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Air China Suspends Flights to North Korea

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  • Air China Suspends Flights to North Korea

Air China has suspended flights to North Korea, further limiting the secretive state’s links with the outside world, in what the government said was a business decision with no political motives.

The suspension comes shortly after US President Donald Trump visited Beijing and pressed his counterpart Xi Jinping to do more to rein in North Korea’s nuclear program.

China sent a special envoy, Song Tao, to the North last week but his four-day trip ended with no direct statement on the crisis, after Pyongyang’s series of nuclear and missile tests triggered global alarm.

Air China said in a statement to AFP that it cancelled the Beijing to Pyongyang flight route because the “operational situation is not ideal”.

“Market conditions will determine the resumption of the flight route,” the statement said.

Air China last cancelled flights to North Korea in April, citing low customer demand, but resumed them soon after.

China has denied any political motives behind its flag carrier’s suspension of the route.

“The airliners just work out their own operation plans based on the state of operation and the market,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a press briefing on Tuesday when asked about the apparent move.

Passengers flying from Beijing to North Korea are now left with just three regularly scheduled flights each week, on the North Korean state airline Air Koryo.

Air Koryo also operates flights from the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang to Pyongyang, though it halted flights from the Chinese border city of Dandong earlier this year.

Beijing is Pyongyang’s only major ally and biggest trade partner, though in August China said it would abide by new UN sanctions which heavily curtail the North’s exports of its most profitable goods.

The US on Tuesday unveiled new sanctions targeting North Korean shipping and Chinese traders doing business with Pyongyang, again raising the pressure on the pariah state to abandon its nuclear program.

AFP

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Africa Needs USD 35-billion per Year  to Tackle Water Crisis

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USD 35-billion per year is needed to tackle Africa’s water crisis; South African firm Khato Civils announces African expansion and calls for AfCFTA to be the catalyst to build Africa’s water infrastructure.

The United Nations warns that the world could face a 40 per cent shortfall in water supply by 2030, with Africa – which already suffers from greater levels of water stress than other regions – likely to bear the brunt.

The economic impact of the shortfall in water infrastructure and supply is already severe. Sub-Saharan Africa currently loses an estimated 5 per cent of its annual gross domestic product (GDP) due to poor access to clean drinking water and sanitation, 5 to 25 per cent of its GDP to droughts and floods in affected countries, and 40 billion hours of otherwise productive time annually, collecting water.

Having delivered on sustainable water supply projects in the SADC region, South African-based construction and engineering firm, Khato Civils, has announced its intention to expand across the continent and play its part in tackling Africa’s infrastructure shortfall.

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the world’s largest free trade area, came into effect in January 2021. It is expected to increase levels of intra-Africa trade by over 50 per cent by 2030 and offers the opportunity for increased Pan-African collaboration in major infrastructure projects.

In an interview with AfricaLive.net Khato Civils Chairman Simbi Phiri put forward an ambitious vision for African development facilitated by infrastructure development. “Problems like food shortages are not occasioned by a lack of food on the continent necessarily, it’s about our underdeveloped land and waterways. If we can step up infrastructure development, we will solve a lot of other problems as well,” says Mr Phiri.

“AfCFTA gives us a chance to have a business without borders.

We will now be able to go into places like Zimbabwe, Zambia and other countries to compete. It also gives us a chance to compete with multinationals from India and China in other African countries. The agreement will lay to rest some of the restrictions that were imposed by colonial legacies of the past.

The Data: Africa’s Water Crisis In Numbers

As the world becomes more populous, increased urbanisation, climate change and changes in food production are driving water demand at a rate that outpaces supply.

* Globally, 80 per cent of wastewater goes back into the ecosystem without adequate treatment, resulting in 1.8 billion people worldwide drinking contaminated water.

* Over 300 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa lack access to clean drinking water and over 700 million live without access to good sanitation.

* The world faces a severe water shortage by 2030, and Africa is likely to bear the brunt – as exacerbated by the impact of climate change.

* Africa’s water sector has an annual investment shortfall of USD 13 billion (urban areas) to USD 27 billion (rural areas).

* African countries lose between 5 and 25 per cent of GDP due to issues related to lack of water infrastructure.

The Opportunity: Every 1 USD spent brings between 3 and 24 USD of economic benefits

For every USD 1 invested in water and sanitation, there are direct and indirect economic returns to individuals and households, the health sector, and agricultural and industrial sectors, ranging from USD 3 to 34, according to the World Health Organisation.

If you look at big cities like Accra, their biggest issue is water and sanitation,” says Mr Phiri, “The same applies to other cities like Lagos and Kinshasa with power and roads coming a close second,”

Water and sanitation is without a doubt the main area that will boom in Africa in the short-term future.”

In order to unleash these economic benefits, Khato Civils Chief Executive Officer Mongezi Mnyani calls on governments to accelerate infrastructure development and foster public-private partnerships. “Political will is at the centre of it all,” says Mr Mnyani.

“Infrastructure initiatives must be government-driven because that’s where the agenda is set and major decisions are made. Governments must work collaboratively and also develop strategies that entice the private sector so that firms like ours have an easier time carrying out projects.”

The Water Sector in Sub-Saharan Africa Requires an Annual Investment of USD 35 Billion

While poor governance, mismanagement of resources, and a lack of environmental research have exacerbated water supply issues, insufficient long-term investment in water infrastructure needed to manage water resources and provide water services remains a key challenge.

The African Development Bank’s Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Wambui Gichuri, recently highlighted an annual investment requirement of USD 35 billion per year.

Ms Gichuri also stated that a UN assessment indicates finance gaps of between 39 per cent for urban water supply and 78 per cent for rural water supply.

Derisking Africa in the eyes of global capital is key to closing that funding gap. Mr Phiri believes indigenous African construction and engineering firms – previously often overlooked in favour of international firms – have a role to play in building investor confidence, saying “I believe it’s all about getting projects done on time, within budget, and with proper quality.

“People will trust you more if you have a track record of delivering what’s needed with allocated funds.

“Risk comes in when we have companies that do not do what’s required of them with borrowed funds. Once we develop professional and social proof based on the work done with borrowed funds, it will boost our credit rating and make it easier for us to access more capital.”

Khato Civils Impact On Infrastructure in Southern Africa

Khato Civils has been making a mark on water infrastructure across the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region for decades, with Mr Phiri at the helm for about 11 years. “We took over the company in 2010 because we saw a niche area in South Africa,” he says. “Lots of South African companies were either being priced out of deals or running out of budget to complete certain projects. We also wanted to bring a special quality to the market in a way that exceeds what customers want and need.”

Also speaking in an interview with AfricaLive.net, CEO Mogezi Mnyani adds, “We may be based in Johannesburg, but we have offices in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Ghana and South Sudan. We are looking to set up offices in other regions as well because our vision is to diversify into other markets and offer our products to countries that need them the most across the continent.”

With Khato Civils’ ongoing expansion and 85 per cent of their staff based in local sites, the company is poised to expand Sub-Saharan Africa’s water infrastructure and supply, thus improving climate resilience and mitigating food security risks, pending greater investments in water infrastructure. “It’s not just about business for us, we work to ensure we leave a legacy by changing the lives of communities,” says Mr Mnyani.

Botswana’s 100km Pipeline Project

The government of Botswana is implementing the North-South Carrier Project to address water shortages in its growing capital, Gaborone.

The Khato Civils/South Zambezi/Evolution Engineering JV is designing and constructing a Transmission Water Pipeline of approximately 100km from Masama Well fields to Mmamashia Water Treatment Plant in Gaborone, to convey 64Ml/day of borehole water abstracted from both Masama East and West Wellfields. The project started in May 2020 and Khato Civils is rallying to complete what would normally require 2.5 years in half the time, as per the client’s wishes, and despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Joint Venture with South Zambezi: Mmamashia Water Treatment Plant in Botswana

In connection with the above-mentioned North-South Carrier Project in Botswana, Khato Civils is working in a joint venture with South Zambezi to increase the capacity of the Mmamashia Water Treatment Plant to handle increased water pipeline flows. The project entails designing, building and equipping all protection for the water treatment plant to function effectively, critically examining the maximum water flows and associated pressures, design calculations and drawings, amongst other activities.The plant will treat a maximum of 110 megalitres of raw water per day.

Khato Civils and South Zambezi have a long-standing business relationship. This joint venture serves as a clear example of the type of collaboration African engineering firms can form to deliver infrastructure projects ahead of schedule.

Lake Malawi Water Supply Project

The Lake Malawi project was conceptualised as a long-term and sustainable intervention to water problems that have been affecting the ever-growing population of Malawi’s capital city, Lilongwe, for over a decade. Khato Civils won the USD 500 million water transfer project tender issued by the government of Malawi, beating six reputable companies from China, Portugal, South Africa, Italy and the United Kingdom.

Khato Civils is in a joint venture partnership with South Zambezi to extract water from Lake Malawi, clean and transport it to the Lilongwe Water Station, 124km away, before piping it to the city’s population. Khato Civils’ designs have been approved by the Malawi Water Board and the national government.

Shaping Africa’s Future With A Commitment to Green Building

The Khato Civils leadership also emphasises a commitment to sustainable engineering, construction and infrastructure development. “Our designs always have an element of green building in terms of energy savings, alternative sources of energy and local materials. We also research and look to bring in green technologies so that we ensure sustainability even as we build,” says Mr Mnyani.

Mr Phiri adds, “I believe our future in this industry, in relation to sustainability, will largely depend on solar energy. We want to be recognised in this space and we are moving ahead with sealing important partnerships with Canadian firms to get the right competencies. We see this as an emerging sector.”

Another of Khato Civils’ key service offerings is advice on cost-effectively executing projects from the design stage. “The importance of preliminary work before the execution stage is very important,” says Mr Mnyani. “We are resourceful enough and open enough for the use of various energy forms along the course of work. We have incorporated hydropower and even solar power, in the design, to ensure continuity at all times. We also believe in preserving natural sites, indigenous trees, graves and other important landmarks of countries.”

A Call For Transformative Partnerships

Khato Civils is now looking to both inspire a new generation of African engineers while accelerating its own development by forming new strategic partnerships.

Another big plus of the AfCFTA agreement is that fellow Africans will see an African-owned company like us that is well organised and accomplished and our success will rub off on them. Overall, the trade agreement provides a platform where trailblazing African companies can set the marker for the rest to emulate,” says Mr Phiri.

We look for competent like-minded partners and have found some in Kenya, USA, Italy, and other countries. The companies we work with have done business in far-flung areas, including Asia, and understand how to operate in sometimes unfavourable conditions.”

We are open to partners that have a passion for changing the status quo, care about African development, and are not just interested in profitability.”

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Energy Sector Stands With Equatorial Guinea as Explosions Decimate in Residential Areas

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Equatorial Guinea saw the loss of at least 20 lives and over 600 wounded following a series of explosions at a military base in the city of Bata.

The Energy Sector wishes to extend its full support to the people of Equatorial Guinea and appeals to the international community and fellow Africans to come together, lend a hand and #PrayForEquatorialGuinea.

Equatorial Guinea saw the loss of at least 20 lives and over 600 wounded following a series of explosions at a military base in the city of Bata.

The explosion which occurred around 4 pm on Sunday caused severe damage to numerous houses and buildings in Bata. In an official statement, President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo said the detonation was “caused by the negligence of the unit in charge of storing explosives, dynamite and ammunition at the Nkoa Ntoma military camp.” Furthermore, he explained that, “These caught fire due to stubble-burning by farmers in their fields which ultimately made these depots explode in succession.”

The head of state appealed to the international community for aid and acknowledged the vastness of the impact the explosions will have on the country’s economy – which has already suffered a major hit with the pandemic and drop in oil prices as an oil-reliant country.

“We are shocked by this tragedy and pain. We should not dwell on the past or get stuck in grief,” stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber. “No one is more resilient than the citizens of Bata and the people of Equatorial Guinea and, I am confident they will beat this. As a business community, we need to focus on supporting the government in its building efforts. It has to be rebuilt not as it had been, but this is an opportunity to build Bata as it should be,” concluded Ayuk.

In the aftermath of this tragic event, we urge the oil and gas community to mobilize their expertise, capabilities, and community resources to assist with the relief and recovery efforts in coordination with the government.

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NHIS Moves To Recover N10B From Heritage Bank and N11B Trapped In The Federation Account

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NHIS Moves To Recover N10B From Heritage Bank and N11B Trapped In The Federation Account

The National Health Insurance Scheme is making efforts to recover some missing funds estimated at about N27bn, Prof. Mohammed Sambo, the Executive Secretary of the scheme revealed.

While expressing optimism that the NHIS Amendment Bill pending before the National Assembly for passage would change the face of health insurance in the country, he said a review of the NHIS Act would allow the agency to enroll more Nigerians.

Sambo stated these in the progress report of the NHIS which he presented after a management meeting in Kaduna.

Sambo said, “We have about N11bn trapped in the Federation Account since 2014. We have been meeting with the Minister of Finance to see how to get it back. Also, we have been pursuing another N10bn lodged in Heritage Bank and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been helping us to recover it.

“When there was COVID-19, N6bn was taken from the NHIS account without notice. So, we are working on recovering those resources and we have agreed at the level of management that a proportion of the money recovered will be put on strategic investment”.

The NHIS CEO also spoke on the progress made in improving the subscription for the insurance scheme, saying over 10 million Nigerians had now subscribed for it.

According to him, while about 10,269,996 enrolled into the scheme as of last Friday, the NHIS has been able to save money from its cost-saving reforms.

Sambo said, “The population of Nigerians that have enrolled in the health insurance scheme has risen to 10,269,996 from 6 million earlier reported by the National Demographic Health Survey”.

Sambo explained that as part of strategies to increase its subscriber base, NHIS has mapped the entire segments of the Nigerian population, including the Nigerian Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

The NHIS boss said: “We have mapped the population, and we are engaging the management of the NYSC to ensure that they are covered in the framework of the national health insurance scheme. You know that there was a presidential directive in the past that all NYSC members should be covered by the scheme, but due to budgetary constraints, it was not implemented”.

He stated that contrary to insinuation that NHIS has not been able to achieve much in terms of teaching universal health insurance for all in the last 20 years, “the major impediment is the law limiting its utilisation”.

Sambo said the best way to fund health insurance is by pooling resources through mass enrolling in the health insurance scheme at all levels.

The executive secretary said while appreciable progress is being made at the federal level, not much is happening in the state and local government areas in terms of enrolment into state health insurance scheme.

He disclosed that one of the recent decisions taken by the management is to ensure NHIS is fully automated to achieve seamless operations.

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