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China suspends more flights as Winter Olympics closes in

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On Friday, China suspended dozens of international flights due to an increase in Omicron cases around the world, while Shanghai slowed tourist activity in an effort to prevent local COVID-19 infections as imported cases increased.

Cities across China are becoming more vigilant against COVID-19 ahead of the Lunar New Year travel season later this month and as Beijing readies to stage the Winter Olympics beginning Feb. 4, with many local governments urging residents not to leave town unnecessarily.

Shanghai’s tourism and culture authority said travel agencies and online tourism companies must once again halt organising group tours into and out of Shanghai after it reported five new domestically transmitted infections on Thursday, all linked to an arrival from overseas.

The order, in line with a national guideline to cut tourist activities in provinces where new infections have emerged, came less than a month after Shanghai lifted a suspension that had come into effect in November.

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China has dramatically cut back on international arrivals during the pandemic, but the number of infected travellers arriving in Shanghai, a major financial hub, during the first 10 days of January, exceeded those for all of December.

China has reported local transmissions of the highly-contagious Omicron variant in the northern city of Tianjin and three other cities but has not said how many Omicron cases it has detected in total.

Authorities, however, have warned that Omicron adds to the increased risk of COVID-19 transmission as more people return to China from overseas for the Lunar New Year holiday.

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China on Friday announced that 30 inbound international flights from several countries were suspended due to COVID-19 cases, including four more from the United States. So far this year, China has announced the cancellation of 74 flights from the United States. read more

Athletes and other personnel involved in the Olympics are arriving largely on special charter flights and immediately entering a strictly enforced “closed loop” that separates them from the wider population.

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Unlike some other Chinese cities, Shanghai has largely refrained from broader curbs that risk disrupting normal routines and has taken a more surgical approach. This week it raised the “virus risk” level only for a small bubble tea shop where three of the five local infected people worked.

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Naira appreciates against USD at forex market amid Binance clampdown

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Naira has returned to its appreciation against the US dollar in the foreign exchange market amid the restriction of Binance, a cryptocurrency platform.

Data from FMDQ showed that the Naira appreciated N1,609.51 at the close of trading on Wednesday from N1,615.94 on Tuesday.

This represents an N6.43 or 0.4 per cent appreciation compared to the N1,615.94 recorded at the closing of Tuesday’s trading.

Meanwhile, the Naira exchanged for N1,500 per USD on Wednesday at the parallel market from N1,618.489 on Tuesday.

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Naira Rates, the parallel market exchange rate, showed that the Naira appreciated 1,463.098 per USD on Wednesday.

The development triggered a massive selloff at the Binance Market.

Theheute recalls that Naira had continued its appreciation trend on Monday.

However, it depreciated against the USD on Tuesday for the first time since last week.

At the end of Tuesday’s 293rd Monetary Policy Committee meeting, the Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Olayemi Cardoso, reiterated his commitment to strengthen the Naira against USD at the forex market.

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The CBN had announced the resumption of foreign exchange sales directly to eligible Bureau De Change Operators.

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Ghana passes anti-gay law

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The Ghana Parliament, on Wednesday, passed the bill on human sexual rights and family values, commonly referred to as the anti-LGBTQ bill.

The bill, called the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, was introduced by Sam Nartey George, the MP for Ningo-Prampram.

Press reports that the bill was a Private Members Bill led by Sam Nartey George, the MP for Ningo-Prampram.

The bill prohibits LGBTQ activities and makes it illegal to promote, advocate, or fund them, as reported by Citi Newsroom.

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Local media also reports that individuals caught engaging in the activity could face a jail sentence ranging from six months to three years, while those who support or promote the activity may be sentenced to three to five years in prison.

This is coming after years of the bill being in parliament and going through various stages, facing backlash and efforts by opponents to block it or make changes.

In Ghana, homosexuality is currently prohibited by law and can result in a prison sentence of up to three years.

According to the new legislation, the maximum sentence will be extended to five years.

This proposal will also criminalise the distribution of materials that are considered supportive of LGBTQ rights.

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According to Citi Newsroom, Parliament approved the bill one day after Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, the Board Chair of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development, urged President Nana Akufo-Addo to reject it.

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Takyiwaa Manuh, a senior fellow at the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development, mentioned to CBS News that Akufo-Addo has not approved any previous privately sponsored bills for legal reasons related to the country’s constitution.

According to Manuh, the speaker of the parliament did not conduct the necessary analysis of the bill.

She believes that if the bill becomes law, it will significantly impact the judiciary, police, and other areas of society.

“I am sad, disappointed and surprised that our commitment and democratic principles in this country appear to be so shallow.

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“This bill represents a real danger to our country, and we are looking to the president to uphold the values of our country and constitution,” she said.

The bill will need the President’s approval to take effect.

It remains uncertain whether President Akufo-Addo will approve the bill.

In 2021, the United Nations expressed concerns about the potential impacts of the proposed law, Human Sexual Rights and Family Values, warning that it could lead to state-sponsored discrimination and violence against sexual minorities.

In May 2023, Uganda implemented strict anti-LGBT legislation, which includes severe penalties such as the death penalty for certain homosexual acts.

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Elumelu in global academic limelight as TEF case study becomes Harvard’s curriculum

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In an unprecedented move, the Harvard Business School, the graduate business school of Harvard University, is set to cast the spotlight on the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), recognizing the Foundation’s extraordinary philanthropic achievement in a ground-breaking case study.

The case study, the first of its kind on any philanthropic organization in Africa, is to be launched on Thursday, February 29, 2024, before a class of graduate students in Boston, Massachusetts, and will explore the Foundation’s unique approaches and transformative initiatives, showcasing how strategic philanthropy offered by TEF is driving positive change and elevating countries and communities.

This move by Harvard underscores the Foundation’s pivotal role in empowering young African entrepreneurs across all 54 African countries and places the Foundation at the forefront of global discussions on transformative and catalytic philanthropy, acknowledging its significant contributions towards fostering entrepreneurship in Africa.

In addition to delving into the foundation’s innovative approaches and the resultant impact it has garnered over the years, the event will also feature an exclusive acknowledgment of the Founder of TEF, Tony Elumelu’s economic philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions the private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the African continent.

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The Tony Elumelu Foundation is the leading philanthropy, empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurs, driving poverty eradication, catalyzing job creation across all 54 African countries, and increasing inclusive economic empowerment.

Since the launch of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme in 2015, the Foundation has trained over 1.5 million young Africans on its digital hub, TEFConnect, and disbursed over USD$100 million in direct funding to 20,000 young African women and men, who have collectively created over 400,000 direct and indirect jobs.

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Tony Elumelu who spoke on the impact of TEF on the African youth said, “TEF is creating economic hope and opportunity for African Entrepreneurs. We know that entrepreneurship is the antidote to poverty, youth unemployment, and insecurity. Through the intervention of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we are encouraging our young people, giving them hope through the seed capital we provide, capacitating them through the training and mentoring we provide, and setting them up to create businesses that will succeed and create even more jobs. Collectively we are fixing the challenges that we have on the continent.

Continuing, he said, “The Tony Elumelu Foundation was set up to create more successful African business leaders. We want to replicate our own success and create entrepreneurs who will build more prosperity on the continent and for the continent. It’s all about transforming our society and making sure that we leave society better than we met it. It is not about the money that we have in our bank accounts, it is about the legacy that we make and the impact we create. Prosperity for all is what will create the security, harmony, and peace that we need.”

The Harvard Business School session will provide a platform for thought leaders, scholars, and business enthusiasts to engage in a meaningful discussion on the role of philanthropy in shaping sustainable and inclusive economies. As the world grapples with complex challenges, the Tony Elumelu Foundation stands as a beacon of hope, showcasing how strategic philanthropy can be a driving force for positive change.

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