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Ethiopia Wants Its Looted Artifacts Returned And London Gives Interesting Response

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With the pillage of the African continent through colonialism and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, a lot of artifacts and items of cultural heritage originating from various nations are showcased till this day at museums and displays around the world.

For years, debates of repatriating looted objects have been ongoing in Europe and the United States with movements like those lobbying British institutions for the return of Nigerian bronze artifacts looted from the Benin kingdom in 1897, only generating talks to return some of them last year, while President Emmanuel Macron of France recently made the return of African artifacts  “a top priority” for his country, saying that “African heritage can’t just be in European private collections and museums.”

Ethiopia, the East African nation located in the Horn of Africa, filed a formal restitution claim in 2007 asking that the UK return hundreds of ancient artifacts and manuscripts taken in 1868 during the capture of Maqdala, the mountain capital of Emperor Tewodros II in what was then Abyssinia.

According to the Association For the Return of the Maqdala Ethiopian Treasures (AFROMET), only 10 of the 468 items known to have been seized at Maqdala have been returned, with about 80 of those items kept in the British Museum’s collection including a number of tabots believed by Ethiopian Christians to be the dwelling place of God on earth, a symbol of the Ark of the Covenant.

Crown, probably made in Gondar, Ethiopia, around 1740. Museum no. M.27-2005. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

London Responds

The Ethiopian government’s claim to the items was denied by the museum, but the Museum’s Director, Tristam Hunt, suggested a compromise in an interview with UK’s Guardian: “The speediest way, if Ethiopia wanted to have these items on display, is a long-term loan…that would be the easiest way to manage it.”

Hunt said there were a number of reasons why a simple return was not possible, including the legal difficulties around deaccessioning and the “philosophical case for cosmopolitanism in museum collections.”

These items include a gold crown—an important symbol of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, a gold chalice, and a royal wedding dress said to have belonged to Queen Woyzaro Terunesh, the second wife of the Ethiopian emperor, Tewodros, and mother of Prince Alemayehu who was brought to England where the government assumed responsibility for his care and education. They have been on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London for the past 146 years and will be among 20 separate artifacts which will be on display for the exhibition which starts today, 5th April, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle which sought to secure the release of British hostages taken by Tewodros.

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Business and Development

Kuwait Based NAS Expands It’s Pledged $50 Million Africa Operation Into Mozambique

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GLS-NAS Managers

GLS-NAS Managers

The National Aviation Services (NAS), an aviation services provider based in Kuwait, has added Mozambique to its network. This is part of the company’s initiatives to expand in emerging markets. Starting from July 2019, NAS will start offering cargo and ground handling services in Liberia and Mozambique. NAS together with its local JV partner, GLS, has already started building a cargo terminal in Monrovia, Liberia.

NAS Investments in Africa

The addition of Mozambique and Liberia to its network shows NAS’ commitment in its investments in Africa. The company has stated that it plans to invest 44 million Euros—an equivalent of US$50m—in Africa. The $50m investment in Africa will span a period of three years.  Mozambique is the first on the list of beneficiaries of these investments.

NAS’ activities in Mozambique will include import and export cargo handling. Furthermore, the company will offer storage for shipments passenger and engineering services. Additional services include aircraft maintenance and ramp handling. These services are not restricted to Mozambique’s capital at Maputo Mavalane International. The services will be provided at all airports in Mozambique.

Employment

The new investment will also incorporate investments in human capital. With the increasing demand for air transport in the region, there is a need to recruit more local employees in the sector. NAS has stated that it will recruit and train local employees to ensure secure and quality services. The company estimates that it will hire 1,000 Mozambicans to join their global operations.

Cargo Terminal in Monrovia

Meanwhile, NAS has already broke ground to build a cargo terminal in Liberia. The company has partnered with Global Logistics Services Inc. to build the cargo terminal at Roberts International Airport. The two companies will build a 2,700 square meter cargo terminal. The name of the project is Roberts Air Cargo Center–RACC.

The center will support export supply in Liberia, as well as improve cargo operations to meet international standards. Previous forecasts had indicated that there is a demand for around 3,500 square meters in air freight. Construction of the cargo terminal is set to be completed by April 2020.

According to Peter Malcom King, chairman of GLS-NAS, RACC will be the first of its kind in Liberia. The center will provide the much-needed infrastructure to improve trade barriers, boost Liberia’s position as the hub in the region, and enhance air cargo supply. The freight terminal will feature temperature controlled storage, dangerous goods storage, racking for storage, five loading docks, mail area, and a vault. The Liberia Airport Authority will also develop a separate freighter stand.

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British Investments in Egypt Hit 46 Billion Pounds

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Britain continues to massively invest in Egypt, with current figures indicating that the investments are worth over 46 billion pounds.  These impressive figures notwithstanding, Egypt Investment Minister is pushing for further boosting of economic cooperation between the two countries. The United Kingdom is keen on backing Egypt’s investments on human capital—especially on medical care and education.

The 46 billion pounds is an impressive improvement from 2018’s valuation of British investments in Egypt. According to Egypt’s Chamber of Commerce, British investments in Egypt reached $5.6 billion in 2018—as of May 16, 2018. The continued investments are therefore indicative of the good trade relations between the UK and Egypt. The investments span in the areas of finance, tourism, construction, services, industry, information technology, telecommunications, and agriculture.

Britain Trade Relations with Egypt

Britain and Egypt continue to maintain strategic relations in trade. Several consultative discussions between representatives of the two countries have beared fruits. In 2018, Egypt’s Minister of Industry and Foreign trade had talks with British Trade Envoy to Egypt.

The meeting between Amr Nassar and Jeffrey Donaldson was held to review the future of economic relations between Egypt and Britain. The discussion also featured post-Brexit trade relations between the two countries. A year after the talks, progress is being made on British investments in Egypt. The current 46 billion pound investments make Britain the biggest foreign trade partner to Egypt.

Egypt’s Economy

The increased investments by the UK in Egypt have the overall effect of boosting Egypt’s economy. This is a positive trend towards recovery after the effects of the Arab spring in 2011. Most economic activities in Egypt take place in the Nile Valley. The country’s tourism industry has also rebounded. According to the 2019 Index of Economic Freedom, trade freedom has increased to 71.8.  This freedom has created a conducive environment for both local and foreign investors.

2018 projections indicated that Egypt’s economy was to grow by 5.2 percent–in the fiscal year 2018-2019. The positive projections were based on the country’s economic reforms. The reforms were part of the conditions for a $12 billion loan from the IMF. Egypt has made progress on IMF’s austerity plans, and the initiatives have boosted the country’s economy. The country’s GDP grew by 5.3 percent in 2018. Egypt’s economy relies on tourism, agriculture, petroleum imports, natural gas, and media.

With Britain’s Brexit still not in effect, it’s important to evaluate the UK’s new trade partners post-Brexit. So far, Egypt continues to be a strong ally in Africa.

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Nissan Pledges $215 Million to South Africa for Navara Model

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Nissan Navara

Nissan Navara

Nissan Motor Company plans to inject $215 million to its South African plant. This further investment will be directed towards the production of the Navara Model. In 2018, the South African government renewed its industry manufacturing incentives. Nissan becomes the first automaker to commit further to South Africa since this incentive.

Increased Production

Currently, Nissan produces around 35,000 pickups of the Navara model each year. The South Africa plant will now be able to produce 30,000 units annually. This brings total production per year to 65,000 units. This increased capacitation and production will also create employment opportunities. 400 jobs are expected to be created through production of Navara model in the South African plant.

The increased production will produce enough cars for both the local market and for export. The South African plant will specifically focus on producing for the continent.

Nissan Navara

Nissan Navara is the model name for the D23, D40, and D22 generations of Nissan pickups that are produced for Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Asia, and Europe. In other markets such as South America, it is sold as Nissan NP300 or the Nissan Frontier.

Production of the Nissan Navara at the South African plant is expected to begin in 2020. Announcement for the production of the model was made at the plant in the presence of South Africa president Cyril Ramphosa.

South African Automotive Industry

The president stated that Nissan’s decision to produce the Navara model in South Africa shows the company’s increasing contribution to South Africa’s automotive industry. During the event, President Ramaphosa also stated that the automotive industry contributes around 7 percent of GDP annually. This makes automotive industry the largest part of the country’s manufacturing sector.

Nissan in South Africa

Nissan’s investments in its South African plant follows an agreement between the government and international firms to extend incentive programs to 2035. This attractive plan has also seen other major automakers operate their plants in South Africa. The companies include BMW AG, Volkswagen AG, and Toyota Motor Corporation. These companies get generous tax breaks for their continued investments in the country.

Nissan also plans to double its industrial reach in India, Africa, and the Middle East by 2022. The company plans to increase more factories in these regions. Projections indicate that demand in Africa is growing by more than 50 percent in the next six years, and Nissan is committed to meet this demand. This means more investments are expected at the plant.

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