malema, well-known for his controversial politics; however, the EFF commander preached a simple message of love and unity when it came to this difficult topic.

The EFF politician affectionately known as ‘Juju’ drove one particular point home when it came to xenophobia in SA:

“Africa is for all of us…”

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema says he's ashamed of being a South African because of the recent spate of attacks against foreign nationals in the country.

Incidents have been reported in provinces of Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal recently.

Malema also pointed out to the crowd that most xenophobia in SA is blatantly black on black violence, even when there are people of other races who may not be ‘deserving’ of a job.

According to EWN, Juju also preached a message of unity at a Western Cape rally recently, Malema told the cheering crowd to reclaim the province, which has been under DA control since 2009.

"Comrades, we must go and reclaim the streets of Western Cape. Whether you are coloured, whether you are African, all of us are one thing - we are black."

Published in Economy
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