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AU, Estonia Launch Hackathon To Develop Digital Solutions For Africa’s Post-COVID Recovery

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African Union and Estonia, in cooperation with Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg and Poland, with the implementing partners Garage48 and Smart Africa are organizing an online cross-continental hackathon “EU-Africa: The Post Crisis Journey” on 10-13 December 2020.

The online hackathon is seeking innovative solutions to socio-economic problems in Africa, exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.

The event builds on AU-Estonia cooperation agreement in December 2017 and the recommendations of the AU-EU task force report in 2018. It is to be noted that spurring digitalization in Africa and seeking innovative development solutions is at the heart and spirit of the AU Digital Transformation Strategy approved in 2020 and in line with Agenda 2063 which gives a prominent place to youth empowerment and participation.

Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, highlighted the timeliness of the event: “The AU Digital Transformation Strategy, approved in 2020, sees digitalization as springboard to rethink African development models and develop new solutions to socio-economic problems. The post-COVID-19 era offers Africa an important opportunity to revitalize our economies under a green and smart framework that supports health and prosperity embracing new technologies. We are confident that youth shall put their creativity, innovation and ingenuity using digital skills into providing solutions that help Africa recover better and faster”.

According to H.E. Andres Rundu, the Foreign Ministry’s Undersecretary for External Economic Policy and Development Cooperation, Estonia has considerably expanded its contacts with the countries and organizations of the African continent in recent years. “Organizing a hackathon with such a level of ambition is a clear demonstration of how Estonia can use its digital strengths to advance the cooperation between the European Union and Africa in several ways. Even before the pandemic, the rapid development of Africa was spurring on a great interest in digital services, and now the digital transformation has gathered even more speed. This hackathon enables us to join the forces of Europe and Africa for a successful digital transformation,” Rundu said.

Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation of South Africa, current Chair of the African Union, emphasized the role of science and innovation at the forefront of the response to COVID-19 in both Africa and Europe: “Cooperation between African and European scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs can make a decisive contribution, not only to defeat the pandemic but crucially also to accelerate economic recovery. This hackathon will make an important contribution to enable such partnerships and it is, thus, an initiative, South Africa is delighted to support.”

The online hackathon plans to engage 10000 tech-savvy and socially conscious participants, 300 mentors and at least 100 community building organizations from both the Africa and Europe. The hackathon is open to African and European youth to submit innovative ideas that can contribute to mitigating the COVID-19 aftermath.

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Business Edge | Petroleum Industry Bill Passes Second Reading in the House of Representatives

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PIB has passed second reading at the House of Representatives. The PIB in many quarters appears to be the most politicized piece of legislation in Nigeria’s legislative history. It was conceived by the Executive Arm of government some 18 years ago to principally inject transparency and stimulate growth in the country’s oil industry. But controversies arising from vested interests have continued to bog it down, making it one of the longest bills in the National Assembly that had been subjected to legislative fireworks.

To get it passed in the first attempt, the document was balkanised by the two chambers of the Nigerian National Assembly, the Senate, and the House of Representatives which called it “Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, PIGB”. With the new name, the Bill was passed simultaneously in both chambers in January 2018.

It was later forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari for presidential assent. But the President expressly declined his assent, citing anomalies, particularly the reduction of Powers of the Minister of Petroleum over Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC. The refusal then necessitated the return of the Bill to the National Parliament.

Also, Ethiopia plans to sell a 45% stake in its Ethio Telecom monopoly, an adviser to the state minister of finance said, as the government pursues the liberalization of the sector despite an armed conflict in the north of the country. Ethiopia’s telecoms industry is considered the big prize in a push to liberalize the African country’s economy because of a vast protected market, which serves around 100 million people. Tolulope Adeleru Balogun discussed these with Nasir Afolabi Agbalaya and Ralph Malik

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South Africa Records Boost In Business Confidence

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Following the easing of lockdown restrictions imposed by the South African government to check the spread of COVID-19, the country has enjoyed a new boost in business confidence.

According to a quarterly assessment of business confidence in the country, conducted by FirstRand Ltd.’s Rand Merchant Bank unit, it on Wednesday, said business confidence country has increased to 40 from 24. It is the country’s highest since Q2/2018. The index is compiled by Stellenbosch University’s Bureau for Economic Research.

The improvement shown is another proof to the data that suggests the South African economy may be recovering gradually from its low ebb.

The country’s output contracted by an annualized 51% and 2.2 million jobs were lost in the second quarter.

“It only signifies an economy that’s out of intensive care, and not out of high care,” an RMB chief said. “The strong rise in confidence among consumer-facing sectors could easily turn out to be temporary if the ‘kicker’ having come from pent-up demand peters out.”

The confidence boost for businesses may however not be long-lasting due to the overall effects of the pandemic.

South Africa is one of Africa’s worst-hit countries and has been rallying back, following its recession in March. The country has faced two recessions in two years.

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Nigeria Suffers The Worst Economic Recession In 33 Years

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The news of Nigeria sinking into its worst recession in 33 years has left most Nigerians asking how the giant of Africa got here. News Central speaks with Muktar Mohammed, a finance analyst who further explains the implication of this recession.

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