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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
 
 
Tuesday 02nd of November 2021
 
Morning
Africa

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Mirrors on the ceiling, The Pink champagne on ice
World Of Finance


And she said "We are all just prisoners here, of our own device"

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5th April 2020 The Way we live now
Misc.



The Way we Live Now
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 undercurrent. 

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 entirely retreated. 

The Nights are dark, the stars are bright and the neighbiours long gone.

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There is a Passage in V.S Naipaul's A Bend in the River
Misc.


“Going home at night! It wasn't often that I was on the river at night. I never liked it. I never felt in control. In the darkness of river and forest you could be sure only of what you could see — and even on a moonlight night you couldn't see much. When you made a noise — dipped a paddle in the water — you heard yourself as though you were another person. The river and the forest were like presences, and much more powerful than you. You felt unprotected, an intruder ... You felt the land taking you back to something that was familiar, something you had known at some time but had forgotten or ignored, but which was always there.You felt the land taking you back to what was there a hundred years ago, to what had been there always.” ― V.S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River

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These became known as the “halcyon days,” when storms do not occur.
Misc.


Wikipedia has an article on: halcyon days and it reads thus,
From Latin Alcyone, daughter of Aeolus and wife of Ceyx. When her husband died in a shipwreck, Alcyone threw herself into the sea whereupon the gods transformed them both into halcyon birds (kingfishers).
When Alcyone made her nest on the beach, waves threatened to destroy it. Aeolus restrained his winds and kept them calm during seven days in each year, so she could lay her eggs.
These became known as the “halcyon days,” when storms do not occur. Today, the term is used to denote a past period that is being remembered for being happy and/or successful

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COVID-19 infections are still rising in 55 countries. @ReutersGraphics
Misc.



16 countries are still near the peak of their infection curve

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Nations w/ fast COVID avg 2wk case/day increase @jmlukens
Misc.


Czechia: 275%
Hungary: 243%
Poland: 210%
Belgium: 157%
Slovenia: 152%
Croatia: 147%
Denmark: 144%
Norway: 129%
Slovakia: 124%
Germany: 111%

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Nations w/ most COVID avg deaths/day @jmlukens
Misc.


US: 1,429
Russia: 1,080
Ukraine: 579
India: 576
Romania: 438
Brazil: 332
Mexico: 285
Turkey: 215
Philippines: 157
United Kingdom: 153

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What happens next depends not only on vaccination, but also on how the virus might mutate. @derspiegel
Misc.



"This virus keeps surprising us," agrees Mary Bushman, a mathematician and population biologist at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 

"No one expected such large jumps in contagiousness.”

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Also, at the grand scheme of things, changes on the scale of 1-3% growth per day have been common over the past year. @MoritzGerstung
Misc.


These are much unlike the jumps by Alpha (9%) and Delta (11% over Alpha), which dramatically altered the course of the pandemic. 

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In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.
Misc.


Lorenz wrote:
"At one point I decided to repeat some of the computations in order to examine what was happening in greater detail. I stopped the computer, typed in a line of numbers that it had printed out a while earlier, and set it running again. I went down the hall for a cup of coffee and returned after about an hour, during which time the computer had simulated about two months of weather. The numbers being printed were nothing like the old ones. I immediately suspected a weak vacuum tube or some other computer trouble, which was not uncommon, but before calling for service I decided to see just where the mistake had occurred, knowing that this could speed up the servicing process. Instead of a sudden break, I found that the new values at first repeated the old ones, but soon afterward differed by one and then several units in the last decimal place, and then began to differ in the next to the last place and then in the place before that. In fact, the differences more or less steadily doubled in size every four days or so, until all resemblance with the original output disappeared somewhere in the second month. This was enough to tell me what had happened: the numbers that I had typed in were not the exact original numbers, but were the rounded-off values that had appeared in the original printout. The initial round-off errors were the culprits; they were steadily amplifying until they dominated the solution." (E. N. Lorenz, The Essence of Chaos, U. Washington Press, Seattle (1993), page 134)[7]
Elsewhere he stated:
One meteorologist remarked that if the theory were correct, one flap of a sea gull's wings would be enough to alter the course of the weather forever. The controversy has not yet been settled, but the most recent evidence seems to favor the sea gulls.

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2021 Among Earth’s Hottest Years, @UN Says as Climate Meetings Start @business
Misc.



The year 2021 is now expected to qualify among the hottest seven in history, all of them recorded since 2014, according to an early estimate by the United Nations World Meteorological Organization that was released Sunday.

The widely anticipated annual estimate of the year's temperature ranking and report on climate trends comes as diplomats converge on Glasgow, Scotland, for two weeks of UN talks. 

Countries will confer there on how to keep warming below 2°C  (3.6° Fahrenheit) compared with preindustrial levels — and preferably 1.5°C.
The world has warmed 1.1°C since industrialization in the 19th century. 

The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the biggest driver of this heating, has reached beyond 413 parts per million. That’s the highest in the modern record and also in the geologic evidence from the past 125,000 years

Methane and nitrous oxide, both more potent and less prevalent than CO₂, also reached record levels of 262% and 123% of their preindustrial levels, according to the report.

Climate change continues to remake the planet at a pace gradual to human perception, but unprecedented in geologic history short of massive meteor strikes. 

Sea level continued to rise by 4.4 millimeters a year as water warms and expands, and higher temperatures melt glaciers, the report said. 

This year has seen rain for the first time at the Greenland ice sheet's highest point, an aberrant cold spell in Texas and brought fire-inducing tropical temperatures to Western Canada.

"Extreme events are the new norm," Petteri Taalas, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, said in a news release. 

“There is mounting scientific evidence that some of these bear the footprint of human-induced climate change."

The ocean absorbs on average 23% of the CO₂ that humanity emits. That carbon changes the ocean chemistry, making it more acidic — now more than it's been in at least 26,000 years, according to the report.

Hotter air holds more moisture, and releases it as rainfall. China's Henan Province in July weathered more rain than it usually sees in a year. 

More than 300 people died died in flash flooding and losses reached almost $18 billion. 

Days before that, Western Europe had record rain, flooding and landslides that killed more than 200 people. 

Much of subtropical South America experienced drought for the second year. 

Madagascar faces a historic drought-related malnutrition crisis.

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23-NOV 2015 I cannot help feeling we are like frogs in boiling water. We have created massive interference in the "cosmic tuning" phenomenon
Misc.


In this book, Martin Rees puts forward six equations which govern our universe, a universe so big that we are like a grain of sand on a beach. 

The mathematics of these equations is so miraculous that Rees speaks to a “cosmic tuning” phenomenon.
For example; Ω ≈ 0.3: the ratio of the actual density of the universe to the critical (minimum) density required for the universe to eventually collapse under its gravity. Ω determines the ultimate fate of the universe. 

If Ω is greater than one, the universe will experience a big crunch. If Ω is less than one, the universe will expand forever.

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies


Euro 1.1605
Dollar Index 93.887
Japan Yen 113.71
Swiss Franc 0.9094
Pound 1.3654
Aussie 0.7490
India Rupee 74.8025
South Korea Won 1175.39
Brazil Real 5.6805
Egypt Pound 15.7376
South Africa Rand 15.4524

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African Region WHO regional overviews Epidemiological week 18-24 October 2021
Africa



The declining trend observed in the African Region since mid-July continued this week with over 22 000 new cases and over 800 new deaths reported, a decrease of 21% and 11% respectively as compared to the previous week. 

While this is reassuring, ten out of the 49 countries (20%) in the Region reported increases in new weekly cases as compared with the previous week, with the greatest increase observed in Réunion (578%), Botswana (116%), and Gambia (100%). 

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India-Africa relations: Partnership, COVID-19 setback and the way forward @orfonline @malancha_1chakr
Africa



India has a long history of partnership with Africa, with solidarity and political affinity going back to the early 1920s when both regions were fighting against colonial rule and oppression. 

India’s freedom movement had an internationalist outlook; many Indian nationalists viewed the struggle for independence as part of the worldwide movement against imperialism. 

After India gained independence, it became a leading voice in support of African decolonisation at the United Nations. 

Independent India, though extremely poor after two centuries of colonial exploitation, strived to share its limited resources with African countries under the banner of South-South cooperation. 

In 1964, India launched the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme to provide technical assistance through human resource development to other developing countries, with African countries the greatest beneficiaries of it and the Special Commonwealth African Assistance Programme (SCAAP).

India’s total trade with Africa grew from US$ 6.8 billion in 2003 to US$ 76.9 billion in 2018, and India is now Africa’s third-largest trade partner.

India’s economic engagement with Africa, on the other hand, only began intensifying in the early 2000s. 

India’s total trade with Africa grew from US$ 6.8 billion in 2003 to US$ 76.9 billion in 2018, and India is now Africa’s third-largest trade partner

Indian investments in Africa have also grown rapidly in the last decade and the country is currently the seventh-largest investor in Africa 

The scale of India’s development cooperation with Africa has also grown rapidly. 

From 2003 onwards, India began to use concessional lines of credit (LoC) as one of its key development partnership instruments to fund the construction of railway lines, electrification and irrigation projects, farm mechanisation projects, among others. 

The LoCs are demand-driven and extended on the principle of mutual benefit — recipient countries make development gains, while the LoCs help create new markets for Indian companies, foster export growth, build good relations with countries that are important sources of food, energy and resources, and contribute to the country’s image abroad. 

So far, India has sanctioned 182 LoC projects in Africa through the Export Import (EXIM) Bank of India, with a total credit commitment of about US$ 10.5 billion

Indian LoCs have significant development impacts in Africa. For instance, India’s irrigation project in Senegal led to a six-fold increase in rice production and currently over 30 percent of that country’s consumption is covered by domestic production, as compared to 12.1 percent prior to the implementation

Similarly India’s LoC worth US$ 640 million to Ethiopia helped the country become self-sufficient in sugar production and had major spill-over benefits

The sugar factory installed a water-purification plant, which benefited nearly 10,000 villagers who previously relied on untreated water, and pastoralists in the region now have access to a stable source of income

Building African capacity

Although India was poor and underdeveloped after two centuries of colonial exploitation, it launched systematic efforts to promote African development soon after its independence. 

In 1949, India announced 70 scholarships for students from other developing countries to pursue studies in the country

The ITEC programme, launched to share India’s lessons in development with other developing countries, continues to remain an important pillar of Indian development cooperation programme. 

Currently, about 98 Indian institutions run training courses in fields such as agriculture, food and fertiliser, engineering and technology, and environment and climate change

In addition to civilian training programmes, ITEC also conducts and oversees defence training programmes, study tours, aid for disaster relief, the deputation of Indian experts abroad and project-based cooperation. 

Africa is a key beneficiary of the programme with nearly 50 percent of the ITEC slots reserved for countries from the region.

The ITEC programme, launched to share India’s lessons in development with other developing countries, continues to remain an important pillar of Indian development cooperation programme.

India-Africa cooperation has also focused on technoeconomic capacity building. 

Skill development and capacity building featured prominently in all the India-Africa Forum Summits, and in a speech to the Ugandan parliament in 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated India’s commitment to building African capacity: 

“Our development partnership will be guided by your priorities. It will be on terms that will be comfortable for you, that will liberate your potential and not constrain your future. We will rely on African talent and skills. We will build as much local capacity and create as many local opportunities as possible”

Information technology (IT) is an important pillar of India’s technical cooperation with Africa, given the role of the information and communication technology (ICT) sector in India’s growth story and the importance most African leaders attach to ICT sector development. 

The Pan African e-Network, launched in 2009, was a groundbreaking initiative to extend Indian expertise in IT to provide better healthcare and education facilities in 53 African countries. 

The second phase of this programme, e-VidyaBharti and e-ArogyaBharti (e-VBAB), was started in 2018, with an aim to provide free tele-education to 4,000 African students each year for five years and continuing medical education for 1000 African doctors, paramedical staff, and nurses

 The programme is fully funded by the Indian government and is web-based, so any Indian university qualified to offer online education can do so for African students.

India’s scholarship programme also grew rapidly. At the third India-Africa Forum Summit in 2015, India pledged to provide 50,000 scholarships to African students over a five-year period and set up institutions of higher learning in Africa. Over 42,000 scholarship slots have already been utilised in the last five years.

At the third India-Africa Forum Summit in 2015, India pledged to provide 50,000 scholarships to African students over a five-year period and set up institutions of higher learning in Africa.


Cooperation on global issues

India and Africa have often held common positions in global platforms and worked together to guard the interests of other developing countries. 

India has also aided African countries amid crises, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. India has provided 270 metric tonnes of food aid (155 metric tonnes of wheat flour, 65 metric tonnes of rice, and 50 metric tonnes of sugar) to Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea, and supplied essential medicines (including hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol) to over 25 African countries

The Indian government also organised an e-ITEC training course for healthcare professionals on COVID-19 prevention and management protocols[26]. And even as developed countries have focussed on securing large vaccine supplies for their own populations, India is being hailed for its vaccine diplomacy — it has exported over 1.6 crore doses of vaccines globally, of which about 62.7 lakh doses (or about 37 percent) are as grant assistance 

Mauritius and Seychelles have received 1 lakh doses and 50,000 doses, respectively, via the grant route.

Limitations to India’s approach

Despite being a developing country with huge domestic challenges, India has played an important role in building African capacity, with several notable ongoing initiatives. 

Additionally, the values that steer India’s development cooperation — demand driven, conditionality free and based on the principle of partnership among equals — are appreciated in Africa. 

But India’s model of development cooperation in Africa lacks a clear strategy. 

Beyond the ‘platitudes that they do business differently,’ it has so far proved tricky to distinguish what shape the ‘Indian model’ of cooperation with Africa would assume in practice. 

While it is increasingly obvious that the postcolonial rhetoric inherited from the Nehru years has limited relevance in the current global economic context, it remains difficult to pinpoint India’s position in contrast with other major players”

In the absence of a clear and well-articulated vision for Africa, India’s development cooperation is often compared to the Chinese model of development cooperation in the region[29] — despite significant differences — which is based on state-led infrastructure for resources deals, rising debt threats, lack of domestic capacity building and job creation. 

In 2018, Modi outlined the ‘Ten Guiding Principles for India-Africa Engagement’[30], often regarded as India’s vision statement for Africa. 

But these tenets cannot be seen as the mission for the next decade because many aspects are not new and instead represent continuity in principles that have traditionally defined India-Africa engagement[31].

Beyond the ‘platitudes that they do business differently,’ it has so far proved tricky to distinguish what shape the ‘Indian model’ of cooperation with Africa would assume in practice.

There are two main flaws in India’s development strategy in Africa. Firstly, India is not actively pursuing any specific development goals. 

An assessment of India’s development cooperation instruments (LoCs, grants, and capacity building projects like ITEC) reflects the absence of a plan for Africa. 

Indian LoCs have not been designed to achieve a larger development goal such as food security, health security, clean energy or education for all. 

LoCs are typically used by recipient countries to fund small development projects such as roads, bridges, railway lines, power transmission and water supply systems. 

Although the individual projects have development benefits for recipient countries, the overall development impact of Indian LoCs in Africa is not significant. 

These individual projects barely make a dent on any of the larger development challenges (for instance, food insecurity, health insecurity, poverty) in African countries.

Secondly, there is no synchronisation between different development instruments. 

LoCs, grants and capacity building initiatives operate as standalone instruments of development cooperation, with almost no links with each other. 

As a result, the overall development impact of India’s development cooperation is small and difficult to measure. 

“India-Africa partnership is yet to achieve its full [development cooperation] potential. What is needed is an infusion of energy, of something new and concrete, and with a specific focus and direction”[32]. 

Moreover, implementation has been a key constraint for Indian LoCs, with poor disbursal rates and project completion record.

India must chart out a roadmap for its development cooperation programme in Africa that outlines a long-term strategy and delineates how it will deploy state capacity to pursue common development goals. 

Doing so will become even more important for India in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic given the harsh economic impacts and the resultant inability to keep increasing its development cooperation budget without any tangible outcomes.

COVID-19 setback and the way forward

India is among the African continent’s oldest and most consistent development partners, and the country has gained tremendous goodwill in the region. 

Unlike many Western countries that carry the baggage of colonialism or China, which has been severely criticised for its debt-trap diplomacy, disregard for local laws and lack of local employment creation in Africa, India enjoys good ties with the African states.

The coming decade presents massive development challenges for India and Africa, which have both been severely affected by the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

India’s GDP declined by 8 percent in 2020  and about 10.9 million jobs were lost across the country 

Poverty and hunger are also on the rise[ 

A strong recovery in 2021 is unlikely to reverse the damage caused by the lockdown. 

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development forecasts suggest that India’s real GDP in the fourth quarter of 2022 will be over 8 percent lower than its pre-pandemic prediction 

The COVID-19 pandemic is also expected to completely wipe out economic progress made by Sub-Saharan Africa in the previous decade. 

According to International Monetary Fund (IMF), the real per capita GDP of the region will decline by 5.4 percent in 2020, bringing it back to the 2010 level (see Figure 2). 

The pandemic is likely to push about 26 million more people into extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa and income inequality is also expected to increase substantially. 

Most African countries also do not have the fiscal room to fund large stimulus packages to revive their economies. 

Rising debt levels were already a concern for many African countries, but the pandemic and the associated loss in economic growth has made things worse for the region. 

Amid the pandemic, the G20 nations announced the Debt Service Suspension Initiative that allowed the world’s poorest countries — most of them in Africa — to suspend up to US$ 14 billion of debt service payment due in 2020. 

Twenty-nine African countries have also received IMF funding from emergency facilities or programme arrangements. 

But given the scale of the crisis, these efforts are not enough. The pandemic has widened Africa’s financing gap to US$ 345 billion and it will be extremely difficult for countries in the region to find the resources to meet the Sustainable Development Goals[38].

The pandemic is likely to push about 26 million more people into extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa and income inequality is also expected to increase substantially.

Hard won development gains have been lost in India and Africa due to the pandemic. Poverty, unemployment and hunger are on the rise. 

Given the enormity of the challenges before India and Africa, closer cooperation is essential. 

However, domestic needs will not allow India to substantially increase its development aid budget. 

With its limited resources, India can try to make its development cooperation with Africa more impactful in the following ways:

• Clear strategy for African development: Both India and Africa face major challenges in the next decade. Unlike China and the West, India does not have substantial resources to support Africa. 

Therefore, it should prepare a focused Africa strategy for the next decade and identify a few areas for closer cooperation. 

Targeting a few important areas like food and health security, climate change adaptation and gender equality will help improve development outcomes and make India’s development cooperation programme more effective.

• Continue the current focus on capacity building: Commodity-led high growth in the last decade did not lead to adequate job creation and poverty alleviation in Africa. 

Therefore, a simple focus on building physical infrastructure and economic growth will not contribute to a stable and prosperous Africa. 

Investment in human capital is the key to development in Africa. 

The current focus on capacity building is in line with Africa’s needs given the continent’s huge youth population that need skills and jobs.

• Harness Indian civil society organisations, NGOs, and Indian diaspora: Many Indian civil society organisations and NGOs are playing an important role at the grassroots. 

Some Indian organisations like Pratham and Barefoot College are also playing an important role in Africa. 

The Indian government should explore greater collaboration with these organisations to implement development projects in Africa at low costs.

• Promote development-friendly private investments: The presence of Indian companies in Africa has grown rapidly in the last two decades. 

Given the emphasis on mutual benefit in its strategy, India’s development cooperation should be aligned to its commercial interests in Africa. 

Therefore, India should try to support Indian companies making investment in development-friendly projects for mutual benefit[40].

• Timely completion of projects: Though some improvement in project implementation has occurred in recent years, India’s overall record is poor. 

Efforts must be made to expedite the LoC projects. Lessons should be drawn from other countries that have a much better record in implementation.

• Address concerns about academic experience in India: India’s record in providing higher education to African students has been patchy. 


• Improve the experiences of Africans in India: The Indian government is usually quick to respond to instances of Indian students facing racism in foreign countries. 

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Interview with Maria Joao Lopo de Carvalho about Luis de Camoes and her book which followed his c16th journey from Portugal to Macau via Cape of Good Hope
Africa


Interview with Maria Joao Lopo de Carvalho about Luis de Camoes and her book which followed his c16th journey from Portugal to Macau via the Cape of Good Hope Mozambique Mombasa Malindi Oman Hormuz Goa Sri Lanka Macau Malacca

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Ethiopia Leader Urges Citizens to Join War Against Tigray Forces @bpolitics
Africa



Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed urged citizens across the country to join the fight against rebellious Tigray forces, after the fall of two strategic towns in the northeast of the country.

Fighters loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front seized Kombolcha in the Amhara region, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) northeast of the capital, Addis Ababa, Getachew Reda, a senior TPLF official, said on Sunday. 

Their advance came a day after reports they took the nearby town of Dessie and as the Amhara region’s government announced plans to redirect all spending to support the nation’s federal army.

“Our people should temporarily set aside their regular activities and join the fight with all of their resources and arms under the legal structure to prevent, reverse and bury the terrorist TPLF,” Nobel-laureate Abiy said in a statement.

The yield on Ethiopia’s $1 billion of Eurobonds jumped 19 basis points to a record 14.54% by 9:45 a.m. in London on Monday. 

The rate on the debt has more than doubled since the conflict began in November 2020.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday said he was “alarmed by reports” of the TPLF’s takeover of Dessie and Kombolcha.

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November 8, 2020 .@PMEthiopia has launched an unwinnable War on Tigray Province.
Africa

 



Ethiopia which was once the Poster child of the African Renaissance now has a Nobel Prize Winner whom I am reliably informed

PM Abiy His inner war cabinet includes Evangelicals who are counseling him he is "doing Christ's work"; that his faith is being "tested". @RAbdiAnalyst

@PMEthiopia has launched an unwinnable War on Tigray Province.



The battle of Kosovo sealed the fate of the entire Balkan Peninsula —sealed the defeat of Milosovich of Serbia. @DrMehari

https://twitter.com/DrMehari/status/1454501657279148038?s=20

For the Battle of Dessie to be the last battle, all parties should sit for a negotiated resolution of the war.  But first, the military logic behind TDF advances...1

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
https://bit.ly/3Bk45Gj

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.



 

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All signs Ethiopian conflict entering deadliest phase ever. @RAbdiAnalyst
Africa

Ethiopian towns and cities multi-ethnic. It is estimated over 10s of 000s Tigrayans live in Dessie alone.
Strident calls by extremists for indiscriminate targeted reprisals against Tigrayans sowing fear, alarm.
All signs Ethiopian conflict entering deadliest phase ever.

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Dual Agenda In Ethiopia’s civil war, Eritrea's army exacted deadly vengeance on old foes @Reuters
Africa


When Eritrea sent troops into the Tigray region, the secretive nation seized a double opportunity: It detained thousands of Eritrean refugees as it battled Ethiopia’s former rulers. Spearheading the bloody campaign: a colonel nicknamed ‘Son of Bread’

ADDIS ABABA

Over two decades, Eritreans poured across the border into Ethiopia, fleeing forced military service, torture, and prison in one of Africa’s most repressive states. 

By last November, around 20,000 of them were living at two refugee camps here in Ethiopia’s Tigray province, finding haven in their more prosperous neighbour.
That month, rebellion broke out in Tigray, pitting the region’s rulers against Ethiopia’s central government. 

The Eritrean military sent in tanks and troops to aid its ally, Ethiopian leader Abiy Ahmed – and to settle old scores.
Within days, truckloads of soldiers from the 35th Division of the Eritrean Army arrived at the two refugee camps, Hitsats and Shimelba. The soldiers had lists of names.
In Hitsats, where undulating hills wrapped around the camp’s white tents and corrugated iron shacks, soldiers called refugee leaders to a meeting. 

The 20 or more who complied were detained, said more than a dozen witnesses, one demonstrating how the men’s elbows were pinioned behind their backs. 

They were held for two days at a church building in the camp, then loaded onto trucks by Eritrean soldiers and driven away, the witnesses said. 

Reuters has confirmed the names of 17 of the men. Their families haven't heard from them since.

Similar scenes played out in Shimelba, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the Eritrean border. 

“They were looking for members of the opposition. They had a list,” said a Shimelba refugee leader.

The Eritrean soldiers detained around 40 people there, some of them women, said the refugee leader. 

Like most others interviewed for this article, he spoke on the condition that his name be withheld to protect his family in Eritrea and for his own safety in Ethiopia.
The arrival of the Eritrean troops marked the beginning of a months-long ordeal for thousands of Eritrean refugees – first hunted by the Eritrean military, then attacked by Tigrayan fighters who accused the refugees of conspiring with the enemy.
Reuters spoke to more than 60 refugees. These interviews revealed the role of the Eritrean Army division and commander who led the campaign to force the refugees back to Eritrea. Eritrean soldiers then destroyed the camps.
The refugees told of a systematic military operation: At a border town, Eritrean soldiers set up a COVID-19 quarantine centre, staffed by Eritrean doctors; soldiers then bussed thousands of refugees into Eritrea. 

Some went at gunpoint; others said they went voluntarily, swapping the perils of Tigray for the uncertainties of their homeland. 

The refugees also told for the first time how, once in Eritrea, some of their number were jailed or forced into military service.

A former top-ranking Eritrean military officer, now in exile, told Reuters he has seen Eritrean government documents that show more than 9,000 refugees returned to Eritrea

Reuters was unable to obtain these documents. 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told Reuters in a statement its teams have interviewed several hundred refugees who say they escaped after a forced return to Eritrea. 

The agency estimates 7,600 refugees are still missing. Some have likely moved to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, UNHCR said.

The refugees interviewed by Reuters spoke of killings, gang rapes and looting both by Eritrean soldiers and Tigrayan fighters. 

Some incidents in late 2020 and early 2021 are documented in a recent report by Human Rights Watch. 

Refugees told Reuters attacks by Tigrayans have continued, including lynchings in June in the northern town of Shire.
Debretsion Gebremichael is the leader of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the political party that controls most of Tigray. 

The TPLF is locked in a battle with the Ethiopian government which has designated the TPLF a terrorist organization. 
Eritrea has denied that refugees were forcibly returned. It has also rejected accusations that its forces killed Tigrayan civilians and forced some into sexual slavery, as first revealed by Reuters. 

In August, the United States imposed sanctions on the chief of staff of the Eritrean military, Filipos Woldeyohannes, saying forces he commands committed atrocities, including massacres and sexual assaults. 

Eritrea dismissed the charges at the time as “utterly baseless.”
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy has said he has assurances from Eritrea that it will hold to account any soldiers found guilty of abuses. 

His spokeswoman, Billene Seyoum, did not respond to Reuters questions about whether any Eritrean soldiers had been charged. 

Eritrea’s government and military did not respond to detailed questions for this article.
Debretsion Gebremichael, the head of the party that controls most of Tigray, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), said his organization had no knowledge of attacks by Tigrayan fighters on Eritrean refugees. 

Tigrayan soldiers were ordered not to enter the refugee camps, he told Reuters. 

TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda said it was possible there were “vigilante groups acting in the heat of the moment.”

 Getachew did not respond to questions about whether the TPLF was investigating alleged crimes.
The refugees’ plight shows how Tigray has become the crucible of a power struggle between Ethiopia’s government and the TPLF, a guerilla movement-turned-political party that once dominated the country. 

The civil war has drawn in the authoritarian government of neighbouring Eritrea. Led by President Isaias Afwerki, 

Eritrea views the TPLF as its arch enemy and Tigray as a haven for refugee dissidents. 

For the first five months of the conflict, Eritrea denied its soldiers were inside Tigray. The Eritrean army continues to operate in northern Ethiopia, according to witnesses.
Ethiopia – home to 109 million people – is Africa’s second-most-populous nation and has been a key Western ally in an unstable region. 

For years it was Africa’s fastest-growing economy, and when Abiy took power as prime minister in 2018, he was hailed as a democratic reformer.
But the country is now in crisis. The war in Tigray has cost thousands of lives, triggered a famine and displaced more than 2 million people. Tiny Eritrea, a land of just 3.5 million people, plays an outsized role in the chaos.
Old enemies
Enmity between Eritrea and the TPLF runs deep. 

The TPLF dominated Ethiopia’s government for nearly three decades and fought a border war with Eritrea in 1998-2000. 

Abiy made peace with Eritrea months after becoming prime minister. The deal earned him the Nobel Peace Prize – and, in Eritrean President Isaias, a powerful ally against the TPLF.
Hitsats and Shimelba were two of four camps for Eritrean refugees in Tigray. 

Poor but peaceful, they were run by Ethiopia’s Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) and UNHCR. 

Some residents built tiny, windowless huts from stones or wattle and daub. 

Others set up small restaurants or kept animals to earn a few pennies.

UNHCR says Eritrea generated the world’s third-largest number of refugees per capita in 2020, behind Syria and South Sudan

About 15% of its people – more than 520,000 – have fled

Around 150,000 of these refugees have made their way to Ethiopia; 96,000 lived in Tigray. Eritrea insists those who have left are economic migrants.  

Many of the Eritrean refugees in Hitsats and Shimelba recounted brutal treatment in their homeland. 

With no free media and no elections, Eritrea has been described by some Western media and think tanks as “the North Korea of Africa.” 

Men and unmarried women over the age of 18 are conscripted into indefinite military or government service. 

Some told Reuters they had been forced into it years earlier. One refugee, a grey-haired military deserter who retains a soldier’s posture, told Reuters his family left Eritrea after soldiers came to his home and smashed his 14-year-old son in the face, demanding to know the father’s whereabouts. 

The boy still has a scar. Medical scans, seen by Reuters, show a skull fracture.
“The government will forgive you”
Soldiers from the 35th Division of the Eritrean Army reached Hitsats on Nov. 19, according to refugees at the camp and people living in the vicinity. 

The camps lay in an area where the Ethiopian Army had no presence at the time, local residents said.
The soldiers were led by an officer who introduced himself as Wedi Kecha, said two refugees, who previously served under him in the Eritrean Army and knew him by sight. 

Two campaigners for the rights of Eritrean refugees – British-based Elsa Chyrum and an activist in the United States – told Reuters that refugees they spoke to also identified Wedi Kecha as the commander. 

The former top-ranking Eritrean military officer confirmed to Reuters that Wedi Kecha leads the 35th Division.
Wedi Kecha didn’t respond to questions sent by Reuters via the Eritrean military. The Eritrean Army didn’t comment about Wedi Kecha’s role.
The soldiers gathered the refugees outside a church hall in the camp on Nov. 21. “Wedi Kecha introduced himself as the commander of the 35th Division,” said one of the refugees present, who served under Wedi Kecha in the Eritrean Army in the 1990s and spent two years stationed at the same base as him within the last decade. 

Wedi Kecha, this refugee said, “means ‘Son of Bread.’ It’s a nickname he has had since childhood.”
Wedi Kecha’s real name, according to this refugee and the former top-ranking Eritrean military officer, is Colonel Berhane Tesfamariam. 

Wedi Kecha fought in Eritrea’s war of independence from Ethiopia, which ended in 1991, the former top officer said. 

He is believed to be in his 60s. According to the refugee, Wedi Kecha was an excellent footballer in his younger days and used to play as a midfielder for a team that competed at a national level.
Wedi Kecha told the crowd that his soldiers had come to protect the refugees. He invited the refugees to return to Eritrea, telling them,  “the government will forgive you.''

Soldiers from the 35th Division also came to Shimelba, according to refugees there. 

At a meeting on a football pitch at the camp on Nov. 18, leaders were addressed by an officer – described by one refugee as elderly, tall and strong, and identified by another as Wedi Kecha. The officer told the refugees that the soldiers were there to protect them. It was safe to return to Eritrea, he said, but if the refugees chose to stay, no one would help them.

“No one said a word. The commander said, ‘Go and sleep and think about what I said.’ And that was the end of the meeting,” recalled one refugee, a medical student, who was present. 

Two weeks later, the Eritrean soldiers started arresting refugees.
''They came at night to homes and picked up people whose names they knew,” said the medical student. “They had a list. There was no explanation.”
Many refugees at the two camps accused Eritrean troops of looting, killings and rapes. 

Eritrean soldiers looted Hitsats camp so thoroughly they even dismantled the water tanks, two international aid workers told Reuters. 

In Shimelba, a witness said they stole UNHCR’s solar panels. UNHCR said both camps were destroyed.
On Dec. 9, Eritrean soldiers shot dead four refugees and two Tigrayan civilians at Shimelba and dumped the bodies in a trench, said two witnesses – an aid worker and a refugee. 

Among the victims was a young Tigrayan whose mother and sister begged for his life, the aid worker said. Refugees recovered the bodies and buried them.
A female refugee at the same camp said her friend was raped twice on the same day by groups of Eritrean soldiers. 

Other refugees said that they witnessed Eritrean soldiers take away female refugees. 

When the four women returned, they said they’d been raped. Reuters was unable to verify these accounts.
Rage of the Tigrayan militias

For years, local Tigrayan families made the Eritrean refugees welcome in Ethiopia; they speak the same language and there was some intermarriage. 

That changed after Eritrea entered the war. Some Tigrayans began to call the refugees “shabiya” – a slang term for Eritrean troops – and accused them of colluding with the Eritrean Army.
Soon, Eritrean troops were killing Tigrayans, and Tigrayans were killing Eritrean refugees.
Human Rights Watch said in its report that on Nov. 19 Eritrean soldiers ransacked the town of Hitsats, which adjoins the camp, and killed many Tigrayan civilians.
A Tigrayan former guard for Ethiopian refugee agency ARRA told Reuters that Eritrean soldiers shot dead 17 members of his family that day. 

Among the dead were his sons aged 16 and 23. A second relative confirmed the account. 

Only the guard’s elderly mother survived. She covered the bodies with bed sheets until she ran out of linen, the guard said. 

Eritrea’s government did not respond to questions about the conduct of Eritrean troops.
On Nov. 23, local Tigrayan militiamen attacked Hitsats camp and shot dead eight Eritrean refugees outside the facility’s Mariam Ethiopian Orthodox Church, according to two dozen witnesses.
One of the dead was 29-year-old Tesfa Alem Habte, an aspiring geologist who loved science and football, said a relative.
“He had a good, bright future,” the relative said. Tesfa Alem’s name means “Hope of the World." 

Before Tesfa Alem left Eritrea, he used to organize donations of school books and other supplies to poor rural villages, the relative said.

A refugee shared photographs of Tesfa Alem and two other victims of the Nov. 23 attack, their bodies prepared for burial, swathed in floral sheets. 

Tesfa Alem’s family confirmed he is pictured there. Another source provided photos of the burial place. Yellow wildflowers adorned Tesfa Alem's grave.

Five refugees said they recognized local Tigrayans among the attackers. 

Four of them accused some Tigrayan staff of ARRA, the Ethiopian refugee agency, of assisting the militiamen by guiding them through the camp. ARRA didn’t respond to questions for this article.
Reuters couldn’t determine whose orders the Tigrayan militiamen were acting on when they attacked Hitsats camp. 

Debretsion, head of the TPLF, denied that forces directly commanded by the TPLF were involved in attacks on refugees. He said reports of abuses should be investigated.
Many different forces in Tigray are fighting the central government, complicating efforts to pinpoint perpetrators of the violence.
There is a main, umbrella force that calls itself the Tigray Defense Force and answers to TPLF leaders, including Debretsion. 

It is made up of a combination of Tigrayan deserters from the Ethiopian army, former members of the regional police and volunteers.
Many informal, volunteer town and village militias have also joined the fight. 

The command structure of these militias is often opaque, and it is unclear how much direct control the TPLF had over them at the time.
15% The proportion of Eritrea’s population that has fled
In the first week of December, Eritrean forces withdrew from Hitsats without explanation. 

Tigrayan militiamen arrived the next day, shooting as they came.  

Four refugees said uniformed Tigrayan forces were stationed in the town of Hitsats, and a local militia, commanded by a former policeman, was in the camp through December. 

Uniformed Tigrayan soldiers regularly came to the camp, and the local militia appeared to obey their orders, they added.
Refugees who fled Hitsats said they too came under attack by Tigrayans.
On the morning of Dec. 6, a group of around 70 refugees was walking through a ravine near the village of Zelazele, about 16 km (10 miles) north of the camp. 

Five witnesses said gunfire suddenly erupted, and a grenade was thrown at the group. 

The attackers weren’t wearing uniforms, suggesting they belonged to a volunteer village militia. Three witnesses said between 18 and 30 refugees were killed.
The militiamen, some armed with axes and sticks, detained the survivors, then ordered them to return to the camp. Some elderly people and women with young children were too tired to walk.
“They begged us to leave them behind,” said one refugee. “The Tigray militia forced us to move.” Stragglers were shown no mercy. “Every time we left someone behind, we heard a gunshot. At some point I stopped counting them.”
Around the same time, Tigrayan militiamen intercepted a second similar-sized group of refugees from Hitsats on the outskirts of a village called Ziban Gedena, according to a survivor. 

This man said he saw a group of armed men force the refugees into a pit at night. Then a grenade was thrown in.
“Flesh flew up in the air,” he said. The militiamen began shooting.

Natalia Paszkiewicz, who previously worked for an aid group in Hitsats and undertook postdoctoral research there, told Reuters she had interviewed several refugees who said they witnessed such an attack. 

Reuters was unable to independently confirm the incident. TPLF officials didn’t respond to questions about specific allegations.
Despair at the border
By January, Eritrean refugees who stayed in the camps said they were starving. 

No rations had been delivered since October because of the fighting. People were eating the bitter leaves of the moringa trees, usually used to make tea.
Eritrean soldiers returned to Hitsats in early January and ordered the refugees to leave. 

They then set parts of the camp alight, dozens of refugees said. 

Eritrean soldiers set fire to Shimelba camp at around the same time, according to refugees who were there. 

These accounts were supported by satellite imagery and analysis by UK-based security research organisation Vigil Monitor. 

The imagery, which was seen by Reuters, shows the destruction of the camps, the presence of military vehicles and signs of shelling. Both camps are now closed.

The Eritrean soldiers ordered thousands of refugees to walk westward for four days to the town of Shiraro, near the border with Eritrea. 

One refugee showed Reuters a video of a woman in labour on the back of a donkey cart. Refugees said some people died on the way.

In Shiraro, the Eritrean military encouraged and sometimes forced refugees to board trucks back to their homeland, a dozen refugees said. 

Some went in desperation. Others said they didn’t know where the trucks were going, but climbed on rather than starve. 

One refugee, called Dersu, said he spent three days in Shiraro in mid-January. 

Every day, he said he saw five trucks leaving for Eritrea, each carrying around 300 people.
In another border town, Badme, Eritrean soldiers set up a temporary COVID-19 centre to test and quarantine the refugees. 

Four refugees who were in Badme said thousands of Eritreans were held there, guarded by soldiers. Eritrean government doctors conducted the COVID-19 tests.

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South Africa’s decline in 13 graphs @businesstechSA
Africa


Chief economist at the Efficient Group, Dawie Roodt, has published a series of graphs showing how South Africa’s economy has steadily declined over the last three decades.
While Roodt noted that it was the job of economists to measure things over time, it was less common to directly compare two countries – or in this case, South Africa and the rest of the world.
“The single most important variable, as far as I am concerned, is life expectancy,” Roodt said.
“Life expectancy correlates with everything that is good: Low levels of crime, quality education, wealth, and so much more. Although I have used these variables, I have also considered a few others.”
Roodt noted that, globally, citizens have never had it this good – with improvements seen in nearly every area of their lives over last 30 years.
“The past two years were a bit of a hiccup, but the trends remain firm. Income, crime levels, war, child mortality. Just about every variable is either at its best levels ever or getting better. Even the giant panda is not critically endangered anymore,” he said.
However, the same can not be said for South Africans.
“The only conclusion that I can draw is that the ‘reason’ for our dismal performance has to do with the destructive ANC government. 

Today, the ANC – in fact, the whole tripartite alliance – is a giant blob that lives off of the state. And the results are there for all to see. But let the numbers paint the picture that is worth a thousand words.”
GDP
Since 1994, South Africa’s per capita GDP, compared to the rest of the world, deteriorated by approximately 20% in relative terms, Roodt said.
“In 1994, our per capita GDP was close to 85% of the world’s per capita GDP. Today, it is closer to 60%.”
“Even when compared to the rest of Africa, we have deteriorated. In 1994, our per capita GDP was 2.6 times that of the rest of Africa. Today, we are still much richer than the rest of Africa, but less so than in 1994.
In 1994, South Africa’s per capita GDP was 4.5 times that of China. China’s GDP is now double that of South Africa’s, Roodt said.

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Saudi Arabia Deposited $3 Billion in Egypt’s Central Bank @markets
Africa



Saudi Arabia said it recently deposited $3 billion in Egypt’s central bank as part of an effort to help some nations during the coronavirus pandemic.
It also extended $2.3 billion previously deposited, state-run Saudi Press Agency reported, citing a finance ministry statement. 

It didn’t say when the deposit was made.

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Mozambique bread riots may be warning sign on African food security Africa Monitor @csmonitor By Aly-Khan Satchu, September 6, 2010
Africa



Global food markets are but the perturbation of a butterflys's wing away from a serious tipping point.
Given the fragility of the food markets, Maputo might well be a shot across the bows of many regimes, who have yet to secure access to sufficient food at sufficiently low prices for their people.
Failure to execute on this front, surely imperils many.

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@TwigaFoods raises a $50M in Series C for scaling across Africa. @MwangoCapital
Kenyan Economy


The series was led by @Creadev_Lab with participation from TLcom, IFC Ventures, DOB Equity, Goldman Sachs’ spinoff Juven, OP Finnfund Global & Endeavor Catalyst Fund

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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
 
 
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