Monday, 02 September 2019

The owner of Timberland, Vans and several other shoe and clothing brands says it has stopped buying leather from Brazil as fires continue to destroy the Amazon rainforest in that country.

VF Corp. says it won't purchase leather and hide from Brazilian suppliers until it's assured that the materials "do not contribute to environmental harm in the country."

The current fires in the Amazon were set by those who are clearing the forest for cattle ranching and crops. About 60% of the Amazon rainforest is in Brazil.

VF, based in Greensboro, North Carolina, says a small amount of the leather it buys comes from Brazil, but didn't provide specific numbers. Besides Timberland boots and Vans sneakers, VF also makes The North Face jackets, Eastpak backpacks and Dickies clothing.

Credit: Associated Press

Published in World

Nigeria lost about N8.93 billion to cyber criminals representing 59 percent of funds stolen through internet and technology based crimes in 2018 alone.

This was revealed by the Chairman, Global Banking Education Standards Board, Dr. Segun Aina, who said banks’ losses to fraud in Nigeria jumped to N15.15bn in 2018, an increase of 539 per cent compared to N2.37bn in 2017.

Aina who is also the president, Fintech Association of Nigeria President stated this at the 2019 Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) Lagos State Branch, Bankers & Stakeholders nite in Lagos.

He maintained that internet & technology based sources of fraud accounted for 59 per cent of the fraud cases and 43 per cent of actual loss.

He stressed that governments of different countries might also not be able to provide bailouts to banks like they did previously in 2008.

He also warned, that a global financial crisis induced by cybercrime May be imminent unless this is checked.

Citing the NDIC report that cybercrime will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, he said, this rose upward from $3 trillion in 2015.

“Global spending on security awareness training for employees is predicted to reach $10 billion by 2027, up from around $1 billion in 2014. Training employees how to recognise and defend against cyber-attacks is the most under spent sector of the cyber security industry.”

He noted that the UN E-Government Survey 2018 showed Denmark coming first place while Nigeria ranked 143 out of the193 member countries surveyed.

Published in Bank & Finance
Minnesota woman Andrea Johnson had 40 acres and a lot of brush. On the hunt for brush eaters, she tried goat’s milk for the first time. “At that moment, I could care less about brush eaters. I just wanted to start raising little goats and milking them,” she recalled.
Johnson launched her dairy goat farm, Andy’s Acres, about four years ago outside Carlton, about 20 miles southwest of Duluth.
Today, she has about 20 Nigerian dwarf goats — all with short, stubby legs, some with spots and tufts of hair on their heads, some with wide “hips” and long “mustaches.”
Johnson makes cheese, yogurt and pudding that she turns into ice cream. She even makes even soap with their milk. She calls her dairy farm a move that already fit into her lifestyle.
“We farm, we hunt, we fish. We try to be as sustainable as we can. The whole goat thing opens up a whole new opportunity of homesteading. … I can provide my family with homegrown dairy products, especially from animals that I’m taking care of,” she said.
Johnson’s dreadlocks bobbed in a tall ponytail as she walked through her grounds. Her granddaughter, Iris Swanson, 4, stepped up onto a shelf in the barn — she knows her way around.
“We’ve got Shylah, Sassy, Jinxy, Summer, Butterscotch, Trixie and Phoebe and DeeDee and Sparrow, and Pearl and Irene. These are all the girls,” Johnson said pointing to the does.
Butterscotch is Iris’ favorite.
There are large tractor tires and wooden wheels. The goats jump on them — they have a vertical leap of 4-5 feet — and chew cud.
Goats have a tight family unit, and they keep that bond forever. They’re prey animals, so they like to be petted on the chest and ribs. Their pupils are rectangular, so they can see behind them, Johnson said.
They eat hay — alfalfa hay when they’re milking — and grain. They live about 14 years, and they’re not born milkers, so year one with a new doe is all about getting them accustomed to milking.
Johnson breeds them one at a time, and 145 days later, kids typically come in groups of twos or threes.
Goats are stubborn, funny and food-motivated. They’re also sensitive to your energy. They won’t go near you if you’re anxious or worried, so you have to leave that at the door.
“They’re like my little zen animals, my therapy,” she said.
Johnson uses breakaway chains in different colors to help identify the goat families and to help when they need to be maneuvered for hoof-trimming.
There’s grain, feed, and at times, vet bills, but she can’t pinpoint how much it costs to keep one. The biggest expense in the beginning was building a fence, but it was necessary to keep out coyotes, bears, wolves and dogs.
She has invested more into pedigree goats, purebreds and into registering her animals.
“I got a buck I flew in from Maine. I paid $1,000. … Because his milking pedigree is so amazing, I’m hoping that that transfers to the kids.”
Johnson’s income from soap covers hay. She also sells neutered billies and does, and reinvests that money into new sires, milking machine gear or barn improvements.
There’s a camera in the barn and a monitor in Johnson’s house. She uses it to view kidding indoors, and she’ll know when it’s time to hop in to assist. “To me, it’s not a natural part of farming to let them go out and do their own thing. I want to prevent any complications,” she said.
It can be an emotional process, and she has seen complications.
“I’ve had my arm in that far to rearrange babies and pull babies,” she said, motioning up her elbow. “If I hadn’t intervened, they probably would’ve died.”
Johnson didn’t grow up with animals. After graduation, she moved from Minnesota to a farming community in Iowa. There, she worked as a USDA inspector for 10 years.
Moving to 40 acres near Carlton with her husband, she researched a lot before getting her goats. She also gained support from a network of Minnesota goat owners. They share medicine and experience through an informal mentorship. Most of it is paying it forward, and it can be as simple as answering questions about feed or checking in when an animal is sick, said Barb Adams, one of Johnson’s mentors.
Adams has been handling standard Alpine goats near Barnum since 2007. She recalled Johnson having issues milking a goat after kidding. Adams swapped out her PJs for jeans to help, and the issue was simple. The doe’s udder creates a wax plug in the teat to keep out germs. They got that out, and the baby goat was able to nurse.
“Most of us who have stayed in this for more than three or four years just want to keep learning. You never know it all, and she’s always doing research,” Adams said of Johnson.
She learns about and studies what’s best for her animals, and when considering fellow goat handlers, she said: “I go by whether I would sell an animal to someone, and I would sell to her.”
Johnson’s days are milking in the morning, chores such as cleaning pens, then getting her granddaughter Iris, then back to milking and chores.
Of all breeding goats, Nigerian dwarf goats have the highest butterfat production. A small goat at the peak of lactation will produce a half-gallon a day. She milks often to keep production up.
In the milking room, Johnson led one of her does, Deedee, onto a wooden platform.
Deedee’s head went between two wooden planks, and she leaned down to eat grain from a bucket. Johnson wiped her udder with a warm washcloth to prevent infection. She emptied the first squirts into a can; it won’t be used because it could contain bacteria.
Johnson attached Deedee to an electric milking machine. With a steady hum, the milk made its way through long tubes into a large, already sterilized Mason jar.
“You don’t have to worry about dust or air, (it’s a) nice clean way to get the milk,” Johnson said.
Deedee yielded about a pound, which Johnson placed in a nearby fridge, already filled with a week’s worth of milk. It doesn’t go sour like pasteurized products, and it eventually turns to cheese, another venture of hers. Johnson has made chevre, mozzarella and farmer’s cheese from her goat’s milk. It takes about a gallon of milk to make 2 pounds of cheese, she said.
Her process is to bring the milk up to 185 degrees. Add your acid, vinegar, lemon or lime juice. Season it the way you’d like, then press it. She vacuum-seals and freezes a lot of her cheese for later use.
Johnson likes the versatility of farmer cheese. She makes it plain, adds strawberries or jalapenos. “The downside is during milking season, the guaranteed 20 pounds you’re going to gain,” she said.
It can be hard when they’re sick or there are complications. Kidding season is emotional — waiting for and ensuring the moms bond with their kin. Then the goat tattoos, selecting homes for the ones that will be sold, and saying goodbye is all stressful. But in the end, she gets to raise her own dairy product and expose her grandchildren to the experience of milking and raising animals.
Andy’s Acres is a one-woman show. Her husband built the fence and helps with stacking and transporting hay. But she’s in charge of the milking, chores, cheese- and soap-making. For her, it all boils down to raising her own dairy product, providing homemade goods to her family and exposing her grandchildren to the experience of milking and raising animals.
It’s a physical hobby, uploading hay, cleaning pens and milking. Johnson said she looks forward to the end of the day, sitting with “the ladies” when the chores are done.
“They all come up, and they’re rubbing up on me, and this one’s trying to eat my hair, and this one’s eating my shoe. I do like you guys. You’re a lot of work, but it’s alright.”
Published in Agriculture
Monday, 02 September 2019 10:34

Japan’s Abe plans to meet Putin in Russia

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday he planned to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week.
Abe sets to attend the Eastern Economic Forum to be held in Vladivostok Sept 4-6, and will meet with Putin after the programme.
Abe said he wanted to make progress towards talks over a peace treaty and joint economic activities in the four disputed Russian-held islands off Japan’s northern region of Hokkaido.
Published in Business

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed Nigerians to deposit overused or mutilated Naira notes in any bank branch closer to them, on or before September 2, 2019.

The apex bank said this was part of its efforts to improve the overall quality of the Naira notes in circulation.

According to a mail from GTBank to its customers on Friday, this was in line with the CBN’s Clean Note Policy which was announced earlier in April this year.

The email entitled, “Important CBN Notice on Naira Notes,” read: “As part of its efforts to improve the overall quality of the Naira notes in circulation, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has introduced the Clean Note Policy and Banknotes Fitness Guidelines.

“What does this mean for you?

“If you have in your possession, overused or mutilated Naira notes, you are required by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Clean Note Policy to deposit such notes at any (bank) branch near you on or before Monday, September 2, 2019.

“Please note that overused notes include any Naira note that is now weak to such an extent that it could easily tear at further handling or processing.

“Mutilated notes include any Naira note that has been partially or permanently damaged, but which clearly still has more than half of its original size together.

“As Nigerians, it is our patriotic and collective responsibility to handle the Naira with care; and as your Bank, we urge you to comply with this directive in order to improve the quality of our national currency.”

Published in Bank & Finance
Monday, 02 September 2019 10:04

Stanbic IBTC declares N44.7bn mid-year profit

Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, a member of the Standard Bank Group, has announced its mid-year audited results for the period ended June 30, 2019.

The Group also announced an interim dividend of 100 kobo per share.

According to the audited report released on Thursday, the group’s profit before tax stood at N44.7 billion, while profit after tax was N36.2 billion. Other results reflect an increase in non-interest revenue which stood at N54.9 billion while net-interest income was N39.3 billion.

The group also recorded an increase in gross earnings to N117.4 billion, representing a 3% growth while the total operating income was maintained at N94 billion.

The report further stated, that “Stanbic IBTC’s balance sheet reflect that the Group’s total asset’s was N1,619.3 billion while the gross loans and advances was N479.7 billion, an increase in 5%, compared to last year’s figures.

“While customer deposits was N693.5 billion, there was an improvement in current-and-savings-accounts deposits mix which went up to 68.9%.”

The report also quoted the company’s Chief Executive, Yinka Sanni, saying that the Group’s business segments were profitable, despite the challenging business and regulatory environment.

He said: “Our financial results in the first half of 2019 reflected similar trends encountered in the first quarter. The operating environment remained muted, regulatory changes coupled with the highly competitive landscape continued to impact overall returns. Still, our diversified business model continues to set us apart. Our business segments remained profitable and resilient although at a slower pace when compared to prior year.”

Sanni disclosed that there has been a return to growth in the second quarter, mainly from the communication and oil and gas sectors. He further added that the gross non-performing loan to total loan ratio which was 3.91%, was within acceptable regulatory limits.

Speaking on other areas of the mid-year results in which the Group experienced growth, he noted that assets under custody rose to N7 trillion (representing a 42% growth) while assets under management grew by 8% to N3.5 trillion.

Published in Bank & Finance
For whatever reason President Muhammadu Buhari had chosen a new Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, the new replacement for Audu Ogbeh must sit up to embrace the responsibilities that are orchestrated by such position.
With food security, rural income growth and job creation amongst the top mandates of the ministry, the new minister, Sabo Nanono, must begin to find answers to issues like why Nigeria – despite being the largest producer of yam – is displaced by Ghana, to sit as the largest yam exporter country.
Going by the report from Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, reveals that Ghana accounts for over 94 percent of total yam exports in West Africa. Shocking, however, that Ghana’s yam farmers, put together, cannot produce enough yam to near the margin as the leading producer of the commodity.
First take-away
If this is so, there, perhaps, is a need for us to query the system and ask what factors have been responsible for this happenstance. If Nigeria produces about 70% of the world’s yam, what then is the clog in the wheel, hindering the country from tapping into this lucrative activity that can supplement oil revenue?
Experts say the report is false
Some experts during a round table discussion have said that the statement lacked the true reality of things in the yam market. For this group, they argued that it doesn’t matter who is doing the export. And, that what mattered is who the producer, is.
Careful observation has shown that the problem with Nigeria leading the export trade of yam has more to do with the country’s lack of structure, process and storage. The point is if there is anything special about Ghana on the yam export window it is how this 30 million population country is seizing the opportunity of their structured build up around the business.
The ministry of Agriculture and its agents needed to see what branding looks like in a typical Ghanaian yam market. One of the factors to be enumerated is Nigeria’s poor sense of packaging and branding. Unfortunately, these are not impossible things. Sincerely, what we have seen of packaging of yam in Ghana is enough to sweep one off the feet. In Ghana, yams are well packed like beverages, a complete shift of what we have here in Nigeria.
Largest exporter or re-exporter
Men in export business of Nigerian original have refused to accept Ghana as the largest exporter. According to their argument, Ghana has been buying in large quantities from Nigeria to pad it business. They have mentioned how Ghana actually purchases yam from Nigerian local farmers, how it is repackaged and branded as homemade.
They revealed that this has been possible courtesy of Nigerian porousborders. Aggregating all these concessions, we should ask the right question –why can’t Nigeria do the same to compete favorable with rivals.
What can we learn from Ghana?
The yam scenario has educated us on how much can be done from a significantly well managed limited stock or resources. In Ghana, there is a body of yam producers and exporters. They facilitate sales and its members can explore the trade opportunities under the banner of the organisation. Perhaps, our Agric. Minister can take a leave or two from the Ghana Yaminitiative.
According to the Ghana Yam and Exporters Association, the strategy was to assist members to ensure food safety or traceability. In doing this, on a commodity as yam, undergoing the following procedures go a long way to show seriousness of a stakeholder.
Ghana’s yam packaging procedure
Selection: – The yams are carefully selected on the basis of
Uniformity – yams with the same variety and sizes.
Yam should be firm and free from obvious defects, smooth and straight.
Yam should be cured 7-8 days at 30˚c (86˚ – 90˚F ) leaving it in an airy and shady place for a week with 90-95% R.H (Relative humidity).
Yam that is light in weight for their size must be avoided (rot can set inside without it being visible externally).
The Nigerian challenge
The yam challenge isn’t completely a unique one. It is, about, same challenge as faced by farmers generally operating in the country. Here we are, still struggling with;
Lacks of good storage facilities
Transportation system hiccups
Dearth of machinery
Large dependency on human limited strength
Outside all of this is the challenge of hike in price for local consumers.
Appraising stats
As far back as 1993, the world production of yam was pegged at 28.1 million tons where 96% of this came from West Africa with the main producers being; Nigeria, the world’s largest yam producer with 71% of world production; Côte d’Ivoire 8.1%; Benin 4.3% and Ghana 3.5%.
That yam takes the centre stage in the African diet can be easily noticed with varieties of food made from its tubers. The least, perhaps, is to mention the place of yam in the cultural, economic and religious aspects of Africans. This indicates that yam is one stock whose investment is worthy and, perhaps, why Ghana is tapping into it.
In 2007, worldwide yam production stood at 52 million tons, of which Africa reportedly produced 96%. Also, the lion share came from West Africa with approximately 94% of the total production. Also, we found Nigeria producing 71%, which was more than 37 million tons.
Point of reflection
Like the saying goes, man is the architect of his fate. If a 30 million population country with landmass about 3 states put together in Nigeria can lead the yam race, a country with over 200 million in population should be more promising. That it is the leading producer doesn’t suffice.
However, having been identified as the largest producer should be enough motivation to get the country started to review its strategies in areas of export management. 
But, will Buhari’s new minister ever consider this?
Itohoimo Udosen
Public Affairs Analyst
Published in Opinion & Analysis
Monday, 02 September 2019 09:27

Yemen prison bombed, scores killed

The Sunni Muslim coalition, which has been battling the Iran-aligned Houthis for over four years in Yemen, said it destroyed a site storing drones and missiles in Dhamar.
Franz Rauchenstein, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Yemen, said after visiting the prison complex and hospitals on Sunday that a “safe presumption is that over 100 had been killed”.
The Houthi health ministry earlier said at least 60 bodies were pulled from the rubble at the detention center, which officials said housed 170 prisoners.
“There are three buildings hit and the building where the detainees were located, most of them or the majority has been killed,” Rauchenstein told Reuters by telephone.
“The prisoners in that facility were prisoners that we had visited in relation to the conflict.”
He said the Yemeni Red Crescent Society was still trying to retrieve bodies and that around 50 injured people had been taken to hospital.
The Yemen UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said 52 detainees were among the dead. At least 68 detainees are still missing.
“I hope the coalition will launch an inquiry into this incident. Accountability needs to prevail.” Martin Griffiths, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, said in a statement.
Residents told Reuters there had been six airstrikes.
“The explosions were strong and shook the city,” a resident said. “Afterwards ambulance sirens could be heard until dawn.”
The coalition, which has come under criticism by international rights groups for airstrikes that have killed civilians, said it had taken measures to protect civilians in Dhamar and the assault complied with international law.
The Western-backed alliance intervened in Yemen in March 2015 against the Houthis after they ousted the internationally recognized government from power in the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014.
The movement, which holds most major population centers in the Arabian Peninsula nation, has stepped up cross-border missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia in recent months. The Saudi-led alliance has responded with strikes on Houthi targets.
“The crime of the aggressors against prisoners is additional proof that they are ready to violate all Yemenis, even those loyal to them,” the Houthi-run Al Masirah TV quoted the group’s leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi as saying.
The head of the Houthis’ national committee for prisoner affairs, Abdul Qader al-Mortada, said many of those held were due to be released in a local deal to exchange prisoners of war.
The United Nations is trying to ease tension in Yemen to prepare for political negotiations to end the war that has killed tens of thousands and pushed the long-impoverished country to the brink of famine.
The conflict is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Houthis, who deny being puppets of Tehran, say they are fighting a corrupt system.
Published in World

China has been a latecomer to African aviation. Even though Ethiopian Airlines started flying to China in November 1973, there were few other air links between Africa and China for 30 years.

The involvement of former colonial powers such as the British, Dutch and French goes back to the 1920s; former Soviet bloc countries began to show interest during the height of the Cold War. And in the last 20 years, Persian Gulf petro-states and their airlines – Emirates, Qatar and Etihad – have become major offshore hubs for a huge range of commercial flights serving Africa.

In my recently published paper I track how China’s involvement has been different.

Official data about the scale and pace of China’s airport projects in Africa are hard to find. In the absence of primary sources, journalistic reporting on current affairs and public projects is the main source of information. These sources can be at variance. And keeping up with developments is evidently difficult.

Despite the absence of accurate, clear and consistent information, the picture that emerged during my research shows considerable Chinese activity directed at modernising, extending and building new airports in Africa. The grandest projects are in resource-rich countries.

China’s approach

None of China’s biggest three airlines (Air China, China Southern, China Eastern) are prominent in African skies.

It is on the ground that China has been flexing its aviation muscles in Africa. This is consistent with China’s 50-or-so years of infrastructure funding and construction on the continent. Energy, water, road and rail infrastructure projects have been the major spheres of Chinese offshore investment in Africa.

Civil airports there have been a recent addition. China’s experience of planning, funding, constructing and managing airports at home stands it in good stead.

Two 2017 reports noted between US$27 billion and US$38 billion currently being spent on or earmarked for spending on 77 construction and associated hardware projects at airports in Africa. China was named in relation to Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Zambia. The average price for all projects was US$440 million.

At a rough estimate, China accounted for between a quarter and a third of this total airport spending. Excluding unknown expenditure in Ghana, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo, it spent some US$5.7 billion on these airport projects: US$3.8 billion on a new airport outside Luanda (Angola), US$615 million in Maputo, US$360 million in Zambia, US$345 million at Addis Ababa, US$260 million in Mauritius, US$190 million in Sierra Leone, and US$136 million in Mauritania.

Funds from China’s Exim Bank or other agencies are expected to help build a new US$3 billion airport outside Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, and a new US$1.4 billion airport outside Khartoum in Sudan.

The Chinese investment model involves loans and grants, but also, it would seem, part-exchange deals over oil and minerals. These arrangements have more of a resources-for-infrastructure or barter quality.

At the same time Turkish, French, Italian and British contractors have been bidding for airport improvement projects in Africa, and for terminal or runway new-build schemes. These, it would appear, are at a lesser scale, and have greater transparency.

What’s next

China’s approach may change in the future. That’s if it can neutralise the pivot of Persian Gulf airports at Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha. And if it can out-manoeuvre their airlines in global long-haul markets.

It may be more likely that China’s penetration of African civil aviation will occur via partnerships with African airlines, and taking equity shares.

Some of this has already happened. For example, the Hainan corporation in China has reportedly made forays into airlines in Ghana and South Africa, and into a Kenyan all-freight carrier.

Sales to Africa of Chinese-manufactured aircraft have also started. Attendant spare parts stocks are being pre-positioned. In addition, there are plans for Chinese-led aviation technical and managerial training schools in Africa. These will reduce risk of wasted physical infrastructure and of any associated reputational damage.

Some African countries are gearing airport capacity planning to a predicted 5% annual growth in continental passenger numbers by 2035. By that time Africa is expected to be home to eight of the world’s 10 fastest-growing aviation markets. Most African countries don’t have the capacity to prepare for this and will need overseas funds and engineering expertise.

But there are concerns. Any arguments against rampant airport investment in Africa could begin with familiar worries about cost overruns in mega-infrastructure projects, the long-term burden of loan repayments (or default loss of control to foreign owners), the unaffordability of unanticipated maintenance charges, and the inappropriateness of prestige and political vanity projects.

Concerns about corruption, due diligence, accountability, social and environmental disruption plague transport projects wherever they occur.

Another argument against airport mania in Africa – including one that may be levelled against the seductively shiny steel-and-glass ‘aerotropolises’ touted in Nigeria and South Africa – is that these opportunist projects are firmly nation- or city-led (indeed, even regime-led). As such, they don’t necessarily fit into any long-term regional or pan-African programme of integrated infrastructure development.

At a time of chronic resource shortages and stress this is irresponsible. What can be accomplished technically is not always what should be done. There have always been white elephants and rogue elephants in Africa.

The economic and political geography of China’s airport consulting, financing, construction, and management programme in Africa is only now beginning to surface. In future, better statistical information, and richer local information will make for better analysis.The Conversation


Gordon Pirie, Honorary Research Associate, University of Cape Town

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

Published in Travel & Tourism
  1. Opinions and Analysis


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