Iran to Close Borders With Iraq
By Ahmed Rahma
The authorities in Iran declared on Thursday that they would close borders with Iraq in the southwestern Khuzestan province over the transmission risks of a new variant of COVID-19.
The borders, according to the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA), will be closed for a week.
Speaking, the Khuzestan Province Governor, Qassem Dashtaki, said, “From Saturday, Iran will close the borders of Shalamcheh and Chazzabeh for one week for passengers’ entrance.
During this time, the Iranian officials will try to set up facilities for rapid testing and temporary quarantine in the two border points, he said.
Iranian health authorities have warned of the rise of a new wave of coronavirus in the country and have adopted particular protective measures in the Khuzestan province.
Iran’s health ministry reported 8,066 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, raising the total nationwide infections to 1,550,142.
The pandemic has so far claimed 59,264 lives in the country, up by 80 in the past 24 hours, said the health ministry spokeswoman, Sima Lari during her daily briefing.
She further added that of the newly infected, 578 were hospitalised.
A total of 1,324,231 people have recovered from the disease and been discharged from hospitals, while 3,679 remain in critical condition.
According to the spokeswoman, 10,274,529 tests for the virus have been carried out in Iran by Thursday.
GTS Drilling, Others Lauded for Supporting Children’s Heart Foundation
The President of the Children’s Heart Foundation, Ghana, Mrs Jacqui Akomka-Lindsay, has praised GTS Drilling and others for supporting the organisation over the years.
According to her, over 200 children are diagnosed with congenital heart diseases annually in the country, and their families cannot pay $6,000 to $10,000 for surgery.
She noted that the exploration and drilling company and others have always made efforts to support patients with funds to carry out surgeries.
Speaking at the organisation’s annual fundraiser ball, she emphasised that it takes benevolent and kind-hearted individuals and organizations to aid children with heart defects.
“At this juncture, I will like to mention the names of some companies that, since 2011, have supported us. These include GTS Drilling, Ghana International School, Labadi Beach Hotel, and Interplast for helping undertake the surgeries of children with heart defects financially,” said Mrs Ahomka-Lindsay, adding that, “The rest are Tropical Cables, Electromat, Melcom, and ECOBANK, among several others.”
The president of the Children’s Heart Foundation explained how heart disorders have, over the past years, affected the growth and development of infants in the country and the need to treat them properly.
“Congenital heart disorder continues to be the most common childbirth defect for infants worldwide. These are defects that do not discriminate based on affluence or lack thereof, and those environmental conditions, especially at the early age of pregnancy when the major organs of the foetus are developing, can increase or decrease the risk of a child being born with various heart defects leading to heart diseases if not treated properly,” she added.
The Human Resources Manager for GTS Drilling, Iddi Baah-Kurey, told News Ghana in an interview that the company is motivated by saving the lives of children with such heart defects.
“Saving the children’s lives is close to our hearts”. The real heroes are the children who demonstrate courage and patience while undergoing treatment and recovery,” said Mr Baah-Kurey.
“Each recipient inspires us as employees of GTS Drilling and individuals while reminding us that health is the greatest wealth,” he added.
GTS Drilling is a local provider of drilling services to major, intermediate, and junior mining companies in Ghana.
French-African Foundation Celebrates Achievements with Young Leaders from Africa
By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
Placed under the high patronage of the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, and the President of the Republic of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, the French-African Foundation will bring together the new class for a week in France in June 2023 and then a week in Rwanda for high-level meetings, interactive training and privileged moments of professional and personal exchanges with leading Franco-African and international personalities from the political, economic, cultural, sports and associative spheres.
Young African leaders aged between 28 and 40 years in 2023 have also been chosen based on competitive performance in various areas and who have a commitment to African development. These young professionals have shown inclusive leadership that impacts the community, country or region, the display of a privileged relationship with France and Africa.
This year, more than 2,000 young professionals from 53 African countries and France applied for the annual French-African Foundation’s Young Leaders programme, which aims to shine a light on outstanding individuals who are bridging the gap between the two regions. After several selection stages and hundreds of auditions conducted by an independent jury, 30 young leaders were selected for their commitment to boosting Africa-France relations.
“The 30 Young Leaders innovate daily in their activities and redraw the contours of the link between France and Africa by helping it flourish in all areas. Taking into account the environmental, social, political and economic challenges shared by the two shores of the Mediterranean, the foundation is counting on these young people to help provide solutions, embody the relationship and develop it further. As a link between Africa and France, Marseille is the ideal city to launch this new class!” – quote from Nachouat Meghouar, CEO of the French African Foundation.
Quotes from three Young Leaders: “Today, thanks to digital innovation, women have the opportunity to emancipate themselves and develop new skills, whether they are in Los Angeles or in a remote region of Cameroon. This desire for equality but also for economic and social justice allows us to find common and sustainable solutions. This is what I wish to promote for France, Cameroon and the African continent,” Nelly Kambiwa, Cameroonian, CSR Director Sopra Banking.
“The future of cinema and audiovisual creation is in Africa! The African continent is full of talent and unique stories. Within the CANAL+ Group, I am very proud to support pan-African producers, actors, scriptwriters, directors and technicians in the creation of their television series. Ambitious dramas, shot in the four corners of the continent, are thus offered, under the CANAL+ Original label, to millions of viewers in Africa, France and throughout the world. What a pleasure to participate in the promotion of African cultural excellence!” Anthony Koka, Franco-Congolese, Fiction Programme Advisor at CANAL+International
“I am Franco-Algerian, and I want to be a solution for my two countries, Algeria and France, in their diplomatic relations. I think it is time to look forward and draw a common future for our children. And I hope to help future generations by giving millions of French and African children a glimpse of the challenges of digital technology and, more particularly, of artificial intelligence through the projects we are carrying out with the start-up Evolukid, which I created seven years ago. These are powerful tools for imagining the world and also for meeting the technical needs of many public and private players.” Morad Attik, co-founder of the start-up Evolukid and founder of the Kesk’AI programme.
From war-torn Khartoum, Maha Dahawi, a doctoral student in genetics and Young Leader 2023 spoke out to express her support for the Sudanese people who are suffering from the war and the abuses carried out by the militias. In a poignant testimony, she called for hope in order to rebuild her divided country with her peers and shared her joy at joining the Young Leaders programme.
As part of their giving back to society, and in the interest of contributing to the development of this great continent, young leaders identified different areas of interest under the broad theme of sustainable development in which they carried out activities, including development-oriented projects and research to catalyze the development of the continent of Africa.
It also involves playing useful roles in the sustainable growth and development of their societies by applying their skills, technical know-how, knowledge and experience to decipher things that may not be working properly in order to innovate ways for creating change.
Double French and Rwandan patronage: After Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo in 2019 and Senegal’s President Macky Sall in 2021, this year’s French-African Foundation Young Leaders programme is under the dual patronage of Rwandan President Paul Kagame and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Rwanda Development Board Director General, Clare Akamanzi, welcomed the new promotion to Rwanda, a privileged destination for tourism and international investments, thanks to the gains in stability under the leadership of President Paul Kagame.
The French-African Foundation, an association created in 2019, aims to contribute to the emergence of a new generation of African and French leaders capable, through their values and means of action, of meeting the economic, social and political challenges of the time. It further aims at identifying, bringing together and promoting high potential in strengthening African and French relations.
The 2021 edition was placed under the high patronage of Mr Macron and the high patronage of the Senegalese President, Mr Macky Sall, being the chief host of the second edition took place.
Global Food Price Index Trends Downward in May
By Adedapo Adesanya
Global food prices dropped in May 2023, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Friday.
The FAO Food Price Index (FFPI) averaged 124.3 points in the month under review, down 3.4 points (2.6 per cent) from April and as much as 35.4 points (22.1 per cent) from the all-time high it reached in March 2022.
The decline in May was underpinned by significant drops in the price indices for vegetable oils, cereals and dairy, which were partly counterbalanced by increases in the sugar and meat indices.
The FAO Cereal Price Index averaged 129.7 points in May, down 6.5 points (4.8 per cent) from April and as much as 43.9 points (25.3 per cent) below its record-high value one year ago. International wheat prices declined by 3.5 per cent month-on-month, reflecting prospects for ample global supplies in the upcoming 2023/24 season and the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
World maize prices fell by 9.8 per cent in May. A favourable outlook for 2023/24 points to a rebound in global supplies, with higher production expected in Brazil and the US, two major exporters, weighed on prices.
A slow pace of US exports and China’s cancelled purchases also exerted downward pressure on world maize prices.
Among other coarse grains, world prices of barley and sorghum also declined, by 9.5 per cent and 9.7 per cent, respectively, influenced by declines in international maize and wheat prices.
By contrast, international prices of rice continued to increase in May, as previous deals with Asian buyers were executed, and supplies tightened in some exporters, such as Viet Nam and Pakistan.
The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index averaged 118.7 points in May, down 11.3 points (8.7 per cent) month-on-month and standing as much as 48.2 per cent below its year-earlier level. The continued decline in the index reflected lower world prices across palm, soy, rapeseed and sunflower oils.
International palm oil prices fell markedly from April, as protracted weak global import purchases coincided with expectations of rising outputs in major producing countries.
In the meantime, world soyoil prices dropped for the sixth consecutive month, largely underpinned by the persistent pressure from a bumper soybean crop in Brazil and higher-than-expected stocks in the US, where higher supplies of alternative feedstock partially replaced the uptake from the biodiesel industry. As for rapeseed and sunflower oils, international prices continued to decline on ample global supplies.
The FAO Dairy Price Index averaged 118.7 points in May, down 3.9 points (3.2 per cent) from April and standing 25.5 points (17.7 per cent) below its corresponding value in 2022.
The decline in May was led by a steep drop in international cheese prices, principally due to ample export availabilities, including from inventories, amid seasonally high milk production in the northern hemisphere.
Following 10 consecutive monthly declines, international price quotations for milk powders rebounded, reflecting an upturn in purchases by North Asian buyers and seasonally falling milk supplies in Oceania.
Meanwhile, butter prices rose slightly, as increased price quotations for supplies from Oceania, due to high purchases by Southeast Asian buyers and seasonally falling milk supplies, were almost offset by a decline in European prices on high export availabilities.
The FAO Meat Price Index averaged 117.9 points in May, up 1.1 points (1.0 per cent) from April, marking the fourth consecutive monthly increase, but still 5.0 points (4.1 per cent) below its value in the corresponding month last year.
International poultry meat prices increased further in May, driven by the continued high import demand, especially from Asia, and some concerns over potential short-term supply challenges due to widespread avian flu outbreaks.
World bovine meat prices increased slightly, underpinned by higher global demand for Brazilian supplies and persistent supply tightness in the US despite the continued high cattle slaughter in Australia. Pig meat prices rose for the fourth successive month, although only marginally, as supply limitations stemming from high production costs and animal diseases elsewhere boosted demand for Brazilian supplies. Meanwhile, world ovine meat prices fell on high export availabilities from Oceania.
The FAO Sugar Price Index averaged 157.6 points in May, up 8.2 points (5.5 per cent) from April, marking the fourth consecutive monthly increase, and as much as 37.3 points (30.9 per cent) above its value a year ago.
Rising concerns over how the development of the El Niño phenomenon may affect the 2023/24 crops, together with lower-than-earlier-expected global availabilities in the 2022/23 season, triggered the increase in international sugar prices in May. Shipping delays amid strong competition from soybean and maize in Brazil also supported the increase in world sugar prices.
However, the positive outlook for the 2023 sugarcane crops in Brazil, along with improved weather conditions benefiting the progress of the harvest, prevented larger monthly price gains. Lower international crude oil prices and a cut in fuel prices in Brazil further contributed to limiting the month-on-month increase in world sugar prices.
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