The Way we live now #COVID19
It certainly is a new c21st that we find ourselves in. There is a
luminous and Fairy Tale feel to life in quarantine and as you know
most fairy tales have an oftentimes dark and dangerous and unspoken
I sit in my study and its as if my hearing is sharpened. I hear the
Breeze, birdsong, Nature in its many forms and the urban background
noise which was once the constant accompaniment to daily life has
The Nights are dark, the stars are bright and the neighbiours long gone.
''You felt the land taking you back to what was there a hundred years
ago, to what had been there always.”
Don DeLillo wrote "Everything is barely weeks. Everything is days. We
have minutes to live."
A pestilence isn't a thing made to man's measure; therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogy of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away. - Albert Camus, The Plague
“In this respect, our townsfolk were like everybody else, wrapped up
in themselves; in other words, they were humanists: they disbelieved
A pestilence isn't a thing made to man's measure; therefore we tell
ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogy of the mind, a bad dream that
will pass away.
But it doesn't always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it
is men who pass away, and the humanists first of all, because they
have taken no precautions.”
― Albert Camus, The Plague
Love is a fire that burns unseen - by Luis de Camoes
Love is a fire that burns unseen,
a wound that aches yet isn't felt,
an always discontent contentment,
a pain that rages without hurting,
a longing for nothing but to long,
a loneliness in the midst of people,
a never feeling pleased when pleased,
a passion that gains when lost in thought.
It's being enslaved of your own free will;
it's counting your defeat a victory;
it's staying loyal to your killer.
But if it's so self-contradictory,
how can Love, when Love chooses,
bring human hearts into sympathy?
What if Western and China's elites are working harmoniously to preserve their power, and Covid-19 alarmism was engineered to facilitate that? @adamscrabble
Law & Politics
Growth led by: 10%: Ghana⁶³, DRC⁹⁷ 5%: Russia⁷, Brazil⁹, Peru¹³,
India¹⁴, Saudi Arabia¹⁷, Pakistan²³, Belarus²⁷, Bangladesh³⁷, Egypt⁴⁷,
Kuwait⁵¹, Bahrain⁵8, Nigeria⁶¹, Oman⁶⁵, Armenia⁶⁶, Cameroon⁶⁹,
Bolivia⁷⁵, Senegal⁸⁴, Honduras⁸⁷, Sudan⁹⁵ @video4me
Phylogenetic estimates support that the COVID-2 pandemic started sometimes around 6 October 2019–11 December 2019
Law & Politics
Three sites in Orf1ab in the regions encoding Nsp6, Nsp11, Nsp13, and
one in the Spike protein are characterised by a particularly large
number of recurrent mutations (>15 events) which may signpost
convergent evolution and are of particular interest in the context of
adaptation of SARS-CoV-2 to the human host.
To date, the genetically closest-known lineage is found in horseshoe
bats (BatCoV RaTG13) (Zhou et al., 2020). However, this lineage shares
96% identity with SARS-CoV-2, which is not sufficiently high to
implicate it as the immediate ancestor of SARS-CoV-2 (Shaw et al.,
The zoonotic source of the virus remains unidentified at the date of writing
Fig. 2. Genomic diversity of SARSCoV-2 in the UK, USA, Iceland and China.
Law & Politics
Strains collected from all four countries are highlighted on the
global phylogenetic tree. a) Strains from the UK shown in red. b)
Strains collected in the USA shown in purple. c) Strains collected in
Iceland shown in red. d) Strains collected in China shown in green.
Regional colours match to the global phylogeny shown in Fig. 1c. (For
interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the
reader is referred to the web version of this article.)
This genetic diversity of SARS-CoV-2 populations circulating in
different countries points to each of these local epidemics having
been seeded by a large number of independent introductions of the
The main exception to this pattern is China, the source of the initial
outbreak, where only a fraction of the global diversity is present
(Fig. 2d). This is also to an extent the case for Italy (Fig. S2b),
which was an early focus of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Evolution of cases in Botswana, Burundi, Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Eswatini, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, since 100th confirmed case. @COVID19_bot
Africa has carried out around 685 tests per million people @ReutersGraphics
By comparison, European countries have carried out nearly 17 million
tests, the equivalent of just under 23,000 per million people.
Central African Republic’s Health Minister Pierre Somse was surprised
to learn from an aid agency’s press release that the country had only
three ventilators – he had no idea they had any, he said.
“If you don’t test, you don’t find.” @JNkengasong director of the @AfricaCDC
So far, 868,227 COVID-19 tests have been carried out in Africa,
according to a Reuters tally of official figures reported to the
That means around 685 tests have been carried out per million people -
far below the 37,000 per million in Italy or 22,000 in the United
South Africa accounts for 30% of Africa’s tests, although it has less
than 5% of the population.
Nigeria, which has 15% of the population, has carried out just 2% of
testing; it began by testing strategically then broadened it out,
Health Minister Osagie Ehanire said.
Chad and Burundi have carried out fewer than 500 tests each. Chad said
it didn’t have enough testing kits and staff after many of them had
fallen ill; Burundi did not respond. Tanzania carried out 652 tests
and identified 480 cases.
The WHO estimates around 14% of COVID-19 patients will require
hospitalization and oxygen support, and 5% will need a ventilator.
Some countries are setting up extra beds for COVID-19 patients in
places like sports stadiums or pop-up tent hospitals.
The number of those beds can change rapidly, but that’s not intensive care.
The definition varies from country to country, but generally includes
equipment for monitoring the patient and clearing their airway, access
to oxygen and more intensive staffing. Not all intensive care unit
(ICU) beds in Africa have ventilators.
Intensive care beds are expensive, difficult to run, and very unevenly
distributed. Chad, an oil-rich but impoverished nation of 15 million
people, has only 10, whereas the island nation of Mauritius, a
financial hub home to 1.2 million, has 121.
The continent’s three giants - Nigeria, Ethiopia and Egypt - have
1,920 intensive care beds between them for more than 400 million
Nigeria’s health minister said the country had not had to use most of
its equipment yet, but it had still ordered more. The other two
nations did not respond to requests for comment.
Some nations, such as Guinea Bissau, have no ventilators at all.
Mauritania has one; Liberia said it has six; Somalia has 19. South
Africa has 3,300, but about two-thirds are in private hospitals, which
the majority of the population cannot afford. The health ministry said
the state has the right to use private facilities in an emergency.
Ethiopia, once one of world’s fastest growing economies, is seeing carefully laid plans unravel @qzafrica
Ethiopia’s once promising economy has run into a wall as the global
economic crisis unleashed by the coronavirus pandemic devastates the
nation of more than 100 million, forcing IMF to slash its GDP growth
forecast for 2020 down to 3.2% from 6.2%.
The Horn of Africa country, home to the continent’s second largest
population, had been on a decades-long reform which had seen the
country overcome its years of economic upheaval and famine during the
1980s under the Marxist Derg regime, to become one of the world’s
fastest-growing nations this century.
The country’s economy grew by an average of 10.8% between 2004 and 2014.
At the start of 2020, Quartz Africa noted the one-time miracle economy
was slowing and set for a bumpy ride, but the economic crisis in the
wake of the pandemic will undoubtedly be much more challenging and may
even unravel some of its developmental progress as a nation as its
growth slows significantly.
Ethiopia’s Jobs Creation Commission has estimated close to 1.4 million
workers will be affected by the pandemic, particularly in the service
and manufacturing sectors.
There’ve been reports some of its industrial parks, often highlighted
as a model for other African countries to follow, have started laying
off workers due to a slump in global demand.
Ethiopia’s strategy of attracting foreign investment to these parks
with a mix of tax-free benefits, free land and subsidized electricity,
will prove very expensive if factories and parks remain closed.
“The economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic for Ethiopia is
staggering,” says Alemayehu Geda, an economics professor at Addis
He predicts the pandemic could shrink Ethiopia’s GDP by as much as
11.1% through 2020/21. Ethiopia’s fiscal year runs from July 8 to July
Manufacturers, including metal and garments factories, are struggling
to stay afloat as importing raw material has become very difficult due
to disruptions of global sourcing. while importers are reporting
losses as they are forced to suspend business travels to major
suppliers in China, which accounts for a quarter of Ethiopia’s
Tourism, which had around 10% share of GDP in 2018, accounted for
nearly half of all the country”s export revenue, driven by Addis Ababa
which is the diplomatic capital of Africa and Ethiopian Airlines.
The airline has been a source of immense pride for Ethiopians as it’s
rapidly expanded to become Africa’s biggest airline over the last
But like airlines around the world Ethiopian has been hit
significantly by the crisis and has already reported $550 million in
lost revenue over the last two months and furloughed some workers and
laid off others, as it begins to focus on cargo to sustain the
business through this period. In 2019, it posted annual revenues of
An urgent appeal for food assistance has reached a record high of 30
million people, according to Ethiopia’s Planning Commission and the
agricultural sector has been impacted due to locust invasion which has
managed to destroy 350,000 metric tons of crops. The government
expects the agriculture sector is also likely to lose $838 million.
“Beyond its impact of health, it is crashing our economy. Exports of
goods, especially by horticulture producers and garments from
industrial parks, is falling unprecedentedly, causing economic
distress,” said Ahmed Shide, Ethiopia’s finance minister.
“It has also a huge impact on government revenues and remittance flows.”
Though Ethiopia is one of a few Sub Saharan Africa countries believed
to be more susceptible to the spread of coronavirus early on, so far,
with just 162 cases it has one of the lowest confirmed case loads,
especially relative to its population size.
But analysts warn the economic impact will be much worse because many
smaller businesses are yet to lay off the majority of employees and
the collapse of the all important informal sector could reverse years
of progress in reducing poverty.
In the meantime, prime minister Abiy has started to trying to raise
$2.1 billion from international lenders and bilateral partners.
This week, Germany, one of the most visible allies of Ethiopia’s
ambitious developmental goals extended $130 million to help salvage
the economy and allow the government to extend tax initiatives to
businesses hit by the pandemic.
Abiy has been one of the most strident voices among elected political
leaders in Africa to call for wealthy countries to either forgive or
delay debt payments through op-eds in international media or speeches.
Its debt-to-GDP ratio around 62% at the end of its fiscal year in
June 2018 is about the Sub Saharan Africa average of around 60% in
But the IMF and World Bank are concerned about the “risky” composition
of the debt because the share of external debt owed to bilateral
official and private creditors is nearly 60%.
The World Bank also notes Ethiopia’s public external debt service is
up to 25.3% of national exports, which is the highest debt
service-to-exports in Sub Saharan Africa.
Last month the World Bank stepped in with an $82 million in
anti-pandemic support and this week the IMF approved $411 million in
emergency assistance and approved Ethiopia’s request for a suspension
of debt service payments of about $12 million to the IMF.
The funds will be used to support low-cost lending and rescheduling
loans to businesses whose incomes have been severely affected, says
Fikadu Digafe Huriso, chief economist of the National Bank of
Banks are now working under tight liquidity position as non-performing
loans mount due to the economic slowdown. Businesses, through their
associations, have been calling on the government to push for the
extension of their loans.
“It will be important to encourage spending by ensuring the supply of
adequate liquidity to the financial system,” says Fikadu. “This
measure has to be supplemented by adequate foreign exchange resources
to revitalize both imports and exports.”
Galloping ahead in Ethiopia by Yves-Marie Stranger @EthiopiaInsight H/T @wdavison10
An uneasy truce had prevailed ever since, with sporadic bouts of
anarchy breaking out locally. The new state of emergency promulgated
on 8 April (for health reasons this time round), and the postponement
of the August 2020 elections froze a situation that was already
catastrophic. The hold of the central government on the provinces was
tenuous, at best. Not that you would know this from Ethiopian
government press releases and international media reports (such as
this film, that appeared on The Economist magazine’s YouTube channel
in early April: How Africa could rival China). According to this
narrative, Ethiopia has been recording growth rates of 10 percent for
years (to put that in context, 10 percent growth means a doubling of
the economy every seven years). Winston Churchill could well have
declared ‘lies, lies and damned (Ethiopian) statistics’—but it didn’t
much matter if the numbers were ‘fake’ or not. The country, after all,
was only conforming to global economic orthodoxy.
Read, if you like, the World Bank report on poverty reduction, (16
April 2020), which tells us that the rate of poverty has continued to
fall in Ethiopia in 2010-2016 (a conclusion that beggars belief). The
report, while stating that the percentage of the very poor has
stubbornly stuck at 10 percent, fails to point out that population
growth means the absolute number is increasing (10 percent of 90
million Ethiopians in 2010 is 9 million, while 10 percent of 103
million inhabitants in 2016 makes for…10 million). And Ethiopia’s poor
are today equivalent to the whole population of the country in the
1960s when Tefera Degefe’s memo was turned down (a banker, Ato
Tefera—he understood exponentials). If we believe the numbers,
Ethiopia has produced the most millionaires (in dollar terms), in the
African continent. Road coverage has expanded, mobile phones are in
almost every pocket and factories produce t-shirts and shoes for
export, albeit using imported inputs. A foreign flower farm, owned by
friends of mine, exported roses, from Menagesha to the world.
Winston Churchill would have taken these economic gains with a grain
of salt, but he would also have noticed a trend: rapid economic and
population growth were a very good thing indeed—for the upper echelons
of society. I should confess that I succumbed to the dream myself, and
launched a horse trekking company. I only understood just how unlikely
an endeavour it was when I had to continuously convince people my
horse-riding venture was not a spoof of the book Trout fishing in the
Yemen. But truly—the possibilities offered by limitless growth are, in
a word, limitless (I remember one fellow, a Swede I think, who started
a rabbit farm on a mountain top above Chancho. No, no, this is not a
joke—he told me the 3,000-metre high peak was required as the acute
cold made the rabbits’ fur grow.).
This sense of boundless opportunity partly explains why foreigners are
so enamoured by what they discover in Ethiopia. A case in point is
Tyler Cowen’s 2018 Ethiopia already is Africa’s China on Bloomberg, a
gushing piece that is so ‘un-Straussian’, so oblivious to reality,
that I sought to rebuke Cowen with the humorous Ethiopian Economics
101. For a shorter take on Mr Cowen’s assertion, see Greg Cochran’s
response: ‘Will Ethiopia be the next China asks Tyler Cowen. No’.
That’s the full post (Including the title).
Today, there are 110 million people in Ethiopia, 60 percent of whom
are under the age of 25—and the hope, so brashly stoked yesterday with
loose talk of “middle-income country status to be achieved by 2025”,
is today turning to ill-contained rage.
The reports Mr Yoka based his assertions of progress in Ethiopia, and
in Africa at large, are by no means all false. The field trips he had
taken to visit wind farms and hydroelectric dams, sugar plantations
and brand-new universities—all these projects existed. Infant
mortality had plummeted, school enrolment rates had soared—and
Ethiopians had, overall, never enjoyed so much material bounty. And
who could be against more, taken in this sense? But—to reprise William
Gibbon’s conclusion about the future that was already present—only
unevenly distributed—if Ethiopia’s development did exist, it was
spread out too thinly, in too jarring juxtapositions. The country was
caught in a dystopian nightmare, an explosive cocktail of the 19th
century and an Abyssinian BladeRunner. Smartphones and ox ploughing,
Facebook and sorcery, solar panels and beeswax candles. The contrast
was too much to stomach, especially if the stomach happened to be
empty (and no, there was no app for this, and drones would not be
flying in for the rescue either).
Mr Cowen has tempered his enthusiasm, slightly (‘the potential trend
of Africa as the “next big thing” has not (yet?) been crystallized
[even if] the economies of Ghana and Ethiopia are doing quite well’,
Jewish World Review)
I thought of my friends’ rose farm and their 300 employees. I thought
of the Elephant Man. In Ethiopia, the collapse was well underway, but
no one was paying any notice. I had travelled full-circle, for a last
gallop into Addis Ababa. On the ill-named Mexico Square, the crowds
have subsided, for now—they’d shut the barn door, but the horse had
bolted long ago.
Another devaluation looms as Naira depreciates at forwards market, now N570 to $1 @nairametrics
Nigeria’s 5 years onshore Non-Deliverable forward contract posted its
biggest drop by plunging 27% from N413.36 to close at N569.69 a price
differential of N156.
The 1-year Non-Deliverable forward contract was down 5% from N394.29
to close at N421.22 a price differential of N26.93.
One month NDF is now N395/$1 suggesting an imminent devaluation in the
I&E window which could also impact the current official exchange rate
of N360/$1 as well as the BDC rate which was devalued to N370/$1 some
09-DEC-2019 Time to Big Up the Dosage of Quaaludes
This week Moody’s Investor Services downgraded Nigeria to negative and
we learnt that Foreign Investors are propping up the Naira to the tune
of NGN5.8 trillion ($16 billion) via short-term certificates. Everyone
knows how this story ends. When the music stops, everyone will dash
for the Exit and the currency will collapse just like its collapsing
in Lusaka as we speak.
14-OCT-2019 :: Ozymandias
''My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal Wreck,
boundless and bare.
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
MADAME AGATHE The Mutsinzi Report POSTED BY @PGourevitch New Yorker
Madame Agathe Habyarimana—the assassinated President’s wife, who has
long been rumored to have been in on his killing. The report details
at length how openly the Habyarimana assassination plot was spoken
about in the months before his death; at one point, it notes that
President Mobutu Sese Seko of neighboring Zaire (now Congo) got wind
of the plans and told Madame Agathe to warn her husband, but she
didn’t. On a recent tour of Habyarimana’s palace grounds, I was shown
the plane’s wreckage, and also the solarium where the President’s
wife, popularly known as Madame Agathe, was said to have sat and
watched him fall to his death.