Cameroon’s maritime fisheries, both artisanal and industrial, are largely dominated by foreign fishers.

Industrial fishing is carried out entirely by foreign trawlers predominantly, from China and Nigeria, in partnership with Cameroon fish entrepreneurs. They are licensed to commercially exploit fish stocks beyond 3 nautical miles of the coastline. Their main catch includes croakers, oysters and a variety shrimp species.

Similarly, about 80% of the documented 34 355 artisanal fishers are immigrants from Nigeria, Ghana, Benin and Togo. They operate from around 300 artisanal fishing ports along Cameroon’s 402-kilometre coastline and are allowed to fish within 3 nautical miles of the coast. These artisanal fishers mainly target fish found in shallow depths, such as bonga shad, sardinella, prawns and shrimp.

While most of the industrial caught fish are destined for Europe and Asia, the artisanal catch is mainly sold in local markets. It’s a vital source of animal protein, especially for communities that live along the coastline.

Cameroon’s fisheries sector is of huge social and economic importance to the country. Fisheries makes up 1.8% of the country’s estimated US$35 billion GDP. The sector employs more than 200 000 people and, since 2015, fishers catch an average of 205 000 tons of fish each year. The industrial sector accounts for about 9 000 tons of this.

Despite its importance, the maritime fisheries sector is plagued with largely hidden, or ignored, fisheries crimes.

My research over the past three years tries to lift the lid on the types of crimes that are happening, the actors involved, their networks and how they operate. I looked at both the industrial and artisanal sectors.

My study documented numerous crimes involving people associated with the fisheries sector. But most go undetected. To tackle criminality in the fisheries sector, all concerned stakeholders – from fishers to policymakers – need to be able to identify and report on the different fisheries crimes they see.

Endemic problems

I found that there’s an endemic problem of corruption, fraud and the illegal exploitation of and trade in endangered marine species. I also found a link between the fisheries sector and wider transnational crimes such as the smuggling of contraband, weapons and immigrants.

Because of the hidden nature of these offences it’s difficult to quantify the impact they’ve had on Cameroon. There are some insights. For instance, based on government statistics, illegal fishing in Cameroonian waters costs the country about CAF 20 billion (about US$33 million) every year.

If not tackled quickly, these crimes will continue to compromise government efforts to raise income from taxes generated from the sector. Moreover, it will affect the livelihood of millions of people that depend on the sector through job losses, and access to essential food and nutritional security.

I conducted research over a period of three years. I observed fishing operations at industrial and artisanal fishing ports and carried out informal group discussions and semi-structured interviews with state officials, coastal community groups and other civil society organisations. I also analysed existing research and media reports.

I found that in both the industrial and artisanal sectors, fisheries crimes were perpetrated by a variety of stakeholders. These include senior government officials, fisheries officers, elites with stakes in industrial fishing companies, fishers and fish entrepreneurs.

While some fisheries crimes are carried out at sea, most occur on land; in government offices, fish landing sites, beach huts and coastal backwaters, sometimes by those who are meant to protect fish resources. It involved nationals and foreigners, some from as far as China.

Corruption

Corruption was identified as a major problem. It manifested as bribery and abuse of office. It was systemic and permeated all aspects of the value chain from acquiring fishing permits, catching fish at sea, processing the catch and marketing the produce to consumers. This typifies the corruption landscape in the country as highlighted in other areas, such as the judiciary and police administration.

Corruption has enabled other crimes to flourish. This includes document and identity fraud and the abuse of workers. Some workers (particularly immigrants and children) were illegally recruited into the fisheries sector. Most workers were made to work in squalid conditions.

Corruption also allowed for the illegal exploitation of and trade in endangered and critically endangered marine species, such as dolphins and turtles. Of particular concern was the illegal trade in giant croaker fish bladder. This is a highly valued delicacy in China and, despite the huge volumes I saw traded, there’s little awareness about it.

I also found that the fisheries sector was used to commit transnational crimes, specifically to smuggle weapons, fuel, ivory, rice, fake bank notes and timber products. Most of this happened between Cameroon and Nigeria, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Boats were also used to traffic illegal immigrants between Nigeria and Cameroon, and from Cameroon to Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

Combating fisheries crime

There’s currently a national effort to root out corruption which has mainly focused on the judiciary and police. This needs to pay more attention to the fisheries sector. The best option would be to have a subcommittee dedicated to rooting out corruption in fisheries.

Because of the transnational nature of fisheries crime, regional and international cooperation is vital. A key first step is for the state to ratify the Copenhagen Declaration – an international framework to specifically support inter-agency cooperation of all relevant stakeholders against fisheries crimes at national, regional and international levels.The Conversation

 

Maurice Beseng, Visiting Research Fellow in Maritime Security, Coventry University

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

China has been a latecomer to African aviation. Even though Ethiopian Airlines started flying to China in November 1973, there were few other air links between Africa and China for 30 years.

The involvement of former colonial powers such as the British, Dutch and French goes back to the 1920s; former Soviet bloc countries began to show interest during the height of the Cold War. And in the last 20 years, Persian Gulf petro-states and their airlines – Emirates, Qatar and Etihad – have become major offshore hubs for a huge range of commercial flights serving Africa.

In my recently published paper I track how China’s involvement has been different.

Official data about the scale and pace of China’s airport projects in Africa are hard to find. In the absence of primary sources, journalistic reporting on current affairs and public projects is the main source of information. These sources can be at variance. And keeping up with developments is evidently difficult.

Despite the absence of accurate, clear and consistent information, the picture that emerged during my research shows considerable Chinese activity directed at modernising, extending and building new airports in Africa. The grandest projects are in resource-rich countries.

China’s approach

None of China’s biggest three airlines (Air China, China Southern, China Eastern) are prominent in African skies.

It is on the ground that China has been flexing its aviation muscles in Africa. This is consistent with China’s 50-or-so years of infrastructure funding and construction on the continent. Energy, water, road and rail infrastructure projects have been the major spheres of Chinese offshore investment in Africa.

Civil airports there have been a recent addition. China’s experience of planning, funding, constructing and managing airports at home stands it in good stead.

Two 2017 reports noted between US$27 billion and US$38 billion currently being spent on or earmarked for spending on 77 construction and associated hardware projects at airports in Africa. China was named in relation to Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Zambia. The average price for all projects was US$440 million.

At a rough estimate, China accounted for between a quarter and a third of this total airport spending. Excluding unknown expenditure in Ghana, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo, it spent some US$5.7 billion on these airport projects: US$3.8 billion on a new airport outside Luanda (Angola), US$615 million in Maputo, US$360 million in Zambia, US$345 million at Addis Ababa, US$260 million in Mauritius, US$190 million in Sierra Leone, and US$136 million in Mauritania.

Funds from China’s Exim Bank or other agencies are expected to help build a new US$3 billion airport outside Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, and a new US$1.4 billion airport outside Khartoum in Sudan.

The Chinese investment model involves loans and grants, but also, it would seem, part-exchange deals over oil and minerals. These arrangements have more of a resources-for-infrastructure or barter quality.

At the same time Turkish, French, Italian and British contractors have been bidding for airport improvement projects in Africa, and for terminal or runway new-build schemes. These, it would appear, are at a lesser scale, and have greater transparency.

What’s next

China’s approach may change in the future. That’s if it can neutralise the pivot of Persian Gulf airports at Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha. And if it can out-manoeuvre their airlines in global long-haul markets.

It may be more likely that China’s penetration of African civil aviation will occur via partnerships with African airlines, and taking equity shares.

Some of this has already happened. For example, the Hainan corporation in China has reportedly made forays into airlines in Ghana and South Africa, and into a Kenyan all-freight carrier.

Sales to Africa of Chinese-manufactured aircraft have also started. Attendant spare parts stocks are being pre-positioned. In addition, there are plans for Chinese-led aviation technical and managerial training schools in Africa. These will reduce risk of wasted physical infrastructure and of any associated reputational damage.

Some African countries are gearing airport capacity planning to a predicted 5% annual growth in continental passenger numbers by 2035. By that time Africa is expected to be home to eight of the world’s 10 fastest-growing aviation markets. Most African countries don’t have the capacity to prepare for this and will need overseas funds and engineering expertise.

But there are concerns. Any arguments against rampant airport investment in Africa could begin with familiar worries about cost overruns in mega-infrastructure projects, the long-term burden of loan repayments (or default loss of control to foreign owners), the unaffordability of unanticipated maintenance charges, and the inappropriateness of prestige and political vanity projects.

Concerns about corruption, due diligence, accountability, social and environmental disruption plague transport projects wherever they occur.

Another argument against airport mania in Africa – including one that may be levelled against the seductively shiny steel-and-glass ‘aerotropolises’ touted in Nigeria and South Africa – is that these opportunist projects are firmly nation- or city-led (indeed, even regime-led). As such, they don’t necessarily fit into any long-term regional or pan-African programme of integrated infrastructure development.

At a time of chronic resource shortages and stress this is irresponsible. What can be accomplished technically is not always what should be done. There have always been white elephants and rogue elephants in Africa.

The economic and political geography of China’s airport consulting, financing, construction, and management programme in Africa is only now beginning to surface. In future, better statistical information, and richer local information will make for better analysis.The Conversation

 

Gordon Pirie, Honorary Research Associate, University of Cape Town

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

Ghana’s Atewa forest is one of the most beautiful and scenic landscapes in the country. It is seen as the better of only two Upland Evergreen forests left intact in the country, forming part of the six dominant vegetation zones of Ghana based on different climates zones.

The Atewa forest is part of the Guinean Forests of West Africa which stretch from southern Guinea into eastern Sierra Leone and through Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana into western Togo. Deforestation has massively reduced the size of the forests and the Upper Guinea Forest is now restricted to a number of more or less disconnected reserves and a few national parks acting as man-made refuges for the region’s biodiversity.

The Atewa forest landscape is remote and pristine, providing the habitat for a major collection of Ghana’s biodiversity. It has been named as one of Ghana’s 30 globally significant biodiversity areas.

But the forest is under threat. Last year Ghana signed a memorandum with China to explore Ghana’s deposits of bauxite – the primary ore in aluminium. The deposits are found in two locations – Awaso with very high deposits in the moist semi-deciduous forest zone of western region of Ghana, and Atewa, with minimum deposits and located in the Upland Evergreen forests in the Eastern Region of Ghana.

Under the memorandum Ghana will cede 5% of its bauxite resources to the Chinese. In turn, Beijing will finance $2billion worth of infrastructure projects that include rails, roads and bridge networks. The Ghanaian Parliament has passed the Ghana Bauxite Integrated Aluminium Industry Act which would provide a legal framework to exploit country’s bauxite deposits.

Yet the government says it still has to validate the true worth of the bauxite deposit in the forest.

As a botanist I view the Atewa landscape as a scientific gold mine. A recent impact assessment by the US Forest Service corroborates the concerns of several conservation groups about the potential damage that mining would cause.

I believe strongly that Atewa is not for mining and that it must be preserved. Firstly, it needs to be preserved as a living natural history laboratory. Secondly, it should be protected because it provides a vital resource – water. Thirdly, it is a precious gift whose value cannot be quantified, but which must be lived, felt and appreciated. Finally it is a naturally bequeathed heritage that must be protected for future generations to enjoy.

The forest

An interesting characteristic of the Atewa forest is that the canopies of its trees are not easily visible as they merge with the surrounding clouds creating a beautiful cloud cover line. This is very rare in the Ghanaian landscape. This feature is described in local parlance as the phenomenon in which the trees are in direct communication with the firmament of the heavens and bring good tidings to the ground underneath.

Scientifically, the phenomenon is responsible for the daily condensation of water vapour which falls as precipitation. As a result the mountain top is kept permanently moist. This in turn explains the interesting hydrological networks beneath the soil surface. The water percolates down to create under ground water ways as well as water falls and many streams and tributaries that coalesce or combine to form Ghana’s famous three rivers. These are the Ayensu, Birim and Densu.

The three eventually drain their basins as they meander through the forests and farm fields providing essential water resources to over 5 million inhabitants. They also deposit suspended clay and silt materials as fertile alluvial for crop production during the rainy periods when they burst their banks and overflow.

The Atewa landscape provides rich forest cover for climate regulation, a show piece to illustrate climate adaptation to avoid drought, reduce poverty and enhance sustainable livelihoods and improve human well being in its catchment area.

The landscape has been the subject of research by geologists, hydrologists and geo-morphologists. A geologist studies studies the solid, liquid, and gaseous matter that constitute the Earth while a geo-morphologist studies the earth’s surface. A hydrologist is a scientist who researches the distribution, circulation, and physical properties of the earth’s underground and surface waters.

Studies of the fauna and flora of the area have brought up new scientific discoveries of species like the critically endangered white-naped mangabey Cercocebus lunulatus. This shows that the knowledge of the faunal and floristic diversity and to a large extent the microbial diversity is still at the exploratory stages.

I would strongly argue that the Atewa landscape is an important species discovery destination, awaiting extensive research and studies. It should, therefore, not be disrupted or destroyed by mining.The Conversation

 

Alfred Oteng-Yeboah, Associate Professor of Botany, University of Ghana

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

Google and its operations in China have come under the spotlight in the past few days.

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel last week accused the U.S. technology giant of working with the Chinese military and called for the U.S. government to investigate Google. In response, President Donald Trump said his administration will “take a look” into Google.

The tech giant has denied working with the Chinese military.

Still, the controversy has sparked interest in what Google is doing in China. CNBC took a closer look at Google’s business dealings in China.

‘Project Dragonfly’

Google ended its search product in China in 2010 and is effectively blocked in the country. However, a report emerged last year that the search giant was looking to launch a censored version of its search app in China. The initiative, which the company acknowledged publicly, was in its early stages. In China, all internet services are required to censor information which the government deems sensitive.

However, Vice President for Government Affairs and Public Policy at the company, Karan Bhatia, said this week that Google had abandoned plans for “Project Dragonfly,” the name of its China search product initiative.

So right now, Google is still blocked in China and can only be accessed via a virtual private network (VPN), which helps mask a user’s internet location.

A.I. research

One of Thiel’s accusations is that Chinese spies have infiltrated Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) projects, but he did not provide any evidence.

Google does have AI projects in China though. In 2017, the company opened up an AI research center in China.

On its website, Google says AI research in China is focused on education and so-called natural language understanding — which refers to an AI technique focused on getting machines to understand human language. Google is looking to apply AI to auctioning so that the bidding process for ads can be more efficient. This could be important for Google, which operates an advertising marketplace.

In China, the work is also contributing to AI products that Google makes available globally, such as TensorFlow. This is an open source library that can help other companies develop AI products.

Cloud computing

Technology giants such as Alibaba and Tencent dominate the cloud market in China. So Google’s tactic is to try to sell its cloud products to Chinese firms that have international operations in Southeast Asia and elsewhere.

A search of Google job postings in China showed the company is looking for cloud computing engineers, data managers, sales and business development roles across Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

The company is also hiring people to target customers in specific industries — from media and entertainment to manufacturing.

Hardware

Google sells a number of hardware products including smartphones, smart speakers and thermostats, under the Nest brand that it owns. Some of that is manufactured in China.

The company is currently advertising roles for engineers to test products and for manufacturing and supply chain managers. On LinkedIn, a number of Google employees in Shenzhen, a key technology hub in China, listed their jobs as hardware-related.

However, Bloomberg reported in June that Google was moving the production of some Nest thermostats and server hardware out of China to avoid tariffs from the U.S.

App developers and the Google Play Store
The Google Play Store, the company’s app store, is blocked in China. So Google is trying to work with app developers in China to help them bring their products onto the Play Store in international markets.

Under its job listings, Google advertised for two roles for a business development manager related to the play store.

“As a Business Development Manager of Google Play, you will empower developers to build successful businesses on Play/Android globally, and inspire the ecosystem to innovate on/invest in Android and Play,” the job description reads.

Google also has individual roles for the gaming section of the Google Play store. Games are a huge part of its app store.

Advertising

Advertising is a core part of Google’s revenue but because its services are blocked in China, it can’t really sell ads on those platforms there. So the company focuses on Chinese businesses looking to advertise on Google platforms abroad, whether that is on its search engine, YouTube or something else.

One job that’s being advertised is for a business development consultant in Shanghai who will be “responsible for driving business growth and attracting new medium to large size advertisers for Google.” There are also people focused on getting advertisers from specific industries like retail or entertainment.

Overall, Google’s business in China is mostly aimed at getting Chinese companies to use its products outside of China.

 

Credit: CNBC AFRICA

The Chinese government convened top tech companies this week and warned them of consequences if they cut off technology sales to the country, US media reported.

The meeting followed US President Donald Trump's move last month to blacklist Chinese tech giant Huawei over national security concerns, threatening the firm's global ambitions and ramping up the months-long trade battle between the two countries.

Earlier this week, the Chinese government 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.

American companies were told "that the Trump administration's move to cut off Chinese companies from American technology had disrupted the global supply chain, adding that companies that followed the policy could face permanent consequences," the newspaper reported.

Companies based outside the United States were told that as long as they maintained business as usual, they wouldn't be punished, the newspaper reported.

Last Friday, Facebook announced it would cut Huwaei off from its popular social networking app to comply with the US sanctions, further isolating the company that has become the world's second-largest smartphone vendor.

Google made a similar announcement in May.

Washington and Beijing resumed their trade battle last month when negotiations in the US ended without a deal and US President Donald Trump raised tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods.

Beijing retaliated with its own tariff hike on billions of dollars worth of US goods.

The US move to cut Huawei off from American hardware came next, but was delayed by 90 days to prevent economic disruptions.

Source: AFP

Chinese firms are eyeing partnerships with Turkish construction firms in Africa and are also looking to take stakes in Turkish companies, the head of the Turkish Contractors Association said.

Mithat Yenigun said he had discussed possible acquisitions by Chinese companies with a Chinese business representative, without giving details of which firms could be involved.

“They asked if we could sell stakes or cooperate,” he told Reuters. “They want to partner up with us, they are very willing to work with us. They also have unlimited money. That is what we lack.”

Turkish firms, which thrived in a domestic economy fueled for years by cheap credit and a construction boom, are now faced with economic recession at home. Those that took out foreign currency loans have found their debts soaring as the Turkish lira slumped last year.

Turkish contractors are second only to Chinese companies in terms of international contracts, according to the Engineering News Record (ENR) which carries out annual surveys of the world’s top contractor companies.

Yenigun said Chinese firms had a 10-15 year headstart in Africa. They now see Turkish firms as potential rivals, he said, but are also looking for opportunities to work together. He gave no specific examples of companies or projects but said that Chinese contractors want to work in projects in sub-Saharan countries with Turkish companies.

Turkish contractors had proved themselves in the region, Yenigun said, with large infrastructure projects which provide jobs by employing local workers during construction.

CONFLICT HITS CONTRACTS

At their peak, Turkish companies won around $30 billion worth of international contracts a year in 2012 and 2013, according to the contractors association. Business declined as conflict in Libya and Iraq cut back infrastructure projects there, and strained ties with Moscow affected business with Russia.

Last year Turkish contractors registered $19.4 billion of work abroad, with Russia accounting 25% of those projects and Saudi Arabia another 19%. Since the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul last year, relations between Ankara and Riyadh have deteriorated.

Approval processes for construction tenders won in Saudi Arabia now take longer than they used to, Yenigun said.

“We feel the coldness when it comes to the relations with the government. An official process that previously took three months, now takes a year over there,” Yenigun said.

Turkish companies now aim to reach an annual volume of $50 billion with potential business in Africa, Russia, and Iraq, where they hope Ankara’s pledge of $5 billion credit for the reconstruction will boost business.

Turkish contractors are expected to build roads, highways, railways, Mosul airport, a hospital as well as mosques and residence projects.

 

- Reuters

 Inside a brightly-lit classroom, around 20 schoolchildren are enthusiastically singing the Chinese national anthem.

That song is followed by another tune in Chinese -- one typically sung during the Lunar New Year.

But this scene is not taking place in a Chinese school but at Lakewood Premier school, thousands of kilometers away in Nairobi. Here, schoolchildren are learning Mandarin, a language spoken by nearly 1 billion people almost 8,000 kilometers away from their home.

Sandra Wanjiru, 13, is one of hundreds of African schoolchildren who are increasingly proficient in the Chinese language. More will join their ranks in 2020 when Mandarin will be officially taught in all Kenyan schools alongside French, Arabic and German, which are already on the curriculum.

Lakewood Premier School, where Wanjiru studies, has begun the program a year early to give its pupils a head start.

"I chose to learn Chinese first because it's interesting to learn a foreign language but also because I would want to travel and do business in China," said Wanjiru.

Julius Jwan, CEO of the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), told Chinese state-owned Chinese news agency Xinhua: "The place of China in the world economy has also grown to be so strong that Kenya stands to benefit if its citizens can understand Mandarin."

 

China's growing influence in Africa

 

China has become increasingly powerful and prominent across Africa over the past two decades.

Through President Xi Jinping's flagship Belt and Road Initiative, China has loaned money to African countries to build highways, dams, stadiums, airports and skyscrapers. The Asian powerhouse has given out more than $143 billion in loans to African countries since 2000, according to the Johns Hopkins SAIS China-Africa Research Initiative.

Kenya is not the only country teaching its youngsters Chinese; in South Africa, Mandarin has been an optional language course for students since 2014, and in December 2018, Uganda introduced Mandarin to secondary students in selected schools.

Henry Adramunguni, a curriculum specialist at Uganda's National Curriculum Development Centre, said Mandarin was included in the curriculum because it is one of the United Nations' languages of work. Ugandan students also have the choice of learning French, Arabic and Latin or German in school.

"We want to give the opportunity for our young Ugandans to have access to jobs, education, and business beyond our borders. That's why we've given them this opportunity to learn Chinese," he said.

CNN Illustration/Getty Images
Teachers in the program were trained by tutors at the Confucius Institute, a non-profit organization, working to promote Chinese language and culture around the world.
Confucius launched its first outpost in Africa at the University of Nairobi in 2005 and has since expanded to 48 centers across the continent. They are run by Hanban (the Office of Chinese Language Council International) and are part-funded by the Chinese government and the universities that host them.
China ranks second only to France as the country with the most number of cultural institutions in Africa; a remarkable rise given China has no colonial ties with any country on the continent unlike France and the UK, which have traditionally used cultural institutes such as Institut Français or the British Council to wield influence abroad.
The continued expansion of Chinese cultural institutes on the continent is part of the country's strategy to increase its influence in Africa through 'soft power,' says Ilaria Carrozza, a researcher on China-Africa relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
China hopes that by encouraging the study of its language, it can boost its soft power and appeal abroad, says Carrozza.
"Soft power, if successful, may lead to more influence -- as a matter of fact, it is more than just influence and rather works through persuasion and attraction," Carrozza said.
She added that African governments see the introduction of Mandarin and Chinese institutes as an investment in the future of young Africans.
"African governments hope that introducing Mandarin in school curricula will lead to a future workforce that gets better jobs either in China or with Chinese companies operating in the continent," she said.

Confucius concerns

Despite the apparent advantages, Carrozza warned that African governments should keep a close eye on these institutes especially in the wake of closures in the US of such centers amid fears of interference from the Chinese Communist Party.
The University of North Florida joined a growing list of American schools to end its partnership with the Confucius Institute, saying the center's activities did not align with the school's goals. The decision was welcomed by US Senator Marco Rubio who has been an outspoken opponent of the institutes.
"Without degenerating into a witch-hunt, this is something African governments and institutions need to carefully consider in each individual case," Carrozza said.
China's Foreign Ministry denies accusations the government interferes in running the institutes.
Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a February media briefing in Beijing: "All the Confucius Institutes in the US are jointly established in American universities in accordance with their voluntary application and in line with the principle of mutual respect, friendly consultation, equality and mutual benefit by the Chinese and American universities.
In Kenya, the introduction of Mandarin hasn't been welcomed by all. Wycliffe Omucheyi, chair of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), said he believes the government is rushing into the program. Rather than Mandarin, students should be taught indigenous African languages, he said.
"The government needs to develop the vernacular languages classes first before embarking on something foreign," said Omucheyi.
Despite these concerns, Russell Kaschula, a professor of African Language Studies at Rhodes University in South Africa, said it would be naive for Africans not to learn Mandarin as China is a major trading partner to many countries on the continent.
"It is as important as the learning of English, French and Portuguese were back in the 19th century in Africa," he added, referring to a time when former colonial powers imposed their languages.
Africans often have to learn new languages as a matter of necessity and as long as foreign languages are optional, Kaschula said having them in a school's curriculum was not a problem.
"Nelson Mandela once learned Afrikaans so that he could understand the Afrikaner oppressors better," he said.
"In the same way, I think the learning of Mandarin makes sense to Africans."
 
Source: CNN
The prices of crude oil rose on Monday as hopes for an end to the year long tariff row between the United States and China approached a close.
 
Also the production cut deal by members and allies of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, contributed to price rally.
 
International Brent futures were at 65.25 dollars a barrel at 07:13 GMT, up 18 cents, or 0.3 per cent, from their last close, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at 55.94 dollars per barrel, up 14 cents or 0.3 per cent.
 
There are indications that US and China are close to a deal that would roll back US tariffs on at least 200 billion dollar worth of Chinese goods, just as Beijing has also pledged structural economic changes and elimination of retaliatory tariffs on US goods, a source briefed on negotiations said on Sunday in Washington.
 
The “substantive progress” China and the US have made in their trade talks has been “well-received” in both countries and around the world, a senior Chinese official said on Monday.
 
According to a Reuters’ survey, Supply from OPEC fell to a four-year low in February, as top exporter, Saudi Arabia and its allies over-delivered on the group’s supply pact while Venezuelan output registered a further involuntary decline.
 
“OPEC exports are off by over 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) since November,” Barclays bank said in a note released on Sunday.
 
“The supply picture looks generally tighter this year,” said energy analysts at Fitch Solutions in a note on Monday, adding they expected Brent to average 73 dollars per barrel in 2019.
 
There are also indications that Oil prices have been further pushed up by US sanctions against OPEC-members Iran and Venezuela. Barclays bank is of the view that this has resulted in a reduction of around two million bpd in global crude supply.
 
There are also signs that the US oil production boom of the past years, which has seen crude output rise by more than two million bpd since early 2018 to more than 12 million bpd, may slow down.
 
Ugandan government is now at risk of losing its main state assets to China over unpaid huge increasing loans from Chinese government.
 
But according to Ugandan government, the growing debt is sustainable, and the country is not at risk of losing state assets to China, the country’s finance minister, Matia Kasaija.
 
News reported in December last year that Kenyan government risks losing the lucrative Mombasa port to China if the country fail to repay huge loans advanced by Chinese lenders, but both Chinese and Kenyan officials have dismissed that the port’s ownership is at risk.
 
Others think Chinese government are in some ways gangsters, taking over mines all over Africa, sending thousands of Chinese workers, destroy environment, bring the minerals such as copper, sink, gold, silver, diamonds etc home, and make deals with corrupt politicians to plunder the countries.
 
“The case is one of the examples of China’s ambitious use of loans and aid to gain influence around the world and of its willingness to play hardball to collect,” says the New York Times in December 12, 2017.
 
At a time in Somalia when local fishermen are struggling to compete with foreign vessels that are depleting fishing stocks, the government has granted 31 fishing licenses to China.
 
But Uganda’s auditor-general warned in a report released this month that public debt from June 2017 to 2018 had increased from $9.1 billion to $11.1 billion.
 
The report — without naming China — warned that conditions placed on major loans were a threat to Uganda’s sovereign assets.
 
It said that in some loans, Uganda had agreed to waive sovereignty over properties if it defaults on the debt — a possibility that Kasaija rejected.
 
“China taking over assets? … in Uganda, I have told you, as long as some of us are still in charge, unless there is really a catastrophe, and which I don’t see at all, that will make this economy going behind. So, … I’m not worried about China taking assets. They can do it elsewhere, I don’t know. But here, I don’t think it will come,” he said.
 
China is one of Uganda’s biggest country-lenders, with about $3 billion in development projects through state-owned banks.
 
In December 2017, the Sri Lankan government handed its Hambantota port to China for a lease period of 99 years after failing to show commitment in the payment of billions of dollars in loans.
 
Also in September 2018, News reported that China was taking over Zambia’s state power company and Kenneth Kaunda International Airport over unpaid debt rippled across Africa, despite government denials.
 
China’s Exim Bank has funded about 85 percent of two major Ugandan power projects — Karuma and Isimba dams. It also financed and built Kampala’s $476 million Entebbe Express Highway to the airport, which cuts driving time by more than half. China’s National Offshore Oil Corporation, France’s Total, and Britain’s Tullow Oil co-own Uganda’s western oil fields, set to be tapped by 2021.
 
Economist Fred Muhumuza says China’s foot in Uganda’s oil could be one way it decides to take back what is owed.
 
“They might determine the price, as part of recovering their loan,” he said. “By having a foot in there they will say fine, we are going to pay you for oil. But instead of giving you $60 a barrel, you owe us. We’ll give you $55. The $5 you are paying the old debt. But we are reaching a level where you don’t see this oil being an answer to the current debt problem.”
 
The prices of crude oil declined on Thursday on the back of a record high production by the United States and weakening factory output in China and Japan.
 
International Brent crude prices were at $66.20 per barrel at 0525 GMT, after losing 19 cents, or 0.3 per cent from their last close.
 
The U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures were at $56.90 per barrel, declining four cents from their last settlement.
 
American crude oil production has surged to an unprecedented 12.1 million barrels per day over the last year.
 
Traders are also of the view that China’s weakening economy also weighed on oil prices.
 
Factory activity in China, the world’s biggest oil importer, shrank for a third straight month in February as export orders fell at the fastest pace since the global financial crisis a decade ago, official data showed on Thursday.
 
Amid weak demand from China, oil producers are having to cut prices.
 
Russia’s Surgutneftegaz is selling April-loading ESPO crude oil at the lowest level in three months, charging $2.20 to $2.40 per barrel over benchmark Dubai quotes.
 
In Japan, Asia’s second-biggest economy, factory output posted the biggest decline in a year in January as China’s slowdown affected the entire region.
 
  1. Opinions and Analysis

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