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Chad to continue social media ban, after a year’s blackout.

The censorship of social networks has plunged citizens back into isolation

News Central

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Lawyers in Chad, presented an application to the courts seeking an order to force government to lift a social media blackout.

The Appeals Court struck the case out allowing the government to continue the blackout.

For the last year, Chadians have been denied access to major social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Viber.

Digital activists first started reporting in March last year, that access to the sites on the country’s two main mobile operators, Tigo Chad and Airtel, had been restricted. Telecom companies have since confirmed the government’s restriction orders Activists have viewed the shutdown as a violation of international law, hurting vital economic industries and depriving users of connecting with family and friends at home and abroad.

“The censorship of social networks has plunged citizens back into isolation,” says Abdelkerim Yacob of digital advocacy group Internet Sans Frontières (ISF). The lengthy cut-off, he added, has “cut Chadians out of the global conversation and curbed digital development.”

The social media cut-off constitutes one of the longest shutdowns in Africa, after a 230-day internet blackout in Cameroon last year. Gabon did so briefly in the face of a coup attempt early this year, Sudan, currently suffering anti-government protests imposed a similar measure but has since restored the signal. Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, cut signal after the December 2018 polls. It was only restored after a president was declared.

As research has shown, the censorship also has the effect of strangling economic entrepreneurship and development. Across the continent, tools like WhatsApp have become the 21st-century marketplace, allowing businesses to reach customers in urban and rural areas.

Chad’s shutdown began after a national gathering of politicians and traditional chiefs last March, passed constitutional changes allowing President Idriss Deby, who has ruled the country since 1990, to rule until 2033. The changes later re-imposed a two-term limit allowing Deby to serve two more term limits after the next polls in 2021. Deby and his regime have in recent years, faced growing public protests over austerity measures, increased economic hardship following a drop in oil prices, and violence between ethnic groups.

To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the cut-off, activists convened in N’Djamena on Thursday to discuss a way out of the crisis. 

The shutdown’s impact has been compounded by the country’s already low internet access rates and costly data bundles, which has cost the economy tens of millions of dollars.

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World’s biggest marine diamond mining vessel to be financed by African banks

Nedbank Namibia, RMB Namibia, Standard Bank, ABSA and Bank Windhoek agreed to provide 80% of the funding for the ship

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African banks to finance World’s biggest marine diamond mining vessel
(File photo)

Five African commercial banks have partnered in a $375 million financing deal to build a new diamond mining vessel for a subsidiary of Anglo American’s diamond unit, De Beers. 

Nedbank Namibia, RMB Namibia, Standard Bank, ABSA and Bank Windhoek agreed to provide 80% of the funding for the ship, which will be the world’s largest of its type. 

Debmarine Namibia – a 50-50 joint venture company between De Beers and the government of Namibia – will provide the balance of $94 million. 

The ship, to be known as the AMV3, will be the seventh in the Debmarine Namibia joint venture’s fleet, which mines high-quality diamonds from the ocean floor using hi-tech surveying equipment. 

The AMV3 has the capacity to add 500,000 carats of annual production from 2022, and is expected to contribute 2 billion Namibian dollars ($137.64 million) a year in taxes and royalties to the Namibian treasury in its first five years of production.

“The highest quality diamonds in the world are found in our ocean,” Debmarine Namibia Chief Executive Otto Shikongo said in a statement. 

“With this investment, we will be able to optimize new technology to find and recover diamonds more efficiently and meet growing consumer demand”.

Nedbank Namibia, which facilitated the arrangement, will contribute 40% of the financing and will also provide currency hedging for the deal, according to Karl-Stefan Altmann, an executive at Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking and Treasury.

Mining, of which uranium and diamonds are a major part, contributed 14% of Namibia’s gross domestic product in 2018, according to the latest annual report of Namibia’s Chamber of Mines. 

Diamonds also accounted for 14% of Anglo American’s core profit in 2018.

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Zimbabwe’s inflation soars, stocks hit record high

Stocks are rising because local investors are desperate to hedge against inflation

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Zimbabwe's inflation soars, stocks hit record high | News Central TV
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Zimbabwe’s stock market has hit a record high, for all the wrong reasons as the country’s Industrial Index rose 5.6 per cent on Monday to extend its gain this quarter to 80 per cent.

Stocks are rising because local investors are desperate to hedge against inflation, which accelerated to 98 per cent in May. Prices are rocketing amid a scarcity of foreign exchange, which is causing shortages of fuel, medicine, and other imported goods.

In Zimbabwe, investors’ fears about inflation are heightened by a plunging currency.

The RTGS$, which the government de-linked from the U.S. dollar in February, has sunk about 57 per cent since March on the black market.

On the streets of Harare, the capital, it trades at 9.7 against the greenback. That compares with the central bank’s official and much stronger rate of 6.08.

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Africa News & Updates

Anadarko, Mozambique to proceed on $20 billion LNG export project

The gas liquefaction and export terminal in Mozambique will be the the largest single LNG project approved in Africa.

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An Andarko official looks on as Mozambique and Andarko seal LNG deal

U.S. energy firm, Anadarko Petroleum Corp on Tuesday, gave the go-ahead for the construction of a $20 billion gas liquefaction and export terminal in Mozambique, the largest single LNG project approved in Africa.

The announcement had been expected after Anadarko flagged the decision date last month.

“As the world increasingly seeks cleaner forms of energy, the Anadarko-led Area 1 Mozambique LNG project is ideally located to meet growing demand, particularly in expanding Asian and European markets,” Chief Executive Officer Al Walker said in a statement.

Anadarko has agreed to be taken over by Occidental Petroleum Corp. Once that deal goes ahead, Occidental has agreed to sell assets including the Mozambique LNG project to French oil major and large LNG trader Total SA. 

Natural gas use is growing rapidly around the world as countries seek to meet rising energy demand and wean their industrial and power sectors off dirtier coal. 

The project, which has committed long-term supplies to utilities, major LNG portfolio holders and state companies around the world, underscores the industry’s conviction that LNG demand will soar in years to come despite a slump in prices this year. 

Low prices for the gas that is super-cooled for transportation prompted fears final investment decisions (FIDs) such as Anadarko’s would be delayed or scrapped. But enough long-term buyers were gathered to underpin the project’s financing.

LNG prices slumped this year as a jump in supply from new terminals in the United States, Australia and Russia were not totally met by higher demand in Asia. 

The trade is also nowhere near as developed as the market for crude oil, causing erratic price movements and is expected to be transformational for Mozambique, beset by economic crisis, conflict stemming from a civil war and governance malaise, whose annual gross domestic product is just $13 billion. 

According to the government of Mozambique, the project is expected to create more than 5,000 direct jobs and 45,000 indirect jobs. 

With a 12.88 million tonne per year (mtpa) capacity, Mozambique LNG is one of the largest greenfield LNG facilities to have ever been approved. It involves building infrastructure to extract gas from a field offshore northern Mozambique, pump it onshore and liquefy it, ready for further export by LNG tankers. 

On the African east coast, the liquefaction plant will be able to sell LNG to both the lucrative Asian market, home to 75%of global LNG demand, and to the flexible European market, which helps balance global LNG trade by soaking up excess supply. 

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