Items filtered by date: Saturday, 13 April 2019
Saturday, 13 April 2019 14:40

Stallion boosts rice production in Nigeria

Stallion group has inaugurated its multi-billion naira rice mill in Kano, a move to give a boost to production in Nigeria.

They will source local rice from 40,000 farmers and employ 1,000 workers.

Cost of rice will come down when all our local rice mills go into full production, the international company assured Nigerians

Nigeria rice production gets a major boost as Stallion group inaugurate their multi-billion Naira rice mill in Kano. They will source local rice from 40,000 farmers and employ 1,000 workers. Cost of rice will come down when all our local rice mills go into full production.

The company has an installed milling capacity of 430,000 metric tonnes per annum and now targeting 1.5 million tonnes of paddy rice per annum.

Stallion had earlier announced its intention to establish an industry in the agriculture and food sector.

It had commenced the process of recruiting graduates in the field of agricultural engineering, agricultural science, agronomy, food science, crop science and fisheries

Stallion Group is a conglomerate founded in 1969 with headquarters in Dubai.

The group is one of the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa. It has an extensive international presence in 18 countries with 72 locations and more than 10,000 employees.

Published in Agriculture
Saturday, 13 April 2019 14:21

Sudan coup leader steps down

The head of Sudan Military Council has stepped down a day after long-time leader Omar al-Bashir was toppled in a coup.

Defence Minister Awad Ibn Auf announced his decision in a broadcast on state TV on Friday.

It comes after protesters refused to leave the streets, saying the coup leaders were too close to Bashir, BBC reports.

The army has insisted that it is not seeking power and Sudan’s future would be decided by the protesters.

Ibn Auf was head of military intelligence during the Darfur conflict. Mr Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity over that conflict.

Bashir’s downfall followed months of unrest that began in December over rising prices. At least 38 people have died in the protests.

Published in World

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he is only interested in meeting President Donald Trump again if the United States comes with the right attitude, especially on easing sanctions, state media KCNA said on Saturday.

Kim said that he will wait “till the end of this year” for the United States to decide to be more flexible, according to KCNA.

“It is essential for the U.S. to quit its current calculation method and approach us with new one,” Kim said in a speech to the Supreme People’s Assembly on Friday, KCNA said.

Trump and Kim have met twice, in Hanoi in February and Singapore in June, building goodwill but failing to agree on a deal to lift sanctions in exchange for North Korea abandoning its nuclear and missile programs.

Trump said on Thursday he is open to meeting Kim again, but in his speech on Friday, the North Korean leader said the outcome in Hanoi led him to question the strategy he embraced last year of international engagement and talks with the United States.

The Hanoi summit “aroused a strong question if we were right in taking the steps with strategic decision and bold resolution, and evoked vigilance as to the U.S. true willingness to improve its relations with the DPRK,” Kim said, using the initials of North Korea’s full name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

In Hanoi, the United States came “to the talks only racking its brain to find ways that are absolutely impracticable” and did “not really ready itself to sit with us face-to-face and settle the problem,” Kim said.

“If it (the United States) keeps thinking that way, it will never be able to move the DPRK even a knuckle nor gain any interests no matter how many times it may sit for talks with the DPRK.” he said.

“We will wait for a bold decision from the U.S. with patience till the end of this year but I think it will definitely be difficult to get such a good opportunity as the previous summit,” Kim added.

Kim’s comments signal he won’t cling to talks with the United States forever, said Kim Dong-yup of Kyungnam University’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies in South Korea.

“That probably indicates that the North is triggering plans to diversify its diplomatic relations with other countries,” he said.

Kim said that his personal relationship with Trump is still good, but that he had no interest in a third summit if it were a repeat of Hanoi.

At a meeting with South Korean President Moon in Washington on Thursday, Trump expressed a willingness for a third summit with Kim but said that Washington would leave sanctions in place on Pyongyang.

Kim said the United States “is further escalating the hostility to us with each passing day despite its suggestion for settling the issue through dialogue.” The current U.S. policy of sanctions and pressure is “as foolish and dangerous an act as trying to put out fire with oil,” he added.

Still, Kim said he would not hesitate to sign an agreement if it takes into account both countries’ considerations.

The United States had continued to provoke North Korea by testing an anti-ballistic missile system and conducting military drills with South Korea despite Trump’s announcement that large-scale exercises would end, he said.

Last month, a senior North Korean official warned that Kim might rethink a moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests in place since 2017 unless Washington makes concessions such as easing sanctions.

South Korea’s Blue House said in a statement that officials would “do what we can in order to maintain the current momentum for dialogue and help negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea resume at an early date.”

Published in World

Facebook has dominated the tech news for months with a variety of privacy issues, from hacked accounts to user data stolen to Russian bots spying on us. But now the social media giant is making headlines for a different reason.

Facebook officials say they want to install a massive underwater fiber optic cable, just not for the U.S.

The multi-stage project is reportedly named "Simba" - yes, like "Simba" from The Lion King. Its goal is to connect the entire continent of Africa to the internet, increasing accessibility while also driving down bandwidth prices significantly, which could make it easier to sign up new users. And it could be a major disruption to the current service provider model. For the most part, internet service connects continents by way of underwater fiber optic cables capable of carrying massive amounts of data. There are a dozen such cables between the Northeastern United States and Europe alone, and many more connecting the hubs of Asia and the Mideast.

But getting into the fiber optic business would be a big jump for Facebook - one already made by some of their rivals. Google has a major investment in running fiber optic cables through its subsidiary, Google Fiber. But Google's plan is to provide far more connectivity than is needed at the moment, hoping to avoid costly upgrades; it's a way of future-proofing what is expected to be an expensive and labor-intensive process. In contrast, Amazon has announced they want to blanket the globe with high-speed internet service using thousands of small satellites, not fiber-optics.

As for when the ring of fiber will be placed around Africa, it's hard to say. The details of the project are still being worked out and there's an obvious lack of infrastructure in many areas at the moment. But Facebook's 'Whatsapp' messenger program is already popular in the region, providing a potential blueprint for how to proceed with the "Simba" project.

 

- Fox News

Published in Telecoms

The problem of irregular migration from the East and Horn of Africa to southern Africa presents a formidable challenge for countries along this route.

As they device ways of managing the flows while at the same time ensuring that the human rights of migrants are respected and protected, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya, held a three day high level inter-governmental consultative conference which was expected to deliver a final comprehensive roadmap to address the situation of stranded migrants on the Southern route.

It was against the backdrop of this challenge that the three countries affected by the flux, namely The ‘Southern Route’ – as this migration route has become known – is reportedly used by scores of irregular migrants journeying southward in the hope of reaching South Africa.

A release from the International Organization for Migration has indicated that the consultation involved was held in partnership with both the International Organization for (IOM) and the European Union (EU). Running from Tuesday to Thursday, (April 2-4, 2019), the meeting takes place with the support of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa. The programme, backed by the Africa Trust Fund, covers and has been set up in close cooperation with a total of other 23 African countries.

According to the IOM, the initiative is motivated by the desire to strike that delicate balance between managing the movement and ensuring appropriate human rights consideration in the treatment of the migrants. It follows several bilateral and trilateral technical meetings between the abovementioned countries, since 2014.

Technical experts from the three countries, with the support of IOM, were scheduled to develop a draft outcome document to be adopted by the states at senior political level on the third day, which was this past Friday.

In light of the above, chief of mission of the IOM in Tanzania, “Dr. Qasim Sufi, had expressed optimism that the donor community would continue to step forward to support efforts for the safe return and reintegration of vulnerable migrants.” He did in the same vein acknowledge the efforts of both the United Republic of Tanzania and Ethiopia to jointly assist migrants who are stranded in Kenya.

A key priority of the Joint Initiative, according to IOM, was to support partner countries in the region to develop capacities for safe, humane and dignified voluntary return as well as sustainable reintegration processes. In that regard, a roadmap aimed at addressing issues pertaining to the trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants in the region, as well as the sharing of good practices and developing holistic approaches in tackling irregular migration on the Southern Route is reported to have been crafted at the consultation conference.

Other issues to be addressed by the proposed roadmap include considering alternatives to detention practices and exploring better coordination mechanisms to protect vulnerable migrants and as well improving existing voluntary return and reintegration processes and policies.

This publication made efforts to obtain comments from Wison Johwa, the IOM East Africa Regional communications officer regarding the outcomes of the EU-IOM sponsored Tri-nation initiative, which also linked me with both Alem Makonnen and Abbibo Ngandu, both based in Pretoria. The effort notwithstanding, hit a snag.

 

Source: Sunday Standard

Published in Travel & Tourism

Following months of protests, and a prolonged sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir was placed under house arrest on April 11 as the country’s military prepared for a transitional government.

Many have described the Sudanese uprising as a “bread protest” against a rise in inflation. In fact the Sudanese people took to the streets for much more than a struggling economy, or the price of bread. They have been calling for freedom, peace, justice and the downfall of the regime.

And they have finally won.

The generation leading the uprising was born and raised during al-Bashir’s 30-year rule. The protesters are mostly young professionals who have been directly affected by the regime’s Islamisation and Arabisation policies.

These policies have been particularly harsh against women’s freedoms and rights, which explains why young Sudanese women are at the heart of the uprising. The policies have also resulted in multiple years of conflict and insecurity in Darfur, South Kordofan, and the Blue Nile.

Sudan’s governing system has already deteriorated because of years of state autocracy, nepotism, corruption and violent conflict.

Al-Bashir’s removal may bring down the state if a strong successor isn’t positioned to replace him. But in my view, given how Sudan has historically been run, the democratic preferences of many young protesters is unlikely to come to fruition. Their expectations for a functioning democracy, with free and fair elections, and constitutional freedoms will not be met unless the next leader of Sudan is a reformist.

Al-Bashir’s first responses

The regime responded to the protests in three ways.

First, al-Bashir tried to quickly reconsolidate his power by proposing constitutional changes that would have allowed him to stand for reelection in 2020. That was quickly taken off the table.

He then declared a year-long nationwide state of emergency. The emergency state prohibited “unauthorised” gatherings and movements. Violence followed as the state deployed heavy-handed tactics to break up the protests.

Al-Bashir also dissolved federal and state governments, replacing almost all of Sudan’s 18 state governors with army officers. And he ordered parliament to delay deliberations over proposed constitutional amendments that would allow him to run for an extra-constitutional term in next year’s elections.

When the protests didn’t subside he called for broad-based dialogue.

In a bid to stay in power, al-Bashir also reached out to those who had backed him financially on previous occasions. These included the Persian Gulf states as well as Egypt and Russia. However, these allies have done little more than offer him vague statements of support.


Read more: How foreign backing is keeping Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir in power


He also began to lose the support of Western backers. Once warm to al-Bashir, they recently began to issue stern reprimands.

The protests

By the time al-Bashir stepped down protests had taken hold in more than 35 cities across the country. People took to the streets in more and more places following the first demonstration in the northern Nile-side town of Atbara.

The current uprising was triggered by a government decision to lift subsidies on essential commodities and to drastically increase bread prices. In a matter of weeks, the protest in Atbara would reach the capital Khartoum 349 kilometres away.

As protests erupted across the country agents of the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service and riot police began to crack down on demonstrators. Throughout, however, the army refrained from intervening. Rumours began to surface that al-Bashir was ready to hand over power to the armed force. But this was swiftly rejected by the Minister of Information and government spokesman of the government, Hassan Ismail.

In the final days before al-Bashir stepped down thousands of demonstrators reached the ministry compound in Khartoum. This also houses al-Bashir’s residence, the secret service headquarters and the defence ministry.

Protesters then upped the stakes by trying to gain support from the army. What began to emerge was that senior officers were possibly weakening, or that they were hoping to use the protests to pressure factions within the ruling elite.

Protesters used a number of tactics to keep the momentum going. These included using social media such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. All evolved during the uprising despite the government’s attempts to block the user, and Virtual Private Networks were used to access the women’s only Facebook group called “Minbar Chat”.

Videos recorded by the protesters became important in documenting the crimes perpetrated by the security forces during the peaceful protests. They also became the main means of informing the Sudanese people and the international community about the brutality of al-Bashir’s regime.

Now that al-Bashir has resigned he will probably be required to leave the country by agreeing to safe passage to a friendly state, possibly somewhere like Egypt, or Qatar. The only way he can remain in Sudan is if he had prior agreement with the military to ensure his safety. It’s possible that the new generals he appointed after the declaration of a state of emergency might side with him.

Their support could have been one of the reasons why he felt that he could step down. Looking ahead, with or without Bashir, there’s also a possibility that the protests could continue if the people of Sudan feel that the swamp has not been drained of all the regime’s oppressive leaders.The Conversation

 

Andrew Edward Tchie, Editor, Armed Conflict Database; Research Fellow, Conflict, Security and Development at International Institute for Strategic Studies, University of Essex

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

Published in Opinion & Analysis

At the edge of Nairobi's Ngong Forest, thousands of used cars glitter in the hot sun on a dusty field, waiting for buyers.

Imported from Japan or the Middle East, they offer an affordable route to vehicle ownership in Kenya and have dominated the market for decades.

That is an obstacle big carmakers must overcome if they are to crack Africa, a market promising rapid growth as trade tensions threaten sales elsewhere. African consumers also still need conventional engines just as demand in more traditional markets is curbed by restrictions on carbon emissions.

Volkswagen, BMW, Toyota, Nissan and others have joined forces to lobby governments for steps that would reduce the imports that have made sub-Saharan Africa notoriously difficult terrain and allow local production to flourish.

"The question on Africa isn't, 'Is it a market of the future?'" Mike Whitfield, Nissan's top executive for Africa, told Reuters. "It's a case of when."

Four years after forming the Association of African Automotive Manufacturers (AAAM) their efforts are starting to bear fruit. Carmakers that set up local assembly plants could get tax holidays of up to 10 years and duty exemptions in Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana, according to government plans seen by Reuters.

Thomas Schaefer, who heads Volkswagen's Africa business, said there is a potential market in sub-Saharan Africa for 3 to 4 million new cars, up from just 420,000 in 2017.

But that will require addressing the well-entrenched interests of second-hand car dealers, smugglers and lowering the price of new cars.

"It will largely depend on how successful the African governments are in limiting the amounts of second-hand imports and how price-competitive new vehicles can be with their tariffs," said Craig Parker, Africa research director at Frost & Sullivan, a U.S.-based market research firm.

MULTIPLYING EFFECTS

Africa's population and household incomes are rising rapidly. But its 1 billion inhabitants account for only 1 percent of the world's new passenger car sales, industry data shows. South Africans bought over 85 percent of those vehicles.

The AAAM identified Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana as potential manufacturing hubs and helped draft legislation setting up standards and incentives.

Details of governments' plans provided to Reuters demonstrate that African nations are keen to secure a spot as a beachhead for the industry. Nigeria and Ghana are preparing to offer automakers tax holidays of up to 10 years and duty-free imports of parts and components used in local assembly. Nigeria also plans to double the levy on new, fully-built imported vehicles to 70 percent to boost demand for locally produced cars, though the policy's approval has been delayed.

In Kenya, automakers will pay no import or excise duties and get a 50-percent corporate tax break.

For African nations facing massive demographic pressures, such concessions make sense if they create jobs, said Jelani Aliyu, of Nigeria's National Automotive Design and Development Council.

"The multiplying effects are exponential," said Aliyu, who foresees supporting industries developing around the plants.

Legislative and fiscal frameworks are being finalised, but companies are already investing millions of dollars in new plants.

VW and Nissan have set up operations in Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana or have pledged to do so. Honda and Peugeot have launched assembly plants in Nigeria, and Peugeot has done the same in Kenya.

Carmakers sorely need the business. Their South African divisions, which typically direct operations elsewhere on the continent, face stagnating domestic sales and scant growth prospects in their main export market, Europe. A chaotic Brexit or U.S. tariff hikes could further dampen sales.

Toyota South Africa's chief executive Andrew Kirby said the strategy is: "Focus on Africa because Africa is going to grow significantly."

A pivot to Africa could also help insulate automakers from the immediate effects of the electric vehicle revolution. The continent is ill-placed to join it at the moment due to the higher prices of EVs and unreliable power grids.

Just 66 electric cars were sold last year in South Africa - the continent's most developed economy.

"Africa will most likely remain as the last bastion of internal combustion engines," Parker said.

DISTORTED MARKET

Nevertheless, industry officials say the biggest hurdle to developing the market for new cars is dumping from countries such as Japan, where strict vehicle inspections force cars out of circulation after just a few years.

They say this distorts the market by allowing dealers to buy the cars at scrap prices and export them to Africa.

They blame the cheap imports for killing off assembly sectors in a number of African countries including Nigeria, which built around 150,000 cars per year until the 1980s.

Political will is needed to change that, and without it there is little point in considering a country for local production, according to VW's Schaefer.

"The markets ... are literally not functioning right now due to importation of used vehicles," he said.

In Kenya, the government plans to wind down imports of cars more than three years old by 2021. Exceptions will be made for passenger vehicles with 1.5 litre or smaller engines.

The policy could see mid-range imported models double in price, according to the 300-member Kenya Auto Bazaar Association (KABA). The lobby group has taken out ads in local newspapers denouncing the policy and is demanding a meeting with Kenya's president.

Mark Oburu, KABA's vice-chairman, said the move would hit an industry that delivers 85 percent of Kenyan car purchases.

"The middle class will not be able to own a vehicle of their choice," he said.

In the Nairobi bazaar, Grace was shopping for her eldest son's first car. She said she could not afford to buy a new one.

"If they don't rescind that decision, we will be on boda bodas (motor-bikes)."

Both Ghana and Nigeria have also pledged to tackle the issue. Nigeria hiked taxes on imported used cars in 2014, but smuggling has undermined that effort to boost demand for local production, according to manufacturers and government officials.

Used cars are also among the leading imports in many African countries, and governments will have to wean themselves off the associated tax revenues.

There are other stumbling blocks: access to financing is limited, and countries that don't host assembly plants must also be persuaded to limit used imports and reduce tariffs on African-made vehicles. That will be hard to do if the only outcome they see is higher sticker prices.

"The purpose is not to take the most lucrative slice of the industry," said Ghana's minister of trade and industry, Alan Kyerematen, suggesting that neighbours could produce components for his country's assembly plants.

Auto executives acknowledge the challenges but point to a famous precedent.

When VW and GM entered China in the 1980s and 90s, vehicle ownership rates were lower than in many African markets. Today, those two companies alone sell over 3.5 million vehicles annually in China.

"Everybody was laughing, saying China doesn't need cars, they only need bicycles," Schaefer said.

 

- Reuters

Published in Business
  1. Opinions and Analysis

Calender

« April 2019 »
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30