Tuesday, 25 September 2018
It is extremely important that the European Union develops its own battery cell production to secure its role in the automotive industry as it shifts to electric mobility, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday.
“If China is opening the first battery cell production here, then that is nice, in that case battery cells are being made in Europe too.
Merkel said: “But I don’t know whether it was our dream that we cannot do that ourselves in the European Union,”.
“I am still advocating that we develop the strategic ability to produce battery cells too.
“I believe that will be extremely important in the next decades,” she said at an industry conference.
An electric battery is a device consisting of one or more electrochemical cells with external connections provided to power electrical devices such as flashlights, Smartphones and electric cars.
Published in Engineering
The Federal Government may have notified the management of MultiChoice DSTV/GOTV that their operations, in Nigeria, will come to an end in 2019 as their license expires June next year.
According to a letter to that effect issued, on Tuesday, by the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), the license issued to them in 2014 by NBC will not be renewed because it was not in line with Digital Switch Over (DSO) White Paper.
If Multichoice DSTV/GOTV will ever operate in Nigeria again after expiration of its license, the only option left for them is to go to licensed Signal Distribution company, that is Pinnacle Communications Ltd or ITS.
GOTV has been accused of being used as a conduit to siphon foreign exchange from Nigeria by its parent company, South African Multi Choice DSTV.
Published in Telecoms
Household consumption slipped in the second quarter of 2018 as people adjusted their spending habits following the VAT hike and fuel price increases, according to the South African Reserve Bank’s quarterly bulletin released on Tuesday.
The SARB noted that household spending was also suppressed by “diminishing wealth effects” in the first eight months of 2018, as the FTSE/JSE All-Share Price Index fell on a combination of negative sentiment towards emerging markets and domestic policy uncertainty, relating to how land expropriation without compensation would play out. 
Consumers have been hard hit by the VAT hike from 14% to 15%, effective from April 1 and five successive months of fuel price increases.
The research note by the central bank painted a grim picture of the economy
falling into recession in the second quarter of 2018, with negative gross domestic product growth in the first six months of the year and unemployment rising to 27.2% in April, May and June.
However in contrast to falling consumer expenditure, state spending increased with government contributing positively to GDP figures in the second quarter of 2018.
Household credit growing steadily
The Reserve Bank reported that while the household credit market remained “very subdued” during the second quarter of 2018, growth in household credit extension continued to trend steadily upwards over this period. Loans to the private business sector remained subdued and increased at a slower pace.
While households are battling the impact of the VAT increase, government’s finances are in slightly better shape due to the one percentage point hike. Former Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said in February that the VAT hike was expected to
raise an additional R22.9bn.
The central bank's quarterly bulletin stated that the cash book deficit of national government was much smaller in April, May and June, than the previous year as revenue was boosted by the tax hikes.
The rand decreased against the US dollar by 10% in the second quarter, following the local currency’s relative strength in the first part of the year.
The Reserve Bank said the rand’s weakness was largely due US dollar strength, higher international oil prices, increased global inflation and risk aversion towards emerging markets.
Published in Opinion & Analysis
Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Housing and Special Duties, Mr. Akan Okon, has reassured that the Ibom Deep Seaport project, a flagship project of his Ministry, was on course and a reality for the good of the state and Nigeria.
The Commissioner, who gave the hint in Uyo at the weekend during a dinner with journalists, briefed on the sectoral achievements of the Ministry of Housing and Special Duties.
Speaking on the state of the Ibom Deep Seaport, Mr. Okon said “Ibom Deep Seaport Project is the flagship project of the Ministry of Housing and Special Duties. You will recall that upon assumption of office, Governor Udom Emmanuel put in place a Technical Committee, headed by a former Director General of NIMASA, Barrister Mfon Usoro, with the responsibility of ensuring that the Ibom Deep Seaport project is realized. The Committee has kept the ground going and I can tell you that the Committee has been able to get to almost the closure stage. 
At this stage, we have been able to come up with the preferred bidder and the reserved bidder for the project and as soon as this is approved, the full business case will be sent to the Federal Executive Council for further approval. I can assure you that as soon as that is done, the construction of the project will commence.”
Explaining further, the Housing and Special Duties Commissioner said “The Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Transport set up Ministerial Project Development Steering Committee (MPDSC) which is made up of representatives from the same ministry, the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA), ICRC, the programme Manager, representatives of ICPC and EFCC, members of the Technical Committee and Akwa Ibom State Government. Like every process leading to where we are now is being approved by the Federal Ministry of Transportation and you know that Seaport development is in the Exclusive List. 
So, this project is jointly financed and promoted by Akwa Ibom State Government and the Federal Government of Nigeria. The Procurement Process for the Seaport development was approved by MPDSC on the 24th of December 2017 and on the 8th of January 2018, the Request for Qualification (RFQ) from interested investors was published all over the world. And this was done not in the usual way but through a virtual data room and at the end of that exercise, we had 174 downloads of the RFQ. Out of that 174, only 40 bidders registered that they will submit their RFQ but at the end of the day, only eight were able to submit their RFQ. 
Based on that submission, on the 20th of March, 2018, that RFQ was opened and evaluation done by MPDSC and at the end of that evaluation, three of the companies were prequalified, that is to say they made the requirement that was published. So, with the level that we have reached and the timetable that we have, by the end of November 2018, God willing, there should be a groundbreaking. So, Ibom Deep Seaport is a reality for the good of Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria.”
“Let me also make this clear. Almost all the bidders that were shortlisted have visited the site of the project, they have done their studies and I can tell you that from their designs, they have a minimum of 16.5metres draft at the original location of the project, which is Ibaka. This is the best for modern vessels as against Lagos port that has 8metres draft. So, our draft is an attraction for many shipping lines because modern vessels can come directly to the port and discharged. 
Our seaport is very viable and it is the best alternative for the Lagos port. One of the considerations that were given for the selection of the preferred bidder was that such a bidder must not just be a construction company but must have a shipping line and a construction company that has the financial muscle. We had a consortium that was made up of top 10 Cargo Companies in Europe and top 10 in construction firms in China. They are coming together to build the Deep Seaport,” he added.
Briefing the journalists on the level of work at the Ibom International Airport, Mr. Okon said the present administration has established a Power Sub-Station to give the airport all-round-the-clock electricity and a taxiway that could also serve as a second runway.
According to the Commissioner, “Ibom Airport has been run on generators since inception but I am happy to tell you today that the State Government under the leadership of Governor Udom Emmanuel has successfully completed a Power Sub-Station to power the airport. This, we believe, is going to ensure that the Airport is run effectively. Again, if you look at the airport you will also notice that there has been significant improvement in the level of work that has been done to the Taxiway (Second Runway).”
On the area of housing, Mr. Okon said “Another project that is being handled by the Ministry of Housing and Special Duties is the 21-Storey Building that is under construction at the Banking Layout in Uyo. A lot of work has been done, the foundation work has been completed and the building has started coming up now. 
We will get that project completed in a very short distant time. In the area of Housing Estates, we inherited some Housing Estates and some of the resource persons that undertook the constructions were owed various sums of money. I am happy to tell you that Governor Udom Emmanuel has been able pay these resource persons, though in batches. So far, we have done three batches of payment to some of the resource persons that undertook the project at Ikot Ekpene and Idu Uruan. It is the intention of government to ensure that all those that carried out the construction work are fully paid.”
On the Ibom Tropicana project, he also hinted that “The project was set up to serve a purpose for Akwa Ibom and its people. Presently, we have identified an investor in the section of the Wet and Dry Park and as we speak, they are doing audit of the equipments. I am very certain, considering the rate that we are going, that it will be opened for use this December.”
Published in Engineering
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has commenced search rescue operations for the abducted 12 crew members onboard MV GLARUS, owned by ALLISON Shipping, which was hijacked off Bonny Island in Rivers State to ensure that they are found and released unconditionally.
Speaking in Lagos on Monday, the Director General of the Agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, stated that NIMASA is working closely with the Forward Operation Base (FOB) and the Falcon Eye of the Nigerian Navy along with other relevant security Agencies.
Dr. Dakuku who condemned the act noted that the Agency is saddened about the attack and assured that NIMASA will not leave any stone unturned in the rescue mission. He also assured that the perpetrators of this act and others of its kind are brought to book.
“The issue of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is a challenge we acknowledge and we are determined to tackle it head-on. We will continue to collaborate with the Nigerian Navy and other relevant partners to ensure we bring it to a halt. Zero tolerance to piracy and all forms of illegalities on our nation’s waterways is our goal,” the DG said.
It may be recalled that NIMASA recently adopted total spectrum maritime security strategy which is a multidimensional approach that includes investment on intelligence and partnership with relevant security agencies to curb maritime related crimes. it also includes building of Nigeria ’s response capabilities with the use of Fast Intervention Vessels and the review of our laws, especially the anti-piracy bill which will give the Agency the legal backing to prosecute issues relating to piracy on our waters.
Source News Express
Published in Travel & Tourism

Opportunities for investment in Africa outweigh the obstacles, according to a report by leading African companies covered in the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) new Africa-to-Africa (A2A) Investment Report, the first ever report on inter-African trade published by the Bank.

The report revealed the realities African companies face when investing in the continent, the emerging trends in A2A investment and the steps African policymakers can take to accelerate intra-African investment.

According to the report, more African companies are investing in Africa, stating that such companies have confidence in the continent’s long-term growth potential.

“They are at the cutting edge of their industries, and are capitalising on their knowledge of local markets to generate higher returns and impact,” a statement from the AfDB explained.

In line with the Bank’s High 5s for transforming Africa and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the A2A Report aims to take the conversation on investing in the continent a step further. It shows what African multinationals are doing to drive investments in Africa, d how they are expanding their African footprint, and gives insights into how to scale-up investments more widely.

“As global foreign direct investment to Africa falls, intra-African investments are picking up pace,” the President of the African Development Bank Group, Akinwumi Adesina said.

“Africa’s big companies are increasingly on the move and expanding their African footprint. It is through more investments that the continent can build inclusive, sustainable growth and development. We have made this our collective commitment in the High 5s,”he added.

The A2A Report features eight publicly-listed and privately-owned African companies operating in consumer services, finance, industry, media and diversified portfolios and investment, with home bases in North Africa (Morocco), West Africa (Nigeria, Togo), East and Central Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya) and Southern Africa (Mauritius, South Africa).

Highlights from the Report’s intra-African investment stories include the importance of having a clear long-term vision, getting up-to-date investment facts, building local partnerships to deliver on the ground and tapping into talent in the local labour force.

Published in Economy

South Africa will ease some immigration rules, including agreeing visa waiver agreements with more countries, in an effort to boost investment and tourism, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Tuesday.

The changes are part of a broader economic turnaround programme announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week as his team seeks to drag Africa's most developed economy out of recession.

"We play a critical economic role in admitting over 10 million international visitors to South Africa annually, which includes tourists, business travellers, investors and neighbours," Gigaba told reporters.

"Millions of jobs are sustained by the economic activity generated by these travellers."

Gigaba said negotiations were also being finalised to conclude visa waiver agreements with more than a dozen countries across Africa, the Middle East and eastern Europe, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Qatar and the UAE.

Much-criticized rules on travelling minors will be simplified, he said.

In June 2015 new rules were implemented requiring parents to carry an unabridged birth certificate for accompanying children and consent letters from parents who were not travelling.

The tourism industry said the regulations, which came into effect during Gigaba's previous tenure as home affairs minister, were hurting business.

Tourism contributes more than 400 billion rand ($28 billion) to South Africa's economy, or around 8 percent of GDP.



Published in Travel & Tourism

The share of internal trade in Africa remains low, as reflected by official statistics. This is despite numerous regional trade agreements that have led to tariffs removal within the trading blocs. At least in principle.

There are a host of shortcomings that limit trade: non-tariffs barriers, red tape and insufficient infrastructure. Tariff barriers remain high outside areas covered by the agreements. Enhancing trade integration between African countries could yield large economic gains. This idea motivated the latest initiative for integration, the continental free trade area.

However, a large part of cross-border trade between African countries is informal. It either avoids customs entirely, or goes through official posts but is not recorded. Informal trade is difficult to measure. Most studies have relied on estimates based on partial surveys, or on accounting exercises. They concluded that a substantial share of Africa’s regional trade was informal, on the order of 30% to 40%.

Informal trade is pervasive for agricultural goods as well as many industrial goods. Some traders are entirely informal; others are registered businesses but escape trade regulations and duties nonetheless.

This gap in the measurement of actual trade is problematic for trade policy. Why is it so pervasive, and what should governments do about it?

Our recently published study goes someway to filling the gap by looking into the magnitude, composition and determinants of informal trade in Benin.

What we found

In 2011, the national statistics of Benin identified 171 non-official border points to conduct a survey of informal trade. As in many African countries, informal trade is pervasive in Benin. It operates in the open, and is tolerated, for the most part, by officials. Each border post was surveyed for a period of ten days. Each trader crossing the border (in either direction) was asked a short questionnaire about products and quantities traded, prices, origin and destination.

The rate of response to the survey was high. This means that, for the first time, there’s a representative sample covering all informal trade at a country’s borders that can be compared with the official trade data such as customs data.

Monthly values of Benin’s informal and formal trade with Nigeria, million FCFA, September 2011. 2011 exchange rate: 1USD=506FCFA. Re-exports, transit trade and gasoline trade are excluded. Customs, INSAE, authors’ calculations.

Using this data, our study confirms that informal trade is, in effect, a vital part of the trade system. For example, informal trade makes up the major part of trade in domestic products between Benin and Nigeria. Official statistics underestimate total trade by 50% for imports, and by about 85% for exports.

These figures are broadly in line with previous estimates for sub-Saharan countries. This confirms that trade statistics on the continent suffer from a serious blind spot.

Our study also shows that formal and informal trade differ by product composition. Informal trade isn’t restricted to livestock and a few agricultural goods. Product and sector diversity is high. For example industrial products, such as textiles, agro-food, and transportation equipment are traded heavily on this channel.

Another noteworthy feature is that the product overlap between the formal and informal channels is very low: most goods are traded exclusively on one or the other.

This suggests that official statistics are also massively underestimating the product diversity in regional trade.

So why are some products traded formally, while others are exclusively traded informally?

Reasons for trade informality

We estimate that products facing high tariffs are more likely to be traded informally. Non tariff barriers, such as sanitary and phyto-sanitary regulations, or technical barriers to trade (such as labelling requirements, quality standards), are also associated with more informality.

This suggests that complying with these regulations represents a cost for traders. They are therefore willing to avoid them by skipping the customs controls.

This raises serious questions around issues of product quality. There’s no doubt that controlling product quality and enforcing regulations is necessary for consumer protection. Frequent cases of food poisoning in Nigeria, and their association with informal trade show the importance of this issue.

The difficulty lies in distinguishing between enforcement and excessive requirements. For example, our research shows that a lot of perishable products are traded exclusively on the informal channel. This suggests that traders aren’t avoiding formal channels because they want to smuggle products that don’t meet health and safety standards. They simply want to sell products that would otherwise be spoiled if kept for too long.

How to address trade informality

There is a great deal of evidence that trade costs are high in sub-Saharan Africa. This is due to inadequate infrastructure, excessive regulations and requirements at customs, as well as harassment and bribery. The pervasiveness of informal trade is a symptom of this.

Reducing tariffs should help formalise some of this informal trade. But it is difficult to predict by how much. It’s possible that incentives to go informal remain high for many traders, even under the continent’s proposed free trade agreement, especially if preferential treatment is costly or difficult to obtain.

Some authors suggest giving specific support to informal traders, for instance access to simplified trade regimes. The rationale for this is that there are too many obstacles – procedural and infrastructural – preventing informal traders from operating within the official framework.

Informal trade is, in effect, a vital part of the trade system on the continent, improving food security, and providing a source of income for a substantial share of the population. By reducing trade costs for a large share of (less visible) trade operators, specific facilitation measures could offer valuable opportunities to reduce poverty.The Conversation


Joachim Jarreau, Maître de conférence en économie, Université Paris Dauphine – PSL; Cristina Mitaritonna, Senior trade economist, CEPII, and Sami Bensassi, Senior lecturer, University of Birmingham

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

Published in Business
  1. Opinions and Analysis


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