Saturday, 11 August 2018
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said it has made available N3 billion subsidy budget to assist Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) in the deployment of services in the country.
 
The N3 billion has been approved by the National Assembly, and would be executed on a yearly basis.
 
This was disclosed by the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, during an interaction with journalists in Abuja.
 
Although, the NCC said none of the licensed InfraCos have accessed the subsidy, The Guardian however gathered that most of the licensed operators are facing serious challenges in their regions of operations.
 
Chief of these challenges relate to the issue of Right of Way (RoW), where state governments are demanding huge fees from operators before they can be allowed to roll out their services.
 
Already, iConnect, a subsidiary of IHS Nigeria, has returned its operating licence for the North Central region, owing also to delays in getting approval for RoW, and cut throat roll out charges by state agencies.
 
Danbatta revealed that apart from the challenge of RoW for iConnect, “the firm wanted a national licence instead of the regional, but we see that distorting the whole plan if given. That licence will be reissued to another operator that is ready.”
 
According to him, the InfraCo initiative was targeted at helping Nigeria meet the 30 per cent broadband penetration by the end of the year.
He urged operators to roll out, warning that the one-year grace handed InfraCo licensees may be reduced to six months, saying: “the Commission doesn’t want the operators to become idle with the licence. Any operator, which failed to roll out within one year, may have the licence withdrawn.”
 
Meanwhile, the EVC has assured that quality of service would improve soon, adding that some infrastructure must be in place for this to happen, as Nigeria needed more Base Transceiver Stations and fibre cables to ensure services become optimal.
 
Danbatta further said lack of redundancy, erratic power supply, vandalism, lack of required capacity, amidst other technical factors would need to be resolved before services can be optimal.
 
“That is not to say we are not monitoring the operators, or putting them on their toes to ensure improved services, but we also understand their challenges. The assurance is that NCC would continue to monitor QoS, especially the Key Performance Index (KPI), and when it is necessary to wield the big stick against any erring operator on QoS, we shall not hesitate,” he stressed.
Published in Telecoms
Some Nigerians have decried the widespread circulation of mutilated naira notes in the country and called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to reverse the trend and ensure better management of the nation’s currencies.
In interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos, they noted that several cases of misunderstandings had occurred among citizens while carrying out business transactions with the tattered and dirty notes.
 
They also decried the use of the polymer banknotes, which are easily defaced, and suggested a return to the paper currency for all denominations.
 
NAN reports that the CBN on Feb. 28, 2007 announced the introduction of polymer versions of N5, N10, N20 and N50 notes.
 
However, 11 years after, many Nigerians now reject the polymer notes citing its poor quality and short life span that make it difficult to carry out transactions with them.
 
Mr Tunde Okeowo, a financial expert, said the CBN should consider bringing back the coins, and that its absence had resulted in the negative impact on transactions, which had a multiplier effect on the economy.
 
Okeowo identified inflation as part of the negative effects of the absence of coins, especially as people were no longer bothered about collecting balance after paying for products.
 
“On this recurring issue of scarcity of clean notes, especially N100, I advise the CBN to look into issuing some new naira notes in densely populated states like Lagos in order to make it more acceptable for use.
 
He also called for continuous enlightenment to educate traders on reasons and ways of preserving the notes.
 
Mrs Tolu Ajibade, a civil servant, said the prevalence of dirty and mutilated naira notes was appalling, and that the N200 note was gradually becoming unfit like the N100 notes.
 
She said many Nigerians have resigned themselves to the reality of possessing and transacting business with dirty naira notes.
 
“I tell you, they are appalling. As a nursing mother, I am always scared of touching those notes because it is very glaring that those naira notes, particularly the N100 are contaminated,” said Ajibade.
 
She said while the CBN had been sensitising Nigerians on the handling of the naira notes, there should be effective enforcement of relevant laws to curtail mishandling of the naira.
 
A bus driver, who preferred anonymity, said the rejection of the defaced polymer notes and the dirty N100 notes by passengers greatly affected his business.
 
According to him, a day hardly passes by without verbal exchange which sometimes degenerated into fights because of dirty naira notes and faded polymer notes.
 
“I think I prefer the paper naira notes to the polymer ones because it does not fade easily like the polymer. The only disadvantage of the paper note is that it gets torn easily,” he said.
 
Besides, Dr Foluwakemi Ekiogiawe, a medical practitioner, raised concerns over the implications of regular contact with mutilated notes.
 
Ekiogiawe said apart from the economic implications of poor currency handling, it could lead to a myriad of adverse medical problems.
 
She explained that regular contact could result in the transfer of germs from one person to another, and that it could result to gastrointestinal infections, which often leads to frequent purging, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever among others.
 
“This is seen mostly in children who put things indiscriminately into their mouths. They could serve as allergies to people with immune hypersensitivity like asthma triggering an immunologic attack.
 
“This happens when the individual comes in contact with the allergen in the form of or attached to the notes. These attacks could range from mild to fatal,” she said.
 
NAN also reports that the CBN in February began the disbursement of smaller naira notes to traders in order to improve circulation of N5, N10, N20, and N50 in the markets.
 
The campaign was targeted at the informal sector, especially traders in markets with the aim of increasing the circulation of the smaller units of the naira to make doing business easier.
 
The bank had already taken the new measure to Kano, Kaduna and Abuja and also intended to bring it to the south.
 
Reacting to the development, Mr Isaac Okorafor, Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN said the bank had so far disbursed N1.09 billion of various lower denomination banknotes in some states since it embarked on the new measure.
 
Okorafor said the disbursement of the funds was to over 20 different merchants, supermarkets, toll gates, eateries and other cash users.
 
He said efforts were being made to also penetrate the various markets in Lagos.
 
Okorafor said, “in this regard, we are currently engaging the market associations through their central leadership.
 
“Disbursement will commence in the markets the moment we conclude the logistics with the market leadership.”
 
He said beneficiaries of the new banknotes would include abattoirs, pharmacy, merchant’s tollgates, eateries, tollgates and car parks at the International Airport.
 
According to him, the lifespan of the paper banknotes is about 12 to 18 months while the polymer banknotes last for 24 to 36 months in circulation depending on handling.
 
 
Published in Bank & Finance
Boko Haram terrorists have killed 17 soldiers in a fresh attack on a military base in the Borno, Northeast Nigeria.
 
Military sources told AFP Thursday that the latest attack was the third assault on three different bases in less than a month.
 
On Wednesday evening, heavily armed jihadists riding in trucks stormed and looted weapons and vehicles from a military base in Garunda village in Borno State, the epicentre of the Islamist insurgency that has been raging for nine years.
 
The attack is the latest of a series of bloody Boko Haram assaults on military bases in Nigeria, underscoring the continued threat the Islamists pose to the region and putting the spotlight on the Nigerian government’s claim that Boko Haram is “decimated”.
 
“Our troops came under attack from Boko Haram terrorists in Garunda last night,” a military officer told AFP.
 
“Unfortunately we lost 17 troops, 14 others were injured while an unspecified number is still unaccounted for,” said the military source, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak on the incident.
 
The source added that the militants looted weapons and vehicles before fleeing.
 
In the past month, Boko Haram jihadists have launched two other major assaults on military bases in the remote northeast region.
 
On July 14, jihadists suspected to be loyal to Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, who is affiliated with the Islamic State group, attacked a base in Jilli village, in neighbouring Yobe state.
 
Dozens of troops were killed, wounded or missing, according to several security sources.
 
The army conceded the base was attacked but did not give a death toll, saying that the “troops reorganised and successfully repelled the attack and normalcy has since returned to the area”.
 
On July 26, the Islamists stormed a base on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the state capital of Borno state.
 
The base attacked yesterday in Garunda village of Borno state had just been set up for troops from the 81 brigade who had been stationed in Jilli village and forced to move after the July 14 assault.
 
“The truth of the matter is that the troops in Jilli were relocated to Garunda where a new base was established,” said the second military source, who gave a similar death toll.
 
“Troops were just setting up and the excavator operator was working to fortify the base with trenches against attack from the terrorists when the attack happened,” said the officer.
 
The Nigerian army did not respond to to requests for comment.
 
Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on Thursday confirmed in a statement that a staff member, an excavator operator attached to the military, “was killed by Boko Haram yesterday in Damasak, Borno state”.
 
Boko Haram no longer controls swathes of territory in northeast Nigeria as it did at the height of its insurgency in 2014, yet the Islamist militants still pose a threat to the impoverished region.
 
 
Source: AFP
Published in World
Saturday, 11 August 2018 18:52

Israel to stop using coal

Israel will stop using coal between 2025 and 2030, as a result the country will stop producing coal ash at its power stations, Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection said.
 
The ministry succeeded to promote governmental decision to close four out of eight coal units for electricity generation at Israel’s power stations by the summer of 2022.
 
These four coal units at power stations, according to the ministry are responsible for one quarter of all air pollution in Israel.
 
The pollution ratio generated by coal is up to 1,000 times more than pollution from natural gas, Yuval Laster, Director of Policy and Strategy Division of the ministry said.
 
Laster said that all the remaining coal units would be closed by 2025-2030 mostly because of environmental reasons.
 
Laster said that the National Coal Ash Board (NCAB) would not exist anymore because its work to find alternative use to coal ash will not be necessary anymore.
 
Laster added that even today the cement and concrete industries demand much more coal ash than it produces, so the work of NCAB to find by force alternative uses to it is needless.
 
Coal ash is disposal remaining after the power station burns coal to produce electricity, in many countries, this is a compound used for various industrial purposes.
 
Israel has begun mass use of coal for generating electricity during the 1980s, when there were not environmental awareness among public, nor the government or the industry cared about the environment.
 
The director said that besides the massive air pollution created during the burning of the coal, its remains, the coal ash was thrown into the Mediterranean, and this polluting practice stopped just during the 1990s.
 
“Israel recognised that it was a violation of the Barcelona Convention for protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution.
 
“The primary solution has been found in the 1990s, and the coal ash has begun to be used as a compound in the concrete and cement from which the houses, apartments, and buildings were built.
 
“Basically, any use of coal ash was banned by the ministry due to pollution concerns.”
 
Sinaia Netanyahu, a former Chief Scientist of the ministry, said she forced the ministry to quit from NCAB.
 
Just last week the High Court of Israel reassured the ministry of environmental protection policy not to give import permission of coal ash, according to the verdict it is dangerous disposal and no economic reasons can justify its import.
 
“Another concern of these companies is Israel’s tendency to close its coal power stations and to transfer the electricity generation to natural gas power stations and renewable energies.
 
“This tendency of reducing coal until a complete stop is rushed in 2017 due to substantial natural gas funding under the Mediterranean waters which belongs to Israel,” the director said.
 
 
 
NAN
Published in Business

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s late night announcement that the government was going to push ahead with implementing a decision taken by the African National Congress (ANC) at its national conference last year to expropriate land without compensation has set the cat among the pigeons.

Speculation is widespread that Ramaphosa gave in to the land expropriation without compensation proposition to appease a faction of former president Jacob Zuma which has positioned itself as a champion of “radical economic transformation”.

There is also the view that Ramaphosa is out to promote party unity and to outflank the Economic Freedom Fighters, to the party’s left, in the buildup to the 2019 general election.

All this appears fair comment, and is no way unduly cynical. Politicians say things, whether or not it is entirely wise to say them, to get votes.

Yet the land debate is about much more than party politicking. In many ways, it goes to the heart of South Africa’s post-colonial politics. It speaks to fundamental racial chasms. This points to the very real danger that the different terms on which the land issue is debated simply don’t address each other.

It would seem to me that there are three broad approaches to which the land issue is debated – the instrumental, the functionalist and the symbolic.

All three approaches have a number of things in common. They all recognise the dangers inherent in the grossly disproportionate amount of land owned by whites, they accept that this has arisen out of the injustices of the colonial past, and agree that it needs to be addressed for reasons of both social justice and political stability.

Beyond that there tends to be disagreement about ways, means and the urgency of land reform.

It’s important to understand these different approaches and how they relate to the ANC’s proposed implementation of land expropriation without compensation. It’s particularly important for people who hold these different viewpoints to understand and find one another. South Africans can’t afford to let the land debate be reduced to a shouting match.

The instrumental approach

This argues its case upon both ideological and constitutional grounds.

There is the argument that the ANC’s move represents a fundamental undermining of property rights, to the extent that it might even threaten the ownership rights of ordinary house-owners in urban areas. As such, it constitutes a major disincentive to investment and totally contradicts Ramaphosa’s highly-touted goal of attracting USD$100 billion in investment over the next five years.

Furthermore, because of the threat to security it involves, the move will serve as major discouragement to commercial farmers, who are unlikely to pour money into infrastructural improvements if they fear being expropriated. As such expropriation without compensation is a major threat to both jobs and economic growth.

The property rights argument is backed up by those who posit that the considered constitutional amendment is unnecessary because the constitution already allows for the expropriation of property by the state for public interest purposes.

This, the constitutionalists argue, gives the state all the armoury it needs to pursue land reform with urgent speed without threatening property rights.

The functionalist approach

This says that there is a desperate hunger for land among impoverished black poor. This needs to be addressed on grounds of need and political stability.

Economically, the argument is that, while the role of commercial agriculture as the principal producer of the nation’s food supply and of significant exports need to be recognised, there are many areas where farming could be successfully undertaken by black farmers, given the right support. This perspective is steeped in history. It points out how white commercial agriculture was systematically advantaged by the state under white rule, and how prosperous black peasant communities, whose competitiveness constituted a threat to white farmers, were dispossessed.

It’s argued that there is much land available in South Africa which could valuably be transferred into private or communal black hands. Such land includes property owned by the state, land held by speculators, and farms which over the last two decades have shed most of their workers as they have turned over from direct food production to become game farms.

The symbolic approach

This angle to the debate appeals to the heart as much to the head. It harps on the point that land belongs to Africans. It was stolen by the colonialists and should be given back.

The symbolic approach is overwhelmingly about African dignity. As such, it often involves notions of reparations. It tends to brush aside all the difficult policy issues about how land transfer should be managed, let alone the injustices which may be heaped upon white landowners who had nothing to do with the original theft of African land.

Meeting of minds

Ramaphosa is well known for playing the long game, a pragmatist who is ready to bend to political pressures to achieve his long-term objectives.

It may well be that he will bow to the ANC imperative to pass a law allowing for expropriation without compensation. But he will want to make sure that it will pass constitutional muster. He will ensure that this amendment meets the requirements of the property clause in the constitution.

From this perspective, it’s tempting to conclude that the huffing and puffing about the ANC’s pursuit of expropriation without compensation is really about nothing. But that’s not the case. The Zimbabwean experience confirms this.

It was the Zimbabwean government’s lack of urgency about land reform in the first decades of independence which provided the backdrop to the war veterans’ seizure of white farms in the late 1990s. It was then that the Robert Mugabe government stepped in to give the land seizures legitimacy and to claim the credit.

Much controversy attends the land question in Zimbabwe to this day. Certainly, the post-2000 land reforms have not been a total failure. Nonetheless, what is beyond dispute is that the way they have been carried out has come at enormous cost to overall agricultural production. As such, the Zimbabwe mode of land reform is one South Africa cannot afford to adopt – or to be bundled into by a panic-stricken government scrambling to keep up with events on the ground.

The ConversationThe address of the land issue requires a meeting of minds. The instrumental, functionalist and symbolic approaches all have their important role to play, and humility and willingness to listen to competing perspectives should be at a premium.

 

Roger Southall, Professor of Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

United States President Donald Trump has signed into law a bill that imposes tough new conditions that have to be met before sanctions are lifted.

The Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa has said that his country is open for business, but this new law – the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act – could scupper those plans as far as the US is concerned.

The United States law says that in order for sanctions to end the election has to be “widely accepted as free and fair”. The other condition mentioned is that the army has to “respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons and to be nonpartisan in character”.

In the days following the poll, six opposition supporters died in clashes with the army, which has led some to question about its neutrality.

Zimbabwe is also required to take steps towards “good governance, including respect for the opposition”.

The United States has criticised the treatment of opposition supporters and in particular key opposition figure Tendai Biti, who has been arrested in connection with the post-election violence.

“The United States government is gravely concerned by credible reports of numerous detentions, beatings, and other abuses of Zimbabweans over the past week, particularly targeting opposition activists”, State Department spokespersonHeather Nauert said.

“We call on Zimbabwe’s leaders to guarantee Mr Biti’s physical safety and ensure his constitutional and human rights are respected.”

The United States began imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2001. The sanctions imposed in Zimbabwe target individuals, as well as banning trade in defence items and direct government assistance for non-humanitarian programmes.

However, Emmerson Mnangagwa’s pledge for free and fair poll has been marred by post-electoral violence that claimed seven lives after soldiers opened fire in Harare’s crowded streets last week.

 

Source: Report Focus News

Published in Economy
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