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Twitter, SADAG Partner To Prevent Suicide In South Africa1 minute read

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South Africa’s Twitter users, who are searching for terms associated with suicide or self-harm, will receive a notification encouraging them to contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), the microblogging and social networking service has said.

A similar prompt had previously been Twitter deployed in Nigeria and Kenya.

SADAG operates South Africa’s only suicide crisis helpline.

Speaking on the prompt, Emmanuel Lubanzadio, the head of Twitter’s public policy for Sub-Saharan Africa, said the social media platform’s community can be an important source of real-time support for anyone with suicidal thoughts.

He added that Twitter also has a dedicated reporting form for people threatening suicide or self-harm.

“A specialised team reviews these reports and upon receiving them, they will be in direct contact to let the individual know someone who cares about them identified they might be at risk,” he said.

The company launched a special emoji in the shape of an orange ribbon – the international symbol for World Suicide Prevention Day, which is on 10 September – which will appear when people tweet with the hashtags #WorldSuicidePreventionDay, #WSPD, #WSPD2020 and #SuicidePrevention this month.

Cassey Chambers, operations director at SADAG, said the prompt will help them reach more people who are thinking of attempting suicide.

“Many people turn to social media to share their feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, and to be able to give those people a resource to access help in a time of crisis is helpful to SADAG so we can help more people who feel like suicide is the only option,” he said.

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South Sudan sets 10,000 USD ceiling for outbound travelers to minimize cash outflows

Since the revitalized peace deal to end over six years of conflict was signed in 2018, the South Sudanese Pound (SSP) increasingly depreciate against the U.S. dollar as the country’s economy struggles with hyperinflation.

Bernard Akede

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In a bid to minimize cash outflows

In a bid to minimize cash outflows, South Sudan on Tuesday said the maximum amount that could be allowed for travelers abroad is only 10,000 dollars in cash, as the country continues to work towards stabilizing its weak economy following years of conflict.

Michael Makuei Lueth, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, said the cabinet recommended this new measure following findings by the economic cluster committee which was set up by President Salva Kiir to investigate mismanagement of non-oil revenue collection.

While speaking to journalists after the weekly cabinet meeting in Juba, Makuei said “in a bid to minimize cash outflows, The maximum amount that could be allowed for travelers abroad is only 10,000 dollars because it is realized that most of the people travel with lots of money. Any other amount should be done through official banks.”

Since the revitalized peace deal to end over six years of conflict was signed in 2018, the South Sudanese Pound (SSP) increasingly depreciate against the U.S. dollar as the country’s economy struggles with hyperinflation.

In addition, revenue from crude oil which is the country’s major source of income, has reduced because oil-producing countries have had to cut production due to drop in global prices which was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In August, The Central Bank of South Sudan announced that its foreign reserves had hit their lowest point, which now puts more strain on efforts to achieve economic recovery.

“The issue of over-drafting was one of the issues that depleted the resources and weakened the Bank of South Sudan, so the issue of over-drafting has been completely stopped and the minister of finance has been directed to stop the issuance of an overdraft,” said Makuei.

He further disclosed that tax exemption on non-essential goods entering the country will be scrapped, as the government aims to widen non-oil revenue collection.

“It was agreed that there should be no more tax exemptions which are taking away revenue from us,” said Makuei.

The minister revealed that in order to to cushion the economy from the effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the country had secured 250 million dollars from African Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank).

“This amount of cash will be used to cover all the costs and to facilitate payment of all outstanding debts and then after we start afresh from the very beginning. The payment of the loan will be in the form of oil and this will be in installments,” said Makuei.

He also made it known that a 5 percent cash inducement to staff working in the various revenue-generating institutions had been approved, as an incentive to help tame corruption and boost revenue collection.

“These revenue-generating institutions at times you find that there is misappropriation and as such, it is passed that 5 percent of whatever revenue generated by that institution should go to the working force at that institution. This would go to them as motivation so that they continue to produce more,” said Makuei.

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Zimbabwe’s President Commissions $58M Belarus Mechanisation Facility

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Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa, the President of Zimbabwe, on Wednesday commissioned the Belarus Mechanisation Facility worth over $58 million at the Institute of Agricultural Engineering in Hatcliffe, Harare.

The function was attended by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Ministers and the Belarus delegation led by the Minister of Industry for the Republic of Belarus.

The private sector and the representatives from the financial sector are also present.

The facility being commissioned is part of the deals struck by President Mnangagwa, during his tenure as Vice President in 2015 and as President in January 2019.

The equipment, which is the first tranch include 163 tractors, 19 combine harvesters and low bed trucks.

Zimbabwe and Belarus also agreed on another deal last night that will see Zimbabwe getting another tranch of 3000 tractors

As a result of the tight cooperation between Belarus and Zimbabwe in 2018, both governments agreed upon the supply to Zimbabwe machinery and equipment made in Belarus for agriculture and timber industry.

In June 2020, Zimbabwe’s Honorary Consul to Belarus, Alexander Zingman, the $58 million deal between the two countries will revolutionalise Zimbabwe’s agriculture industry.

“This deal brings Belarusian expertise in agriculture and engineering to Zimbabwe. Both countries have been expanding ties since 2015 and this deal is a win-win for both,” said Alexander Zingman at the time.

Mnangagwa had called for a comprehensive project to modernise and mechanise the entire agricultural sector. The country is reeling from the economic effects of coronavirus, a disastrous drought and Cyclone Idai last year, leaving over 5 million people in need of food aid.

The agriculture deal was signed in 2018, with Belarus providing farming machinery and advanced technology to Zimbabwe, as well as training for local farmers in cultivation, seeding, irrigation, and crop harvesting. It also provided the project with long-term financing for the acquisition of equipment.

AFTRADE DMCC represents all the leading manufacturers in Belarus. It has set up a servicing centre in Harare to provide spare parts and warranty services. Mobile service vehicles will also cater to farming communities in the provinces.

Belarusian technical specialists were sent to Zimbabwe for one year to provide training to farmers in modern farming techniques. Zimbabwean specialists also got two months training in Belarus.

“This project will enable Zimbabwean farmers to boost the productivity of their land and to reduce their losses through timely crops harvesting. The result will be that farmers can ensure the food security of Zimbabwe itself and, where possible, also raise their income levels by exporting their produce,” said Zingman.

The two countries are also developing joint projects in geology, farming and transport, as well as the construction of a solar power plant near Harare.

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Nigeria Suspends Hike in Electricity Tariff for 14 Days

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Nigeria has suspended the implementation of a new electricity tariff that came into effect on September 1 for two weeks.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission – NERC – ordered the 11 Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) to suspend tariff increase.

The commission’s suspension order of the Multi Year Tariff Order (MYTO) 2020 signed by Prof James Momoh, NERC Chairman was published on its website on Wednesday.

The tariff hike pause follows a joint communique issued by the Federal Government and the labour unions.

The Federal Government agreed that the recent review in electricity tariffs would be suspended by the commission for a period of 14 days to further consultations and finalisation of negotiations between the parties.

The order by NERC reads that from September 28 to October 11 the DisCos must revert all charges to the tariff existing as of Aug 31.

This means that for the next two weeks, electricity consumers having power above 12 hours who were affected by the over 100 per cent tariff hike would revert to their old charges.

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