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Brexit: African Youngsters Seeking Premier League Moves Will Have To Wait

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African footballers hoping to move to the Premier League will be affected as new Brexit rules are to be effected from the 1st of January, 2021.

In new rules that are to help protect homegrown players in Britain following exit from the European Union (EU), players younger than 18 cannot make moves to British clubs. Also, no Premier League club is allowed to sign more than three players under the age of 21 in any transfer window.

All foreign players are subjected to a point-based threshold to be able to play in the UK, meaning players that don’t meet the expected points won’t be able to secure a transfer. Premier League clubs will also have to wait a little longer to secure foreign young talents.

EU members will have to secure a work permit before moving to the Premier League, as practised with Africans before.

While the rule is not targeted at African talents, it means good, young players from the continent hoping to make a switch to Premier League teams will wait for a longer time.

Foreign players moving to the Premier League will also have to secure a Governing Body Endorsement (GBE) before making a switch. The GBE will operate like a work permit and it was designed by Premier League clubs to be able to access overseas talents. The system has been approved by the Home Office.

Like in the work permit system, foreign players will be graded by their international appearances and the FIFA ranking of their countries.

A player from a top 10 ranking country in the world, who has represented his nation in 50% of games in the last two years will be eligible for a GBE. For countries who are ranked lowly, the players must have played virtually all the matches played by their countries in the last two years.

How clubs perform in competitions will also be key to the points given to their players. A player with 15 points will be eligible to earn a GBE.

There will be exceptions in situations the overseas player being targeted is of the ‘highest quality’ when he’s not able to garner enough points to earn the GBE. The assessment committee will sit in such situations and assess the application. Players who earn 14 GBE points naturally qualify for assessment by the Exceptions committee.

What Does This Mean To African Players?

With a swathe of agreements coming up between Africa-based academies, club sides and Premier League teams, this implies players under the age of 18 from Africa cannot move to Premier League or EFL clubs.

It also means the Premier League clubs may not be able to easily sign players from lowly African football nations. Recall that Tanzanian national team captain, Mbwanna Samatta moved to Aston Villa last January. Under the new arrangement, the move will be very difficult to achieve as he will be on exception and must be of the highest quality, which will be a subjective assessment. Tanzania is not ranked amongst the top 100 teams in the world.

In the past, Premier League clubs have also signed African teenage youngsters with an example like Kelechi Iheanacho’s move to Man City at the age of 19.

With just three U21 foreign players allowed in every transfer window, African youngsters hoping to play in the Premier League will either start looking to other parts of Europe or be of exceptional quality to make enough GBE points.

Britain is expected to exit the EU by the 31st of December.

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Health

AU Secures Additional 400m Doses of COVID-19 Vaccines

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Africa Centre for Disease Control has revealed that the African Union has gotten an additional 400m doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

This is barely a week after 270m doses of the vaccine were acquired.

Many African countries have not started vaccinating their citizens as they cannot afford the cost of purchasing vaccines amid a growing vaccine nationalism.

“An additional 400 million doses of vaccines have been secured from the Serum Institute of India,” Africa CDC director, John Nkengasong told a press conference.

“If you add 400 million doses to the 270 million doses, I think we are beginning to make very, very good progress.”

Africa is also expected to benefit from the World Health Organisation’s COVAX initiative.

The 670m doses already secured from the SII are part of India’s production using the Oxford-AstraZeneca formula.

Africa will need at least 1.5bn doses to vaccinate 60% of its 1.3bn population, and less than half of have been secured.

Economic giants- South Africa, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt and others have finalised plans to buy vaccines from manufacturers.

South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa had on Tuesday accused the big countries of the world of hoarding COVID-19 vaccines to the detriment of the developing nations.

South Africa was also confirmed to have paid a higher price for doses of vaccines in comparison with richer EU countries.

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Business News

Kenyan Banks Restructure 54.2% of the Banking Sector Loan Book

By the end of 2020, personal and household loans amounting to KSh 333 billion had their repayment period extended. Banks also restructured loans amounting to KSh 1.29 trillion issued to sectors like trade, manufacturing, agriculture, and real estate.

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The Central Bank of Kenya have announced that Kenyan banks have restructured loans amounting to KSh1.63 trillion, equivalent to 54.2% of the total banking sector loan book by the end of December 2020.

In March last year, the Central Bank introduced emergency measures in the banking system in order to offer relief to borrowers affected by the pandemic.

By the end of 2020, personal and household loans amounting to KSh 333 billion had their repayment period extended. Banks also restructured loans amounting to KSh 1.29 trillion issued to sectors like trade, manufacturing, agriculture, and real estate.

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The percent of gross non-performing loans to gross loans increased to 14.1% in December 2020 from 12% in December 2019. The percent of gross non-performing loans to gross loans measures the health of the banking system and a high percent shows that banks are struggling to recover issued loans and interest on the loans.

The pandemic adversely affected businesses in Kenya and limited their ability to repay loans. According to the Central Bank, Kenyan banks registered an increase in non-performing loans in the transport and communication sector, agriculture sector, and the real estate sector in 2020.

Despite the sharp increase in non-performing loans in the past year, the Central Bank of Kenya says Kenya’s banking sector “remains stable and resilient, with strong liquidity and capital adequacy ratios.”

 

 

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North Africa

Amnesty Calls for Probe into Death of Teen Hit by Tear Gas in Tunisia

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Amnesty International has demanded an investigation into the death of a young man who was hit by a tear gas canister during protests that rocked Tunisia on the 10th anniversary of the 2011 Jasmine Revolution.

Amnesty International, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Amna Guellali, said two young men – Haykal Rachdi and Aymen Mahmoudi – were injured under similar circumstances in the western town of Subaytilah late on January 18.

The relatives of the 21-year-olds were told that they were hit by tear gas canisters fired by riot police.

Rachdi died from his wounds several days later while Mahmoudi underwent serious surgery to repair bone wounds.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Director, Amna Guellali says “the tragic death of Haykal Rachdi, a young man who was seeking a better future, must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated.

She recommends that the investigation should include interviews with witnesses and an independent forensic medical examination, and those responsible for his killing must face justice.

“Security forces must respond to demonstrations that are a genuine expression of social hardship with restraint and respect for freedom of assembly, using force only when absolutely necessary and doing so proportionately. Police impunity has long been a concern in Tunisia – to break the cycle of violence, judicial authorities should investigate all incidents of unlawful use of force, including tear gas, and ensure that police are held to account.”

The rights group also called for a thorough probe into Mahmoudi’s serious injury.

Relatives of both men told Amnesty International that the two were hit by tear gas canisters when they were passing by the area of protests.

The NGO said, citing Subaytilah residents, that riot police fired tear gas indiscriminately during protests, often in the middle of densely populated residential neighborhoods, with some canisters even landing in people’s homes.

The group urged the Tunisian authorities to respect people’s freedom of assembly and stop reckless use of tear gas.

Nationwide demonstrations broke out in Tunisia in mid-January after the government imposed a new coronavirus lockdown.

The unrest coincided with the anniversary of the Jasmine Revolution, with the protesters expressing frustration over a lack of political and economic reforms a decade on.

The protests are accompanied by road blockades, acts of vandalism and clashes with police.

Hundreds of demonstrators have been detained, the majority of whom are under 25 years old.

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