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Intensify Efforts on Single Currency, Buhari Tells ECOWAS Countries

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  • Intensify Efforts on Single Currency, Buhari Tells ECOWAS Countries

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday called on member countries of the Economic Community of West African States to intensify efforts at achieving the single currency programme by 2020.

He said that the Federal Government was committed to providing a leadership role in assisting ECOWAS to achieve the single currency programme.

He explained that Nigeria would continue to play the leadership role in moving the ECOWAS integration agenda forward.

The President spoke at the West African Monetary Zone 2018 mid-year statutory meetings held in Abuja.

The ECOWAS authority had approved the reduction of the macroeconomic convergence criteria from 11 criteria (four primary and seven secondary criteria) to six (three primary and three secondary criteria).

The three primary criteria that are being used are a budget deficit of not more than three per cent; average annual inflation of less than 10 per cent with a long term goal of not more than five per cent by 2019; and gross reserves that can finance at least three months of imports.

The three secondary convergence criteria that have been adopted by ECOWAS are public debt/Gross Domestic Product of not more than 70 per cent; central bank financing of budget deficit should not be more than 10 per cent of previous year’s tax revenue; and nominal exchange rate variation of plus or minus 10 per cent.

Presenting a progress report at the opening session of the meeting, the Director General, West Africa Monetary Institute, Dr Ngozi Egbuna, had on Thursday explained that as of December 2017, none of the countries had met all the four criteria.

But Buhari, who was represented at the event, said by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, as the largest economy in the region, a lot of responsibility rested on Nigeria for the establishment and sustainability of the monetary union.

Buhari stated, “Let me underscore that Nigeria remains committed to the integration agenda and a sustainable development of our community with the overall goal of improving the quality of life of all ECOWAS citizens.

“In order to move the integration forward in very sustainable manner, Nigeria, once again emphasizes that economic convergence must be based on sound and sustainable macroeconomic fundamentals and to reconsider the issue of transforming WAMI (West African Monetary Institute) into a commission.

“This is very critical because the propose merger of WAMI and WAMZ by the ECOWAS Commission into a ECOWAS Monetary Institute would leave the WAMZ with no forum to exchange ideas and discuss matters of common interests to the English-speaking countries in the ECOWAS.”

The President added that there was no denying that considerable amount of resources, time and effort had been expended in the pursuit of regional integration agenda.

He said this should be justified by achieving the objectives of the monetary union by 2020.

He stated, “Therefore, your gathering here is critical as we are barely 18 months to the target date for the introduction of the ECOWAS single currency.

“Members of council, as you discuss the progress towards the launch of a monetary union in the sub-region, you need to situate the issues within the global context and the challenges confronting existing monetary zones.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Kagame Dominates Election with 99.15% of Votes Counted

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President Paul Kagame has taken a commanding lead in the Rwandan presidential election, securing 99.15% of the votes counted thus far, according to the National Electoral Commission.

The provisional results, reported by the state broadcaster Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, indicate a decisive victory for the Rwandan Patriotic Front candidate.

With 79% of the ballots tallied, Kagame’s overwhelming lead leaves his opponents trailing significantly.

Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda has garnered only 0.53% of the votes, while independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana has received 0.32%.

The voter turnout has been reported at an impressive 98%, underscoring the high level of public engagement in the electoral process.

The early results suggest a strong mandate for Kagame, who has been at the helm of Rwandan politics since 2000.

Kagame’s administration has been marked by significant economic growth and development, but it has also faced criticism for its stance on political dissent and freedom of expression.

Despite this, Kagame remains a highly popular figure in Rwanda, with many citizens crediting him for the country’s stability and progress.

The National Electoral Commission is expected to release the final results in the coming days. As the tallying continues, Kagame’s supporters have already begun celebrating his anticipated victory.

Analysts believe that Kagame’s likely re-election will provide continuity in Rwanda’s economic policies and development programs.

However, they also call for more inclusive governance and respect for political freedoms to ensure long-term stability and growth.

Kagame’s near-unanimous support in the early results reflects his entrenched position in Rwandan politics.

His ability to maintain such high levels of support will be a focal point of discussion in the aftermath of the election.

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Kenya Prepares for More Protests Over Unresolved Political Crisis

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Kenya is on the brink of another wave of anti-government protests as efforts to resolve the nation’s escalating political crisis appear to have stalled.

President William Ruto’s proposal for a national dialogue has yet to take off, leaving the nation in a state of heightened tension.

Activists have called for demonstrations across the East African nation on Tuesday, protesting the government’s failure to hold security forces accountable for the deaths of at least 41 people.

These casualties occurred during protests against Ruto’s contentious plan to raise taxes over the past month.

Despite the president’s announcement last week that national dialogue would commence on Monday to defuse the situation, progress has been elusive.

The main opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), expressed uncertainty regarding the proposed talks.

“We haven’t received any invitation,” ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna stated. “When called, we’ll go because we are keen on getting broad-based reforms.”

A spokesperson for the presidency indicated that parliamentary leaders were managing the planned talks, but National Assembly majority leader Kimani Ichung’wah did not respond to requests for comment.

Protests initially erupted in mid-June over Ruto’s plans to increase taxes on essential goods, including bread and diapers, aiming to raise over $2 billion to reduce the government’s budget shortfall.

The public outcry forced Ruto to abandon the proposal, but dissatisfaction remains high.

Last week, in a dramatic move to quell public anger, Ruto fired almost all his cabinet members, underscoring the severity of the discontent.

The scrapping of the tax measures is expected to widen the government’s budget deficit to 3.6% of GDP in the current fiscal year, up from a previous projection of 3.3%.

This financial strain has not gone unnoticed; Moody’s Ratings downgraded Kenya’s rating by a step to Caa1, plunging it deeper into junk status, highlighting the country’s deteriorating fiscal condition.

On Saturday, Ruto vowed to hold accountable those responsible for the recent killings. However, his efforts to address public concerns seem insufficient to stem the tide of unrest.

On Monday, he called on the Ford Foundation, an organization promoting civic engagement, to clarify its role in the protests, though the foundation did not respond to requests for comment.

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Rishi Sunak Announces Resignation Amid Labour’s Sweeping Victory

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced his resignation as the leader of the Conservative Party following a historic victory by Labour in the general election.

Addressing the nation from the steps of 10 Downing Street, Sunak expressed his deep regret and took full responsibility for the party’s defeat.

“I would like to say, first and foremost, I am sorry. I have given this job my all,” Sunak began, visibly moved.

“But you have sent a clear signal that the government of the United Kingdom must change. And yours is the only judgement that matters. I have heard your anger, your disappointment, and I take responsibility for this loss.”

The Conservatives experienced a staggering loss, with more seats taken by Labour than in any previous election.

This shift marked a dramatic change in the political landscape, as large swathes of the country turned red. Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, claimed victory early Friday morning, addressing a jubilant crowd of supporters.

“The UK has the opportunity after 14 years to get its future back,” Starmer proclaimed.

Sunak, who retained his seat in Richmond, North Yorkshire, described the night as “sobering.”

In his concession, he stated, “The Labour Party has won this general election, and I have called Sir Keir Starmer to congratulate him on his victory. The British people have delivered a sobering verdict tonight; there is much to learn, and I take responsibility for the loss.”

Following his resignation speech, Sunak and his wife, Akshata, departed from Downing Street for Buckingham Palace to formally tender his resignation to King Charles III.

A spokesperson for the King confirmed, “His Majesty was graciously pleased to accept.”

Reflecting on his tenure, Sunak said, “I am honoured to have been your prime minister. This is the best country in the world.”

He also acknowledged the many Conservative MPs who lost their seats, stating, “It pains me to think how many good colleagues who contributed so much to their communities and our country will now no longer sit in the House of Commons. I thank them for their hard work and their service.”

As the Conservative Party faces a period of introspection and rebuilding, Sunak emphasized the importance of the party’s role in opposition.

“It is important that the Conservative Party now rebuilds and also takes up its crucial role in opposition, professionally and effectively,” he noted.

The leadership race within the Conservative Party is expected to commence shortly, as the party seeks to navigate its path forward after this significant electoral defeat.

For now, the UK braces for a new political era under Labour’s leadership, with the promise of significant changes on the horizon.

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