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Wednesday, 06 November 2019

Political parties in Britain officially began the five-week campaign to elect members of Parliament in the snap poll slated for December 12.

Public opinion polls put the ruling Conservatives far ahead of opposition Labour Party, but the latter has warned pundits not to take the poll numbers seriously.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the snap election in a bid to break the Brexit deadlock that he said has paralysed Britain for more than three years and had started to undermine confidence in the world’s fifth largest economy.

But just an hour after meeting Queen Elizabeth to formally begin the election campaign, Johnson’s minister for Wales, Alun Cairns, resigned after being accused of lying about his knowledge about an aide who allegedly sabotaged a rape trial.

At the start of the campaign, Johnson’s Conservatives enjoy a lead over the opposition Labour Party of between 7 and 17 percentage points, though pollsters warn that their models are wilting beside the Brexit furnace.

“Let’s get Brexit done,” Johnson, 55, said outside his Downing Street official residence, adding that Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn would bring yet more turmoil with fresh referendums on EU membership and Scottish independence.

“Come with us, get Brexit done and take this country forward, or, and this is the alternative next year, spend the whole of 2020 in a horror show of yet more dither and delay,” he said.

Johnson said Corbyn hated wealth and was thus like Soviet leader Josef Stalin – who sent millions to their deaths in labour camps. Corbyn said such remarks were “nonsense” that the super-rich came up with to avoid paying more tax.

Election gamble

Johnson, 55, hopes he will win a big enough majority in parliament to get the Brexit deal he agreed with Brussels last month ratified and lead Britain out of the EU at the end of December or in January.

After failing to deliver Brexit on October 31, Johnson said his party offered the only way to deliver Brexit and painted Labour’s Corbyn as a socialist wrecker determined to bring in yet more political crisis.

“They pretend that their hatred is directed only at certain billionaires – and they point their fingers at individuals with a relish and a vindictiveness not seen since Stalin persecuted the kulaks,” Johnson wrote in an article for the Daily Telegraph newspaper. “They would destroy the very basis of this country’s prosperity.”

Speaking at a campaign event in the English town of Telford on Wednesday, Corbyn said Labour would deliver real change and share power and wealth with people who “don’t have friends in high places”.

“They quite shamefully think the victims of Grenfell fire died because they didn’t have the common sense to save themselves,” Corbyn said. “I’ll tell you what’s common sense -don’t put flammable cladding on people’s homes.”

He also cautioned against believing the consensus view that Johnson was assured victory, citing the 2017 election when Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, bet on calling a snap election when also far ahead in the polls but lost her majority.

“In the 2017 election, there were queues of experts … lining up at the beginning of the campaign to write off the Labour Party, and what happened then?” Corbyn said.

Published in World
Wednesday, 06 November 2019 18:02

China, France sign deals during Macron’s visit

China and France signed contracts totaling $15 billion during a visit by President Emmanuel Macron, a Chinese government official said at a news briefing on Wednesday.

Deals were struck in the fields of aeronautics, energy, and agriculture, including approval for 20 French companies to export poultry, beef, and pork to China.

They also agreed to expand a protocol for poultry exports reached this year to include duck and geese as well as foie gras, and to work on a protocol allowing France to export pig semen to China, according to a statement from the French president’s office.

Macron arrived in China on Monday and was due to leave later on Wednesday.

Published in Business

MTN partners with Y’ello Digital Financial Services (YDFS) to launch ‘MoMo Agent’

MTN Nigeria launched ‘MoMo Agent’, a financial services product by its subsidiary, the Y’ello Digital Financial Services (YDFS) in Owerri, Imo state.

YDFS in collaboration with MTN officially launched the product on Wednesday at the Relief Market, Owerri.

Some of the traders expressed joy over the product and commended MTN for bringing easy financial services to their doorsteps. Traders were signed up as MoMo Agents as customers carried out on-the-spot transactions and were treated to impressive musical performance and gifted with several household items via a raffle draw.

Mrs. Chinyere Ajuzieogu, who deals in textile materials, was full of praises for YDFS and MTN.

“We no longer have to go to the bank to send money to customers. Now we can do it from the comfort of our shops and even get some commission. I am grateful to MTN and their subsidiary,  the YDFS for helping us ease financial transactions,” she said.

The  Activation Manager, Mobile Financial Services, YDFS, Mr. Daniel Orobiyi said that there were over a thousand registered MoMo Agents and counting in the State.

He added that the subsidiary would roll out about 500,000 Agents across Nigeria adding that the launch had already taken place in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, and Kano, after the official launch in Abuja on August 29.

Published in Telecoms

Mr Bryon Wilfert, Executive Vice President, Canada Trade Link, said on Tuesday in Abuja that Nigeria had the best market place for business to grow in Africa.

Wilfert made the remarks at a two-day Nigeria-Canada Investment Summit 2019, holding at the Transcorp Hilton.

The summit has the theme: “Reaching Greater Heights’’. 

He said that the private sector was the key driver of any trade and investment business, which also created job opportunities. 

He said that there was a great and bright future for Nigeria and Canada, but investors needed to be patient as they invested.

He added that in business and investment, investors needed to play with local players as these are the people that know about the areas of investment.

“There is a lot of noise about Nigeria and the issue of diversifying opportunity.

“But for anyone to understand a country, you need to be there because you hear a lot of things that are not true.

“Nigeria has a great entrepreneurial spirit, which is essential in providing good healthcare facilities and education.

“Canada has a lot to offer with its liberation policies for business merging and we are looking for new market and Nigeria is the market for such in Africa,’’ Wilfert said. Also speaking, Babatunde Fowler, the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue (FIRS) said Nigeria had ‘dangerous profit’ margins when investors invest in Agriculture.

“If you’re looking for ‘dangerous profit’, come and invest in Nigeria’s agriculture sector, because it has dangerous profit in crops like ginger, sesame seeds and others,’’ Fowler said.

Also speaking, Dr Jumoke Oduwole, Secretary/Coordinator, Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) explained that the council’s mandate was to change the perception of doing business in Nigeria.

She said that the African region had improved in the last few years by the World Bank’s standard of business indicators. Oduwole said that when the administration decided to reform the business environment, the first thing the government did was to make business easy in Nigeria.

She added that the government removed bureaucratic bottleneck for the easier and fastest way to do business in the country.

“The African region has been the most improved in the last three years if you take the World Bank business indicators, which of course makes the entire region priority.

“The situation economically was to make sure that the business environment was more conducive to attract more investments and to grow those investments.

“ It was also to attract foreign investments and to grow domestic investments as well,’’ she said.



Published in Business

While Black Friday may have originally started in the US, its worldwide popularity has soared in recent years with countries across the globe getting in on the action.

However, research has shown that the Black Friday phenomenon has grown faster in South Africa than any other country in the world. 

Black Friday traditionally kick-starts the holiday shopping season. In South Africa, it has snowballed into a whirlwind of big-ticket discounts across all categories, making it the most popular time of the year to splurge.

In the past year, a couple of popular South African retailers’ pricing and advertising has come under scrutiny, making it even more important for consumers to ensure they do their homework before spending on any big-ticket items this Black Friday.

According to PriceCheck chief executive Chloe Lötter, comparison tools are just as important to retailers as they are to consumers, particularly during periods of increased online spending such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Online retail is projected to reach 1.4 percent of total retail in South Africa, based on an estimated R1 trillion to be spent via traditional channels in 2018, according to findings of the Online Retail in South Africa 2019 study, conducted by World Wide Worx with the support of Visa and Platinum Seed.

“With the large discounts and small margins over the November period, retailers should rather look to use Black Friday as an opportunity to acquire new users, reactivate dormant users, and delight existing customers,” said Lötter.

While many consumers are prone to spend more impulsively on Black Friday, Lotter cautions that they do their homework and remain vigilant. She advises to watch out for fraudulent offers, always use safe payment methods, ensure the product is in stock, take note of delivery and return policies, and keep an eye out for hidden costs.  

With more than 16 million products to search and compare from more than 550 of South Africa’s trusted retailers, it’s hard to argue with this logic.

How to get the best Black Friday deals:

  1. Compare products and prices online to see which retailer has the best deal
  2. Make a wishlist
  3. Bookmark your favourite pages so you can access them quickly
  4. Look out for our Black Friday promotion pages

Pre-Black Friday survivor’s guide:

  1. Make sure your phone, tablet, or laptop is charged and you have enough data to browse for your favourite products and deals
  2. Set a budget
  3. Shop online to avoid the queues and the risk of certain stores not having stock
  4. Set up an account on your preferred retailers ahead of time to make the checkout process quicker
  5. Most online deals will update at midnight so stay up late to be the first to shop

Content supplied by PriceCheck/BUSINESS REPORT. 

Published in Business

Most of the large fishing vessels that operate in West Africa are from distant water fishing nations – such as countries in the European Union (EU) and China and Russia. To get permission to fish in West African waters they form agreements in exchange for a fee that is payable to the government.

But these agreements have been criticised for contributing to the over-exploitation of fish stocks in the region. Specifically affected are, Guinea-Bissau, Côte d′Ivoire, Liberia, Cape Verde, Mauritania, Senegal and The Gambia.

So far, over half of the fisheries resources in waters off West Africa are already over-fished.

In our recent paper, my colleague Dyhia Belhabib and I show that the EU’s agreements with West African countries continue to target fragile fish stocks. This is despite the fact that the EU is bound by policies that are meant to protect fish stocks.

EU activities alone are not to blame for over-fishing in the region. The impact of trawling by other countries, like China, is well-documented. But, through its fisheries policies, the EU has a commitment to sustainable fishing. It also continues to enter into fresh agreements with countries, despite evidence of serious population declines in the species of interest.

Marine fisheries play a significant role in the food and economic security of millions of people in West Africa. If stocks are depleted, small-scale fishers that depend on them won’t be able to make a proper income and many people will lose their main source of protein. Competition for depleting resources is already leading to conflict between fishers and foreign fishing vessels.

It is crucial that these natural resources are better protected. We propose that one way to do that is for countries to renegotiate their naively low royalties with the EU. And there needs to be more investment in marine enforcement.

What we found

The original objectives of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy was to preserve fish stocks, protect the marine environment, ensure the economic viability of European fleets and provide consumers with quality food.

In our paper we argue that the policy protects EU waters, but damages the marine environment of third countries to which it has now been extended.

We also argue that subsidies under the policy are a key driver of this over-exploitation of fisheries in third countries. For instance, these subsidies incentivise the construction of new vessels to allow boats to go farther and remain active at sea for longer, and even support the fuel costs for these more extensive activities.

And we highlight that abuse by EU vessels undermines local food security and provokes conflict with artisanal fishers. This is because demand in EU countries has led to EU vessels targeting fragile fish species such as the European anchovy, bigeye grunt, sardinellas, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna and swordfish.

Our study used a review of existing literature and policy documents. This included an analysis of catch data between the EU and countries with whom it has fishing partnership agreements in West Africa, between 2010 and 2014.

We then cross-referenced EU catches with the exploitation status of certain species extracted from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. The categories we used were:

  • Fully exploited: this means that there’s no room to catch more of that fish species,

  • Over-exploited: this means that too many are being caught and that numbers will decline, and

  • Depleted, which means that the number of fish stock are at the lowest they’ve ever been.

We found that, of the species caught by EU vessels:

  • Over 20% of the species in Sao-Tome and Principe were over-exploited; 10% of the species caught in Liberia are fully exploited. In Mauritania we found that 41% of the species caught are over-exploited and 5% are fully exploited while in Guinea-Bissau, 7% of the species are over-exploited and 21% are fully exploited.

  • In The Gambia, 55% of species caught are over-exploited and in Cape Verde 28% of the species caught are over-exploited. In Côte d'Ivoire, 23% of species caught are over-exploited.

We also found that the EU selectively applies regulations when it comes to preventing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The EU issues warnings (yellow) or a complete ban in fish trade (red) to countries that are not making their fisheries more sustainable. This is when there are inadequate local provisions, like laws and enforcement measures.

We uncovered a trend. Yellow cards are issued to countries with whom the EU have a high level of trade, and a ban to countries where it has less fishing trade.

Guinea-Bissau, for example, has not received a warning despite evidence of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. Its maritime enforcement agencies aren’t adequately equipped to monitor the activities of vessels operating in its waters.

Moving forward

We recommend that the EU review the implementation of the provisions of its Common Fisheries Policy, including the terms of their subsidies which have been identified as being harmful to sustainable fisheries. West African countries should also do far more to ensure that future and renewed fishing agreements are negotiated more robustly.

It is possible. For instance Guinea-Bissau was firm in its negotiations over a new agreement with the EU when its old one expired in 2017. After a year of negotiations, the EU offered a much better deal than previously proposed. In return for providing five years of access to 50 EU fishing vessels, the EU will pay Guinea Bissau €15.6 million per year. The previous agreement’s rate was €9.2 million.

They were also required to put more investment into effective marine governance and enforcement.


Dyhia Belhabib is a Principal Investigator, Fisheries, ECOTRUST CANADAThe Conversation

Ifesinachi Okafor-Yarwood, Graduate Teaching Assistant, King's College London

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

Published in Agriculture

Volvo Trucks announces the start of sales of its Volvo FL and Volvo FE electric trucks in selected markets within Europe, meeting the increasing demand for sustainable transport solutions in city environments.

In the absence of exhaust emissions and with reduced noise levels from electric trucks offer huge potential in urban areas. First, the reduced noise levels make it possible to carry out deliveries and refuse collection in early mornings, late evenings or even at night, helping to improve transport logistics and reduce congestion during peak hours. Second, with better air quality and less noise, electric trucks create new opportunities for city planning and road infrastructure. An electric truck can, for example be used in indoor loading areas and environmental zones. 

“Global urbanization requires urban logistics and truck transport with zero emissions and less noise with increasing urgency. With the Volvo FL Electric and Volvo FE Electric we are able to meet both the strong environmental demands as well as the high commercial requirements of our customers,” says Jonas Odermalm, VP Product Line Electromobility.

One challenge is to maximize the payload at the same time as optimizing the driving range. 

“Volvo Trucks’ solutions will be based on individual business needs that consider a number of parameters, such as driving cycles, load capacity and route analysis, to use the battery capacity in the most efficient way possible,” continues Jonas Odermalm.

Volvo FL Electric and Volvo FE Electric were developed in close collaboration with selected customers operating in Gothenburg, Sweden. Feedback has been very positive, and the drivers involved in the collaboration are particularly impressed by the responsive driveline, seamless acceleration and how quiet the trucks are. 

“While customer feedback has been positive,” explains Jonas Odermalm, “we do recognize that charging infrastructure is still under development in most cities and we are working alongside both public and private partners to agree on a long-term strategy for the expansion of charging infrastructure. But it’s clear that the pace of development of charging infrastructure needs to increase.”

Published in Engineering
  1. Opinions and Analysis


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