Nov 13, 2020

President João Lourenço of Angola has stepped up his fight to recover billions of dollars allegedly stolen under his predecessor as Africa’s second-biggest oil producer battles to escape the continent’s largest debt crisis.

Mr Lourenço estimates the scale of the looting to amount to at least $24bn — an assertion that signals the next phase in his struggle against allies of José Eduardo dos Santos, who for decades presided over a country reputed to be one of the world’s most corrupt. Mr dos Santos stepped down in 2017.

“New things are being discovered . . . it is likely that much bigger numbers will be announced later,” Mr Lourenço said in a state of the nation address last month. He also noted that the sum was larger than Angola’s roughly $20bn debt to its main creditor, China.

Mr Lourenço already claims to have recovered almost $5bn of ill-gotten gains and wants to recover more. Angolan prosecutors have begun to investigate one of the most notorious scandals of Mr dos Santos’s rule — an alliance between allies of the former president and a secretive Hong Kong group, 88 Queensway, that allegedly hollowed out Sonangol, Angola’s oil company.

Sonangol has also begun litigation to claw back alleged loot from Isabel dos Santos, the former president’s daughter and the continent’s richest woman, who briefly chaired the company before the family’s downfall. She denies wrongdoing.

The sheer scale of the alleged looting has underlined the stakes for Mr Lourenço’s ruling Movement for the Popular Liberation of Angola as it faces rising frustration, including urban protests, over the turmoil in the economy, Africa’s third largest, and the legacy of theft by the country’s elite. 

This year’s pandemic-related crash in oil prices has exacerbated half a decade of recession and forced Beijing’s biggest African debtor to seek billions of dollars in relief. Angola has received about $2.5bn from the IMF as part of its biggest programme on the continent. The IMF has said that Angola is making progress on negotiations with three large creditors, believed by analysts to be Chinese, on $6.7bn of debt relief, but deals are yet to be announced.

A lack of direction on the economy and a crackdown on protests in Luanda, the capital, have fuelled discontent. People think little has changed. It is “basically a reproduction of the same structures, the same status quo, the same way of doing things from dos Santos’s dark past”, said Rafael Marques de Morais, an anti-corruption activist in Angola.

A recent survey of Angolan business owners by Exx Africa, a research group, also indicated that two-thirds were unhappy with the country’s direction.

Mr Lourenço, therefore, has an incentive to blame the alleged dos Santos corruption for Angola’s economic problems, say analysts. “Lourenço is portraying these grand schemes as being instrumental in the high levels of sovereign debt being accumulated over the past two decades, particularly the debt owed to China, to keep public opinion on his side,” said Darias Jonker, Africa director at Eurasia Group.

With Sonangol pledging oil deliveries to secure Chinese loans for investment, Angola became so much a testing ground for Chinese commodity-for-infrastructure loans on the continent this century that the World Bank dubbed the model “Angola Mode”.

A government investigation into two Angolan-Chinese companies has ensnared senior allies of the former president. Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento, a confidante of Mr dos Santos known as Dino, and Hélder Vieira Dias Junior, or Kopelipa, a former military adviser, were last month named by prosecutors as formal suspects in alleged corruption involving China International Fund (CIF), a Queensway venture. Angola’s attorney-general did not respond to a request for comment.

These two men together with Manuel Vicente, chairman of Sonangol before he became deputy to Mr dos Santos, controlled significant business interests as a so-called “triumvirate”. Under Mr Vicente’s tenure, Sonangol began a joint venture with Queensway called China Sonangol.

CIF and China Sonangol helped secure access to Angola’s elite for Sam Pa, a formerly powerful Chinese middleman in Africa and senior figure at Queensway. Mr Pa ventured into Angola at the dawn of Chinese interest in the nation’s oil sector as Mr dos Santos sought loans to rebuild after the end of a long civil war in 2002.

The investigation into CIF was sensitive, given Angola’s close relationship with China, said Alex Vines, Africa programme director at Chatham House. Mr Pa was arrested in China in 2015 in an anti-corruption sweep. Mr Pa could not be reached for comment and his current whereabouts are unknown. The “relationship with China is so strategic, given the debt exposure that the timing of this [the asset recovery drive] is clearly political,” said Mr Vines.

Still, many doubt Mr Lourenço will ever recover all the money. “In macroeconomic terms, they are never going to get anything close to $24bn back from the global economy,” said Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, professor in the international politics of Africa at Oxford university.

Sonangol’s management “want to clean up” but “they have a lot on their plate” to pursue complex lawsuits while battling to control the company’s finances, said a lawyer who has worked with the business. “They probably have to prioritise.”

Mr Lourenço’s approach to tackling corruption was also “extremely ambivalent”, said Mr Soares de Oliveira. “The rhetoric is systemic and all-encompassing, but the practice is discretionary and political.”

Despite Mr Lourenço’s statement that more than $13bn was stolen from the company that Mr Vicente once chaired, Mr Vicente remains close to Mr Lourenço.

“There is a sense of arbitrariness that some who were close to dos Santos haven’t been touched, but others have,” Mr Vines said. “There is a sense of old wine in new wineskins in Angola right now.”

 

Source: Financial Times

Nov 13, 2020

Police in the Angolan capital, Luanda, have used tear gas to disperse demonstrators.

They were protesting against rising living costs, unemployment and the postponement of local elections due to coronavirus.

A number of people were arrested and some were injured during the demonstrations, which had been banned by the authorities.

Last month, dozens of people were arrested during a similar protest.

Angola is one of Africa's biggest oil exporters but most of its people live in poverty.

BBC World Service Africa editor Mary Harper reports that disenchantment with the government has risen in recent months, with several marches called against corruption, police brutality and unemployment.

Protesters defied the ban on demonstrations which was ordered by the governor of Luanda partly to slow down the spread of coronavirus.

Teams of well-armed police were seen on the streets of Luanda.

 

Credit: BBC

Nov 11, 2020

The U.N. refugee agency reports a significant increase in the number of people fleeing Ivory Coast to neighboring countries in the wake of the country’s controversial October 31 presidential election.

More than 8,000 Ivorians have fled rising political tensions in Ivory Coast. That is up from 3,200 in just one week. The U.N. refugee agency says it fears the number will continue to grow as ongoing violence shows no signs of abating.
 
UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch says 7,500 refugees have fled to Liberia. The others, he says, have sought refuge in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea and Togo.
 
“Over 60% of arrivals are children, some of whom arrived unaccompanied or separated from their parents. Older people and pregnant women have also fled, most carrying just a few belongings and little to no food or money at all.” Baloch said.  
 
Alassane Ouattara won a third presidential term by an overwhelming margin of 94%. Opposition parties boycotted the election, calling his bid for a third term illegal under the constitution’s two-term limit. Ouattara has argued the two-term limit does not apply to him under a new constitution adopted in 2016.
 
Dozens of people reportedly have been killed in election-related violence.  
 
Baloch told VOA fear of violence is driving the current exodus.
 
“This brings back bad memories from 2011 of the presidential election then, which claimed the lives of 3,000 people and forced over 300,000 to flee. So, these people who are coming, they are not mentioning currently being targeted…or them being attacked.  But it is the fear of violence,” he said.   
 
Baloch said most refugees in Liberia wish to remain close to the border and return home as soon as the situation stabilizes.
 
In the meantime, the UNHCR is increasing aid for the refugees. Baloch said the agency is planning to airlift essential relief items for up to 10,000 refugees in Liberia. He said aid workers are racing to distribute humanitarian aid, including food and cash and to provide water, sanitation and shelter.

 

VOA

The American public has had its say and for the first time in a generation denied a sitting president a second term.

President Donald Trump’s tenure lasted just four years, but in that time he dragged policy on an array of key issues in a dramatic new direction.

Joe Biden’s victory, confirmed by the Associated Press late morning on Nov. 7, presents an opportunity to reset the White House agenda and put it on a different course.

Three scholars discuss what a Biden presidency may have in store in three key areas: race, the Supreme Court and foreign policy.

Racism, policing and Black Lives Matter protests

Brian Purnell, Bowdoin College

The next four years under a Biden administration will likely see improvements in racial justice. But to many, it will be a low bar to clear: President Donald Trump downplayed racist violence, egged on right-wing extremists and described Black Lives Matter as a “symbol of hate” during his four-year tenure.

Indeed, according to polls, most Americans agree that race relations have deteriorated under Trump.

Still, Biden is in some ways an unlikely president to advance a progressive racial agenda. In the 1970s, he opposed busing plans and stymied school desegregation efforts in Delaware, his home state. And in the mid-1990s he championed a federal crime bill that made incarceration rates for Black people worse. He bungled the hearings that brought Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court by allowing Republican senators to dismiss Anita Hill’s damning testimony of Thomas’ sexual harassment and by failing to allow other Black women to testify.

But that was then.

During the 2020 campaign, President-elect Biden consistently spoke about problems stemming from systemic racism. Many voters will be hoping that his actions over the next four years must match his campaign words.

One area that the Biden administration will surely address is policing and racial justice. The Justice Department can bring accountability to police reform by returning to practices the Obama administration put in place to monitor and reform police departments, such as the use of consent degrees. More difficult reforms require redressing how mass incarceration caused widespread voter disenfranchisement in Black American and Latino communities.

“My administration will incentivize states to automatically restore voting rights for individuals convicted of felonies once they have served their sentences,” Biden told The Washington Post.

The killing of George Floyd earlier this year reinvigorated talk of addressing systemic racial discrimination through fundamental changes in how police departments hold officers accountable for misconduct and excessive force. It is unclear how far President-elect Biden will walk down this road. But evoking the words of the late civil rights icon and Congressman John Lewis, he at least suggested at the Democratic National Convention that America was ready to do the hard work of “rooting out systemic racism.”

A portrait of George Floyd is seen during a Black Lives Matter protest on June 17, 2020 in the Manhattan borough of New York City.
After George Floyd’s death, how far will Biden go to address systemic racism? Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

Biden can help address how Americans think about and deal with unexamined racial biases through reversing the previous administration’s executive order banning anti-racism training and workshops. In so doing, Biden can build on psychological research on bias to make American workplaces, schools and government agencies equitable, just places.

Making progress fighting systemic racism will be a slow, uphill battle. A more immediate benefit to communities of color could come through Biden’s COVID-19 pandemic response – the Trump administration’s failure to stanch the spread of the coronavirus has led to deaths and economic consequences that have disproportionately fallen on racial and ethnic minorities.

On matters of race relations in the U.S., most Americans would agree that the era of Trump saw the picture worsen. The good news for Biden as president is there is nowhere to go but up.

The Supreme Court

Morgan Marietta, University of Massachusetts Lowell

Despite the fact that American voters have given Democrats control of the presidency, the conservative Supreme Court will continue to rule on the nature and extent of constitutional rights.

These liberties are considered by the court to be “beyond the reach of majorities,” meaning they are intended to be immune from the changing beliefs of the electorate.

However, appointees of Democrats and Republicans tend to have very different views on which rights the Constitution protects and which are left to majority rule.

The dominant judicial philosophy of the conservative majority – originalism – sees rights as powerful but limited. The protection of rights recognized explicitly by the Constitution, such as the freedoms of religion, speech and press and the freedom to bear arms, will likely grow stronger over the next four years. But the protection of expansive rights that the court has found in the phrase “due process of law” in the 14th Amendment, including privacy or reproductive rights, may well contract.

The Biden administration will probably not agree with the court’s future rulings on voting rights, gay rights, religious rights or the rights of noncitizens. Ditto for any rulings on abortion, guns, the death penalty and immigration. But there is little President-elect Biden can do to control the independent judiciary.

Unhappy with what a strong conservative majority on the court may do – including possibly overturning the Affordable Care Act – many Democrats have advocated radical approaches to altering what the court looks like and how it operates, though Biden himself has not stated a clear position.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett talks with Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas during her ceremonial swearing-in ceremony to be U.S. Supreme Court.
How will President-elect Biden respond to the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court? Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Suggested options include term limits, adding a retirement age, stripping the jurisdiction of the court for specific federal legislation, or increasing the size of the court. This strategy is known historically as court packing.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg opposed expanding the court, telling NPR in 2019 that “if anything would make the court look partisan, it would be … one side saying, ‘When we’re in power, we’re going to enlarge the number of judges, so we would have more people who would vote the way we want them to.’”

The Constitution does not establish the number of justices on the court, instead leaving that to Congress. The number has been set at nine since the 1800s, but Congress could pass a law expanding the number of justices to 11 or 13, creating two or four new seats.

However, this requires agreement by both houses of Congress.

The GOP seems likely to maintain a narrow control of the Senate. A 50/50 split is possible, but that won’t be clear until January when Georgia holds two runoff elections. Any of the proposed reforms of the court will be difficult, if not impossible, to pass under a divided Congress.

This leaves the Biden administration hoping for retirements that would gradually shift the ideological balance of the court.

One of the most likely may be Justice Clarence Thomas, who is 72 and the longest-serving member of the current court. Samuel Alito is 70 and Chief Justice John Roberts is 65. In other professions, that may sound like people soon to retire, but at the Supreme Court that is less likely. With the other three conservative justices in their 40s or 50s, the Biden administration may be fully at odds with the court for some time to come.

Foreign policy and defense

Neta Crawford, Boston University

President-elect Biden has signaled he will do three things to reset the U.S.‘s foreign policy.

First, Biden will change the tone of U.S. foreign relations. The Democratic Party platform called its section on military foreign policy “renewing American leadership” and emphasized diplomacy as a “tool of first resort.”

Biden seems to sincerely believe in diplomacy and is intent on repairing relations with U.S. allies that have been damaged over the last four years. Conversely, while Trump was, some say, too friendly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling him a “terrific person,” Biden will likely take a harder line with Russia, at least rhetorically.

This change in tone will also likely include rejoining some of the treaties and international agreements that the United States abandoned under the Trump administration. The most important of these include the Paris Climate Agreement, which the U.S. officially withdrew from on Nov. 4, and restoring funding to the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

If the U.S. is to extend the New START nuclear weapons treaty, the arms control deal with Russia due to expire in February, the incoming Biden administration would likely have to work with the outgoing administration on an extension. Biden has also signaled a willingness to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal jettisoned by Trump, if and when the Iranians return to the limits on nuclear infrastructure imposed by the agreement.

Second, in contrast to the large increases in military spending under Trump, President-elect Biden may make modest cuts in the U.S. military budget. Although he has said that cuts are not “inevitable” under his presidency, Biden has hinted at a smaller military presence overseas and is likely to change some priorities at the Pentagon by, for instance, emphasizing high-tech weapons. If the Senate – which must ratify any treaties – flips to Democrats’ control, the Biden administration may take more ambitious steps in nuclear arms control by pursuing deeper cuts with Russia and ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

US soldiers arrive at the site of a car bomb attack that targeted a NATO coalition convoy in Kabul on September 24, 2017.
Could Biden be the president who finally pulls all US troops out of Afghanistan? Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

Third, the Biden administration will likely continue some Bush, Obama and Trump foreign policy priorities. Specifically, while a Biden administration will seek to end the war in Afghanistan, the administration will keep a focus on defeating the Islamic State and al-Qaida. Biden has said that he would reduce the current 5,200 U.S. forces in Afghanistan to 1,500-2,000 troops operating in the region in a counterterrorism role. The Biden administration is likely to continue the massive nuclear weapons modernization and air and naval equipment modernization programs begun under the Obama administration and accelerated and expanded under Trump, if only because they are popular with members of Congress who see the jobs they provide in their states.

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And like the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations, the Biden administration will prioritize the economic and military threats it believes are posed by China. But, consistent with its emphasis on diplomacy, the Biden administration will likely also work more to constrain China through diplomatic engagement and by working with U.S. allies in the region.The Conversation

 

Brian J Purnell, Associate Professor of Africana Studies and History, Bowdoin College; Morgan Marietta, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts Lowell, and Neta C. Crawford, Professor of Political Science and Department Chair, Boston University

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

Nov 10, 2020

The entire airline industry took a tremendous hit in 2020, with countries worldwide shutting down borders and limiting travel as a response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Massive cancellations of flights to control the spread of the virus led to huge drops in airline passenger revenues and caused staggering losses to the world’s largest airline companies.

According to data presented by Stock Apps, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Lufthansa Group, United Airlines, Air France, and the International Airlines Group, as the world’s largest public airline companies based on sales, lost $110bn in revenue since the beginning of 2020.

US Airlines Lost $63.9bn Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Pretty much every major airline has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic this year. However, US airline companies have witnessed the biggest drop in revenues since the beginning of 2020.

Between January and March, Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL), as the world’s largest airline based on sales, lost $1.8bn. The company’s earnings report showed the second quarter of the year delivered six-time severer loss, with revenue plunging by 88% year-over-year to $1.4bn. The strong negative trend continued between June and September, with the company losing another $9.5bn after the coronavirus pandemic ruined what is typically a peak summer travel period.

Delta’s net loss was $5.4bn in the third quarter, compared to a profit of $1.5bn in the year-earlier period. Statistics show the world’s leading airline lost $22.4bn in YTD revenue, the worst hit among the six leading companies.

World’s Largest Airlines Lost $110bn in YTD Revenue, Delta Airlines Leads With a $22.4 bn Plunge

 

The entire airline industry took a tremendous hit in 2020, with countries worldwide shutting down borders and limiting travel as a response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Massive cancellations of flights to control the spread of the virus led to huge drops in airline passenger revenues and caused staggering losses to the world’s largest airline companies.

According to data presented by Stock Apps, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Lufthansa Group, United Airlines, Air France, and the International Airlines Group, as the world’s largest public airline companies based on sales, lost $110bn in revenue since the beginning of 2020.

US Airlines Lost $63.9bn Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Pretty much every major airline has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic this year. However, US airline companies have witnessed the biggest drop in revenues since the beginning of 2020.

Between January and March, Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL), as the world’s largest airline based on sales, lost $1.8bn. The company’s earnings report showed the second quarter of the year delivered six-time severer loss, with revenue plunging by 88% year-over-year to $1.4bn. The strong negative trend continued between June and September, with the company losing another $9.5bn after the coronavirus pandemic ruined what is typically a peak summer travel period.

Delta’s net loss was $5.4bn in the third quarter, compared to a profit of $1.5bn in the year-earlier period. Statistics show the world’s leading airline lost $22.4bn in YTD revenue, the worst hit among the six leading companies.

Delta Airline Earnings

Delta Airline Market Capitalization

American Airlines (NASDAQ: AAL), the second-largest airline on this list and the leading airline by flown passenger kilometers, lost $21.1bn in revenue since the beginning of the year. Statistics show the company reported the most significant loss in the second quarter of 2020, with revenues plunging by 86.4% year-over-year to $1.6bn, compared to $11.9bn in the same period a year ago. Third-quarter revenue was down 73% YoY to $3.1bn, following a 59% YoY reduction in total available seat miles.

United Airlines (NASDAQ: UAL), as the third-largest US airline company and the fourth-largest globally, reported a $20.4bn loss in the three quarters of 2020, a 63% decrease year-over-year. Third-quarter results revealed a massive $8.8bn revenue drop after the company already reported a $10bn loss between March and June. The Yahoo Finance data also revealed United Airlines witnessed the most significant drop in market cap among the three leading airlines in the United States, with the combined value of the company’s shares plunging by 57% YoY to around $9.5bn.

Statistics show the combined revenues of the three largest US airline companies crashed by $63.9bn since the beginning of 2020.

Three Largest European Airlines Lost $45.9bn in Revenue

Although the US airlines have taken the hardest hit amid the coronavirus crisis, the European companies also reported tremendous losses in 2020. The world’s third-largest airline based on sales and the largest in Europe, Lufthansa Group (ETR: LHA), reported a $10.6bn revenue loss in the first half of 2020.

The financial report of the German company showed traffic fell significantly due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sales (revenue passenger-kilometers) plunged by 65% year-on-year, while capacity (available passenger-kilometers) was cut by 61% in this period.

After laying off 8,300 employees between January and March, the H1 2020 financial statement confirmed that 22,000 more are to follow as a part of its “ReNew” program.

Lufthansa Earnings

Lufthansa Market Capitalisation

Air France (EPA: AF) suffered a $20.4bn YTD revenue loss. The company’s third-quarter results showed the passenger network activity was reduced to around 40% of last year’s levels. The tightening of travel restrictions, border closures, and the lack of corporate travel delayed the expected traffic recovery. July and August were relatively strong in terms of traffic compared to a disappointing September affected by restrictive travel measures.

Third-quarter revenues plunged by 68.3% to €2bn, or $2.3bn, while net income loss amounted to over €1.6bn, a €2bn decrease compared to last year.

International Airlines Group (LON: IAG), as the sixth-largest airline company globally witnessed a $14.9bn revenue loss between January and September. The financial report of the Anglo-Spanish multinational airline holding company showed passenger capacity operated in third quarter plunged 78.6% year-on-year, and 64.3% for the period of nine months.

AIG also reported operating loss for the nine months of €3.2bn or around $3.7bn, compared to over €2.5bn operating profit a year ago.

Statistics indicate the combined revenues of the three largest European airlines crashed by $45.9bn since the beginning of the year.

Flowing through 11 African countries, the Nile River plays an important role in the lives of more than 24% of Africa’s population. To both upstream and downstream countries, the Nile waters are crucial in development planning, food and energy production.

As countries vie for these resources, there has been immense tension. Most notably, Egypt and Sudan have challenged Ethiopia’s decision to construct and fill the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. This is a huge project on one of the Nile’s main tributaries, the Blue Nile, which supplies more than 80% of the water reaching Egypt.

Treaties are needed to govern the allocation of water resources in the region. For this to happen it is critical to have accurate data on how much water there is. But global water scarcity data are based on insufficient ground observations. They are grossly outdated and don’t cover enough of the major transboundary river basins. This is due to funding, maintenance cost, terrain and topography. In the Nile basin, hydrological monitoring stations have significantly declined in number over the last 30 years.

But this is changing. Recent advances in hydrological satellite observations are enabling the frequent collection of much more reliable information. This has opened the door to new research efforts to update global water availability.

Hydrological satellite observations happen when a satellite – hundreds of miles away from the Earth’s surface – observes and makes recurring visits to the same site several times a month. One of these – which allows for improved assessment of the total changes in water volume – is NASA’s joint satellite mission Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment.

Our research team is among the first to use data from this satellite mission for a water scarcity assessment in Africa. We have used the data in several studies of the Nile basin. This includes assessments into how water levels in the Nile Basin are affected by the climate and people.

The data has enabled us to make accurate calculations that weren’t possible before. For example, we have been able to assess how much surface water there is and what the soil moisture and levels of groundwater are. Previous studies focused primarily on one or some of those variables, such as the water from the river flow.

Our study shows that there’s a looming water crisis in the Nile basin. This calls for an urgent regional basin initiative on sustainable water resources management.

Monitoring from space

Launched in 2002, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites monitor changes in global water resources in all forms. The data are available on a monthly basis.

We used these observations to determine the total available water storage in the Nile basin between 2002 and 2020. Overall, the data revealed that the total available water storage in the basin, from all sources, could reach an average of 180 billion cubic metres per year. This estimate is about twice the current estimated storage of 88 billion cubic metres per year. Having data like this would inform how much water is allocated in the basin’s water sharing agreements.

We also used the satellite data to estimate the total available water storage for two main water tower regions (the source of the river) – Lake Victoria and the Blue Nile basin – and two major water sink regions (where slow flowing water is lost to evaporation) – the Sudd wetlands in South Sudan and the Main Nile area across Egypt.

From what was previously reported, recent Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellite observations showed that the Lake Victoria water tower receives about twice the water volume that the Blue Nile basin receives during the wet season. And the Sudd basin (the southern water sink) loses about twice the water compared to the northern Main Nile region.

These updated figures call for progressive water resources planning to save additional water resources for future development in the region.

The satellite observations also confirmed that between 2002 and 2020, the Nile river basin experienced wetter conditions. In 2020, the Nile river basin had approximately eight times more water storage than it did in 2002. These wetter conditions require further planning for more water volumes during flooding seasons.

Despite this, our conclusion confirms previous assessments that the basin is water-stressed.

Water stressed

A region is said to experience water-stress if the available water to use per person per year – for indoor, agricultural and industrial needs – is less than 1000 cubic metres a year, approximately 1,000,000 litres per person per year.

For daily basic needs, a person uses approximately 150 litres a day. In Egypt (a major receiver of the Nile’s water), a person uses about 200 litres on average for domestic water needs per day. However, agriculture needs – such as food production – require between 2,000 and 5,000 litres of water per day.

If the available water to use becomes less than 500 cubic metres a year – about 500,000 litres of waters per person per year – to meet all water demands, a region is under absolute water scarcity conditions.

Because of the current and booming population projections – the basin’s population is projected to reach 800 million by 2050 – the basin is under severe water stress conditions.

To estimate the yearly available water per capita we need to divide the total available water in the region – which we found to be 180 billion cubic metres per year – by total population. We therefore estimated that the available water to use per capita is approximately 450 cubic metres a year, or approximately 1,230 litres per person a day. But there is an important caveat; the total amount of available water cannot all be extracted and used due to technological and economic constraints. Therefore, the true amount of usable water is likely considerably less than 1,230 litres per person per day.

More than ever before, riparian nations need to reinforce agreements on future water planning and new water sharing policies.

Data to the rescue

It won’t be easy to get the 11 countries in the basin to agree to a water sharing plan to avoid chronic water shortages in the future. But key to ensuring cooperation is good information sharing and technical cooperation between the riparian states.

Having accurate information on the available water will improve the understanding of common water resources and promote confidence between the basin states.The Conversation

 

Emad Hasan, Postdoctoral Researcher in Remote Sensing Hydrology, Binghamton University, State University of New York and Aondover Tarhule, Professor, Vice president for Academic Affairs and Provost, at Illinois State University, Illinois State University

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

Nov 09, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden will deliver a boost to global stock markets and the U.S. and world economy, affirms the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organizations.

The observation from Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of deVere Group, comes as the Democrat candidate won the race to become the next U.S. president, defeating Donald Trump following a nail-biting vote count after Tuesday's election.

Biden won more than 73 million votes, the most ever for a U.S. presidential candidate.

Mr Green says: “President-elect Joe Biden will deliver a boost to global stock markets and the U.S. and world economy.

“Although a Biden win was pretty much priced-in by the markets, his victory will eliminate uncertainty – which they loathe – and they will rally further as a result.

“Even possible legal challenges from Trump will be dismissed by investors who will instead be focusing on the renewed certainty and stability that a Biden White House will bring, including in key areas such as trade tensions with China, keeping the U.S. in the World Health Organization, resigning the Paris climate agreement, and abiding by other international agreements and long-standing international allies.”

He continues: “Biden will need to work with the Republican-led Senate to secure fiscal stimulus to bolster the economy.  He might struggle to get the $3trn wanted by Democrats, but some package is likely. 

“This will buoy the markets and would have investors think about a broader-based economic recovery – rather than a narrower, tech-heavy one.

“As the world’s largest economy, sustainable, long-term growth in the U.S. will have a positive ripple effect for the world economy.”

The reduced chance of massive fiscal stimulus will also mount pressure on the Federal Reserve “to inject further liquidity,” he notes.

In addition, the Biden win without full Senate support means less risk of regulation and higher corporate and personal taxes, which will give more oxygen to the markets and economy.

Mr Green adds: “In general terms, sectors to benefit from the Biden administration’s agenda include renewable energy, industrials and infrastructure, and small caps.”

The deVere CEO concludes with a warning: “Biden will need not only to work with the Senate but to heal a divided country.

“The world is looking at America, it needs to lead the world economy in a positive, forward-thinking and smartly way - and at pace.

“If it doesn’t, we can expect American economic dominance to ultimately be replaced by an emerging and fast-growing Asia.” 

Nov 06, 2020

At least 38 people were feared after a boat carrying civilians fleeing insecurity in Cabo Delgado Province, Mozambique, sank last week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Thursday.

Many children are feared dead following the incident which allegedly happened on October 29. At least 70 people were believed to be on board the overcrowded vessel which was one of several of its kind making such a journey.

According to the IOM, information about the incident only came to light after survivors made it to safety in Pemba, the provincial capital, and narrated their tragedy to volunteer aid workers.

A woman who survived the incident said several residents of Palma were attempting to flee in order to try and build a new life in Pemba.

Palma lies close to Mozambique’s border with Tanzania and is near one of the world’s largest untapped offshore gas fields.

“Other people held on to cushions from the boat, and some held a cord, but the others drowned. My husband also drowned. The greatest number of deaths were children. Only two children survived,” Uyeca Mpate said.

The IOM Chief of Mission in Mozambique Laura Tomm-Bonde said the organization was prepared to assist in any way it can.

“We stand ready to support the efforts of the Government of Mozambique to assist survivors, internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Cabo Delgado, and the communities that host them.”

The IOM estimates that more than 270 boats from Cabo Delgado carrying more than 13,000 people, including nearly 5,900 children, arrived in Paquetequete, Pemba, in just the last three weeks.

Militant attacks in Cabo Delgado province began as far back as 2017 but the intensity has increased pace this year, with insurgents taking control of important towns for short periods and targeting military and other key targets.

According to the U.N. World Food Programme, more than 300,000 people have fled the violence in Cabo Delgado.

 

Nov 06, 2020

Deputy minister of industrialisation Verna Sinimbo says they remain imperative for Namibia to continue focusing on expanding the services and manufacturing sectors if Namibia aims to be a fully industrialised nation by 2030 as both sectors account for more than two-thirds of the economy.

Responding to questions raised by the media last week during her familiarisation visit to the coast, Sinimbo explained the industrialisation agenda of Namibia is within the ambit and mandate of the ministry, whose response is limited.

“Namibia aims to be a fully industrialised nation by 2030, with both services and manufacturing accounting for more than two-thirds of the economy. Similarly, within the SADC Industrialisation Agenda, it is the regional wish for the manufacturing sector to attain more than 30% of manufacturing value added to the economy by 2030,” she explained 

According to her, Namibia has done very well in the service sector; however, both the public sector – but mainly the private sector – need to do more to attain more than 30% of manufacturing value added to the economy by 2030.

Currently, she says, Namibia’s regional manufacturing value added to the economy hovers around 11 to 12 %, while the service sector constitutes a larger section, approaching even 60% of the gross domestic product GDP in many countries.

“Therefore, it remains imperative for Namibia to continue focusing on expanding the manufacturing side of the equation whilst equally, also during integration of both sectors as the service component in some of the manufacturers, becomes imperative to the whole value chain. To this end, the Growth at Home Strategy agenda is to infuse the identification and promotion of new value chains to help drive the growth of manufacturing value,” Sinimbo said. 

She added the ministry in 2016 launched 10 sectoral growth strategies for cosmetics, wildlife products, leather, metal fabrication, handicrafts, gemstones and jewellery, seafood processing, charcoal and taxidermy.

“In 2019, the biomass subsector was identified as a key growth area as well. Similarly, the ministry has initiated key industrial projects to ensure catalytic investment in the industrialisation space such as in automotive and in beef cold storage facilities,” explained Sinimbo. 

Hence, she says, attaining industrialisation will not only depend on the ministry but should be a collective effort, as major interventions such as supportive project enhancements on energy costs, industrial land availability, viable communication costs and other economic incentives are needed. 

“Some of these supportive project enhancements are to be captured in new policy and legislative work such as for the special economic zones regime, which will be tabled soon. Harnessing these strategic areas and sectors will ultimately enable us on a firmer footing to ensure our Vision 2030 and SADC industrialisation agenda is fully attained,” she concluded.

Nov 05, 2020

Black Friday 2020. It’s a date that, in the past, would herald long queues, close confines and fights over discounted television sets and kitchenware.

Today, this picture needs to be framed by social distancing, masks, and reduced physical risk. But, asks Wynand Smit, CEO of INOVO, is the South African retail sector really ready for how these restrictions could impact on sales, customer safety and reputation?

“The biggest question that should be on every retailer agenda is this – have they done what they need to do to ensure that customers are safe and systems are in place?” he asks. “Most of the marketing materials that have launched Black Friday in the past have promoted offers that are not online. Most encourage people to line up outside physical stores in order to get physical discounts. This is not a viable option in 2020.”

Remote shopping with e-commerce and QR codes

First and foremost, retailers should be investing in solutions that allow customers to purchase discounted items remotely. For those retailers and customers that don’t have access to online stores, an option worth investigating is the use of QR codes. These could be printed next to items in brochures so that customers can purchase them using alternative methods. They can then buy the items at the discounted price and collect them at another time, minimising the risk of contact and queues.

“Retailers could potentially take this one step further and look at ways of refining how customers engage with their stores and products outside of online shopping,” adds Smit. “How can they get people to have the same experiences as online shoppers, even if they don’t have access to those technologies and tools? This challenge needs to be solved creatively, such as through the use of QR codes and shortcodes and by streamlining payment and credit options.”

Retailers need to revise their approaches to ensure safer sales and customers in the time of COVID-19

In addition to the risks posed by the virus, consumers are struggling financially after a long, tough year. Retailers should use the time leading up to Black Friday to find ways of streamlining or automating in-store credit applications so that people are not, once again, caught in queues on the day. By providing self-service options, encouraging early credit applications and making them easier to do in-store, online or through the contact centre, retailers can improve customer access to credit and boost sales.

Transparency from purchase to payment to delivery

“There will be customers that are resistant to online shopping or who have limited understanding of the processes,” says Smit. “This can be smoothed over by retailers if they can show a clear pathway from purchase to payment to delivery. Include stock levels on the website, make sure people understand any delays with delivery, and give people clear information so they feel that they’re safe. This will encourage them to try alternative ways of spending and limit the number of people queuing.”

The post sales customer experience

“Post sales is actually even more important than sales,” adds Smit. “Customers went to a lot of trouble to get that discount and the last thing they want is to sit on hold or be told that nobody knows where the products are or be given the runaround. Companies may be able to get away with badly designed websites and challenging routes to discounts if it is worth it for the customer in the end, but they can’t get away with bad after sales service. This will only lose them reputation and customers.”

Black friday ideas

Contact centres can be leveraged to provide customers with solid support during and after the Black Friday sales. Using the right technology, enough skilled people, and supporting processes, the contact centre can provide customers with answers, insights and guidance around their orders, and ensure that customer satisfaction remains high.

“Finally, it is not only after sales service, sales and customer support that will measure the retailer’s success at the end of the month,” concludes Smit. “This year, the benchmark will be how much effort retailers put into making sure that customers feel safe. If the queues aren’t managed and the risks ignored, it will reflect very badly on the store, no matter how large its footprint.”

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