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ECOWAS leaders vow to sustain democratic culture in sub-region —

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has pledged to continue to sustain democracy and democratic tenets among member-countries via the conduct of free, fair and acceptable elections.

The Chairman of ECOWAS and President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, made the pledge at the opening of the 59th ordinary summit of the authority of Heads of State and government of the organisation, held in Accra, Ghana, on Saturday.

A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) monitoring the summit reports that Akufo-Addo also used the opportunity to thank all African countries for supporting the candidacy and election of Ghana into the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member.

He also appreciated the support he had received so far from his colleagues, Presidents of countries within the West African region, and called for more collaboration, in order to move the sub-region forward.

He commended the efforts of African leaders towards sustaining democratic tenets, as he congratulated the Presidents of Niger and Benin Republics, for their recent successes at the polls.

He said: “Let me congratulate our brothers and colleagues, Mohammed Bazoum and Patrice Talon, who have been elected as Presidents of the Republics of Niger and Benin, since our last summit.

”I offer them my and the community’s best wishes for their success during their terms of office.

“I also commend the Republics of Cote D’Ivoire and Cape Verde for the conduct and outcomes of their latest legislative elections. Our region continues to strengthen its democratic credentials through the holding of successful elections.”

While thanking African leaders for supporting the election of Ghana as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, he assured the continent of a worthy representation.

“On behalf of the government and people of Ghana, I thank all ECOWAS and AU member States for the support of Ghana’s recent successful candidate for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations’ Security Council for the years 2022 and 2023.

“Ghana received the highest number of votes on the day, with 185 out of 190 votes and it would not have been possible without your active support.

”I assure you that Ghana will make sure that Africa’s voice is heard loud and clear in the deliberations of the Security Council, both for matters affecting our region, the African continent and on global issues and we will consult properly to define Africa’s interest,” he said.

While noting with delight the planned UN reforms, Akufo-Addo stressed the need for balancing the membership of the UN Security Council in order to have African representatives on the council as permanent members.

“Africa’s common position on UN reforms, based on the Ezulwini consensus, is one matter we will work hard to add to the global agenda, to solicit the backing of countries around the world for this long needed reform.

“We believe it is time to correct the long standing injustice that the current structure and composition of the UN Security Council represents for the nations of Africa,” he said.

He also lamented the continuous threats of terrorism, violent extremism and COVID-19, among others, to the development of Africa.

In his remarks, the Representative of the UN Secretary General’s office in West Africa and the Sahel, Annadif Saleh, pledged to support the effort of ECOWAS to restore political stability in Mali.

He also welcomed what he called positive developments in Cote D’Ivoire and Cape Verde.

Nigeria’s Akinwumi Adesina thanked President Muhammadu Buahri and other African leaders for the overwhelming support they gave, leading to his re-election as the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

He said the bank was investing massively in Africa, with over 16 billion dollars spent so far, leading to meaningful development on the continent.

“The African Development Bank is investing massively in West Africa. We are delighted with the excellent relationship and partnership with the ECOWAS Commission.

“The total volume of the spending portfolio of the bank in West Africa currently stands at $16 billion, the second largest for the bank anywhere in the continent.

”The bank’s support for infrastructure in the ECOWAS region has doubled over the past five years, increasing from two billion dollars in 2015; when I was first elected, to four billion,” he said.

Adesina called on African leaders to urgently address the rising security challenges on the continent, which are posing threats to development and investment opportunities.

“The security index investment bonds can be delivered through special purpose vehicles, established on behalf of a pool of regional member countries. The bonds can be credit enhanced by the AfDB and other donors

“The administration of the bond proceeds can be managed by the Africa Union’s Peace and Security Council and regional economic communities, which includes the ECOWAS Commission.

“Then Your Excellencies, we all can sleep with our eyes closed, to wake up the next morning, ready to work relentlessly to Africa’s assured destiny of prosperity. So, together, let us assure economic growth and prosperity for the West African region.

“Together, let us build greater resilience, financial and economic resilience, climate and health resilience.

“Together, let us give the region a well-financed security architecture that will secure the lives of people and enhance the attractiveness of the region as the prime investment destination.

”Let us mount the flag of ECOWAS on a higher mountain. Let us rise higher,” he stressed.

The Secretary of the organisation of Francophone countries, Louise Mushikwiwabo, expressed her organisation’s support for the steps so far taken by ECOWAS to restore political stability in Mali.

Former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, who is the ECOWAS Mediator in the Malian crisis, also briefed the summit on the progress made so far in resolving the crisis in Mali.

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, who is also participating in the summit, is expected back to Abuja after the meeting of the ECOWAS leaders later today.

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months


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A Kenya Airways aircraft at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya Airways will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.
  • The airline in a notice to its customers yesterday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.

The airline in a notice to its customers Monday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

The airline will then resume full operations on the route on September 20, flying three times per week on the Indian route, which is one of the most lucrative destinations on its network.

Passengers on the route will part with Sh46,000 ($419) for one-way air ticket on economy class seats from Nairobi to Mumbai- prices that are relatively the same compared to what it was charging before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Welcome back onboard! Fly from Nairobi to Mumbai starting Thursday 16th September with normal schedules resuming from Monday 20th September 2021,” said the airline in a notice to its customers yesterday.

KQ Suspended passenger flights to and from Mumbai on April 30 until further notice, following a government directive on travel between India and Kenya due to a Covid-19 crisis in that country.

The airline said on Friday that passengers who had booked tickets after May 1, the date of the last flight from Mumbai to Nairobi, will have to change their plans.

Affected passengers, KQ said, could also take vouchers for the value of their fare for future travel within 12 months.

India has seen soaring infection rates in the recent days, since the discovery of a new virus variant. Last month, India put on lockdown one of the states following a spike in cases of Covid-19.

Other countries that have banned flights to India include France, the UK Bangladesh, Oman and Hong Kong that have banned travel to and from India or asked their nationals coming from the Asian country to isolate themselves in government-approved hotels.

India has so far detected 33,264,175 corona virus cases with the number of deaths hitting 442,874 as at September 13.

A large number of patients from Kenya also travel to India every year for specialised medical treatment, especially cancer care, helping to drive medical tourism in the densely populated country that boasts affordable and easily accessible healthcare.

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs


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Man pulls a cart loaded with second-hand clothes at Gikomba Market in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.
  • Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.
  • Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

The average price of a tonne of second-hand clothing items imported into the country crossed the Sh100,000 mark for the first time last year on reduced volumes in the wake of safety protocols and guidelines to curb spread of coronavirus.

Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.

Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

Last year’s drop was the first dip since 2011 when 76,533 tonnes were shipped in compared with 80,423 tonnes the previous year, the official data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.

The import bill for the merchandise amounted to Sh12.24 billion, a drop of 31.11 percent, or Sh5.53 billion, year-on-year.

TIn imposing the temporary ban on used clothes, Kebs had applied a standard which prohibits buying second-hand clothes from countries experiencing epidemics to ensure disease-causing microorganisms are not imported into Kenya.

Higher quality and relatively lower prices for mitumba has continued to drive demand for used clothes at expense of locally-made products amid higher margins enjoyed by traders largely operating in informal markets.

The lucrative second-hand clothing market has seen traders from China —a key source market for the merchandise —open shops in Gikomba, Kenya’s largest informal market for mitumba, in recent years to cash in rising demand.

Earnings from exports of articles of apparel and clothing accessories fell 5.32 percent to Sh32.92 billion last year compared with 2019, data indicates.

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud


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Cotu boss Francis Atwoli. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.
  • Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.

Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

Mr Atwoli is the secretary-general of KPAWU. The rival union claimed KPAWU had encroached on its area of workers’ representation.

Justice James Rika, however, dismissed the claim and ruled that the dispute should have been taken through conciliation, and was therefore presented in court prematurely.

He also stated that Kefhau must go beyond its registration and recruit sufficient members from the employers, to be granted recognition and organisational rights.

“Registration on its own, does not afford the claimant (Kefhau) recognition. Until there is proof that Kefhau has satisfied Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act, the status quo must be maintained,” said the judge.

“Kefhau must recruit at least 50 percent plus one, of the unionisable employees in the floriculture and horticulture industry, members of the Agricultural Employers Association to be considered for recognition,” he stated.

He noted that there is a Recognition Agreement and CBA, binding Mr Atwoli’s union and Agricultural Employers Association, affecting 73 Flower Growers Group of employers, and over 60,000 employees.

“It is objectionable for Kefhau to be allowed organisational rights, and the legitimacy to receive trade union dues and agency fees, from over 60,000 employees, just on the strength of registration as a trade union,” said the judge.

Kefhau wanted the court to declare that it is the sole trade union, which is allowed by its constitution to carry out activities in the export floriculture and vegetable industry, and an order restraining Mr Atwoli’s from representing workers in that area.

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