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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Monday 17th of May 2021

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09-MAY-2021 :: The Lotos-eaters
World Of Finance

The Markets

The liquidity of this complex is illusory, as the reflexivity embedded within creates a lurking shadow convexity that is vulnerable to predatory flows. @FadingRallies 

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09-MAY-2021 :: The Lotos-eaters

In the afternoon they came unto a land 

In which it seemed always afternoon. 

All round the coast the languid air did swoon, 

Breathing like one that hath a weary dream. 

Then some one said, "We will return no more"; 

And all at once they sang, "Our island home 

Is far beyond the wave; we will no longer roam." 

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Why is the universe so uncannily, so eerily, so terribly quiet? Because in the dark forest, anything that makes a sound gets eaten.

The alien researcher on the other side of the communication warns her that its society is utterly twisted and that she must never make contact again, lest they invade Earth:

Do not answer!

Do not answer!!

Do not answer!!!

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"We have a deviate, Tomahawk." "We copy. There's a voice." "We have gross oscillation here"

Don DeLillo, who is a prophetic 21st writer, writes as follows in one of his short stories:

The specialist is monitoring data on his mission console when a voice breaks in, “a voice that carried with it a strange and unspecifiable poignancy”.

He checks in with his flight-dynamics and conceptual- paradigm officers at Colorado Command:

“We have a deviate, Tomahawk.”

“We copy. There’s a voice.”

“We have gross oscillation here.”

“There’s some interference. I have gone redundant but I’m not sure it’s helping.”

“We are clearing an outframe to locate source.”

“Thank you, Colorado.”

“It is probably just selective noise. You are negative red on the step-function quad.”

“It was a voice,” I told them.

“We have just received an affirm on selective noise... We will correct, Tomahawk. In the meantime, advise you to stay redundant.”

The voice, in contrast to Colorado’s metallic pidgin, is a melange of repartee, laughter, and song, with a “quality of purest, sweetest sadness”.

“Somehow we are picking up signals from radio programmes of 40, 50, 60 years ago.”

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"The Dark Forest," which continues the story of the invasion of Earth by the ruthless and technologically superior Trisolarans, introduces Liu’s three axioms of “cosmic sociology.” @nfergus

First, “Survival is the primary need of civilization.” 

Second, “Civilization continuously grows and expands, but the total matter in the universe remains constant.” 

Third, “chains of suspicion” and the risk of a “technological explosion” in another civilization mean that in space there can only be the law of the jungle. 

In the words of the book’s hero, Luo Ji:

The universe is a dark forest. Every civilization is an armed hunter stalking through the trees like a ghost ... trying to tread without sound ... 

The hunter has to be careful, because everywhere in the forest are stealthy hunters like him. 

If he finds other life — another hunter, an angel or a demon, a delicate infant or a tottering old man, a fairy or a demigod — 

there’s only one thing he can do: open fire and eliminate them. In this forest, hell is other people ... any life that exposes its own existence will be swiftly wiped out.

This is intergalactic Darwinism.

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Global overview: The number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths globally slightly decreased this week, with Global 5 517 602 -4% cases Weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 - 11 May 2021 @WHO

Case and death incidences, however, remain at the highest levels since the beginning of the pandemic. 

While India continues to account for 95% of cases and 93% of deaths in the South-East Asia Region, as well as 50% of global cases and 30% of global deaths, worrying trends have been observed in neighbouring countries.

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#COVID19 cases in India: @muradbanaji

Clearly still rising: TN, Puducherry, NE, WB, Himachal. 

Unclear: e.g. Andhra, Assam, Punjab, J&K, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Goa

Clearly falling: UP, MP, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, MH, GJ, Telangana


Issue is whether there is reduced data accuracy as this spills more into rural areas.

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Compared to a week earlier, last one week, India reported: 13% fewer cases; 4% fewer deaths; and 4% more tests. @RijoMJohn

This is good.

If only there was a way to know exactly how much of these additional tests were done in areas that are not yet peaked! Rural testing data, anyone?

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Countries w/ high COVID-19 2wk avg case/day increase @jmlukens

#Maldives: 247%

#Nepal: 147%

#SriLanka: 111%

#SouthAfrica: 82%

#DominicanRepublic: 57%

#Bahrain: 51%

#Malaysia: 49%

#Denmark: 47%

#Bolivia: 44%

#Panama: 39%

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Modelling covid-19’s death toll There have been 7m-13m excess deaths worldwide during the pandemic @TheEconomist

Official figures say there have been 55,000 covid deaths in South Africa since March 27th last year.

That puts the country’s death rate at 92.7 per 100,000 people, the highest in sub-Saharan Africa. 

It is also a significant underestimate—as, it seems safe to infer, are all the other African data on the disease.

Over the year to May 8th the country recorded 158,499 excess deaths—that is, deaths above the number that would be expected on past trends, given demographic changes. 

Public-health officials feel confident that 85-95% of those deaths were caused by sars-cov-2, the covid-19 virus, almost three times the official number. 

The discrepancy is the result of the fact that, for a death to be registered as caused by covid-19, the deceased needs to have had a covid test and been recorded as having died from the disease. 

Although South Africa does a lot of testing compared with neighbouring countries, its overall rate is still low. And the cause of death is unevenly recorded for those who die at home.

South Africa is not particularly unusual in its levels of testing or in missing deaths outside the medical system. 

Excess mortality has outstripped deaths officially reported as due to covid-19, at least at some points in the course of the epidemic, in most if not all of the world. 

According to the most recent data, America’s excess deaths were 7.1% higher than its official covid-19 deaths between early March 2020 and mid-April 2021.

Studies of such mismatches have proved illuminating in some countries. 

For example, Britain saw excess deaths higher than official covid-19 deaths during its first wave, but lower than the official covid death rates in the second—an effect taken to show that measures to stop the spread of covid had saved lives which in another year would have been lost to other diseases, such as seasonal flu, perhaps. 

Something similar was seen in France.

But the excess-mortality method has failed to provide useful or robust global figures for the simple reason that most countries, and in particular most poor countries, do not provide excess-mortality statistics in a timely fashion. 

Global estimates have used the official numbers, despite knowing that the figure—currently 3.3m—surely falls well short of the true total.

To try to put numbers on how much of an underestimate it is—and thus on how great the true burden has been—The Economist has attempted to model the level of excess mortality over the course of the pandemic in countries that do not report it. 

This work gives a 95% probability that the death toll to date is between 7.1m and 12.7m, with a central estimate of 10.2m. 

The official numbers represent, at best, a bit less than half the true toll, and at worst only about a quarter of it.

As well as providing a new estimate of the overall size of the pandemic, the modelling sheds light on the distribution of its effects and on its overall course.

Unsurprisingly, most of the deaths caused by covid-19 but not attributed to it are found in low- and middle-income countries. 

Our figures give a death rate for the mostly rich countries which belong to the oecd of 1.17 times the official number. 

The estimated death rate for sub-Saharan Africa is 14 times the official number. 

And the first-and-second-wave structure seen in Europe and the United States is much less visible in the model’s figures for the world as a whole. 

Overall, the pandemic is increasingly concentrated in developing economies and continuing to grow.

To create these global estimates of total excess deaths during the pandemic, we drew on a wide range of data. 

Official counts of covid-19 deaths, however imperfect they may be, are available for most countries; they are shown in the top map on this page. 

So, frequently, are data on the number of covid cases and the share of covid tests that are positive. 

In general, if lots of tests are coming back positive, it is a fair bet that many more infections are being missed by a testing regime that is looking only at those seeking medical treatment and those near them.

Boosting the gradient

In some places there have been seroprevalence surveys which show how many people have detectable sars-cov-2 antibodies, a sign of earlier infection. 

Other factors we thought might matter included the steps governments have taken to curb the spread of disease—such as closing schools—and the extent to which people moved around.

Demography matters a lot: more younger people typically means lower death rates. So, we inferred, do less obvious factors such as systems of government and the degree of media freedom. 

To take a specific example, excess deaths in Russia are 5.1 times greater than official covid deaths.

All told we collected data on 121 indicators for more than 200 countries and territories

We next trained a machine-learning model which used a process called gradient boosting to find relationships between these indicators and data on excess deaths in places where they were available. 

The finished model used those relationships to provide estimates of excess deaths in times and places for which there were no data available. 

A description of our methodology and the ways in which we tested it, as well as links to replication code and data, are here.

We estimate that, by May 10th, there was a 95% probability that the pandemic had brought about between 2.4m and 7.1m excess deaths in Asia (official covid-19 deaths: 0.6m), 

1.5m-1.8m deaths in Latin America and the Caribbean (v 0.6m), 

0-2.1m deaths in Africa (v 0.1m), 

1.5m-1.6m deaths in Europe (v 1.0m)  

0.6m-0.7m deaths in America and Canada (v 0.6m). 

In Oceania, with only 1,218 official deaths, the model predicted somewhere between -12,000 and 13,000, the lower bound reflecting the possibility that precautions against covid-19 had reduced deaths from other causes.

The ranges for Africa and Asia are spectacularly wide. So they should be. The data from which to make strong predictions are not available, and in some places do not exist. 

Yet, wide as they are, they provide a more reliable picture than official tallies. The 50% probability ranges narrow considerably: 3.3m-5.2m for Asia, 0.8m-1.6m for Africa, 8.2m-10.5m for the world.

During 2020 deaths per day rose for 33 of 52 weeks. After a brief lull at the beginning of 2021, they shot up to new highs, driven in large part by the tragedy currently unfolding in India. 

Our model suggests the country is seeing between 6,000 and 31,000 excess deaths a day, well in excess of official figures around the 4,000 mark. 

This fits with independent epidemiological estimates of between 8,000 and 32,000 a day. 

On the basis of the model it would appear that around 1m people may have died of covid-19 in India so far this year. Again, this does not seem out of line with other estimates.

The Indian catastrophe will eventually abate, as lesser spikes have elsewhere. But that does not mean that the global picture will improve. 

Though the disease rises and falls in waves in any given place—a first wave takes some of the most vulnerable and leads to responses that lower spread, a second wave builds up when those responses are loosened—the waves are not all in sync. 

That is why, to date, the number of daily deaths worldwide has increased in ten out of 15 months, including some, such as June and July last year, when much of the rich world was between waves.

It is worth noting, though, that despite hitting the poorer parts of the world harder than indicated by data on covid-related deaths, on a per-person basis covid-19 really has been worse in richer countries. 

For Asia and Africa, the average estimated deaths per million people are about half those of Europe (including Russia). India is comparable to Britain, at least for now.

This might sound surprising to Europeans, who have been in lockdown for the better part of a year. 

How did people in these mostly poor countries see less death despite frequently lacking interventions to curb the spread of the virus and having less well-funded health care? 

It seems likely that much of the answer comes down to age. If two populations have the same level of health care, the one with more elderly people will see more deaths. 

If demography were the only difference, estimates of the way that the risk of dying from covid-19 infection varies with age suggest the disease would be 13 times more deadly in Japan (median age 48) than Uganda (median age 17). 

Reliable excess-mortality data tend to come from countries with older, more vulnerable populations (see chart).

Low as they are in absolute terms, though, the death rates among poor young populations are much higher than they would be for populations in the rich world with similar age profiles.

And for the elderly in poor countries the outlook is clearly grim. South Africa has seen 120,000 excess deaths among those over 60.

The fact that a relative lack of deaths in developing countries seems to be due to age, rather than anything else, has various implications. 

One is that the virus is spreading easily among younger people—a finding backed by seroprevalence surveys, which find far higher rates of past infection in Afghanistan, India and elsewhere than they do in Europe or America

This suggests lots of non-fatal cases of disease, something which suggests that the problem of “long covid” will be worse in these countries. 

It also means that the virus is getting plenty of opportunities to mutate.

There is an exception to this story. In some countries in South-East Asia, deaths seem remarkably low, at least so far. 

This is not an artefact of the model: excess-death data for Malaysia and Thailand have hardly risen at all. 

It is possible that people there benefit from “cross-immunities”—a level of protection against sars-cov-2 conferred by past infection by other viruses circulating in the region. 

Unfortunately, though, there are signs that the figures are now mounting (see Asia section).

The Economist’s global excess-death-toll estimates are, as far as we know, the first of their kind. 

They are not the only way to infer the total number of deaths due to covid-19. 

On May 6th the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (ihme) at the University of Washington published the results of a simpler model which applies fixed multipliers, mostly based on test-positivity rates, to official covid-19 death tolls in different countries and territories. 

This methodology often provides numbers which fail to match reported excess deaths. For example, ihme estimates that there have been 100,000 covid-19 deaths in Japan, far more than have been reported, but the excess-death figure for the year to March 2021 was -11,000.

However they are made, estimates are no substitute for data, notes Ariel Karlinsky, a statistician at the Kohelet Economic Forum, an Israeli think-tank, who as leader of the World Mortality Dataset project has collected many of the excess-mortality data on which The Economist’s model relies. 

Only by better tracking of mortality in poor countries can estimates of the death rate be improved. 

Resources should be put into such measures not just to honour the dead and the truth, but also because, without such basic numbers, estimates of other impacts—economic, educational, cultural or in the health of survivors—are hard to understand, or to compare. ■

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09-MAY-2021 The Markets The Lotos-eaters
World Of Finance

In 1929, President Herbert Hoover assured the country that things were already “back to normal,” Liaquat Ahamed writes in Lords of Finance.

The US NFP printed 266,000 versus 1,000,000 expected which was the biggest miss relative to expectations in Non Farm Payrolls since at least 1998. @bespokeinvest

On 8th March when the Bears had gotten hold of the US 10 Year, I wrote that I expected the 10 Year to target 1.45% well we got real close on Friday before the market reversed 

Ten- year yields initially plunged to a more than two-month low of 1.46%, then reversed to end the day at 1.58%. However, I am resetting my target Yield to 1.25% now.

Given the volume of money Printing and the extraordinary stimulusI have to say that the US Recovery is actually really weak and I believe it will be very short lived and the Penny will drop soon with the Bond Market and the Shorts will be forced to cover.

The Consensus View appears to be that the Global economy is going to accelerate big time and that its going to BOOM! 

I beg to differ

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08-MAR-2021 :: I expect UST 10 YEAR YIELDS TO TARGET 1.45%
World Of Finance

The World is pirouetting on the pinhead of the Yield of the US 10 YR

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What happened to all that "pent-up" demand? @Convertbond
U.S. Economy


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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.2130

Dollar Index 90.404

Japan Yen 109.38

Swiss Franc 0.9022

Pound 1.4084

Aussie 0.7754

India Rupee 73.25

South Korea Won 1134.115

Brazil Real 5.2713

Egypt Pound 15.6728

South Africa Rand 14.1608

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He’s a Dogecoin Millionaire. And He’s Not Selling.
World Of Finance

Last February, when Glauber Contessoto decided to invest his life savings in Dogecoin, his friends had concerns.

“They were all like, you’re crazy,” he said. “It’s a joke coin. It’s a meme. It’s going to crash.”

Their skepticism was warranted. After all, Dogecoin is a joke — a digital currency started in 2013 by a pair of programmers who decided to spoof the cryptocurrency craze by creating their own virtual money based on a meme about Doge, a talking Shiba Inu puppy. 

And investing money in obscure cryptocurrencies has, historically, been akin to tossing it onto a bonfire.

But Mr. Contessoto, 33, who works at a Los Angeles hip-hop media company, is no ordinary buy-and-hold investor. 

He is among the many thrill-seeking amateurs who have leapt headfirst into the markets in recent months, using stock-trading apps like Robinhood to chase outsize gains on risky, speculative bets.

In February, after reading a Reddit thread about Dogecoin’s potential, Mr. Contessoto decided to go all in. He maxed out his credit cards, borrowed money using Robinhood’s margin trading feature and spent everything he had on the digital currency — investing about $250,000 in all. 

Then, he watched his phone obsessively as Dogecoin became an internet phenomenon whose value eclipsed that of blue-chip companies like Twitter and General Motors.

The value of his Dogecoin holdings today? Roughly $2 million.

On the surface, Mr. Contessoto — who dropped out of college and has no formal financial training — seems no different from a lucky gambler who walks into a casino, bets all his chips on a single roulette spin and walks out a millionaire.

But he is also emblematic of a new kind of hyper-online investor who is winning by applying the skills of the digital attention economy — sharing memes, cultivating buzz, producing endless streams of content for social media — to the financial markets.

These investors, mostly young men, don’t behave rationally in the old-fashioned, Homo economicus sense. They pick investments not based on their underlying fundamentals or the estimates of Wall Street analysts, but on looser criteria, such as how funny they are, how futuristic they seem or how many celebrities are tweeting about them. Their philosophy is that in today’s media-saturated world, attention is the most valuable commodity of all, and that anything that is attracting a great deal of it must be worth something.

“Memes are the language of the millennials,” Mr. Contessoto said. “Now we’re going to have a meme matched with a currency''

Shortly after the GameStop saga, Mr. Contessoto was browsing Reddit when he saw a post about Dogecoin. 

He’d heard of the currency before. (Elon Musk, who is to Dogecoin fans roughly what Pope Francis is to Catholics, had called it the “people’s crypto.”) 

But as he did more research, he became convinced that Dogecoin’s jokey, approachable image might make it the next GameStop.

“I feel like eventually we’re all going to be buying and selling things with memes, and Dogecoin is going to lead the way,” he said.

Instead of ladders, these people are looking for trampolines — risky, volatile investments that could either result in a life-changing windfall or send them right back to where they started.

Instead, he is branding himself as a Dogecoin expert, adopting nicknames like “the Dogefather” and “Slumdoge Millionaire” and making YouTube videos promoting Dogecoin to others.

Of course, as with any volatile investment, there is a real chance that Mr. Contessoto’s Dogecoin holdings could lose most or all of their value, and that his dream of homeownership could again be out of reach. 

Already, the price of Dogecoin has fallen nearly 50 percent from its all-time high, shaving hundreds of thousands of dollars off Mr. Contessoto’s portfolio.

But gamblers rarely leave the table the first time they lose, and Mr. Contessoto’s commitment to “HODLing” — an acronym favored by cryptocurrency traders that stands for “hold on for dear life” — is buoying him through the recent market turbulence. 

Earlier this week, he posted a screenshot of his cryptocurrency trading app, showing that he’d bought more. And on Thursday, when the value of his Dogecoin holdings fell to $1.5 million, roughly half what it was at the peak, he posted another screenshot of his account on Reddit.

“If I can hodl, you can HODL!” the caption read.

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''Yeah you good traders can spot the highs and the lows pit pat piffy wing wong wang just like that and make a millino bucks sure no problem bro."
World Of Finance

GameKyuubi posted "I AM HODLING," a drunk, semi-coherent, typo-laden rant about his poor trading skills and determination to simply hold his bitcoin from that point on.

"I type d that tyitle twice because I knew it was wrong the first time. Still wrong. w/e," he wrote in reference to the now-famous misspelling of "holding." 

"WHY AM I HOLDING? I'LL TELL YOU WHY," he continued. 

"It's because I'm a bad trader and I KNOW I'M A BAD TRADER.  Yeah you good traders can spot the highs and the lows pit pat piffy wing wong wang just like that and make a millino bucks sure no problem bro."

He concluded that the best course was to hold, since "You only sell in a bear market if you are a good day trader or an illusioned noob.  The people inbetween hold. In a zero-sum game such as this, traders can only take your money if you sell." 

He then confessed he'd had some whiskey and briefly mused about the spelling of whisk(e)y.  [HODL Definition | Investopedia]

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The Markets The Lotos-eaters Gold and Silver Have finally got the Big MO


Silver is the single most important asset that I’m focused on. @TaviCosta 

If I had to boil down my entire macro thesis into one position, it would undoubtedly be that.

Once silver breaks above $30, I believe we will see an explosive move to new highs.

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The Seychelles situation, the most vaccinated country in the world, has gotten worse. @EricTopol

While there's clear evidence of some vaccine efficacy, it is not in keeping with what we've seen in other countries with other vaccines

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See Eric Topol

Unlucky Worst pandemic in > 100 years
Lucky To have vaccines, developed and validated at unprecedented velocity, with extraordinary efficacy and safety, that are superior to our immune response to natural infection, and can protect against all variants to prevent serious illness

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A year of genomic surveillance reveals how the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic unfolded in Africa H/T @Tuliodna

The progression of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in Africa has so far been heterogeneous and the full impact is not yet well understood

Here, we describe the genomic epidemiology using a dataset of 8746 genomes from 33 African countries and two overseas territories. 

We show that the epidemics in most countries were initiated by importations, predominantly from Europe, which diminished following the early introduction of international travel restrictions. 

As the pandemic progressed, ongoing transmission in many countries and increasing mobility led to the emergence and spread within the continent of many variants of concern and interest, such as B.1.351, B.1.525, A.23.1 and C.1.1.

Throughout the pandemic, it has been noted that Africa accounts for a relatively low proportion of reported cases and deaths – by the end of April 2021, there had been ~4.5 million cases and ~120 000 deaths on the continent, corresponding to less than 4% of the global burden. 

However, emerging data from seroprevalence surveys and autopsy studies in some African countries suggests that the true number of infections and deaths may be several fold higher than reported (3, 4). 

In addition, a recent analysis has shown that the second wave of the pandemic was more severe than the first wave in many African countries.

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Supplementary material Preview PDF

Supplementary Figure 1[supplements/257080_file06.pdf]

Supplementary Figure 2[supplements/257080_file07.pdf]

Supplementary Figure 3[supplements/257080_file08.pdf]

Supplementary Figure 4[supplements/257080_file09.pdf]

Supplementary Figure 5[supplements/257080_file10.pdf]

Supplementary Figure 6[supplements/257080_file11.pdf]

Supplementary Figure 7[supplements/257080_file12.pdf]

Supplementary Figure 8[supplements/257080_file13.pdf]

Supplementary Table[supplements/257080_file14.pdf]

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Ethiopia has postponed parliamentary elections due on June 5, the country’s electoral body said on Saturday, adding it did not foresee a delay of more than three weeks.

The Horn of Africa country was originally scheduled to hold the vote in August 2020 but it was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, there has been conflict in the northern region of Tigray, which will not take part in voting, as well as in other areas.

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Cameroon’s democratic repositioning: Is the republic now a de facto monarchy? @mailandguardian @thecontinent_

Franck Biya, 48, is a Cameroonian businessman. 

He is also the son of President Paul Biya, who will be turning 90 soon. But does this necessarily mean he will be president, too?

The seventh term of Cameroon’s president Paul Biya theoretically ends in 2025. By then, he will be in his 90s.

Facebook Pages and groups like Mouvements des Frankistes, Franck Biya pour 2025 and Franck Biya For President, have been vocal in promoting him as the next president.

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Turning To Africa

We are getting closer and closer to the Virilian Tipping Point

“The revolutionary contingent attains its ideal form not in the place of production, but in the street''

Political leadership in most cases completely gerontocratic will use violence to cling onto Power but any Early Warning System would be warning a Tsunami is coming

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Nigeria must rally – or fall to a crippling triple threat @mailandguardian @thecontinent_ @JibrinIbrahim17

The loudest voices in Nigeria today are those of discord and disintegration. The government is panicking – warning Nigerians not to break up the country in response to loud cries from those who say they have had enough of being forcibly married to people from other communities and want a divorce. 

It is not hard to see why many describe Nigeria as a failed state. 

But it is more helpful to leave aside whether the state is “failed” and talk about ongoing processes of construction and deconstruction – and above all, the direction of travel.

The Nigerian state is undergoing a three-dimensional crisis: 

first, an economic crisis generated by rampant corruption; 

second, a crisis of citizenship symbolised by ethno-regionalism, the Boko Haram insurgency, farmer-herder killings, agitations for secession and indigene/settler conflicts; and 

third, a democratic crisis in which hopes for a “true democracy” are thwarted by a self- serving and manipulative political class.

These challenges have largely broken the social pact between citizens and the state. 

That is why, today, Nigerians find themselves in a moment of doubt about their nationhood. 

The country has survived two similar moments – during the civil war of the 1960s and prolonged military rule in the early 1990s – but there is no guarantee it will survive the third.

The greatest threat facing the country today is therefore that of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Nigerians no longer trust the government or the different arms of the state, leading to a series of conspiracy theories that reinterpret every action in a negative light. 

Worse still, the government has no effective counter-narrative to create hope. In its absence, more Nigerians – 50% of whom have nothing to lose but their extreme poverty – have begun to procure arms, with an increasing number taking part in banditry and violence.

The greatest threat facing the country today is therefore that of a self- fulfilling prophecy

It may not yet be too late, but against this backdrop both citizens and political leaders must discover their agency and urgently act to save the Nigerian state. ■

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Emmanuel l'Africain II With two upcoming summits, President Macron is trying once more to reset his country’s relationship with Africa @Africa_Conf

If President Emmanuel Macron needed a reminder of his country's reputation in Africa it came with the fury on the streets of Ndjamena to his ill-phrased remarks at the funeral of President Idriss Déby Itno last month.

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.@Orange to Consider Bid for Stake in @ethiotelecom @technology

Orange SA is interested in buying a minority stake in Ethiopia’s state-owned telecom monopoly as part of the country’s privatization of the industry, according to people familiar with the situation.

The French group will consider bidding for the 40% shareholding in Ethio Telecom, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the process hasn’t been concluded. 

Orange opted to explore the acquisition of the stake rather than one of two new licenses being auctioned to international operators, they said.

Eyob Tekalign, the Ethiopian minister responsible for privatization, said the government can’t comment on who might be interested because the process hasn’t formally started. Orange declined to comment.

A successful sale of the stake in Ethio Telecom would deliver a boost to a wider liberalization intended to generate foreign exchange and improve service for the nation’s 110 million people -- the second-highest population in Africa. 

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration has made privatization a key part of its plan for economic reform, aiming to boost investment and jobs.

Orange initially indicated an interest in taking one of the new licenses, but the company’s name was absent when a list of bidders was released last month. 

Instead, a consortium including Vodafone Group Plc, Johannesburg-based Vodacom Group Ltd. and Kenya’s Safaricom Ltd. made an offer, as did a partnership between MTN Group Ltd., Africa’s largest wireless carrier, and China’s Silk Road Fund.

The outcome of those auctions has yet to be announced.

One sticking point for bidders was uncertainty over whether they will be able to offer a mobile-money service, a major generator of revenue and profit for African operators. 

The Ethiopian government eventually ruled that it won’t be allowed for now, a decision that cost the state about $500 million, Abiy said this week.

The new entrants will be allowed to add financial services in about a year, he said, though Ethio Telecom will be given the green light right away. 

That would give Orange a potential advantage of its international rivals, should the talks to buy the stake be successfully concluded.

Details of Ethio Telecom’s finances are patchy, but the company generated revenue of about 25.6 billion birr ($600 million) in the six months through December and has 53 million subscribers, covering about half the population. 

The horn of Africa country also has a minimal 4G network, presenting an opportunity for new entrants to expand rapidly.


The @Orange Entry is the optimal one because they will probably control the Mobile Money Clock for the Fresh licenses. 

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With successive low harvests and drought sapping this year’s crop, entire communities in southern Madagascar are facing months of serious food insecurity. @mailandguardian @thecontinent_

In February, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation warned that low rainfall – 40% to 60% below average – meant the next harvest would be “well below” Madagascar’s usual yield. 

The agency said this would “likely trigger an increase in the prevalence and severity of food insecurity”.

With high food prices and a low harvest, the notice says 200,000 more people in the whole region will become food secure, by December, raising the total number to to a total of over 1.3-million. 

The number of people classified as being in “catastrophe” will likely double.

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.@Total wants new terms @Africa_Conf

French oil giant Total has been forced to follow through on its recent declaration of force majeure, and begin demobilising millions of dollars' worth of equipment from its gas project in northern Mozambique. 

It is likely to raise the temperature of the meeting of Presidents Emmanuel Macron and Filipe Nyusi on 18 May.

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@LeMonde_Afrique : «sur Twitter, l’amb. Peter Pham, avait salué d’un «Bravo!», un article...révélant cette renégociation à venir des contrats chinois» Congo - Kinshasa#RDC. Fier de l'avoir dit! @DrJPPham

.@LeMonde_Afrique  : «sur Twitter, l’amb. Peter Pham, personnalité incontournable de la diplomatie des Flag of United States#USA sur le continent, avait salué d’un «Bravo!», un article...révélant cette renégociation à venir des contrats chinois» en Flag of Congo - Kinshasa#RDC. Fier de l'avoir dit!

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The South African rand has returned about 4% versus the dollar this year, the best performance in a basket of high-yielding currencies tracked by Bloomberg.

That’s reflected in demand at the government’s bond auctions, with primary dealers placing 21 billion rand of orders this week, more than five times what was offered.

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The reinvention of Africa’s biggest lake @TheEconomist

The old fishermen at Cape landing site in central Uganda can remember when they first came, in the 1990s, to this sliver of rock that lies between a forest and the lake they call Nnalubaale. There were nine settlers then. 

Now there are more than 600: sinewy boat-hands, gleeful children and stiff-backed women drying silver fish in the sun. 

Yet the drinking dens and timbered houses retain an air of impermanence. A fisherman is a wanderer, they say, like a herder always seeking fresh pasture.

These waters are never still. Lake Victoria, as English-speakers know it, is Africa’s largest freshwater lake, roughly the size of Ireland

In 1960, about 9m people lived in its catchment, mostly in the riparian countries of Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya; today, more than 60m do. 

The twin intrusions of market and state are transforming the fish in its waters and life on its shores, bringing export revenues, violence and an ecological crisis.

The lake was once home to around 500 species of small, brightly coloured haplochromine cichlids, which nurture their young in their mouths. 

Colonial officials considered them to be “trash fish” of little economic value. 

In the 1950s a rogue fisheries officer dropped Nile perch into the lake, hoping to create a commercial fishery. 

The newcomers “accepted the terms” of their employment, says Anthony Taabu-Munyaho of the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation, an intergovernmental body. 

In the 1980s an increase of Nile perch and algal blooms killed off more than half the haplochromine species. One team of ecologists described it as possibly “the largest extinction event among vertebrates” in the 20th century.

The old lake had been ecologically diverse and economically unproductive. 

The new one is the dominion of the Nile perch, which are packed in styrofoam and ice and flown to distant corners of the world. 

Processing factories, owned by Indians and Europeans, clean and fillet the fish for export. 

The law forbids them to operate trawlers, so they buy through middlemen from artisanal fisherfolk.

There are perhaps 77,000 vessels on the lake, most of them open wooden boats with two- or three-man crews. 

They catch Nile perch, tilapia and tiny silver cyprinids, lured by kerosene lamps on moonless nights. A lucrative side-trade exists in fish maw, the swim bladder of the Nile perch, valued in China for its supposed medicinal properties. Chinese traders will pay more for the maw than for a whole fish fillet. Fishermen call it “lake gold”.

In the early 2000s commercial fishing boomed. Then the Nile perch started to die out. Fishermen used small-mesh nets to catch immature specimens, which they traded across east Africa. 

Such practices were illegal, but the elected management committees at the landing sites were often led by the least scrupulous fishermen.

Overfishing was bad news for Uganda, on the northern shores of the lake, where fish products had become the second-largest export. 

Sujal Goswami, a factory-owner who chairs the exporters’ association, blames “the greediness and insensitiveness of the fisherfolk” for a collapse in stocks. 

By 2017 only five fish factories were left in Uganda, where once there were more than 20. The president, Yoweri Museveni, had seen enough. He decided to call in the army.

Military patrols helped fish stocks recover and six factories reopened. But fishermen were arrested, beaten and drowned in encounters with the army. 

Ziyad Nsereko had been fishing for only a few months when he and a friend drowned in March. A relative says they fell into the water after soldiers rammed their boat; the army says they jumped in while trying to escape. 

At his former landing site in Kalungu district the locals count nine deaths in similar incidents. 

When soldiers catch you, “they beat you until they see blood,” says a fisherman. A trader, hobbling and holding a crutch, says he was beaten for selling undersized fish.

The commander who took over the army operation in December, Lieutenant-Colonel Dick Kirya Kaija, admits that it used “a lot of force” at first. 

He paints a picture of the lake as “a harbour for criminals” who operate “like a network of drug dealers”, bending rules to import contraband nets. 

It is true that some businessmen own fleets of 100 boats or more. “They are damn rich,” complains Colonel Kaija, “and they have befriended security personnel, they have befriended ministers.”

But punishment falls mainly on their crews and those who fish for their own supper. 

“The government doesn’t help when those poor people are knocked into the water,” says a fisherman. “It’s like they are working for the rich.” 

Uganda has banned boats shorter than 28 feet, although larger ones, with bigger engines, require capital and credit. 

Aishar Nakamanya used to employ two workers to fish from her canoe, until the army burned it and seized her gear. 

Now she is reimbursing the owner of the outboard motor she had hired, rather than paying the fees that would keep her children in school.

Some kind of enforcement is necessary, as even many fishermen acknowledge. 

In Uganda alone, fish factories employ 5,600 people directly. Perhaps 1m in all, from hauliers to boat-builders, depend on the industry. 

Those livelihoods face multiple threats. Climate change makes extreme weather more likely, and the destruction of lakeside wetlands makes its impact more dramatic. 

Last year the lake rose to its highest level since records began, inundating homes. This year dead Nile perch washed up on the shoreline, a mysterious phenomenon thought to be caused by low oxygen levels.

Fisheries officials want to tame this turbulence. They are talking up fish-farming and plan to establish a paramilitary lake unit, similar to the rangers which fight poaching in national parks. 

They envisage a lake that is policed and profitable. That might create jobs, but would be utterly unlike the Nnalubaale of the past.

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“The griot is the storyteller, the praise singer and the historian,” Lacôte offers. @mailandguardian @thecontinent_

“When they perform there is no border between what is real and imagined. Dreams, legend, politics, all of these elements are contained in the same story.”

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Notes From a Foreign Field: An Instant Classic – The Kenyan High Court’s BBI Judgment @gautambhatia88
Law & Politics

On 13th May, the Constitutional and Human Rights Division of the High Court of Kenya handed down its judgment in David Ndii and Ors vs The Attorney General and Ors. [“the BBI Judgment”]. 

Through the course of this judgment, the Court examined a fascinatingly broad range of issues, including the question of whether the Kenyan Constitution of 2010 has an un-amendable “basic structure”, the extent and limits of public participation in law-making, and political representation and the alteration of constituencies. 

For this reason, and for the clarity of its analysis, the BBI Judgment is a landmark judicial verdict that will be studied by students of constitutional law across the world, in the days to come

The primary issue in the BBI judgment involved a set of contentious proposals to amend the Kenyan Constitution. 

After winning power in 2017, in a controversial general election (the results were set aside by the Supreme Court the first time, and the Opposition boycotted the rerun), Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta created a “Building Bridges to Unity Taskforce” [“BBI Taskforce”], which was mandated to come up with “recommendations and proposals for building a lasting unity in the country.” 

After the BBI Taskforce submitted its report, the President appointed a sixteen-member “BBI Steering Committee”, whose terms of reference included “administrative, policy, statutory or constitutional changes that may be necessary for the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Taskforce Report.” 

The Steering Committee’s report finally turned into a Bill for bringing about wide-ranging amendments to the Kenyan Constitution [“The Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill, 2020].

Under Article 257 of the Kenyan Constitution, one of the ways to amend the Constitution is by “Popular Initiative”, which requires – as a starting point – the signatures of one million registered voters (Article 257(1)). 

Consequently, the BBI Secretariat commenced the process of gathering signatures. 

At this point, the entire process – as a whole, as well as its component parts – was challenged before the High Court, through a number of petitions. 

All these petitions were consolidated, and the High Court eventually struck down the whole of the BBI process as unconstitutional.

The Basic Structure

As the challenges were to (proposed) constitutional amendments, at the outset, the High Court was called upon to answer a crucial – preliminary – question: was there any part of the Kenyan Constitution that was un-amendable, i.e., beyond the amendment processes set out in the Constitution itself (the “basic structure” question).

Articles 255 – 257 of the Kenyan Constitution, that deal with constitutional amendments. Articles 256 and 257 set out two methods of amending the Constitution: through Parliament, and through Popular Initiative. 

Article 255 of the Kenyan Constitution places a further requirement for certain kinds of amendments. 

If an amendment falls into one of ten categories set out in Article 255(1) (including Kenyan territory, the Bill of Rights, Presidential terms etc.), then in addition to the processes described in the previous paragraph, it must also be approved in a referendum, by simple majority (and certain quorum rules).

the Constitution of Kenya Review Act of 1997 specified that constitutional review had to be “by the people of Kenya” (para 415), and went on to provide a framework for public participation – insulated from legislative and executive interference – at every stage of the drafting process (para 420). 

Over the course of the years, it had become clear that participation – in the Constitution-making process – required four distinct steps:

a) Civic education to equip people with sufficient information to meaningfully participate in the constitution-making process;

b) Public participation in which the people – after civic education – give their views about the issues;

c) Debate, consultations and public discourse to channel and shape the issues through representatives elected specifically for purposes of constitution-making in a Constituent Assembly; and

d) Referendum to endorse or ratify the Draft Constitution. (para 469)

The Court thus found:

What we can glean from the insistence on these four processes in the history of our constitution-making is that Kenyans intended that the constitutional order that they so painstakingly made would only be fundamentally altered or re-made through a similarly informed and participatory process. 

It is clear that Kenyans intended that each of the four steps in constitution-making would be necessary before they denatured or replaced the social contract they bequeathed themselves in the form of Constitution of Kenya, 2010. (para 470)

The Court labeled this the “primary Constituent power” – i.e., the power possessed by the People themselves, as a constituent body – as opposed to the “secondary constituent power” (the Popular Initiative + Referendum process under Articles 255 and 257) and the “constituted power” (amendment only by Parliament under Article 256) (para 472).

Thus, while the High Court affirmed the basic structure doctrine in the Kenyan context, it also went one step beyond. 

In its classical iteration, the basic structure stops at saying that constitutional amendments cannot damage or destroy the basic structure. 

It hints at the possibility that such alterations can be brought about only through revolution or by a complete destruction of the existing order, but – for obvious reasons – does not spell that out. 

what is perhaps most heartening about the judgment is how it uses constitutional silences and the interpretive openness of constitutional text to advance an interpretation that in concrete and tangible ways seeks to empower citizens against the executive. 

From its spelling out of the basic structure, to its interpretation of Article 257, and to its reading of Article 89, at every step, the Court is keenly aware of the power difference between a powerful executive and the individual citizen, and at every step, the judgment works to mitigate that powerful imbalance upon the terrain of the Constitution. 

In a world that is too full of Imperial Presidencies and quiescent courts, the BBI Judgment is an inspiring illustration of Courts and Constitutions at their very best.

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Safaricom Ltd. reports FY EPS -6.8% 2021 Earnings here @SafaricomPLC #SafaricomFYResults
N.S.E Equities - Commercial & Services

Par Value:                  0.05/-

Closing Price:           40.85

Total Shares Issued:          40065428000.00

Market Capitalization:        1,636,672,733,800

EPS:               1.71 

PE:                23.88 


Safaricom reports FY Earnings through 31st March 2021 versus through 31st March 2020

FY Total Revenue 264.0265b versus 262.5557b +0.6% 

FY Service revenue 250.3518b versus 2512141b

FY Handsets and other Revenue 12.3165b versus 10.4878b

FY Direct Costs [80.0151b] versus [74.7010b] +7.1%

FY Expected credit losses [ECL] on financial Assets [3.0097b] versus [1.6696b] +80.3%

FY Other Expenses [46.0348b] versus [47.5597b] [3.2%]

FY Earnings before [EBITDA] 134.1292b versus 138.0415b [2.8%]

FY Depreciation and Amortisation [37.9643b] versus [36.5477b] 

FY Earnings before Interest and taxes [EBIT] 96.1649b versus 101.4938b [5.3%]

FY Profit before Income Tax 93.6355b versus 105.7730b [11.5%]

FY Profit after Tax 68.6762b versus 73.6579b [6.8%]

FY EPS 1.71 versus 1.84 [6.8%] 

Final Dividend 0.92cents a share [+Interim 0.45 =1.37]


In the context of the Reporting period - These are resilient even muscular results.

M-PESA will accelerate off this and might well reach double digit revenue acceleration in the next FY

Mobile Data speaks to to the ubiquity of the Information century.

The Ethiopia Project is material because we are yet to understand the balance sheet intensity that will be required. 

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.@KCBGroup is restructuring its executive team, marking second major reorganization of its top leadership since 2011. @moneyacademyKE
N.S.E Equities - Finance & Investment

It has let go of director of credit, head of corporate and regulatory affairs, Company secretary and managing director of KCB foundation. 

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@KCBGroup share price data
N.S.E Equities - Finance & Investment

Price: 41.95

Market Capitalization: 129,518,248,281

EPS: 6.1

PE:  6.877

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Equity Group Holdings Ltd share price data
N.S.E Equities - Finance & Investment

Price: 40.95

Market Capitalization:154,531,983,142


PE: 7.815

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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
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May 2021

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