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AFRICA/CARIBBEAN NOW: ‘Black Panther’ Paves Way for Investment in South Africa

In an open letter to the president of South Africa, MK Malefane, chairman of Highlands Investment & Development Consortium, argues that the monumental success of the “Black Panther” movie is the “perfect opportunity” for South Africa and Africa’s film industry “to take advantage of the trillion-dollar Hollywood-driven movie, entertainment and merchandising industry and market.”

“In response to your appointment of envoys to travel around the globe to seek investment for South Africa, one sector with immense cultural and educational enrichment, as well as the power to generate revenue, stands out for your consideration — the movie industry,” Malefane wrote in the letter, which was published Sunday in the Kenya Star.

He notes that within a month of being released, “Black Panther” grossed well over $1 billion and ticket sales are still climbing.

“This is a major record in the history of the movie industry and a major record for African imagery,” he wrote.

ANC Leaders Split on KZN, North West

The ANC’s fragile unity is being tested once again after claims surfaced that officials in the party’s “Top Six” are divided on how to handle issues in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the North West, the Durban Sunday Tribune reported.

This is as the ANC provincial conference was postponed indefinitely and pressure mounted on North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo, to step down over corruption allegations against him. Both Sihle Zikalala and Mahumapelo were staunch backers of Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma before the December conference. She lost to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

A national executive committee member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said those who supported Dlamini Zuma were being targeted with the intention of removing them from their positions.

Zikalala was the ANC provincial chairperson until January, when the NEC suspended the province’s leadership after the Pietermaritzburg High Court found that the November 2015 elective conference was null and void.

Foreigners Cashing in on Cheap Land in Zambia

The Zambia Land Alliance (ZLA) has called on the government to guard against foreigners buying huge tracts of land at cheap prices and reselling it to Zambians at inflated cost.

ZLA Executive Director Nsama Chikolwa said foreigners were buying land from government cheaply and reselling it for huge profits at the expense of nationals, the Times of Zambia reported Sunday.

She described the development as “a scam” and “sad,” as it had put the price of land beyond many ordinary Zambians. She said that foreigners had taken advantage of Zambia’s flexible land policies and weak land administration which did not protect locals.

“Whenever land is advertised, it is being sold at an expensive price,” Chikolwa said. “I don’t think we are making land available to the average Zambians. It is now only available to the elite.”

Tanzania Named Key Path for Human Trafficking

Tanzania has been ranked the leading transit corridor for illegal immigrants from Central and Eastern Africa sneaking to Southern Africa to seek economic fortune.

Immigration officials in Dar es Salaam had raised an alarm over the increasing numbers of illegal immigrants sneaking into Tanzania through porous border points at Rwanda and Burundi, the EastAfrican reported Saturday.

South Africa and Mozambique have been identified final as the destinations for immigrants from East and Central Africa. The Tanzania chapter of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said last week that there have been growing numbers of people sneaking into Tanzania on their way to South Africa and Mozambique.

BPO Stakeholders Urged to Plan Way Forward

Fayval Williams, minister without portfolio in the Jamaica Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, is encouraging stakeholders in the Business Process Outsourcing sector (BPO) to come together and plan the way forward for the rapidly growing industry.

Speaking at a recent VIP luncheon and awards ceremony on the final day of the Outsource2Jamaica Symposium and Expo at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, Williams said the sector has been expanding and impacting Jamaicans at all levels, the Jamaica Observer reported.

“We can all see the industry developing island-wide,” she said. “It’s no longer just in Kingston and St. James but also in other parishes. That is growth we can all be excited about.”

Barbados Retailers Say Times are Tough

The controversial National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) has fulfilled its aim of dampening the importation of pricey goods into Barbados, but it hasn’t boosted local spending by Barbadians.

As a result, the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) is reporting a major decrease in retail sales in the first three and a half months of 2018, The Barbados Nation reported.

And Eddy Abed, president of the BCCI, fears it could get worse heading into the rest of the year.

“We have been told by our members that general retail sales are down by as much as 40 percent, depending on if there is a large ticket item or normal items,” Abed said.

Charles Herbert, head of the Barbados Private Sector Association, isn’t surprised Barbadians are staying away from business houses and choosing to spend only on essentials.

Power Company Unveils Job Cuts

Bahamas Power and Light Ltd (BPL) plans to soon begin a “rightsizing” exercise, which could see nearly 300 of the electricity provider’s 1,050 employees sent home.

BPL Deputy Chairman Patrick Rollins confirmed during a press conference that the power provider was in the discussion and planning phase of this exercise, although he did not reveal the extent of the staff reduction or when it was projected to begin., The Tribune reported.

Unions representing workers at BPL said the company has said 233 workers have to be made redundant and questioned who these employees will be. The unions also said they have yet to see the company’s full business plan.

BPL’s former management company PowerSecure stated in its business plan, which was released last year, that it wanted an approximately 30 percent reduction in staff by the plan’s third year.

Delinquency Plagues Aid Bank

The Agricultural Industrial and Development (AID) Bank has been plagued by the nonpayment of loans, prompting Deputy Prime Minister Reginald Austrie to appeal to clients to meet their obligations to the institution.

Speaking at the annual general meeting of the bank, he said reports show that delinquency has climbed to about 50 percent in the last financial year, Dominica News reported.

“It is with dismay, however, that your report shows an increase in nonperforming loans of somewhere in the region of 50 percent during the fiscal year 2106-2017,” he said.

According to Austrie, the industrial sector took the largest chunk of nonperforming loans at 42.5 percent, followed by tourism at 35.1 percent.

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