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Ethiopia and Djibouti agree natural gas pipeline deal

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Ethiopia on Saturday said it had concluded a deal with Djibouti to build a 765-km (475-mile) pipeline to transport its natural gas to ports in the neighbouring Horn of Africa nation.

Ethiopia’s mining ministry said the pipeline will be built by Chinese firm Poly-GCL and transport gas from fields in the eastern Ethiopian Somali region to Djibouti to be exported from there.

There was no mention of cost, nor of when the project will come on stream.

All but 65 km of the pipeline will be located in Ethiopia, whose government has previously announced plans to generate $1 billion annually from extraction of natural gas and crude oil deposits.

Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country with around 100 million people, relies heavily on Djibouti‘s ports for exports and imports.

The country additionally hopes that a recent rapprochement with its former province of now independent Eritrea will afford it an additional access to the sea.

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Southern African countries reach new trade agreement with Britain

The new agreement will replicate the terms of previous trade on tariffs, quotas, rules of origin and health and safety regulations

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Southern African countries reach new trade agreement with Britain
South African Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel. (File photo)

South Africa and five other Southern African countries have concluded a new trade agreement with Britain.

The South African Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel say they, together with Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique, made the deal with Britain. The new agreement will govern the bilateral trading relationship between the six countries and Britain after the UK leaves the EU without an agreement or “no-deal Brexit”.

Patel says the South African government have been engaging Britain in the past two years after an announcement to leave the EU and avoid disruption to the country’s exports.

“I am pleased that we have concluded this agreement with the United Kingdom”, he said.

The new agreement will replicate the terms of previous trade on tariffs, quotas, rules of origin and health and safety regulations.

“We are pleased that regardless of the outcomes of these processes, our trading relationship with the United Kingdom can continue without disruption. This is important for the thousands of South African workers whose jobs are dependent on this trade and for the investors who have utilized South Africa as an export base to Britain and the rest of the world”, says Patel.

In 2018, Britain was the fourth largest destination for South African exports, with bilateral trade between the two countries amounting to more than $9.3 billion.

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Somalia’s economy to grow by 2.9% -World Bank

Tax collection by the government increased by 29 per cent last year, as the economy recovered from a drought the previous year

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Somalia’s economy to grow by 2.9% -World Bank

Somalia’s economy is expected to grow by 2.9 per cent this year, from 2.8 per cent last year, before growth quickens to 3.2-3.5 per cent in the medium term, the World Bank said on Monday.

The country has been in turmoil since 1991, when clan warlords overthrew President Siad Barre and then turned on each other. Over the past decade, it has been hit by famine and sporadic terror attacks by al Qaeda-linked militant group Al-Shabaab.

The higher growth forecast for the next three-to-five years would depend on the country being able to sustain its current economic reform momentum, the World Bank said in a statement.

Tax collection by the government increased by 29 per cent last year, as the economy recovered from a drought the previous year and the government changes its tax policies, the World Bank said.

“While this progress is encouraging, the available fiscal space remains insufficient to meet expenditure needs for education and health sectors,” the bank said.

It asked the government to form a fund dedicated to education to allow authorities in Mogadishu to mobilise more cash from regional states and other partners to support learning.

In May, the International Monetary Fund said Somalia’s economy was on the right track but warned that it was still vulnerable to fragile security, climate change and poverty.

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Sierra Leone to launch National blockchain Identification system

The new project has strengthened the country’s blockchain technology, which had been used to carry out presidential elections in 2018

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Sierra Leone to launch National blockchain Identification system
Sierra Leone president Julius Maada Bio. (Photo by Sia KAMBOU / AFP)

The Government of Sierra Leone plans to fully adopt a blockchain-based national identity system by the end of 2019.

The new project has strengthened the country’s blockchain technology, which had been used to carry out presidential elections in 2018.

In partnership with the United Nations, Sierra Leonean President, Julius Maada Bio, says the new infrastructure will allow financial institutions to verify identities and create credit histories for their customers.

The new project, called the National Digital Identity Platform (NDIP), is a collaboration between the United Nations (UN) and the non-profit, Kiva, a key technology partner based in San Francisco and Sierra Leone since September.

According to the report, the NDIP will be implemented in two main phases. The first relates to the digitization of identity.

The second should be completed by the end of the year and involve the creation of non-repeatable, non-reusable and generally recognized national identification numbers.

The president said access to blockchain’s financial and credit facilities could significantly improve the lives of citizens of the country and make them more economically resilient. He said the new national identification system “directly translates into citizens who have access to affordable credit for business investment.”

President Maada Bio emphasizes the platform’s high-security standards, stating that each resident’s data will be stored with the national civil registry and kept strictly confidential, in accordance with international norms and practices.

He also notes that the platform’s ability to write new data modification records is one of the key advantages of implementing blockchain technology. With elections and digital identity, blockchain will become a multisectoral solution in Sierra Leone, with more than 85 per cent of the population having no access to the internet and at least 75 per cent having no bank accounts.

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