Items filtered by date: Thursday, 12 September 2019
Google won a victory on Thursday after Europe’s top court said Germany has to notify the European Commission of a rule allowing publishers to demand a copyright fee from the U.S. tech giant for using news snippets.
 
VG Media, a consortium of around 200 publishers, took Google to a German court for using text excerpts, images, and videos produced by its members without paying them. The case underlines the battle between publishers and Alphabet unit Google over the share of revenues from distributing news.
 
The lawsuit was based on German ancillary copyright law in force since August 2013.
 
The German court subsequently sought guidance from the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the EU (ECJ), Europe’s highest.
 
Germany has to notify the EU executive first for its ruling to take effect, ECJ judges said.
Published in Telecoms
Thursday, 12 September 2019 12:53

Yahoo Japan bids $3.7bn for fashion e-tailer Zozo

Yahoo! Japan Corporation is a Japanese internet company originally formed as a joint venture between the American internet company Yahoo! and the Japanese company SoftBank. 
 
Yahoo Japan Corp. says it will take over Japan’s biggest online fashion retailer Zozo Inc. for 400 billion yen or 3.7 billion dollars, seeking to breathe fresh life into the business and compete better against the likes of Amazon.com.
 
Zozo’s billionaire founder, Yusaku Maezawa says, he will step down as Chief Executive and sell most of his stake after a series of missteps that have slashed its market value by more than half from a peak last year of 14 billion dollars, News reports.
 
The deal offers Yahoo Japan a chance to take the lead in Japan’s 1.8 trillion yen online fashion space where Amazon and Rakuten Inc. have struggled to make headway, and where Zozo’s mall Zozotown controls around 50% of the market for mid- to high-end fashion.
 
It comes as investors have grown increasingly wary about growth prospects for Zozo – a more affordable, Japan-focused version of Britain’s Farfetch Ltd – after a failed experiment with bespoke tailoring and clashes with brands over discounting.
 
“My style may have been too top-down… It was the right time for a new CEO,” Maezawa, a former punk band member, told a news conference, in which he began crying as he thanked shareholders and employees.
 
Yahoo Japan’s offer of 2,620 yen per Zozo share represents a premium of around 21% versus Wednesday’s closing price but is 44% lower than its peak around a year ago.
 
Zozo’s stock ended up 13% on Thursday, while Yahoo Japan shares rose 2%.
 
The deal also comes at a time of change in Japanese tech, where Rakuten is launching wireless telecom services in a direct challenge to SoftBank Group Corp’s cash-cow business and Amazon has embarked on an aggressive push into fashion.
 
Yahoo Japan, which will next month change its name to Z Holdings Corp, for Maezawa, it would bring a windfall of around 2.3 billion dollars. He said he will sell a stake of around 30 percent, leaving him with about 6 percent in the company.
 
The entrepreneur is credited with creating a trendy, user-friendly website over a decade ago at a time of scepticism about whether Japanese consumers would buy clothes online. The site, whose early stores included A Bathing Ape, Hysteric Glamour and United Arrows Ltd, still has few rivals.
 
In recent years, Maezawa’s lifestyle has attracted attention. Maezawa signed up as the first private passenger to be taken around the moon by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and paid 110 million dollars for a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting.
 
However, fortunes have turned for Zozo and Maezawa, with the businessman selling part of his extensive art collection at Sotheby’s, saying he has no money.
 
Zozo booked its first annual earnings decline in the last financial year, due mainly to a failed made-to-measure service. It distributed skin-tight bodysuits to allow consumers to upload measurements but ended up with few orders and huge costs.
 
Zozo has also been hit by the departure of several brands, some unhappy with its discounting policies and others wanting to create their own e-commerce services. In March, it said it secured a 15 billion yen commitment line from banks.
 
Dressed in a white t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase “Let’s Start Today” at the conference, Maezawa contrasted markedly with newly-appointed CEO Kotaro Sawada, who was dressed in a suit and tie and read his remarks from a piece of paper.
 
“You may say I’m the direct opposite of Maezawa, and you’d be right,” Sawada said, promising to keep the company interesting but bringing much-needed stability to management.
 
The deal comes at a turbulent time for Yahoo Japan, which recently ousted the chief executive of another investment, retailer Askul Corp, over lacklustre results.
 
Askul has requested Yahoo Japan to dissolve its capital ties.
Published in Business
Thursday, 12 September 2019 12:34

Namibia’s annual inflation slows down in August

Namibia’s annual inflation rate slowed to 3.7 percent in August 2019 from 4.4 percent registered during the same period last year, according to statistics released on Thursday.
 
The decrease resulted mainly from a downturn registered in transport, housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels, health, alcoholic beverages and tobacco, miscellaneous goods and services and Hotels, cafes and restaurants, according to Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA).
 
The 12 months average annual and average monthly inflation rates from September 2018 to August 2019 stood at 4.5 percent and 0.3 percent. Corresponding rates recorded during the same period a year earlier stood at 4.3 percent and 0.4 percent respectively, it said.
 
The average annual and average monthly inflation rates for the period January 2019 to August 2019 were estimated at 4.2 percent and 0.3 percent respectively, according to Statistician-General, Alex Shimuafeni.
Published in News Economy
South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho, and Eswatini have concluded a new trade agreement with Britain.
 
The South African Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel said Southern African countries have made the deal with Britain. The new agreement will govern the bilateral trading relationship between the six countries and Britain after the latter leaves the EU without an agreement or “no-deal Brexit”.
 
In 2018, Britain was the fourth largest destination for South African exports, with bilateral trade between the two countries amounting to more than 9.3 billion dollars. Patel said the South African government has been engaging Britain in the past two years after they announced that they will leave the EU to avoid the disruption to the country’s exports.
 
“I am pleased that we have concluded this agreement with the United Kingdom,” he said.
 
The new agreement will replicate the terms of previous trade on tariffs, quotas, rules of origin and health and safety regulations.
 
“We are pleased that regardless of the outcomes of these processes, our trading relationship with the United Kingdom can continue without disruption. This is important for the thousands of South African workers whose jobs are dependent on this trade and for the investors, who have utilised South Africa as an export base to Britain and the rest of the world,” said Patel.
Published in Business

The latest xenophobic attacks in South Africa have ignited the long-standing tensions between the country and Nigeria. These are captured in the retaliatory attacks on South African businesses in Nigeria and the diplomatic outrage by Nigerian authorities.

Nigeria also boycotted the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Cape Town. More critical was the temporary closure of South African missions in Abuja and Lagos and Nigeria’s decision to recall its ambassador.

But in the larger scheme of things, xenophobia is a distraction from the leadership role that Nigeria and South Africa should play on the continent on fundamental issues of immigration and economic integration.

A constant irritant

Accurate figures are hard to get. But Statistics South Africa put the number of Nigerian migrants at about 30,000 in 2016, far below Zimbabweans and Mozambicans.

Xenophobia has remained a constant irritant in Nigeria-South Africa relations since the major attacks on African migrants in poor neighbourhoods in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg in 2008 and 2015. But, contrary to popular perception, xenophobic attacks do not disproportionately target Nigerians. Nigerians often exaggerate the effect of violence on their citizens. That is probably because Nigeria has a better organised, savvy, and loud diaspora constituency in South Africa.

Unfortunately, the loudness of the Nigerian diaspora transforms victimhood into foreign policy, generating the reactions that have been witnessed recently. It also plays into the naïve narrative of the “liberation dividend”. This entails Nigerians seeking to be treated uniquely because of their contribution to the struggle for majority rule in South Africa. There were no such expectations from the other countries that supported South Africa’s liberation struggle.

This narrative has taken on an equally economic tinge. South African companies are heavily invested in Nigeria. So, they often become targets of Nigerian ire in times of xenophobia.

The accurate picture is that xenophobia affects all African migrants. These are mostly migrants from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and, increasingly Ethiopians, Kenyans and Somalis. Nigerians are affected. But they’re not on top of the list.

The Nigerian responses are understandable in light of the frequency of these attacks. But, it is important to probe the drivers of xenophobia to understand it more deeply.

What drives xenophobia?

First, some studies reveal that the intrusion of foreign migrants into vulnerable communities beset by joblessness and despair inevitability produces a tinderbox that sparks violence .

Migrants are easy targets. That’s because they are seen as being better off by the locals. They therefore become targets of people who feel their circumstances have not been addressed by government. It is no surprise that xenophobic attacks have typically occurred in poor neighbourhoods that have been affected by service delivery protests since the mid-2000s.

Second, xenophobia thrives on ineffective policing in South Africa. Barely two days after the Johannesburg attacks started, the national police spokesman admitted that the police were running out of resources to manage the violence. This prompted the Premier of Gauteng, the country’s economic hub, to threaten to also deploy the army if the violence continued.

Examples of the police’s inability to maintain order and respond to threats to property and livelihoods are legion. This, in part, forces people to take the law into their own hands.


Read more: How South Africa can turn the rising tide against vigilantism


But the police are sometimes complicit in stoking anti-foreign sentiments. The July 2019 raids on foreign-owned businesses in Johannesburg in apparent efforts to stamp out illicit goods added to the current climate of xenophobia. When some business owners retaliated against the police, some local leaders appropriated the language of “threats on South Africa’s sovereignty” to justify the police response.

Reforms are urgently needed to create a competent, less corrupt, better-resourced, and civic-minded police service.

Xenophobia is also an outcome of a rickety migration and border control regime. Efficient border controls are one of the hallmarks of sovereignty and the first line of defence against xenophobia. Broken borders breed criminality. These include human and drug trafficking. Human and drug trafficking feature prominently in the discourse on xenophobia in South Africa.

How, then, does xenophobia distract South Africa and Nigeria from what should be their leadership on core African issues?

Overreaction

The weighty issues of creating a humane and just society for South Africans and migrants alike will ultimately be led by the South African government. Outsiders can make some diplomatic noises and occasionally boycott South Africa. But these actions are unlikely to drive vital change.

In fact, the overreactions by Nigeria and other African countries simply undercut the South African constituencies that have a crucial stake in wide-ranging reforms that address the multiplicity of problems around xenophobia.

In the previous instances of xenophobic violence, Nigeria urged the African Union (AU) to force South Africa to take action. But such unhelpful statements only inflame passions and prevent civil diplomatic discourse.

Instead, the best policy would be for Nigeria to engage South Africa through their existing binational commission. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is scheduled to visit South Africa next month.

Taking the lead

Rather than the perennial relapse into shouting matches and hardening of rhetoric, it is essential for Pretoria and Abuja to take decisive leadership at the continental level. The two nations must articulate immigration policies.

The newly-inaugurated AU Free Movement of Persons Protocol will not be implemented if South Africa and Nigeria do not join hands to make it a reality. More ominously, migration to South Africa as the premier African economy will only get worse in the coming years. This, as Europe and the United States tighten their borders against African migrants.

Also, without the leadership of its two major economies, Africa is not going to make any traction on the new treaty establishing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Ironically, the WEF meeting in Cape Town addressed ways to boost intra-African trade. Nigeria should not have boycotted it because of xenophobia.The Conversation

 

Gilbert M. Khadiagala, Jan Smuts Professor of International Relations and Director of the African Centre for the Study of the United States (ACSUS), University of the Witwatersrand

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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