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World Bank Mulls COVID-19 Vaccine Production in Africa



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The World Bank will in the next few weeks make some major announcements concerning its efforts to commence the production of COVID-19 vaccines in some African countries.

The bank said it had already begun consultations with some African manufacturing hubs to that end, noting that the move is to ensure that the jabs are available and accessible to poor nations.

Speaking yesterday at the Global Health Summit co-hosted by the European Union and Italy, the President of the bank, Mr. David Malpass, stated that there is an urgent need to find faster and more effective ways to get vaccines to people in developing countries and to plan for future health emergencies.

He added that in the first year of the pandemic, the World Bank Group committed $108 billion to help countries respond to the health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic and authorized $12 billion to help them access and deploy vaccines, with the goal of vaccinating a billion people in developing countries.

According to him, by mid-year, the bank expects to have vaccine support operations in 50 countries with at least $4 billion committed and urged countries, manufacturers, vaccine intermediaries and on-the-ground providers to increase the transparency of their own commitments.

He also urged countries with excess vaccine supplies to release their surplus doses as soon as possible to developing countries that have vaccination operations already in place as well as increase the transparency of delivery commitments.

He said: “Regarding vaccine supplies, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is making debt and equity investments in health projects and is helping developing countries manufacture vaccines and related supplies.

“As we speak today, Makhtar Diop (Managing Director, IFC) has been meeting with potential manufacturing hubs in Africa and building partnerships with development finance agencies. We’ll be announcing positive developments on this front in the coming weeks.”

Malpass projected that the negative impact of COVID-19 on human capital will be deep and may last decades, noting that over a billion children have been out of school.

“At Tuesday’s Summit on Financing of African Economies, I announced our commitment to provide $150 billion in financing for sub-Saharan Africa over the next five years, a dramatic step up on previous years.

“This draws heavily on contributions from International Development Association (IDA) donors, the World Bank Group’s strong leveraging and mobilisation capabilities, and the reflows from previous loans,” he added.

He stated that it will take large new resources to build resilience to shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that many low and middle-income countries need stronger health systems, both for their COVID-19 vaccination campaigns to succeed and to be able to manage and recover from future outbreaks.

He said to build preparedness, the global community would need major investments in infrastructure and digital connectivity, which are crucial, while maintaining its focus on the particular risks to women, girls, the poorest and most vulnerable.

The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had said last week that Intellectual Property (IP) waiver alone wasn’t enough to narrow the huge COVID-19 vaccine supply gap between rich and poor countries.

Okonjo-Iweala, while speaking to the European Parliament, had said it was clear that discussions around vaccine patents alone would not suffice, noting that global leaders need to do more to ensure that there is equitable production and distribution of the jabs.


Real Madrid Breaks Financial Records, Posts €1 Billion Revenue Amid Stadium Overhaul



Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristia

Real Madrid has announced record-breaking revenue exceeding €1 billion for the 2023/24 fiscal year.

The club’s latest financial report reveals a €1.073 billion ($1.16 billion) in revenue, a substantial 27% increase from the previous year.

This impressive growth comes despite the ongoing overhaul of the Santiago Bernabéu, which has temporarily limited its full operational capacity.

The revenue surge highlights the club’s ability to generate substantial income through various channels, including marketing and stadium operations.

Real Madrid’s success is not confined to the pitch; it has achieved significant commercial milestones.

The 2023/24 season saw the club secure its sixth UEFA Champions League title in a decade, alongside domestic triumphs in La Liga and the Super Cup.

Also, Real Madrid’s basketball team also enjoyed a stellar season, clinching the Spanish league title, King’s Cup, and Spanish Super Cup, while reaching the Euroleague finals.

Despite a decline in broadcasting revenues from La Liga, the club’s financial performance has been buoyed by increased marketing and sponsorship deals.

Notably, Real Madrid secured a new shirt sleeve sponsorship with HP, contributing to a substantial rise in marketing revenues.

The club’s EBITDA soared to €144 million ($156 million), a 71% increase from the previous year, reflecting its robust financial health and operational efficiency.

The ongoing renovation of the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, with a total investment of €1.163 billion ($1.262 billion), is set to further enhance the club’s revenue streams.

The final phase of the renovation, including VIP areas and event spaces, is expected to be completed by the 2024/25 financial year.

This development will likely drive additional revenue growth, reinforcing Real Madrid’s financial strength.

The club’s net worth stands at €574 million ($623 million), with a modest net debt of just €8 million ($8.6 million) as of June 30, 2024.

The financial results highlight Real Madrid’s resilience and strategic acumen, particularly in managing significant investments and leveraging commercial opportunities.

“Achieving over €1 billion in revenue is a groundbreaking accomplishment for Real Madrid,” said a club spokesperson.

“Despite the challenges posed by the stadium renovation, we have successfully driven growth through innovative marketing strategies and commercial partnerships. Our focus remains on building a stronger future both on and off the field.”

As the club prepares for the 2024/25 season, the anticipated arrival of Kylian Mbappé on a free transfer is expected to further boost commercial prospects and enhance the club’s marketability.

The combination of sporting success, strategic investments, and a renovated stadium positions Real Madrid for continued financial and on-field success.

Real Madrid’s achievement reflects broader trends in football finance, where top clubs are increasingly leveraging commercial opportunities to achieve unprecedented revenue milestones.

The club’s performance sets a new benchmark for financial success in the sport and underscores its enduring global appeal.

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Singapore Tops Passport Power Rankings, Overtakes European Rivals



Singapore has reclaimed its position as the holder of the world’s most powerful passport, surpassing European countries such as France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

According to the Henley Passport Index, Singaporean citizens can now enjoy visa-free access to 195 destinations globally, placing the city-state at the top of the rankings.

The Henley Passport Index, which uses data from the International Air Transport Association, evaluates 199 passports and their access to 227 destinations.

The latest update sees Singapore leapfrogging previous leaders, with the European quartet and Japan now sharing second place.

In third place are Austria, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, South Korea, and Sweden, whose passport holders have visa-free access to 191 destinations.

This is the first time seven nations have occupied this spot together.

Juerg Steffen, CEO of Henley & Partners, emphasized the significance of passport strength in today’s globalized world.

“The ability to travel visa-free is more than convenience; it’s a powerful economic tool driving growth, fostering international cooperation, and attracting foreign investment.”

While Singapore rises, the United States continues its decline, now ranking eighth, a drop from its former position at the top alongside the UK a decade ago. The UK, meanwhile, has slipped to fourth place.

At the bottom of the list, Afghanistan remains the weakest passport, offering visa-free entry to just 26 destinations.

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Netflix’s Premium Plan Sees 40% Price Hike Amidst Nigerian Inflation




Netflix has increased its subscription prices in Nigeria with the Premium Plan seeing a 40% hike from ₦5,000 to ₦7,000 per month.

According to the updated pricing on Netflix’s website, the Standard Plan, popular for its HD quality and multi-screen options, now costs ₦5,500, up from ₦4,000—a 37.5% rise.

Meanwhile, the Basic Plan increased by 21% to ₦3,500, and the Mobile Plan saw a dramatic 83% jump from ₦1,200 to ₦2,200.

In April, Netflix adjusted its Premium Plan from ₦4,400 to ₦5,000 and its Standard Plan from ₦3,600 to ₦4,000. The Basic Plan remained unchanged at ₦2,900 during that period.

The company stated these changes were part of a broader strategy to enhance revenue and support its expanding content offerings.

This latest hike comes amid soaring inflation in Nigeria, which has significantly impacted the cost of living.

As food and essential goods prices rise, many Nigerians find entertainment subscriptions increasingly unaffordable.

Netflix’s price adjustments are not limited to Nigeria; similar increases have occurred in major markets like the United States, United Kingdom, and France.

In October 2023, both the Basic and Premium plans experienced hikes in these countries as part of Netflix’s global pricing strategy.

The frequent price hikes have sparked concern among Nigerian subscribers who already face economic challenges. Many are reevaluating their subscriptions as home entertainment costs continue to climb.

As Netflix continues to adjust its pricing to sustain growth and content expansion, Nigerian consumers are left weighing the value of their streaming subscriptions against other financial priorities.

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