Friday, 29 May 2020

All taxi motos operating in Kigali will from June 1, use only cashless payment platforms when charging their clients, according to Rwanda UtilitiesRegulatory Authority (RURA).

This is part of the efforts to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19 throug cash handling.

With taxi motos expected to resume operations on June 1, after they were temporarily suspended to curb the pandemic, RURA has issued a new set of guidelines on operations in the sector.

Operators and their clients have an option from the two telcos providing mobile money payment platforms, MTN Rwanda and Airtel Rwanda and will rely on installed meters to determine the cost of trips.

This is also in line with government plans to transform payment systems for taxi moto operators to cashless which was to be executed in the first half of this year after the postponement of from a deadline previously set at July 2019.

The development is part of the national motorcycle transport strategy to introduce a cashless based payment system for taxi-moto operators building on the success of "Tap-and-go" payment system, which is deployed on public commuter buses in Kigali.

Firms such as Yego Moto, Pascal Technology, and Mara Phone had already commenced rolling out the technology.

The new cashless payment system will see the 146 moto co-operatives across the country equip their fleet with GPS-enabled devices that calculate distance covered and the fare which will allow regulation of prices. 

This could also reduce the common haggling for fares between taxi-moto riders and passengers often blamed for overcharging trips.

The development could further edge the country towards its cashless ambitions owing to the popularity of the mode of transport and frequency of use.

Only motorcyclists operating in provinces are exempted from meters for now but are expected to use cashless payment for trips.

As was the case prior to halting their operations, passengers will be required to have a piece of cloth to wrap their heads before putting on a helmet to reduce physical contact with the protective gear which is shared by passengers.

RURA is also urging passengers who can afford their own helmets to procure them for use when using the common means of transport.

Maintenance of hygiene measures such as sanitizing hands and helmets were also highlighted in the RURA directive as well as social distancing in parking locations. Face masks also remain mandatory for both passengers and riders.

Resumption of moto operations is expected to greatly improve transport operations across the city with the means is largely preferred for its convenience, flexibility and affordability in comparison to cabs.

With moto operators soon to resume work, about 1,000 of them have been tested for Covid-19 as the baseline, in a move government says is to ensure there is no vulnerability.

 
 

Credit: New Times

Published in Travel & Tourism

President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwunmi Adesina, has revealed more details on why the U.S. government may be deliberately pushing for a fresh probe of allegations of impropriety and fraud against him.

The United States' insistence is despite the clean bill of health given to Mr Adesina by the board of directors of the bank.

Mr Adesina, in a memo seen by PREMIUM TIMES, said the move to get him out, perhaps at all costs, is linked to his re-election bid and not as a result of any fraudulent action on his part.

Background

On May 5, the ethics committee of the board of directors of the continental bank said in its report that Mr Adesina was not guilty of any of the 16 allegations contained in a petition brought before it by a "Group of Concerned Staff" of the Bank.

The committee headed by Takuji Yano, the institution's Japanese Executive Director charged with the responsibility of investigating the allegations, described as "spurious and unfounded" claims that Mr Adesina violated the code of conduct of the Bank.

In its petition sent to the committee on January 19, 2020, the "concerned staff members" accused Mr Adesina of 16 breaches of the bank's code of conduct, including "unethical conduct, private gain, an impediment to efficiency, preferential treatment, and involvement in political activities."

Copies of the petition were also sent to both the Director of the Integrity & Anti-Corruption office (PIAC) of the Bank, and the Chairperson of the Audit & Finance Committee (AUFI) in line with the Bank's "Whistleblowing and Complaints Handling Policy".

Between February 4 and April 9, 2020, the ethics committee held series of meetings to review documents and presentations as it conducted "preliminary examination" of the allegations against Mr Adesina to establish whether they were "based on any objective and solid facts" pursuant to Resolution No. B/BG/2008/11.

Resolution No. B/BG/2008/11 adopted at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Board of the Bank held on May 14, 2008 made the Code of Conduct for its Executive Directors and those of the African Development Fund (ADF) also applicable to the President of the Bank Group.

Apart from the petition, other documents reviewed during the series of meetings by the committee included the confidential memo submitted by Mr Adesina detailing his defence of the allegations against him.

U.S. agenda?

However, despite all the facts, which formed the basis of the committee's submission to the board of governors after its preliminary examination, the U.S government still expressed "deep reservations about the integrity of the Committee's process".

In its letter of May 22, 2020 to the Chairman of the Ethics Committee, the U.S. government, through the Secretary, Department of Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, faulted the committee's decision to "totally exonerate" Mr Adesina of all allegations.

Noting that it was not yet time to make such a declaration, Mr Mnuchin called for a fresh "in-depth investigation of the allegations against Mr Adesina."

"We have deep reservations about the integrity of the Committee's process. Instead, we urge you to initiate an in-depth investigation of the allegations using the services of an independent outside investigator of high professional standing. We emphasise that undertaking an independent evaluation of facts, at any stage, is not at odds with a presumption of innocence," Mr Mnuchin wrote.

"The allegations set out in the whistleblower complaint submitted on January 19, 2020 raise significant issues that all relevant governing bodies of the Bank must handle with the utmost care, using all tools available to them," he added.

But, a review of the confidential memo submitted by Mr Adesina to the committee on April 8 detailing a point-by-point response to all the 16 allegations, appears to have given an inkling into the possible reasons why the U.S government is insisting on a fresh and deeper probe into the matter.

Mr Adesina's memo obtained by PREMIUM TIMES on Monday suggests the allegations by the "Group of Concerned Staff" may have political undertones linking his bid for re-election in the forthcoming AfDB Presidency elections in August.

'Why I'm being victimised'

In the memo, Mr Adesina accused the petitioners of violating Section 6.7.2 of the Whistle Blowing Policy of the bank by breaching the confidentiality of the proceedings of the matter by making public disclosure of the matter beyond submission to the ethics committee.

He accused the petitioners of disclosing their allegations beyond the committee "by acting in concert with others outside the AfDB system".

"The point about others acting in concert with the whistle-blowers is not speculation. A group of independent Bank staff members apparently wrote a "Disassociation Note" on March 9, 2020, in which they explained that they had been members of a group called "Group of Concerned Staff Members," namely the whistle-blowers behind the Disclosure, but that they had been "manipulated by a group of non-regional Executive Directors behind Mr (Steven) Dowd, not for the good governance of the African Bank of Development, but to discredit the candidacy of the current President for his re-election," Mr Adesina said in his memo to the committee.

"Certainly if the Disassociation Note is to be believed, and there is no reason not to believe it, the whistle-blowers' complaint cannot be considered to be in good faith, because it was not designed to expose fraud, corruption or other misconduct. Instead it had another ulterior motive," he added.

Mr Dowd is the U.S. government representative at the bank.

Mr Adesina in a statement Wednesday restated his innocence of the allegations. U.S. in AfDB Group

The United States is one of the Group of seven nations holding 28 per cent investment grade equity in AfDB.

The others include Germany and Japan. About 41 per cent of their Group's shareholding is held by non-regionals and multilateral development finance institutions.

The AfDB Group comprises three entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF).

The United States has been a member of the ADF since 1976 as well as the AfDB since 1983.

In 2008, the U.S. government, through a bilateral cooperation spelled out in the Memorandum of Understanding with the Bank signed with United State Agency for International Development (USAID), launched a five-year partnership.

The pact was in support of African small and medium-sized enterprises to accelerate investment in Africa.

The agreement also provided co-financing arrangements for a shared contribution of 40 per cent for the bank, 10 per cent for USAID and 50 per cent for other partnering banks.

Another Memorandum of Understanding was concluded in May 2016 with the Millennium Challenge Corporation that provides for sharing information and data, particularly in the power sector, focusing on mobilising private investment.

In addition to developing financial assistance, the U.S. government also provides support for productive investment and local development in the member countries of the AfDB.

Besides, USAID and the AfDB are cooperating on to establish a Multi-Donor Trust Fund for the agriculture sector, among others.

Under the arrangement, the USAID has committed about $11 million to the Multi-Donor Agriculture Fast Track Fund to facilitate project preparation in the agriculture sector in partnership of the African Legal Support Facility and the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa.

 
 
Published in Bank & Finance

Zimbabwe's Health Ministry has announced that all local and foreign investors venturing into the production of cannabis will be offered 100% ownership of their farms and licences to improve competitiveness.

In 2018, the Zimbabwean government approved the production of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Last year, it announced that 37 local and private investors had shown interest in cannabis farming.

In a letter addressed to cannabis licencees by Health Minister Obadiah Moyo, the offer is with immediate effect.

"Following Cabinet decision and high-level meeting, a policy change enabling investors to hold 100% ownership of Medicinal Cannabis licences was made in order to improve the competitiveness of the sector both regionally and globally," Moyo said.

"At the same meeting, it was also agreed that investors had the option to utilise private land for cannabis project.

"In order to regularise the policy changes a draft Investment Stabilisation agreement is being reviewed by the Attorney General's office. The finalisation has been delayed somewhat due to the focus in controlling the global Covid-19 pandemic." 

One company, Alternative Health Oils (AHO), a joint venture between the government and a private firm has seen the State ceding its 40% to the former.

Government directors seconded to AHO board have also been ordered to resign with immediate effect leaving the private firm in total control of the entity.

"Having noted the need for pragmatism in this matter, Alternative Health Oils (AHO), a government company which is being administratively managed by the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MOHCC), will initiate the termination of Joint Venture Agreements, ceding 40% ownership and the resignation of AHO directors from the Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV) with immediate effect.

"On the completion of the processes amendment of the licence would be required."

An Investor for cannabis farming will be issued with a five-year renewal licence.

Previously, production and possession of the drug was illegal and attracted a sentence of up to 12 years.

However, the recreational use or possession of the drug remains illegal.

 
 

Source: New Zimbabwe

Published in Agriculture

Ex-Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has urged the board of the African Development Bank to ignore calls for an independent investigation of its President, Akinwumi Adesina, by the United States Government.

Obasanjo in a letter dated May 26 to Kaba Niale, Chairman of the AfDB board of governors, urged the organisation to follow laid down processes to protect and preserve the bank.

He asked African leaders to speak against introduction of alien practices being recommended by some parties given that such recommendation falls outside the laid down procedures, laws, rules and regulations of the bank.

He said, “Unfortunately, the United States Government, through the US Treasury Secretary, has written a public letter (that was also distributed to the press globally) to disagree with the conclusions of the ethics committee of the board of directors and the Chairman of the board of governors of the bank.

“Instead of accepting the exoneration of the President of the bank, they called for an independent investigation.

“This is outside of the rules, laws, procedures and governance systems of the bank. The US Treasury Secretary disparaged the bank and ridiculed the entire governance system of the bank which has been in place since 1964.

“This is unprecedented in the annals of the African Development Bank Group. If we do not rise up and defend the African Development Bank, this might mean the end of the African Development Bank, as its governance will be hijacked away from Africa.

“As Africa faces COVID-19, Dr Adesina again took bold measures to ensure the bank can respond proactively to support African countries and got its board of directors to approve a $10bn crisis response facility to support African countries. In addition, the bank successful launched a $53bn “Fight COVID-19” social impact bond on the international capital market, secured at 0.75 per cent interest rate.”

In a statement on Wednesday, Adesina maintained his innocence as allegations of corruption and other forms of misconduct against him rise.

The United States Department of Treasury had called for an independent of the allegations against Adesina despite the AfDB clearing him of all wrongdoing.

He said, “In spite of unprecedented attempts by some to tarnish my reputation and prejudice the bank’s governance procedures, I maintain my innocence with regard to trumped up allegations that unjustly seek to impugn my honour and integrity, as well as the reputation of the African Development Bank.”

 

SAHARAREPORTERS

Published in Bank & Finance

Racism against Nigerians – and other Africans – is not new in China. Africa-China history is marked by solidarity, but also dented by old and new racism. Nothing at this moment suggests that the current situation will drastically change.

Some recent events are low moments in the ever-oscillating relationship between China and Nigeria.

A video emerged on 10 April of a Nigerian diplomat in China, Razaq Lawal, publicly criticising his compatriots’ maltreatment in Guangzhou by Chinese officials. Lawal protested that Nigerians were kept in COVID-19 quarantine beyond the normal 14 days for Chinese citizens. Chinese officials were also seizing their passports. He pointed out that the Nigerian government did not treat Chinese citizens living in Nigeria any differently from its own citizens.

The video drew the ire of Nigerians and the Nigerian government. The speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, demanded answers from the Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian. At about the same time the Nigerian Medical Association was protesting a government decision to invite a Chinese medical team to assist in the fight against COVID-19.

Based on my research on relations between the two countries (especially in terms of labour relations) over the past decade, I believe that incidents like this may keep recurring. That’s despite the assertion by Nigeria’s foreign minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, that Nigeria would “take definitive steps against China”.

I identify three main reasons.

Why things won’t change

Official relations date back to February 1971, when Nigeria established diplomatic relations with China. But contact between ordinary Nigerians and Chinese predates the 1967-70 Biafran Civil War. Though some argue that China supported the Biafran forces against the Nigerian government, no post-war government in Nigeria has confirmed Beijing’s involvement.

Along with other African countries, Nigeria supported China as the genuine representative of the Chinese people in 1975. This led to the replacement of Taiwan at the United Nations. High-level bilateral visits followed, setting the stage for increased trade. Although accurate figures are difficult to find, Nigeria-China trade galloped from about $1.8 billion in 2003 to $13.5 billion in 2018.

As the relationship grew, more Nigerians established business and other relationships in China.

Nigerians’ maltreatment must, however, be understood within the broader maltreatment of Africans in China. This can be traced to the 1960s, when African students began to arrive in China. It intensified in the 1970s and 1980s when there were protests against – and by – Africans in China.

Coincidentally, a landmark incident that led to the death of a Nigerian happened in 2009 in Guangzhou, where Nigerians were recently maltreated. It led to protests by Nigerians and other Africans, “demanding justice from the Chinese police after officers chased the man out of a high-rise window in a tightening security crackdown on illegal over-stayers in the city this year”.

In 2012, there was another protest by Africans in Guangzhou over the death of a Nigerian in police detention.

It’s my view that Nigeria’s reluctance to call out Chinese actions over the years is the main reason why the status quo persists.

While publicly painting a picture of equality, China continues to dominate relations with Nigeria, as I observed in a 2015 paper co-authored with Bukola Ajayi. We see this in imbalanced trade, Nigeria’s growing dependence on China, and China’s growing importance in Africa. We also drew attention to the issue of counterfeit, adulterated and sub-standard drugs and other products imported from China into Nigeria.

Back then, I commented on Chinese labour relations in Nigeria and the challenges of fostering the International Labour Organisation’s decent work agenda. My paper pointed to the weakness of the Nigerian government to respond to the maltreatment of its citizens by Chinese companies. I argued that this created a space for both civil and uncivil responses by non-state actors.

In April 2020 – five years later – we witnessed another report of maltreatment.

The second reason is due to Chinese investment in Nigeria.

A good number of Chinese multinationals and small companies operate in Nigeria. Chinese companies in Nigeria are building much needed roads and railways, airports, and telecommunications infrastructure. There are currently about 218 registered Chinese firms in Nigeria. They are involved in construction, furniture, food and beverages, beauty, and product assembling plants, among others.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s trade deficit against China remains huge. Between 2015 and 2018, for instance, the trade deficit stood at N6.83 trillion (which exchanges for about $17.5 billion today) in favour of China. This affirms that China benefits more at the moment. Though accurate data remains difficult to get, it is estimated that total trade between both countries between 2015 and 2018 was about $49 billion. This means that goods imported from China into Nigeria in that period were about $17.5 billion more than those exported from Nigeria to China. In any case, a significant amount of Nigeria’s export to China is a primary product: crude oil.

With the crash in the crude oil price and a global economic downturn caused by the new coronavirus, Nigeria needs Chinese investment and loans now more than ever.

The third reason concerns China’s financing of development projects.

China is a major financier of large projects in Nigeria. These include the $874 million, 187km Abuja-Kaduna rail; the $1.2 billion, 312km Lagos-Ibadan expressway; the $1.1 billion Kano-Kaduna railway lines and the $600 airport terminals in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano.

An estimate puts the current cost of Chinese projects at $47 billion. Many of these are financed by Chinese loans. It will be difficult for a country that relies so much on China to take action against Beijing.

With the poor labour standards in China itself and institutions’ weakness in Nigeria to check periodic abuses of Nigerians by Chinese companies, the chances seem low that Nigerian politicians and government will – or can – seriously respond to Nigerians’ maltreatment in China.

What to do?

The latest treatment of Nigerians in China is a dent on Nigeria-China relations. But if relations are to make progress, at least two important issues must be addressed. First, the Chinese government must do more to educate its people, making ordinary Chinese sensitive to issues of racism.

Second, Chinese citizens in China must understand that their actions could have implications for their compatriots in Africa. This could affect China’s long-term relevance in Africa as a partner.

But these issues concern not just ordinary Chinese citizens. Racism may be a symptom of much bigger problems for the Chinese government. This could be an opportunity for the Xi Jinping government to learn, and more importantly act.The Conversation

 

Abdul-Gafar Tobi Oshodi, Faculty member, Department of Political Science, Lagos State University

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

Published in Opinion & Analysis
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