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Tuesday, 13 August 2019
Australia has announced 500 million Australian dollars (338 million U.S. dollars) in funding for the Pacific region to tackle climate change, including disaster resilience and renewable energy investment.
“The Pacific is our home, which we share as a family of nations,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Tuesday, ahead of a visit to Tuvalu to participate in the Pacific Islands Forum.
The aid will also fund a hydro electric power project in the Solomon Islands, roads and bridges in Papua New Guinea and climate resilient schools in Kiribati.
The 500-million-dollar aid commitment over five years from 2020 builds on the 300 million dollars already committed for 2016 to 2020.
In recent years, Australia has faced a serious backlash from its Pacific neighbours for not doing enough to tackle its carbon emissions, continuing to invest in coal production and using Kyoto carry-over credits to meet Paris climate deal targets.
On Monday, Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama asked Australia “to more fully appreciate” the “existential threat” facing Pacific nations, saying Australia should hasten its transition to renewable energy as achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 won’t be possible with the continued use of coal.
Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga, who is hosting the forum, said regardless of how much money is invested, “it doesn’t mean anything if you are contributing to the serious impacts of climate change.”
“Australia needs to do more,” said Claire Anterea, a climate activist based in Kiribati, one of the small island states most at risk due to rising sea levels
Published in World

Authorities at Hong Kong airport on Tuesday suspended all departure check-ins after pro-democracy protesters blocked the facility for a second day.

But according to the AFP, some flights were still arriving and taking off.

“Terminal operations at Hong Kong International Airport have been seriously disrupted as a result of the public assembly,” the airport authority said in a statement.

“All check-in service for departure flights has been suspended since 1630hrs (0930 GMT). Other departure and arrival flights for the rest of the day will continue to operate, and airlines will provide arrangements for passengers who have not completed the departure process.”

“Members of the public are advised not to come to the airport.”

Published in Travel & Tourism

The Hongmeng operating system (OS), also known as Harmony OS, was unveiled last week. Huawei Consumer CEO, Richard Yu, claims that Harmony is “completely different” than Apple and Android’s operating systems.

Yu said that consumers are expecting a “holistic intelligent experience across all devices,” and promises that that Harmony OS will live up to the expectations. He explained at the Huawei Developers Conference:

“To support this, we felt it was important to have an operating system with improved cross-platform capabilities. We needed an OS that supports all scenarios, that can be used across a broad range of devices and platforms, and that can meet consumer demand for low latency and strong security.”

The new microkernel-based, distributed operating system is designed to deliver a “smooth experience,” providing developers with the ability to design their apps once, and “then flexibly deploy it across a range of different devices.”

Seamless, Secure, Smooth and Unified

According to Huawei, the operating system has four distinct technical features.

  • Seamless: First-ever device OS with distributed architecture, delivering a seamless experience across devices
  • Smooth: Deterministic Latency Engine and high-performance IPC
  • Secure: Microkernel architecture that reshapes security and trustworthiness from the ground up
  • Unified: Multi-device IDE allows apps to be developed once and deployed across multiple devices

Yu promises that app developers won’t have to deal with underlying technology when distributing apps with Harmony OS. This will allow developers to focus on their own individual service logic.

As for a ‘smooth experience,’ Huawei confirmed that resources will gravitate towards tasks with high priorities, which in turn will reduce the response latency of apps by approximately 25%.

In addition, Harmony OS will feature enhanced security as the microkernel was designed to simplify kernel functions and implement as many services as possible in the use mode outside the kernel.

Lastly, Harmony OS will be able to adapt to different screen layout controls and interactions automatically. Huawei explains:

The HUAWEI ARK Compiler is the first static compiler that can perform on par with Android’s virtual machine, enabling developers to compile a broad range of advanced languages into machine code in a single, unified environment.

The future of Huawei’s Harmony OS

Huawei plans to scale Harmony to smartwatches, smart cars and smart speakers as well, although it could take up to three years before we see the feature in cars.

The first version of the operating system will be released with Huawei’s Honor later this year. The company didn’t mention specific phone models in the press release, and simply concluded with:

“We believe HarmonyOS will revitalize the industry and enrich the ecosystem. Our goal is to bring people a truly engaging and diverse experience. We want to invite developers from around the world to join us as we build out this new ecosystem. Together, we will deliver an intelligent experience for consumers in all scenarios.”

Published in Telecoms
It has been revealed that Nigerian homes may start experiencing `bomb-like’ explosions in their kitchens soon.
This will be caused, according to a cooking gas advocate, by fake cylinders which are said to have pervaded the Nigerian gas cylinder market.
According to available reports, there is already an influx of fake and sub-standard Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders into Nigeria with N38 million worth of cooking gas cylinders impounded by the Nigerian Customs Service in the latest clampdown on importers of fake cylinders.
Director-General of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Mr Osita Aboloma, on August 1 announced that hundreds of imported cylinders were impounded for failing to meet safety requirements.
Analysts say that N38 million is capable of bringing up to 1.8 million cylinders into the country. According to them, less than one million homes currently use LPG for their cooking in Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous nation.
The Federal Government has recently launched a campaign to ensure that up to 13.8 million households adopt LPG for their cooking in the next five years.
Speaking in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Tuesday, a former National Coordinator of the Women in LPG group, Mrs Nkechi Obi, expressed worry on the consequences of Nigerian homes contending with rampant cylinder explosions in their kitchens.
She warned that such explosions would be unavoidable as long as fake and sub-standard cylinders continued to be imported massively into Nigeria.
According to her, unrestricted importation of fake cylinders is a real and present danger because “it is like bringing explosives into homes, which can be deadly.
“More so, importing cylinders is harmful to the Nigerian economy and goes contrary to the quest by the nation to become self-reliant because cylinders are now manufactured here.
“Using fake cylinders also poses severe danger to our womenfolk, who face daily risk of death or injury in the event of explosion of fake cylinders in their kitchens.’’
Obi, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Techno Oil Group, argued that there was need for government to come hard on countries dumping fake cylinders in Nigeria.
According to her, market report shows that the TechnoGas brand of cylinders, manufactured in Nigeria command more acceptance and better quality, compared with cylinders imported into Nigeria, especially from China.
Obi, a long-time advocate of LPG adoption, lamented that continued importation of cylinders had been hurting Nigerian industrialists, engaged in cylinder manufacturing.
She stressed the need for customs, SON and the Department of Petroleum Resources to raise the stakes to discourage low-grade cylinders from entering Nigeria, to “save our lives’’.
Published in Business

THE Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority has defended its decision to award a solar producing licence to controversial former Eskom chief executive officer Matshela Koko.

Zera acting chief executive officer Eddington Mazambani told Parliament’s Energy and Power Development Portfolio Committee that the energy regulator undertook a due diligence procedure on Koko’s company adding his company has the financial ability to deliver.

“Due diligence was done in issuing the licence to Koko. He has capacity to deliver and is not a listed or convicted person. The applicant has the financial ability to deliver and produce the 100 MW of electricity.

“His technology or plant comes with ability to store power. Matshela ticked all boxes,” said Mazambani.

Mazambani castigated social media and other local newspapers for what he called false impression on Koko.

“We cannot do business based on newspapers and social media,” Mzambani added.

Last month, government announced Koko had been awarded a licence to establish a 100MW solar power plant in Gwanda, Matebeleland South.

In a notice dated July 17, 2019, Zera announced Koko, through his company Matshela Energy (Private) Limited, had been granted a licence to “construct, own, operate and maintain the 100 megawatt solar plant called Matshela Energy – Gwanda Timber Farm Solar Power Plant… for the purposes of generation and supply of electricity.”

Zimbabwe is experiencing severe power outages lasting up to 18 hours daily owing to depressed generation from hydro-powered Kariba Power Station and failing infrastructure at its other coal-powered power stations in Hwange.

Matshela left Eskom in a cloud of controversy after he was linked to irregular coal-supply deals awarded to companies linked to the Gupta brothers, the Indian businessmen at the centre of an influence-peddling scandal.

Zimbabwe has a power deficit of over 1500MW and has had to plead with South Africa to unlock fresh supplies on very stringent conditions.

Zesa is already having problems getting controversial businessman Wicknell Chivayo to deliver on a similar contract.

Published in Engineering

Ethiopia has survived several dark epochs in its long history. One of them is known as Zemene Mesafint – the era of princes. This period, between the mid-18th and mid-19th century, got its name from the Bible because it mimics the biblical “period of judges” in Israel’s history.

Joshua, who guided Israel in the last and critical part of their journey of liberation and helped them to settle in the promised land, had just passed away. Upon his death, the central point in Jewish life started to dissipate. The nation splintered into 12 tribes; a vicious cycle of violence and lawlessness followed.

In the same way, Zemene Mesafint was a treacherous time in Ethiopia. Its union was seriously threatened by power-hungry regional warlords. The nation’s political and institutional architecture was tested as the real power deserted the central government and lay instead with regional leaders.

In the pre-Zemene Mesafint period, monarchs were the symbols of the union. They were supreme judges, responsible for settling political squabbles. Then, there was the church to provide theological justification for the union.

Scholars believe that heightened regionalism during Zemene Mesafint brought Ethiopia to the brink of disintegration. But there are two reasons this may not be the case. First, there is no definitive evidence that the princes or warlords were seeking regional autonomy. Their intentions could be interpreted instead as a way of consolidating their regional power bases with a view to stepping towards the centre.

Second, another powerful non-state actor was in favour of unity at the time: the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. It was a powerful unitary machine whose major aim was advancing its message beyond one region. The Church had a lot to lose from disintegration. It also had a history of unseating leaders who tried to stand in its way.

So religion provided a theologically informed political tool – a national myth of a social covenant – to abate the looming danger. Ordinary citizens used this notion to invent their own version of volksgiest; a way of life. Their principal concern was negotiating their space with ethnic and religious others. Ultimately, the social tool that religious intellectuals deployed to avoid existential crisis became an opportunity that could help to reconfigure the Ethiopian union.

But it proved to be a missed opportunity. The leaders chose coercion, not conviction, as a means of unifying. Its ripples are still seen in Ethiopia today: grievance, entrenchment and revenge are swiftly becoming the new normal. Politicians, activists and media outlets continue to deconstruct old narratives and perpetuate new grievances. Nobody, however, is as busy reconstructing a new, inclusive story.

A new myth

The last three decades in Ethiopia have been a search for a new myth. The ethno-federalist system had legitimate logic: bringing about the dignity of (cultural and linguistic) difference between nations and nationalities. However, its rhetoric was drawn from the difficult past instead of the hope of better future. To make matters worse, it became a breeding ground for social and economic injustice.

In the absence of farsighted political elites who may have been able to craft a new inclusive myth out of the stories of nations and nationalities, ethnic groups had to walk back to find their stories in their own small compartments. This exacerbated narrow ethnic histories and ideals.

The first few months after Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister in April 2018 were a great demonstration of what is missing in Ethiopia.

He did not come up with a new economic programme; nor did he bring a fresh political road map. Instead he emerged telling a new story with the potential to become a new myth. He branded it “medemer” – togetherness. However raw and under-explored, his story was a breath of fresh air. Hope was palpable on the air.

But now it feels as if that were a century ago. The notion of “medemer” needed well-intentioned scholars to play the role of midwife and an unwavering commitment from the Prime Minister himself to nurture this philosophy and to reinforce it with action. This has not happened. And so, a rather hopeful concept which could have become a unifying legend seems to have failed.

A new unionism?

As time passed, the philosophy of “medemer” became a means of pledging support to the Prime Minister.

Even more worrying, it became an all-purpose tool to build a personality cult around the man who gave birth to it. The Prime Minister did not protest this. He did not take an intentional step to detach himself so the philosophy could have a life of its own. Ethiopian intellectuals – who may have been able to guard against exactly this – seem either too entrenched in enthno-nationalist thinking themselves or too politically opportunist to take a critical distance from Abiy.

Ethiopia is now a secular state. No religious group has the sort of legitimacy the Ethiopian Orthodox Church once did to reconfigure the country’s social contract.

How could this situation be turned around?

The answer, I believe, lies with ordinary Ethiopians rebuilding the idea of unionism, whose spirit is far from dead. Instead, it has retreated to the humble corners of the society. It is timidly murmured in prayer rooms, discussed at kitchen tables, embedded in songs that yearn for better days and concealed in sublime art forms. An example is a recent poem by Ethiopian actress and poet Alemtsehay Wedajo:

The brave knows how to forgive,

The hero knows the value of love

The wisest sees mountain’s range,

The weakest, however, would revenge.

The masses – the silent majority – crave forgiveness and peaceful coexistence. They have nothing to gain from conflict and disintegration. No normal ordinary person, regardless of ethnic belonging, is enthusiastic about the uncertainty of possible balkanisation. In Ethiopia, it’s time for a new unionism to find a reliable agency.The Conversation


Mohammed Girma, Research associate, University of Pretoria

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

Published in Economy
  1. Opinions and Analysis


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