Items filtered by date: Thursday, 25 April 2019

The campaign period is reaching its climax, on May 8 South Africans are heading to the polls for the elections. For everyone that wants to discuss the election on Twitter, the platform is introducing a special emoji.

The emoji appears when using the hashtag #SAElections2019. The special emoji features a ballot box, emblazoned with the South African flag.

Thanks to the hashtags, it will be even easier to join the conversation on Twitter about the elections. Users can find Tweets faster and it will be much easier for everyone to respond.

"Twitter is the place to follow politics, where citizens and politicians can share views and interact with each other. South Africans are using Twitter more than ever to discuss what is happening and this emoji makes those conversations all the more colourful and engaging," says Sinéad McSweeney, EMEA Vice President for Public Policy and Communications, Twitter.

 

 

Published in Telecoms

Large amounts of gold leave Africa to United Arab Emirates enroute to Europe with no taxes being paid to the states that produce them

BILLIONS of dollars’ worth of gold is being smuggled out of Africa every year through the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East – a gateway to markets in Europe, the United States and beyond – a Reuters analysis has found.

Customs data shows that the UAE imported $15.1 billion worth of gold from Africa in 2016, more than any other country and up from $1.3 billion in 2006. The total weight was 446 tonnes, in varying degrees of purity – up from 67 tonnes in 2006.

Much of the gold was not recorded in the exports of African states. Five trade economists interviewed by Reuters said this indicates large amounts of gold are leaving Africa with no taxes being paid to the states that produce them.

Previous reports and studies have highlighted the black-market trade in gold mined by people, including children, who have no ties to big business, and dig or pan for it with little official oversight. No-one can put an exact figure on the total value that is leaving Africa. But the Reuters analysis gives an estimate of the scale.

Reuters assessed the volume of the illicit trade by comparing total imports into the UAE with the exports declared by African states. Industrial mining firms in Africa told Reuters they did not send their gold to the UAE – indicating that its gold imports from Africa come from other, informal sources.

Informal methods of gold production, known in the industry as “artisanal” or small-scale mining, are growing globally. They have provided a livelihood to millions of Africans and help some make more money than they could dream of from traditional trades.

But the methods leak chemicals into rocks, soil and rivers. And African governments such as Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia complain that gold is now being illegally produced and smuggled out of their countries on a vast scale, sometimes by criminal operations, and often at a high human and environmental cost.

Artisanal mining began as small-time ventures. But the “romantic” era of individual mining has given way to “large-scale and dangerous” operations run by foreign-controlled criminal syndicates, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo told a mining conference in February. Ghana is Africa’s second-largest gold producer.

Not everyone in the chain is breaking the law. Miners, some of them working legally, typically sell the gold to middlemen. The middlemen either fly the gold out directly or trade it across Africa’s porous borders, obscuring its origins before couriers carry it out of the continent, often in hand luggage. For example, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a major gold producer but one whose official exports amount to a fraction of its estimated production: Most is smuggled into neighbouring Uganda and Rwanda. “It is of course worrisome for us but we have very little leverage to stop it,” said Thierry Boliki, director of the CEEC, the Congolese government body that is meant to register, value and tax high-value minerals like gold.

The customs data provided by governments to Comtrade, a United Nations database, shows the UAE has been a prime destination for gold from many African states for some years. In 2015, China – the world’s biggest gold consumer – imported more gold from Africa than the UAE.

But during 2016, the latest year for which data is available, the UAE imported almost double the value taken by China. With African gold imports worth $8.5 billion that year, China came a distant second. Switzerland, the world’s gold refining hub, came third with $7.5 billion worth.

Most of the gold is traded in Dubai, home to the UAE’s gold industry.

The UAE reported gold imports from 46 African countries for 2016. Of those countries, 25 did not provide Comtrade with data on their gold exports to the UAE. But the UAE said it had imported a total of $7.4 billion worth of gold from them.

In addition, the UAE imported much more gold from most of the other 21 countries than those countries said they had exported. In all, it said it imported gold worth $3.9 billion – about 67 tonnes – more than those countries said they sent out.

“There is a lot of gold leaving Africa without being captured in our records,” said Frank Mugyenyi, a senior adviser on industrial development at the African Union who set up the organisation’s minerals unit. “UAE is cashing in on the unregulated environment in Africa.”

The Dubai Customs Authority referred Reuters’ queries to the UAE foreign ministry, which did not respond. The UAE government media office referred Reuters to the UAE federal customs authority, which also did not respond.

Not all the discrepancies in the data analysed by Reuters necessarily point to African-mined gold being smuggled out through the UAE. Small differences could result from shipping costs and taxes being declared differently, a time-lag between a cargo leaving and arriving, or simply mistakes. And gold analysts say some of the trade, especially from Egypt and Libya, could include gold that has been recycled.

But in 11 cases, the per-kilo value that the UAE declared importing is significantly higher than that recorded by the exporting country. This, said Leonce Ndikumana, an economist who has studied capital flows in Africa, is a “classic case of export under-invoicing” to reduce taxes.

Matthew Salomon, an American economist who has researched the use of trade statistics to identify illicit financial flows, said the issue deserves scrutiny. “Persistent discrepancies in the trade of particular goods and between particular countries … can identify significant risks of illicit activity,” he said.

 

Reuters/NAN

Published in Engineering

A court in Hong Kong on Wednesday sentenced eight leaders of a massive 2014 pro-democracy protests to up to 16 months in prison.

News reported that Nine leaders of the city’s “Occupy Central” protests that crippled parts of the former British colony for 79 days in late 2014 were convicted last month of public nuisance offences.

Nine defendants, including law professor Benny Tai, 54, retired sociologist Chan Kin-man, 60, and retired pastor Chu Yiu-ming, 75, were found guilty of at least one public nuisance charge each over their roles in planning and mobilising supporters during the protest.

It was gathered that Wednesday’s decision followed a trial lasting almost a month at a time when Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy came under increasing strain from China’s Communist Party leaders, stoking concern from foreign governments, rights groups and businesspeople.

Published in World

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), on Monday, said telecommunications operators carried out 14,639 Mobile Number Portability activities in February 2019.

The NCC made this known in its “Incoming and Outgoing Porting Activities of Mobile Network Operators’ Report’’ on its website

The commission said in the report that 10,650 subscribers ported within the networks in January, recording an increase of 3,989 activities in February.

It said out of the 14,639 porting activities recorded in February, 7,735 were “Incoming Porting Activities’’, while 6,904 were “Outgoing Porting Activities’’.

The regulatory body said in the outgoing table, 2,281 subscribers moved from Globacom Nigeria to other networks through the Mobile Number Portability in February.

According to NCC, those that left Globacom increased by 1,094, as against 1,187 customers that deserted the network in January.

It said in the month of February, 1,643 customers moved from MTN Nigeria, showing an increase of 571 subscribers, against 1,072 that left the service provider in January.

NCC said 1,801 subscribers moved from 9mobile in the month under review, representing an increase of 197 customers that left the network as against 1,604 recorded in January.

It said 1,179 customers of Airtel Nigeria ported to other networks within the same period, a decrease of 225, when compared with 1,404 users that left in January.

In the incoming table, 9mobile led with an additional 4,017 customers joining its network in February.

MTN Nigeria came second on the gainers’ list with 1,582 subscribers. 1,268 subscribers moved to Airtel Nigeria, while Globacom Nigeria got 868 customers.

Published in Telecoms
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