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'In that frothing-up of desire and passion, and under that stress of youthful folly, I used to wander, bareheaded and barefoot, through street and lane, orchard and vineyard.'
His first feelings of love came at about the same time as his first
marriage, but were for a boy from the camp bazaar. ‘In that
frothing-up of desire and passion, and under that stress of youthful
folly, I used to wander, bareheaded and barefoot, through street and
lane, orchard and vineyard.’ In a few months, according to the
much-later perspective of the memoir, Babur got over what he termed
this ‘youthful folly’.
The Baburnama, the autobiography Zahiruddin Mohammad Babur (1483-1530), is one of the true marvels of the medieval world Amitav Ghosh
But in the end, stoically, he resigns himself to the difficult
business of finding a realm: "When one has pretensions to rule and a
desire for conquest, one cannot sit back and just watch if events
don’t go right once or twice."
Even while fleeing from the Uzbeks, he found time to carve a verse on
a rock beside a spring.
"Like us many have spoken over this spring, but they were gone in the
twinkling of an eye,/We conquered the world with bravery and might,
but we did not take it with us to the grave."
But he may have come closer to the truth in his first poem, a ghazal,
written at the age of 18: "Other than my own soul I never found a
faithful friend/ Other than my own heart I never found a confidant."
In 1530 Humayun, Babur’s beloved eldest son and heir-apparent, was
stricken by a fever. He was brought immediately to Babur’s court at
Agra, but despite the best efforts of the royal physicians, his
condition steadily worsened.
Driven to despair, Babur consulted a man of religion who told him that
the remedy "was to give in alms the most valuable thing one had and to
seek cure from God."
Babur is said to have replied thus: "I am the most valuable thing that
Humayun possesses; than me he has no better thing; I shall make myself
a sacrifice for him. May God the Creator accept it."
Greatly distressed, Babur’s courtiers and friends tried to explain
that the sage had meant that he should give away money, or gold or a
piece of property: Humayun possessed a priceless diamond, they said,
which could be sold and the proceeds given to the poor...
Babur would not hear of it. "What value has worldly wealth?" Babur is
quoted to have said. "And how can it be a redemption for Humayun? I
myself shall be his sacrifice."
He walked three times around Humayun’s bed, praying: "O God! If a life
may be exchanged for a life, I who am Babur, I give my life and my
being for a Humayun." A few minutes later, he cried: "We have borne it
away, we have borne it away."
And sure enough, from that moment Babur began to sicken, while Humayun
grew slowly well. Babur died near Agra on December 21, 1530. He left
orders for his body to be buried in Kabul.
"health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding very foundations of our economies livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide" @UN @IPBES #GlobalAssessme
The Report finds that around 1 million animal and plant species are
now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever
before in human history.
The average abundance of native species in most major land-based
habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40%
of amphibian species, almost 33% of reefforming corals and more than a
third of all marine mammals are threatened.
The picture is less clear for insect species, but available evidence
supports a tentative estimate of 10% being threatened.
At least 680 vertebrate species had been driven to extinction since
the 16th century and more than 9% of all domesticated breeds of
mammals used for food and agriculture had become extinct by 2016, with
at least 1,000 more breeds still threatened.
“Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of
domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or
vanishing. The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is
getting smaller and increasingly frayed,” said Prof. Settele.
“This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a
direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.”
Other notable findings of the Report include:
Three-quarters of the land-based environment and about 66% of the
marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions.
On average these trends have been less severe or avoided in areas held
or managed by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.
More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of
freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production.
The value of agricultural crop production has increased by about 300%
since 1970, raw timber harvest has risen by 45% and approximately 60
billion tons of renewable and nonrenewable resources are now extracted
globally every year – having nearly doubled since 1980.
Land degradation has reduced the productivity of 23% of the global
land surface, up to US$577 billion in annual global crops are at risk
from pollinator loss and 100-300 million people are at increased risk
of floods and hurricanes because of loss of coastal habitats and
In 2015, 33% of marine fish stocks were being harvested at
unsustainable levels; 60% were maximally sustainably fished, with just
7% harvested at levels lower than what can be sustainably fished.
Urban areas have more than doubled since 1992.
Plastic pollution has increased tenfold since 1980, 300-400 million
tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other wastes from
industrial facilities are dumped annually into the world’s waters, and
fertilizers entering coastal ecosystems have produced more than 400
ocean ‘dead zones’, totalling more than 245,000 km2 (591-595) - a
combined area greater than that of the United Kingdom.
Negative trends in nature will continue to 2050 and beyond in all of
the policy scenarios explored in the Report, except those that include
transformative change – due to the projected impacts of increasing
land-use change, exploitation of organisms and climate change,
although with significant differences between regions.
For whom the bell tolls a poem (No man is an island) by John Donne
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
15 MAR 19 :: President @EmmanuelMacron
Law & Politics
It is clear that France appreciates that the centre of Geo-economic
Gravity has shifted and towards the Indian Ocean. The centre of
gravity was once somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. President Macron and
‘’Allez France’’ is seeking to extend its Africa positioning to better
project power into this new strategically central geo-economic zone.
The way of more flesh Global meat-eating is on the rise, bringing surprising benefits @TheEconomist
Things were different 28 years ago, when Zhou Xueyu and her husband
moved from the coastal province of Shandong to Beijing and began
selling fresh pork. The Xinfadi agricultural market where they opened
their stall was then a small outpost of the capital. Only at the
busiest times of year, around holidays, might the couple sell more
than 100kg of meat in a day. With China’s economic boom just
beginning, pork was still a luxury for most people.
Ms Zhou now sells about two tonnes of meat a day. In between expert
whacks of her heavy cleaver, she explains how her business has grown.
She used to rely on a few suppliers in nearby provinces. Now the meat
travels along China’s excellent motorway network from as far away as
Heilongjiang, in the far north-east, and Sichuan, in the south-west.
The Xinfadi market has changed, too. It is 100 times larger than when
it opened in 1988, and now lies within Beijing, which has sprawled
Between 1961 and 2013 the average Chinese person went from eating 4kg
of meat a year to 62kg. Half of the world’s pork is eaten in the
In rich countries people go vegan for January and pour oat milk over
their breakfast cereal. In the world as a whole, the trend is the
other way. In the decade to 2017 global meat consumption rose by an
average of 1.9% a year and fresh dairy consumption by 2.1%—both about
twice as fast as population growth.
Almost four-fifths of all agricultural land is dedicated to feeding
livestock, if you count not just pasture but also cropland used to
grow animal feed. Humans have bred so many animals for food that
Earth’s mammalian biomass is thought to have quadrupled since the
stone age (see chart).
Barring a big leap forward in laboratory-grown meat, this is likely to
continue. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (fao), an agency of
the un, estimates that the global number of ruminant livestock (that
is, cattle, buffalo, sheep and goats) will rise from 4.1bn to 5.8bn
between 2015 and 2050 under a business-as-usual scenario.
The population of chickens is expected to grow even faster. The
chicken is already by far the most common bird in the world, with
about 23bn alive at the moment compared with 500m house sparrows.
Meanwhile the geography of meat-eating is changing. The countries that
drove the global rise in the consumption of animal products over the
past few decades are not the ones that will do so in future. Tastes in
meat are changing, too. In some countries people are moving from pork
or mutton to beef, whereas in others beef is giving way to chicken.
These shifts from meat to meat and from country to country are just as
important as the overall pattern of growth. They are also more
cheering. On a planetary scale, the rise of meat- and dairy-eating is
a giant environmental problem. Locally, however, it can be a boon.
Over the past few decades no animal has bulked up faster than the
Chinese pig. Annual pork production in that country has grown more
than 30-fold since the early 1960s, to 55m tonnes.
It is mostly to feed the legions of porkers that China imports 100m
tonnes of soybeans every year—two-thirds of trade in that commodity.
It is largely through eating more pork and dairy that Chinese diets
have come to resemble Western ones, rich in protein and fat.
And it is mostly because their diets have altered that Chinese people
have changed shape. The average 12-year-old urban boy was nine
centimetres taller in 2010 than in 1985, the average girl seven
centimetres taller. Boys in particular have also grown fatter.
China’s pork suppliers are swelling, too. Three-fifths of pigs already
come from farms that produce more than 500 a year, and Wan Hongjian,
vice-president of wh Group Ltd, China’s largest pork producer, thinks
the proportion will rise.
Disease is one reason. African swine fever, a viral disease fatal to
pigs though harmless to people, has swept China and has led to the
culling of about 1m hogs. The virus is tough, and can be eradicated
only if farms maintain excellent hygiene.
Bigger producers are likely to prove better at that.
Yet China’s pork companies are grabbing larger shares of a market that
appears almost to have stopped growing. The oecd, a club of mostly
rich countries, estimates that pork consumption in China has been more
or less flat since 2014.
It predicts growth of just under 1% a year over the next decade. If a
country that eats so much of the stuff is indeed approaching peak
pork, it hints at a big shift in global animal populations. Pigs will
become a smaller presence on the global farm.
In 2015 animal products supplied 22% of the average Chinese person’s
calorie intake, according to the fao. That is only a shade below the
average in rich countries (24%).
“Unlike decades ago, there are no longer large chunks of the
population out there that are not yet eating meat,” says Joel Haggard
of the us Meat Export Federation, an industry group.
And demography is beginning to prove a drag on demand. China’s
population will start falling in about ten years’ time.
The country is already ageing, which suppresses food consumption
because old people eat less than young people do. un demographers
project that, between 2015 and 2050, the number of Chinese in their
20s will crash from 231m to 139m.
Besides, pork has strong competitors. “All over China there are people
eating beef at McDonald’s and chicken at kfc,” says Mr Wan. Another
fashion—hotpot restaurants where patrons cook meat in boiling pots of
broth at the table—is boosting consumption of beef and lamb.
Last year China overtook Brazil to become the world’s second-biggest
beef market after America, according to the United States Department
Australia exports so much beef to China that the Global Times, a
pugnacious state-owned newspaper, has suggested crimping the trade to
punish Australia for various provocations.
The shift from pork to beef in the world’s most populous country is
bad news for the environment. Because pigs require no pasture, and are
efficient at converting feed into flesh, pork is among the greenest of
Cattle are usually much less efficient, although they can be farmed in
different ways. And because cows are ruminants, they belch methane, a
powerful greenhouse gas.
A study of American farm data in 2014 estimated that, calorie for
calorie, beef production requires three times as much animal feed as
pork production and produces almost five times as much greenhouse
Fortunately, even as the Chinese develop the taste for beef, Americans
are losing it. Consumption per head peaked in 1976; around 1990 beef
was overtaken by chicken as America’s favourite meat.
Academics at Kansas State University linked that to the rise of
women’s paid work. Between 1982 and 2007 a 1% increase in the female
employment rate was associated with a 0.6% drop in demand for beef and
a similar rise in demand for chicken.
Perhaps working women think beef is more trouble to cook. Beef-eating
has risen a little recently, probably because Americans are feeling
wealthier. But chicken remains king.
Shifts like that are probably the most that can be expected in rich
countries over the next few years. Despite eager predictions of a
“second nutrition transition” to diets lower in meat and higher in
grains and vegetables, Western diets are so far changing only in the
Beef is a little less popular in some countries, but chicken is more
so; people are drinking less milk but eating more cheese.
The eu expects only a tiny decline in meat-eating, from 69.3kg per
person to 68.7kg, between 2018 and 2030. Collectively, Europeans and
Americans seem to desire neither more animal proteins nor fewer.
If the West is sated, and China is getting there, where is the growth
coming from? One answer is India. Although Indians still eat
astonishingly little meat—just 4kg a year—they are drinking far more
milk, eating more cheese and cooking with more ghee (clarified butter)
In the 1970s India embarked on a top-down “white revolution” to match
the green one. Dairy farmers were organised into co-operatives and
encouraged to bring their milk to collection centres with refrigerated
Milk production shot up from 20m tonnes in 1970 to 174m tonnes in
2018, making India the world’s biggest milk producer. The oecd expects
India will produce 244m tonnes of milk in 2027.
All that dairy is both a source of national pride and a problem in a
country governed by Hindu nationalists. Hindus hold cows to be sacred.
Through laws, hectoring and “cow protection” squads, zealots have
tried to prevent all Indians from eating beef or even exporting it to
When cows grow too old to produce much milk, farmers are supposed to
send them to bovine retirement homes.
In fact, Indian dairy farmers seem to be ditching the holy cows for
water buffalo. When these stop producing milk, they are killed and
their rather stringy meat is eaten or exported. Much of it goes to
Vietnam, then to China (often illegally, because of fears of
But neither an Indian milk co-operative nor a large Chinese pig farm
really represents the future of food. Look instead to a small, scruffy
chicken farm just east of Dakar, the capital of Senegal.
Some 2,000 birds squeeze into a simple concrete shed with large
openings in the walls, which are covered with wire mesh. Though
breezes blow through the building, the chickens’ droppings emit an
ammoniac reek that clings to the nostrils.
A few steps outside, the ground is brown with blood. Chickens have
been stuffed into a makeshift apparatus of steel cones to protect
their wings, and their necks cut with a knife.
Though it looks primitive, this represents a great advance over
traditional west African farming methods. The chickens in the shed
hardly resemble the variegated brown birds that can be seen pecking at
the ground in any number of villages.
They are commercial broilers—white creatures with big appetites that
grow to 2kg in weight after just 35 days. All have been vaccinated
against two widespread chicken-killers—Newcastle disease and
infectious bursal disease.
A vet, Mamadou Diouf, checks on them regularly (and chastises the
farmers for killing too close to the shed). Mr Diouf says that when he
started working in the district, in 2013, many farmers refused to let
Official statistics suggest that the number of chickens in Senegal has
increased from 24m to 60m since 2000. As people move from villages to
cities, they have less time to make traditional stews—which might
involve fish, mutton or beef as well as vegetables and spices, and are
Instead they eat in cafés, or buy food that they can cook quickly. By
the roads into Dakar posters advertise “le poulet prêt à cuire”,
wrapped in plastic.
Broiler farms are so productive that supermarket chickens are not just
convenient but cheap.
Many sub-Saharan Africans still eat almost no meat, dairy or fish. The
fao estimates that just 7% of people’s dietary energy comes from
animal products, one-third of the proportion in China.
This is seldom the result of religious or cultural prohibitions. If
animal foods were cheaper, or if people had more money, they would eat
more of them.
Richard Waite of the World Resources Institute, an American
think-tank, points out that when Africans move to rich countries and
open restaurants, they tend to write meat-heavy menus.
Yet this frugal continent is beginning to sway the global food system.
The un thinks that the population of sub-Saharan Africa will reach 2bn
in the mid-2040s, up from 1.1bn today. That would lead to a huge
increase in meat- and dairy-eating even if people’s diets stayed the
same. But they will not. The population of Kenya has grown by 58%
since 2000, while the output of beef has more than doubled.
Africa already imports more meat each year than does China, and the
oecd’s forecasters expect imports to keep growing by more than 3% a
year. But most of the continent’s meat will probably be home-grown.
The fao predicts that in 2050 almost two out of every five ruminant
livestock animals in the world will be African. The number of chickens
in Africa is projected to quadruple, to 7bn.
This will strain the environment. Although African broilers and
battery hens are more or less as productive as chickens anywhere,
African cattle are the world’s feeblest. Not only are they poorly fed
and seldom visited by vets; in many areas they are treated more as
stores of wealth than producers of food.
Africa has 23% of the world’s cattle but produces 10% of the world’s
beef and just 5% of its milk.
Lorenzo Bellù of the fao points out that herders routinely encroach on
national parks and private lands in east Africa. He finds it hard to
imagine that the continent’s hunger for meat will be supplied entirely
by making farming more efficient.
Almost certainly, much forest will be cut down. Other consequences
will be global. Sub-Saharan Africans currently have tiny carbon
footprints because they use so little energy—excluding South Africa,
the entire continent produces about as much electricity as France.
The armies of cattle, goats and sheep will raise Africans’ collective
contribution to global climate change, though not to near Western or
People will probably become healthier, though. Many African children
are stunted (notably small for their age) partly because they do not
get enough micronutrients such as Vitamin A.
Iron deficiency is startlingly common. In Senegal a health survey in
2017 found that 42% of young children and 14% of women are moderately
or severely anaemic. Poor nutrition stunts brains as well as bodies.
Animal products are excellent sources of essential vitamins and
minerals. Studies in several developing countries have shown that
giving milk to schoolchildren makes them taller. Recent research in
rural western Kenya found that children who regularly ate eggs grew 5%
faster than children who did not; cow’s milk had a smaller effect. But
meat—or, rather, animals—can be dangerous, too. In Africa chickens are
often allowed to run in and out of people’s homes. Their eggs and
flesh seem to improve human health; their droppings do not. One study
of Ghana finds that childhood anaemia is more common in chicken-owning
households, perhaps because the nippers caught more diseases.
Africans’ changing diets also create opportunities for local
businesses. As cities grow, and as people in those cities demand more
animal protein, national supply chains become bigger and more
Animal breeders, hatcheries, vets and trucking companies multiply.
People stop feeding kitchen scraps to animals and start using
In Nigeria the amount of maize used for animal-feed shot up from
300,000 tonnes to 1.8m tonnes between 2003 and 2015.
You can see this on the outskirts of Dakar—indeed, the building is so
big that you can hardly miss it. nma Sanders, a feed-mill, turned out
some 140,000 tonnes of chicken feed last year, up from 122,000 the
year before, according to its director of quality, Cheikh Alioune
The warehouse floor is piled high with raw ingredients: maize from
Morocco, Egypt and Brazil; soya cake from Mali; fishmeal from local
suppliers. The mill has created many jobs, from the labourers who fill
bags with pelleted feed to the technicians who run the computer
system, and managers like Mr Konaté. Lorries come and go.
It is often said that sub-Saharan Africa lacks an industrial base, and
this is true. Just one car in every 85 is made in Africa, according to
the International Organisation of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers.
But to look only for high-tech, export-oriented industries risks
overlooking the continent’s increasingly sophisticated food-producers,
who are responding to urban demand. Ideally, Africa would learn to
fill shipping containers with clothes and gadgets. For now, there are
some jobs to be had filling bellies with meat.
The @business Grains Subindex Total Return tumbled to the lowest since 1977
Soybean and corn futures slumped after tweets from Donald Trump that
threaten an escalation of the U.S.-China trade war, frustrating
battered American producers hoping for a quick resolution.
The Bloomberg Grains Subindex Total Return tumbled to the lowest since 1977.
The prospect of an end to the crippling tariffs that Beijing imposed
on U.S. soy, corn and wheat exports was one of the few positives for
American agriculture markets.
China’s foreign ministry said that officials were still planning to
travel to the U.S. for the next round of trade talks -- but was unable
to confirm when amid signs that a delay is now being considered.
July soybean futures capped a seventh straight loss as the contract
slumped to a record. Soy has been one of the hardest hit commodities
by the trade war as China, the world’s top consumer, snubbed American
Swollen stockpiles and the spread of African swine fever are also
hanging over the U.S. grain and soy markets, as soggy weather across
the U.S. Midwest impedes planting and means some farmers may switch to
plant more of the oilseed, which can be sown later than corn.
The bad weather that farmers are facing is a double blow, according to
Scott Irwin, an agricultural economist at the University of Illinois
Not only are they unable to plant, he said, but this leaves them more
time to stew on the current conditions from trade to the overall
downturn, Irwin said.
Recent news reports on the U.S.-China trade talks had led many farmers
to believe a resolution might be near. “The sense in farm country was
‘my gosh we’re finally going to get out of this nightmare’," he said.
“And then boom.”
It’s “like a bad version of the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ for the U.S.
farmer,” Irwin said.
Dale Livingston, a fifth-generation farmer from Illinois, said that
while he understands why Trump launched the trade war, he’s eager for
it to end.
Livingston, who grows soybeans, corn and wheat on 1,500 acres (607
hectares), said he has never seen so many negative things happening at
the same time. “Let’s quit playing these games and get it over with.”
Aaron Zimmerman, who grows corn, soybeans, alfalfa and wheat,
alongside his brother on 2,300 acres in Pierce, Nebraska, says the
trade war now has to be worth the pain.
“I know it sucks and this hurts and I’m getting tired of it,” but it’s
too late to turn back now, the third-generation farmer said.
Even before Trump’s latest missive, investors were ready to throw in
the towel on crop prices.
The pig-disease outbreak has forced China to cull more than 1 million
hogs, denting the outlook for grain use in livestock feed.
A measure of combined hedge fund net-short positions across corn,
soybeans and wheat is at its most bearish since the data begins in
2006, a U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission report on Friday
“A single Trump tweet erases any optimism of a trade deal this week,”
Jacob Christy, a trader at The Andersons Inc., said in a video posted
“We expect volatility to remain quite elevated until we see some type
of clarity on the situation.”
Soybean futures for July delivery fall as much as 3 percent to $8.1675
a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, the lowest since the contract
debuted in November 2015
Corn futures for July delivery tumbled as much as 4.1 percent, July
wheat slides as much as 2.3 percent
Oat futures for July delivery slumped by the 20-cent limit to $2.64 a bushel
The lira plunged after the High Election Board said Monday that a new vote must be held on June 23. @business
“We’re in a political twilight zone, where the economy has fallen to
the side,” said Anthony Skinner, Middle East and North Africa director
at risk analyst Verisk Maplecroft.
The vote re-run “prolongs the electoral cycle, exacerbates negative
economic conditions and kicks the can of reform -- to the extent that
it exists -- further down the road.”
The lira touched a seven-month low on the news, and was trading 1.9
percent weaker at 6.079 per dollar as of 11:40 p.m. in Istanbul.
The currency has been among the world’s worst performers over the past
year. Its most dramatic crash came last August, triggered in part by a
standoff with the U.S. over an American pastor who was held in Turkey
on terrorism charges.
The currency resumed its decline after the local elections, amid
Erdogan’s objections to the result.
Further losses for the lira could push inflation, already running at
nearly four times the official target, even higher -- and may also
hurt the ability of Turkish companies to service debt.
They borrowed heavily in dollars and euros, and have been struggling
to make payments since last year’s currency crash.
The board’s decision could heighten concern among Turkey’s Western
allies that the country is drifting away from democracy under Erdogan.
“Erdogan does not accept defeat and goes against the will of the
people” Kati Piri, European Parliament’s rapporteur on Turkey, said on
Twitter following the decision to hold fresh elections.
“This ends the credibility of democratic transition of power through
elections in Turkey.”
Erdogan’s refusal to concede defeat in the city where he built his
political career has been criticized by domestic rivals as as a sign
of his increasingly authoritarian rule.
The main opposition party, the CHP, announced an emergency meeting
after the election board’s ruling. The CHP’s victorious candidate in
March, Ekrem Imamoglu, took office as Istanbul mayor almost three
He’ll now have to step down while an interim mayor takes over.
Addressing thousands of supporters in Istanbul late Monday, Imamoglu
called the election board’s decision baseless. He said he’d reach out
to people who cast their initial ballots for the AKP or other parties,
in his bid to win the rerun.
In March, Imamoglu defeated the AK Party’s Binali Yildirim, a former
prime minister and close Erdogan ally, by a slim margin of about
14,000 votes in a city with more than 10 million voters.
In the weeks after the election, Erdogan’s approach fluctuated. At
times he appeared to concede that Istanbul was lost. But he was also
gradually turning up the heat on the election board.
His most explicit call for a fresh vote came this past weekend, when
he said election laws had clearly been violated because private-sector
employees were enlisted as ballot officials instead of civil servants.
Istanbul’s chief prosecutor bolstered the president’s argument over
the weekend, alleging that dozens of officials involved in
administering the vote had links to U.S.-based Islamic preacher
Turkey accuses Gulen of masterminding a failed coup attempt against
Erdogan almost three years ago, and has jailed or fired tens of
thousands of officials for alleged ties to him.
"We are not worried about Ramadan. The day will pass just like Ibn Auf": A protester's sign refers to the former head of the ruling military council (MEE/Kaamil Ahmed) @MiddleEastEye
“Here we have all of Sudan. People from the furthest areas of Sudan,
from Nyala, from the north, everyone is here outside the military
headquarters,” said the student, 23.
“We have our traditions, to eat together, to have musaharati
(drummers) and to drink Helu Mur ("Bitter Sweet", a Sudanese drink
commonly consumed during Ramadan) and apart from this we can have
everyone here together in the streets.”
Tens of thousands poured into the protest site after sunset and
children were treated with fresh juice poured in celebration as others
shouted Ramadan greetings to passers-by.
A large air-conditioned tent was erected at the sit-in to provide
relief for the protesters who are camping out at the site through the
long days, where the temperature pushed 50 degrees Celsius over the
The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), a group which has been
organising protests since they began in December and is now leading
negotiations with the ruling military council, invited people to break
their fasts and pray at the sit-in together.
“We also invite the sheikhs of the Sufi and religious brotherhoods and
the symbols of art and theatre and sport and media and civil leaders
and all spectrums of Sudanese people," it said.
LUANDA – Angola, Africa’s second largest oil producer, should see its
first ever initial public offerings this year as the country
establishes a domestic stock exchange with the privatisation of
multiple state companies, the bourse’s head said on Thursday.
Patricio Vilar, chief executive officer of the Bodiva exchange, said
he expected two IPOs to take place this year with a larger,
unspecified, number set for 2020. He declined to give the names of the
companies looking to list.
“There are very clear signals that there will be initial public
offerings this year,” Vilar told a news conference at the bourse’s
headquarters in Luanda.
Angola has previously said it is looking to privatise as many as 74
state companies in an effort to attract foreign investment and
revitalise an economy that was plunged into a tailspin after the oil
price fell in 2014.
The southern African country has suffered three consecutive years of
recession through 2018.
Vilar said there were also five private companies that had shown
concrete interest in an Angolan IPO.
The Bodiva already serves as an exchange for the primary and secondary
trading of Angolan state debt, but has not previously operated a stock
“We think that with the advent of the coming privatisations of well
known companies we will see a rapid change in the way companies
finance themselves,” Vilar said, adding he expects a shift from state
banks to the private sector and capital markets as Angola looks to
open up its economy and improve transparency.
South African Assets Signal Rising Anxiety as Election Nears @economics
South African assets are signaling increasing investor anxiety about
Wednesday’s election, with the fate of the rand and government bonds
tied to the extent of the ruling African National Congress’ expected
majority and what that implies for policy.
President Cyril Ramaphosa needs a strong mandate to push through
fiscal and policy reforms in the face of opposition from factions
within his party. But while a convincing majority may give assets a
brief boost, the difficulty of the road ahead is making investors
“President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC is all but certain to win this week’s
election, but we’re skeptical that this will provide impetus to his
sluggish reform drive,’’ said John Ashbourne, a senior
emerging-markets economist at Capital Economics, in a note to clients.
“The ruling party will, after all, remain sharply divided. We expect
that progress will be slow.’’
Volatility measures leave no doubt that rand traders see the election
as an immediate, two-way risk.
One-week implied volatility for the rand against the dollar has
climbed above longer-term measures for the first time since March, and
is now higher than any other emerging-market currency including the
beleaguered Turkish lira.
Bearish bets are also rising. The premium of options to sell the
currency in the next week over those to buy it, known as the 25 Delta
risk reversal, has jumped to a one-month high, suggesting traders are
more inclined to hedge against rand declines in the immediate
aftermath of the vote.
“An ANC majority win nationally of close to 60 percent or higher is
currently being seen as likely to strengthen the rand,” Annabel
Bishop, the Johannesburg-based chief economist at Investec Bank Ltd.,
said in a note.
“A material swing towards the left-wing populist parties, either in an
election result, or in ANC coalitions after the elections, is believed
to risk substantial rand weakness.”
While the options market indicates anxiety over the election itself,
bond yields suggest investors are also concerned about long-term
prospects for the economy. South Africa’s yield curve has steepened to
the widest this year as the rate on 10-year securities rose more than
that on two-year bonds.
While this is partly due to an increase in longer-dated issuance, it
also reflects concern about the implementation of much-needed policy
reforms to boost the economy.
“Foreigners aren’t looking at picking up long-term risk due to
uncertainty with regards to the fiscal issues South Africa is facing,”
said Michelle Wohlberg, a Johannesburg-based fixed-income trader at
FirstRand Bank Ltd.
Non-residents have sold a net 5.9 billion rand ($407 million) of South
African bonds since mid-April, according to JSE Ltd. data.
Hard-currency bonds also signal worries over the fiscal outlook
post-election, according to ING Groep NV. Yields on South Africa’s
benchmark dollar securities are trending lower, but are about 50 basis
points higher than those of junk-rated Brazil.
While there could be a near-term rally for the debt after the vote,
the medium-term outlook is clouded, said Trieu Pham, a London-based
emerging-markets strategist at ING.
South Africa’s foreign debt is already rated junk by S&P Global
Ratings and Fitch Ratings, and its one remaining investment-grade
assessment at Moody’s Investors Service depends on how the government
approaches the fiscal deficit and financial troubles of state-owned
companies after the election.
“The persisting risk of losing Moody’s Baa3 rating is a negative
technical overhang,’’ said Pham. “This is fairly reflected in the
spread differential between South Africa and Brazil.’’
Report by Vinpro, which represents 2,500 South African wine grape producers, wineries and wine-related businesses said the crop would be 1.4 percent smaller than 2018's harvest of 1,238,000 tonnes and the lowest output since 2005's 1,171,632 tonnes.
Industry body South African Wine Industry Information and Systems
(Sawis) estimates the 2019 wine grape crop at 1,225,620 tonnes.
“It has been a trying year for our wine grape producers and wineries,”
said Vinpro’s viticultural consultation service manager Francois
Viljoen. “A decline in area under vines and challenging weather
conditions contributed to the smaller harvest.”
The 2018/2019 growing season saw warmer than normal temperatures,
weather fluctuations and wetter conditions during parts of the season.
Kenya's @KCBGroup Group looks to buy banks in Rwanda, DRC -CEO @ReutersAfrica
Kenya’s biggest lender by assets, KCB Group, plans to buy a bank in
Rwanda and one in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), its
chief executive said.
CEO Joshua Oigara, who was speaking to reporters late on Friday, did
not reveal the identity of the two banks the lender is considering
acquiring or the timeframe.
KCB is also planning to open a representative office in China, to take
advantage of growing trade links between East Africa and China, he
06-MAY-2019 :: M-Pesa the Jewel in Safaricom's Crown
Safaricom reported FY Earnings last Friday. The centrality of
Safaricom in the lives of Kenyans and to the Nairobi Securities
Exchange cannot be gainsaid. Safaricom represents around 47.9 % of the
NSE total value of $23,304,653,465.00 [Mihr Thakar]. Bob Collymore has
presided over a more than 400% increase in the share price during his
tenure and if you cared to roll in the dividend payments over that
period, the return is juiced further. The Total Return of the share
price over the period of his tenure ranks in the top percentile
world-wide. This Year the share price is +31% [only 9 percentage
points behind Bitcoin which has flown off the charts in 2019 and is
+40%]. Now conversely, if you stripped Safaricom out of the Nairobi
Securities Exchange Indices , the performance would be woeful.
Therefore, the Earnings Release is a very big deal.
Safaricom reported a 7% increase in FY Service Revenue which clocked
240.30b. Voice remains the single biggest revenue line item 95.94b and
expanded +0.3% [Prices -10% Year on Year]. Voice was pronounced dead
many years ago but for Safaricom the Demographic Dividend has
underpinned Voice. Safaricom added 2.3 million customers in the Full
Year +58% compared to the previous year. For Bashir and Bouteflika the
Youthquake was a Terminator, for Safaricom it is a rising tide. This
remains a mature business but Safaricom have proven skilled at working
the angles. SMS Revenue declined -1.3% to 17.5b.
Full Year Mobile Data Revenue grew +6.4% to 38.69b. During this
reporting Period the average rate per megabyte reduced 42%. Safaricom
absorbed the GOK related increases and turbo-charged consumption. This
is exactly the correct strategy. I recall a conversation about the
Take-Up of Smart Phones a number of years ago and Bob Collymore told
me then one of the issues is that if you have not experienced a fast
internet, You really don't know what you are missing. Millions of
Kenyans are now hooked to the c21st and Information Super highway and
its very difficult to dump a Ferrari for a Pro Box once you have
driven the Ferrari. This Curve will turn ''hockey stick'' make no
mistake about that.
The real Earnings Outlier was Mpesa. Full Year Mpesa Revenue surged
+19.2% to reach 74.99b.
In November of last year I wrote this in the Star
Mpesa revenue surged +18.2% to register 35.52b and looks like its on
the cusp of a hockey stick like breakout. Safaricom have tweaked the
Mpesa ecosystem with good effect. They have made the Mpesa garden
richer [the average user is transacting 12 times a month] and have
increased retention and circulation in the ecosystem. This is a very
Safaricom: ''The growth in MPESA has been driven by an increased
number of users, higher velocity of funds within the ecosystem, and
adoption of new use cases. MPESA now accounts for 31.2% of service
Mpesa contributed 75% of Safaricom's Year on Year Growth. Bob
Collymore told the Financial Times's Tom Wilson.
''If you strip out Mpesa’s performance you will see that our
underlying growth as a teleco is only about 2.4 per cent.”
Mpesa is the Jewel in the Safaricom Crown and has ''blitz-scaled'' [of
course, I think Mobile Data will also become as valuable a Jewel] and
Safaricom's premium is a direct consequence of the value being placed
on this Earnings curve. Safaricom have continued to fine-tune the
Mpesa eco-system under Lapoiyit to good effect with the latest
innovation Fuliza: ''the worlds first contextual mobile money
overdraft facility'' going great Guns and providing further
confirmation the Mpesa ''Platform Economy'' is a part of the genre of
Platform Economies like UBER and the like. Safaricom predicted that
within three years its pioneering digital payments business Mpesa will
generate more revenue than all other parts of the business combined
Vodacom and Safaricom plan to take over the intellectual property
rights for M-Pesa, the main mobile-money product, from Vodafone Group
Plc, Vodacom’s parent, and roll out the service to other African
nations. If Safaricom can replicate the ubiquity of Safaricom in other
markets, we will have to steepen the Earnings Curve further. In
Ethiopia, Safaricom is already providing state-owned monopoly Ethiopia
Telecommunications Corp. with fiber connectivity, call termination and
airtime advance for customers, he said, and the partnership has
potential to be expanded.
“We are looking at a broader relationship with EthioTel,” he said,
without giving details. “No agreements have been signed yet, but we
are hopeful about signing something this year.”
Given the importance of Mpesa, it “points to someone who really
understands the fintech business” as a possible successor Boby
Collymore told Tom Wilson..
Allow me to also mention the Dividend Pay Out of 1.25 +13.636% and a
Special dividend per share of 0.62. The Balance Sheet is seriously
Interestingly, Bob was asked about Huawei and said Safaricom's policy
is not going to be driven by President Trump's Foreign Policy.