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African trade: Operationalising AfCTA will industralise Africa, says Cameroon’s PM

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Africa

The Prime Minister of Cameroon, Dr Joseph Ngute says effective implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement would drive industrialisation, economic diversification and development on the continent.

Ngute said this at the Third Session of the Specialised Technical Committee of the African Union (AU) on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and Integration on Thursday in Yaounde.

The meeting, which was organised in collaboration with the African Capacity Building Foundation, had as its theme: “Public Policies for Productive Transformation in Africa’’.

Ngute urged African governments to focus on how to operationalise the AfCFTA agreement adopted in March 2018 in Kigali in a manner that would benefit the average African.

“We need to step up our game, we need to undertake bold programmes and projects in order to ensure the development of our continent and reduce our dependence on other continents.

“There is no alternative to this equation if we really want to succeed. Merging our economies is the only solution.

“That’s the only way we can develop intra-African trade which today is still very low at 12 per cent compared to 55 per cent in Asia and 65 per cent in Europe,’’ he said.

Also, the Chairperson, African Union Commission, Mr Moussa Mahamat, said that establishing the African Financial Institutions would aid the growth and diversification of African economies.

Mahamat, who was represented by the AU Commissioner of Economic Affairs, Prof. Victor Harrison, urged states to fast- track the creation of the African Central Bank, African Monetary Fund, African Investment Bank and the Pan-African Stock Exchange.

He said that these financial institutions were important for the success of the AfCFTA and to ensure productive transformation on the continent.

“The African Union financial institutions project is one of the vehicles that will drive the continent’s financial sector with a view to facilitating its productive transformation and development.

“Indeed, evidences suggests that efficient financial market plays a prominent role in economic and productivity growth by providing good information on firms and market niches at a lower cost to investors for more productive investments,’’ he said.

It would be recalled that the AU Assembly in January 2005, which held in Abuja, outlined decisions for the establishment of some African financial institutions to improve intra-African trade.

Part of the decisions was that the African Central Bank should be located in the Western Region, the African Investment Bank in the Northern Region, and the African Monetary Fund in the Central Region.

Following this decision, the Northern Region decided that the African Investment Bank should be located in Libya, the Central Region designated Cameroon as the host country of the African Monetary Fund.

Also, the Western Region designated Nigeria as the host country of the African Central Bank.

Subsequently, the Commission and the Government of the Republic of Cameroon also signed a Headquarters Host Agreement in April 2018.

 

 

Foreign

S. African president promises to address staff shortages in COVID-19 epicenter

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President Cyril Ramaphosa promised on Friday to urgently address the staff shortages in the Western Cape, the country’s epicenter of COVID-19 pandemic.

The province will get what it needs to cope with the rapid rise in infections, the president said while touring the Cape Town International Conference Center (CTICC), which is being turned into a 850-bed field hospital for COVID-19 patients.

The president was on an inspection visit to Cape Town and the Western Cape where confirmed COVID-19 cases have been rising at a faster pace.

The Western Cape accounts for more than 66 percent of the nation’s COVID-19 cases and more than 76 percent of related deaths.

As of Thursday, the province recorded 27,006 confirmed cases and 651 related deaths, while the cumulative numbers of cases and deaths in the country respectively stood at 40,792 and 848.

During the visit, Ramaphosa was briefed by the Western Cape government on the provincial health system’s level of preparedness to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and on the province’s hotspot strategy and implementation plan.

“We are fighting a life and death war and staffing challenges must be solved,” Ramaphosa said after being told that staff shortages are the biggest challenge facing the Western Cape.

He refuted the notion that the staff shortages were worsened by lack of money.

“Money is not a problem and I will not accept a lack of staff as an excuse. We must pull out all stops to save lives,” Ramaphosa said.

Every effort must be made to identify and headhunt the necessary staff, he said.

The Department of Defence and Military Veterans is ready to bring in defence personnel who will be able to come to this province immediately to come and lend a hand,” Ramaphosa said.

All potential pools of talent and skills must be tapped, he said.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, who accompanied the president on the visit, promised to help the Western Cape resolve the testing backlog with a shipment of testing kits that are clearing customs.

The province faces a backlog of 27,000 tests at the National Health Laboratory Service.

This means that someone who is seriously ill in hospital, or a health-worker, or someone who is at high risk of dying from COVID-19, may have to wait between seven to 12 days for a result.

As a result, the Western Cape government has decided to only test those who are at highest risk and most vulnerable of dying from COVID-19 infection in the Cape Town metropolitan area.

(XINHUA)

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Economy

Developments in AfDB meant to disrupt premier Pan-African institution — Raila Odinga

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Mr Raila Odinga, a famous Kenyan politician says recent developments at the African Development Bank (AfDB) are attempts to derail and disrupt the premier Pan-African institution.

Odinga, a former opposition leader from 2013 to 2018 in Kenya, said this in a statement issued on Friday.

He described the development as disturbing at a time that Africa and the world were addressing challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that the United States Department of Treasury had called for an independent probe of corruption allegations levelled against Dr Akinwumi Adesina, AfDB president after being cleared by the bank’s ethics committee.

He explained that information available to them clearly pointed to some elements bent on circumventing  governance and procedures that were clearly articulated and well tested by the bank.

The Kenyan opposition leader,  however, said only a few individuals who were not satisfied by the Board’s findings and determination  decided to pursue the issue outside the Bank’s processes and procedures by calling for an independent inquiry.

“We reject this attempt to operate outside the law and  which if not checked can destabilise a well functioning institution.

Under the leadership of Adesina, the AfDB has made commendable strides and equally  contributed to Africa’s quest for transformation and integration. The bank has been assessed  and awarded a triple A, (“AAA”) by all major global rating  institutions.

“We support those leaders in Africa and around the world who have spoken up in support  of President Adesina’s  leadership. We urge him to relentlessly pursue the goals set out in his vision.

“We  further urge those who have misguided agendas to cease and desist.”

NAN reports that the bureau of the AfDB’s Boards of Governors had accpted the findings of the Ethics Committee but authorised for an independent review of the reports of the committee and submission of Adesina in order to carry every member of the bureau along.


Edited By: Ese E. Ekama (NAN)

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Foreign

S. African gov’t to appeal court ruling invalidating some lockdown regulations

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The South African government announced on Thursday that it has decided to appeal a court ruling which declares some of its COVID-19 lockdown regulations invalid and unconstitutional.

The government will ask that its appeal be heard on an urgent basis so that it can obtain certainty on the regulations, spokesperson Phumla Williams said in a statement after a virtual cabinet meeting in Pretoria.

The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will be joined in this appeal by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, according to Williams.

The cabinet wishes to assure the nation that all interventions introduced since the declaration of a state of national disaster in March 2020 by Ramaphosa have been directed primarily at saving lives, Williams said.

In implementing these interventions, the government has consistently consulted all sectors of society, as the fight against COVID-19 is a national effort that requires unity in action between the government and all South Africans, said Williams.

On Tuesday, the North Gauteng High Court ruled against the COVID-19 lockdown regulations in the country.

“Some of the regulations promulgated by the government simply did not meet the rationality test in preventing the spread of COVID-19,” the court said in its ruling.

The court suspended the declaration of invalidity for a period of 14 days, meaning that the current Alert Level Three regulations remain in operation for now so as to allow Dlamini-Zuma, in consultation with relevant ministers, to review, amend and republish the regulations with “due consideration to the limitation each regulation has on the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.”

Williams said that after obtaining legal advice and listening to numerous comments made by members of the legal fraternity in reaction to the judgement, “we are of the view that another court might come to a different conclusion on the matter.”

“While government appeals the court judgment, current regulations remain in force and we appeal and urge all our people to observe all the health protocols that have been put in place including washing of hands, social distancing, wearing of masks in public as well as screening and referral for testing where necessary,” Williams said.

She said the cabinet has approved the extension of the National State of Disaster by another month from June 15 to July 15.

The law allows for the National State of Disaster to last for 90 days which necessitates the extension, Williams said.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

African govt to appeal ruling declaring some COVID-19 measures invalid

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The South African government will appeal a court ruling that declared some of its coronavirus lockdown regulations invalid, a senior official said on Thursday after a cabinet meeting.

 

A high court ruled earlier this week that some of the rules governing levels three and four of the country’s five-level coronavirus lockdown were “unconstitutional and invalid”.

 

It said they should be reviewed and amended, giving consideration to their impact on individual rights, but suspended its order for 14 days, which means the rules remain in place for now.

 

“We are of the view that another court might come to a different conclusion on the matter,” Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu told a news conference, reading a cabinet statement.

 

“Cabinet has therefore decided to appeal the North Gauteng High Court decision.”

 

Mthembu said the government would ask for its appeal to be heard on an urgent basis.

 

He added that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet had also approved an extension of a national state of disaster for a further month until July 15.

 

South Africa introduced one of the world’s most restrictive COVID-19 lockdowns in March – including a ban on alcohol and cigarette sales – but has gradually eased restrictions down to the third of five levels.

 

Ramaphosa and his government initially enjoyed broad support for their decisions but after weeks of serious damage to an already shrinking economy, criticism has started to grow.

 

IAA

Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

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Foreign

COVID-19 lockdown shrinks S. African economy

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The COVID-19 induced lockdown will cause a loss of over 5.5 billion U.S. dollars to the country’s economy following the cancellation or postponement of the events in the creative industry, said the South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) on Thursday.

The SACO conducted an online study on the impact of COVID-19 induced lockdown to the sector.

Of the 595 usable responses from performing arts, heritage, publishing, music, film, video, and design and support activates, 95 percent had their activities cancelled or indefinitely postponed, while 45 percent of the respondents did not continue with any normal business activities during lockdown.

“We are hopeful that the report provides relevant insights about the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic and will jolt both decision makers in the public and private sector as well as the society at large to think deeply about the role we can all play to contribute in supporting the sector,” said Unathi Lutshaba, SACO executive director.

The SACO is a national research project of the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture. They conduct economic researches and provide policy and sector relevant information about the economic value of the cultural and creative industries.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

People protest over African American George Floyd’s death in Dallas, Texas

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People protest over African American George Floyd‘s death during a peaceful rally held in downtown Dallas, Texas, the United States, June 3, 2020. (Photo by Song Qiong/Xinhua)

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Entertainment

Artiste hosts maiden virtual drama festival to sensitise on virtues of African culture

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Anthony Oluwabiyi, Chief Executive Officer, Theatre Centrik, on Wednesday urged Nigerians to imbibe strong African  moral values that are capable of making the  continent great.

Oluwabiyi made the call during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.

He said  that the promotion of African culture and theatrical performances would spur hidden talents to display their creativity.

He told NAN that he would be presenting a virtual drama festival that wouod educate Nigerians, as part of his efforts to enlighten citizens on the essence of embracing African cultural values.

According to him, the maiden virtual drama festival would  hold  on June 17 in commemoration of the 2020 edition of Green African Arts Festival (GAAF2020).

He said that the festival tagged:  “Dance from Dusk to Dawn” would  bring to the public the fantasy of stage performance and the beauty of African Theatre.

” The play will  centre on the theme of love; the intrigue and passion of love, the purpose and value of love and the true essence of love.

” It intends to re-enact in us the power of love as a veritable tool for self-discovery and fulfilment in Africa Arts  and Culture.

”  it will expise the strong hope that love brings and the unity it creates in the family, community, nation and the world at large.

Theatre Centrik has the vision to nurture and utilise poetry lines along with dance and drums to entertain, educate and create awareness through stage performances on virtual screens,”he said.

Oluwabiyi said it was of paramount importance to still promote African culture even while the COVID-19 ravaged the would as culture had huge role to play in successfully combating the virus.

He said that Agnes Olayemi and Kingsley Bassey would be the supporting Directors while Halimath Alabi would be  the Dance Director with other renowned actors and dancers .

He noted that the festival would be like the ancient exhibition of theatrical beauty of the Greco-Roman world.

” I believe that the  stage in a drama  itself is like the pulpit where the true message of unity and development can be spread abroad and my works are centered on positive change through theatre.

” I urge every art lover to link up with us on Theatre Centrik Facebook page on June 17, from 12 p.m. to 3p.m., it promises to be enlightening,” he said.

/ PAD

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Peter Dada (NAN)

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Health

Maggi launches novel website for African dishes, embellishes Yelo Pèppè drama

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The Nestlé brand, MAGGI, has launched a first-of-its-kind website in Central and West Africa (CWAR), offering fresh new twists to well-known African dishes.

It is also serving up a second season of Yelo Pèppè , its popular online nutrition education drama series , on YouTube from June 8, 2020.

At a virtual media briefing on Wednesday, the company said the brand’s latest launches were just a few of the innovative ways MAGGI is meeting its consumers’ digital and nutritional appetites.

According to it, it is also adding to Nestlé’s purpose of enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future.

The MAGGI website, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSMLxz9Eqbs2_KXoQzQumlA, provides over 40 African recipes on an easy-to-use platform and can help families cook balanced and nutritious meals.

Dominique Allier, Business Executive Officer for Culinary at Nestlé Central and West Africa, said: “MAGGI innovates once more by providing different variations of beloved African dishes that offer something for every food lover.

“We are proud to be the first region worldwide chosen by MAGGI to launch this unique website,” he added.

Also, Akua Kwakwa, Nutrition, Health and Wellness Manager for Nestlé Central and West Africa, said that the new website was built in collaboration with top African chefs, expert nutritionists and local food influencers.

According to her, it also provides helpful tips in some recipes on how to boost your iron intake and balance dishes.

“As well as highlighting the importance of including nutritious diets in our daily lives with well-known family favourites; people across the globe now have easy access to traditional African recipes we know and love.

“For people who are more concerned about sodium, saturated fat and added sugars,the website features the unique ‘MyMenuIQ’guide that illustrates how nutritionally-balanced each recipe is.

“The higher the score, the more balanced the meal is,” she said.

The websites comes at a very appropriate time when many people are spending more time cooking at home, and they can get some inspiration from the Recipe of The Day or the With A Twist section.

There are recipes for kids, adventurous cooks, those who love a classic dish and time-saving one pot meals, all available in English and French.

Following the success of Yelo Pèppèseason one, which recorded over 20.3 million online views, MAGGI is excited to present the new second season of the popular show to its fans, bringing back its beloved characters from the first season.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that notable celebrities including: Ade Laoye, who is now one of the best-known food bloggers in the region, Anita Erskine, Shirley Manso and Sophy Aiid were part of the cast.

The brand aims to boost the nutrition of families by improving the nutritional profile of its bouillons and other products through reducing salt and increasing micronutrients such as iron, to help tackle iron deficiency.

MAGGI pledges to use more familiar ingredients that people know and can find in their kitchens, ingredients such as smoked fish, shrimp, onions, garlic, ginger and chilli pepper.

Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Foreign

UNECA projects COVID-19 could push 29 million Africans into extreme poverty

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The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on Wednesday projected that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could push 29 million people into extreme poverty across Africa.

“Africa was already witnessing the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis even before its impact on public health and may see its growth slow down by 1.8 to 2.6 percent of GDP, which could push 29 million people into extreme poverty,” the UNECA said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

The ECA further stressed that the containment measures established in 42 African countries to protect populations from the COVID-19 pandemic “have already cost the region some 69 billion U.S. dollars per month and are expected to have a negative impact on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the region.”

Vera Songwe, UN Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the UNECA, also on Wednesday stressed the urgent need to set COVID-19 recovery milestones across the continent in an efforts to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

“We are yet to know how long the COVID-19 crisis will last, but we need to set the milestones for recovery now,” the ECA chief told a webinar on “Rethinking the economy and academic paradigms in post-COVID-19 Africa.”

The ECA chief also elaborated on a number of issues that are critical for the development of post-COVID-19 crisis exit strategies, which include improving economic governance to ensure funds benefit those who need them the most, developing the digital economy, mitigating the impact of climate change, redesigning financial systems for better use of domestic financial resources such as African pension funds and reviving regional consumption through the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The webinar also provided participants with an opportunity for an initial discussion on how to rebuild African economies and re-design the study of economics to make it fit for purpose to African countries.

Some African economists argued for monetary integration of the continent as a pivotal measure for moving forward.

Various challenges were discussed such as the informal sector, where workers have been particularly negatively impacted by the crisis. Additionally, discussions touched on access to the Internet and its impact, in a continent where only a minority of the 330 million children unable to go to school have been able to study online as only 20 percent of Africans have access to stable internet connectivity. Participants also called for the redistribution of value chains and the development of African pharmaceutical industries. In this regard, panelists said it was necessary for the African diaspora to lead on technology transfer to the continent and for countries to master it.

Other topics raised during the webinar also include opportunities to digitize African economies and to rethink the architecture of African universities so that students can enjoy better access to quality education from home.

On Wednesday, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) disclosed that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the African continent surpassed 158,318 as the death toll from the ongoing pandemic surged to 4,508 as of Wednesday afternoon.

The continental disease control and prevention agency also disclosed that some 67,630 people who have been infected with the COVID-19 have recovered across the continent so far.

(XINHUA)

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