Items filtered by date: Saturday, 13 July 2019
Outgoing British Prime Minister, Theresa May, said she regrets allowing too much polarisation over Brexit and avoiding televised debates before a disastrous snap election in 2017, in an interview published on Friday.
 
May resigned as leader of the ruling Conservatives in June after she conceded defeat in her two-year battle to persuade parliament to approve the deal she had agreed to with Brussels for Britain to leave the EU.
 
“I did everything I could to get it over the line.
 
“I was willing to sit down with (opposition Labour leader) Jeremy Corbyn, willing to sacrifice my premiership, give up my job!” May told the popular right-wing tabloid The Daily Mail.
 
“I had assumed mistakenly that the tough bit of the negotiation was with the EU, that parliament would accept the vote of the British people (in the 2016 Brexit referendum) and just want to get it done.
 
She said that people who’d spent their lives campaigning for Brexit would vote to get us out,” she said. “But they didn’t.”
 
May agreed that she should have done more to halt “the polarisation between the language of soft and hard Brexit” that divided the Conservative and Labour parties, as well as British voters.
 
She is expected to hand over the reins on July 24 to the victor in a run-off to succeed her as leader of the Conservatives and the country, after a vote by the party’s 160,000 members between strong favourite Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
 
Johnson is backed by many of the “hard” Brexiteer Conservative lawmakers who strongly opposed May’s deal and played an important role in pushing May to resign.
 
May said she also regrets her refusal to take part in televised debates before a disastrous snap election in June 2017.
 
“I should have done the TV debates. I didn’t because I had seen them suck the lifeblood out of David Cameron’s campaign,’’ she said, referring to her Conservative predecessor as prime minister, who resigned after losing the Brexit referendum.
 
May called the 2017 snap election to ask voters to back her leadership and her Brexit plan, but she lost her majority in parliament, forcing her to rely on Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to keep her in power.
 
She previously expressed regret that her focus on Brexit prevented her from promoting plans to improve social cohesion in Britain.
 
On Friday, she announced a new Office for Tackling Injustices to monitor progress by all government agencies in tackling social injustices.
 
“Deep-seated societal injustice requires a long-term focus and cannot be eliminated overnight,” May said in a statement.
 
She said she is “proud” of her efforts as prime minister to “make the UK a more just society.”
 
The new office “will go further, using the power of data… to shine a spotlight on key injustices and provide the catalyst for better policy solutions,” May added.
Published in World

Nigeria will have every right to think about winning the title.

On the day, you could tell the Nigerians were in town.

In certain locations of Cairo, the bleating blast of saxophones – a familiar calling card of Super Eagles supporters - was distinct as the invading green and white army tuned up for the second quarter-final match between Nigeria and South Africa at Cairo International Stadium on Wednesday night.

The press centre at the stadium, previously dominated by Egyptian journalists, was taken over by the loud Nigerians.

And you have got to give it to the country that gave us such famous writers as Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ken Saro-Wiwa and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Part of their contingent had copies of a magazine produced by the Nigeria Football Federation with the cover story titled: “We Are in Egypt to Fight For The Trophy: Podium masters Nigeria back for the first time after 2013 triumph”, that they distributed to anybody who wanted a read.

After their group stay in Alexandria, they re-announced their fight for the title in Cairo in emphatic fashion.

Off the pitch, the attendance was easily the best the tournament has seen outside of matches involving Egypt. The majority of the spectators were travelling Nigerian fans, from home and neighbouring countries and those based in Egypt, mainly students.

But interestingly, Egyptian spectators who attended the match loudly joined their Nigerian counterparts leaving the very small South African support an isolated lot.

The local fans probably got behind the Super Eagles to get back at Bafana Bafana that eliminated the host nation from the tournament at the round of 16 stage four days earlier.

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr had another explanation.

“It was wonderful to see the Egyptian crowd get behind us. We had good relations with the people in Alexandria. We like to play positive, good football; one-touch football if possible and I think the crowd likes that and appreciates it,” said the German coach after the match.

On the pitch, after a slow start the Super Eagles gradually asserted their authority with Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi bossing the midfield and Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi linking up well with Eagles’ outstanding wing men Ahmed Musa on the left and Villarreal’s 20-year-old rising star Samuel Chukwueze on the right.

The tricky Chukwueze, given a starting role by Rohr did not disappoint, troubling Bafana Bafana all evening. Inevitably, he scored Nigeria’s opener after a neat interplay between Musa and Iwobi on the right flank set up the youngster inside the box. He planted the ball home on his second attempt.

Chukwueze, named man-of-the-match, then came close again twice in a first half that Nigeria looked well in control. But they were made to sweat over their inability to finish off South Africa midway through the second half when Bongani Zulu headed home from a free kick and VAR, used in this tournament for the first time, confirmed he was on side.

Defender William Ekong pushed the ball home from a corner to break South Africans' hearts five minutes from time in match that exhibited quality football in bits and pieces but never really fired up.

A large Nigerian government delegation led by Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila and Governor of Central Bank Godwin Emefiele, met the team within the stadium after the match and announced hefty rewards for their progress thus far.

Nigeria will have every right to think about winning the title. But another sterner test looms tomorrow, on Sunday when they face either Algeria in the semi-finals.

 

Credit: Daily Nation Kenya

Published in Travel & Tourism
US President Donald Trump confirmed Friday that agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency will launch raids across the country this weekend to round up thousands of undocumented migrants for deportation.
 
“They came in illegally,” he told reporters at the White House. “They are going to take people out and they are going to send them back to their country.”
 
Trump said ICE would focus mainly on people with convictions, including gang members, but also others.
 
“It starts on Sunday and they’re going to take people out and they’re going to bring them back to their countries,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
 
“Or they’re going to take criminals out, put them in prison, or put them in prison in the countries they came from.”
 
While the focus will be on removing criminals, Trump said the raids would also target “people that came into our country, not through a process, that just walked over a line. They have to leave.
 
The ICE raids are expected to take place in 10 major cities, pursuing people for whom courts have already issued removal orders, according to media reports.
 
They could potentially target families who have been inside the United States for many years, with homes, businesses and US-born children, the reports said.
 
Migrant communities and immigration and rights activists around the country were girding for the raids.
 
Migrants were being told to not open their doors to ICE agents if they do not have search or arrest warrants, to record their encounters with agents, and to call immigration attorneys for help.
 
Democrats warned the Trump administration Thursday about breaking up long-resident families with members who are inside the country legally.
 
House leader Nancy Pelosi called the ICE plan “heartless” and said Sundays are when many Hispanic immigrant families are in church.
 
“These families are hardworking members of our communities and our country. This brutal action will terrorise children and tear families apart,” she told reporters.
 
“Many of these families are mixed-status families,” she added, referring to families who include members in the United States legally and illegally, such as migrants with children born inside the country.
 
According to the Pew Research Center, there are about 10.5 million undocumented migrants in the United States, and two-thirds have been in the country more than 10 years.
 
Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, said Wednesday that ICE has removal orders for some one million migrants, but added that it has nowhere near the manpower or facilities to arrest and deport that many.
 
Published in Travel & Tourism
Facebook Inc has been slammed with a hefty $5billion fine by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission following its investigation into the social media company’s handling of user data, multiple sources familiar with the situation said.
 
The FTC has been investigating allegations Facebook inappropriately shared information belonging to 87 million users with the now-defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. The probe has focused on whether the data sharing violated a 2011 consent agreement between Facebook and the regulator.
 
Investors cheered news of the deal and pushed Facebook shares up 1.8%, while several powerful Democratic lawmakers in Washington condemned the proposed penalty as inadequate.
 
The FTC is expected to include in the settlement other restrictions on how Facebook treats user privacy, according to the Wall Street Journal, which also said that the agency vote was along party lines, with three Republicans voting to approve it and two Democrats opposed.
 
The settlement would be the largest civil penalty ever paid to the agency.
 
The FTC and Facebook declined to comment.
 
Representative David Cicilline, a Democrat and chair of a congressional antitrust panel, called the $5 billion penalty “a Christmas present five months early.”
 
“This fine is a fraction of Facebook’s annual revenue. It won’t make them think twice about their responsibility to protect user data,” he said.
 
Facebook’s revenue for the first quarter of this year was $15.1 billion while its net income was $2.43 billion. It would have been higher, but Facebook set aside $3 billion for the FTC penalty.
 
While the deal resolves a major regulatory headache for Facebook, the Silicon Valley firm still faces further potential antitrust probes as the FTC and Justice Department undertake a wide-ranging review of competition among the biggest U.S. tech companies.
 
It is also facing public criticism from President Donald Trump and others about its planned cryptocurrency Libra over concerns about privacy and money laundering.
 
The Cambridge Analytica missteps, as well as anger over hate speech and misinformation on its platform, have also prompted calls from people ranging from presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren to a Facebook co-founder, Chris Hughes, for the government to force the social media giant to sell Instagram, which it bought in 2012, and WhatsApp, purchased in 2014.
 
But the company’s core business has proven resilient, as Facebook blew past earnings estimates in the past two quarters.
 
While details of the agreement are unknown, in a letter to the FTC earlier this year, Senators Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, and Josh Hawley, a Republican, told the agency that even a $5 billion civil penalty was too little and that top officials, potentially including founder Mark Zuckerberg, should be held personally responsible.
 
FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra, a Democrat, has said the agency should hold executives responsible for violations of consent decrees if they participated in the violations. Chopra did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.
 
The settlement still needs to be finalized by the Justice Department’s Civil Division and a final announcement could come as early as next week, the source said.
 
A source knowledgeable about the settlement negotiations had told Reuters in May any agreement would put Facebook under 20 years of oversight.
Published in Telecoms

The number of people in Africa without access to electricity remain staggering and unchanging with every report—around 640 million people don’t have access to a grid. And even when some of people do have access the electricity supply is unreliable and unstable.

It’s a problem across the continent. The most consistent and promising approach to tackling this huge obstacle to development has come with the off-grid pay-as-you-go solar power model, now called PayGo. The sector started out in East Africa built around combining the improving and increasingly cost-effective solar technology with the region’s mobile money advantage, thanks to the successful reach of Safaricom’s M-Pesa in Kenya.

Companies like Nairobi-based M-Kopa, who we spoke with recently at the Collision conference in Toronto, have signed up 750,000 homes in the region on the back of that payment platform which has been key for also enabling users to obtain credit and manage their payments. “The energy is kind of the easy part,” acknowledged chief executive Jesse Moore.

Also on the panel with Moore in Toronto was the musician Akon, who has famously been building a solar power business for a few years in several African countries. His latest initiative to to develop a crypto-currency to get round the difficulties with payments and boosting financial inclusion.

PayGo solar isn’t just reliant on classic mobile money solutions. In some countries it’s being used with local bank partnerships such as in Nigeria or with credit bureaus in India, for example.

The rise and challenges of PayGo are covered in the World Bank-backed Lighting Global report which analyzes the market attractiveness of the model around the developing world. Globally, the sales volume of PayGo products grew by 30% last year with revenues growing even faster at 50% driven by customers upgrading to solar home systems beyond basic products like solar lamps. According to the global off-grid solar market report, PayGo companies represented just 24% of the sales volume in the last six months of 2018, but accounted for 62% of revenues.

The two strongest markets for PayGo are Indonesia and Kenya, according to Lighting Global’s index, which looks at 71 factors across demand, supply and enabling environment. On that basis Sierra Leone, Mozambique and Angola were the weakest markets for PayGo.

When it comes to demand Kenya and Uganda score high particularly when it comes to users’ “willingness to pay”, while Kenya also does well on the supply side along with Indonesia, driven by the availability of finance to support the sector.

While the report covers 24 countries across sub Saharan Africa and Asia, it’s clear East Africa is the star of the show with more than 70% of the global PayGo market’s revenues.

In Lighting Global’s country focus on Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, the demand for PayGo services is the highest of country’s covered because of the unreliability of the country’s existing grid and low electrification rates especially in rural areas. The PayGo market has seen rapid growth in recent years with over 1.7 million households now using off grid solar products. But Nigeria’s current market penetration is still low, at just 4% of the potential market.

Nigeria’s complex regulatory environment is identified as one hurdle to enabling better supply with opportunities such as supporting mobile money more widely. But on the plus side the country offers innovative business models, including partnerships with mobile operators for airtime credit enabled PAYGo products and retail banks to leverage agent networks have helped some solar operators overcome barriers to market.

Published in Engineering
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