Items filtered by date: Saturday, 22 June 2019
An Italian aviation interior company, Aviointeriors, has designed SkyRider seats or standing seats for a new ‘Ultra-Basic Economy’ class on planes.
 
Also known as saddle seats, Aviointeriors first introduced them in 2010 to allow airlines to squeeze in more passengers for cheaper airfare.
 
According to reports in India Today, no airlines bought the seats back then but now it seems that budget airlines such as Europe’s Ryanair must be interested and it is possible they might install them on their planes.
 
The company recently launched a new version of the seats named SyRider 3.0 but is still awaiting a buyer for its first batch to be sold.
 
The new seats allow leg space of 23 inches, which is 7 inches less than a normal Economy seat and will also offer storage space that includes a hook to hang your jacket or handbag and a shelf for the carry-on bag.
 
One Twitter user criticised the seats and wrote: ‘What fresh hell for budget airline passengers’.
 
But according to Aviointeriors, sitting on these standing seats is as comfortable as sitting on a horse-saddle.
 
Published in Travel & Tourism
Nigeria and the rest of Africa’s total merchandise trade in 2018 have been estimated to be 997.9 billion dollars, retaining its number one position as the fastest growing regions in the world.
 
Dr Hippolyte Fofack, African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank’s) Chief Economist said this was contained in the African Trade Report 2019 inaugurated on the side line of the on-going Afreximbank Annual Meeting (AAM2019) in Moscow.
 
The World Trade Organisation estimates reviewed that the volume of global merchandise trade grew by three per cent in 2018, down from 4.6 per cent in 2017.
 
Fofack said Africa’s output grew by 3.4 per cent between 2017 and 2018 in spite of the slowdown in global growth during that period.
 
“The findings highlight the resilience of Africa’s economies to global volatility at a time of rising uncertainty, escalating trade wars and tariffs between the United States, China and others.
 
“The resilience reflects the diversification of Africa’s trading partners in the context of South-South trade, growing fixed investment and public and private consumption, boosted by expanding urban populations and softening inflation.
 
“These factors reduce Africa’s exposure to the business cycles associated with individual countries and regions.”
 
Fofack explained that the European Union remained Africa’s main continental trading partner in 2018 – accounting for 29.8 per cent of total trade.
 
He said African trade with the South grew significantly over the last decade to account for more than 35 per cent of the continent’s total trade in 2018.
 
He said China and India further consolidated their positions as Africa’s first and second single largest trading partners, accounting for over 21 per cent of total African trade in 2018.
 
Afreximbank’s chief economist further said the continent’s Intra-African trade also increased steadily in 2018, growing by 17 per cent to reach 159 billion dollars.
 
He said Africa had the potential to do more, adding that its contribution to global trade remained marginal at 2.6 per cent, up from 2.4 per cent in 2017.
 
According to him, intra-African trade rose to 16 per cent in 2018 from five per cent in 1980, it remained low compared to intra-regional trade in Europe and Asia.
 
Fofack said the ongoing digitisation on the continent was paving the way for a new African economy, with e-commerce platforms and internet penetration to a new generation of transnational digital consumers.
 
He then urged African governments to further capitalise on the opportunities associated with digitisation, by bolstering regulatory environments and supporting the development of digital ecosystems.
 
According to him, digitisation can unlock Africa’s potential in driving economic development and the integration of African countries into the world economy.
 
Prof. Benedict Oramah, Afreximbank’s President said: “It is vital that Africa grasped the economic growth opportunities flowing from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, growing domestic demand and population.
 
“And our ever-closer investment and trading links with emerging partners in the South.
 
“We must exert concerted action to ensure that we develop, industrialise, diversify our industries and support infrastructure to foster regional integration and participate fully in regional and global value chains.”
 
More than 100 speakers, including government ministers, central bank governors, international trade organisations, export credit agencies, business leaders, African and global trade development experts, and academics are participating at the AAM2019.
 
The theme of the meeting is ‘Harnessing Emerging Partnerships in an Era of Rising Protectionism.
Published in Business
The US Commerce Department blacklisted five Chinese tech entities Friday in a new move against Beijing’s supercomputing industry.
 
The move is likely to raise tensions ahead of a meeting between President Trump and Xi Jinping next week in Japan.
 
The notice targets Sugon — a prominent Chinese supercomputer manufacturer — along with three of its microchip subsidiaries and a computing institute owned by the People’s Liberation Army.
 
All of the entities will be effectively barred from obtaining US technology after the government determined they were “acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”
 
Trade tensions between the world’s top two economies have spilled over into the tech sector in recent months, with Trump’s administration moving to essentially ban Chinese tech firm Huawei from the huge US market on security grounds.
 
In May, it added Huawei to an “entity list” of companies barred from receiving US-made components without permission from Washington, though the company was granted a 90-day reprieve.
 
Facebook and Google have since both announced they will move to cut off Huawei in order to comply with the US sanctions, further isolating the Chinese tech giant.
 
Beijing has responded with threats to release its own blacklist of “unreliable” foreign companies and individuals that appears aimed at pressuring foreign companies to maintain commercial relations with Huawei.
 
Earlier this month, Beijing summoned executives from American firms Dell and Microsoft and South Korea’s Samsung, among others, to warn them that any moves to ramp down their businesses in China may lead to retaliation, The New York Times reported.
 
Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi are set to meet next week on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan.
Published in Business

For a period of time between 1986 and the early 2000s Uganda was considered to be a country committed to democratic reform. But in recent years the democratic space has shrunk dramatically.

In a recently published journal article I argue that two factors have been crucial. The first is the gradual breakdown of the political consensus that was forged under a ‘broad-based’ government. This consensus resulted in a relatively progressive constitution which was adopted in 1995.

The second is the security imperative which has been accentuated by the fight against terrorism. As a result, the legitimate opposition has become a target of trumped up terror charges.

These two factors have been compounded by incumbent president Yoweri Museveni’s determination to be in power indefinitely. He’s dug in. He wants to rule for life. To stay put in State House, Museveni has had to run roughshod over important constitutional and institutional safe guards, checks and balances that were enshrined in what was a relatively progressive and liberal constitution. His actions have eroded the minimum political consensus embodied in Uganda’s 1995 constitution.

The result has been an erosion of basic democratic institutions, the securitisation of politics, criminalisation of political competition, and an upsurge in contentious politics. The outcome is that the country is facing a deep governance crisis.

How it’s meant to work

To work effectively a democratic government, of whatever stripe and tenor, must be anchored in a set of institutions. It must follow the ‘rules of the game’ that structure and condition actor-behaviour. In many countries the constitution is the primary source of the rules that translate into functional institutions, governmental bodies and state agencies.

But how do the rules of the game come about? They can be imposed through colonial conquest and forceful occupation, or through autocratic leadership. But taking this route is inevitably a recipe for contestation, protestation and even violent confrontation.

The second, and more sustainable, way of establishing the rules of the game is through negotiation, compromise and, in some respects, co-option of key political actors and their constituents. The essence is to arrive at some minimum political consensus that embodies the aspirations and wishes of key political actors and the wider public.

This minimum consensus turns on the basic norms and beliefs about what is acceptable and what is considered outside the bounds of political activity and engagement. Without this it’s not possible to sustain democratic governance.

In the early years of Uganda’s National Resistance Movement there was an attempt to build minimum consensus around some basic rules. This culminated in a constitution being adopted in 1995 that provided for several crucial checks and balances. This included granting parliament autonomy and the judiciary independence. There were also assurances of public accountability through a slew of institutions. These ranged from parliament’s public accounts committee to the Inspectorate of Government and the Auditor General.

But, in my view, the minimum consensus embodied in the 1995 constitution has been ripped apart.

What’s been broken

In 2003, Museveni began his assault on the constitution with a view to deleting presidential term limits. This came after two decades of single-party rule, which was a system of governance that was cleverly packaged as ‘no-party’ politics.

As part of Museveni’s assault on the supreme law there was a turnaround to embracing multiparty politics. In 2005, Ugandans went into a referendum and voted to return to a mulitparty system of governance. But the referendum was no more than a tactical move; it was used as a bargaining chip to remove term limits.

As a result, Uganda has been on a downward spiral since 2006.

By undermining the 1995 constitutional order in pursuit of regime survival, Museveni and the National Resistance Movement have simultaneously eroded minimum consensus and triggered political polarisation. And there has been little regard for policy alternatives and how best to move the country forward in successive election cycles.

This state of affairs has produced toxic politics and a highly adversarial relationship between the political opposition and security agencies, especially the police. The sum of it is that state security and police agencies have placed squarely at the centre of political contestations.

The desire to cling to power has also lead to institutions being undermined. In the judiciary, for example, the appointment of ‘cadre judges’ became pronounced after 2005.

In addition, state patronage, gerrymandering, and outright rigging have been used to manufacture a super majority in the house. Consequentially, Parliament has been grossly watered down and twisted to be at the service of regime survival.

The war on terror

The breakdown of minimum elite consensus has been compounded by the fight against terrorism. Museveni has astutely used this to continue positioning himself as a security president: needed by the west and trusted at home.

For most of the 1990s and early 2000s, insurgencies in the north, northeast and parts of the west of Uganda were the primary source of Museveni’s justification for holding onto power, ostensibly to deal with the insecurity. This security appeal had waned by the 2000s. But it was revived when Al-Shabaab attacked Kampala in July 2010.

The upshot is that the imperatives of security are used to criminalise otherwise legitimate political activities, which has resulted in tension and uncertainty during election time. In addition, opposition leaders are arrested too often. Since 2005 a review of media reports shows that Kizza Besigye – Museveni’s main challenger in the opposition – has been arrested more than 1,000 times.

It has also become routine that whenever Besigye’s allies plan rallies or other political events, their homes are cordoned off by the security forces to stop them from leaving.

All these developments underline the fact that the country is in crisis. It’s only by reaching a new national consensus and enacting rules of engagement that Uganda will detour off its current slippery slope.The Conversation

 

Moses Khisa, Assistant Professor of Political Science, North Carolina State University

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

Published in Opinion & Analysis

Ghana’s economy grew 6.7 per cent year-on-year in the first three months of 2019 compared to 5.4 per cent in the same period last year, the Ghana Statistical Service said this week.

The quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted growth rate was 1.6 percent compared to 1.7 per cent for the last three months of 2018, Professor Samuel Kobina Annim, Government Statistician said at a News briefing.

Non-oil growth for the first quarter stood at 6.0 per cent year-on-year compared to 4.2 last year.

For the first quarter of 2019, the Services sector expanded 7.2 per cent year-on-year with the information and communication sub-sector recording the highest year-on-year quarterly GDP growth rate of 37.0 per cent.

On the other hand, the Finance and Insurance sub-sector recorded the lowest growth of 2.1 per cent, Prof. Annim said.

The year-on-year quarterly GDP growth rate for Agriculture is 2.2 per cent for the first quarter of 2019.

The livestock sub-sector recorded the highest year-on-year growth rate of 5.5 per cent, while the Forestry and logging sub-sector recorded the lowest, with a contraction of 5.8 per cent.

The year-on-year quarterly GDP growth rate for the Industry sector is 8.4 per cent for the first quarter of 2019.

The Mining and Quarrying sub-sector recorded the highest year-on-year quarterly GDP growth rate of 20.9 per cent for the period, while the construction sub-sector recorded the lowest, with a contraction of 8.7 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Producer Price Inflation fell slightly to 6.7 percent in May from 7.1 per cent in April.

The Mining and Quarrying sub-sector recorded the highest year-on-year producer price inflation rate of 15.1 per cent, followed by the manufacturing sub-sector with 6.2 per cent.

The utilities sub-sector recorded the lowest year-on-year producer inflation of 1.1 per cent.

GNA

Published in Economy

Instagram is finally addressing a huge problem on its platform: hacked accounts. 

The company says it is making a series of changes that will make it easier for people to regain access to a hacked account. The update comes almost a year after Mashable first reported that a wave of bizarre hacks had hit Instagram users, leaving them little recourse to get their accounts back.

With the newly announced changes, which are currently being tested ahead of a wider rollout, Instagram will allow users to access its account recovery tools directly in the app, even if a hacker has changed their account information. So when a person is unable to login to an account, Instagram will prompt users to enter information associated with your account like your email address or phone number. (Users can also access this via "need more help" in the app's login screen.)

 
Instagram's new in-app recovery process.
From there, Instagram will send a verification code you can use to access your account. Instagram will also remove any other devices logged into your account, so a hacker who has access to your email will be unable to use the recovery code. 

This may sound fairly straightforward, but these changes address significant issues with Instagram's previous account recovery process. Because hackers often changed the email, phone number, or username associated with an account, it could be incredibly difficult if not impossible for the actual account owner to navigate the automated support system. 

Users have reported Instagram sending recovery emails to the address of their hackers, for example, or inexplicably telling them it could not verify their identity even though they provided the information requested. This caused some people to resort to more elaborate schemes, such as reporting a hacked account for impersonation or leaving voicemails for Instagram support. 

This new process will hopefully make those kinds of moves a thing of the past, as Instagram says its goal is to move the entire account recovery process in-app. Additional support will still be available to those who need it though, according to an Instagram spokesperson.

Notably, this new process will also apply to people whose accounts have previously been hacked and unable to regain access.

Additionally, Instagram says it's addressing another major issue often associated with hacked accounts: username theft. Because accounts that have short or original names are considered valuable and desirable, they often face a disproportionate amount of hacking attempts. Hackers will often change a username in order to scoop it up for a fresh account or sell it on shady forums. 

Now, Instagram says that a previously used username will not be available for anyone else for several days in order to make it more difficult for hackers to steal valuable usernames. (The company isn't disclosing exactly how long names will be inaccessible to others but a spokesperson says it will be "multiple days.")

While it's unlikely these changes will put a stop to hacking attempts, or the massive business of buying and selling stolen accounts, it could make life more difficult for hackers — at least until they find new ways to circumvent Instagram's policies. But it should also give users more power to get their accounts back.

 

Source: Mashable.Com

Published in Telecoms
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