Ethiopian Airlines, the largest airline group in Africa and SKYTRAX certified Four Star Global Airline, have been recognized by TripAdvisor, one of the largest and most reputed global travel sites, as “The Best Business Class in Africa and Indian Ocean”.
TripAdvisor evaluated the world’s top carriers based on reviews and ratings gathered from travellers worldwide over a 12-month period and recognised Ethiopian for its outstanding service, as well as the quality and value in its service delivery.
Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde Gebremariam, said: “We are highly honored to receive this award from TripAdvisor, the most prestigious global travel site. I wish to thank the TripAdvisor community for their resounding vote of confidence in our premium class product and service. We offer the best value proposition to premium travelers, whether corporate or government, thanks to our operational excellence, convenient and seamless connectivity, superior on-board product and top-notch end-to–end customer service. We will continue to invest in the latest technology aircraft such as the B787 and A350 that offer unmatched on-board comfort and to enhance our premium on-ground and on-board offerings, with a superior level of service so as to meet the high expectations of premium travelers and remain their airline of choice.”
The fictional ‘Black Panther’ country, Wakanda, may just be on its way to becoming a reality. The government of Zambia and Zimbabwe are setting aside 132, and 2,000 hectares of land respectively for the construction of Wakanda One Village. The land is located around Victoria Falls along the border of the two countries.
The concept of Wakanda One Village is to let Africans in Diaspora spearhead development at specified sites on the continent. The idea is timely as Zimbabwe government is seeking the help of Zimbabweans in the diaspora to rebuild the economy. Consequently, Zimbabwe’s President, Emmerson Mnangagwa is looking forward to transforming the country by 2030 to an upper-middle-class economy. President Mnangagwa hopes to achieve this through tourism, mining, and agriculture.
The land pledge by President Mnangagwa was confirmed in December 2018 by Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, the Permanent Representative to the US and the African Union Ambassador. In an interview following the conclusion of the inaugural Intra African Trade Fair, Dr. Arikana said,
“I met His Excellency President Mnangagwa recently and he offered 2000ha for the regional Wakanda One in Victoria Falls. The offer also comes in when the Zambian Government has also offered some land across the river in Livingstone. So we are looking at building the village [Wakanda One Village] straggling the border between the countries.”
The Composition of Wakanda One Village
The Wakanda One Village proposed between Zimbabwe and Zambia will only be the first of similar projects in the Southern African region. It will comprise a university and technical college, a 100-bed teaching hospital, day-care centers, primary and secondary schools, game lodge, three five-star hotels, parks, agricultural farms, and a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant.
On completion, the proposed Wakanda One Village will also have commercial office buildings, a shopping center, a monorail around the complex, renewable power plants, and a road network that will support electric cars that are self-driven.
Dr. Arikana also mentioned that Tanzania and Kenya have also pledged land for the building of Wakanda One Village in East Africa. With the groundbreaking set for the end of 2020, Dr. Arikana is looking to raise 2 billion USD before the due date. Consequently, the idea is to give Africans in Diaspora a reason to come home.
“We are looking at raising at least US$2 billion…with the first groundbreaking set for the end of the year 2020. We are going to build the Africa that we want so those diasporas… will [therefore] make it what they want.”
On the 5th of March 2019, a Facebook post by the Nigerian Tribune, one of the leading tabloids in the country alleged that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has banned the importation of textiles into the country.
However, this is not an accurate representation of what happened. What the Central Bank of Nigeria did was add textile to items no longer eligible for foreign exchange. The governor of CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele said
“Effective immediately, the CBN hereby places the access to FX for all forms of textile materials on the FX restriction list.”
Making the announcement, the CBN Governor said the decision was to help revive the moribund industry. The CBN will continue to support cotton lint importation for use by textile factories. However, textile factories will have to make plans to source their cotton locally by 2020.
Businesspeople who import goods into the country buy foreign exchange from authorized dealers majorly banks. They use this foreign currency to pay their suppliers. The announcement means textile importers can no longer access the foreign exchange. This applies to other importers of items on the list. This brings the total amount of items on the restricted list to 41. However, in December 2018, CBN added fertilizer to the list to bring the total to 42.
How the policy will affect importers
The Central Bank of Nigeria trades 1 USD for 305 Naira. However, importers cannot buy the USD at the CBN rate for items on the restricted list. They will have to seek for foreign exchange from other sources including the black market. However, at the black market, the USD sells as high as 360N per USD and above.
Nigeria’s economy is largely dependent on the sale of crude oil. Following the plunge of oil price in 2015 which sank the country into recession, the CBN decided to ration foreign exchange to ensure it doesn’t run out of reserves. The CBN stated that,
“For the avoidance of doubt, please note that the importation of these items are not banned, thus importers desirous of importing these items shall do so using their funds without any recourse to the Nigerian exchange markets.”
According to the CBN, the policy is to boost the local production of the items on the list. The textile industries in the country are struggling to survive due to flooding of the market with foreign textile. Reacting to the ban, David Ibidapo, an economic and financial analyst said,
“This is a good initiative by the CBN, because if you look at what we spend on importation it is about 50 percent of our budget deficit. And imagine if that amount is being generated internally, it will automatically impact on our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”
The CBN also has an importer/exporter window which facilitates currency exchange between buyers and sellers. In addition to lowering the pressure on FOREX, Mr. Ibidapo is of the opinion that,
“This will also inspire local production of textile with the single digit rate the CBN is promising local textile industries that are interested in getting loans.”
List of items shut out from CBN foreign exchange
Palm kernel/palm oil products/vegetable oils
Vegetable and processed vegetable products
Poultry-chicken, eggs, turkey
Tinned fish in sauce
Cold rolled steel sheets
Galvanized steel sheets
Metal boxes and containers
Wire rods (deformed and not deformed)
Iron rods and reinforcing bars
Security and razor wire
Wood particle boards and panels
Wood fiber boards and panels
Plywood boards and panels
Glass and glassware
Plastic and rubber products, cellophane wrappers
Soap and cosmetics
Euro bond/foreign currency bond/ share purchases
There are viable industries in the country producing items on the list. For example, Nigerian rice production has grown to 9.86 million tonnes in 2017 from 353,000 tonnes in 1968. Dangote Cement is among the largest producers of cement in the continent. However, the flooding of the market with foreign goods and the consumer preference for these goods is adversely affecting the growth of local industries.
Sylvia Mulinge, Safaricom’s Chief Executive Officer (Left) and Boniface Mungania, Head of M-pesa Product Management at Safaricom (Right) during the launch.
Safaricom has secured a deal that will enable users to pay for online shopping at AliExpress using M-pesa. AliExpress is an online shopping platform run by Alibaba Group—A Chinese e-Commerce giant. This deal means that, in a few weeks time, Kenyan shoppers can use M-pesa to pay for goods on the platform.
Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba, will be offering M-pesa as one of the payment options. Ant Financial is the Group’s affiliate that runs payment services. The deal targets microtraders across Kenya who source or import their supplies and goods from manufacturers in China. Shopping for goods from China will now be easier and more convenient.
Launched in 2007, M-pesa is a mobile money service that has not only facilitated transactions of businesses in Kenya, but has also transformed lives. Kenyans can literally pay for anything using the mobile money platform. They can use M-pesa to pay for medical services, school fees, and utility bills. The platform also offers loans and savings to the 21 million users in Kenya.
Under the new deal with Alibaba, Kenyans will be able to select M-pesa as the preferred payment method. Total cost will then be displayed in Kenyan shillings. The standard Lipa Na M-pesa Paybill charges will still apply. The new service with Alibaba comes under the M-pesa Global banner, which allows users to send and receive money globally.
AliExpress in Kenya
AliExpress is available to all Kenyans who have access to the Internet. With a wide internet coverage and easy access to Smartphones in the country, this means that anyone planning to shop online can use AliExpress.
Compared to Alibaba, shoppers can buy products in smaller quantities on AliExpress. Alibaba mostly sells goods on wholesale. The integration with M-pesa means that shoppers can complete all the transactions on their mobile phone and have their goods delivered at their locations. Previously, AliExpress only allowed payments through bank transfer, Western Union, Master Card, and Visa.
The deal between Alibaba and Safaricom puts AliExpress at a strategic advantage in the online shopping market in Kenya. The addition of M-pesa payment method minimizes apathy associated with online shopping. The new service means shoppers can order and pay for goods at the comfort of their homes, office, colleges, or whichever location.
AliExpress continues to compete with other online shopping platforms in the country that include Jumia, Kilimall, OLX, Shopit, Mimi, Avechi, Pigiame, Electrohub, and Amanbo. In 2017, Safaricom introduced its e-Commerce platform, Masoko.