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Morocco stun Belgium to claim long-awaited World Cup win

The win, their first in 24 years, sends Morocco into first place in the group with four points after having drawn goalless with 2018 runner-up Croatia, who take on Canada in the last match on Sunday…reports Asian Lite News

In a FIFA World Cup which is turning up to be a bagful of surprises, it was the turn of Morocco to upset World No.2 side Belgium 2-0 in the Group F match of the football showpiece event at the Al Thumama Stadium on Sunday evening.

After a barren first half, substitutes Abdelhamid Sabiri and Zakaria Aboukhlal did the trick for Morocco, scoring in the 73rd minute and in the second minute of stoppage time.

For coach Walid Regragui, who took charge of Morocco in September, the match against Belgium was his sixth in charge and till now they have kept clean-sheets in all six games with him at the helm of affairs.

This is Morocco’s finest World Cup moment as Atlas Lions scripted their third-ever win at a World Cup and stand a great chance to qualify for the knockout stage. For Morocco, ranked 22, the two other World Cup wins came in 1998 when they trounced Scotland 3-0 and in 1986 they stunned the football world with a 3-1 win over Portugal and qualified for the knockout stage. The North Africans have not reached the knockout rounds since 1986.

The win, their first in 24 years, sends Morocco into first place in the group with four points after having drawn goalless with 2018 runner-up Croatia, who take on Canada in the last match on Sunday.

Belgium, who were far from impressive in their first match of the group, which they won 1-0 against Canada, have three points from two matches and next face Croatia,

Morocco beating Belgium is the third major upset of the championship which is into its eighth day.

In the earlier matches, Argentina ranked third on the FIFA computer had crashed to a 2-1 loss against Saudi Arabia ranked 51, while World No.11 Germany had lost by an identical score to Japan, who are ranked 13 places below the Germans.

Morocco had to make a last-minute change to their starting XI when goalkeeper Yassine Bounou pulled out after the anthems — for reasons not yet specified — and was replaced by Monir El Kajoui. The understudy made an early save to settle any nerves when smothering an attempt by Michy Batshuayi at close range.

Morocco had the majority of the crowd at Al Thumama Stadium on their side and they thought they had given them a goal to celebrate in stoppage time at the end of the first half when Hakim Ziyech whipped in a free-kick from wide on the right that beat Thibaut Courtois at his near post.

However, Romain Saiss, standing right in front of the goalkeeper, was ruled offside after a VAR check.

Before that, Belgium had had another scare 10 minutes after the break when Sofiane Boufal cut in from the left and shot just past the far post. The Red Devils’ reprieve would be brief, however, as they fell to their first loss in the group stage of the World Cup since Saudi Arabia beat them at USA 94.

Sabiri’s introduction after 68 minutes was his cue to spark arguably Morocco’s greatest World Cup victory. He still has not started a game for his country in a World Cup but took just five minutes to score the most important goal of his life, on what was his fourth international outing, whipping in a free-kick from a position wide on the left, just a metre or two from the touchline into the near post and beating Courtois, who has come off his line ready to try and take the cross.

Roberto Martinez’s 2018 semifinalists fell again this time in stoppage time. El Kajoui’s long goal-kick was headed back towards his own goal by a Belgian defender.

Ziyech seized upon the loose ball, swerved away from Timothy Castagne and cut the ball back toward Aboukhlal at the near post. He sorted his feet out beautifully and clipped a first-time shot into the roof of the net.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said the first goal affected their composure.

“It’s a difficult result because the first goal affected the outcome a lot. It’s a dead-ball situation, we couldn’t get our game going and it’s a game that we need to understand. We need to be together and react in the next game. That’s what happens in the World Cup.

“The way we defended the goal is the way we have been defending free-kicks for six years, that’s not the issue. It’s a good ball in, it’s nothing to do with the setup.

“I think we had good moments but we couldn’t get clear-cut chances, we only had a couple of half opportunities and if you allow that goal to be conceded then it changes the game radically.

“At the moment we conceded the goal we lost our composure too much and we couldn’t get ourselves back in the final third with more thought,” he added.

Morocco thoroughly deserved their victory. Their game plan worked and they hit Belgium on the break.

The substitutes scored the goals, rewarded for a second-half performance full of purpose, style and intensity. Sofiane Boufal and Hakim Ziyech were also terrific, and the defence — which still hasn’t conceded a goal under Regragui — restricted Belgium to only one decent chance.

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India-Morocco bilateral ties get an impetus  

Secretary (CPV&OIA) also interacted with Moroccan ITEC alumni as well as the Indian community and Indian business leaders…reports Asian Lite News

The friendly bilateral relations between India and Morocco received a further impetus with the recent visit of Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Secretary Ausaf Sayeed.

During the visit from November 22-25, Secretary (CPV&OIA) Ausaf Sayeed co-chaired the India-Morocco Foreign Office Consultations and held bilateral meetings during which the two sides resolved to further expand & strengthen bilateral partnership in different domains.

Sayeed also represented India at the 9th Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), which took place in Fez on November 22–23.

The Secretary (CPV&OIA) met with Moroccan Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development Leila Benali in Rabat to discuss bilateral cooperation in the fields of fertilizers, renewable energy, climate change, the MEA said.

He co-chaired the fifth round of India-Morocco Foreign Office Consultations, during which a wide variety of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest were discussed.

Secretary (CPV&OIA) also interacted with Moroccan ITEC alumni as well as the Indian community and Indian business leaders.

According to the MEA, “the visit provided further impetus to the bilateral friendly relations between the two countries the two countries”.

India and Morocco are now experiencing record-breaking levels of bilateral trade (USD 3.2 billion in 2021-22). About 40 Indian companies in diverse sectors are operating in Morocco.

A sizeable number of candidates from Morocco have been benefiting from India’s capacity building programmes, including ITEC. Both sides are keen to enhance the level of economic engagement and people to people exchanges, the MEA added.

“Secretary (CPV & OIA) @drausaf co-chaired 5th India-Morocco Foreign Office Consultations in Rabat. Both sides resolved to further expand & strengthen bilateral partnership in different domains,” Indian Embassy in Morocco said in a tweet.

Earlier in September, Girish Chandra Murmu, Comptroller and Auditor General of India and Zineb El Adaoui, the first President of the Court of Accounts, Morocco signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation between the supreme auditing bodies of the two countries. Both sides agreed to conduct training programmes in their respective countries and explore other means of capacity development support.

For long, India has been one of the major markets for Moroccan phosphates and its derivatives. India’s export basket to Morocco has also grown significantly in recent years.

The main items of India’s exports to Morocco are cotton yarn, synthetic fibre, chemicals, manufactured metals, machinery and instrument, transport equipment, pharmaceuticals, automotive parts and spices.

Main items of Moroccan export to India are phosphoric acid, phosphate, metallic ores and metal spray and inorganic chemicals.

Relations between India and Morocco go back to the 14th century when the famous traveller and writer from Tangier, Ibn Batuta, travelled to India. In modern history, India was active in the UN supporting the Moroccan freedom movement and recognised Morocco on June 20, 1956 immediately after its independence. Diplomatic relations were established in 1957.

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Nigeria unveils new notes

Buhari said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) redesigned the 200, 500, and 1,000 naira banknotes with security features that make them difficult to counterfeit…reports Asian Lite News

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari launched the re-designed local banknotes to control the supply of the Nigerian naira, the local currency of the most populous African country.

Speaking during the unveiling of the locally-produced currencies in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, Buhari explained in detail the basis for his approval to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to redesign the 200, 500, and 1,000 naira banknotes, saying they have been fortified with security features that make them difficult to counterfeit.

“There was an urgent need to take control of currency in circulation and to address the hoarding of naira banknotes outside the banking system, the shortage of clean and fit banknotes in circulation, and the increase in counterfeiting of high-denomination naira banknotes. It is on this basis that I gave my approval for the redesign of the 200, 500, and 1,000 naira banknotes,” the Nigerian leader said, noting the CBN had approached him earlier in the year to seek his permission to embark on the currency redesign project.

The re-designing of the naira notes had been long overdue to wear a new look, Buhari said, considering that international best practice requires central banks and national authorities to issue new or redesigned currency notes every five to eight years. He also noted it is now almost 20 years since the last major redesign of Nigeria’s local currency was done.

“A cycle of banknote redesign is generally aimed at achieving specific objectives, including but not limited to: improving the security of banknotes, mitigating counterfeiting, preserving the collective national heritage, controlling currency in circulation, and reducing the overall cost of currency management,” he explained.

Godwin Emefiele, governor of the CBN, said at the unveiling ceremony that the redesigned banknotes would help in the fight against corruption, control rising inflation, make policies more effective, and ensure financial inclusion.

About a month ago, the CBN said the move to redesign the naira notes became necessary as currency management in the country had recently faced several daunting challenges which continued to grow in scale and sophistication with unintended consequences.

At least 80 percent of the local currency in circulation is outside the vaults of commercial banks, the CBN noted, saying this was due to significant hoarding of banknotes by members of the public.

Following the unveiling of the new banknotes Wednesday, the existing notes would seize to be regarded as legal tender by Jan. 31, 2023, according to the CBN.

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‘9.4 mn people in South Sudan require aid next year’

Nyanti appealed to the government to ensure conditions of peace and to foster development in order to reduce the need for humanitarian aid…reports Asian Lite News

Some 9.4 million people in South Sudan will need humanitarian assistance and protection services next year, half a million more than the current number, the United Nations said in a report Friday.

According to the 2023 South Sudan Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) report, more people will face food insecurity in 2023. Currently, nearly a third of 12.4 million people living in South Sudan are facing severe food insecurity.

Humanitarian conditions have been worsened by endemic violence, conflict, access constraints, operational interference, public health challenges and climate change effects such as flooding and drought, the report said.

The need for assistance will be greatest in counties in the Upper Nile and Western Equatoria States that have been facing conflict.

Something has to change in South Sudan because the number of people in need continues to rise every year and the resources continue to decrease, said Sara Beysolow Nyanti, the Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, in a statement.

Nyanti appealed to the government to ensure conditions of peace and to foster development in order to reduce the need for humanitarian aid.

Violence continues to plague the country, posing a threat to a peace deal signed in 2018 by former rivals President Salva Kiir and deputy Riek Machar.

Machar has in recent times accused Kiir of violating the peace agreement.

Hundreds of thousands of people were killed and millions displaced in a civil war before the peace deal was signed.

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WFP warns drought leading to food insecurity in Horn of Africa

It added that the region has recorded a significant increase in the price of local food baskets with Somalia recording the most expensive food basket in the region…reports Asian Lite News

The impact of drought in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia has led to food insecurity and a high level of acute malnutrition, the UN WFP has warned.

The WFP, in its latest drought response situation report released on Tuesday, said nearly 22 million people are food insecure due to drought across the affected countries.

It further warned that the loss of livestock and reduced productivity has eroded the livelihoods of the affected pastoral communities.

In 2022 alone, at least 9.2 million livestock deaths occurred in the drought-effected areas of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, according to figures from the WFP.

The WFP, citing the latest IPC Famine Review Committee projections, further warned that famine is likely to occur in three areas in the Bay region in Somalia between October to December.

It added that the drought condition is further deteriorating the already dire humanitarian condition across the region.

“The food insecurity situation in Eastern Africa continues to deteriorate owing to extreme weather conditions, conflict, and macroeconomic challenges (inflation, currency devaluation),” the WFP said.

It added that the region has recorded a significant increase in the price of local food baskets with Somalia recording the most expensive food basket in the region.

Amid the worsening impacts of the ongoing drought, the WFP said it has scaled up response across the Horn of Africa to respond to severe food shortage by providing lifesaving food and nutrition assistance to affected communities.

In Somalia, WFP has more than doubled its life-saving food assistance from 1.7 million people in April 2022 with plans to reach 4.5 million in the coming months, it said.

The WFP is also enabling communities to recover faster and better from the drought by investing in interventions that promote resilience and adaptive capacities of communities to deal with shocks.

It, however, noted that forecasts indicate a potential increase in needs, in which additional funding is needed to sustain and scale up assistance to prevent more dire outcomes.

The WFP said it urgently needs $1.27 billion for all its operations in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia for the period from November 2022 to April 2023.

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UK, South Africa to tackle climate change

The new agreement also includes new UK funding to bolster South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases and is supporting genomic sequencing to improve antimicrobial resistance surveillance on the African continent…reports Asian Lite News

British and South African researchers will save lives in the UK, South Africa and beyond. Institutions from across the UK and South Africa will undertake research into vital issues from health systems and financing to mental health and surgery.

The projects formed part of a new agreement to enhance the UK-South Africa health partnership, signed by the South African Health Minister and UK Health Secretary today at the Francis Crick Institute in London, during the President of South Africa’s State Visit.

The new agreement also includes new UK funding to bolster South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases and is supporting genomic sequencing to improve antimicrobial resistance surveillance on the African continent.

With UK support, more than 17,000 genomes have been sequenced to date in South Africa. The new support will enable detection of dangerous diseases faster across at least 18 African countries, building resilience into our health systems and protecting the world against future pandemics.

The partnership will prioritise building vaccine manufacturing in Africa so that vaccines can be developed and reach those who need them faster, including the most vulnerable. This in turn will mean the world will be better prepared for future pandemics.

The UK and South Africa are also working together to protect global health systems from the increasing threat of climate change.

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said, “It is vital for countries across the world to work together to tackle global challenges like climate change and pandemic preparedness. This will benefit us all. The UK and South Africa have shown global leadership in joining together to protect people by preventing the spread of dangerous diseases, and by working to halt climate change – including through the ground-breaking Just Energy Transition Partnership, to help countries move away from using fossil fuels.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said, “Strengthening the partnership between the UK and South Africa is not only crucial in improving health and patient outcomes in both countries but it is also vital to add to the global resilience of our health systems. Through this partnership we will reinforce our shared commitment to ensuring the world is better prepared for future pandemics through joint research and building capability for disease surveillance including antimicrobial resistance. It was excellent to meet President Ramaphosa at the Francis Crick Institute, where staff showcased the best of innovative research technology the UK has to offer. I look forward to building on this important relationship with South Africa in the months ahead, to drive more effective global health systems, promote clinical and regulatory excellence and above all protect patient safety.”

UK Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Thérèse Coffey, and His Royal Highness the Earl of Wessex also accompanied President Ramaphosa to Kew’s Royal Botanical Gardens, where a partnership with South African institutions is helping to preserve biodiversity and address climate change.

A long-term partnership between Kew and South Africa National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), a key player in South Africa’s sustainable development, is ensuring the long-term survival of South Africa’s exceptionally rich plant diversity. The President and the Minister were able to see the flourishing fauna, such as the King Protea and heard from Kew’s experts on biodiversity.

UK Secretary of State for the Environment Thérèse Coffey said, “This visit highlights the fantastic biodiversity of South Africa and our longstanding scientific collaboration to protect nature. Both countries are working together to tackle the twin challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. At the upcoming UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Montreal, we will work together to accelerate global efforts to end species extinction, increase protections and support a sustainable future for our planet.”

Recognising South Africa’s status as one of the world’s most nature diverse countries, Ministers discussed the importance of the upcoming negotiations for a post-2020 global biodiversity framework at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Montreal. The negotiations are an opportunity for the globe to agree a Paris moment for nature, to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and to significantly increase the mobilisation of resources to tackle nature loss.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), through the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), has supported 9 research projects led by South African and UK institutions, from 1 August 2022 onwards. These projects focus on a diverse range of themes (health systems, non-communicable diseases including mental health, as well as surgery, palliative care, and HIV), UK funding has been provided to 6 distinct South African research institutions across five cities (Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria, Stellenbosch, and Johannesburg).

To date the UK’s Fleming Fund has invested in the partnership with the National Institute of Communicable Diseases in South Africa to support Whole Genome Sequencing for antimicrobial resistance surveillance across Africa, which has provided state-of-the art lab equipment, training and analytical support.

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India, Gabon discuss boosting defence, maritime ties

Earlier, in May 2022, former Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu paid the first-ever high-level bilateral visit to Gabon…reports Asian Lite News

India and Gabon on Tuesday held their first Foreign Office Consultations in New Delhi, eschanging views on regional and international issues of mutual interest, including cooperation in the UN and other multilateral fora; climate change; International Solar Alliance (ISA) and sustainable development, according to the statement released by Ministry of External Affairs.

The Indian delegation was led by Sevala Naik Mude, Joint Secretary (Central & West Africa Division), Ministry of External Affairs while the Gabonese side was headed by Guy Gerard Nkolo, Ambassador, director general of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Gabon.

The two nations carried out a comprehensive review of the existing bilateral relations, including strengthening of cooperation in trade and economic relations, defense and maritime, science and technology, innovation, research and development, culture, and people-to-people ties, the statement read.

India and Gabon have traditionally enjoyed warm and friendly relations, which are based on shared democratic values and vision. The bilateral relationship has further strengthened in the past few years with the opening of the Gabonese Mission in New Delhi and the exchange of high-level visits, the statement added.

Earlier, in May 2022, former Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu paid the first-ever high-level bilateral visit to Gabon.

During the talks, two MoUs were signed between India and Gabon for establishing a Joint Commission and diplomats’ training. The then VP expressed India’s readiness to work with Gabon to strengthen cooperation in various spheres at bilateral, regional, and multilateral levels.

In October, Gabonese Foreign Minister Michael Mousa Adamo visited India to participate in the special meeting of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee.

According to the MEA statement, bilateral trade between India and Gabon is growing at a healthy rate and has touched USD 1.12 billion in 2021-22 from USD 440 million in 2017-18, with India now being the 2nd largest destination for Gabonese exports.

Over 50 Indian companies have set up manufacturing units in the Gabon Special Economic Zone (GSEZ), as per the statement.

Both sides agreed to hold the next consultations in Libreville, Gabon at a mutually convenient date.

India and Gabon are currently serving as non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). (ANI)

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India, Uganda review entire spectrum of bilateral ties

India and Uganda reviewed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations as both sides held second foreign office-level consultations on Tuesday in New Delhi….reports Asian Lite News

India and Uganda on Tuesday held the second round of Foreign Office Consultations (FOCs) in New Delhi and reviewed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations including political, economic, defence, trade & investment, development partnership, scholarship programmes and capacity building, cultural relations, and people to people contacts.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs, discussions were also held on furthering bilateral co-operation in specific sectors such as forensic sciences, health, renewable energy, agro processing, and medium and small enterprises.

At FOCs, while India was represented by Puneet R Kundal, Joint Secretary (E&SA) in the Ministry of External Affairs, Uganda was led by Bagiire Vincent Waiswa, Permanent Secretary from the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

During the meeting, as per the Ministry, both sides also exchanged views on regional and multilateral issues including co-operation in UN, International Solar Alliance (ISA), East Africa Community (EAC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The Indian side reiterated their invitation for Uganda to join the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).

As per the Ministry, both sides expressed happiness on the bilateral trade, which touched US$ 840 million for 2021-22 and discussed ways and means to further increase this trade.

The Indian side congratulated Uganda for their forthcoming Chairship of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) starting in 2023.

Discussions were also held on the fourth edition of India-Africa Forum Summit proposed to be held in 2023.

Both sides agreed to hold the next round of Consultations at a mutually convenient date in Kampala

WB-funded roads in Uganda

Chinese contractor is seeking additional time to complete World Bank-funded roads in Uganda.

The seven roads include Lakidi Road, Philip Adonga Road, Janani Loum Road, Kitgum Road, Tom Apila and Oneka Roads all located in the Central division, Aya Hellen Dean located in Pandwong division, reported New Vision.

The Chinese firm, China Railway 18 Bureau Group Co Ltd, was given the contract for the work which was expected to last 18 months.

The roads were constructed under the World Bank-funded Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development Program (USMID).

The Chinese firm was approved as a contractor for the multi-billion road works in March this year after emerging as the best-evaluated bidder, reported New Vision.

Thomas Oketayot, the president of Kitgum Municipal Development Forum (MDF) said that the contractor was granted a four-month contract extension period by the local government ministry in September this year with caution to finish the works by January 30, reported New Vision.

Oketayot says that the contractor won’t be able to beat the November 30 deadline, which is less than a month away.

He said MDF and the engineering department of Kitgum municipal had received a minute of a site meeting in which the project manager highlighted a possible extension period of another four months to January next year to fully complete the work, reported New Vision.

“Initially, the contract period was ending in November this year, but from that minute I saw the project manager saying there is a communication coming through that the contract period will be extended,” says Oketayot.

Alex Abonga, the engineer at Kitgum municipality, says the contract period must be extended so that the contractor covers the current outstanding works. He noted that finishing road works at Kitgum municipality can’t be rushed at the moment to beat the November deadline, reported New Vision.

Kitgum municipality is among eight new municipalities that started benefiting from a USD 350 Million World Bank-funded project in 2019.

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Ugandan Prez Iauds Indian community on making 100 years in Uganda

Indians are estimated to have invested over US$ one billion in Uganda in the last two decades, according to the Indian High Commission in Kampala…reports Asian Lite News

Congratulating the Indian community for marking 100 years in the country, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni urged them to invest more in various sectors, including fertiliser production.

“I congratulate the Indian community on making 100 years in Uganda,” Museveni said in a video message posted on his Twitter handle.

“We the NRM consider the Indians as wealth creators with whom we have a symbiotic relationship. They are our brothers and sisters, they are Ugandans as well,” Museveni said on Sunday.

Led by the President, the NRM (National Resistance Movement) is the main ruling party in Uganda.

Indians are estimated to have invested over US$ one billion in Uganda in the last two decades, according to the Indian High Commission in Kampala.

Asserting that Uganda is “peaceful, pleasant and ready for investment”, Museveni called on the Indian diaspora to “invest in untapped areas like fertilisers which have become expensive as a result of the Russia-Ukraine standoff”.

“They… have a genuine interest in the development and transformation of this country,” he said on Twitter.

Hosting the Afro-Indian Investment Summit at the Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort in Kampala last week, the President said that the expulsion of Asians in 1972 by dictator Idi Amin disturbed the ties between Uganda and India.

At a special Diwali dinner party organised for the Indian community earlier this month, Museveni lauded the Gujarati community for playing a crucial role in Uganda’s social and industrial development from the past many decades.

“Only (Idi) Amin saw them as a problem, and he didn’t value the wealth creation chain,” Museveni had said.

There were nearly 80,000 Indians in Uganda before the 1972 expulsion.

At present, approximately 35,000 Indians live in Uganda.

They constitute less than a percent of Uganda’s population, but contribute a major part of the country’s direct taxes, according to the Indian High Commission in Kampala.

The Indian diaspora is mainly concentrated in Kampala and in the town of Jinja, and plays a pivotal role in manufacturing, trade, agro-processing, banking, sugar, real estate, hotels, tourism and information technology sectors.

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‘UK and S Africa will turbocharge growth together’

South Africa is the continent’s second largest economy and is already the UK’s biggest trading partner in Africa, with trade worth £10.7 billion annually…reports Asian Lite News

The UK and South Africa will join forces to drive economic growth and turbocharge infrastructure investment, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced at the start of President Ramaphosa’s formal state visit.

The next phase of the UK-South Africa Infrastructure Partnership is being launched today, supporting South Africa’s economic growth through major infrastructure developments and offering increased access to UK companies to projects worth up to £5.37bn over the next three years. The UK Government will also confirm new grant-funded technical assistance to South Africa to help unlock green hydrogen opportunities and boost skills in this key sector.

As an example of the opportunities for UK businesses, Globeleq – a UK company which is majority owned by British International Investment – is today announcing they have reached legal close on six solar power projects, with construction expected to kick off in South Africa next year.

South Africa is the continent’s second largest economy and is already the UK’s biggest trading partner in Africa, with trade worth £10.7 billion annually. Unlocking export finance offers significant opportunities for British businesses to invest and trade.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa is in London for a two-day state visit, hosted by His Majesty The King. After attending a state banquet for the South African delegation this evening at Buckingham Palace, the Prime Minister will welcome President Ramaphosa to Downing Street for a bilateral meeting and lunch on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, “South Africa is already the UK’s biggest trading partner on the continent, and we have ambitious plans to turbocharge infrastructure investment and economic growth together. I look forward to welcoming President Ramaphosa to London this week to discuss how we can deepen the partnership between our two great nations and capitalise on shared opportunities, from trade and tourism and security and defence. A new education and skills partnership between the UK and the South African governments will also promote shared learning in technical and vocational education, driving youth employment.”

UK funding will build the highly sought-after technical and entrepreneurial skills in the biggest growth sectors including green technology and electric vehicle manufacture, ensuring South Africa’s youth are benefitting from the green transition.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said, “The UK’s relationship with South Africa is hugely important to us. Together we are working to deliver for the British and South African people, creating jobs, enhancing trade and investment, and boosting inclusive economic growth. This week’s State Visit, the first under His Majesty The King, is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate our ties but also allows us to trigger greater growth, create even more opportunities for British and South African businesses alike, and further promote South Africa’s transition to green energy.”

The South Africa Just Energy Transition Partnership, launched at COP26, also offers new opportunities to collaborate on renewable technology and green innovation. The UK and South Africa are today announcing the creation of a new Partnership on Minerals for Future Clean Energy Technologies to promote increased responsible exploration, production and processing of minerals in South and Southern Africa.

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