Uber cedes control in Russian market with Yandex tie-up

Business, economy, International Finance, international News, Tech
Uber cedes control in Russian market with Yandex tie-up
This March 1, 2017 file photo shows the exterior of the headquarters of Uber in San Francisco. Uber is ceding control of its operations in Russia by agreeing to merge its ridesharing business in the country and five other ex-Soviet …more

Uber is ceding control of the Russian market by agreeing to merge its ride-hailing business in the country with Yandex, the Russian search-engine leader that also runs a popular taxi-booking app.

For Uber, the deal marks the exit from another big market after it sold its operations in China last year to local rival Didi Chuxing.

Yandex said in a statement on Thursday that Uber and Yandex Taxi would combine into a new company in Russia as well as in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Yandex will own 59 percent, Uber roughly 37 percent, and employees the rest. The CEO of Yandex Taxi, Tigran Khudaverdyan, will become the chief executive of the new combined company.

San Francisco-based Uber will invest $225 million in the new company and Yandex $100 million, putting its value at over $3.7 billion. The companies said that together they deliver over 35 million rides a month, with $130 million in gross bookings in June. Yandex is the bigger company, with roughly the twice the business Uber currently has in the region.

In both Russia and China, Uber was having trouble competing against larger ride services that have the advantages of being the hometown company and knowing cultural differences, said independent technology analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research in California. “It’s like competing with Google in the U.S.,” he said. “They just weren’t really making headway against the local competitors.”

At this stage of its development, the money-losing Uber is looking to move to profitability, reviewing regions to see if there are prospects for making money. If the prospects aren’t good, Uber is likely to get out, Dawon said.

In the Yandex case, Uber will exit “in a dignified way” with the 37 percent stake in the new company. Uber had invested $170 million in Russia and is adding $225 million to the new company. So for about $400 million, it’s getting a stake in Yandex that’s worth over $1 billion, Dawson said.

Shares in Yandex jumped 15 percent on the Moscow stock exchange on news of the deal. The company is one of Russia’s most successful Internet enterprises, accounting for some 65 percent of all searches and operating popular maps and public transit apps.

Once the deal is closed toward the end of this year, consumers will be able to use both Yandex and Uber apps to hail rides while for drivers, the apps will be integrated.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-uber-cedes-russian-yandex-tie-up.html#jCp

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Huawei CFO arrested: Why Meng Wanzhou’s detention on U.S. extradition charges is a big deal

Business, international News, News, Tech


Along with Huawei’s success has come suspicion about the company’s ties to China’s government, its willingness to overlook U.S. sanctions and the security of its systems.

By Jason Abbruzzese 

The arrest of a Chinese tech executive in Canada on Saturday was the most recent and public chapter of an ongoing battle between the U.S. government and one of the world’s biggest tech companies — Huawei.

The arrest, which came on U.S. extradition charges, featured a heightened level of intrigue due to the profile of the person arrested: Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of Huawei’s secretive founder, Ren Zhengfei, who is one of the most powerful businessmen in China. The arrest came amid reports that Huawei had been sending U.S. technology to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions against the country.

Huawei is not a household name in the U.S., but the company has emerged as one of the largest tech firms in the world in the past decade thanks to its success in producing telecommunications equipment including cell towers and equipment for next-generation 5G wireless networks. Huawei is also second in the global smartphone market, having surpassed Apple earlier in 2018.

But along with its success has come suspicion about the company’s ties to China’s government, its willingness to overlook U.S. sanctions and the security of its systems.

“Huawei is effectively an arm of the Chinese government, and it’s more than capable of stealing information from U.S. officials by hacking its devices,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said in February when he introduced legislation to block the U.S. government from buying telecom equipment from Huawei or ZTE, another Chinese hardware maker. President Donald Trump signed the the bill in August.

The arrest of the Huawei executive is a BIG deal in China and is probably being underplayed in the US news cycle. Equivalent of an Apple or Facebook exec being arrested in China. https://www.scmp.com/tech/article/2176655/detained-huawei-cfo-sabrina-meng-wanzhou-told-staff-one-may-accept-risk …

310 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy

Ren, a former Chinese army engineer, started Huawei in 1987 and found initial success making telephone equipment. Huawei’s expansion into telecommunications technology in the 1990s would fuel the company’s international expansion — and put it on the radar of U.S. security experts. Meng has been seen as the successor to Huawei.

In 2017, Fortune magazine ranked Huawei as the seventh-biggest tech company in the world by revenue, with more than $89 billion. The company has more than 180,000 employees.

Despite its size and global reach, only 38 percent of Americans said they had heard of Huawei, according to the survey company Morning Consult. The company’s name has also been something of a mystery for some in the West who wonder how to pronounce it. The company even made a humorous video for the U.K. about how to pronounce Huawei.

China’s rise as a global power has coincided with the emergence of the internet as a major av

International Consortium Signs Interim Phase Agreement with Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) for Rail Concession

APC, Business, International Finance, News, Nigeria

Following its award of preferred bidder status by the Federal Government of Nigeria in May 2017, an International Consortium last Friday in Washington D.C, signed an agreement to proceed with the Interim Phase of the Nigerian narrow-gauge railway concession.

Nigeria Railway Corporation

Initiated by General Electric (www.GE.com), the world’s premier digital industrial company, the Consortium is comprised of SinoHydro, a leading infrastructure construction services corporation, Transnet, a leader in transportation and logistics infrastructure management and APM Terminals, a global port, terminal and intermodal inland services provider.

GE Transportation is a global technology leader and supplier of equipment, services and solutions to the rail, mining, marine, stationary power and drilling industries. It innovations help customers deliver goods and services with greater speed and savings using our advanced manufacturing techniques and connected machines.

In the interim phase of the rail concession, Remedial Works will be carried out on part of the narrow-gauge rail line system to make it technically and economically operable. Additionally, a joint operation will be established between the Consortium and the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) with an initial supply of 10 locomotives and 200 wagons to augment the existing rolling stock in Nigeria.

This program is expected to deliver an increase in the number of available locomotives, thus increasing the frequency of passenger and freight rail services. In addition, freight haulage capacity by the end of the first 12 months of the interim phase is expected to increase roughly ten-fold, from its current less than 50,000 metric tonnes per annum to about 500,000 metric tonnes per annum.

Speaking on the occasion, Lazarus Angbazo, CEO of GE Nigeria said “GE is committed to the sustainable development of Nigeria and as such we are delighted to have reached this crucial stage of the project to revamp and revitalize the country’s legacy rail infrastructure system. The Consortium looks forward to commencing execution of this Interim Phase with the continued support of the Federal Government and the Ministry of Transportation. As operations begin, our strong partners, such as Transnet and SinoHydro, will bring their strong operating and development skills to the forefront.”

Following the commencement of the Interim Phase, the Consortium will conclude negotiations with the Federal Government on the terms of the substantive phase of the concession agreement that will expand service to up to 200 locomotives and associated rolling stock.  This will see to the comprehensive rehabilitation of Nigeria’s narrow-gauge rail infrastructure and the return of rail transport as a key element in enabling the country’s socio-economic development.

Chief Executive of Transnet International Holdings Mr Petrus Fusi said, “We are pleased to be a partner in this ground-breaking concession and look forward to the successful execution of the Interim Phase with the government and the opportunity to add value.”

Similarly, SinoHydro Chairman, Mr. Ding Zhengguo mentioned, “This announcement is a step closer to the opportunity to transform rail infrastructure and transportation logistics in Nigeria; a country with huge potential.” He added “We are very excited to partner with this resourceful consortium to deliver value.”

APM Terminals has been actively investing and participating in Nigeria’s logistics infrastructure since 2006, and we are proud to be a part of this project to improve access for the Nigerian hinterland to the global logistics chain.” – David Skov, Head of Terminals IMEA added to the statements.

According to the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, “This milestone project is an unprecedented commitment by the Federal Government of Nigeria, which, combined with the GE-led Consortium’s drive to modernizing Nigeria’s rail infrastructure, will add immense value to Nigeria’s long term economic growth and productivity.” “This will be an important catalyst for small and medium enterprises and a key provider of almost incalculable socio-economic benefits for the many Nigerian towns and villages through which the rail network passes. “he added.

Bill Cosby’s indecent assault trial goes to the jury

Business, Entertainment, Uncategorized

Bill Cosby’s trial on three counts of aggravated indecent assault is now in the hands of the 12-person jury.

Jurors received the case Wednesday shortly after 11 a.m.

The case against Cosby centers on testimony from Andrea Constand, a former employee with Temple University women’s basketball team.She testified that Cosby, a powerful trustee at Temple, drugged her and sexually assaulted her when she visited his home to ask for career advice in a Philadelphia suburb in January 2004.

Cosby’s defense team has argued that their interaction was consensual. Constand is a con artist, they argued, who wanted a piece of Cosby’s fortune.

The case is the first celebrity sexual assault trial since the #MeToo movement began last fall, and as such, it represents a test of how the cultural movement will translate into a courtroom arena. In closing arguments, defense attorney Kathleen Bliss positioned Cosby’s legal team as standing up against “witch hunts, lynchings (and) McCarthyism.”

Last year, a different jury could not come to a unanimous verdict on any of these three charges for Cosby, leading Judge Steven O’Neill to declare a mistrial.

The Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, jury is made up of seven men and five women and they have been sequestered in a hotel during the trial’s two weeks of testimony. One man and one woman are African American, and the rest appear to be white.

Cosby, 80, faces up to 10 years in prison on each count if convicted.

A he said-she said case

The case has little forensic evidence and has largely consisted of the he said-she said arguments so common to sexual assault cases.

Constand testified that Cosby offered her wine and three blue pills, saying “these are your friends, they will take the edge off.” She began to slur her words and feel woozy, she testified, and then became unable to move.

“The next thing I recall is, um, I was kind of jolted awake, and felt Mr. Cosby on the couch beside me, behind me, and my vagina was being penetrated quite forcefully,” Constand testified. “I felt my breasts being touched, and he took my hand and placed my hand on his penis and masturbated himself with my hand. And I was not able to do a thing to fight back.”

Cosby did not testify in his own defense during the trial, but he said in a 2005-2006 civil deposition with Constand that their sexual activity was consensual.

His defense attorneys have sharply criticized Constand in an attempt to undermine her credibility. They argued she was a “con artist” and a liar who was obsessed with Cosby’s fame and money.

“You’re going to be saying to yourself, ‘What does she want from Bill Cosby?’ and you already know. Money, money and lots more money,” Mesereau said in opening statements. “She was madly in love with his fame and money.”

In addition, five other women individually testified that Cosby drugged and assaulted them in previous incidents. Prosecutors said these “prior bad acts” witnesses proved that Cosby’s actions toward Constand were part of a pattern of behavior and were not a one-time mistake.

By Eric Levenson and Aaron Cooper, CNN

http://fox2now.com/2018/04/25/bill-cosbys-indecent-assault-trial-goes-to-the-jury/

VW promises cars with autonomous parking tech in 2020 — Self-driving cars

Business, International Finance

https://ift.tt/2EXPD8n Share Facebook Tweet Pinterest Email Volkswagen wants to take the hassle out of finding parking spots and has begun testing autonomous parking technology at the airport in Hamburg, Germany, using VW, Porsche and Audi vehicles. And this system does not rely on hardware integrated into the pavement or the parking structure; […]

via VW promises cars with autonomous parking tech in 2020 — Self-driving cars

2018 Chevrolet Silverado Centennial Edition Review: A Swan Song for Pickup Trucks Past — Vehicle Traveller

Business

2018 Chevrolet Silverado Centennial Edition Review: A Swan Song for Pickup Trucks Past http://www.thedrive.com/new-cars/20170/2018-chevrolet-silverado-centennial-edition-review-a-swan-song-for-pickup-trucks-past Welcome to Critic’s Notebook, a quick and off-the-cuff car review consisting of impressions, jottings, and marginalia regarding whatever The Drive writers happen to be driving. Today’s edition: the 2018 Chevrolet Silverado Centennial Edition. Malcolm Gladwell is often quoted as saying it […]

via 2018 Chevrolet Silverado Centennial Edition Review: A Swan Song for Pickup Trucks Past — Vehicle Traveller

Ex-CEO of Cambridge Analytica Refused to Testify in UK

Business, International Finance, international News, Politics
The Facebook logo is seen on the screen of an iPhone in front of a computer screen showing a Cambrige Analytica logo
The Facebook logo is seen on the screen of an iPhone in front of a computer screen showing a Cambrige Analytica logo
Chesnot—Getty Images

(LONDON) — The chair of the British Parliament’s media committee says that Cambridge Analytica’s former CEO, Alexander Nix, says he will no longer testify at un upcoming session on fake news, citing an ongoing investigation by the information commissioner’s office.

Nix had been recalled by the committee to testify Wednesday following testimony by whistleblower Christopher Wylie on the use of data by some 87 million Facebook users in the campaign for Donald Trump’s presidential election.

Committee chair Damian Collins rejected Nix’s reason for not appearing, as he has not “not been charged with any criminal offence and there is no active legal proceedings.”

Collins says Tuesday that the committee “is minded to issue a formal summons for him to appear on a named day in the very near future.”

Why the Most Productive People Don’t Always Make the Best Managers

Business

Why the Most Productive People Don’t Always Make the Best Managers

(Source: hbr.org)

When a company needs a supervisor for a team, senior leaders often anoint the team’s most productive performer. Some of these stars succeed in their new role as manager; many others do not. The difference seems to hinge on whether the person has six abilities: being open to feedback and personal change, supporting others’ development, being open to innovation, communicating well, having good interpersonal skills, and supporting organizational changes. The problem for most organizations is that they hope their new managers will develop these skills after being promoted, but that’s exactly when overwhelmed new managers tend to fall back on their individual contributor skill sets. Instead, start developing these skills in all of your employees early on. After all, they’re useful for individual contributors, too.

apr18-16-200408621-001-Andy-Sacksandy sacks/Getty Images

When a company needs a supervisor for a team, senior leaders often anoint the team’s most productive performer. Some of these stars succeed in their new role as manager; many others do not. And when they fail, they tend to leave the organization, costing the company double: Not only has the team lost its new manager, but it’s also lost the best individual contributor. And the failure can be personally costly for the new manager, causing them to doubt their skills, smarts, and future career path. Everyone loses.

Why, then, do some fail while others succeed?

In another article, we explained the seven behaviors of the most productive people, based on an analysis of 7,000 workers. The behaviors were: setting stretch goals, showing consistency, having knowledge and technical expertise, driving for results, anticipating and solving problems, taking initiative, and being collaborative.

These competencies all leverage individual skills and individual effectiveness. They are valued skills and make people more productive, but all except for the last one (collaboration) focus on the individual rather than the team. When we went back to our data, the skills that our analysis identified as making a great manager are much more other-focused: 

  • Being open to feedback and personal change. A key skill for new managers is the willingness to ask for and act on feedback from others. They seek to be more self-aware. They are on a continuing quest to get better.
  • Supporting others’ development. All leaders, whether they are supervisors or managers, need to be concerned about developing others. While individual contributors can focus on their own development, great managers take pride in helping others learn. They know how to give actionable feedback. 
  • Being open to innovation. The person who focuses on productivity often has found a workable process, and they strive to make that process work as efficiently as possible. Leaders, on the other hand, recognize that innovation often isn’t linear or particularly efficient. An inspiring leader is open to creativity and understands that it can take time.
  • Communicating well. One of the most critical skills for managers is their ability to present their ideas to others in an interesting and engaging manner. A certain amount of communication is required for the highly productive individual contributor, but communication is not the central core of their effectiveness.
  • Having good interpersonal skills. This is a requirement for effective managers. Emotional intelligence has become seen as perhaps the essential leadership skill. Although highly productive individuals are not loners, hermits, or curmudgeons, being highly productive often does not require a person to have excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Supporting organizational changes. While highly productive individuals can be relatively self-centered, leaders and managers must place the organization above themselves.

When we further analyzed our data, we found that many of the most productive individuals were significantly less effective on these skills. Let’s be clear, these were not negatively correlated with productivity; they just didn’t go hand in hand with being highly productive. Some highly productive individuals possessed these traits and behaviors, and having these traits didn’t diminish their productivity.

But this helps explain why some highly productive people go on to be very successful managers and why others don’t. While the best leaders are highly productive people, the most highly productive people don’t always gravitate toward leading others.

Nearly one-quarter (23%) of the leaders who are in the top quartile on productivity are below the top quartile on these six leadership-oriented skills. So, the odds are that one out of four times a person is promoted to a leadership position because of their outstanding productivity, they will end up being a less effective leader than expected. If the highly productive person possesses technical expertise that is specific and acquired over a long period of time, it is tempting to hope the individual will quickly acquire the needed leadership skills shortly after being put into a new role. Sadly, it only happens part of the time.

Managers need to be aware that the skills that make individual contributors effective and highly productive are not the only skills they will need to be effective managers. We are convinced that the best time for individual contributors to be learning these managerial skills is when they are still an individual contributor.

Some organizations are much more adept at identifying those individuals who will be successful managers. These organizations tend to get a jump on developing managerial skill in these high-potential individuals, training them before they’re promoted.

Why start early? After all, most people who end up being ineffective supervisors are not terrible at the skills listed above, and those who recommend them for promotion believe that those skills can be further developed once they’re in a managerial role. The problem is that developing these skills takes time and effort, and organizations typically want to see immediate positive results. New managers tend to be overwhelmed with their new responsibilities and often rely on the skills that made them successful individual contributors, rather than the skills needed to manage others. The time to help high-potential individuals develop these skills is before you promote them, not after.

This should come as a wake-up call to the many organizations that put off any leadership development efforts until someone is promoted to a supervisory position. There’s no reason to wait; after all, when individual contributors improve these leadership skills, they will become more effective individual contributors. The time and money spent investing in individual contributors’ leadership development will help both those who are promoted and those who are not.

The bottom line: Start your leadership development efforts sooner. Then when you promote your best individual contributors, you can be more certain that they’ll become your best managers.

 

More Info: hbr.org

Can Africa be the big Brexit winner?

Africa, Business, economy, International Finance, Politics
Starting at next week’s Commonwealth summit, smart moves from both sides could benefit the UK and Africa.

Following the 2016 Brexit referendum, Britain needs to forge new and strong strategic alliances and trade relationships. Where and how does Africa feature in this equation?

Despite significant challenges, both Britain and Africa could emerge as winners from a rapidly shifting and uncertain global landscape. Smart policies and diplomacy could allow Britain to capitalise on the indifferent economic attitude the rest of the Western world has towards Africa. And African countries with strategic clout and collective bargaining acumen could broker favourable trade and investment deals rather than have terms dictated to them, as has been in the past.

First, to offset the detrimental effect of a split from Europe, Britain needs to look to alternative trading partners to catalyse its economy. Using foreign policy as an economic stimulus is vital in achieving this, and Africa is appealing in this regard. For British businesses, Africa’s high growth rates, urbanising population and growing consumer market provide a marketplace for British goods and services.

For Africa, the nature and scale of its development challenges, combined with its commodity export dependence, means that improved partnerships and increased demand for goods and services are welcome. Through trade, investment and donor support, there is huge scope for UK Inc to grow a more prosperous Africa while boosting its own economy.

Second, the ‘pivot to Commonwealth’ is a strategy that has long been flaunted as a positive spin-off from Brexit. Indeed, many advocates of Brexit had argued that once the UK was freed from the chains of the European Union (EU), it could pursue a buccaneering future as ‘Global Britain’.

Given the cultural affinity with its former colonies, the linguistic, legal and educational symmetry, and sizeable diaspora in the UK, Britain has an advantage over other countries regarding Africa. Its deep historical (albeit controversial) relationships with regional powerhouses like South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria could help secure trade and investment deals.

This year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London from 16-20 April is a clear attempt to both solidify and expand the UK’s network of influence with historical allies in a post-Brexit world.

Third, British rapprochement with Africa is likely to be well received in terms of trade policy. Africa’s relationship with the EU has often been tense, largely on account of the protectionist and distortionary polices Europe employs in the agricultural sector through the Common Agricultural Policy.

The UK has long been a proponent of freer and more equitable trade and would probably generate better opportunities for African markets to export their produce. This could be positive news for countries like Ghana (cocoa), Kenya (flowers and tea) and Ethiopia (coffee) in particular, who will benefit from fairer deals and better market access.

Thus disaffected countries may now see scope for more beneficial bilateral deals with the UK. Sensing this opportunity, Tanzania in 2016 refused to ratify the Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU, holding out for a more favourable deal with the UK. This could well be a sign of positive things to come – for both the UK and Africa.

But there are challenges.

Given the tight timelines for renegotiating trade deals with the World Trade Organisation, African countries’ placing on the list of priorities is unclear. African countries will likely fall behind larger trading partners like China, India and Brazil in the pecking order of who would offer more immediate and scalable benefits. Europe alone – with at least 759 treaties to be renegotiated – will probably receive most of the time and attention of British policymakers.

There is thus a risk that Africa’s status will be relegated to a ‘nice-to-have’ rather than a ‘must-have’ – especially given its low levels of integration into the global economy in terms of global trade (2% according to the World Economic Forum).

Success will also depend on the institutional bandwidth of the British government to execute ambitious plans. The country’s bureaucracy is already stretched and suffers from a lack of co-ordination, according to Nick Oliver, an infrastructure financier with NMS International Group.

If a new relationship with Africa is going to thrive, it also needs to be ‘business unusual’ for the UK. Given the country’s colonial past, any new relationship must be a strategic partnership of equals. Any attempt to re-engineer ‘Empire 2.0’ will fail.

Further, the UK will be negotiating from a position of weakness rather than strength. Europe remains Africa’s largest trading bloc and the multiple market access offered is still attractive to African countries. Britain will need to offer a compelling value proposition to counter the surety and scale that the EU offers.

Success in Africa for the UK will require not only cultural sensitivity, but also an appreciation of what African states actually want from a trade and investment perspective. This is an unenviable task on a continent with 54 vastly different counties, each with different priorities and preferences.

Symbolically, too, Britain needs to show Africa that it matters. The last UK head of state to visit Africa was Tony Blair in 2007. Emmanuel Macron’s first overseas trip, just a week after his inauguration as French president, was to Mali in 2017, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Africa in 2016. Both leaders knew that these visits were important in shaping their strategic interest amid changing geo-political and economic influences in Africa. Britain is at a disadvantage here and needs build trust among African policymakers.

But African leaders must also play their part in getting this arrangement to work effectively. African states must use their negotiating power to their advantage. With other global powers jockeying for influence in Africa, both commercially and otherwise, competition is intense. But a strong and engaged Western partner to the continent is currently lacking, and this is where Britain could act as a counterweight to China’s muscular approach and increased interest from India and Japan.

To take advantage says Rohitesh Dhawan, director of strategy at Eurasia, African countries must be aware of the negotiating tactics used by countries such as Australia, New Zealand and India who have built fertile ground for detailed trade talks. ‘Keeping abreast of the acts of other countries can also help African nations know which issues the UK is more able to make concessions over (and is less hamstrung for negotiating space) than others, and where they should place their bets.’

Tactics, pragmatism and scalability are key – especially in light of the muscle that Africa could wield through the newContinental Free Trade Area agreement. By using its collective power, and prioritising agriculture, the continent’s leadership could broker a potentially game-changing deal that could reshape the nature of UK-Africa relations.

With Brexit negotiations at a critical juncture, it is still unclear whether the UK will emerge as ‘Great Britain’ or ‘Little England’. But the deadline is fast approaching and Britain would do well not to ignore Africa as it charts forward. With some out-of-the-box thinking, there are compelling reasons why the continent may yet emerge as a huge ally to the UK.

Ronak Gopaldas, ISS Consultant and Director at Signal Ris

Nigerians to pay more for electricity as NERC approves ‘service charge’

Business, economy, Power

fash.jpgThe Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) says prepaid meters will soon flood the market with the licensing of 87 meter asset providers (MAPs).

What the power sector regulator downplayed, however, is there is also going to be an increase in the bills to be paid by electricity consumers in the country who get new meters under the latest regulation.

On March 12, 2018, Dafe Akpeneye, NERC’s commissioner, legal, licensing and compliance, unveiled the new regulation in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state.

He said MAPs will be independent providers who will be approved by NERC but contracted by the DisCos “to bridge the metering gap”.

They are to be saddled with the responsibility of providing meters and replacing faulty devices within 48 hours.

An analysis of the Meter Asset Provider Regulations 2018 (Regulation No Nerc-R-112) by TheCable shows that those who benefit under the new system will pay a monthly service charge.

Under chapter iv, section 10 (“Rights of Distribution Licensees”), subsection 5, the regulation states: “The Distribution Licensees shall include a metering service charge as a clear item on the billing of its customers provided with meters under an MSA with MAPs and shall be separate from the energy charge. The metering service charge shall be based on the outcome of the procurement process for the MAP and subject to the approval of the Commission.”

TheCable noted that this provision was not contained in the draft posted on the NERC website.

However, the finalised document, approved by the ministry of power and made public by NERC, is now on the regulator’s website and contains the addition.

In 2015, NERC had outlawed “fixed charge” from tariffs, abolishing the monthly average of N750 added to customers’ bills whether or not they use electricity.

But the abolition of the fixed charge then was accompanied by a slight increase in tariff.

NERC’s latest regulation came into effect on March 8, 2018 and will be enforced by the commission from April 3, 2018.

The objective, according to NERC, is to provide standard rules to “encourage the development of independent and competitive meter services, eliminate estimated billing practices, attract private investment to the provision of metering services in NESI, close the metering gap through accelerated meter roll out and enhance revenue assurance in NESI”.

This is the sickening amount pharmaceutical companies pay top journal editors  by Jim Staab

Business, International Finance, international News, Phamaceuticals

editorThis is the sickening amount pharmaceutical companies pay top journal editors  

It’s no secret that scientists can be corrupted – in the past, researchers have purposefully hidden data onclimate change, and the dangers of sugar, just to name a few.But while people can be bought, the scientific method itself – the idea that a hypothesis must be observed, tested, replicated, and the results then published in a peer-reviewed journal – has always remained a beacon of objectivity, assumedly free of bias by its very nature.

Unfortunately, in recent years scientific publishing has been running into serious trouble.

Through predatory journals, publication bias, and a publish-or-perish mentality, the way we practice the scientific method has been corrupted right under our noses – we’re at a point now where some studies can’t even be reproduced.

More recently, it’s become clear that the system for publishing results on evidence-based medicine is broken, too.

On paper, evidence-based medicine is a good thing. It’s how we get life-saving treatments and medication, and it’s the requirement for any new drugs to be based on solid, peer-reviewed research.

But this assumes that peer-reviewed research will be unbiased, and that’s not always the case.

Just last week, a report concluded that many clinical trials are greenlit based on a shockingly poor evidence base, sometimes without any published data.

Now nephrologist Jason Fung has taken to Medium to highlight even more damning evidence against the journals we rely on to print the best academic research.

His article is a summary of information that’s already out there, published in the lead up to a presentation to the European Parliament this week. But seeing it all in one place is confronting.

Most shocking: medical journal editors are paid huge sums by pharmaceutical companies each year.

This is something most of us already know – we see the sponsored pens and all the fancy conferences doctors go on thanks to ‘big pharma’.

But that’s only a small part of it. The industry also just hands them money directly.

A paper published last year in the British Medical Journal examined how much money editors of the world’s most influential medical journals were taking from industry sources.

Of the journals that could be assessed, 50.6 percent of editors were receiving money from the pharmaceutical industry – in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Here’s just a small highlight showing editor payments received in 2014 – the amount on the left is direct payments, and the ‘research’ payments on the right are less regulated, usually made in the form of expensive research trips.

The average ‘in hand’ payment in 2014 alone was US$27,564, plus research funds.

Worst on that list is the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), where 19 of its editors received, on average, US$475,072 personally and another US$119,407 for ‘research’.

And that’s not even mentioning the amount of reprint money journals get whenever they publish a study that supports a pharmaceutical company, and the company pays for hundreds of copies to send out to doctors.

The Lancet earns 41 percent of its income from reprints, and the American Medical Association gets 53 percent.

“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research,” said the late Arnold Relman, a former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in 2002. He passed away in 2014.

“The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.”

Why does all this matter? In the face of these kind of numbers it’s easy to see why journal editors would choose to print research that supports products of these companies, and ignore the evidence that goes against them.

And that’s exactly what’s happening.

Research backed by the pharmaceutical industry is far more likely to have positive results published than government-funded science.

Not only that, but negative results are often ignored. In a 2008 study that Fung cites, 36 out of 37 studies that were favourable to antidepressants were published.

In comparison, only 3 out of 36 studies that were not favourable to the drugs made it to print.

That means if you were to solely look at the published literature, you would think an overwhelming 94 percent of studies show these antidepressants work, when, in reality, only 51 percent of the studies conducted were actually positive.

Seeing these numbers in black and white is sobering.

Despite grumbles of ‘big pharma’, most of us still put our faith in the peer-review process, confident that the scientific method will guide us in the right direction regardless of people’s own bias.

Unfortunately, the results provided to us by the scientific method are only as good as the editors that gatekeep them.

This is why more and more researchers are publishing their work in pre-print and open-access journals, where the world can see their research for free.

There’s also a push to get organisations to publish all valid results, even if they’re negative.

We have a long way to go, but it’s only by acknowledging a system is broken that we can begin to fix it.

Africa must steer the rules of the international financial sector

Business, International Finance, international News, World Bank
Although tax evasion is illegal and tax avoidance isn’t, both erode sustainable development in Africa.

The release of the Paradise Papers last year and the Panama Papers in 2016 revealed the role tax havens play in facilitating tax avoidance, tax evasion and illicit financial flows. The Panama Papers showed dealings associated with tax evasion and illicit dealings, while the transactions uncovered by the Paradise Papers involved largely tax avoidance.

Both flows negatively affect sustainable development in Africa, but tax evasion tends to generate a bigger response than tax avoidance, and subsequently provokes stronger political will to crack down on tax havens. Understanding the differences between tax evasion and avoidance, their influence in Africa and whether they qualify as illicit financial flows is essential when developing effective responses. Both are attempts by an individual or corporation to pay fewer taxes – but while tax evasion is illegal, tax avoidance isn’t.

In practice, the distinction between the terms is not always clear. The Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development describes tax-avoidance practices as existing in a grey area that exploits differences in legal standards across countries, weak legal systems in some countries and different interpretations and acceptance of norms on international taxation. Whether these practices qualify as illicit financial flows is complicated.

There is general agreement that tax avoidance practices are the financial side of criminal activity and efforts to define them contain common elements, but many definitions still exist. One that has increasingly gained traction is ‘cross-border transactions of money illegally earned, transferred or used’. Of particular relevance to the leaks of the Paradise and Panama Papers is determining whether the flows are illicit, which takes into account both the legality and the legitimacy of the flow.

As tax evasion is illegal while tax avoidance is legal, focusing only on legality could undermine the application and effectiveness of international efforts to combat the problem. Determining what constitutes illicit financial flows also depends on the legislation of a particular state, due to differences in legal frameworks.

So international mechanisms designed to tackle tax-related illicit financial flows can be impaired by differences in national legislation, as well as a lack of capacity or willingness to enforce the laws.

Assessments that judge the legitimacy of a flow take into account factors such as rules, customs and fairness. It is widely considered legitimate for an individual to avoid paying taxes, but illegitimate for an individual to evade paying taxes. This distinction is important for determining whether an action is classified as tax avoidance or evasion. Thus, as illustrated by the World Bank, tax evasion is considered an illicit financial flow while tax avoidance is not.

Illicit financial flows fuel criminal economies, contribute to violence, perpetuate existing inequalities, subvert government institutions and undermine the integrity of legal and financial systems. They have even inhibited achieving some of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals in sub-Saharan Africa. Tax avoidance and evasion reduce the funds available for sustainable development in Africa.

But beyond monetary losses their consequences are even more serious. While both thwart Africa’s development, flows that are classified as tax evasion – and thus illicit financial flows – generate much more swift and tough international responses. Specifically this shapes the perception and treatment of tax havens.

One problem in developing cohesive international frameworks for cracking down on tax havens is contrasting views about the value and threat of tax havens. This includes tensions between stakeholders from developed, northern nations and those from developing southern countries.

Some argue that tax havens might have a positive effect on the global economy, facilitating greater global investment and allowing firms and individuals opportunities for tax avoidance to sidestep poorly designed tax systems. But evidence increasingly shows that these ‘treasure islands’ help facilitate crime and drain Africa’s resources.

The African Network of Centres for Investigative Reporting showed that African actors and illicit financial flows figuredprominently in the Panama Papers. This is problematic for Africa, as northern counterparts tend to have a stronger voice and greater leverage in the creation and enforcement of laws and regulations governing the financial sector. No African nations are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and only South Africa belongs to more than one of six influential international financial institutions.

Also, when the OECD and the G20 designed the Common Reporting Standard – a standard for information exchange and the basis for bilateral agreements between states – they did so without meaningful consultation of low-income states.

The result, the Financial Transparency Coalition explains, is ‘a system designed by wealthy nations, with wealthy nations in mind, making many of the prerequisites impossible for countries that don’t have sizable tax administration budgets or advanced technical capacity’. Also, some wealthy countries choose to share information predominantly or exclusively with other wealthy countries.

Various responses are needed to combat tax avoidance, tax evasion and illicit financial flows more broadly – but increasing the contribution of African states in international financial institutions is essential. Africa must have a voice within international financial institutions to ensure that regulations, policies and responses reflect African priorities. This will help ensure that priority is given to the flows that most negatively affect sustainable development.

Without this participation, Africa’s relationship with tax havens will continue to be one of pain and no gain.

Marcena Hunter, Senior Research Analyst, Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime