Dante Labs to Participate in the Piper Sandler 33rd Annual Virtual Healthcare Conference

NEW YORK, Nov. 16, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Dante Labs, a global leader in genomics and precision medicine, is pleased to announce its participation in the Piper Sandler 33rd Annual Virtual Healthcare Conference. From November 22 to December 2, presentations will be available for registered attendees via the Piper Sandler conference site.

Dante Labs will be participating in 1×1 meetings on Monday, November 29, 2021. Meetings can be requested exclusively via Piper Sandler.

About Dante Labs

Dante Labs is a global genomic data company building and commercializing a new class of transformative health and longevity applications based on whole genome sequencing and AI. Our assets include one of the largest private genome databases with research consent, a proprietary software platform designed to unleash the power of genomic data at scale and proprietary processes which enable an industrial approach to genomic sequencing.


Giorgio Lodi
+39 0862 191 0671

now.gg launches cloud payments with 95% developer cut, and NFT-based monetization for mobile games

CAMPBELL, Calif., Nov. 16, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — now.gg, the mobile cloud company, today introduced a first–of–its kind cloud payments and NFT–based monetization model for mobile games on the cloud and Apple and Google app stores. Together, they will significantly increase revenue for mobile game developers.

Cloud top–up payments give game developers 95% of the cut from in–app purchases, increasing their current margin by 25 basis points from presently paying users. NFT–based monetization, via an NFT marketplace, NFT gift cards and NFT game fan art, creates opportunities for new revenue for game developers from currently non paying users.

"The two biggest trends impacting game developers are rising customer acquisition costs, triggered by IDFA, and the boom in NFT trading volume," said Rosen Sharma, CEO, now.gg. "For example, NFT trading volume crosses $4 billion a month, which annualized, is about half of the global mobile market. That kind of traction is mind–blowing and just shows how much money is left on the table for developers, who deserve a new model. The mobile cloud greatly boosts developer margins and presents new NFT based monetization channels. We believe this will become a much larger monetization opportunity than the current in–app and app store models. This kind of developer margin and user freedom is transformative – this is the true future of gaming."

now.gg cloud payments was developed in response to the surge of international mobile gaming popularity, low–margin app store policies, and the explosion of NFT trading. Although the mobile gaming market is projected to be $29.1 billion in 2022, only 5% of mobile gamers today make in–app purchases, which leaves a lot of money on the table for developers. Cloud top–up payments significantly increase the margin from these paying users. Once game developers integrate now.gg cloud payments, gamers go to the game developer website to make a top–up payment, using real money or crypto currencies like BTC, TC, ETH, DOGE. The NFT marketplace targets the currently 95% non paying users, unlocking an entirely new revenue stream for game developers. The marketplace enables users to buy, trade, and keep digital collectibles. This combination of higher margins and new revenue sources is not possible with current app store policies, shifts the opportunity back to developers, and adds more value for the gamer.

now.gg was founded to empower the developer and offer gamers an entirely new mobile gaming experience. now.gg's mobile cloud dramatically changes the reach, potential, and business model for game developers by enabling developers to create, share, and monetize their games on the cloud, versus in apps.

now.gg is on track to have over a billion minutes of games played on its platform within the year and with the addition of cloud payments, developers can significantly increase their opportunity while offering gamers new and unique ways to buy and trade NFTs.

"The profile of a mobile gamer is going through a generational transformation – who plays mobile games, where they play, and how they play is constantly changing," said Bai Xue, producer at Perfect World. "now.gg cloud payments not only offer a new source of revenue for developers, but also introduce more meaningful ways to engage non–paying customers. We pride ourselves on offering a unique and valuable experience to our customers and with now.gg cloud payments, everyone stands to win."

now.gg cloud payments are available now. For more information, please visit: https://now.gg/payments.html

About now.gg
now.gg is the mobile cloud company changing the gaming experience for game developers and consumers. With the first global mobile platform–as–a–service for game developers, now.gg enables gaming communities to play games on any device or OS, share games instantly on their social channels and pay in–game through payment channels they already have. No longer constrained by geography, device or attribution, now.gg opens the world of consumers to game developers and unlocks entirely new revenue streams.

Takeda’s Area Offices in Dubai, United Arab Emirates Certified Sustainable and Inaugurated

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 16, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Recognizing that climate change poses a risk to human health, including the spread of infectious diseases, Takeda has made environmental efforts and its commitment to carbon neutrality a priority. To date, Takeda has met and exceeded its previously established 2020 environmental goals ahead of schedule, including reducing its CO2"emissions by 33.7% compared to 2005 levels. To deliver on the company's commitment to protect the planet, Takeda aims to achieve carbon zero in its own operations and carbon neutrality across its remaining value chain by 2040.

The ceremony and office tour, along with celebrations of the team's return–to–the office as part of a hybrid working model, was attended by dignitaries including H.E. Dr. Amin Al Amiri, Assistant Undersecretary for Health Regulations Sector at Ministry of Health and Prevention; Dr. Ali Al Sayed, Director, Pharmaceutical Services Department, at the Dubai Health Authority; H.E. Akihiko Nakajima, Japanese Ambassador to the U.A.E. and H.E. Helal Al Marri, Director General of Dubai's Department of Economy and Tourism.

Ricardo Marek, President of the Growth and Emerging Markets Business Unit (“GEM BU”), a senior member of the global Takeda Executive Team based out of Singapore, along with Mahender Nayak, Senior Vice President, and ICMEA Area Head, were also in attendance to formally inaugurate the milestone and provide a private tour to the distinguished guests.

For more images, please use this link:

Please find the Arabic version of the photo release attached.

*Takeda's ICMEA region includes India, Ukraine, C.I.S., Middle East, Turkey, and Africa and covers more than 35 countries. In 2021, the company celebrates its 240th anniversary since its inception in Doshomachi, the medicine district of Osaka, Japan.

**LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green building rating program. It operates under the umbrella of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a non–profit coalition of building industry leaders. The goal of the rating system is to encourage and reward sustainable design across several metrics""sustainable site choice, energy savings, water efficiency, reduction of CO2 emissions, and indoor environmental quality, among others""all while improving company profitability and employee well–being. The LEED rating program is a four–tiered credit–based system that awards points based on compliance with different aspects of sustainability. A basic LEED certification is awarded if a building amasses between 40 and 49. LEED Silver and Gold certifications are 50–59 and 60–79 points respectively. The highest LEED certification is LEED Platinum, awarded to buildings that attain 80 or more points.


About Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited

Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (TSE:4502/NYSE: T.A.K.) is a global, values–based, R&D–driven biopharmaceutical leader headquartered in Japan, committed to bringing Better Health and a Brighter Future to patients by translating science into highly–innovative medicines. Takeda focuses its R&D efforts on four therapeutic areas: Oncology, Rare Diseases, Neuroscience, and Gastroenterology (G.I.). We also make targeted R&D investments in Plasma–Derived Therapies and Vaccines. We are focusing on developing highly innovative medicines that contribute to making a difference in people's lives by advancing the frontier of new treatment options and leveraging our enhanced collaborative R&D engine and capabilities to create a robust, modality–diverse pipeline. Our employees are committed to improving quality of life for patients and to working with our partners in health care in approximately 80 countries. For more information, visit https://www.takeda.com.

Important Notice

For the purposes of this notice, “press release” means this document, any oral presentation, any question and answer session and any written or oral material discussed or distributed by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (“Takeda”) regarding this release. This press release (including any oral briefing and any question–and–answer in connection with it) is not intended to, and does not constitute, represent or form part of any offer, invitation or solicitation of any offer to purchase, otherwise acquire, subscribe for, exchange, sell or otherwise dispose of, any securities or the solicitation of any vote or approval in any jurisdiction. No shares or other securities are being offered to the public by means of this press release. No offering of securities shall be made in the United States except pursuant to registration under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or an exemption therefrom. This press release is being given (together with any further information which may be provided to the recipient) on the condition that it is for use by the recipient for information purposes only (and not for the evaluation of any investment, acquisition, disposal or any other transaction). Any failure to comply with these restrictions may constitute a violation of applicable securities laws.

The companies in which Takeda directly and indirectly owns investments are separate entities. In this press release, “Takeda” is sometimes used for convenience where references are made to Takeda and its subsidiaries in general. Likewise, the words “we”, “us” and “our” are also used to refer to subsidiaries in general or to those who work for them. These expressions are also used where no useful purpose is served by identifying the particular company or companies.


Politicians Subsidise Fossil Fuel with Six Trillion Dollars in Just One Year

An offshore oil rig drilling platform. Globally, fossil fuel subsidies amounted to 5.9 trillion US dollars in 2020, according to an IMF report. Credit: Bigstock

An offshore oil rig drilling platform. Globally, fossil fuel subsidies amounted to 5.9 trillion US dollars in 2020, according to an IMF report. Credit: Bigstock

By Baher Kamal
MADRID, Nov 16 2021 – It sounds incredible: while politicians have been cackling about the climate emergency and profiling in empty promises to halt it, they have spent six trillion US dollars from taxpayers’ money to subsidise fossil fuels in just one year: 2020. And they are set to increase the figure to nearly seven trillion by 2025.

Add to this that governments will double the production of energy from these very same, highly dangerous, global warming generators.

IMF study reports that globally, fossil fuel subsidies were 5.9 trillion US dollars in 2020 or about 6.8 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). And that such subsidies are expected to rise to 7.4 percent of GDP in 2025

In a 2021 study: Still Not Getting Energy Prices Right: A Global and Country Update of Fossil Fuel Subsidies, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports that globally, fossil fuel subsidies were 5.9 trillion US dollars in 2020 or about 6.8 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). And that such subsidies are expected to rise to 7.4 percent of GDP in 2025.

According to the study, 8 percent of the 2020 subsidy reflects undercharging for supply costs (explicit subsidies) and 92 percent for undercharging for environmental costs and foregone consumption taxes (implicit subsidies).

Efficient fuel pricing in 2025 would reduce global carbon dioxide emissions 36 percent below baseline levels, which is in line with keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees, while raising revenues worth 3.8 percent of global GDP and preventing 0.9 million local air pollution deaths. Accompanying spreadsheets provide detailed results for 191 countries, IMF adds.

Commenting on this fact, António Guterres, the UN Secretary General, said that “… promises ring hollow when the fossil fuels industry still receives trillions in subsidies, as measured by the IMF. Or when countries are still building coal plants…”

Every country, city, company and financial institution must “radically, credibly and verifiably” reduce their emissions and decarbonise their portfolios, starting now, said Guterres.


Time running out for oil and gas?

Hard to believe when just 11 countries presented the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance at November’s UN Climate Conference in Glasgow.

Ireland, France, Denmark, and Costa Rica. among others, as well as some subnational governments, launched a first of its kind alliance to set an end date for national oil and gas exploration and extraction.

One of the Alliance members’ representative, Andrea Meza, Minister of Environment and Energy for Costa Rica commented: “Every dollar that we invest in fossil fuel projects is one less dollar for renewables and for the conservation of nature…” she added.


Energy Devourers

By 2050, 1.6 billion people living in cities will be regularly exposed to extremely high temperatures and over 800 million people living in cities across the world will be vulnerable to sea level rises and coastal flooding.

According to UN Habitat, which deals with human settlements and sustainable urban development, cities consume 78 percent of the world’s energy and produce over 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions – while accounting for less than two per cent of the Earth’s surface.

Inger Andersen, the head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) reported that “We build the equivalent of new buildings the size of Paris every week, and if that is the way we are expected to expand we need to think about how we do it because of climate, biodiversity, livability, quality of life. We need to build better.”,

According to Andersen, building and construction are responsible for 37 percent of CO2 emissions with construction materials like cement, accounting for 10 percent of global emissions.

She also pointed out that over half of the buildings that will be standing in 2060 haven’t been constructed yet.
According to UNEP, only 19 countries have added codes regarding energy efficiency for buildings, and put them in place, and most of future construction will occur in countries without these measures.

“For every dollar invested in energy efficient buildings, we see 37 going into conventional buildings that are energy inefficient. We need to move from these incremental changes because they are way too slow, we need a real sector transformation. We need to build better,” Andersen said, calling for more ambition for governments if they are to fill the promise of net-zero.


Cars, buses, trucks, ships…

The transport sector is responsible for approximately one quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel of Experts on Climate Change (IPCC).

The sector’s emissions have more than doubled since 1970, with around 80 percent of the increase caused by road vehicles. The United Nations environment programme UNEP calculates that the world’s transport sector is almost entirely dependent on fossil fuels.

“A world where every car, bus and truck sold is electric and affordable, where shipping vessels use only sustainable fuels, and where planes can run on green hydrogen may sound like a sci-fi movie.”

This is how governments spend trillions of taxpayers’ pockets to subsidise fossil fuels that can only aggravate the ongoing climate emergency.

Push for Civil Registration Set to Hit Key Milestone in Asian and Pacific Countries

By Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana and Gillian Triggs
BANGKOK, Thailand, Nov 16 2021 – Most countries in the Asia-Pacific region are on track to reach universal birth registration by 2030: an incredible achievement and a significant milestone in realizing human rights and equality. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed, many weaknesses remain in official recording systems, creating gaps in knowledge about the population and affecting how authorities respond to crises and reach those in greatest need.

Civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems record births and other key life events such as deaths and marriages. Birth registration is fundamental for accessing a wide range of social services, benefits and rights. It provides an individual with a legal identity and a proof of age, which are often requirements to enrol in school, receive healthcare, apply for formal work, register to vote, inherit property, obtain a passport and social protection, or open a bank account. And often it is the hard-to-reach and marginalized populations that are least likely to receive official documentation, including those living in rural, remote, isolated or border areas; minorities; indigenous persons; migrants; non-citizens; asylum-seekers; refugees and people who are stateless or of undetermined nationality.

As regional leaders gather this week for the 2nd Ministerial Conference on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics in Asia and the Pacific,1 the focus will be on regional and country-level achievements, obstacles and challenges in realizing the shared commitment that all people in the region will benefit from universal and responsive CRVS systems by 2024. It marks the midpoint of the Asia-Pacific CRVS Decade (2015-2024) and is an important milestone in the pursuit of creating national CRVS systems that are universal and responsive to the needs of entire populations.

Since 2014, more than 70 million more children in the region have greater access to education, health and social protection because their birth has been officially recorded and recognized through the issuance of a birth certificate. This is a notable achievement and testament to the resolve and commitment of governments to the shared goals made in 2014, the strength of regional cooperation, and the support of 13 development partners, including the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

Still, there is work to do. Robust and universal marriage registration systems are needed to prevent girls from being coerced into early marriage, which often threatens their lives and health. The region also has an opportunity to reduce the risk of statelessness and human trafficking, as well as to promote solutions for refugees and asylum seekers by documenting links to the country of origin. UNHCR’s work with national governments to strengthen and broaden civil registration systems to formally register people considered stateless or of undetermined nationality has led to profound policy changes across Central Asia and the legal recognition of every birth, irrespective of parents’ status.

Furthermore, as we have witnessed during the global pandemic, when civil registration systems fail to reach everyone in the country and not everyone is counted, a public health crisis intensifies. Whereas robust CRVS systems enable governments and health authorities to track the pandemic and respond quickly and in an informed manner, a poorly functioning civil registration system masks the true impact of a crisis: deaths go uncounted — especially among the poorest and most vulnerable — and individuals are unable to access humanitarian relief or benefit from financial stimulus measures and, more recently, national vaccination programmes.

Governments that are unable to account for the entire population face barriers to creating and implementing effective public policy and responding to a crisis in an equitable manner. A comprehensive approach to civil registration, with timely and accurate data that are put to the right use, has the power to benefit every individual and inform public policy simultaneously, including by reducing statelessness across the region.

Leaving no one behind through universal birth and death registration demands bold and ambitious outcomes from the upcoming ministerial conference. We have the knowledge, experience and technical ability to create registration systems that are responsive to the needs of the population and can guide us through current and future challenges.

1The 2nd Ministerial Conference on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics in Asia and the Pacific will take place from 16 – 19 November.

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is Executive Secretary, ESCAP
Gillian Triggs is Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, UNHCR


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Hitachi Energy launches IdentiQTM digital twin for sustainable, flexible and secure power grids

Zurich, Switzerland, Nov. 16, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Zurich, Switzerland, 16 November, 2021 "" Further to its press release on October 13, 2021, announcing its evolution to Hitachi Energy, the global technology and market leader in power grids today launched IdentiQ, its digital twin1 solutions for high–voltage direct current (HVDC) and power quality solutions. IdentiQ2 will help to advance the world's energy system to be more sustainable, flexible and secure, accelerating the transition towards a carbon–neutral future.

IdentiQ is the digital twin of a HVDC converter station, STATCOM or other power quality solution. It provides all the relevant asset information, analytics and operational data in an intuitive and easy–to–navigate dashboard, which users can customize to match their needs. IdentiQ includes 3D interactive visualization of the complete asset, combined with one–click access to all the associated plant and equipment information, including engineering documentation, operational and maintenance procedures, safety training and live operational data for monitoring and analytics.

"IdentiQ is a game–changing digital twin solution built on our unique domain expertise and leadership in power grid technologies and innovation," said Niklas Persson, Managing Director of Hitachi Energy's Grid Integration business. Niklas added, "It is a significant addition to Hitachi Energy's digital offering and supports our customers' efforts to continuously enhance the efficiency and reliability of their grid investments."

IdentiQ will enable customers to improve the management of power grid assets by clustering all information into one digital location for seamless access by all operational functions. This approach stands at the core of Hitachi Energy's vision for digital twin technology: delivering the right resources and information to the right people at the right time for optimized operations and smarter decision making.

IdentiQ makes HVDC and power quality assets more:

· Sustainable and eco–efficient "" by enabling comprehensive remote analysis and support and by digitalizing paper–based information on older installations;

· Flexible "" by adapting to continuously changing asset performance needs over the entire life cycle;

· Secure "" by complying with industry–leading cybersecurity standards and protecting all asset data and information from being misplaced or destroyed; and safer, by providing virtual training on on–site procedures, required clothing and evacuation routes before visiting a site.

Digitalization is essential to making electricity the backbone of the entire energy system and advancing a sustainable energy future for all. It is key to the integration of bulk and distributed renewables, as well as the electrification and decarbonization of sectors like transportation, industries and data centers; and empowering countries and companies to meet their carbon emission reduction goals.

IdentiQ integrates with a range of enterprise business systems, including Hitachi's Lumada platform and the Lumada suite of Asset and Work Management software, and together they provide system–wide visibility "" from the site to the boardroom. IdentiQ is part of Hitachi Energy's ambition to drive the pace of digital and eco–efficient innovation in power grid technologies and accelerate the transition towards carbon–neutral energy systems. The launch builds on a year of powerful innovation from Hitachi Energy, including:

· Lumada Asset and Work Management "" launched in January 2021, to enable asset–intensive industries to be more adaptive, collaborative, insightful and predictive. Lumada features technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, advanced data analytics, hybrid cloud management and cybersecurity; and

· EconiQ "" launched in April 2021, providing an eco–efficient portfolio of products, services and solutions that deliver an exceptional environmental performance compared to conventional solutions.

Both portfolios are integral to Hitachi Energy's Sustainability 2030 strategic plan, which draws on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals to deliver social, environmental and economic value.


1. A digital twin is a virtual representation that is designed to accurately reflect a physical asset or system, providing insight into the systems' performance or lifecycle.

2. IdentiQ stands for accuracy, intelligence and quality.

About Hitachi Energy

Hitachi Energy is a global technology leader that is advancing a sustainable energy future for all. We serve customers in the utility, industry and infrastructure sectors with innovative solutions and services across the value chain. Together with customers and partners, we pioneer technologies and enable the digital transformation required to accelerate the energy transition towards a carbon–neutral future. We are advancing the world's energy system to become more sustainable, flexible and secure whilst balancing social, environmental and economic value. Hitachi Energy has a proven track record and unparalleled installed base in more than 140 countries. Headquartered in Switzerland, we employ around 38,000 people in 90 countries and generate business volumes of approximately $10 billion USD.

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Cawood Scientific Group Joins Ensign-Bickford Industries

DENVER, Nov. 16, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ensign–Bickford Industries, Inc. (EBI) today announced it has successfully closed on its acquisition of Cawood Scientific Limited (Cawood), headquartered in Bracknell, UK.

Headquartered in Denver, CO, EBI is a 185–year–old privately held corporation with diversified businesses in aerospace and defense, molecular diagnostics, and pet food palatability markets. Cawood Scientific is the UK's leading independent scientific group, with laboratories throughout the UK, EU, and US serving the agriculture, food, and environmental sectors. Cawood will become a member of EBI's Agriculture and Environmental Diagnostics Group.

Commenting on the acquisition, EBI President and CEO Tom Perlitz said, "Cawood has more than just exceptional growth potential, it comes to us as a thriving business with a solid market position and great talent "" built on a set of strong principles that very closely mirror the core values of EBI. This partnership will support both goals to expand our diagnostic offerings and extend our reach in global markets, and we could not be more pleased to welcome Cawood into the EBI family."

"Over the last 18 months, Cawood has doubled in size, following significant investment in acquisitions, equipment, and technology, and EBI is committed to supporting and guiding that strategic growth long–term," said Cawood's Simon Parrington, who will continue as the Cawood Group CEO.

Tom Perlitz also noted, "Cawood will represent a unique partnership with EBI's EnviroLogix business that will strengthen and grow EBI's foothold in the agricultural supply chain. With the addition of Cawood's capabilities to our diagnostics growth platform, we will be able to offer a compelling farm–to–feed diagnostic solution for our customers in the ag industry as we expand globally."

Ensign–Bickford Industries (EBI) is a 185–year–old privately held corporation with diversified businesses in aerospace & defense, molecular diagnostics, and pet food palatability markets. EBI's businesses provide the global marketplace value–added products and services, including palatability enhancers for the pet food industry, precision energetic systems for the aerospace market, innovative explosive and non–explosive solutions for defense customers, and molecular and protein detection for the agricultural industry. EBI is headquartered in Denver, CO. For more information, visit http://www.ensign–bickfordind.com/

Cawood Scientific Limited (Cawood), is the UK's leading independent scientific group, with offices in the US, Spain, Czech Republic, and Republic of Ireland. The group provides independent laboratory analysis for the agriculture, food, infrastructure, and environmental sectors, as well as contract research to support the development of agrochemicals, biocides, and other chemicals. For more information visit https://cawood.co.uk/

Media Contact
Alexandra Ulrich

How Effective Communication can Help Boost Intra-African Trade

January 2021 marked a historic event for African economic development –the launching of free trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

By Mosh Matsena
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 16 2021 – The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement promotes socio-economic growth and development in Africa through liberalised trade processes and structures. So far, the 54 African countries have signed the agreement, resulting in immense potential for the growth of trade between African countries.

In fact, it has been hailed as perhaps the “most ambitious free trade project since the creation of the World Trade Organization itself” by Martyn Davies, the managing director of Emerging Markets at Deloitte Africa.

The question is: are African countries harnessing this potential offered by the AfCFTA? According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), intra-Africa exports amount to only 16.6% of total trade.

Lwazi Mboyi, the Acting CEO of the Southern African Cross-Border Road Transport Agency (C-BRTA), says there is a need for strategic partnerships between regional and corridor-based institutions, trade and transport stakeholders (such as the Cross-Border Road Transport Regulators Forum – a regional forum of regulatory authorities) and related bodies.

This would leverage collaborative efforts towards resolving the bottlenecks affecting cross-border transport and regional trade.

“It is imperative that we decisively deal with operational constraints and Non-Tariff Barriers which negatively affect the performance of the cross-border transport system and in the corridors linking the COMESA-EAC-SADC tripartite and beyond,” said Mboyi.

He added: “As we do this, we must aim to ensure that cross-border road transport operations are underpinned by firstly, a harmonised regulatory environment and secondly; a predictable operating environment.”.

Mosh Matsena

The reality is that it’s not just policies and procedural shortcomings that have resulted in limited cross-border trade volumes in Africa. We have to look deeper into why intra-African trade has been slow to gain traction, leading to Africa’s ongoing heavy reliance on foreign imports.

The unfortunate truth is that African countries don’t always view their counterparts on the continent in a favourable light. This is due various reasons such as historical conflicts between countries or regions, as well as poor political and trade relationships.

There are also negative perceptions about doing business in Africa, including lack of basic infrastructure for trade, not living up to global quality standards, having weak governance structures and simply not being a viable choice for successful business operations.

While some of these views do hold some merit (especially in terms of past trade environments), a lot has changed over the last decade. Many African countries have continually, and consistently enhanced and improved their systems and processes relating to trade and economic development.

Sadly, negative perceptions have not always shifted in line with these positive changes and advancements despite data and projections showing huge potential for such countries, and the continent as a whole. This lack of recognition of socio-economic growth indicators negatively impacts intra-African trade.

Stimulating trade

To stimulate intra-African trade, we need to understand the current limitations and opportunities on the continent. There is need to change the narrative about Africa. The narrative needs to be future-forward and reflective of where the continent is headed.

For transformation to truly happen in Africa, we need the buy-in and support of all stakeholders, not just government and policymakers.

Private sector needs to be open to the conversation of doing more and more business on the continent and explore local partnerships to an exponentially larger extent.

However, for this to work, stakeholders and decision-makers need to be committed to tangibly improving trade and development in Africa in terms of raising the bar when it comes to excellence, service delivery, infrastructure, ethical business practice, policies and other related factors.

According to a 2021 white paper released by the World Economic Forum (in collaboration with Deloitte), the current insufficient and inert interlinkages between African economies have exacerbated the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the continent’s supply chains.

The report states that “the continent can do little to counter the global forces inclining towards deglobalization, but it can itself embrace a self-supportive regionalism through enhanced intra-African trade, not to mention promoting Africa as an enhanced destination for investment from multinationals”.

Communication is key

In order to successfully boost intra-African economic trade, we need to put in a lot of work to improve trade, development and business systems that promote trade across the continent.

Most importantly, we also have to communicate effectively in order to get the message across and really change the narrative. To achieve this, we need more open channels of communication and dialogue regarding connecting African businesses and organisations to each other.

Platforms such as webinars, round-table discussions, cross-border trade shows such as the upcoming 2021 Intra-African Trade Fair in Durban, South Africa this November, and networking events are effective ways to stimulate interaction that leads to collaboration.

In fact, we all as players within the African economic eco-systems need to be “ambassadors” when it comes to brand building for the continent. Such an approach will benefit businesses, countries, and Africa as a whole – and this “bigger picture” vision is what will move the continent forward in a very intentional and tangible manner.

This communication process should be a productive cycle – make positive changes, communicate about these changes, this then leads to more positive shifts in perceptions, which comes back again to more positive changes.

The bottom line is that, as Africans, we need to take more responsibility for how we see each other, and how others see us.

Let us all rise to the challenge, using the AfCFTA as a springboard to stimulate business relations with our African counterparts. Africa’s time is now, so let’s make it happen – together.

Source: Africa Renewal, United Nations.

Mosh Matsena is the founder and CEO of 1Africa Consulting, a South African-based strategic communications and business solutions agency.


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WTO Finished Without TRIPS Waiver

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury
KUALA LUMPUR and SYDNEY, Nov 16 2021 – Quickly enabling greater and more affordable production of and access to COVID-19 medical needs is urgently needed in the South. Such progress will also foster much needed goodwill for international cooperation, multilateralism and sustainable development.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

The World Trade Organization (WTO) will soon decide on a conditional temporary waiver of Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The waiver was proposed by South Africa and India on 2 October 2020. Two-thirds of the 164 WTO members – mainly developing countries – support it.

But sustained European efforts – of Switzerland, the UK and the EU, led by Germany – have blocked progress ahead of the WTO ministerial starting 30 November. Meanwhile, ongoing text-based discussions seem to be leading nowhere.

IP not needed for innovation
Affordable vaccines and drugs have been crucial for eliminating infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS, polio and smallpox. But despite strong evidence to the contrary, advocates insist intellectual property rights (IPRs) are needed to incentivize innovation.

Development of COVID-19 vaccines and other therapeutics have been accelerated by considerable government financing. Only six major vaccine developers received over US$12 billion in public funding. Projected revenue from their IP monopolies will exceed tens of billions.

Supply shortages have disrupted vaccine supplies. IP monopolies block competition, making it hard to quickly increase supplies. Thanks to patent protection, for example, only four companies produce plastic bioreactor bags needed to make vaccines.

Cross-border IP enforcement has been enhanced by TRIPS in 1995. The African walkout from the 1999 Seattle ministerial highlighted the WTO’s rich country bias. As part of the compromise to revive WTO talks, TRIPS has included a ‘public health exception’ since 2001.

Anis Chowdhury

Subject to onerous conditions and paying fair compensation, ‘compulsory licensing’ allows making patented products using processes without patentholder consent. Yet, European negotiators still insist that voluntary licensing provisions are enough.

All licensing requires case-by-case, patentholder-by-patentholder, country-by-country negotiations. But licensing is only limited to patents, without requiring sharing ‘industrial secrets’ needed to make complex biochemical compounds.

Time consuming, onerous and costly, such negotiations are beyond the means of most poor countries. Worse, some high-income country (HIC) governments have blocked such licensing, even when agreed to by companies.

IP deepens inequalities
The World Health Organization Director-General has noted four-fifths of vaccine doses went to HICs or upper middle-income countries (MICs). Rich countries – with a seventh of the world’s population – had bought over half the first 7.5 billion vaccine doses by November 2020.

Meanwhile, only 1.5% in low-income countries (LICs) were vaccinated by August 2021. Much of the variation in infection and death rates is due to unequal access, not only to vaccines, but also diagnostic tests, medical therapies, protective equipment, devices, equipment and other needs.

The private-public COVAX facility had promised to deliver two billion vaccine doses by end-2021, and to reach a fifth of the people in 92 LICs. But less than half a billion doses have been delivered so far.

Australian academic Deborah Gleeson warns that even as promising new treatments become available, they will be too costly for most in LICs and many MICs. Diagnostic tests are unequally distributed, with HICs averaging over a hundred times more than LICs.

And even when governments and companies are willing to license others to supply small LICs with low-cost generics, most MICs are excluded. Worse, some high-income country (HIC) governments have blocked such licensing, even when agreed to by companies.

Some HICs have been embarrassed into sharing millions of their unused excess vaccine doses. But of the 1.8 billion doses promised so far, only 14% has gone to LICs. Such donations of funds and other needs undoubtedly help.

But such unpredictable acts of charity – e.g., by HICs who bought far more than they needed – are hardly enough. Manufacturing capacity in the developing world must still be enhanced to meet overall needs. This requires the waiver.

Contrary to the claim that the South lacks manufacturing capacity, vaccines have long been made in over eighty developing countries. Although novel, mRNA vaccine manufacture involves less steps, ingredients and physical capacity than traditional vaccines. MSF has identified many capable producers in the South.

TRIPS waiver urgently needed
TRIPS provides 20-year monopolies for patents. These have often been ‘evergreened’, i.e., extended, sometimes indefinitely, ostensibly to reward additional innovation. Thus, most developing countries have been prevented from meeting their health needs more affordably.

The temporary waiver would allow companies everywhere to produce the required items and use patented technologies without infringing IP. Supplies would increase and prices fall. Currently, access to COVID-19 needs is very inequitable, deepening the yawning gap between HICs and LICs.

The revised 21 May text clarifies the proposed waiver is for at least three years from the decision date, subject to annual review. It would cover products and technologies – including vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, devices, protective equipment, materials, components, methods and means of manufacture.

The proposal also covers the application, implementation and enforcement of TRIPS provisions on patents, copyrights, designs and other protected information, e.g., undisclosed manufacturing blueprints and industrial secrets.

Thus, the waiver has long been urgently needed to contain the pandemic worldwide. But rich countries have successfully blocked progress thus far despite the heavy human and economic toll it has taken.

Game changer
Unlike the more flexible arrangements of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the WTO framework and negotiating priorities have undermined developmental aspirations.

The South has been undermined by rich countries’ betrayal of the 2001 Doha compromise. After ‘softly’ killing the ‘Development Round’ promised then, rich countries can now redeem themselves by supporting the waiver.

Almost two years after COVID-19 was first recognized, the pandemic continues to threaten the world, with poor countries and people now worse affected. The devastation could be partly mitigated if developing countries could meet their pandemic needs without fear of litigation for IP infringement.

A TRIPS Council meeting is scheduled for 16 November, before the four-day WTO Ministerial Council meeting from 30 November. The waiver would also encourage renewed international cooperation, long undermined by destructive rivalry and competition.

By refusing to make concessions, rich countries would not only jeopardize the WTO, but also the world’s ability to urgently contain the pandemic. With complementary financial resource transfers, they can restore the goodwill urgently needed for international cooperation and to revive multilateralism.


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The Squid Game: The Story about Losers in the Shadow of Glory

Korea is one of the world’s top economies. Yet, behind the success, many feel alienated. Does the recent hit show Squid Game, reflect the underbelly of the society’s success? Credit: Ori Song/Unsplash

By Ahn Mi Young
Seoul, Nov 16 2021 – Immediately after its release, the Squid Game went viral, grabbing the attention of the world’s entertainment stage. The grotesque and hyper-violent thriller has reportedly become Netflix’s biggest show, the world’s most-watched and the most-talked-about streaming entertainment. Is it a case of art imitating life?

The global rise of Korean entertainment is reminiscent of South Korea’s rags-to-rich story. The once war-stricken country with per-capita GDP of 67 US dollars after the 1950-53 Korean War has become one of the world’s top economies with a per-capita GDP of 32,860 US dollars in 2020.

South Koreans enjoy high-tech conveniences, and many of their enterprises are sought after internationally, including home electronics, vehicles and ships.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, success stories abound about its business, technology or entertainment industries.

K-pop BTS is now a global star who often tops the Billboard charts. A few years ago, it was unthinkable that Korean entertainment could surpass the content produced in the United States.

Squid Game has become a global success. Is it a case of art imitating life?

“The Squid Game has become a hope for our students to go to the global stage,” Kim Sang-Hoon, a professor at Cheju Halla University who teaches future talents video-making or filmmaking or broadcasting, told IPS.

However, the storyline suggests that success is not the only parameter with which to measure Korean society. Squid Game is a story of the “losers” who dropped out from the success story.

The hero, Gi-Hoon, was in debt after losing his job and squandering his money on a horse-racing game. He got divorced and missed his ten-year-old estranged daughter. Sang-Woo was once a brilliant stockbroker but went broke after gambling away his money.

The drama director Hwang Dong-Hyeok told local media: “In fact, I used to be one of the losers.”

He elaborated that “as a boy of a single-mother at the backstreet of Seoul, I used to be a boy at the back street spending almost the whole day playing the games (all of which) appear in the Squid Game”.

Although many more South Korean people live the “most affluent life” ever in the country’s history, many people feel like they are playing the squid game, where a few winners take all at the expense of many losers.

In the Squid Game, an elderly character Ilnam said to another character, Gi-Hoon, while playing marbles: “Cheating on others is OK, but being cheated, is not OK?”

This soundbite is one that many South Koreans identified with.

“I felt thrilled when I heard this because it sounds like our reality,” said Ko June-Ho, a South Korean fan and a university student told IPS. He added he identified with so much in the story. “When the elderly character Il-Nam met Ki-Hoon after the squid game, Il-Nam said: ‘Life here (outside the game) is more hellish (than the life I spent in the squid game)’.”

In the death game, the losers are separated from their family, friends and community. Like Sae-Byok, a North Korean woman defector struggles to rebuild her lost family connections but all in vain. Or, Ali, a worker from Pakistan, is in debt because his Korean employer didn’t pay him. Even the elderly character Il-Nam, the Squid Game host, is wealthy but misses his old family ties. He tells Gi-Hoon: “I used to live with my family”.

Some experts say that the squid game losers are like South Korean losers, who feel isolated from the glory story.

Ironically, South Korea, one of the world’s most affluent countries, records one of the world’s top suicide rates. South Korea’s suicide rate in 2020 was the average of 25.7 suicides per 100,000 persons, compared with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries average of 10.9 suicides.

While technology businesses, like the online selling platform Coopang, have become successful during the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurant owners were forced to shut down because of regulations. The impact is clear.

Dr Park Chanmin, Seoul Central Mental Health Clinic, reflects this in a recent interview here.

“Since the start of the pandemic, people have become more and more worried about their jobs, they are seeing their incomes falling, and that is having an impact on their day-to-day lives.”

Asia Nikkei reported that a study by the Korea Economic Research Institute found that sales by independent merchants were down 78.5% in the first half of the year from the same period in 2020, with 58% of respondents attributing the decline to COVID.

Sanjog Lama, a Nepali student who studies hotel management in South Korea, believes the show was excellent.

“The cast and crews have done such an outstanding job. On top of that, the content of the series is just superb. It is thrilling, many scenes are gruesome, yet there is meaning in it.”

Another South Korean fan, Lee Ji-Hyeon, said: “The drama was like a puzzle game. I felt thrilled as I was putting the pieces of actors’ talk and each scene together so that I kept thinking about what it means and how it will be related to the next move.”

However, even in the extreme death game, the underlying warmth of the South Korean traditional culture is reflected.

The thriller’s punch line, with “Kkak-Ttu-gi” or “Kkan-Bu”, demonstrates Korean culture. The elderly Il-Nam says to Gi-Hoon: “Let’s make ‘Kkan-Bu” friendship between two of us.”

Kkan-Bu is a life-long friendship that lasts unchanged regardless of whether a person is a loser or a winner. Some characters made decisions that touched the heart of the fans.

Gi-Hoon did not give up their heart even in the live-or-die moment. Ji-Young gives up her life to let her game partner Sae-Byok can win the game. Even the hardened heart of the elderly Il-Nam softens as the senior and becomes friends with warm-hearted Gi-Hoon.

Another female character Mi-Nyo said: “They call me Kkak-Ttu-gi” In Korean children’s games.”

Kkak-Ttu-Gi shows how Korean culture values human connection. Even though the player is poor and cannot contribute, the team won’t kick them out.

There is irony in the money matters. Even though Gi-Hoon emerges as the winner of the game, grabbing $40 million, his life did not change. When he returns home after the game, he finds his mother dead. He remains a divorced, lonely man. Even though he has the prize in his bank account, he doesn’t spend it. Instead, he borrows Won10,000 from a banker and gives it to a street flower-selling woman.

“The drama makes me think about what matters in my life. People risk their lives for money, which turns out to be no solution,” said South Korean fan Lee Ji-Hyeon.


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