Sunday September 22, 2019
Sunday, September 22, 2019
Sunday September 22, 2019

Sudan Tribune - Khartoum

Sudan’s PM heads to UN General Assembly

Ethiopian News Agency

PM Abiy Discusses with Residents of Hosaena

The Star - Kenya

Uhuru has signed amended Copyright Bill into law

Sada El Balad English - Egypt

Egypt, France Carry out Naval Drills in Mediterranean Sea

Egypt Today

Cairo to host 6th edition of Arab Media Leaders Forum on Sunday


The New Times

Understanding the recent growth numbers

By: Kenneth Agutamba

Nineteen years ago, the Rwandan government launched the Vision 2020 development agenda in which it was determined that “to transform the country into a middle-income economy, it would require an annual growth rate of at least 7 per cent.”

That government mission statement played out vividly in my mind as the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning officials read out the economic update for the period April to June 2019 in which GDP grew by 12.2 per cent.

I looked at the story in the context of a relay runner that increases the pace as the finish line comes into view; the Rwandan economy appears to be pacing up as 2020 gets within reach.

Generally, the economy has enjoyed a good run since 2000, thanks to prudent economic policies; the aspiration to average 7 per cent growth has largely been met, especially in the last fifteen years. But this is a relay run and the new finish line is set to shift to 2050. Can we keep the pace?

Rwanda’s 12.2 per cent GDP growth between April and June is likely to boost investor confidence, especially those interested in the East African bloc, that the economy is well oiled to sustain its fast pace beyond 2020, despite external distractions in the global economy such as China-US trade squabbles.

Since the first quarter (January to March period) the economy has performed above expert expectations and the double-digit growth in the second quarter is further evidence that Rwandan GDP is minding its own business, literally brushing off external growth distractions in the region and beyond.

Finance minister Uzziel Ndagijimana made mention of that aspect during a press conference to officially announce the performance.

“Rwanda is not immune to the international trade dynamics but considering the weak global economy, the effect on our growth was minor,” he said.

Global growth remains subdued with the IMF’s annual forecast placing it at 3.2 per cent for 2019 and only expects it to slightly pick up to 3.5 per cent in 2020.

Therefore, Rwanda’s double-digit growth against weak expectations is an exception and a good place to come for capitalists seeking to scale or start-up.

The thinking behind banking on Rwanda is that in terms of economic stability, it offers a solid foundation for investors to establish their bases here as they seek ways of tapping into the surrounding markets especially in the wider East African region.

So, in the end, it is not Rwanda’s 12 million-person population to focus on but its economic stability that the country offers, working as an efficient launch-pad into the bigger regional economy.

If the first and second-quarter growth pace is sustained into the third and fourth quarters of the year, chances are that the World Bank’s annual growth forecast that is in the range of 7.5 to 8 per cent, will be surpassed, this, especially if the regional trade relations are normalized.

One can also make mention of the warming bilateral ties between Rwanda and DRC under new President Félix Tshisekedi’s administration, this, likely to yield benefits that will positively impact growth dynamics.

For instance, the improved cooperation is already helping dampen the spirits of hostile armed forces that have been operating in DRC, aiming to destabilize Rwanda and the killing of FDLR commander Sylvestre Mudacumura, early this week, can be seen as an early dividend.

The sustained expansion of RwandAir, flying into more destinations is also serving a strategic benefit to Rwandan traders. For instance, two friends of mine that own clothing stores in downtown Kigali are now flying directly to China and Turkey to find stock, thanks to RwandAir.

RwandAir’s ever-growing routes have literally put the world within convenient reach of many Rwandan traders who were hitherto dependent on regional dealers.

The routes are also an enabler for Rwandan exports to the world especially supporting the success of the Made in Rwanda initiative.

These and many other favourable factors, internal and external should help sustain Rwanda’s fast-paced growth in the ultimate quest for middle-income status achievement.


The New Times

Africa must not miss the blockchain bus

By: Bitange Ndemo

Since 2018 when the World Economic Forum declared that blockchain would be among other technologies defining the emerging revolution, there has been a lot of scepticism around what it can do that cannot be done with existing systems.

Academics argued that there isn’t a problem that blockchain is solving. In particular, Stefaan Verhulst, co-founder of the Governance Laboratory (GovLab) at New York University said recently that some of the technology’s challenges are a “lack of governance and ethical frameworks that can help scale the use of blockchain” and that it is “still being promoted as a solution in search of a problem.”

To the contrary, blockchain’s safety, transparency and immutability have never been questioned. There is always a problem when these three attributes are missing especially in transferring or exchanging anything of value, ranging from assets to payments and even data transfer.

What has not happened is the articulation of policy and regulatory frameworks that will guide further development of the technology.

This is perhaps what has triggered a series of high-level policy engagements across the world to chart the way forward.

Last week, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) hosted a Global Blockchain Policy Forum in Paris to deliberate its development.

Specifically, the forum sought to assess the development of blockchain in the past 12 months and delve into some of the specific challenges to implementation and adoption, discuss the emerging policy responses, and share the best practices, and investigate uses of blockchain in specific policy areas, highlighting the work that the OECD and other stakeholders are doing.

I chaired a panel discussion on blockchain in Emerging Markets: Exploring the Challenges and Opportunities.

Some of the specific emerging markets issues included lack of ICT infrastructure to support emerging technologies, bureaucratic governments that do not tolerate innovations that seem to undermine their grip of power on citizens, and lack of policies to govern blockchain applications.

It was, however, noted that most emerging markets have found the lack of 20th-century legacy systems an advantage to leapfrog.

The tempo for policy engagements around blockchain is gaining momentum, especially in Europe.

On the application side, the revelation by CoinDesk that the government of Catalonia in Spain is developing a Digital Ledger Technology-based identity platform that seeks to “give citizens control of their own data when interacting with online services,” heralds the beginning of dealing with the problem of privacy breaches by organisations that hold individual data.

The Catalonia Identity project falls within the EU’s standards that were developed to encourage digital identities, according to the May 2019 report, Blockchain and Digital, by the European Union Blockchain Observatory and Forum.

The report aims to help streamline the identity systems used in the Union by using DLT to minimise breaches. They have established that blockchain is a powerful tool for developing digital identity systems, notarising credentials and facilitating smart payments.

In these emerging technologies, Africa has one last chance to see the advantage not having legacy systems, a young population and access to knowledge through the Internet to boost economic development for greater prosperity in the continent.

For this to happen, the African Union must lead the way in dynamic policy formulation, individual countries must make the right decisions to invest in ICTS and facilitate its accessibility and affordability.

There is no doubt that blockchain and other exponential technologies are gaining acceptance across the World. We cannot be left behind once more.