Angola: Portuguese President Arrives in Lubango City
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Zimbabwe: Industry Welcomes Liberalization of Fuel Importation
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The Herald – Zimbabwe
Government’s decision to liberalise the importation of fuel, allowing big firms, mainly exporters with free funds, the green light to procure petroleum products for their own consumption was long overdue.
It is our sincere understanding that all progressive companies that have faced numerous operational challenges because of Government’s failure to supply adequate fuel, mainly diesel that is used to power heavy equipment, welcomed the move.
Although the finer details of how the liberalisation is going to be implemented, especially the duty and levies component of fuel for the private importers are yet to be announced, we believe the Government is going to come up with conditions that encourage the companies to import the commodity.
This is not the first time the Government has allowed individuals to import fuel. In 2015, Statutory Instrument (SI) 171 was amended to allow members of the public to import up to 2 000 litres of fuel per month for personal use, but was stopped two years later through SI 122 of 2017.
The SI stipulated that only companies licensed in terms of Section 29 of the Petroleum Act were allowed to import fuel.
But faced with unsustainable stock outs currently bedevilling the country’s fuel supply situation, which are negatively affecting individual consumers and businesses, it is our hope that the Government has enough instruments to ensure no one manipulates the new arrangements for personal gain. Allowing Government to single-handedly source foreign currency was causing a serious squeeze with resource competition, resulting in the central bank failing to release the money on time — scenarios that saw the country running dry in many occasions.
Government has critical responsibilities, among them ensuring the procurement of essential drugs, electricity, water purification chemicals among other important issues that need foreign currency.
We feel freeing Government from importing fuel for companies that have access to foreign currency is going to provide breathing space for the apex bank that was saddled with the task of playing the balancing act with the little forex available.
The decision to liberalise the fuel importation comes at a time the Central Bank is involved in protracted battles with many exporters such as gold miners, tobacco and cotton farmers over foreign currency retention thresholds.
The situation we have calls for all Zimbabweans to be patriotic and we least expect some companies to start giving conditions that they need the threshold renegotiated because they will now be importing fuel.
Inasmuch as the fuel imports will consume a sizeable chunk of their retained foreign currency, we expect all Zimbabweans to understand that the country comes first ahead of individual interests.
Your company cannot be a superstar in an economy where all other companies and Zimbabweans in general will be languishing in abject poverty and this calls for everyone to play ball and rally behind Government. We also do not expect some companies to import their fuel, but continue to use the one procured by Government and only to return theirs when public pumps will be dry — such unfaithfulness will not be accepted.
This is Africa (Hilversum)
By Socrates Mbamalu
Rwanda has embraced technology and is now preparing its young population for the future by launching a coding academy. The school's motto "born to code" encourages young people interested in coding to pursue it as a career. The academy focusses on cyber security and software programming, and 30 girls and 30 boys enrolled in the first intake.
The Rwandan government and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) recently launched the Rwanda Coding Academy in partnership with the Ministry of ICT, Ministry of Education and Rwanda Polytechnic among other institutions. The Rwanda Coding Academy, which opened on the 4th of February 2019 with a total of 60 students; 30 girls and 30 boys.
A statement from the Ministry of Education said, "This model school will graduate its students in a period of 3 years attended by students who are "Born to Code" determined to pursue a life-time coding career at an early age to emerge as global software engineers." The coding academy targets young Rwandans who just finished secondary school and performed well in Physics, Mathematics and English.
The coding academy whose motto is: "born to code" targets students with an interest in coding and seek to pursue coding as a long-time career. The $4.6 billion structure that hosts the coding academy and the Nyabihu Technical and Vocational Education and Training School (VTET) was deliberately built away from the country's capital, Kigali.
Speaking to the media, Minister of ICT and Innovation; Paula Ingabire said "We are starting off with sixty (students) but the intention is if we can roll out at least five coding academies; one in each province, then you are looking at least every year enrolling about three hundred students that can specialize in becoming software experts".
The academy was built in line with the National Strategy for Transformation. Rwanda has embarked on building a knowledge-based economy, through promoting science and technology.
Rwanda recently launched a satellite to provide internet access to rural areas around Lake Kivu. The Minister of Education, Eugene Mutimura said, "We are excited about this programme because we believe that this coding school will promote excellence in our ICT sector and reduce government expenditure on reliance of foreign companies to provide us with tech solutions."
The Rwandan government will sponsor the students for a six months training abroad at top IT institutions during the three-year course. Coding camps in Rwanda aren't in scarcity either. For Rwanda, this is a huge investment in the future of their country. Andela, an African company that identifies and develops software developers will have its Pan-African hub based in Rwanda.
The Herald – Zimbabwe
By: Prof Mthuli Ncube
Zimbabwe is at the beginning of an exciting journey towards prosperity. It won’t necessarily be a smooth journey, and beginnings are never easy. But with real reform and a commitment to restructuring our economy we will rebuild our economy and our nation.
And indeed building is at the heart of our agenda; in particular, road building. This essential infrastructure is arguably the most important of all our public assets, contributing to economic development and growth whilst providing access to economic opportunities, employment, health and education services.
It connects Zimbabweans and levels the playing field. All Zimbabweans have the basic and fundamental right to access healthcare, access markets, and the freedom of movement. Roads, therefore, are key.
Dealing with the challenges in the road sector is part of our strategy to fight poverty, address marginalisation of communities as well as remove barriers limiting productive individuals from contributing to society and the economy.
Investments in a well-connected road network is therefore, good for business and balanced development in our country. It opens up previously inaccessible areas whilst also crowding in private sector investment to our growth points and service centres. In the process, we stimulate economic and social development for our rural communities.
Quality roads also ensure safe and enjoyable travel for the commuting public, whilst reducing costs to the overall economy by minimising travel times, loss of lives and property through accidents.
Drawing from the short term, Transitional Stabilisation Programme, the 2019 Infrastructure Investment Plan, with an allocation of over US$900 million, targets to more than double, our investment in the road sector.
We are upgrading 781km of our road network, regravelling 483km and constructing 22 bridges. Each of the targeted roads has been identified including specific works for the year, which provides an opportunity for citizens to monitor progress in implementing planned works. As with every project in the new Zimbabwe; transparency is imperative.
Building roads of course is not cheap, but we have committed to balancing the Budget and thus Government has committed resources from the Intermediated Money Transfer Tax to fund the programme.
With the resources being ring-fenced towards this critical sector, the Department of Roads will rehabilitate or upgrade at least five trunk roads from gravel to bituminous surfacing in every province, with no exception. The new Zimbabwe must be upgraded for all Zimbabweans.
Similarly, the District Development Fund is gravelling and regrading at least three feeder roads per province, whilst urban and rural local authorities are up-scaling the road rehabilitation exercise for roads under their purview. The overall objective is to restore trafficability on our 99 000km road network and to transform it into a world class network within three years, consistent with the country’s vision of an Empowered Upper Middle-Income Society by 2030.
The 2019 Road Development Programme is already underway and we are seeing tangible results countrywide. The progress we are witnessing is indicative of the determination by Government to deliver pro-poor projects even under severe financial limitations.
In addition, we have committed to maximise the use of local content in all our construction activities to give impetus to local employment creation and other economic opportunities for local traders, suppliers of construction materials and other inputs.
After nearly two decades of courting private sector funding towards the upgrading of the 580km Harare-Beitbridge Road without success, the new administration has adopted a bold decision to implement the project using local resources and capacities.
Funding for this flagship project is being mobilised from the two percent Intermediated Money Transfer Tax as well as the ZINARA Infrastructure Bond.
Work is currently underway focusing on detours for the worst 20km stretch at Beatrice and Chivhu. Additionally, the Department of Roads is working on detailed designs, to enable works on the rest of the road, which will start in earnest by June 2019.
Key dualisation projects on our trunk roads are being implemented across the nation, including the Harare-Bulawayo and Harare-Mutare roads which are being conducted under a phased approach. Dualisation of the Bulawayo-Beitbridge road will also commence once the road designs have been completed.
In each and every province, major roads are being upgraded to bituminous surfacing.
Government has set up a 25,034km feeder road network to improve mobility and access for our citizens, particularly smallholder farmers who continue to struggle to get agricultural inputs as well as sell their produce to the markets. Our farmers and small business owners are the backbone of our economy. We must strengthen them, however, we can.
Unfortunately, traversing our municipal and council roads remains difficult with the current poor state of the road network. We have a lot of work to do on what is a 51 540km urban road network. That’s why in 2019 alone, under the Road Development Programme, at least 21 898 km of local authority roads will be rehabilitated at a cost of US$90 million.
We are also encouraging the new provincial councils, metropolitan councils and local authorities to prioritise the rehabilitation and upgrading of roads within their communities from the $310 million allocation in the 2019 Budget.
It is time to level the playing field or all Zimbabweans; businesses, commuters, farmers, students and schoolchildren. Our investment in road infrastructure will do just this; connecting the people of Zimbabwe, and kick-starting our economy back into life.