The recent outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has definitely put the globe at high risk, as the disease spreads rapidly from region to region. To make matters worse, the disease has made its way to the African continent.
Nigeria confirmed its first case of coronavirus last week. Earlier this week, Senegal also confirmed their first coronavirus case in the country. The case in Senegal makes it the fourth African country to confirm the virus.
The rapid spread of the coronavirus would definitely impact business in the financial market and it could see a massive decline of stocks. More importantly, the spread of the virus would also massively hamper tourism. According to the head of the World Travel and Tourism Council, the coronavirus epidemic could cost world tourism a total of $22 billion. Losses could double if the virus lasts for a lengthy period. Ghana Web predicts that as much as $49 billion could be lost from the world tourism industry.
In South Africa, they receive about 95,000 Chinese tourists yearly. According to FIN 24, a sudden decline of more than 15% of Chinese arrivals equates to a loss of R200 million in Chinese tourist spending.
South Africa’s economy has also taken a massive hit in recent times. Last week, The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) had one of its worst trading days in about 20 years. FIN 24 reports that the JSE ended the week 4.5% weaker due to reports on the Coronavirus.
In the eastern part of the continent, particularly in Kenya, individuals have expressed fears over the loss of tourism business in Kilifi due to the disease outbreak. Kilifi is a small town located on the coast of Kenya, north of Mombasa. It is home to historic landmarks like the Mnarani ruins and Kilifi Creek. It also receives a bulk of foreign visitors, particularly from Italy, each year. This year alone Capital FM in Kenya reported that Kilifi received 3000 people for the three day Kilifi festival, which took place in January 2020.
Maureen Awuor, the Chairperson of the Kenya Hotel and Caterers Association (KHCA) reported in the Daily Nation, a newspaper outlet in Kenya, that some hotels in the area have either received cancellations of reservations or postponements of dates from European people, particularly from Italy.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Kenyan government also suspended direct flights from Kenya to Northern Italy, according to the Daily Nation.
The coming of the coronavirus has not only put the world on a knife-edge but has also affected all functions of life, which would cause business in the continent to suffer.
Though I am not opposed to the suspension of flights, I feel that many African countries must take the necessary steps to properly screen people before letting them into the country. There must be devices, such as an infrared thermometer, stationed at every airport to determine the temperature of each passenger.
We as Africans must not keep our fingers crossed even as we brace up for the challenging times ahead.
The over 150 passengers on the Turkish airline which brought the Italian with the virus to Lagos, Nigeria must be traced. Immigration data taken at the point of departure will be important to get their real names and details. Names should be published if their contact phone numbers are not reachable as the Lagos state government recently said. Even the Nigerian immigration officer who processed his passport should be assessed. Nigeria, as well as other African countries, have to be quite forward-thinking in reacting.
I believe that the continent would get over this problem. After all, we dealt with the Ebola virus outbreak in 2014 and eradicated the disease.
We must remain hopeful for our beloved continent.
Paul Olele Jnr writes from Washington DC. He is a 2019 graduate of George Washington University and currently works as social media and research intern at the Corporate Council on Africa in Washington, D.C.
US government to ban WeChat and TikTok from app stores
Chinese-owned social media apps are facing a ban in the US over national security concerns.
The United States government says it will ban the services of Chinese tech giants, WeChat and TikTok, from online mobile application stores in the U.S. It also plans to prohibit any funds transfer/payment services through the WeChat mobile application.
This was announced by the U.S Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, in a statement on Friday, following President Donald Trump’s Executive Orders (E.O.) 13942 and E.O. 13943, on the 6th of August.
“In response to President Trump’s Executive Orders signed August 6, 2020, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) today announced prohibitions on transactions relating to mobile applications (apps) WeChat and TikTok to safeguard the national security of the United States,” said Wilbur Ross.
He added that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has proven it has the means and the motive to use Chinese tech apps, to threaten America’s national security foreign policy, and the economy of the U.S.
He said the following transactions will be prohibited from September 20th for WeChat and November 12th for TikTok
- Any provision of service to distribute or maintain the WeChat or TikTok mobile applications, constituent code, or application updates, through an online mobile application store in the U.S.
- Any provision of services through the WeChat mobile application, for the purpose of transferring funds or processing payments within the U.S.
Mr. Ross said that with the Executive Order, the US government has taken a ‘significant action’ in fighting China’s malicious personal data breach on American citizens, and also promote democratic rule-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations.
The U.S government announced that further prohibitive measures, relating to both companies may be announced in the future.
“Should the U.S. Government determine that WeChat’s or TikTok’s illicit behavior is being replicated by another app somehow outside the scope of these executive orders, the President has the authority to consider whether additional orders may be appropriate to address such activities.”
President Trump has given until November 12, to resolve the TikTok security concerns of the US. He added that the prohibitions may be lifted, if they are addressed.
WTO: Okonjo-Iweala still in contention as 3 candidates depart race for DG
Okonjo-Iweala and the remaining 4 other candidates hope to succeed the current DG, Mr Roberto Azevêdo.
Three candidates running for the post of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation have fallen out of the race after failing to secure enough votes in the first rounds of voting, leaving only 5 candidates left, including Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
This was disclosed by Bloomberg on Thursday, before the meeting on Friday. The Candidates that are out of the race are Jesus Seade (Mexico), Tudor Ulianovschi (Moldova), and Hamid Mamdouh (Egypt). The candidates were not able to secure the support needed for the first round of 3 rounds of voting.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweal joins 4 other candidates for the next round of voting. The candidates are; Liam Fox (UK), Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril (Kenya), Yoo Myung-hee ( South Korea), and Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri ( Saudi Arabia).
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala disclosed last month some of her plans for the Organization if made President. Nairametrics reported she noted that part of her vision is to build a trade institution where there is greater trust among its members. She also stressed that the WTO, at this critical time, is needed to ensure that trade and global markets remain open.
On healing the rift between the US and China, Okonjo-Iweala admitted that it is going to be challenging and not be easy. She said:
“Well, this is not going to be easy, if it was easy, it could have been done a long time since. So it would be very challenging but it is not an impossible job. It is very clear that both the US and China have been helped and benefitted from the multilateral trading system in the past. Hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty. They have experienced shared prosperity in the economies and their countries.’’
She added she would listen to both countries to find out what really are the issues causing distrust among them. She said that she will not want to be involved in the larger political problems, but will rather separate the trade issues and focus on them and build this trust.
“You need to begin to find areas where there can be confidence-building and trade. Building trust is not talking about it, you have to have areas where both can work together and agree and we have a golden opportunity in the fisheries subsidies negotiations that are going on now because the US is a party to it, China is a party, the EU, all other members,’’ she said.
Okonjo-Iweala and the 4 other candidates will present themselves to the members of the global trade body for the later stages of voting in the hopes of securing the highest number of votes to succeed the current DG, Mr. Roberto Azevêdo.
WTO: Selection of new DG might be tied to the upcoming US presidential election
The eventual winner could be dependent on the outcome of the November 3 US Presidential elections.
The WTO’s effort to select a new leader entered a new stage this week, as the ambassadors from 164-member countries met for private consultations, on who they would support.
Six former WTO officials and trade experts revealed that the politicking in Geneva, Switzerland – WTO headquarters, could be a wild goose chase, as the decisive developments that will shape the future of the embattled global trade organization, are unfolding miles away in Washington, ahead of the November 3 presidential elections.
Although, the support of a particular candidate by the United States is critical; 4 trade experts, including former WTO employees, believe that the Trump administration is unlikely to breathe life into a multilateral body that he once threatened to leave. Donald Trump launched a trade war with China, repeatedly imposed tariffs on US allies, and destroyed WTO’s ability to intervene in disputes, by blocking the appointment of members to its Appellate Body.
David Tinline, a former adviser to Azevedo said, “I find it hard to imagine that the Trump administration would shift tack and do something very positive for the system.’’
The US Trade Representative (USTR), Robert Lighthizer, had in June told US lawmakers that, “the WTO needed a reform-driven leader and that he would veto any candidate who showed any whiff of anti-Americanism.”
The former WTO officials and trade experts said that the US-China economic conflict is a further divisive factor, as both countries will likely reject any candidate backed by the other.
The 8 candidates in contention for the top job, are expected to be trimmed down to 5 after the first confessional meetings on September 16. This will be further cut down to 2, and the final decision designed to be taken by convention before the November 7 deadline – just four days after the US elections.
Aside from the two influential African women vying for the role, Liam Fox, Britain’s former Trade Secretary, is a force to reckon with. If a favorite candidate does not emerge, some WTO members might prefer to wait until after the US election in case Joe Biden wins the US presidential election; especially, as Voting, seen as a last resort, has never occurred in WTO’s history.
A former member of WTO, Peter Van Den Bossche said, “They could play a waiting game, but that would push the decision until at least February or March 2021.”
Even though WTO is member-led, a strong leader who can facilitate decision making, and galvanize its 164 member nations, is crucial to reviving a severely embattled global organization.