Nov 01, 2019

The US is taking continues measures to freeze Huawei’s business on the global market but even its allies countries have refused to the US’s request to ban Huawei.

In a fresh development of this story, the US telecom regulator is planning to announce Huawei and another Chinese telecom gear provider as national security risks, proving this decision as another frustrating step by the US government.

At a meeting set for November 19, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said it plans to vote to ask carriers how much it would cost to remove and replace Huawei and ZTE from existing networks and to establish a reimbursement program to offset the costs of removing the equipment, reported Reuters.

“When it comes to 5G and America’s security, we can’t afford to take a risk and hope for the best,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement.

“As the United States upgrades its networks to the next generation of wireless technologies – 5G – we cannot ignore the risk that the Chinese government will seek to exploit network vulnerabilities in order to engage in espionage, insert malware and viruses, and otherwise compromise our critical communications networks.”

Pai first proposed in March 2018 to ban companies that posed a national security risk but did not name any specific. FCC’s top officers arguably believe that the Chinese government and military working in collaboration with such companies.

This latest decision by FCC completely reflects the US government’s will to add to ban Huawei from serving the US companies.

“In 30 years of business, Huawei has never had a major security-related incident in the 170 countries where we operate,” said a Huawei spokesman in Shenzhen, China.

“Today’s proposal, released by the FCC Chairman, only impacts the broadband providers in the most unserved or underserved rural areas of the United States,” the spokesman said. “Such action will further widen the digital divide; slowing the pace of economic development without further securing the Nation’s telecommunications networks.”

Back in May, the US Commerce Department imposed a trade ban on Huawei, alleging of being a national security threat and the company is under control of Chinese law. These allegations are repeatedly denied by the Chinese tech giant.

Under the trade blacklisting, Huawei cannot do business with US firms such as prohibiting the use of Google Mobile services for its smartphones, buying chips and more.

Besides the trade ban, the Trump government creating pressure on its allies countries to ban Huawei from participating in 5G network development, of which they’ve refused to bar Huawei.

 

Nov 01, 2019

A number of African countries are suffering the impact of insect invasions that are threatening food production and livestock production.

To the east, Ethiopia is battling locust invasion whiles further south, Malawi is dealing with tsetse fly attack on local populations after elephants were relocated from a wildlife reserve.

Ethiopia and the desert locust invasion

Ethiopia is working to contain a locust invasion that according to reports affects about four regions of the Horn of Africa nation. The affected regions are Afar, Oromia, Somalia and Amhara regions.

Authorities resorted to the use of aerial spraying of large fields to control the spread and damage caused by the insects believed to be migratory in nature.

The privately-owned Addis Standard portal wrote in a report: “Migrating from Yemen through Djibouti and Somaliland, Desert Locust swarms entered Ethiopia and settled in the breeding sites in Afar, Amhara, Oromia and Somalia regions.

“The swarms have produced hopper bands that have covered more than 174 square kilometer (in 56 Woredas and 1 085 kebeles) and are consuming approximately 8700 metric tons of green vegetation every day. It is estimated that about 30 million hoppers can land on one-kilometer square area.”

Zebdewos Salato, Director of Plant Protection in the Ministry of Agriculture is quoted to have cautioned thus: “The swarms are likely to invade wider areas and cause significant crop, pasture and forest cover losses in eastern Ethiopia.”

To date, the insects have covered 17 370 out of the 28 671 hectares surveyed between July and September 2019.

In July 2019, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, warned that Desert Locust summer breeding, buoyed by heavy rains, could pose a serious threat to agricultural production in Yemen, Sudan, Eritrea, parts of Ethiopia and northern Somalia.

The Organization called on all countries to monitor the field conditions by mounting regular ground surveys and undertaking the necessary control measures whenever infestations were detected.

Malawi fights tsetse flies, disease after wildlife relocated

The relocation of hundreds of elephants to Malawi’s largest wildlife reserve was meant to be a sign of hope and renewal in this southern African nation. Then nearby residents began falling ill.

The cause of the headaches, weakness and pain were trypanosomes, tiny parasites spread by the bite of the tsetste fly — a companion of the elephants. Trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, is the result.

Local families described the toll the disease can take.

“I feel too weak,” said Chiomba Njati, who was still recovering after a week in the hospital. He said he was bitten while farming near the wildlife reserve. “I cannot even carry a hoe and farm. The home is lacking food and other important things because it is my wife doing everything on her own. This is so worrying.”

Authorities said the Nkhotakota wildlife reserve has seen a surge in tsetse fly numbers since around 2015 when the elephants and other game animals were reintroduced.

The local hospital said it did not have a number of sleeping sickness cases. One community resident, Group Village Ngondo, recalled at least five deaths from the disease.

The World Health Organization says sleeping sickness is endemic in 36 countries in sub-Saharan Africa but cases have been dropping. Last year just under 1,000 cases were recorded, a new low. The majority of cases are reported in Congo.

The disease is “notoriously difficult to treat” with drugs and easier to treat when caught early, WHO says. The health agency says it is usually fatal when untreated as the parasite moves into the central nervous system and eventually can cause seizures and coma.

 

Source: AfricaNews

Nov 01, 2019

You want to avoid sanctions for lack of compliance with local content norms in Equatorial Guinea? Easy, start complying. We intend here to provide you the key steps to ensure your local content compliance in Equatorial Guinea. For a full diagnosis of your compliance, please make sure to contact our attorneys on the ground.

The common problems that companies have with local content in Equatorial Guinea

In 2018, the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea informed operators Exxon Mobil, Noble Energy and Marathon Oil that they should stop doing business with several companies because they were not in compliance with local content regulations under the country’s hydrocarbons law and the clauses of their PSCs. The truth is that it was not the first time that happened. In 2015 and 2016, there were also economic sanctions for the breach of local content requirements. With the local content Ministerial order covering only 20 pages, it seems surprising that companies could be risking their operations and contracts over something very straightforward. To understand the catch, read on.

Between 2015 and 2016 in our offices in Malabo, we had the opportunity to assist the Government in a plan that was unprecedented to audit oil and gas companies and verify their compliance with their local content obligations. We were very surprised to see how the legal departments of large oil companies did not know exactly how to protect their organizations against these demands. Because the number of companies that did not comply was very high, the Ministry decided to adopt a more collaborative than penalty approach, without which all operators and contractors would have been sanctioned in some shape of form.

Reserving the confidential client information, we observed that most of the in-house local content departments of these companies have three common problems: 1. determining who is obligated to do what under local content regulation; 2. knowing what local content includes; and 3. correctly developing a local content plan that meets very specific points required by applicable laws.

To examine these common problems, it is necessary to briefly clarify what the local content is according to the legislation of Equatorial Guinea. The keyword of the local content is “privilegio.” This is a set of privileges that companies or physical entities have and whose purpose is to obtain preferential treatment with respect to other companies and people from other places when obtaining contracts in oil & gas and mining. These privileges belong to local companies, companies of the CEMAC community, or African companies.

The local content regulations in Equatorial Guinea are broader than just those set out the ministerial order. They can be found in five main legal documents: the famous decree 127/2004 (amended in April 18 of 2018 by the decree 72/2018) that ensures local participation in the oil industry, the Law No. 8/2006 of November 3rd regulating Hydrocarbons in its articles 88 to 93, the Ministerial order 4/2013 regulating petroleum operations in articles 156 and 157, the Ministerial order 1/2014 on local content. Lastly, all PSCs have very specific local content clauses. The Labor Code also contains laws such as Law No. 6/1992 on national employment policy that also affects companies in the sector, and the list goes on. The question is, how do we put together all the requirements of those laws to get a unique list that tells a company what exactly it should do to comply with local content? While complex, the exercise is feasible and quite straightforward when you know where to start and what to consider.

Because the circumstances and needs of each company are different, local content laws are also flexible. Flexibility in the terms of the law does not mean an exemption from compliance, but compliance mechanisms that can be negotiated with the authorities. For example, you can get more time to meet a specific obligation.

Now that we have outlined the basic frame of local content, we can explore the common problems that companies in the oil and gas sector have when they deal with a local content audit in Equatorial Guinea.

Operators or contractors: who is obligated under local content regulations?

The oil and gas industry is governed by agreements, and many companies have to form alliances and joint-ventures to operate together. This may create doubts about who is obliged to comply with local content laws. According to article 2 of Ministerial order 1/2014 on local content all companies that carry out activities in the petroleum and mining sectors are obliged to comply with local content requirements. This includes: operators, explorers, contractors, sub-contractors and their associates even if they are local businesses. According to this, a) you have to have a contract in the sector and b) you have to operate in Equatorial Guinea. However, despite this clarity, there are many doubts that may arise, for example: what happens to companies that have contracts in the sector but are only licensed to provide material from abroad? Equally, if two companies are linked by a joint-operation agreement, must they comply individually or jointly? Another question that may arise is on whether a local company has to comply with all obligations or if it must simply comply with some. For example, it makes no sense that a local company would be forced to transfer technology just because it is from the oil sector. For such questions that require an interpretation, companies must work with the local content authority to obtain their interpretation in writing. It should never be assumed that a certain obligation is not applicable to a company. This is part of what we consider being flexibility in the local content laws.

The main obligations that any company should pay attention to

Local content is much more than building a primary school in a village or drilling a small water well in a local community. In our experience, it is very common for companies to present small works carried out in the villages as being works of compliance with local content. While the value of such efforts should not be minimalized and corporate social responsibility should be encouraged, a company could still be sanctioned for lack of local content compliance despite having spent money and time on CSR.

Local content mainly includes five obligations that must be structured in detail in a local content plan. These obligations include:

  1. Procurement of goods and services. All necessary goods and services must be hired in order of preference established by the local content regulations. To prove it, companies must keep their invoices or any other document proving that they hired local services. However, it should be clarified that there are limitations to guarantee that the local procurement obligation does not cause prejudice to a) quality (local goods and services must meet international quality standards) and b) price (local goods and services cannot cost more than 10% of what the same good or service would have cost if it had been brought from abroad). That is why we insist that companies should take advantage of this flexibility to adapt each obligation to their particular needs.
  2. Qualified workforce. All workforce must be hired in the order of preference (local, regional and continental). Foreign workforce can be hired only with an authorization, after demonstrating that the company has made substantial efforts to find specialized local workforce and has not found it. However, the authorization to import foreign labor only gives you an extension of time, because the obligation to train local labor prevents you from keeping your foreign workforce over a long period of time. If you have proven your inability to find local manpower for a specific position, you are still obligated to train local talent to fit that role so that you are able to gradually replace your foreign labor.
  3. Technology transfer. This is another common problem for companies. We know that nobody is going to transfer the tools they can earn a profit from, and which gives them an edge on the market. Technology is the greatest power a company can have and today IOCs dominate the market because of their technology, and their edge over NOCs is not only financial but above all technical and technological. Forcing foreign companies, be them IOCs or oilfield services, to transfer their know-how is very complicated to achieve. However, the spirit of the law is not that business or industrial secrets are transferred to local premises. So how do you know that a company transfers technology within the framework of local content legislation? That question is also not easy to answer. However, the practice followed by the authorities is to verify if the company has a plan to ensure that its local resources are technically capable of carrying out their work with the international quality standards generally accepted in the industry.
  4. Training. The clearest and most difficult clause to ignore is that pertaining to the training of local employees in order to enhance their skills. Although this obligation is already included within labor laws, the object and spirit of both laws (labor and local content) must not be confused. What is the difference? If in the labor laws it is envisage that an apprentice gains experience or acquires the skills of a profession or trade, the purpose of the local content is to specialize these in very specific tasks within the petroleum industry so that they are able to carry them out in the future autonomously with the same technical competence as a foreign expert. So, complying with one doesn’t mean that you don’t have to comply with the other. Basically, the local content laws requirements of training start where the labor laws reequipments ends. With the right advise and the correct approach, both laws can be easily complied because there is not necessarily a conflict between them.       
  5. Social Infrastructures development. What does the local content regulations refer to when they impose the obligation to run infrastructure in the communities, and is any particular infrastructure expected to be developed by oil companies and their contractors? Article 93 of the hydrocarbons law says verbatim that “they must (the infrastructures) be of the widest impact on the public.” In other words, infrastructure must be meaningful and of the quality that a community would need.  It’s very important to make sure that the Infraestrure is also sustainable to the community; You don’t want to build a school without a plan to provide teachers nor learning materials or build a health center in a poor community without any nurse. The community need a school or a health center operational, not an empty building. Practical requirements in this regard have to do with a) sustainability over time b) the importance and quality of the infrastructure to substantially improve the life of as many people as possible in a local community.

What should be in your local content plan?

The local content regulations oblige all oil and gas companies to have a detailed, long-term local content plan and implement it. Companies must also demonstrate that they are reasonably executing the plan they themselves have prepared.

The important thing about this plan is that: a) it is flexible, b) it is a plan that can be adapted to the individual circumstances of each company and c) must be approved by the General Directorate of Local Content. The design of the local content plan, its evaluation and presentation to the authorities when undergoing an audit is the most critical part.

Almost all companies that have been sanctioned have breached some of the essential points of their own plan. We can organize these into four large groups: i) Documentation related to the incorporation of the company; ii) Documentation related to the procurement of goods and services; iii) Documentation related to technology transfer and training of personnel; and iv) Documentation related to infrastructure development. Although we do not intend to address all these aspects in details, the following according to our experience are the ones that can create the most problems for a company.

  1. Documentation related to the incorporation of the company:
  • Notary deed duly legalized and registered in the Commercial Registry,
  • Certificate of Tax Identification Number (NIF),
  • Registration of company in the MMIE.

       2. Documentation related to the acquisition of goods and services.

  • List of all partners and suppliers of the company, as well as the contracts, offshore and onshore signed with them,
  • National Content Development Program and its evaluation plan,
  • Detailed report on contracts awarded to local companies,
  • Proof of semi-annual shipments of the updated list of services that the company needs to contract,
  • Proof of payment of social shares to local partners.

       3. Documentation related to technology transfer and staff training:

  • Detailed reports on job vacancies and jobs to be created,
  • Training plan for local employees,
  • List of local staff and their evaluation and promotion system,
  • Annual internship program for students of the National University of Equatorial Guinea.

       4. Documentation related to infrastructure construction (with social impact)

  • Detailed report on Social Work Projects and their degree of compliance.
  • Detailed report on Social Work Projects and their degree of compliance.

How serious is the local content compliance issue?

The highest penalty for breaching local content standards is that the government can order operators to terminate contracts or prohibit them from renewing contracts they have with a company that does not comply; and this has already happened in the past. Other sanctions include financial sanctions that in the past have reached anywhere between $500,000 to $3 million, sometimes more if we analyze the full impact of the consequences of a sanction. Other much lighter sanctions have included a warning with the company being given a short amount of time to meet very specific requirements.

Furthermore, if a company demonstrate a track record of non-compliance, they will lose the confidence not only of the government but of the operators, because every time a company is sanctioned, all its partners are affected in some way.

Conclusion. So far, three things must now be clear: a) failure to comply with local content requirements may jeopardize not just a company's contracts, but its very existence in Equatorial Guinea and its ability to renew or obtain new contracts b) local content is a complex issue but c) managing its compliance is not a big deal providing the right steps are taken early on.

At Centurion Law Group, thanks to the experience that we have accumulated over the years and in several African jurisdictions, we are always willing to assist and advise companies to deal with these problems in the best way so that they can protect their interests and that their operations are carried out without any risk.

Oct 31, 2019

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said today that the popular social media platform will no longer run any political advertising from candidates or about particular issues.

Dorsey announced this on Wednesday, saying Twitter’s position from now on will be that “political message reach should be earned, not bought.”

“We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally,” Dorsey wrote in a Twitter thread.

“A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money.”

Oct 31, 2019

Juventus claimed a 2-1 victory over Genoa after a stoppage-time penalty by Cristiano Ronaldo ensured another Serie A victory for the Bianconeri at Allianz Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Ronaldo returned to action after he was given time-off at the weekend and Juve dropped two points.

Leonardo Bonucci opened the scoring in the first half, as Kouame snatched an equalizer just minutes later.

The Old Lady took to the field in a special kit, a collaboration created with Adidas and Palace. They started the game well by moving the ball fluidly and dominantly in and around the final third.

It was Paulo Dybala, who had just been awarded the MVP for the month of September, who created the first chance on goal when he excellently chested down Juan Cuadrado’s cross and connected onto the volley to fire a powerful effort at goal, which saw Radu fingertip his effort over the bar.

Genoa didn’t get forward often in the opening half an hour, but when they did, they had some promising moves, with Pandev coming close when he flicked the ball over the bar from three yards out.

Juventus came agonizingly close to going a goal up in the 34th minute of the game when Dybala brilliantly dribbled a couple of players before seeing his effort brilliantly pushed away by Radu.

Two minutes later, the Bianconeri found themselves celebrating going a goal up when Leonardo Bonucci connected onto the end of a corner and nodded the ball into the back of the Griffoni’s net.

However, Juventus’ lead would only last four minutes as Genoa made it 1-1 through Kouame. He received the ball unmarked on the edge of the box, and took a swing at goal, but his miskick saw it strike his other leg, seeing it loop past a routed Buffon.

Genoa were reduced to 10 men five minutes into the second half after Cassata was shown his second yellow card of the night.

By the hour mark Maurizio Sarri had made two changes to his side with Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot coming on for Blaise Matuidi and Sami Khedira.

The Bianconeri were turning on the heat and they came close to snatching the lead when a great give-and-go between Bentancur and Dybala saw the Argentine take a shot at goal that narrowly flew over the crossbar. That was followed up by an excellent attempt on goal by Bernardeschi, which was saved by Radu. Two-headed chances then fell to Cristiano Ronaldo, with his one effort being saved off the line by the visiting goalkeeper.

Douglas Costa was then introduced into the game with 11 minutes remaining, and he immediately had an impact when he unleashed a powerful swerving effort that flew over the corner of the goalframe.

RONALDO SECURES THE WIN
Juventus were then reduced to 10-men in the 87th minute when Rabiot was shown a second yellow.

Ronaldo thought he had secured the match-winner when he tapped home a cross inside the box, only for VAR to rule out his strike offside. But seconds later he would then ensure all three points for his side when a penalty was awarded to Juventus after he was brought down in the box.

The Portuguese stood up to take the spot-kick and made no mistake in converting the penalty with a low hit into the bottom left corner.

Oct 31, 2019

Juventus claimed a 2-1 victory over Genoa after a stoppage-time penalty by Cristiano Ronaldo ensured another Serie A victory for the Bianconeri at Allianz Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Ronaldo returned to action after he was given time-off at the weekend and Juve dropped two points.

Leonardo Bonucci opened the scoring in the first half, as Kouame snatched an equalizer just minutes later.

The Old Lady took to the field in a special kit, a collaboration created with Adidas and Palace. They started the game well by moving the ball fluidly and dominantly in and around the final third.

It was Paulo Dybala, who had just been awarded the MVP for the month of September, who created the first chance on goal when he excellently chested down Juan Cuadrado’s cross and connected onto the volley to fire a powerful effort at goal, which saw Radu fingertip his effort over the bar.

Genoa didn’t get forward often in the opening half an hour, but when they did, they had some promising moves, with Pandev coming close when he flicked the ball over the bar from three yards out.

Juventus came agonizingly close to going a goal up in the 34th minute of the game when Dybala brilliantly dribbled a couple of players before seeing his effort brilliantly pushed away by Radu.

Two minutes later, the Bianconeri found themselves celebrating going a goal up when Leonardo Bonucci connected onto the end of a corner and nodded the ball into the back of the Griffoni’s net.

However, Juventus’ lead would only last four minutes as Genoa made it 1-1 through Kouame. He received the ball unmarked on the edge of the box, and took a swing at goal, but his miskick saw it strike his other leg, seeing it loop past a routed Buffon.

Genoa were reduced to 10 men five minutes into the second half after Cassata was shown his second yellow card of the night.

By the hour mark Maurizio Sarri had made two changes to his side with Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot coming on for Blaise Matuidi and Sami Khedira.

The Bianconeri were turning on the heat and they came close to snatching the lead when a great give-and-go between Bentancur and Dybala saw the Argentine take a shot at goal that narrowly flew over the crossbar. That was followed up by an excellent attempt on goal by Bernardeschi, which was saved by Radu. Two-headed chances then fell to Cristiano Ronaldo, with his one effort being saved off the line by the visiting goalkeeper.

Douglas Costa was then introduced into the game with 11 minutes remaining, and he immediately had an impact when he unleashed a powerful swerving effort that flew over the corner of the goalframe.

RONALDO SECURES THE WIN
Juventus were then reduced to 10-men in the 87th minute when Rabiot was shown a second yellow.

Ronaldo thought he had secured the match-winner when he tapped home a cross inside the box, only for VAR to rule out his strike offside. But seconds later he would then ensure all three points for his side when a penalty was awarded to Juventus after he was brought down in the box.

The Portuguese stood up to take the spot-kick and made no mistake in converting the penalty with a low hit into the bottom left corner.

Oct 31, 2019

12 Nigerien soldiers killed by Boko Haram in predawn raid at a military base

In a predawn raid Wednesday on a military base in southeastern Niger’s Diffa region, gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members killed 12 soldiers and wounded at least eight others.

A government statement said the casualty figure, arising from the attack on the Blabrine military unit,is provisional.

The attack was “very probably” carried out by Boko Haram, the statement added.

This was the latest in a string of increasingly brazen attacks near Niger’s border with Nigeria, where the radical Islamist insurgency has claimed hundreds of lives.

The attack was launched at around 3:00 am (0200 GMT), a municipal source told AFP earlier on condition of anonymity.

A senior official in Diffa added that military equipment had been torched in the attack.

Diffa, which borders the birthplace of Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria, has been hit by repeated cross-border attacks by the Nigerian jihadist group since 2015.

There was a lull in the attacks late last year, but they have ramped up since March when 10 civilians were killed by a suicide bomber in the town of N’Guigmi, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Blabrine base.

The mayor of Kabalewa, a village close to N’Guigmi, and his wife were kidnapped by Boko Haram members earlier this month.

The jihadist group has also previously carried out large-scale assaults on military posts, including a raid on a base near the southeastern town of Bosso in 2016 in which 26 soldiers were killed.

Boko Haram, loosely translated as “Western education is banned”, wants to create a hardline Islamic state.

A regional military coalition is battling the group, but the decade-long insurgency has killed at least 35,000 people in Nigeria alone.

Located in the Lake Chad basin in the middle of the Sahel, the Diffa region is home to 120,000 refugees from Nigeria fleeing the Boko Haram violence, as well as 110,000 people internally displaced within Niger, according to UN data released this month.

The region has also seen flooding after heavy rains caused the Komadougou Yobe river to burst its banks, affecting at least 40,000 people, the government has said.

Oct 31, 2019

The United States’ crude oil imports increased while exports decreased during the week ending Oct. 25, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said Wednesday.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 6.70 million barrels per day (b/d) last week, up by 840,000 b/d from the previous week, while crude oil exports averaged about 3.33 million b/d, down by about 356,000 b/d from the previous week, according to the Weekly Petroleum Status Report.

Over the past four weeks, crude oil imports averaged about 6.27 million b/d, down by 1.24 million b/d year-on-year, while crude oil exports averaged about 3.42 million b/d, up by about 1.16 million b/d year-on-year, reported Xinhua.

Oct 31, 2019

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) on Tuesday approved a $165 million loan to finance part of Angola’s three-year economic diversification support program intended to restore the country’s macroeconomic stability.

The Angolan government is implementing reforms to diversify its oil-dependent economy and has adopted measures to improve human and social development to restore fiscal balance after the economy was hit by a global slump in oil prices and repeated droughts.

According to a statement released on Wednesday and made available to press by the body, the program aims to prioritize and promote the production and export of non-oil products and to start to substitute imports through diversification. It forms part of the country’s 2018-2022 national development plan.

“There are three main components in the plan; advancing fiscal consolidation through improved public financial management and tax reforms; accelerated implementation of the diversification program; and improving governance in natural resource management and state-owned enterprise reform.” The statement said.

Abdoulaye Coulibaly, African Development Bank director at the governance and public financial management department, said the loan will contribute significantly to the government’s stabilization plan and provide a conducive private sector environment.

“For the past two years we have felt that the authorities are quite committed to make changes. Many concrete measures have been taken… We expect that the program will ultimately impact positively on macroeconomic stability, economic diversification and poverty reduction” Coulibaly said, adding that the country was on track to meet its benchmarks for 2019.

The reforms are expected also to improve state-owned enterprises (SOEs) transparency and increase the availability of SOE financial and performance data which will in turn improve corporate governance and enhance the performance of SOEs, reducing the need for subsidies, he added.

In approving the loan, Board members called for the monitoring of Angola’s high public debt levels, estimated at about 90% of GDP, and projected to ease to around 60% by the end of the program period. They praised renewed efforts by the Angolan government to curb public sector corruption and step up good governance which had deteriorated.

“A sharp decline in oil prices since 2014 has harmed the economy, and real GDP shrank by 0.2% in 2017 and an estimated 0.7% in 2018 while fiscal revenues declined by more than 50% between 2014 and 2017. Public debt, largely external, increased from 40.7% of GDP in 2014 to an estimated 80.5% in 2018, raising concerns about its sustainability.

“The Bank Group has regularly provided diversified support covering agriculture, rural development and environment, health and education, water and sanitation to Angola’s development efforts. To date, the Group has provided eight loans for a total of $122.4 million to the country”, the statement informed.

Oct 31, 2019

Plastic milk bottles are being recycled to make roads in South Africa, with the hope of helping the country tackle its waste problem and improve the quality of its roads.

Potholes cost the country's road users an estimated $3.4 billion per year in vehicle repairs and injuries, according to the South African Road Federation, as well as damaging freight.

In August, Shisalanga Construction became the first company in South Africa to lay a section of road that's partly plastic, in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province on the east coast.

It has now repaved more than 400 meters of the road in Cliffdale, on the outskirts of Durban, using asphalt made with the equivalent of almost 40,000 recycled two-liter plastic milk bottles.

Milk Bottle

Road to recycling

Shisalanga uses high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a thick plastic typically used for milk bottles. A local recycling plant turns it into pellets, which are heated to 190 degrees Celsius until they dissolve and are mixed with additives. They replace six percent of the asphalt's bitumen binder, so every ton of asphalt contains roughly 118 to 128 bottles.

Shisalanga says fewer toxic emissions are produced than during traditional processes and says its compound is more durable and water resistant than conventional asphalt, withstanding temperatures as high as 70 degrees Celsius (158F) and as low as 22 below zero (-7.6F).

The cost is similar to existing methods, but Shisalanga believes there will be a financial saving as its roads are expected to last longer than the national average of 20 years.

"The results are spectacular," says general manager Deane Koekemoer. "The performance is phenomenal."

Unlike in Europe, for example, where recyclable plastic is often collected directly from homes, in South Africa, 70 percent is sourced from landfill. The plastic will only be taken from landfill if there is somewhere for it to go -- such as into roads. Shisalanga says that by turning bottles into roads it is creating a new market for waste plastic, allowing its recycling plant partner to take more out of the nation's dumps.

Kit Ducasse, control technician at the KZN Department of Transport -- which commissioned the plastic repaving -- is "impressed" with the road and has now commissioned a highway on-ramp in addition to the first road. "It's working so well," he says. "Time will tell, but what I've seen is great news."

Shisalanga has applied to the South Africa National Roads Agency (SANRAL) to lay 200 tons of plastic tarmac on the country's main N3 highway between Durban and Johannesburg and is awaiting approval for the project.

If it meets the agency's requirements, the technology could be rolled out across the nation. Since SANRAL's standards are so high, Shisalanga hopes it would then be able to meet the strictest regulations across the world.

Tackling the plastic problem

India began laying plastic roads 17 years ago, and the concept has been tested in locations across Europe, North America and Australia. But there are concerns over potential carcinogenic gases created during production and the release of microplastics (tiny particles of plastic) as the roads wear away.

"Such issues have to be ruled out, otherwise we're going to contribute to and not alleviate the national environmental waste problem," says Georges Mturi, senior scientist at CSIR.

Shisalanga has spent five years researching the technology. Its technical manager Wynand Nortje says its method of melting the plastic into the bitumen modifier minimizes the risk of microplastics. "The performance of our plastic mix is better than traditional modifiers, the fatigue seems improved and resistance to water deformation is as good or better," he adds.

Roads are one of many creative solutions to reusing plastic waste. Companies around the world are turning it into bricks, fuel and clothing.

Some other international companies have even found ways to repurpose so-called "non-recyclable" plastic into roads. But Mturi at CSIR believes this is currently too risky in terms of emissions and microplastics, because the properties of this plastic are so variable.

Still, Koekemoer hopes to expand into using non-recyclable plastic in the future, allowing the company to get even more waste plastic out of the environment.

"We're taking plastic out of our dumps (landfills) and we're reducing our pollution problem, and to top it off we've produced a product that's far superior to alternatives," says Koekemoer. "We're leading the global curves."

 

Source: (CNN Business)

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