Kingsley Ibokette

Kingsley Ibokette

Kingsley Ibokette BT

Bobi Wine, the main challenger of incumbent Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in the election, said early on Friday that Thursday’s vote had seen “widespread fraud and violence” but the opposition leader remained positive as ballots are being counted under an internet blackout.

Uganda Elections 2021 Results: Bobi Wine vs Yoweri Museveni - Electoral Commission results show Museveni in early lead

“Despite the widespread fraud and violence experienced across the country earlier today, the picture still looks good. Thank you Uganda for turning up and voting in record numbers,” Wine tweeted shortly after midnight (21:00 GMT), managing to bypass the blockage.

The 38-year-old former pop star-turned-legislator did not give details about his accusations, which contradicted the government’s account that Thursday’s vote had been peaceful with no extensive cases of violence reported.

The Electoral Commission is expected to release the results within 48 hours.

The internet remained down for a third day as vote counting continued in the country. Results are expected by Saturday afternoon.

President Museveni is seeking a sixth term in office and Wine has been arrested multiple times during the campaigning, is his main competitor among 11 opposition candidates.

The election took place after one of the most violent campaigns in years, with harassment and arrests of the opposition leaders, attacks on the media and dozens of deaths.

The run-up to polling day was marred by a sustained crackdown on Museveni’s rivals and government critics and unprecedented attacks on the nation’s media and human rights defenders.

In November, at least 54 people were shot dead by security forces loyal to Museveni during protests against one of Wine’s numerous arrests.

The US, EU, UN and global rights and democracy groups have raised concerns about the integrity and transparency of the election.

Meanwhile, the African Union (AU), has sent monitors, along with an AU women’s group.

On Wednesday, the United States, a key aid donor to Uganda, announced it was cancelling a diplomatic observer mission after several of its staff were denied permission to monitor the election.

On Tuesday, Museveni announced the suspension of social media networks and messaging services like Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp in response to Facebook closing accounts linked to government officials that the technology giant said were spreading misinformation.

 

Source : AL Jazeera

Rwanda is a major destination for foreigners travelling in the East African region.

With a tourism industry that is developing day by day, an emerging conference industry; and an investment atmosphere characterized by increased ease of doing business, many foreign travellers have been, in the past years getting increasingly interested in coming to visit.

However, with the emergence of the pandemic, it is not business as usual.

Government has put in place a number of measures to prevent the spread of the virus and this has affected travel to and from the country.

Here are seven things that you should know about traveling to Rwanda during this time of the pandemic:

1. Filling a passenger locator form before traveling

Travellers arriving in Rwanda must complete a passenger locator form and upload a negative Covid-19 test certificate on www.rbc.gov.rw –the official website of Rwanda Biomedical Centre—prior to their arrival.

2. A negative RT-PCR test is mandatory upon arrival

All travellers arriving in Rwanda must have a negative Covid-19 certificate. The only accepted test is a SARS-CoV 2 Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) performed within 120 hours of departure. This means that travellers must be tested and get results within 5 days of their flight. Other tests, such as Rapid Diagnostics Test (RDTs) are not accepted.

3. All travellers are tested upon arrival. A test costs $60

After jetting in, it is mandatory for travellers to get tested again at the Kigali International Airport. The Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) in partnership with the airport established a Covid-19 testing within the airport.

The test done here is a Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), and a traveller has to pay $60 for it. This amount is prepaid using online means (rbc.gov.rw) before someone travels to Rwanda.

4. Waiting for results at transit hotels. Government negotiated special prices with the hotels ranging from $30 to $450

After testing at the airport, the travellers proceed to designated transit hotels where they have to wait for about 24 hours to get their results. A list of these hotels is available on rbc.gov.rw.

The Government of Rwanda negotiated special rates for the 24-hour waiting period at the hotels. The prices range from as low as $30 to $450.

5. Travellers whose tests turn out positive undergo treatment at their own cost

If the results of a person visiting the country return negative, they are allowed to continue with the business that brought them. But if the result is positive for (even if asymptomatic), they will be treated as indicated in the National Covid-19 Management Guidelines until they have fully recovered, at their own cost.

Rwanda Biomedical Centre encourages all travellers to have international travel insurance.

6. Screening at the borders for those who use land transport

Travellers from neighbouring countries traveling to Rwanda are taken to transit to designated transit hotels from where they are tested for Covid-19. A test costs $60.

7. Negative Covid-19 results required before departure, for all

All travellers departing from Rwanda must test negative for Covid-19. The only accepted test is a SARS-CoV 2 Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) performed within 120 hours before departure. Other tests, such as Rapid Diagnostics Test (RDTs), are not accepted.

RBC encourages travellers to book and pay for their tests at least 2 days prior to departure through the online platform available at rbc.gov.rw

 

Read More: newtimesrwanda

Niger’s ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum will face former President Mahamane Ousmane in a presidential election runoff in February, according to provisional results announced by the electoral commission last week.

Bazoum, 60, led the first round with 39.33 percent of the vote, falling short of the 50 percent plus one needed to win the first round.

Ousmane received 17 percent of the votes cast, the commission said.

Former prime ministers Seini Oumarou and Albade Abouba respectively came third and fourth with 8.95 percent and 7.07 percent of the ballots.

The second round is expected to be held on February 21 after the results of the first round have been validated by the constitutional court, which will hear any appeals.

Bazoum, who has been both interior and foreign minister, campaigned on promises of improved security and education and had hoped to clinch victory in the first round.

Bazoum’s Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) is also leading in the legislative vote held at the same time with 80 of the 165 seats and five diaspora seats remaining to be decided.

Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou is stepping down after two five-year terms, which is expected to lead to the West African country’s first transfer of power between two democratically elected presidents.

Almost 7.5 million people cast their votes on Sunday to choose a successor to Issoufou, who in a New Year radio address hailed the election as “a new, successful page in our country’s democratic history”.

Insecurity overshadowed the campaigning, with Niger battered by armed groups on its southwestern border with Mali as well as its southeastern frontier with Nigeria.

Five years of violence in the former French colony have cost hundreds of lives with many more displaced. Last month, 27 people died in an attack claimed by Boko Haram.

But security is not the only concern for the people in Niger, a country of 23 million people.

The country’s economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic with a fall in the price of its top export uranium.

It has also suffered due to the closure of the border with Nigeria, a key gateway for the import of essential goods.

Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from Niger’s capital city Niamey, said that discussions are now ongoing between the parties over possible coalitions.

“Most of the democratically elected governments in Niger have been coalitions,” he said.

Idris said the two presidential candidates are also courting support in the final round.

“The question is, will the voters come out? Already we’ve seen more than 30 percent of voters not turning out for this election,” Idris said.

 

Credit: AL JAZEERA

Oil prices rose on Wednesday to their highest since February 2020 after Saudi Arabia agreed to reduce output more than expected in a meeting with allied producers, while industry figures showed U.S. crude stockpiles were down last week.

Brent crude rose as much as 0.9% to $54.09 a barrel, the highest since Feb. 26, 2020. It was at $53.82 a barrel at 0757 GMT after jumping 4.9% on Tuesday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures climbed as much as 0.6% to $50.24 a barrel, also the highest since Feb. 26, before slipping to $49.96. The contract on Tuesday closed up 4.6%.

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, agreed on Tuesday to make additional, voluntary oil output cuts of 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in February and March, after a meeting with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other major producers that form the group known as OPEC+.

The reductions agreed by Saudi Arabia were included in a deal to persuade other producers in the OPEC+ group to hold output steady.

With coronavirus infections spreading rapidly in many parts of the world producers are trying to support prices as demand takes a hit from new lockdowns being put in place.

"Despite this bullish supply agreement, we believe Saudi's decision likely reflects signs of weakening demand as lockdowns return," analysts from Goldman Sachs said in a note, although the investment bank maintained its year-end 2021 forecast for Brent of $65 a barrel.

OPEC member Iran's seizure of a South Korean tanker in the Gulf on Monday also continued to support prices. Tehran denied it was holding the ship and its crew hostage after seizing the tanker while pushing for Seoul to release $7 billion of funds frozen under U.S. sanctions.

Meanwhile U.S. crude oil inventories dropped by 1.7 million barrels in the week to Jan. 1 to 491.3 million barrels, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed late on Tuesday. That exceed analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a decline of 1.3 million barrels.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma's absence from public view in the past two months, including missing the final episode of a TV show on which he was to appear as a judge, has fueled social media speculation over his whereabouts amid a Chinese regulatory clampdown on his sprawling business empire.

China's highest-profile entrepreneur has not appeared in a public setting since a late October forum in Shanghai where he blasted China's regulatory system in a speech that put him on a collision course with officials, resulting in the suspension of a $37 billion IPO of Alibaba's Ant Group fintech arm.

The Financial Times reported on Friday that Ma was replaced as a judge in the final episode in November of a game show for entrepreneurs called Africa's Business Heroes.

An Alibaba spokeswoman told Reuters on Monday that the change was due to a scheduling conflict, declining further comment.

While news coverage of Ma's absence from public view triggered speculation on Twitter, which is blocked in China, it was not a significant trending topic on social media in mainland China, where sensitive topics are subject to censorship.

Chinese regulators have zeroed in on Ma's businesses since his October speech including launching an antitrust probe into Alibaba and ordering Ant to shake up its lending and other consumer finance businesses including the creation of a separate holding company to meet capital requirements.

"I think he's been told to lay low," said Duncan Clark, chairman of Beijing-based tech consultancy BDA China. "This is a pretty unique situation, more linked to the sheer scale of Ant and the sensitivities over financial regulation," he said.

Alibaba's Hong Kong-listed shares fell 2.15% on Monday.

 

(Reuters)

After cementing its position in the video calling market amid the pandemic, Zoom plans to develop an email service to be released next year. This is in addition to its new project on a calendar application in direct competition with Google and Microsoft.

According to The Information, an India-based news media, which cited people with direct knowledge of the matter, Zoom Video Communications has begun developing a web email service and “might offer a very early version of the product to some customers next year”.

“The company also is looking into building a calendar application,” sources were quoted. Zoom did not comment on the report.

The company has had a blockbuster year, with its stock price rising more than 500 per cent owing to the unprecedented surge in remote work and learning.

Zoom’s major competitors are videoconferencing platforms bundled as part of comprehensive enterprise app suites.

The two big players are Microsoft with its Office 365 platform and Google with its competing Workspace bundle.

“Both of those platforms offer calendar, email, and videoconferencing products, so it makes sense Zoom would look to email and calendar to try to round out its offerings and make Zoom less of a single-purpose platform,” reported The Verge.

Riding on the pandemic-driven remote work and learning environment, Zoom quadrupled its quarterly revenue, registering $777.2 million in its third fiscal quarter that ended on October 31 — up 367 per cent (year-on-year).

The company had approximately 433,700 subscribers with more than 10 employees, up from 370,200 last quarter. The number of customers contributing more than $100,000 in revenue went to 1,289 – up 136 per cent from last year.

In October, Zoom made its new end-to-end encryption (E2EE) feature available to users globally, free and paid, for meetings with up to 200 participants.

As African countries kick off trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, President Paul Kagame has welcomed the latest development.

The African Union launched the start of the trading of the Continental Free Trade Area on January 1, marking a significant milestone towards the world’s largest free-trade zone.

“Cheers to the launch of Trading #AfCFTA, to those who put it all together and the rest of us who have to join in to make it work and worthwhile!!” Kagame said on Twitter.

Rwanda Paul Kegame Tweet

The launch is a culmination of years-long negotiations between African countries, which started in 2018 when a landmark agreement was signed in Kigali by leaders of 44 countries.

So far, 54 countries out of 55 have signed the agreement, 33 have ratified it, and over 40 have submitted their offers. This signals that Africa is ready to start trading as a single market.

The agreement envisions a continental market of 1.2 billion people, with a combined Gross Domestic Product of more than $3.4 trillion.

The agreement will also boost the level of intra-Africa trade.

The launch of the trading takes Africa a step closer to the vision of an integrated market on the African continent as it will boost the continent’s manufacturing capability and increase exports.

“This African Continental Free Trade Area should not just be a trade agreement, it should actually be an instrument for Africa’s development,” Wamkele Mene, the Secretary-General of AfCFTA Secretariat said during the launch.

By 2025, the continent has the opportunity to lift out of poverty 100 million Africans majority of whom are women, cross-border traders, if it implements the AfCFTA effectively, according to the African Development Bank.

Immense opportunity

Mene said the start of trading offers an immense opportunity for the continent to overcome smallness of national economies, and to overcome a lack of economies of scale.

“We have to take active steps to make sure that we place Africa on a path to accelerated industrial development so that by 2035 we are able to double intra-African trade,” he noted.

It also means that trading across borders amongst African countries will be easier and cheaper. It also means increased opportunities for thousands of entrepreneurs and businesses.

Investors, too, will be able to do business on a single set of trade and investment rules across the African continent, overcoming market fragmentation that has characterized the continent for decades.

The President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Benedict Oramah said 400 African banks are on board to provide trade finance support to African businesses.

That number is expected to increase to 500 banks soon with a combined $8bn trade finance capacity in the next 18 months.

 

Source: New Times

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