|Wednesday 22nd of January 2020
Factbox: How a virus impacts the economy and markets @Reuters
This here paper by Jong-Wha Lee and Warwick McKibbin estimates the
global economic loss due at SARS at $40 billion in 2003.
A May 2006 economic briefing by the International Air Transport
Association (IATA) estimated that world gross domestic product
suffered a 0.1% hit due to the outbreak.
“What scared people about SARS is the mortality rate,” ING Asia
Pacific’s chief economist Robert Carnell said in a note to clients.
“People didn’t take public transport, stayed away from work, stayed
away from shops, restaurants, cinemas, conferences etc. The impact
from the disease was massive on the economy, but almost all of it
indirect, due to the precautionary behavior of the population.”
Predicting the Future is now in fact more complex than the computer simulations which revealed how galaxies grew over aeons.
Dominic Cummings [Boris Johnson’s Advisor] captured this best in a
Blog captioned ‘’The Hollow Men’’
Our world is based on extremely complex, nonlinear, interdependent
networks (physical, mental, social). Properties emerge from feedback
between vast numbers of interactions: for example, the war of ant
colonies, the immune system’s defences, market prices, and abstract
thoughts all emerge from the interaction of millions of individual
Interdependence, feedback, and nonlinearity mean that systems are
fragile and vulnerable to nonlinear shocks: ‘big things come from
small beginnings’ and problems cascade, ‘they come not single spies /
But in battalions’.
Prediction is extremely hard even for small timescales. Effective
action and (even loose) control are very hard and most endeavours
10 DEC 18 :: Truce dinner, Huawei
Law & Politics
Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping enjoyed a ‘’truce’’ dinner at the G20
in Buenos Aires, where dinner Guests broke out into spontaneous
At the same moment, Canadian authorities were making the arrest of
Wanzhou Meng, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies at the
request of US Authorities.
The US is seeking extradition of Wan- zhou Meng after convincing
Canada to arrest her.
Canada will face “grave conse- quences” if it does not immediately
release Meng Wanzhou [Xinhua].
$NFLX The streaming giant said it added 8.76 million paid subscribers globally compared with expectations of 7.63 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
International growth helped the streaming video service trounce
expectations in the last quarter of 2019.
But the company acknowledged competition had an impact in the United
States, where growth missed Wall Street targets - and that competition
will become more global as the Disney+ service launches across Europe
Rivals including Walt Disney Co and Apple Inc are now fighting for
streaming customers, and Netflix said it expects to add 7 million
subscribers globally in the first quarter, below analysts’ average of
8.82 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
For a company that has historically taken great pains to avoid
mentioning competitive forces - it once called the video game Fortnite
a bigger rival than other streaming services - it spent a considerable
amount of time explaining why Disney’s power will not have as damaging
an effect on its engine of growth outside of America.
“Despite the big debut of Disney+ and the launch of Apple TV+, our
viewing per membership grew both globally and in the U.S. on a year
over year basis, consistent with recent quarters,” the company wrote
in a letter to investors.
Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings described the fourth
quarter’s 8.76 million net subscriber growth - boosted by a new season
of royal drama “The Crown” and two films nominated for Best Picture
Oscars - as “just amazing.”
That number beat Wall Street estimates for the fourth quarter, helping
to send shares up 2.2% in volatile after-hours trading on Tuesday.
The Disney+ and Apple TV+ streaming services both launched in the
United States in November. Disney+, which is also live in Canada,
Australia and New Zealand, will launch in the U.K., France, Germany,
Italy, Ireland, Spain, Austria and Switzerland on March 24. Apple TV+
is available in over 100 countries and regions.
The Disney+ service launched in the United States and Canada for $7
per month and $13 a month for a bundle with ESPN+ and Hulu; it reached
10 million sign-ups on its first day. Apple TV+ launched Nov. 1 for $5
per month and is free for one year with the purchase of some Apple
devices: its performance has been harder to define. AT&T-owner
WarnerMedia’s HBO Max will cost $15 per month when it launches in May.
Netflix is available in over 190 countries; its standard U.S. plan
costs $13 per month.
Netflix has had an outsized impact on the pay TV landscape, changing
the way that people consume TV and film and forcing media and tech
companies to shift their business models. As streaming video has grown
in the United States, the market has become more competitive, pushing
Netflix to look overseas for growth.
As such, the company has invested heavily in non-English language
content, and this quarter began releasing revenue and subscriber
numbers by region for the first time. It added 1.75 million
subscribers in Asia-Pacific, its fastest-growing region, while Latin
America grew by 2.04 million subscribers in the quarter.
As rivals have pulled their content off of Netflix, the company has
poured money into original TV series and films. It had a $15 billion
cash budget for content last year and $14.76 billion in long-term debt
as of Dec. 31, 2019.
“Friends” left Netflix in the United States this month and will run on
HBO Max. “The Office” is leaving the service at the end of 2020 and
will be available on Comcast-owned NBCUniversals forthcoming Peacock
streaming platform next year.
''The streaming service’s massive content and marketing budget can
only be justified if the company is adding more subscribers at a
robust rate. If that doesn’t materialize, then its stock price will
reflect that reality,” wrote Haris Anwar, an analyst at investing.com.
The addition of new streaming platforms - taking more out of a
household’s monthly entertainment budget - has also made it harder for
Netflix to raise prices, as it did in the United States last year.
Free, advertising-supported services such as Peacock and
ViacomCBS-owned Pluto TV may also limit Netflix’s pricing power,
according to research from Citigroup.
23-SEP-2019 :: Streaming Dreams Non-Linearity Netflix
My Mind kept to an Article I read in 2012 ‘’Annals of Technology
Streaming Dreams’’ by John Seabrook January 16, 2012.
“People went from broad to narrow,” he said, “and we think they will
continue to go that way—spend more and more time in the niches—
because now the distribution lands-cape allows for more narrowness’’.
Netflix faces an onslaught of competition in the market it invented.
After years of false starts, Apple is planning to launch a streaming
service in November, as is Disney — with AT&T’s WarnerMedia and Com-
cast’s NBCUniversal to follow early next year.
Netflix has corrected brutally and lots of folks are bailing big time
especially after Netflix lost US subscribers in the last quarter.
Even after the loss of subscribers in the second quarter, Ben
Swinburne, head of media research at Morgan Stanley, says Netflix is
still on course for a record year of subscriber additions.
Optimists point to the group’s global reach. It is betting its future
on expansion outside the US, where it has already attracted 60m
Netflix is not a US business, it is a global business. The Majority of
Analysts are in the US and in my opinion, these same Analysts have an
international ‘’blind spot’’
Once Investors appreciate that the Story is an international one and
not a US one anymore, we will see the price ramp to fresh all-time
India's Neighbourhood First policy crumbles @BhadraPunchline
'The curtain is coming down on India's leadership role as a regional
power even before the drama of the Asian Century truly began,' warns
Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar.
Sheikh Hasina has said (external link), "We don't understand why the
Indian government) did it (CAA). It was not necessary." She said there
is no "reverse migration" from India to Bangladesh, but, she added,
"within India, people are facing many problems."
Sheikh Hasina duly acknowledged that '(Still], it is an internal
affair. Bangladesh has always maintained that the CAA and NRC are
internal matters of India.
The Government of India, on their part, has also repeatedly maintained
that the NRC is an internal exercise of India and Prime Minister Modi
has in person assured me of the same during my visit to New Delhi in
Hamid Karzai's remarks during an interview with an Indian newspaper
were somewhat nuanced.
He rejected the very notion behind the CAA: 'We don't have persecuted
minorities in Afghanistan... the whole country is persecuted. We have
been in war and conflict for a long time.
All religions in Afghanistan: Muslims and Hindus and Sikhs... have
suffered. The feeling in Afghanistan is very different to what the
perception here in India may be... I hope that sentiment would be
reflected in India as well with regard to other Afghans who are Muslim
In his characteristic way, Karzai hit the nail on the head, namely,
that CAA takes a differentiated approach toward Muslims.
Such criticism does not arise out of 'misinformation' about the CAA or
because of the 'false alarm' stemming out of the 'negative publicity
generated by the anti-CAA protests in India', as apologists of the
Indian establishment may interpret.
It is authentic and it signals that India's lurch toward Hindu
nationalism has become a matter of concern to the Muslim nations in
A cumulative impression is forming that Muslims are being persecuted in India.
India may churn out for Bangladesh a dozen community clinics and water
treatment plants each, a National Knowledge Network here or a
Vivekananda Bhavan there in Dhaka, but at the of the day, all that
becomes a washout when we humiliate that country and rubbish its
national honour and self-respect.
To add to it, there is a difficult history before and after Partition.
Just look at the humiliation our ruling elites are pouring at Bangladesh.
Dilip Ghosh, the Bharatiya Janata Party's president in West Bengal,
has been quoted as saying on Sunday at Kolkata, 'Hindus were driven
out of Bangladesh in their hundreds and thousands... On the other
hand, the infiltrators are eating away our share of government
benefits. We won't let the one crore infiltrators in Bengal live here.
They didn't let us (Hindus) live on the other side of Bengal
(Bangladesh) and they have no right to live in this part.'
Herein lies our dilemma.
Convincing Sheikh Hasina is going to be extremely difficult, well nigh
impossible, because it entails convincing her that Prime Minister Modi
and Home Minister Amit Shah are hollow men.
Sheikh Hasina is certainly not going to believe that.
The BJP ideologues (external link) don't get it that this is not about
a failure of diplomacy.
This is actually about deeply flawed statecraft.
This will not be a mere tactical retreat.
It is heading toward a strategic defeat. The point is, the curtain is
coming down on India's leadership role as a regional power even before
the drama of the Asian Century truly began.
Can't you hear the catcalls from Gwadar to Hambantota to Chittagong to
Indeed, there is a fundamental contradiction here: Hindutva ideology
and the government's 'Neighbourhood First policy' are simply
Let us not forget that Islam is the dominant religion in half of all
South Asian countries -- in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the
Maldives -- while it is the third-largest religion in Sri Lanka and
We can only overlook at great peril that Islam is the second-largest
religion in South Asia with about 600 million Muslims, forming about
one-third of South Asia's population.
20-JAN-2020 :: The Maghreb a decade later The Intrusion of Middle Powers
I learnt from William Dalrymple in an article in the Financial Times
that it was a a Berber cavalry commander Quintus Lollius Urbicus who
after Hadrian’s death, was sent westward, to the furthest and most
uncivilised extremity of the empire, becoming the first African
Governor of Britain. The story of the apex of his brilliant career is
told in a second inscription found at the somewhat unlikely site of
Balmuildy, just to the north of Glasgow. It was wealthy north Africans
who crushed the Caledonian resistance and seized north Britain for the
Romans. By the end of the second century, a third of the Roman senate
was north African while the Emperor Septimius Severus grew up a little
to the east in Leptis Magna (now in modern Libya).
Modern Day Algeria finally rid itself of Bouteflika the wheelchair
bound last year but North Africa otherwise known as the Maghreb
remains volatile and is still yet to emerge from the ''Arab Spring''
which was triggered by the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi on 17
December 2010, which then begat the Egyptian revolution of 2011, also
known as the January 25 Revolution, which toppled Hosni Mubarak and
then circled back to topple Muammar Gaddafi [“I tell the coward
crusaders: I live in a place where you can’t get me. I live in the
hearts of millions.”] with a great deal of help from the Merchants of
Regime Change led by Hilary [''We came, we saw, he died''] Clinton.
interestingly, the Advance Guard of mercenary ''Head Choppers'' were
then exfiltrated from Benghazi to Syria but their Advance was resisted
with a great deal of help by Putin and they are now being roundtripped
back to Libya, as we speak, by Turkey's Erdogan. Tunisia, where it all
started just under a decade ago, is in a steadier state. Egypt after a
brief interregnum under the Muslim Brotherhood has reverted to
''Military'' rule and lashings of repression but Al-Sisi used the
opportunity to reform the Economy and Egypt has been the ''Darling''
of International Investors and the destination for the best carry
Trade in the World for a number of years. Since 2010 and over the last
ten years, Middle Powers like Turkey, the UAE [whom Mattis
characterised as ''Little Sparta''], Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey
[Israel and Russia too but they cannot be characterised as Middle
Powers] have all extended their reach into the Maghreb and the Horn of
Africa. The schism which started in the Gulf has spread like a virus.
I remain a little surprised that the UAE and Saudi Arabia have not
visited economic warfare on Istanbul because it does look ripe for the
plucking but then Al-Thani is probably providing a backstop.
The New York Times has an Article about Mohammed bin Zayed and it reads thus
Then the driver pulled up outside a building where Clarke heard
popping sounds. He went inside and saw a group of young women in
military uniforms, firing pistols at targets. Seated not far away was
M.B.Z., in his white tunic and ear-protection muffs, alongside his
wife and an empty third chair reserved for Clarke. During a lull in
the shooting, M.B.Z. introduced the women, who were all his daughters
and nieces. “I’m starting a draft,” M.B.Z. said. “I want everyone in
the country to feel like they’re responsible. A lot of them are fat
and lazy.” To stimulate the draft, he said, he would begin with all
the young people in his own family.
And [how the] U.A.E. approached Sisi and outlined the terms of their
financial support before Morsi’s overthrow. “I think there’s every
reason to believe he staged a coup,” I was told by one former
diplomat. “For a tiny country in the Persian Gulf to overthrow the
ruler of Egypt and put their guy in, that’s a big achievement.”
The main Theatre for Proxy operations is Libya. Gaddafi characterised
Libya as a Cork and he said to Tony Blair that if he was toppled Libya
and Africa would be uncorked. It was a prescient prediction. On one
side we have General Haftar a dual Libyan-American citizen who is the
Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) and is bankrolled and
supported by the UAE, Egypt, France and Greece On the other side we
have the Government of National Accord led by Prime Minister Fayez
al-Sarraj and supported by Turkey and Qatar because they have been
joined at the hip for a while now. President Putin started on Haftar's
side but likes to play a ''balancing'' role and might well eventually
align with Turkey. Germany is currently holding a Peace Conference
this week. The US is sidelined other than making te odd phone call.
Libya is clearly an example of geopolitical ''cliff edge'' risks. The
Horn of Africa exhibits entirely similar characteristics. In fact,
from the Maghreb to the Sahel to the Horn of Africa, we are witnessing
a surge in asymmetric warfare and the intrusion of Middle Powers.
Threat from African Militant Islamist Groups Expanding, Diversifying @AfricaACSS
Militant Islamist groups in Africa set a record pace of activity in
2019. There were 3,471 reported violent events linked to these groups
in the past year, a 14-percent increase over the previous 12 months.
This reflects a doubling of militant Islamist group activity in Africa
Reported fatalities linked to African militant Islamist group activity
also rose, by 7 percent over the previous year, to an estimated 10,460
deaths. This reverses a downward trend in fatalities seen since 2015.
The threat from militant Islamist groups in Africa is not monolithic
but comprises activity from a constantly shifting mix of roughly two
dozen groups actively operating in 14 countries.
While still largely concentrated in five main theaters, the
distribution of militant Islamist group activity across the continent
has grown more dispersed. Previously, Somalia accounted for roughly
half of all such events in Africa.
This picture has shifted to one that is more evenly dispersed across
Somalia, the Lake Chad Basin, and the Sahel—with lesser but persistent
threats in North Africa and Mozambique. Each theater faces unique
Ethiopia Pushes Privatization to Give Its Economy a Sugar Rush @business @BW
For decades, Irba Jana has scraped out a modest living from sugar
cane, selling his harvest to mills run by Ethiopia’s state-owned sugar
monopoly. But lately he’s been working as a security guard to
supplement his income, as two of the three nearby processing
facilities have closed because of a lack of upkeep and investment.
“Sugar cane just isn’t profitable anymore,” says Irba, a grizzled,
50-year-old father of eight. “It may be time to start farming
Recently, though, he got news that could augur a return to better
times: The government is planning to privatize Ethiopian Sugar Corp.’s
assets, including a factory complex near Irba’s home on a high plateau
a two-hour drive southeast of Addis Ababa.
And a local investor aims to let farmers buy shares in the mills, with
promises of investment in additional projects such as candy and
A voice at the factory would benefit farmers, says Beyene Bikila, a
fellow grower and union member. “We know how to produce,” he says,
“and we should get paid properly.”
Privatization of the sugar industry is part of a sweeping
liberalization backed by Abiy Ahmed, the 43-year-old prime minister
who in October won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end a
two-decade conflict with neighboring Eritrea.
Ethiopia is among Africa’s most dynamic economies, averaging annual
growth of almost 10% for the past decade. Yet the country remains one
of the most state-controlled on the continent, a legacy of the
Marxist-Leninist Derg regime that ruled from the 1974 coup that
deposed Emperor Haile Selassie until a return to democracy in 1991.
“The private sector is not playing its natural role,” says Eyob
Tekalign, a former diplomat and private equity executive hired by Abiy
as state minister for finance. “Our growth had shortcomings in terms
of quality, job creation, inclusivity, and benefiting the poor.”
The government aims to raise at least $7.5 billion from selling assets
from the sugar industry, the phone system, railroads, and other
Ethiopia needs foreign exchange: Exports have dwindled, and external
debt has grown 26% since 2016, to $27 billion—more than a quarter of
the country’s likely 2020 gross domestic product of roughly $100
In December, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank
pledged more than $5 billion to help narrow the budget deficit and
support Abiy’s reform agenda.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have also pledged cash, and
China has pushed back the repayment of loans by a decade, to 2030.
The government says it will first sell a half-dozen of the sugar
monopoly’s holdings, followed by seven other processing plants and
The ministry says roughly two dozen companies from at least 10
countries are considering bids. The government expects the first sales
by June, though the process will likely extend into next year.
Next up will be assets of state-owned Ethio Telecom, which struggles
to provide anything more than basic voice service in most of the
The government plans to sell as much as 49% of the company this year
and issue two mobile and broadband licenses to boost competition.
France’s Orange, South Africa’s MTN Group, and Safaricom of Kenya have
all expressed interest in licenses, which bidders estimate will fetch
$1 billion, as well as another $1 billion-plus to build out networks.
With its growing economy and a population of 100 million on track to
double by 2045, Ethiopia is “the biggest prize left in Africa from a
telecoms point of view,” says Michael Joseph, acting chief executive
officer of Safaricom Ltd.
After that could be Ethiopian Railway Corp.: tracks, trains, stations,
and especially the line that covers the 466 miles from Addis Ababa
across the border to the port city of Djibouti.
The route, opened in 2018 with $4 billion in funding from China,
enables landlocked Ethiopia to move cargo to and from the coast. A
priority is to attract funding to keep that line running—it’s
struggled with electricity shortages—and complete new projects such as
a route north from Addis Ababa.
Also likely to be sold are assets of the electric utility, with more
than a dozen hydro plants, and a series of industrial parks built with
yet more loans from China intended to turn agrarian Ethiopia into a
One company not for sale is Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s biggest
carrier. When news of the privatizations became public, investors
worldwide began eyeing the airline, but the government says a sale is
The company has turned Addis Ababa into the busiest hub for traffic
from the region to the Middle East and Asia, putting it in competition
with rivals worldwide and forcing it to be more efficient than
monopolies such as Ethio Telecom.
Privatization “is not a priority,” says Tewolde Gebre Mariam, the
carrier’s CEO. He has, though, suggested that some assets, including a
cargo facility and the 373-room Skylight hotel at the Addis Ababa
airport, could be sold.
The sales will reduce the outsize role of Metals & Engineering Corp.,
a military-run conglomerate commonly known as Metec that until
recently was at the center of Ethiopia’s state-driven economic model.
Founded in 2010 to foster economic growth, the company was given
control of projects ranging from fertilizer and sugar plants to the
Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam—Africa’s largest hydropower project,
which is five years behind schedule.
Soon after becoming prime minister, Abiy reshuffled the Metec board
and split the company into civilian and defense arms, saying its
infrastructure projects have run wildly over budget.
Ethiopian police have arrested dozens of people at the conglomerate,
14 former employees have been charged with graft, and auditors are
looking at potential misappropriation of funds intended for sugar
plants and the Nile dam.
“Metec took on many projects, but it didn’t have experienced
employees,” says Ahmed Hamza, a former intelligence official appointed
by Abiy to run the company. “This pushed Metec to failure.”
While Abiy has strong backing from investors and the World Bank, his
economic record is mixed.
Black-market exchange rates for foreign currency stand more than 30%
above the official bank price as businesses and individuals fight over
scarce resources to pay for imported goods and international travel.
The United Nations World Food Program is predicting food crises in
some areas of the country this year, and the price of injera, the
staple flatbread, has jumped as inflation stands at almost 20%.
“Ethiopia has suffered from long-term, chronic foreign exchange
liquidity issues,” says Razia Khan, chief economist for Africa and the
Middle East at Standard Chartered Plc in London.
International loans could ease the cash crunch and “deal with an
important impediment to any privatization.”
The political situation is equally iffy, with Abiy facing widespread
criticism for an authoritarian style and surrounding himself with
More than 200 people have been killed in demonstrations and ethnic
clashes since July, and even the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace process
appears to have stalled, with the land border once again closed.
That’s giving some potential investors pause. Miltiadis Gkouzouris,
CEO of Dutch agricultural development firm HVA International, says
he’s “absolutely interested” in returning to Ethiopia’s sugar industry
almost a half-century after his company’s licenses were taken away by
the Derg regime, “but we are waiting to see how the political
For years, mismanagement at Ethiopian Sugar slowed development, and
its debt has ballooned to almost $2.3 billion—loans the government
must pay if the company fails.
“The sugar industry was one of the most productive in the world,” but
it suffered from overambitious expansion and the appointment by the
government of unqualified managers, says Berhanu Jijo, a sugar
industry veteran who now heads consulting firm AgriPol International.
“Productivity has gone down tremendously.”
The entrepreneur pushing the community ownership plan near Irba’s farm
is Bitew Alemu, a stocky, 37-year-old owner of a small computer
accessory and printing business.
When news of the sugar privatization came through in 2018, he set up a
company called Ethio Sugar to bid on three plants.
He’s competing against far larger companies from China, South Africa,
Qatar, and Kenya, so his local ties and the support of farmers and
factory hands are essential for his pitch.
“We are working with them because we are part of them,” Bitew says
after addressing a group of maintenance workers outside one of the
facilities he’s bidding on, a 65-year-old factory that’s been out of
commission since 2012 and is used for parking and fixing trucks and
While his plan would require investment from farmers, he says he’s
lined up bank financing for those who need it, and he insists a united
effort will let everybody prosper.
“If they work hard and the company becomes profitable, they’ll get a
dividend,” Bitew says. “Then we can deploy more factories and boost
production—invest and expand the business.”
2 JUL 18 :: Ethiopia Rising
“To create one contagious movement, you often have to create many
small movements first.”
“Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable,
implacable place. It is not, With the slightest push—in just the right
place—it can be tipped.”—Malcolm Gladwell .
He has been Prime Minster for 90 days. During those 90 days, he has
criss-crossed the country, ended a state of emergency, released
thousands of political prisoners, thawed relations with Eritrea [29
Mar 2018 HE Abiy Ahmed @PM_AbiyAhmed - It is time. Lets build a wall
of love between #Ethiopia & #Eritrea], bagged a $1b from the UAE,
announced a dramatic economic about-turn. In matters language and
linguistics, he has tapped into a ‘’Nelson Mandela’’ 1994 mood. These
90 or so days represent the most consequential arrival of an African
politician on the African stage since Mandela walked out of prison
blinking in the sunlight and constructed his ‘’rainbow nation’’.
I was watching the France-Argentina game and the arrival of Kylian
Mbappe on the world stage at the tender age of 19. I recalled watching
the Whirling Dervishes of the Mevlevi order on a night of a full moon
in Konya, Turkey. I thought what they all have in common with Abiy
It’s all about speed and velocity. Paul Virilio terms it ‘dromology’,
which he defined as the “science (or logic) of speed“.
He notes that the speed at which something happens may change its
essential nature, and that which moves with speed quickly comes to
dominate that which is slower.
“Whoever controls the territory possesses it. Possession of territory
is not primarily about laws and contracts, but first and foremost a
matter of movement and circulation.”
Virilio argues that the traditional feudal fortified city disappeared
because of the increasing sophistication of weapons and possibilities
for warfare. For Virilio, the concept of siege warfare became rather a
war of movement.
Abiy Ahmed has moved at lightning speed, the old guard is like ‘’the
traditional feudal fortified city’’.
He said “The ppl of Tigray are still begging for a drop of water; TPLF
(the party) is not the people of Tigray”.
On the same day he said, “we are in debt, we have to pay back but we
can’t. And secondarily, we aren’t able to finish projects we have
started” and announced his economic Pivot.
Of course, the downside risk of all this infrastructure is plain to
see and Sri Lanka and the tale of its Hambantota Port is now a
FX reserves were at less than a month’s worth of imports and something
needed to be done. Expectations are high.
The Prime Minister needs to execute real quick on the economic front
but if he levels the playing Field, a whole Troop of folks will be
looking to pile in.
That Troop will include the Ethiopian Diaspora, Foreign Investors and
I am sure our very own Safaricom who must have already presented the
Prime minister with a copy of the MIT research on M-Pesa which
confirmed access to mobile-money services increased daily per capita
consumption levels of two percent of Kenyan households, lifting them
out of extreme poverty.
Abiy Ahmed’s first 90 days have been as remarkable as the less than 90
minutes of France’s Mbappe’s performance on Saturday.
14 OCT 19 :: He faces a fiendishly complicated task fending off the centripetal forces which are tearing Ethiopia apart
‘’These 90 or so days represent the most consequential arrival of an
African politician on the African stage since Mandela walked out of
prison blinking in the sunlight and constructed his ‘’rainbow
And whilst he faces a fiendishly complicated task fending off the
centripetal forces which are tearing Ethiopia apart, the Prime
Minister who has a singular self-belief in his destiny is a Virilian
figure and a c21st African Leader which is a scarce commodity.
“Whoever controls the territory possesses it. Possession of terri-
tory is not primarily about laws and contracts, but first and foremost
a matter of movement and circulation.”
New @IMFNews Program Still Up in the Air as Egypt Primes Its Economy @economics
Egypt expects its domestic reforms to spur private investment whether
or not it agrees on a non-financial International Monetary Fund
program, a decision that will be made “soon,” Planning and Economic
Development Minister Hala El-Saeed said.
“Now is the time for the private sector,” said El-Saeed in an
interview in London late Monday, while at a U.K.-organized conference
to boost investment in Africa. “The infrastructure and laws are
The government has won plaudits from international investors for
enacting tough reforms, supported by a $12 billion IMF loan package
that concluded in November.
The three-year program focused on reviving the economy, and delivered
the Middle East’s fastest growth that the fund forecasts will
accelerate to 5.9% in 2020.
But the changes also entailed devaluing the currency, slashing
subsidies and trimming spending.
For regular Egyptians, that meant a surge in inflation that gutted
incomes and stunted growth in the private sector, where business
activity has contracted in all but two of the past 16 months,
according to the Markit Egypt Purchasing Managers’ Index.
That’s in part because job-creating private companies have yet to
thrive in an economy dominated by privileged state entities, in
particular those belonging to the military.
The IMF has said the public sector’s economic footprint should be reduced.
Egypt has been considering signing up to a further, non-financial IMF
program to reassure investors it will stay the reform course.
The same economic committee overseeing domestic plans will decide
whether to involve the IMF, El-Saeed said.
The minister said no decision on any new IMF program has been taken,
but it will be “soon.” She declined to give a time frame.
The next phase of Egypt’s revamp will focus on capacity building and
sustainable growth, mainly through empowering the private sector,
according to officials and the IMF.
Foreign direct investment already surged in the first quarter of the
current fiscal year, rising 66% from a year earlier, thanks to
greenfield inflows and capital spending in the oil industry.
Meanwhile, El-Saeed said she’s confident the government is doing
enough on its own to begin attracting more investment.
‘Breakthrough for Companies’
With some big ticket items, such as bankruptcy and public private
partnership laws in place, more detailed sectoral reforms are in the
works, including an automated customs system, she said. Infrastructure
spending, neglected during the years of turmoil that followed 2011’s
uprising, is also emerging, she said.
Another tool in the government’s kit is a new sovereign wealth fund,
set up jointly with the United Arab Emirates, that will consolidate
underused state-owned assets -- from land parcels to industry -- and
make them more productive by attracting foreign and domestic private
El-Saeed described the fund as “an accelerator” for shifting
state-controlled property -- including that owned by Egypt’s powerful
military -- under partial private control.
Challenged on why Egypt created a fund to do what in many countries is
done without, the former economics professor said Egyptian
bureaucracies lacked the expertise for developing such public-private
Egypt has trumpeted reform before, with disappointing delivery. A
continued focus on mega-projects, such as a new administrative city
between Cairo and the Suez Canal, has sparked skepticism as to whether
this time will end differently.
Gains have been slow to trickle down to its poorest. Authorities are
being careful to ensure efforts don’t further batter them by tampering
with safety nets like the ration cards system used by 75% of the
Government surveys suggest the proportion of Egyptians living below
the poverty line of about $1.5 per day has increased to a third.
According to El-Saeed, however, new numbers for 2018-2019 to be
released this year will show improvement.
Egypt’s wider challenge hasn’t gone away. One reason poverty has risen
steadily over decades in the country of around 100 million is that the
largest families tend to be among the poorest.
“It’s a work in progress,” El-Saeed said.
Kenya or Somalia: Who owns the sea and what lies beneath? @dwnews
A narrow triangle off the coast of Africa, in the Indian Ocean, about
100,000 square kilometers (62,000 square miles), is the bone of
contention between neighboring Kenya and Somalia.
Both countries want the area because it supposedly has a large deposit
of oil and gas, but it's not clear to which country it belongs.
"The position of the boundary is a gray area," said Timothy Walter, a
maritime border conflict researcher at the Institute for Security
Studies (ISS) in South Africa.
For Kenya, however, the boundary is quite clear. It lies line parallel
to the line of latitude. That gives Kenya the larger share of the
maritime area and it has already sold mining licenses to international
companies. But Somalia disagrees.
The Somalis want the boundary to extend to the southeast as an
extension of the land border. In 2009, both countries agreed that the
United Nations commission in charge of mediating border disputes
should determine the border line once and for all.
They also agreed that they should continue to work together to find a
solution so that the matter would not have to go to court.
Somalia wants the ICJ to define the boundary as laid down by the
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and other
international sea laws.
Scramble for the Horn and Red Sea ports @dailynation
The scramble for the Horn of Africa’s coastlines and the Red Sea ports
Foreign powers have established trade and military bases ostensibly to
secure safe shipping on the Bab el Mandab waterway. They have landed
forces presumably to counter piracy and terrorism.
However, their long-term aims are to monopolise strategic ports and
The powers include the US, Saudi Arabia, China, Italy, France,
Germany, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Qatar and Egypt.
The hosting nations have security and economic interests key to their
existence in a region that has experienced wars for decades.
They hire out ports to stimulate their economies and infrastructure.
Said Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed: “Superpowers are expanding
their military presence in the Horn. Terrorist and extremist groups
also seek to establish a foothold.”
Former Ethiopian premier Meles Zenawi viewed it as a nightmare.
“Imagine how much weaker Ethiopia’s position will be, with the UAE
controlling every port we use,” he once said.
This is why landlocked Ethiopia is developing a naval force supposedly
to protect its commercial shipping and ports of interest in the Horn
and Red Sea.
The Chinese have built ports in Djibouti and support infrastructure
development in Somalia in exchange for mineral exploitation and
Turkey trains Somali soldiers while Al-Bayrak and Favori — both
Turkish companies — have taken over the management of Mogadishu sea
and air ports for 20 and 10 years, respectively.
Turkish and Qatari companies have partnered to build Suakin port in
Sudan, while Qatar has an agreement with Somalia to develop Hobyo
The DP World, a UAE firm, is seeking long-term management of ports in
the Horn and Yemen.
Somalia and Djibouti are not comfortable with the company’s
acquisition of the Bossaso, Berbera and Doraleh ports.
Both countries have protested to the UN Security Council, saying the
behaviour of the UAE is a violation of international law.
Djibouti has since nationalised the Doraleh port and handed its
management over to a Chinese company.
06-AUG-2018 :: The Indian Ocean Economy and a Port Race
Today from Massawa, Eritrea [admittedly on the Red Sea] to Djibouti,
from Berbera to Mogadishu, from Lamu to Mombasa to Tanga to Bagamoyo
to Dar Es Salaam, through Beira and Maputo all the way to Durban and
all points in between we are witnessing a Port race of sorts as
everyone seeks to get a piece of the Indian Ocean Port action.
China [The BRI initiative], the Gulf Countries [who now appear to see
the Horn of Africa as their hinter- land], Japan and India [to a
lesser degree] are all jostling for optimal ’geo-economic’’
Joint statement by Uhuru and Boris: "From 2020 to 2025, we will work together across five pillars - mutual prosperity, security and stability, sustainable development, climate change, and people to people" @OliverMathenge
Joint statement by Uhuru and Boris: "From 2020 to 2025, we will work
together across five pillars – mutual prosperity, security and
stability, sustainable development, climate change, and people to
people – reflecting the key challenges and opportunities of our time."
As a result of the low collection, cumulative ordinary (mainly tax) revenue underperformed the target by Sh138.7 billion in the half-year period to December. @BD_Africa
A reduction in headcount has pushed down pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) tax,
putting the Treasury finances in a precarious position in the first
half of fiscal year 2019/20.
As a result of the low collection, cumulative ordinary (mainly tax)
revenue underperformed the target by Sh138.7 billion in the half-year
period to December.
The other poor performers were excise tax and value-added tax (VAT),
which are directly connected to business activity.
The total revenue collections including Appropriation in Aid (or fees
from ministries and their agencies) by December 2019 amounted to
Sh920.6 billion against a target of Sh1.06 billion.
“Cumulative ordinary revenue fell short of the December target by
Sh138.7 billion. The shortfall was in all broad categories of ordinary
revenues with income tax recording the highest shortfall on account of
depressed performance in PAYE followed by excise tax and VAT,” said
the Treasury in a draft Budget Policy Statement (BPS).
The State is, however, optimistic that the shortfall will be covered
in the second half of the financial year, even as it has planned to
increase domestic borrowing by a massive Sh84.6 billion to hit a total
of Sh514 billion.
The higher domestic borrowing is linked to the additional Sh55.23
billion expenditure for development as contained in the revised