As the ongoing inspection of projects by Governor of Akwa Ibom State, His Excellency Mr. Udom Emmanuel receives accolade from the people of the State, the SSA to the Governor on Youth Matters, Mr. Aniefiok IwaUdofia has really commended the proactive & relentless attitude of his boss to bettering the lives of the people through infrastructural renaissance.
According to Mr. IwaUdofia, " Governor Udom Emmanuel is taking infrastructural development as a key item in the completion agenda, which needs constant & periodic inspection to optimize results.
The SSA urged youths to cooperate with various contractors handling all government projects in their respective areas by providing peaceful environment for smooth & rapid completion of jobs.
However, Mr. IwaUdofia also charged youths to be vigilant enough to protect government facilities & check the excesses of vandals & saboteurs who may wish to destroy or undermine the lofty objectives of the government, most especially as the Governor is working tirelessly to ensure the people of Akwa Ibom benefits from many improved infrastructural development put in place to justify the essence of governance.
Africa is likely to become one of the world’s top medical cannabis growers, a group of researchers, scientists and entrepreneurs said on Monday.
Jordan Curl, Cultivation and Extraction Specialist at Israeli Cannabis Research and Investment firm ICAN told more than 500 delegates at the CannaTech conference in Cape Town, South Africa.
“Africa will become the cannabinoid production centre of the world,’’ Curl said.
According to a report by London-based industry body Prohibition Partners, the African cannabis and associated products market is expected to be worth 7.1 billion dollars by 2023.
With the abundant land, a large labour force and an ideal climate for cannabis cultivation, investors have been keen to scout out the continent, and particularly southern Africa. Africa offers growers clean soil, little pollution and many high-quality strains of CBD, one of the most abundant cannabinoids found in hemp, ideally positioning the continent for global exports, according to Curl.
“The EU is in turn likely to become one of the biggest retail market spaces because there is mass demand for CBD but lack of infrastructure to grow and extract,” Curl said.
South Africa is leading Africa’s entry into the global market together with neighbouring Lesotho and Zimbabwe, having recently granted licenses to grow and export legal medical cannabis.
Several other nations, including Swaziland, Uganda, and Malawi, are currently examining legalising cannabis cultivation for medical or industrial applications.
An expansion into Africa is, however, not without challenges, as the legal status of medical cannabis varies from country to country, and in some countries, legislation remains unclear.
Namibia’s South West African People’s Organisation (Swapo) has performed exceptionally well as a governing party among the liberation movements of sub-Saharan Africa. All contemporary liberation movements that subsequently became governing parties remain in power. But none has managed to retain a similar degree of support since independence.
The first democratic elections for a constituent assembly took place under supervision of the United Nations in November 1989. Since then elections for a national assembly and the country’s president have been held every five years.
The last poll was held in 2014, when Swapo scored 80% of the votes. Its presidential candidate, Hage Geingob, came close to 87% of the votes.
One does not need prophetic gifts to predict which party will win in the upcoming elections. Despite some setbacks, such as the failures to live up to the anti-corruption and pro-poor policies promised, Swapo will remain the dominant party. But there might be a reversed trend for the first time in 30 years. For both the party and its presidential candidate the scores could decline.
For three decades Swapo’s grip on power has held firm. Its patriotic narrative remains rooted in the official discourse and daily political culture. Two of its liberation struggle era slogans were: “One Namibia, one nation” and “Swapo is the nation and the nation is Swapo”.
These translated into the false equation that the party is the government and the government is the state. But the electorate gradually changes, and those born after independence from South Africa on March 21, 1990 have become a relevant factor.
Geingob’s increased appeals to national unity indicate that these mantras might be showing signs of erosion. Tirades in the social media show a disrespect for those in power of hitherto unknown proportions and tempt government to discuss regulations.
For the first time Swapo’s presidential candidate might garner less voter support than the party. This would not only dent Geingob’s ego. It would also weaken his authority during his second term in office. And it would influence the decisions over his succession as party president and head of state.
Unemployment in the age group under 35 is approaching 50%. Concerns about this are reflected in the responses of respondents in the latest Afrobarometer survey. Unemployment was cited as the most important matter (52%). Drought (30%), poverty (21%), education and water supply (20% each) followed. Corruption (16%), land (13%) and crime (11%) ranked surprisingly lower.
The country faces a serious economic crisis on the occasion of this year’s 29th Independence Day on March 21. As the local Institute of Public Policy Research concluded in its third quarterly economic report for 2019:
With elections now on the horizon, the current President and Cabinet must decide what their legacy is going to be: will they reform and reverse the decline of the past five years or go down in history as the people who crashed the Namibian economy?
New political parties, even when created by Swapo dissidents, have never managed to establish a sustainable alternative. They snatched votes from other opposition parties to become irrelevant later on.
This time, the new kid on the block is the Landless People’s Movement. It was founded after a fallout of the deputy minister of land with the party over the land policy. Its aim to secure 20 of the 96 elected seats in the national assembly seems wishful thinking.
How many votes the Landless People’s Movement will garner from a Swapo electorate remains to be seen. It is a force to reckon with in the sparsely populated areas south of Rehoboth. But, like many of the existing parties, its basis is likely to be almost exclusively rooted in a particular regional-ethnic stronghold. Most interesting will be whether its support is sufficient to replace the Popular Democratic Movement as the official opposition.
More challenging than the party competition is the direct election of Namibia’s next president. In a surprise move, the Swapo member Panduleni Itula registered as an “independent” candidate, using a loophole in the country’s electoral act. He adamantly claims to have the right to challenge the official party candidate as an alternative while refusing to leave Swapo. He uses the analogy of a family feud, which still allows you to stay in the family while seeking solutions.
Swapo’s internal factionalism seems a motivating dimension. Itula has not disclosed the sources funding his campaign. In pre-election polls published by the local media, Geingob and Itula were neck-and-neck.
Not surprisingly, Geingob is not amused.
Contested voting procedures
If credibility and legitimacy are key, the electoral commission would be well advised to avoid previous mistakes. In 2014 Namibia was the first African country to make use of electronic voting machines. In violation of the electoral law, these had no paper trails. This was not corrected despite a court ruling.
As investigative journalists have disclosed, the electoral commission had “lent” Swapo four of the machines for party internal election purposes in 2017. These have gone missing. The news strengthened the already existing reservations regarding the voting process.
The electoral commission has claimed that in the case of a dispute over the results, there will be a paper trail recording the votes cast. A postmortem paper trail documenting voting, however, is different from a paper trail for the voters to see that they were registered properly for the party or candidate they voted for.
And the winner is?
Namibia’s political stability so far has been vested in the dominance of Swapo. Those opposing its control face an uphill battle. If they make inroads, they should not be sidelined by manipulation of the election results.
After all, democratic governance means respect for the will of the people. It makes democracy the winner, not a party.
South Africa is blocking arms sales to countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in an inspections dispute, endangering billions of dollars of business and thousands of jobs in its struggling defence sector, according to industry officials.
The dispute centres on a clause in export documents that requires foreign customers to pledge not to transfer weapons to third parties and to allow South African officials to inspect their facilities to verify compliance, according to the four officials as well as letters obtained by News Men.
Officials at major South African defence groups Denel and Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) said the dispute was holding up their exports, as did a third big defence company which asked not to be named. RDM said some of its exports to the Middle East had not been approved since March.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which account for at least a third of South Africa's arms exports and are engaged in a war in Yemen, have rejected the inspections which they consider a violation of their sovereignty, the sources said.
Oman and Algeria have also refused inspections and seen their imports from South Africa blocked, the industry officials added.
Government officials in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman and Algeria did not respond to emails and phone calls from Reuters seeking comment, nor did their embassies in South Africa.
Asked about the inspection clause issue, Ezra Jele, South Africa's director for conventional arms control in the defence ministry, said that authorities considered criteria including human rights, regional conflict, risk of diversion, United Nations Security Council resolutions and national interest when evaluating applications for export permits.
He did not comment on specific cases.
The Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association of South Africa (AMD) says the dispute could threaten the sector's survival.
"We've got one clause that's disabling us from exporting 25 billion rand ($1.7bn) worth of value today, right now," Simphiwe Hamilton, the head of the AMD, told Reuters.
The industry body estimates the export blocks put an additional 50 to 60 billion rand in future business at risk and could cause the loss of up to 9,000 jobs at defence firms and supporting industries.
Since democratic rule was established in 1994, South Africa has sought to reform its defence industry - once a pillar of the racist apartheid regime - by making export approvals subject to human rights considerations.
Saudi Arabia is leading an alliance of Arab states, including the UAE, to try to restore the government of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was removed from the capital Sanaa by the Iran-aligned Houthis in 2015.
In February, Amnesty International accused the UAE of diverting arms supplied by Western and other states to militias accused of war crimes in Yemen. In the same month, a CNN investigation said Saudi Arabia and the UAE had transferred American weapons to Yemeni fighters, breaking the terms of their arms sales with the United States.
The UAE did not respond to the Amnesty allegations. The Saudi military coalition did not respond to CNN's allegations, but a senior UAE official denied it violated end-user agreements.
The South African defence industry has become increasingly reliant on exports, which have grown more than 12-fold since 1990 as domestic defence spending has declined.
Exports now make up the bulk of revenues for major defence companies including Denel, Paramount Group, Hensoldt South Africa and RDM, which is a joint venture between Denel and German industrial giant Rheinmetall.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE alone represented a third of South Africa's 4.7 billion rand ($318m) of authorised arms exports in 2018, according to data compiled by the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), a group of ministers and deputy ministers that approves the exports.
'Encroaching on sovereignty'
Requiring buyers not to transfer weapons to third parties is common practice in the international arms trade, stipulated in export documents known as end-user certificates. Requiring inspections, though uncommon, is not unheard of. Germany, for instance, requires them for small arms sales to certain countries.
The industry officials told Reuters that South Africa had long included a clause in its end-user certificates requiring on-site visits, though it was rarely acted upon.
Clients regularly amended or deleted the clause, which was included in an annexe, and the NCACC still granted export permits, they said. But in 2017, arms control officials moved the clause to the front page of the certificates, and some countries refused to sign them, according to the officials.
The clause requires customers to grant "access and permission to South African Government Authority's representative(s)" to verify they are in compliance with South Africa's defence export regulations.
"This is what's making some of these countries uncomfortable," Hamilton said. "You are encroaching on their sovereignty, and they cannot allow that."
An NCACC official, who was not authorised to speak publicly, would not comment on the reason for the new format, and industry officials said they had not been told.
Matters did not come to a head until this year because arms contracts are often signed years before the anticipated delivery date, the company officials said.
Job losses on 'a massive scale'
Some companies have already indicated that they will need to cut more than 500 employees if they cannot export their products soon, trade union Solidarity said.
On July 3, Solidarity and other unions wrote to Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan stating that failure to resolve the impasse would lead to "job losses on a massive and irreversible scale".
"Customers in the UAE have already begun firing trials with China, India as well as Serbia with the intention to replace RDM as a preferred supplier of ammunition," said the letter seen by Press.
Three weeks later, Norbert Schulze, RDM's CEO at the time, wrote to the NCACC urging it to take action.
In his August 5 response, also seen by Reuters, NCACC chairman Jackson Mthembu said the body would not grant an exception.
"The NCACC is aware of the possible loss of jobs occasioned by the inability to export in the time being. However, as your organisation would appreciate, compliance with regulations sometimes produces negative impact," he wrote.
The government is encouraging defence companies to avoid an over-reliance on the Gulf, the NCACC official told Reuters.
But building up business in new markets would take time.
"It's not like selling Coca-Cola. It can take 5-7 years to go into new markets," one defence company official said. "I don't think the politicians are aware [of] how serious this is."
Over 39,000 readers of the UK’s Telegraph newspaper have voted Cape Town, South Africa, the Best City in the World again… for the seventh year running!
The Telegraph joked that its readers are “nothing if not loyal”, adding “astute too… for the beauty of Cape Town… runs deep”.
Describing Cape Town, the Telegraph said: “Set off in almost any direction and you are rewarded with undulating mountain peaks, slopes carpeted in the world’s richest floral kingdom, fertile valleys riven by amber streams, and wind-clipped plains producing unexpected culinary gems.”
The newspaper said “the greatest city in the world is a coastal gem, lying in the shadow of a cloud-hugged mountain. Here wine flows, penguins waddle and – not too far away – majestic beasts roam.”
Some of the highlights of holidaying in Cape Town, mentioned by the Telegraph, include Kogelbaai Nature Reserve and Clarence Drive, Boulders Beach Penguins, Kirstenbosch Gardens, the Winelands, Cape Point, the Bo-Kaap, Table Mountain and the V&A Waterfront (where Siya Kolisi will be switching on the Christmas lights soon!).
The Top 5 Cities in the World (according to Telegraph readers) are: Cape Town, Vancouver (Canada), Kyoto (Japan) which is a new listing in the Top 20, Sydney (Australia) and St Petersburg (Russia). See the Telegraph’s full list here.
Forte Oil (FO) Plc on Monday notified its shareholders of plans for a name change to Ardova Plc.
The company stated this in a notice of Extra General Meeting (EGM) posted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) web site and signed by Oladeinde Nelson-Cole, the acting Company Secretary.
The company would be seeking shareholders resolution for a name change at an EGM slated for Dec. 17.
Nelson-Cole said that the company’s directors at the meeting would be empowered to authorise, approve, sign or execute all documents and appoint advisers regarding the matter where necessary.
The acting company secretary said that they were also expected to comply with the directives of regulatory authorities to make the name change possible.
Nelson-Cole noted that the register of members and transfer of books of the company would be closed from Dec. 6 to Dec. 15, for the purpose of attending the EGM.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that share price of Forte Oil Plc reached a new high on June 19, driven by record off-market trading as Nigeria’s billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola, completed the sale of his stake in the oil and gas company.
Specifically, a total of 970,166,694 units of FO were done as off-market trades at N66.25 per share.
With a torrent of superlatives, U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday introduced to the media the military dog involved in the raid that led to the death of Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“Conan did a fantastic job,” the US president told the White House press corps, assembled for a brief, unannounced ceremony with the Belgian Malinois and its handler.
“So this is Conan — right now, probably the world’s most famous dog.
“So brilliant, so smart,” said Trump, joined for the event by First Lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence who lavished fulsome praise of his own on the four-legged “hero.”
“The dog is incredible,” Trump continued. “Conan is a tough cookie. And nobody is going to mess with Conan.”
According to the US account of the raid on Baghdadi last month, Conan cornered the jihadist leader in a dead-end tunnel in his Syrian hideout, where Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and two children.
Conan was injured by the electric cables exposed in the detonation but appeared to have made a full recovery.
“Conan was very badly hurt, as you know,” Trump told reporters. “They thought maybe he was not going to recover. He recovered actually very quickly and has since gone on very important raids.”
“I love this dog,” declared the president, saying Conan had been awarded a “medal and a plaque” for its service.
The US president — who ended a tradition going back more than a century by not having a dog in the White House — has made much of Conan’s role in the raid.
Trump had highlighted the dog’s injuries when he initially announced the high-profile October 26 operation.
He went on to declassify the military dog’s identity — a closely guarded secret — by retweeting its picture.
And he went as far as publishing a photoshopped image of himself bestowing the canine hero with the Medal of Honor, the country’s highest military distinction.
Monday’s ceremony triggered a brief flurry of confusion when the White House let it be known after the event that the canine “hero” was in fact a female — only to later reverse course, confirming Conan was well and truly a good boy.
Details about Conan’s life, achievements and family background are scant, but he certainly comes from good stock: US Navy SEALs used a Belgian Malinois in the 2011 raid in Pakistan that killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The head of US Central Command, General Kenneth McKenzie, has called Conan a “critical member of our forces,” with an impressive record of 50 combat missions in four years of service.
Calling Conan the “ultimate fighter, ultimate everything,” Trump said the dog was “primetime, age-wise” and nowhere close to retiring.
“I asked one question,” Trump said. “I said, ‘What chance would a strong man have — really strong, tough, a fighter — what chance would this person have against Conan, without the guns? What chance?’ And I guess the answer, pretty much, was ‘none.'”
The US leader also took the opportunity to trumpet once more the raid on Baghdadi, who had led IS since 2014 and at the time of his death was the world’s most wanted man.
“It was a flawless attack,” Trump said. “We have done a lot of work since the raid. Certain things have happened that are very important,” he added, without going into details.
Chinese technology giant Huawei has lost its number-two position in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) smartphone market for the first time since Q3 2018, according to the latest figures from global technology and consulting services firm International Data Corporation (IDC).
IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker shows that the overall GCC smartphone market experienced solid year-on-year (YoY) unit growth of 20.2% in Q3 2019, with shipments totaling 4.84 million devices worth $1.62 billion. Quarter on quarter (QoQ), shipments were only up 2.2%, but this relatively modest at least represents a reversal of the smartphone market's declining trend from 2018.
Samsung continued to lead the pack with 45.7% smartphone share, followed by Apple at 18.0% and Huawei at 17.0%. This represents a considerable turnaround from Huawei's peak share in Q1 2019 (25.7%), when it trailed Samsung by less than 5 points and speculation was rife that it could soon overtake its Korean rival into top spot.
"Unfortunately for Huawei, the dynamic smartphone market had other plans," says Nabila Popal, a senior research manager at IDC. "Its phenomenal growth trajectory took a turn for the worse in Q2 2019, when its share dropped to 21.2% due to its well-documented problems in the U.S. and the huge success of Samsung's A series across the region," says Nabila Popal, a senior research manager at IDC. "As a result, Samsung's share, which had slumped to a low of 29.2% in Q4 2018 as Huawei's march gathered pace, is now back above the 45% mark."
With the exception of Bahrain, each of the GCC country markets experienced QoQ growth in Q3 2019, with the largest increases seen in the UAE (4.4%), Oman (3.4%), and Saudi Arabia (1.9%). It is worth noting that the two largest markets in the GCC – Saudi Arabia and the UAE – both experienced very healthy YoY growth rates of 34.9% and 21.4%, respectively.
"The UAE posted strong quarterly and annual growth, spurred by the timing of new releases from several leading vendors (e.g., Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi) across various different price segments," says Akash Balachandran, a senior research analyst at IDC. "Saudi Arabia's quarterly growth was more modest as the market stabilizes after consecutive quarters of rampant QoQ growth, while Qatar found itself in a similar situation as the market there reaches a degree of saturation. After several quarters of declines, the Kuwait market remained flat, signaling the arrival of some much-needed stabilization, while Oman continues to be affected by a decline in pass-through business to its neighbors and a declining expat population. This latter issue, together with challenges around VAT and utility taxes, saw Bahrain post declines in Q3 2019."
As well as a shifting vendor landscape, the GCC smartphone market is also changing from a price band perspective, with the $100-$200 segment being the only one that is growing. In Q3 2018, 26.2% of GCC smartphone shipments were priced above $600, but that share fell to 20.4% in Q3 2019. The share of devices priced between $200 and $400 dropped from 27.7% to 22.4%, while even handsets priced below $100 saw a drop from 16.8% to 11.8%. These declines were absorbed by the $100-$200 price band, which saw its share rocket from 29.2% to 45.4% over the same period.
"Given the current macroeconomic situation and the subsequent drop in consumer spending in the GCC, this shift comes as no surprise," says Popal. "The $100-$200 segment is the clear hero here as it is able to offer phones at lower prices without sacrificing on high-quality specs such as large screens and high-resolution cameras. Even looking at individual brands, this is the price band that is dominating across almost all vendors – accounting for 64% of Samsung's shipments, 46% of Huawei's, 56% of Honor's, for example. It's clear that many vendors are increasingly focusing on this price segment to account for the shift in consumer spending habits."
The next few quarters will be an intriguing period for the GCC's major smartphone players. Samsung will be keen to see if the success of its A series can continue at its current pace, while Huawei is likely to find it even harder to close the widening gap between itself and the market's leader without being able to launch new phones that incorporate Google services. Meanwhile, Apple is likely to gain share in Q4 due to an increase in shipments of its new flagship devices, which have been very well received in the region but were in limited supply in Q3.
The proposal of eight West African nations to withdraw their currency reserves from the French central bank, has evoked a spate of reactions.
While it has been largely hailed in the African continent, experts fear, the move having implications on the French economy, is fraught with political ramifications.
The move also comes with the decision to replace the CFA franc – the euro-linked currency used in 14 West and Central African countries – with new common West African currency, named eco.
Even though these eight West African countries which include, Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Niger and Guinea Bissau had gained independence years ago, they continued to vest their foreign exchange reserves with the French central bank. They have now decided to move their reserves to Senegal.
"We all agree on this, unanimously, to end this model," Benin’s President Patrice Talon told French media last Thursday.
He claimed that Paris has also agreed to release their reserves, which will now be vested with the Senegal-based Central Bank of West African States.
The CFA, which was specially created in 1945 for the French colonies of Africa, is linked to the euro and its convertibility is guaranteed by France.
According to the arrangement, described by analysts as a colonial relic, these African countries, had to deposit half of their foreign currency reserves, in the French central bank.
A Uganda based analyst Fred Muhumuza said the arrangement was linked to colonial ties with France. Muhumuza, who teaches economics at the Makerere University -- one of largest and oldest institution of higher learning – said that depositing currency in developed countries was aimed to insulate it from political instabilities back home.
"They [developing countries] also keep their reserves in the central banks of developed countries, to get good returns, “he said. Many countries prefer to keep their reserves with the Federal Reserve System or the central banking system of the U.S., as international trade mostly uses the U.S. dollar as exchange.
“It is also true, that these reserves act as a good resource for developed countries and not for their real owners," Muhumuza told Anadolu Agency.
Move to hit French economy
He, however, said the move was fraught with political implications, as it will hit French economy. “Loss of a pool of resources and control of the economies of these countries will have cascading effects on France, which may not take the move lightly. It will be difficult to transfer reserves. There were similar proposals before. They never materialized,” said the experts, adding that he was keeping his fingers crossed.
President Talon agreed that the decision may take time, but it has been adopted at the meeting of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
In July, the leaders of the region also adopted a proposal to introduce single currency -- eco, for the entire region by 2020.
In the first phase, countries with their own currencies (Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone) will launch the eco.
In a second phase the eight UEMOA (West African Economic and Monetary Union) member countries that have in common the CFA franc (Ivory Coast, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali, Togo, Niger, Benin and Guinea-Bissau) will be covered by eco.
The introduction of the eco was initially planned in 2003, but was repeatedly delayed due to various factors.
Chadian President Idris Debby said the move will clear injustice heaped on the African countries for too long. "The injustice has gone for too long. It is time to discuss issues with France to clarify many things, to allow us to have our monetary sovereignty. We do not have it today,” he told a media briefing on Monday.
The West African Economic and Monetary Union consist of Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo from West Africa. The Central African Economic and Monetary Union consists of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon.
“The success of the monetary union will depend on the dispositions of member states especially the Francophone countries who still rely on France for many things,” Bashiru Animashaun, an expert on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), told Anadolu Agency.
Credit: AA News