Sep 08, 2019

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) says it will allocate 500 million dollars from its Nigeria-Africa Trade and Investment Promotion Fund to support Nigerian manufacturers.

According to a statement by the bank on Thursday, the Afreximbank President, Prof. Benedict Oramah made this known at the 47th Annual General Meeting of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).

Oramah said that the facility would enable manufacturers to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

He said that the opportunity for African manufacturers under the AfCFTA was phenomenal and that intra-regional trade in the manufacturing sector could rise to more than 150 billion dollars by 2022.

“The coming into force of the AfCFTA opens the wider African market to Nigerian manufacturers, creating a market of 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of about 2.5 trillion dollars.

“By 2022, the AfCFTA is expected to bring the share of intra-African trade from current levels of about 16 per cent to 22 per cent, bringing total intra-African trade to about 250 billion dollars, from about 160 billion dollars.

“The preferences that the AfCFTA offers can make Nigerian manufactured goods more competitive in many African markets and can also make it possible to achieve integration into regional and global supply chains,” he said.

Oramah recommended that Nigeria should prioritise labour-intensive light manufacturing in its industrial policy in order to enable manufacturers and others to begin to appreciate that the country’s most abundant resource was its labour.

He noted that private sector-promoted heavy industries should be supported under a special arrangement that targets the production of critical industrial raw materials, such as petrochemicals, machine tools, cement and steel.

He also mentioned the Intra-African Investment Guarantee Facility, a series of facilities under the Trade Financing Programme, the Franchise Financing Facility and the Guarantee Programme covering an array of scenarios.

Sep 07, 2019

The Nigerian Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika has said that the Federal Government of Nigeria remains committed to the establishment of a national carrier for the country, alongside provision for maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities for aircraft and the implementation of other components of the aviation roadmap.

The minister stated this at a meeting with members of the Joint Aviation Unions Forum, an umbrella body of all unions in the aviation sector, a statement issued by the Director, Press and Public Affairs, Federal Ministry of Aviation, James Odaudu, in Abuja on Friday reveals.

According to the minister, the establishment of a national carrier would further position Nigeria to compete with other nations in line with the Single African Air Transport Market project and develop as a regional hub for air transportation.

He also disclosed that the establishment of MROs would save the country a lot of foreign exchange that would otherwise be spent by airline operators sending their aircraft abroad for checks.

Promising to work with the unions in implementing the road map, Sirika noted that the roadmap would go a long way to advance the sector and position it to meet emerging challenges.

He said: “I promise that there will be good understanding between us to drive the activities of our industry towards contributing more to national development. I will do everything reasonably possible to make the newly re-established ministry live up to the expectations of all stakeholders in the sector.

“This task, I think, is for you as well; not for me alone. It is for all of us. We will continue to hold stakeholders’ meetings with the unions, staff, the management and players within the industry.

“We will be committed to better welfare while expecting your full cooperation towards the implementation of the aviation roadmap which was developed during our first tenure.”

The minister further revealed that the ministry would continue to lay emphasis on the safety and security of air travellers, adding that the recent acquisition of a calibration aircraft for the country and the closure of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu for rehabilitation were some of the steps being taken to guarantee the safety of the nation’s airspace.

Sep 07, 2019
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, in China on Saturday called climate protection a global problem and urged the Asian power to take up more responsibility for challenges facing the international community.
 
Speaking to Chinese students at Huazhong University in the city of Wuhan, Merkel emphasised that climate change is caused by all, and that is why everyone should take care of it.
 
“Climate protection is everyone’s responsibility,’’ she added.
 
Given the size and economic power of China, the international community needs an important contribution from it, Merkel asserted.
 
She questioned whether China remains a developing country, given the pace of its modernisation, and said it will be expected to take on greater international responsibilities in the coming years.
 
In the face of globalisation, Merkel stressed that joint rules are indispensable.
 
Multilateral action, not protectionism, for example in trade, was needed.
 
“After all, protectionism harms us all,’’ the German chancellor said.
 
Merkel also emphasised China’s role as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, telling the students that this means China has a responsibility to work towards a peaceful solution of global flashpoints, including the Iran nuclear conflict and China’s own territorial dispute with neighbours over the South China Sea.
 
The German chancellor also spoke critically of China’s social credit system.
 
In Europe, this was viewed as a bad idea because people had sovereignty over their private data, she told the students.
 
The topic would remain a key ethical discussion in coming years, she said.
 
The social credit system, currently being implemented by China, is a means of systematically evaluating the economic and social creditworthiness – including social and political views – of individuals and businesses.
 
Johannes Vogel, a parliamentarian from the Free Democrats and deputy head of a parliamentary committee on Germany-China relations, warned that the social credit system could also lead to China gathering information on employees of German companies in the country.
 
Merkel, who is in China with a large business delegation, also planned to visit a car supply company, which is partly German-owned later Saturday.
 
On Friday, Merkel held talks in Beijing with Prime Minister Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping.
 
Topics included the trade dispute between China and the U.S. and the unrest in Hong Kong.
 
Li also played down the controversy over China’s social credit system, saying it would be used to uncover criminal behaviour.
 
The chancellor expressed her hope that the trade dispute can be ended quickly because it was spreading to other parts of the global market.
 
Merkel also campaigned for the “rights and freedoms” of the Hong Kong people during her visit to China.
 
Li said that Beijing supports the Hong Kong government in ending the “chaos” within the framework of the law.
 
Li added that Chinese people had the wisdom to handle the protests on the basis of law.
 
Li said that Beijing adheres to the principle of “one country, two systems’’ governing Hong Kong, which as a Special Administrative Region, enjoys a high degree of autonomy under a deal signed with former colonial power Britain.
 
He did not respond directly to a question about possible Chinese military intervention in Hong Kong.
 
Merkel is on her 12th trip to China, which wraps up Saturday.
 
She is due to fly back to Berlin late in the day.
 
Sep 07, 2019
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Saturday he was “not surprised” Iran had turned on advanced centrifuges to increase uranium stockpiles, a further breach of the 2015 nuclear deal which Washington pulled out of last year.
 
“I’m not surprised that Iran has announced that it’s going to violate the JCPOA,” Esper said in Paris, using the official name of the accord signed in Vienna four years ago.
 
“They had been violating it, they had violated the nuclear non-proliferation treaty for many years, so it’s no surprise that the Iranians are going to pursue what the Iranians have always intended to pursue,” he added, following talks with his French counterpart Florence Parly.
 
Esper was in France after visits to London and Stuttgart, Germany, to meet with NATO allies since taking up his post in July.
 
Parly reiterated France’s calls for Tehran to “respect the Vienna accord”, adding “we will continue with all our diplomatic efforts in this direction. We have to continue.”
 
France and other EU nations have been trying to ease tensions in the Gulf region since President Donald Trump abandoned the nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions that have hit the Iranian economy hard.
 
President Emmanuel Macron has overseen recent talks between French and Iranian officials, and even secured a potential opening with Trump at last month’s G7 summit, when he said he would be willing to meet with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.
 
Esper said he had “productive discussions” with Parly, though neither indicated any progress had been made on de-escalating the conflict.
 
They also agreed to disagree on the US’s new “maritime security mission” in the Gulf, aimed at ensuring open passage for vessels through the Strait of Hormuz after a series of incidents, including ship seizures by Iranian forces.
 
France has declined to join the US initiative and instead sought out like-minded partners for its own surveillance of the strategic waterway.
 
“The goal is to rally as many partners and means of surveillance as possible to improve security in the Gulf, and there’s absolutely no competition between these initiatives,” Parly said.
 
Esper said the US effort “is about deterring bad behaviour.”
 
“Obviously our preference is that all countries join underneath this broader umbrella,” he said.
 
China warning
 
Esper reiterated that China along with Russia were the main threats as the US shapes its defence strategy for the coming years, and warned Europe about its own vulnerabilities to the two countries as well.
 
“China is seeking to gain influence around the world and throughout Europe, in many ways contrary to the interests of European states,” he said.
 
Yet the prospect of huge Chinese spending has opened doors to Beijing across the Indo-Pacific region and into Africa, with Italy also recently accepting billions of euros from China for a major port expansion.
 
“As countries increase their dependence on Chinese investment and trade, they become more susceptible to coercion and retribution when they act outside of Beijing’s wishes,” Esper said.
 
But he declined to confirm if the US defence shift toward China and Russia would lead to fewer American troops in Africa, where France is leading efforts against Islamic terrorist groups operating across large swaths of sub-Saharan territory.
 
“I’ve not made any decisions,” Esper said. “I’m looking at every theatre, and every command, to figure out how I can economise our forces, how I can optimise our assets.”
 
He praised France’s role, saying it was “directly benefiting the security of Europe,” and revealing that “earlier this week our French partners provided a lifesaving medical evacuation for a US soldier in Africa.”
 
Analysts have speculated the US may shift to a drone-based presence for Africa, and France has often sought American surveillance and drone strikes for operations by its 4,500-strong Barkhane counter-insurgency force.
 
Sep 06, 2019
Truecaller announced has announced that the company has crossed 500 million downloads and surpassed 150 million daily active users (DAUs) globally.
 
This comes close on the heels of the company recently sharing the news of attaining over 1 million paying subscribers on their Premium services.
 
This is a significant achievement for Truecaller, which is emerging as a one-stop communication platform with a wide array of services, such as: Instant Messaging, VoIP, and Payments. The 150 million DAU’s achievement makes Truecaller the most used communication app in India, after apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
 
The key factors that have led to this rapid growth are Truecaller’s many communication features, like their smart dialer, VoIP capability, Instant Messaging, and their spam-free SMS inbox.
 
Speaking on this unique achievement, Alan Mamedi, CEO & Co-founder, Truecaller, said:“By differentiating ourselves from the standard stock dialer and solving some fundamental communication problems for our users, we have been able to capitalize and excel the competition. This is a very significant achievement. 150 million daily active users and 500 million downloads is extraordinary. These milestones underline the faith and trust our users have in our brand.”
Sep 06, 2019
North Carolina braced for a “long night” of strong winds and driving rain as Hurricane Dorian moved near the US state’s coast Friday after devastating the northern Bahamas, where it left at least 30 people dead and thousands homeless.
 
Authorities in the state of Florida — which was largely spared by the storm — blamed six more deaths on the hurricane, US media reported, though they occurred as the victims were preparing for the storm’s arrival or were evacuation-related.
 
“Dorian should remain a powerful hurricane as the center moves near or along the coast of North Carolina,” the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Friday morning, after downgrading it to a Category 1 storm.
 
It warned that although weakening, the hurricane was still packing winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kilometers per hour), with some areas of the Carolina coast forecast to see dangerous storm surges of up to seven feet (2.1 meters) and between six and 12 inches of rain.
 
The wreckage left at Marsh Harbour by Dorian in the Bahamas
 
“We know we’re in for a long night and we’ll be eager to see the sunshine in the morning,” North Carolina’s Governor Roy Cooper told News men on Thursday night.
 
The slow-moving monster storm also spawned several tornadoes but there were no immediate reports of casualties.
 
Many residents of coastal Carolina heeded evacuation orders while others battened down their homes with plywood and prepared to ride out the tempest.
 
The centre of the storm was expected to move to southeast New England Friday night and Saturday morning, and then across Nova Scotia late Saturday.
 
US President Donald Trump tweeted that he had spoken to the governors of North and South Carolina, telling them he is “ready to assist.”
 
Dorian was a Category 5 hurricane — the highest on the five-level wind scale — when it slammed into the northern Bahamas on Sunday, leaving a trail of immense destruction.
 
News press men in the town of Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco on Thursday saw scenes of catastrophic damage with homes reduced to matchsticks, overturned cars, fields of jumbled debris, widespread flooding and beached boats.
 
Teams of men in masks and white protective suits were seen loading corpses encased in green body bags onto a flatbed truck.
 
Storm-dazed residents were out on the streets dragging suitcases containing their most precious possessions.
 
The full extent of the damage in the northern Bahamas was becoming known on Thursday as rescue teams fanned out searching for survivors and bringing relief to victims.
 
Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told news that at least 30 people were killed in the storm, which caused what he called “generational devastation.”
 
The death toll is expected to rise. The United Nations said 70,000 people in the Bahamas were in immediate need of aid.
 
“It’s hell everywhere,” said Brian Harvey, a Canadian from Montreal, told news in Great Abaco.
 
“I was on my sailboat,” Harvey said. “I lost everything.”
 
“We need to get out of here,” he added. “It’s been four or five days. It’s time to move and get out of here.”
 
Steven Turnquest, who arrived in Nassau from Marsh Harbour with his four- and seven-year-old sons after weathering the storm, told news men he was grateful to be alive.
Sep 06, 2019

In reaction to the Xenophobic attacks on  Nigerian citizens, The Federal Government of Nigeria has been urged by a human rights lawyer to impose economic sanctions against South African business interests in Nigeria

Mr. Paul Eshiamomoh, a human rights lawyer, told Press on Friday in Abuja that this would be more impactful as a way to compel their government to be proactive against the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians than resorting to mob actions across the country. He implored Nigerians to remain calm to avoid worsening the xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and other foreign nationals in South Africa.

“I do not believe shutting down South African businesses in Nigeria will solve the problem and I do not subscribe to violent reprisal attacks against South Africans living in Nigeria or their businesses. The Federal Government can impose sanctions against their business interests in Nigeria. I believe that every diplomatic action should be matched with a diplomatic solution. So if Nigeria’s government does not take steps to send a signal to South African authorities against this barbaric act the situation will get worse,” he said.

The rights lawyer expressed dismay over the ability of South African police authorities to prevent the attacks against Nigerians.

“South African authorities are not proactive in saving the lives and properties of Nigerians. I am therefore calling on the Nigerian government to evacuate Nigerians who are willing to come back home,” he said.

He, however, appealed to the Federal Government to continue in its efforts to provide job opportunities for Nigerians to tackle the rate of Nigerians travelling abroad in search of jobs.

News reports that the Nigerian government through its Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, asked the South African authorities to pay compensation to Nigerians whose properties were destroyed during the attack.

Sep 06, 2019
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa has announced the demise of Robert Mugabe, the founding father of of the country who also fought for Africa’s independence struggle.
 
He was aged 95.
 
Mugabe died in Singapore, where he had been receiving medical care for months as his health deteriorated.
 
“It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe’s founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe,” a post on Mnangagwa’s official presidential Twitter account early Friday said.
 
Mnangagwa called Mugabe “an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people. His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”
 
In November, Mnangagwa said Mugabe was no longer able to walk when he had been admitted to a hospital in Singapore, without saying what treatment Mugabe had been undergoing.
 
Officials often said he was being treated for a cataract, denying frequent private media reports that he had prostate cancer.
 
Monica mutsvangwa, the minister of information, confirmed the death, saying: “Yes it is really saddening. Some of us were like his children to him. We can never write our history without mentioning him.”
 
The former president, whose long rule in Zimbabwe descended into tyranny, corruption and incompetence, was in power for close to four decades before being ousted in a military takeover in November 2017.
 
He was initially loved and regarded as an African liberation hero and champion of racial reconciliation when he came to power in a nation divided by nearly a century of white colonial rule.
Sep 06, 2019

Robert Mugabe, the African revolutionary hero who liberated his country from white rule but then turned the new, independent nation of Zimbabwe into his personal fiefdom and a virtual one-party state during his 37-year reign, has died, the country's current president said on Friday. Mugabe was 95.

"It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe's founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe," Mugabe's successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, posted on his official Twitter account.

Mugabe was forced out of power by a military coup in 2017. The cause of death was not immediately confirmed, but Mugabe had long battled health issues.

Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born into poverty in 1924 in what was then Southern Rhodesia, a British colony named after the notorious colonialist Cecil John Rhodes. Like neighboring South Africa, Rhodesia was allowed self-rule, but under a brutal system run by the white minority.

Mugabe was educated in Catholic missionary schools and became a teacher in what was then known as Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia. He later lived in Ghana when that country became the first African nation granted independence from Britain in 1957. He returned to Southern Rhodesia in 1960. Five years later the country's white rulers broke away from their British overlords in order to keep power and renamed the country Rhodesia.

(FILES) A picture taken on February 6, 1 A picture taken on February 6, 1980 shows members of the black nationalist guerrillas of the Zimbabwean African Liberation Army (ZALA), led by Robert Mugabe, staging a rally in an unknown place in Zimbabwe.GETTY

Mugabe was one of the founders of a revolutionary political party in Rhodesia called the Zimbabwe African National Union, or ZANU-PF. His actions led to him being imprisoned in 1964 without trial. He served 11 years behind bars, but while in prison, he was chosen as president of ZANU-PF.

After his release, he directed guerrilla warfare efforts against Rhodesia's white government from exile in Mozambique.

Mugabe became known as a skilled negotiator during his time in exile, according to BBC News

He made a name for himself during the independence movement, and Mugabe's ZANU-PF won an overwhelming majority in the first free elections in what had been officially renamed Zimbabwe in 1980. Mugabe then became the country's first post-independence prime minister.

"The phase we are entering, the phase of independence should be regarded as a phase conferring upon all of us — the people of Zimbabwe — whether we are black or white — full sovereignty, full democratic rights," Mugabe said in 1980.

Zimbabwe seemed to have a promising future, but bitter divisions remained. Mugabe soon moved to consolidate his ZANU-PF party's hold on the country, crushing his opponents in a brutal crackdown in which thousands of people were killed. He altered the constitution in 1987 to make himself president.

Although Mugabe initially invested heavily in social programs, including education and health, Zimbabwe's fortunes turned dramatically over the next decade. Mugabe blamed the white farmers, who remained in the country after the civil war, for economic malaise, and a vote was ordered to alter the constitution so the government could confiscate white-owned farms. The referendum was defeated, but Mugabe ordered his followers to carry out the farm seizures anyway.

Between 2000 and 2001, more than 1,000 farms were seized, Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes" reported at the time. A group of Mugabe's followers called the "war veterans" drove the white farm owners off their land, wrecked homes and barns, killed livestock and then left the land fallow.

image270626x.jpg

"The white farmer is the crudest of the whites in this country," Mugabe told Kroft, "the most backwater in terms of enlightenment and education."

The wife of one white farmer who was forced to drink diesel fuel before being shot blamed Mugabe for her husband's murder.

"Why?" Mugabe asked Kroft during the interview. "I wasn't there, I didn't give instructions to anyone."

The farm seizures led to condemnation by the international community, and loans to Zimbabwe were banned. Once known as the bread basket of Africa, Zimbabwe's farming industry collapsed and the country descended into desperate poverty.

A rival group, the Movement for Democratic Change, grew in power and won a majority in the first round of elections in 2008. But its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, pulled out of the runoff after violence that left an estimated 200 people dead, according to NPR.

But through the chaos Mugabe lost some of his grip on power. The U.S., EU and many of his fellow African leaders tried to pressure him into leaving. In a defiant speech before Parliament in 2008, Mugabe claimed the international criticism, which extended to his handling of a vicious cholera epidemic, was a "pack of lies," and vowed he would not be intimidated into leaving.

"I will never, never, never surrender," he said. "Zimbabwe is mine, I am a Zimbabwean. Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans."

In 2009 he was forced to agree to a power-sharing agreement with Tsvangirai, but he managed to keep most of the power for himself. The economy went into free-fall. Unemployment soared and diseases were rampant. The Zimbabwe dollar was being printed in denominations of billions amid astronomical inflation.

Mugabe insisted he had won a clear victory in a contested 2013 election, and ended the power-sharing agreement. But his grip on power only lasted a few more years. He was finally ousted when his longtime allies, the country's military commanders, turned against him amid concerns he was setting up his wife, Grace, as his successor.

Mugabe had battled a number of health problems in recent years, and was receiving medical treatment in Singapore when he died. He had been there since April.

Mugabe once insisted he would never retire or go into exile. "I fought for Zimbabwe, and when I die I will be buried in Zimbabwe, nowhere else," he said in 2003.

 

Credit: CBS News

Sep 05, 2019

Zimbabwean public sector doctors went on strike on Tuesday for the second time in less than a year to demand a further salary increase amid soaring living costs, as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government struggles with a deteriorating economy.

Zimbabwe is mired in its worst economic crisis in a decade, with triple-digit inflation, rolling power cuts and shortages of U.S. dollars, basic goods, medicines and fuel that have revived memories of the hyperinflation that forced it to ditch its currency in 2009.

Mnangagwa’s government has proposed big pay rises for doctors and other public sector workers in an attempt to avert crippling strikes. Police have banned a series of protests called by the opposition in major cities and have used tear gas and water cannon to disperse demonstrators.

The main unions representing doctors and teachers, who make up the bulk of public service workers, said they had rejected the government’s salary offers, which would see the lowest paid worker earning 1,023 Zimbabwe dollars ($90.45) a month.

The doctors accepted their 60% pay increase but said it was not sufficient to avert the strike action. The teachers are not currently on strike.

The doctors are looking for another 401% pay hike that they want indexed to the U.S. dollar.

“We met with the government representatives yesterday and they promised to expedite other allowances for health personnel but so far it has just been empty promises,” the head of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), Peter Magombeyi, told Reuters.

“They have taken us for granted for too long, but we are ready to go back to work as soon as they offer us something tangible, which has not been forthcoming so far.”

“ASSESSING THE SITUATION”

At the turn of the year, junior doctors held a 40-day strike for better pay and conditions that crippled public hospitals. It ended without a deal being reached and with doctors threatening further stoppages.

Most junior doctors stayed away on Tuesday at the largest two public hospitals, Parirenyatwa and Harare Central, a Reuters witness said.

A few junior doctors turned up to work, but said they would not report for work on Wednesday. Some senior doctors also said they would join the strike.

“Today we were assessing the situation but we are not coming in tomorrow(Today). The strike will be in full swing,” a junior doctor at Harare Central Hospital told Reuters.

The Health Services Board (HSB), which represents the government, said in a statement late on Monday that it was surprised the doctors were taking strike action despite accepting the earlier pay offer.

ZHDA wants wages, which were previously pegged to the U.S. dollar, to be paid at the prevailing inter-bank market rate and says its members can no longer afford to report for duty due to surging inflation and the deterioration in the economy.

Their current salaries are worth less than 10% of what they were before the peg was scrapped due to high inflation.

Zimbabwe dollar is trading at 11.31 against the U.S. dollar in the interbank market and 13.10 in the black market. Both rates are used to buy goods.

 

- Reuters

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