- Is Africa Not Cemetery Like Putin Said?
Two weeks ago, some Africans across the cyberspace were angry following the publication of a comment attributed to Russian President Vladimir Putin describing Africa as a cemetery where African leaders are buried.
Here are Putin’s reasons: “When an African becomes rich, his bank accounts are in Switzerland. He travels to France for Medical treatment and he invests in Germany.
He prays in Rome or Mecca. His children study in Europe. He travels to Canada, U.S, and Europe for tourism.
However, if he dies, he will be buried in his native country in Africa. Africa is just a cemetery for Africans. How could a cemetery be developed?” he asked.
Despite the need for patriotism, President Putin is not also wrong. Numbers of African elites take pride in spending millions of taxpayers’ money abroad at the expense of their nations. In fact, there is a provision for a medical trip and foreign education by the Central Bank of Nigeria, a certain percentage of the national foreign exchange is allocated to those traveling abroad for either medical treatment or education.
Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, takes a regular medical trip to the United Kingdom and at a time stayed for 159 days while poor Nigerians without access to such medical facility die of basic illness. Most government hospitals in Nigeria are empty without drugs and thousands of medical doctors have moved and still moving to developed economies where they are better paid and equipped.
A recent report shows that because of brain drain in the health sector, Nigeria now has one medical doctor catering for 5,000 patients instead of the usual one to 600 patients.
According to Dr Ekpe Phillips, the Chairman of Nigeria Medical Association, FCT Chapter: “We hear doctors collapsing because the workload is too much because their colleagues have left to find a greener pasture.”
“Brain drain is now becoming pandemic and sad news because government did not and still is not doing enough; there is no serious commitment to stemming this syndrome.”
It is impossible to effectively invest or stay committed to a facility you may never use period!
In fact, the presidency has already announced another medical holiday to the United Kingdom this December. The story is not different across the African continent.
In Zimbabwe, former president Robert Mugabe is currently receiving medical treatment in Singapore, a trip sponsored by the state and he has been there for close to three months. That is one of the poorest nations on earth with just $927 GDP per capita, spending millions to sustain the Singaporean health sector.
Ali Bongon, Gabon’s President, who fell ill on October 24, just arrived in Morocco last week following a month treatment at a hospital in Saudi Arabia. Surprisingly, that was a week after Putin’s comment.
In 2016, a research revealed that Africa spent over USD$6 billion on outbound medical treatment. Nigeria alone contributed over USD$1 billion of that number.
The question is why can’t Africa use the USD$6 billion spent in one year to develop her health sector and take care of everyone and not just selected few?
A 5-year estimation showed Africa will spend USD$30 billion on foreign medical trips and that number is projected to jump to over $60 billion in 10 years, that is exactly the same amount African leaders used Africa’s facilities to secure from China as a loan in 2018.
It would be hard to disagree with Putin when numbers of African leaders have died abroad after expensive medical treatment.
Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia died in France, while Michael Sata from the same country passed away in the UK. Both were flown home to be buried in Zambia.
Guinea Bissau’s Malam Bacai Sanha died in France, Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi died in Belgium, Gabon’s Omar Bongo died in Spain, Nigeria’s Stella Obasanjo died in Spain and the number goes on.
Former Nigeria’s president Musa Yar’Adua made it home from Saudi Arabia but died shortly after, same with Ghana’s Atta Mills who died in Accra after returning from a medical trip in the US.
Until Africans learn to consume African products, high unemployment rate, weak investment interest due to poor infrastructures and low standard of living will remain high.
FG Puts Nine-year Presidential Jet Up For Sale
The Federal Government has put up for sale a jet in the presidential fleet, Hawker 4000 aircraft with registration number, 5N-FGX/: RC 066.
The business-size jet which entered into service in December 2011, has capacity for nine passengers and three crew members.
Findings indicate that only 73 Hawker 4000 aircraft were manufactured by Hawker Beechcraft between 2001 and 2013 and they were sold for $22.91m each as of 2012.
The FG in a published advert on Wednesday disclosed that the aircraft with a range of 3,190-nautical mile had flown for 1,768 hours.
It said the aircraft could be inspected at the Presidential Air Fleet’s hangar located at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Interested buyers were requested to submit their closed bid to the Chairman, Committee for Sale of Aircraft, Office of the National Security Adviser, care of Special Services Office, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
In an advertisement published in some national dailies on Wednesday, prospective buyers were directed to submit a refundable bank draft for $50,000 to the committee with the bid.
It also said that all the bids should be quoted in dollars.
The notice read, “Please note that all bids must be submitted within one week of this publication.
“Background check is required as a pre-qualification for the bid. Prospective bidders who want to inspect the aircraft will be granted access within one week from this advertisement.”
The Presidency had similarly in 2016 put up for sale two presidential aircraft, a Falcon 7X executive jet and Hawker 4000, in line with the directive of the president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), that aircraft in the Presidential Air Fleet should be reduced to cut down on waste.
The government also said some aircraft in the fleet would be handed over to the Nigeria Air Force for its operations. It could not be confirmed if this had been done.
According to the Presidency, the PAF has 10 aircraft and they include Boeing Business Jet (Boeing 737-800 or Air Force One), one Gulfstream 550, one Gulfstream V (Gulfstream 500), two Falcons 7X, one Hawker Sidley 4000, two AgustaWestland AW 139 helicopters and two AgustaWestland AW 101 helicopters.
Reports said each of the two Falcon 7X jets were purchased in 2010 for $51.1m, while the Gulfstream 550 costs $53.3m.
The Senior Special Assistant, (Media and Publicity) to the President, Garba Shehu, had yet to respond to inquiries on the number of presidential aircraft sold so far, as of the time of filing this report.
Coronavirus – Angola: Confronting the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Oil Price Shock
The COVID-19 pandemic and the shock from the falling price of oil have put severe pressure on Angola since the country’s second review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) in December 2019.
Only months after the conclusion of the second review in December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic reached Angola, ushering in economic and health crises. The decline in oil prices further strained the economy, which is heavily reliant on oil exports. The economic downturn and social distancing to contain the spread of the virus have been damaging, especially given the large informal sector.
A swift response to the crisis
The Angolan authorities adopted timely measures to tackle the challenges arising from the COVID-19 shock. Measures to protect public health included quarantine, social distancing, closing of borders with limited exceptions, closures of schools, restaurants, and public events, and limited transportation. The government recently approved a prudent supplementary budget for 2020 using a conservative oil reference price. It has also introduced a comprehensive set of fiscal and monetary measures to support economic activities.
On relief to help vulnerable people:
• Tax exemptions of value-added tax (VAT) and customs duties on goods imported under humanitarian aid and donations.
• VAT tax credit for imported capital goods and raw materials for producing essential consumption goods.
• Interest-free, deferred payment option for social security contributions.
• Regulation of prices for a list of medical goods.
On government spending:
• Freeze of 30 percent of purchases on nonessential goods and services.
• Reduction in the number of ministries from 28 to 21.
• Suspension of selected, nonessential capital expenditures.
• Decrease in travel and real estate investments.
• Additional liquidity support to banks and a liquidity line to buy government securities from nonfinancial corporations.
• A credit-stimulus program.
• Temporary suspension for debt service payments.
• Requirement for banks to provide credit to importers of essential goods.
A proactive external debt management
The government needs to safeguard its ability to continue to service its debt on schedule, even under the current trying circumstances. The government has therefore availed itself of the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative. They have also secured selected debt reprofiling operations with some of their large creditors.
Financial support from the IMF
On September 16, 2020, the IMF’s Executive Board approved the third review under the EFF and additional financial support to Angola to help mitigate the impact of the crises. Accordingly, the IMF has provided $1 billion to Angola, bringing its total expected financial support to about $4.5 billion under the three-year program. The authorities are strengthening their public financial management to improve accountability for the funds received from the IMF and debt relief from creditors.
The path to recovery
It is important for Angola to continue to stabilize the economy, control inflation, keep the reform momentum, and safeguard financial stability. It is also crucial to persevere with structural reforms, such as privatization, improvement in governance in state-owned enterprises, and strengthened legal frameworks. These reforms will help improve the business environment and pave the way for foreign direct investment and growth-enhancing economic diversification.
Republic of Korea Contributes Rice and Cash to Assist Ugandans threatened by locusts
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed 5,000 metric tons of rice and US$300,000 in cash from the Republic of Korea to provide much-needed relief assistance to 781,000 people including refugees and Ugandans threatened by locusts.
“WFP is extremely grateful for the continued generosity of the Republic of Korea since 2018 and its appreciation of the immense humanitarian needs in Uganda, which were suddenly made even more complicated by COVID-19,” said WFP Officer in Charge Ryan Anderson.
”This contribution of 5,000 metric tons of rice found us at a crossroads when we were considering whether to make deeper ration cuts for refugees because of a shortage of funding, even as we have evidence that they already face high food insecurity,” he added.
Combined with other contributions, the rice may allow WFP to maintain rations for 1.26 million refugees at the current 70 percent of a full ration for a while. Valued at US$4.3 million, it will also meet cereal needs of 614,000 refugees in seven settlements towards the end of the year.
The additional US$300,000 in cash will enable WFP to meet the relief needs of 167,000 people in the northeastern region of Karamoja, which is the most food-insecure region in the country and is threatened by a combination of malnutrition among its residents, locusts, floods and animal diseases.
“The Republic of Korea is committed to supporting vulnerable groups of people in Uganda, especially refugees fleeing conflict and nationals faced by chronic food shortages and malnutrition,” said Ambassador Ha Byung-Kyoo.
“We also are very pleased to continue making contributions of rice, which we have heard is appreciated by the refugees and contributes to much needed dietary diversity,” he added.
WFP was forced to reduce rations for refugees in April to 70 percent of a full ration because of funding shortages. The economic pressures that COVID-19 has brought on donor capitals has further complicated funding to feed refugees. WFP is putting in place safety measures in 13 refugee settlements to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during food and cash distributions.
The Republic of Korea has contributed rice to WFP in Uganda annually since 2018 in support of 1.43 million refugees – the highest number of refugees hosted by any country in Africa.
The US$300,000 contribution will also contribute to supporting WFP assistance in Karamoja. Even though families in the region were able to harvest some crops in August, despite repeated sightings of locusts between February and July, the very presence of the pests in the region threatens both agriculture and vegetation needed for animals. Relief food helps to cushion families as the government and UN partners work to control the impact of locusts.
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