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Kenya Didn’t Apply for Suspension of Debt Payments Under G20 Initiative – Minister

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Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary of the National Treasury, Ukur Yatani, on Friday said the East African country had not applied for suspension of debt payments under the G20 COVID-19 initiative.

The suspension of debt payments under the G20 COVID-19 initiative is aimed at helping poor countries contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ukur Yatani, in a statement issued in Nairobi, said he was encouraged that economic activity has been picking up following a raft of fiscal and monetary policy interventions and the reopening of the economy.

“Kenya seeks a cautious approach in evaluating the costs and benefits of the offer and making an informed decision to safeguard the economic and financial standing of the country,” Yatani said.

He said the G20 major economies in May offered to suspend debt service for external debt for low-to-middle-income economies facing temporary liquidity challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic period.

“Kenya welcomes this intervention among others in the form of financial support targeted to the health sector.

“In particular, the government acknowledges the immense support received through multilateral and bilateral agencies towards mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Whereas challenges remain given the uncertainties of COVID-19 pandemic, we are confident that the economy will respond to policy and structural reform measures supported by our development partners,” he said.

Yatani said Kenya was currently in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a programme to anchor fiscal policy to stabilise the economy and address emerging vulnerabilities.

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Ethiopia, UN Strike Deal for Unimpeded Humanitarian Access To Tigray

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The United Nation on Friday announced that an agreement has been reached with the Ethiopian Government to allow “unimpeded, sustained and secure access” for humanitarian supplies to reach those in need across areas now under its control in Tigray.

The UN Headquarters in New York confirmed the details of the deal through its spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.

Dujarric said that the safe passage of aid supplies and staff also extends to the Ethiopian regions of Amhara and Afar, bordering Tigray, where fighting between federal and regional forces, has impacted around six million people during the past month.

A UN statement said until now, no supplies have been allowed into the conflict zone, which has displaced thousands, many across the border into Sudan.

UN humanitarian coordination office (OCHA) spokesperson based in Nairobi, Saviano Abreu, said earlier that the first mission to carry out a needs assessment would begin on Wednesday.

He added that the UN was committed to engaging with “all parties to the conflict” and ensuring that aid was distributed “strictly based on needs”.

Dujarric said that all aid distribution would be carried out “in compliance with the globally-agreed principles of humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality. This includes working to ensure that people impacted by the conflict are assisted without distinction of any kind other than the urgency of their needs”.

Many Ethiopians have also been internally displaced from Tigray, seeking refuge in Afar and Amhara, and the UN needs assessment would aim to reach those affected by the conflict, added Mr. Dujarric.

On Monday, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) appealed to Ethiopia for urgent access to assist around 96,000 Eritrean refugees in Tigray camps, who it was estimated had essentially run out of food.

Spokesperson in Geneva, Babar Baloch, said concerns were growing “by the hour, with hunger and malnutrition a real danger”.

Communications to the Tigray region continue to be severed, along with transportation routes, and the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has reportedly rejected dialogue with Tigray’s regional leaders who are said to be on the run, after the regional capital was entered by federal forces last weekend.

The UN estimates that some two million are now in need of assistance in and around Tigray and some one million have been displaced by the fighting, including more than 45,000 who have fled across the border into Sudan.

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#EndSARS: Traders Association Pleads For Release Of Arrested Members

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The Market Traders Association of Nigeria (MATAN) has appealed to the state and Federal Governments to release some of its members arrested during the #EndSARS protest which was hijacked by hoodlums.

The President of MANTAN, Alhaji Jamilu Abbas made the appeal while speaking in an interview in Abuja on Thursday.

Abbas said some traders, who were moving their goods from one part of the country to another to sell, were caught in between the crisis and were arrested and detained.

He noted that the plea became necessary because the detained traders were hardworking and contributing their quota to the economy of the country.

He, however, stated that the activities of hoodlums during the #EndSARS protest had caused a lot of havoc to members that were already affected by the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, before the #EndSARS protest, the impact of COVID-19 pandemic has taken a lot of traders out of business.

The president, however, pleaded with the government to compensate the affected traders with a view to support them to bounce back to business.

Meanwhile, Abbas also enjoined the Federal Government to find a lasting solution to the plight of Nigerian traders in Ghana whose shops were destroyed while others were shut down.

He appealed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs not to relent efforts in resolving the misunderstanding between Nigerian traders and the Ghanaian authorities.

He emphasised the need for the Foreign Affairs Minister to sit with the Ghanaian Ambassador to Nigeria and have robust engagement with him with a view to resolve the matter once and for all.

The president noted that the action of Ghanaian authorities was not in conformity with the ECOWAS treaty which allowed free trade among member countries.

He said Nigerians in Ghana should be allowed to do their lawful businesses as Ghanaians and other foreigners were allowed to carry out their legitimate business activities in the country without hindrance.

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COVID-19: Namibia To Revive Economy Using Fiscal, Monetary Interventions – President Geingob

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Namibia’s President Hage Geingob on Thursday said there was a need to stabilise the country’s fiscal position in order to reduce economic damage caused by the effects of COVID-19.

Speaking at the opening of a two-day cabinet retreat, Geingob said Namibia would administer fiscal and monetary interventions to revive the economy.

“Our economy has plunged into the deepest recession since independence. As we craft a set of interventions with ambitions to induce a recovery, it is imperative to bear in mind that this can only be achieved through a holistic approach,’’ he said.

President Geingob added that it was only once these preliminary steps had been taken to stabilise the country’s fiscal position, that the country can begin to craft and implement a transformative portfolio of policy interventions.

According to the president, Namibia has so far injected 1.3 billion Namibian dollars ($85m) into the health sector accompanied by 8.1 billion Namibian dollars stimulus package and the 500 million Namibian dollars SME loan scheme to help the economy recover.

Namibia’s economy is forecasted to contract by 7.8 per cent in 2020 before recovering to positive growth of 2.1 and 2.7 per cent in 2021 and 2022, respectively, the central bank has projected.

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