President of Angola meets with Mohammed bin Rashid at Expo 2020 Dubai

João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, President of Angola,  met with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, at Expo 2020 Dubai. The meeting was held in the presence of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group; H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Media Council; and H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Council for Border Crossing Points Security.

President of Angola meets with Mohammed bin Rashid at Expo 2020 Dubai

Welcoming the President and his accompanying delegation, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid underscored the UAE’s strong ties and partnership with Angola in various fields. He also expressed the UAE’s keenness to identify opportunities to reinforce cooperation in areas of mutual interest that can contribute to the development of both countries. Key focus areas of the meeting included the opportunities offered by Angola, which the UAE sees as an important investment destination, and greater collaboration between the two countries in the metals sector and the development of infrastructure and the digital economy. The meeting also highlighted the exceptional growth of trade between the two countries in recent years.

The sides stressed the importance of developing further mechanisms to increase bilateral trade and investment including information exchange on trade opportunities and investment prospects, services provided to the private sectors of both countries to promote economic cooperation, and technical collaboration in digital transformation. The discussion also touched upon regional and global developments, international cooperation for advancing sustainable development, and opportunities emerging from Expo 2020 Dubai. A number of ministers from both countries also attended the meeting.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and the Angolan President witnessed the exchange of a number of Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation in various vital fields, including energy, transportation and digital transformation. The MoUs were exchanged by Sheikh Shakhbout bin Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of State, and Téte António, Foreign Minister of Angola.

The agreements included an MoU on cooperation between Masdar, Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company and Angola’s Ministry of Energy and Water to study the implementation of a solar energy and energy storage programme; a Memorandum of Intent between Abu Dhabi Ports and Angola’s Ministry of Transport on cooperation in transport and related sectors; an MoU between EDGE Group and the Government of Angola on future cooperation, and another MoU between PRESIGHT company and the Government of Angola on cooperation in digital transformation.

OFID extends $80 million loan to boost trade in Africa in critical sectors

The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) has signed an US$80 million loan agreement with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) to finance international trade directly among corporates or through financial intermediaries. The OPEC Fund's support will assist in boosting Afreximbank's liquidity to grow its loan portfolio as it finances exports and imports in critical sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and healthcare. 

OFID extends $80 million loan to boost trade in Africa in critical sectors

The OPEC Fund's loan will address trade challenges impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. OPEC Fund Director-General, Abdulhamid Alkhalifa, said, "As a catalyst for economic development and growth, international trade is key to support Africa's post-COVID-19 recovery. We are pleased to cooperate with Afreximbank and to support their key initiative to make trade finance more accessible to African counterparties across the continent by reducing liquidity constraints."

Afreximbank is a pan-African multilateral financial institution mandated to finance and promote intra-and extra-African trade. The bank deploys innovative structures to deliver financing solutions that support the transformation of the structure of Africa's trade, accelerating industrialization and intra-regional trade, thereby boosting economic expansion in Africa. OFID was established in January 1976 by the then 13 member countries of OPEC, including the United Arab Emirates. It is the development finance institution established as an aid channel to developing countries.

Uganda surrenders Entebbe Airport for China Cash

Top Ugandan officials have been boxed into a corner of bother after lenders in China rejected their request to re-negotiate 'toxic clauses' in the $200m loan picked taken years ago to expand Entebbe International Airport.

Uganda surrenders Entebbe Airport for China Cash

Some of the unfavourable provisions in the loan agreement that Uganda signed with the Export-Import Bank (Exim) of China on March 31, 2015, if not amended, expose Uganda's sovereign assets to attachments and take-over upon arbitration awards in Beijing.

Any proceedings against Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) assets by the lender would not be protected by sovereign immunity since Uganda government, in the 2015 deal, waived the immunity on airport assets.

Highly ranked sources said the risk presented by the Financing Agreement on March 7, 2019, prompted Uganda to send an 11-member delegation to Beijing to plead with Exim Bank to renegotiate the clauses now impugned by Kampala.

The failure to renegotiate the toxic clauses has exposed Entebbe International Airport and other government assets staked for the $200 million loan to seizure. The revelation that Uganda government signed an agreement and, among others, waived immunity for its sovereign assets has raised questions about the level of scrutiny and due diligence that bureaucrats conduct before committing the country internationally.

This is not the first project financed by China's Exim Bank. The bank has funded about 85 percent of two major Ugandan power projects - Karuma and Isimba dams. The Chinese Bank also financed and built Kampala's $476 million Entebbe Express Highway to Entebbe.

COVID-19 cases surge across Africa as countries impose travel bans

As of December 1, 2021, confirmed cases of COVID-19 from 55 African countries reached 8,652,830 while over 148,643,411 vaccinations have been administered across the continent. Reported deaths in Africa reached  223,096 and  8,065,125 people have recovered. South Africa has the most reported cases  2,968,052 and  89,843 people died. Other most-affected countries are Morocco (949,917), Tunisia (717,572), Libya (372,636), Ethiopia (371,536), Egypt (358,578) and Kenya (255,088).

COVID-19 cases surge across Africa as countries impose travel bans

The numbers are compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University using data from the World Health Organization and other international institutions as well as national and regional public health departments.

Meanwhile a travel ban has been imposed on several African countries to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529 - called Omicron - which the World Health Organization rapidly classified a 'variant of concern", thanks to the immediate data sharing by African scientists.

International responses to this feat of scientific discovery are shocking but unsurprising. Travellers from eight southern African countries - South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Malawi) - have been banned from traveling to the European Union, United Kingdom, United States of America, and a growing list of other countries worldwide. Indonesia added Nigeria to its travel ban list. Hasty Omicron travel bans seem to assume that Africans - rather than nationals of the countries imposing bans - are the primary threat.
 
Paradoxically, returning nationals or permanent residents of those countries are not routinely barred - as though only other travellers could be Omicron transmitters. The banning of African travellers  is a myopic reaction, which is not based on sound scientific evidence and will not stop the spread of the virus. 

Where the Omicron variant emerged is not known and may never be. What we do know is that the diligence and expertise of southern African scientists led to its early identification and that their immediate sharing of the data has given all countries the soonest possible start on controlling it.

All this is more evidence of the COVID-19 inequity perpetrated by wealthier nations since 2020. A brief history of that record is instructive. In 2020, there was widespread hoarding of Covid-19 personal protective equipment. Richer nations used their financial muscle to outbid poorer nations from buying personal protective equipment for their health workers.
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