South Africa aims to publish a long-delayed mining charter by November, the mining minister said on Friday, finalising a law that has been hotly disputed between the industry and government.
The mining industry in Africa’s most industrialised economy is facing a wave of job cuts due to low global commodity demand, high wage costs and a volatile labour environment.
Mining companies have warned that any change to the law should not hurt industry. A period for the public to submit comments ends on Friday before government consolidates the final law.
Mining minister Gwede Mantashe said in a statement the contributions made during the public hearings had been useful.
“It is envisaged that the final Mining Charter will be published for implementation by November 2018, in order to entrench the necessary regulatory certainty,” he said.
Investors seek policy certainty
Policy certainty could add 122 billion rand ($8 billion) in capital expenditure to the mining sector over the next four years, an official representing companies said on Thursday. The last draft of the law contained regulations meant to redress imbalances of the nation’s past apartheid rule and stipulates rules for miners. The new rules could mean significantly higher taxes and levies on mining companies.
Investors are also watching the country as it debates calls for land expropriation without compensation. More than two decades after the end of apartheid, white people still own most of South Africa’s land.
South Africa’s ruling ANC plans to amend the constitution to redistribute land , but this has been interpreted negatively by some investors, who see the plan as undermining property rights.
The ANC has sought to allay those fears, saying land reform will follow a parliamentary process.
MTN Group Ltd.’s plan to sell shares in its Nigerian unit this year is in jeopardy following allegations by the central bank that the South African company illegally moved almost $8.1 billion out of the country, according to people familiar with the matter.
While the listing process is far advanced there needs to be regulatory certainty for it to go ahead, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. That evaporated when Africa’s largest wireless carrier’s four banks were ordered late Wednesday to return the funds, causing MTN’s share price to plunge to nine-year lows.
The Nigerian telecommunications regulator wants the Lagos IPO to go ahead by May as part of the settlement of a separate dispute with MTN two years ago over unregistered SIM cards. The pledge helped enable the Johannesburg-based company to reduce the penalty related to that charge to about $1 billion from more than $5 billion, and MTN fears a failure to list before the deadline could lead the regulator to reimpose the higher amount, said two of the people.
“Our IPO has always been subject to satisfactory market conditions and this event will potentially make it complicated for us to make it happen,” MTN spokeswoman Mimi Kalinda said in emailed comments on Friday.
Nigeria is Africa’s most-populous country and MTN’s biggest market with 54 million customers, but disputes with lawmakers and regulators in the country have dogged the South African company in recent years. The latest allegations -- which MTN refutes -- come as Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari seeks re-election for a new four-year term in a February vote. His administration has gone after companies for irregularities as well as tax-defaulters, part of a wider pledge to fight corruption.
The four banks involved in the alleged illegal transfers over an eight-year period are Citigroup Inc., Standard Chartered Plc, and Nigeria’s Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc and Diamond Bank Plc. In July, MTN appointed units of Citigroup and Standard Bank to advise on the Lagos listing.
MTN shares closed 2.88 percent higher at 88.99 rand on Friday after falling the most in 20 years on Thursday.
Nigeria’s oldest airline, Aero Contractors, says it has expanded its operations with the delivery of more aircraft to its fleet.
The CEO of the airline, Capt. Ado Sanusi, said the outfit had, therefore, increased flight frequencies to Abuja from Port Harcourt, Sokoto, Asaba, Port Harcourt and Kano from Lagos.
According to him, the airline will as from Sept. 17 increase its Abuja-Port Harcourt-Abuja, which is now daily flight.
He said the airline will also increase flights from three times weekly to three daily flights on the Lagos-Abuja-Lagos and Lagos-Port Harcourt routes.
“The airline has also increased its Lagos-Kano flights, which at present is five times a week by adding another flight on Sundays.
“So from the above date it will be operating six times weekly to Kano from Lagos.
“Also from Sept. 15, Aero will increase its flights from Lagos to Asaba which at present runs six times weekly to daily flights,” Sanusi said in a statement on Saturday in Lagos.
He explained that the airline which operates Lagos-Asaba-Abuja-Lagos flights six times a week, has added another flight on Saturday for Lagos-Asaba-Lagos only.
“We now have two Boeing B737-500 series, Boeing B737-400 series (which will be rolled off C-check next week) and Bombardier Dash 8-300 series.
“Aero has added another aircraft in its rotary (helicopters), which is AW 139 Helicopter to Aero fleet. So it now has AW 139 and AS 365 which are fully operational.
“We have expanded our schedule because we have additional aircraft and we are also expecting more.
“When we deliver more aircraft, we increase our destinations. What we have done largely now is to increase our frequencies as we increased in capacity,” Sanusi said.
Germany has expressed commitment to provide more support to ECOWAS in the area of migration, economic development, and health.
The ECOWAS Commission, in a news release on its website, said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel held bilateral talks with the commission’s president Jean-Claude Brou at the commission in Abuja.
It stated that both leaders discussed a number of issues relating to ECOWAS-Germany cooperation where Merkel expressed her government’s support in the area of economic and market integration, single currency, health and migration.
They also deliberated on the ECOWAS community priorities for integration and development as well as the future of ECOWAS-Germany relations.
The priorities of the regional bloc which include economic growth, peace building, democracy and security building institutional capacity and efficiency were highlighted.
Brou recalled the strides recorded by the bloc in strengthening integration, adding that the ECOWAS-Germany cooperation had led to a number of positive developments.
The commission’s president, however, stressed the need for advocacy in strengthening the ECOWAS priority areas, while promoting “strong investment and business relations between German private sector and the ECOWAS region”.
The German chancellor also visited President Muhammadu Buhari, accompanied by a delegation made up of senior officials, diplomats and a business delegation.
Israel welcomed Saturday a US decision to end funding for the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), accusing the organisation which supports some five million Palestinians of perpetuating the Middle East conflict.
Israel and the United States have accused the nearly 70-year-old agency of maintaining the idea that many Palestinians are refugees with a right to return to the homes from which they fled or were expelled during the 1948 war that accompanied Israel’s creation, an idea they both oppose.
On Friday, Washington, which until last year was by far the agency’s biggest contributor announced it was ending funding to the “irredeemably flawed operation.”
“Israel supports the US move,” an official in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on condition of anonymity.
“Consolidating the refugee status of Palestinians is one of the problems that perpetuates the conflict.”
Palestinian ambassador Hossam Zomlot accused the United States of “reneging on its international commitment and responsibility” towards a body that was set by UN General Assembly resolution in 1949.
“By endorsing the most extreme Israeli narrative on all issues including the rights of more than five million Palestinian refugees, the US administration has lost its status as peacemaker and is damaging not only an already volatile situation but the prospects for future peace,” he said.
UNRWA now supports some five million registered Palestinian refugees and provides schooling to 526,000 children in the Palestinian territories as well as in camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the agency had his “full confidence” and called on “other countries to help fill the remaining financial gap, so that UNRWA can continue to provide this vital assistance.”
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness tweeted: “We reject in the strongest possible terms the criticism that UNRWA’s schools, health centres and emergency assistance programmes are ‘irredeemably flawed.'”
Washington, which had already frozen $300 million in funding this year throwing the agency into financial crisis, said it would seek ways to prevent its decision from hurting “innocent Palestinians”.
Israel expressed support for a new conduit for humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians.
“It would be good to allocate the funds to other elements that would use the money properly for the benefit of the population, and not for perpetuating the notion that they are refugees,” the official in Netanyahu’s office said.
Urbanisation is spreading across Africa at great speed. Projections suggest that more than half of the total population will live in urban areas by 2050. Urbanisation in Nigeria is happening at a particularly astonishing rate. The population density of urban dwellers in Nigeria is growing at an annual rate of 50 per square kilometre and it’s expected to rise to 450.9 per square kilometre by 2050.
These urban dwellers include a large number of people over the age of 60. The number of old people on the continent is expected to rise to 67 million by 2025, up from an estimated 43 million in 2010. Nigeria will experience an exponential increase the number of older people.
These developments call for a new urbanisation agenda. A large number of old people in urban spaces in Nigeria suffer from homelessness, abuse, neglect and destitution. The situation is further compounded by the absence of social protection policies that can reduce vulnerability in old age.
Old people in Nigeria’s cities can’t even rely on public transport. The urban renewal has led to the phasing out of the popular Molue buses while pedestrian bridges are built in a way that makes access challenging to physically challenged and older people with mobility problems. Access to safe public transportation system is one of the indicators of age-friendly cities and communities.
Among Nigeria’s 36 states, Lagos is leading in urban regeneration initiatives. Unfortunately, there are indications that older people and their needs are being marginalised. My research is motivated by the need to understand vulnerability and resilience in old age. The findings presented here focus on what it means to grow old in the city and how urban renewal initiatives might be shaping vulnerability in old age.
Data was sought through individual interviews and media reports. All these sources have their focus on demolition of markets, shops and houses in Lagos State from 2012 to 2018. The City of Lagos has a history of demolitions of markets and neighbours that are predominantly inhabited by the less privileged. Older people are included among the victims of these demolitions. Those trading among them have lost their means of livelihood without the freedom to protest or any hope of compensation.
The report highlights the findings about mobility concerns, fears and experiences of using the public transportation system in Lagos.
Drawing from the experiences of 13 older people aged 60 to 78 years, the research found that the existing public transport system isn’t conducive to being used by older people.
The participants’ narratives and media reports portray the urban renewal efforts in the city as ageist and lopsided. While a great deal has been done to transform some crowded areas and commercial motor parks in the city, the changes made weren’t done in a way that helped old people. For example, pedestrian bridges had been built too high. There had also been a loss of means of livelihood and accommodation in the city.
All the interviewees had spent 29 years on average in the city. More men (8) than women had engaged in menial jobs to earn a living and have had to travel hours within traffic from one part of the city to another throughout their youthful life. The women were more into petty trading, and only one worked with one of the local government authorities before retirement.
All the interviewees had used public transport when they were younger until it became more difficult to move around the city. Even the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) was described as mostly inaccessible. In the words of one of the interviewees:
I have been told that there are seats for older people in BRTs, but the drivers and commuters are often in a hurry that it becomes difficult for older people to catch up with them or even use the available seats.
Towards inclusive urban renewal
Urgent measures are required to avert or minimise the risks that come with using public mode of transportation in the city of Lagos. Existing public modes of transportation are in need of overhauling. Presently, the public mode of transport, pedestrian bridges and walkways are designed to reflect the needs of the young urban population. Walkways that will accommodate older people and their various mobility needs are urgently needed. Creating such pathways can enhance the safety of other social categories of commuters in the city.
More legislation and conscious efforts are required to protect the vulnerability of older people to abuse in public spaces. Buses can be provided for older people and those that are physically challenged.
The urban renewal initiatives must be inclusive and participatory. The demolition actions must be done in transparency and proper accountability. Inclusive urban regeneration framework is urgently required in addressing the existing gaps and the future mobility needs of the growing population of older people in the city. These efforts amongst others will place the City of Lagos on the march towards becoming one of the age-friendly cities in Nigeria and Africa.
Coca-Cola Co (KO.N) has agreed to buy coffee chain Costa for $5.1 billion to extend its push into healthier drinks and take on the likes of Starbucks and Nestle in the booming global coffee market.
The purchase from Britain's Whitbread (WTB.L) of Costa's almost 4,000 outlets thrusts the world's biggest soda company into one of the few bright spots in the sluggish packaged food and drinks sector.
Paying about 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) more than some analysts had expected, Coke will use its distribution network to supercharge Costa's expansion as it chases coffee chain market leader Starbucks (SBUX.O) and its almost 29,000 stores across 77 markets.