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Economics

Libya and the UN hope for a path to stability with a General Election

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An international conference held in Paris on Friday aimed to seek a final agreement on Libya’s proposed General Election on 24th December and the removal of foreign forces from the country. Leaders of France, Libya, Germany, Italy, and Egypt were present alongside the US Vice President to push for this plan. The UN also urged the countries present at the conference to put Libya and its people’s interest at heart of the conference while making any decisions. 

In a video message to the conference in Paris, the UN Secretary General António Guterres said: 

“Libya today is closer than it has been for many years to solving its internal crisis and breaking the cycle of political transitions.  We cannot miss this opportunity […] I strongly urge Libyans to come together in a spirit of national unity, to overcome remaining differences, and forge a consensus on the legal framework for the elections, in consultation with all relevant national institutions, adhering to their rules and procedures.” 

Secretary General Guterres also called for an end to foreign interference in Libya as it works towards achieving stability in the coming weeks and months. He also urged for reconciliation and establishment of law and order in the country stating: 

“We also need to extend our collective focus to supporting national reconciliation efforts, and to building and strengthening rule of law institutions founded on human rights… and we need transparent and equitable management of Libya’s wealth, as a starting point for the inclusive, sustainable development Libyans so desperately need.”

Although the UN hopes for the General Election to take place in December, there remain several issues unresolved. For example, which political parties and leaders would be contesting in the elections, how aware are the Libyan population of who to vote for and will the elections be fair and safe?

Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah has mentioned that his government is trying to set new rules to ensure the running of elections smoothly, but the new electoral rules and guidelines are being scrutinized by the opposing political party. 

Libya has been in severe political and economic instability ever since Muammar Gadaffi was overthrown a decade ago. While this new settlement with the UN and the western powers offers hope to Libya and its people for a better and stable future, there is still plenty left to resolve before it becomes apparent. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Historian of Modern World History, with special interest in history of modern Europe and Britain. I also have a keen interest in politics, systems of rule, international relations and current affairs.

Business

The biggest challenges facing managers in the current economic climate

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The current economic climate is undoubtedly a very challenging one – not only for new managers, but for experienced and veteran managers in almost every industry. As a result of ‘the Great Lockdown,’ a Covid-19 recession began in February 2020 and has been touted as the worst global financial crises since the Great Depression. This was characterised by the contraction of the global economy by 3.5% and resulted in high inflations, high unemployment rates, depreciation of major as well as minor currencies, low GDPs and per capita incomes all over the world. The downturn impact of this, evidently brought trying moments for virtually all industries around the world particularly with the onset of the stock market crash.  

The exigencies of the time implied that the strongest of managerial skills was required for organizations to maintain economic activity and navigate the doldrums of the pandemic. The finest of business acumen is a necessity although daunting for managers. Despite the challenges in almost every industry of all economies, there are several opportunities that managers can capitalise on to overcome these challenges and significantly improve their managerial competencies.

Demonstrating leadership through effective use of power and influence, is necessary during the recession. The scale of the pandemic and unpredictability remains challenging as managers deal with disrupted business models and managing the psychological impact of the pandemic on employees. The first fundamental principle for a manager to be successful is for him or her to assume that leadership position rather than just see himself or herself as a manager. As author John Maxwell states, the main difference between the two is that leadership is about influencing people to follow, while management focuses on maintaining systems and processes. Managers must therefore rely on their influence to re-organise the work processes and policies for a positive work environment. One of such qualities is ‘compassion leadership’, which encourages staff to regard a manager as reliable and keeps them focused on productivity rather than speculation and anxiety which are detrimental to productivity under challenging circumstances. 

Managers have also been saddled with the burden of making tough decision such as protecting employee health and safety, re-structuring policies or work processes, re-delegating tasks and even for worst hit industries, laying off employees or reducing salaries to keep businesses afloat and maintain productivity. The absence from work by highly skilled staff due to infections and identifying temporary replacements were inevitable. This was more aggravated in situations where managers were also prone to infections which meant that their roles may have also required interim support. Instead of making data-driven decisions, managers had to make unplanned – but reasonable – decisions. This required strategy and innovation; most of which challenged the status quo to sustain businesses. Apple for instance, was among the first large retailers to close most of its stores globally in response to the pandemic. Such a decision was critical to controlling the spread of the virus although not part of the company’s initial strategies for the business. Most organisations were compelled to adopt a more digital approach to their business processes, thus such decisions saw them cut their future digitalisation plans from taking years to weeks. 

As the current economic environment is not favourable for businesses, another challenge for new mangers is addressing the skills gap by upskilling themselves and subordinates to develop skills and competencies necessary to keep them effective, re-organise their business models and improve on performance. Even before the current crisis, changing technologies and new ways of working were disrupting jobs and the skills employees needed to do them. As most businesses switched to online, this implied an investment in people, technologies and systems to enable employees develop the required skill for managing e-commerce businesses. According to a report by McKinsey & Co., the focus of CFOs has shifted toward crisis management and away from longer-term responsibilities such as strategic leadership, organizational change, and finance capabilities. High display of competence was therefore required in performance, to keep up with the keen competition in the market. As Linda A Hill stated in her book: Becoming a Manager: How New Managers Master the Challenges of Leadership “new managers find it challenging to develop the myriad of technical, human and conceptual competences necessary to be effective managers. But the vast majority are more surprised and unnerved by the unexpected necessity of developing new attitudes, mind-set, and values consistent with their new positions.”

The urgency of lockdowns compelled managers to implement short-term ideas under challenging circumstances. Despite all these challenges and more in an economic trying moment like we have, there are many opportunities out there for new managers in all industries. The paradigm shift from the traditional ways of doing things, to a new, more innovative, and highly advanced way of working presents new managers with great opportunities in their industries of operation. The global economy is poised for a post-recession recovery,  and it is appropriate to re-structure business models for the medium to long term. For managers, the necessity for reinforcement of concrete business continuity plans cannot be over-emphasised. The practical experience learned from the impact of the pandemic, should be a learning curve toward implementing feasible strategies to mitigate the impact of uncontrollable threats such as a pandemic to a businesses’ operations. 

Embracing e-commerce and e-purchasing are also great opportunities available to new managers in most industries. Through trade liberalization and globalization, managers can take their businesses outside of the geographical boundaries. E-commerce and the recently added M-commerce are important opportunities available to managers to facilitate trades of such nature. Instead of the traditional hustle of carrying products around the world to advertise, new managers can now reach bigger target groups while stationed in one geographical area. 

The economic climate might not be the very best now.  But what new managers must realise is that the confrontation of challenges in any industry is inevitable. However, these challenges if addressed comprehensively, can become opportunities to derive competitive edge over other managers and help their businesses to thrive in industry. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Economics

US impose treasury sanctions over Eritrean involvement

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The US Department of Treasury has imposed sanctions on those who are backing the unrest in Ethiopia. In a press statement released by the Biden administration on Friday, the sanctions were applied on the four organisations and two personals. These include the Eritrean Defense Force (EDF), a political party called People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), a company associated with the PFDJ called Hidri Trust and Red Sea Trading Corporation (RSTC). The Head of national security of Eritrea and the economic advisor of PFDJ will also be facing the consequences of the sanctions. The director of OFAC, Andrea M. Gacki, said that the action has been taken against “the continued role played by Eritrean actors who are contributing to the violence in northern Ethiopia, which has undermined the stability and integrity of the state and resulted in a humanitarian disaster”

The results of these sanctions mean that “all property and interests in property of the persons named above that are in the United States, or the possession or control of US persons, are blocked and must be reported to OFAC”

The action that came from the US after the conflict that started in 2020 has gotten worse with the death of thousands of Ethiopians and the displacement of more than 2 million people. The conflict between Ethiopia, which is being ruled by a 2019 Nobel Prize winner, Abiy Ahmed Ali, and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has raised concerns from the international communities for various violations of human rights. A report released by United Nations Human Rights Office disclosed that various “violations of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity” have been made during the conflict. The refugees from the conflicted areas have reported abuse, rape, torture, and forced displacements. 

Responding to sanctions, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ethiopia has come in to stand with the Eritrean government and has released a statement calling that the “US has failed to consider important facts” while imposing sanctions. The press statement called out to the US to reconsider its actions and “Take action against the real root cause of the current challenges in the Ethiopia- TELF.”

The Information Minister of Eritrea, Yemane G. Meske, also took to Twitter to condemn the US decision and called it a “unilateral sanction, that shifts the blame to & scapegoats Eritrea on the basis of spurious allegations.” He also called these sanctions “illicit” and “immoral”.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Economics

Effects of illegal mining on agrobiodiversity in Ghana

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Mining is an old economic activity that has series of benefits for most countries. Products from mining are used to develop different products and resources that are essential for the development of nations. Think about sand for the construction of buildings, different types of rocks used in road constructions, gold, bauxite, manganese, steel, iron, fuel for our vehicles, just to mention a few. All these are products of mining, which indeed is an engine for industrial growth. Most countries also receive foreign investment from the mining industry which helps to stimulate the economy. Mining, therefore, includes all forms of activities that extract materials from the Earth’s surface. This involves the extraction of metals, oil, quarrying, sand winning among others. Metal/mineral mining in Ghana has received much attention as a historic mining activity that began even before the arrival of the colonial masters. It is reported that mining of gold began around the 6th Century and a large deposit of gold earned the country the name ‘Gold Coast’. Until recently around 2007, the country discovered oil and has started drilling oil along the coast. The drilling of oil in commercial quantities began around December 2010.

To engage in mining activities in Ghana, one requires a mining lease after having a prospecting license to explore the presence of minerals in a geographical area. However, many people have resorted to mining without obtaining a mining lease. There are large-scale and small-scale mining activities and most often, large-scale mining companies, mostly foreign-owned, which obtain mining leases before operating. Small-scale mining activities, which are restricted to only indigenes of Ghana equally requires the acquisition of mining lease from the Minerals Commission. However, a number of small-scale mining companies are operating without the requisite mining leases and permits from other agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and relevant District Assemblies, making their activities illegal. Illegal mining activities in Ghana is popularly referred to as ‘galamsey’ historically known as ‘gather the gold and sell’.

Mining provides a lot of benefits to various countries. It is reported that mining contributes about 9.1% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country and employs about 300,000 people. In as much as the mining sector provides a greater percentage of jobs to people in the local communities especially the galamsey activities, their nature of operations results in degradation of the land which has implications on agrobiodiversity. 

Agrobiodiversity includes all forms of agricultural activities, thus deliberate cultivation of crops on the land, rearing of animals, fish farming, and other microbial and genetic resources. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) defines agrobiodiversity as “all components of biological diversity of relevance to food and agriculture, and all components of biological diversity that constitute the agricultural ecosystems, also named agro-ecosystems: the variety and variability of animals, plants and micro-organisms, at the genetic, species and ecosystem levels, which are necessary to sustain key functions of the agro-ecosystem, its structure and processes”. Agricultural activities equally offer employment to most people as about half of the population in Ghana is said to be employed within the agricultural sector especially those at the grass-root level. However, agrarian activities are negatively impacted by the illegal miners’ activities as they are indifferent about what happens to the land afterwards, their interest being to get the mineral and sell it for their gains. Hence, they use all kinds of chemicals to mine the metals. They also lack the requisite skills to operate and the nature of machines used is such that they leave vast areas degraded. It is important to note that few people may benefit from these forms of degradation to their economic gain whilst they leave gargantuan devastating effects of agrobiodiversity and all those involved in the agricultural value chain.

Most of the time, these illegal miners will invade farmlands to mine, cutting down the life support of many people and the economy for ages. After their operations, the lands can no longer support plants growth. In cases, where plants survive in such areas, the chemicals in the soil penetrate the crops which have implications on the health of consumers. Lands that could otherwise be used for agricultural activities are destroyed by the activities of galamsey miners which affects crops production. Fish farming becomes impossible as rivers and streams are destroyed and cannot support aquatic life forms. Even though the laws in Ghana frown on mining in water bodies, illegal miners engage in such activities polluting the rivers and streams that support the livelihoods of millions of people especially those involved in the agricultural sector. Both mining and agricultural activities provide employment and contribute to the GDP of a country. However, through such exploitation, no food or water is good for consumption, and it would have implications on the health of residents. They will not be healthy to operate the other sectors of the economy including the mining sector itself. The health of the nation depends on various forms of food which are provided by agrobiodiversity.

To achieve the sustainable development goals on poverty reduction and environmental quality, it will be important for government institutions such as the Minerals Commission, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation and other stakeholders to come together to strategize and harmonise on ways to acquire a license and enforcement of mining regulations. The Minerals Commission has lists of those who have mining leases, and so it should be easy to have an idea of those operating without a license. There should be dialogue with these illegal miners, to educate them on the devastating effects of their actions and inactions on the environment and provide them with alternative sources of income. In some cases, alternative activities fetch lesser income as compared with the mining sector so they may be unwilling to engage in these alternative programs. However, with constant education and enforcement of the laws on illegal mining, such attitudes may change. This requires serious government commitment to the fight against illegal mining.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Fatima Eshun (Ph.D.), University of Environment and Sustainable Development, Department of Geography and Earth Science, Somanya, Eastern Region, Ghana

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Economics

Poland stops hundreds of migrants from entering Belarus

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Grzegorz W. Tężycki, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Thousands of migrants and refugees are camping out in Belarus in freezing temperatures after Polish security forces stopped those attempting to cross the border. On Monday, the situation further deteriorated as hundreds of people marched towards the Polish border. It is reported that around 300 attempts had been made to cross illegally. Some attempted to break through a wire fence with spades and other equipment. Furthermore, the Poland government has deployed 12,000 troops to the region and also increased the number of soldiers, border guards, and police to prevent refugees and migrants from crossing the border. After videos on social media claimed to show a stream of hundreds of migrants travelling towards Poland, Poland’s defence ministry shared aerial footage showing migrants gathering on the Belarusian side of the border fence near the Polish village of Kuznica.

For months, Poland has tried to accuse Belarus of attempting to cause a major conflict by encouraging migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa to enter Central Europe and the wider European Union in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed on longtime President Alexander Lukashenko’s government. As a huge influx of migrants attempted to force their way into Poland from its eastern neighbour, Polish officials accused Belarus of attempting to engineer a crisis on their common border. On Monday, Polish police prevented hundreds of individuals from entering the nation after Belarusian authorities had escorted them to the border. The interior ministry later stated that an early effort to enter the country had been stopped. 

On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged that the EU provide financial support to Belarus in order to encourage it to halt migrants from entering the EU. Belarus has been accused by Poland and the EU of manipulating the migrant flow to undermine its neighbour. However, Lavrov stated that the EU must be consistent in how it treats third nations exploited by migrants to enter the bloc. Human rights organisations have criticised both Poland and Belarus for their mistreatment and management of migrants and refugees, who are subjected to sub-zero conditions and a lack of food and medical care.

The situation between Poland and Belarus is only getting worse, the conditions are extremely hard; there is very limited access to food and water, as well as no access to warm shelter. These people are not receiving basic humanitarian aid. Belarus is responsible for giving aid to these individuals and, first and foremost, not using them as political instruments to increase pressure on the EU, but Poland is also obligated to give assistance to these people.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Economics

Australian Muslims and discrimination

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Australia still has a long way to go in accepting Muslim migrants, with a recent report from the Australian Human Rights Commission finding 80% of them have experienced discrimination related to religion, race, and ethnicity.

The survey conducted online was completed by over 1,000 Australian Muslims in every state and territory. The study also involved broad consultations with Muslim communities all around Australia.

Published in July this year, the report found that half of all respondents faced discrimination from law enforcements or when seeking employment and an estimate of 29% received unfavourable treatment in school settings.

Yet, 63% of those surveyed agreed that Australia was a welcoming society, more than two in three did not see any conflict between being a Muslims and being an Australian and three quarters said that they do feel Australian. 

Likewise, a study conducted by the Pew Research centre in 2019 found at the top of the list of global concerns, Islamist extremism ranked highest in Australia just under climate change. 

These negative associations between Muslim communities in Australia, and radical terrorist organisations has partly been an unfortunate consequence of Radical Islamist Terrorism, dominating attention over other forms of political violence. 

It’s important however, to acknowledge that such radicalism stems from a long history of orthodox Wahabi interpretation of Islam. 

This is an ideology common in groups like ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban and even promoted by countries like Saudi Arabia.

Griffith University, Associate Professor of Islamic studies Halim Rane in an interview conducted by a Griffith student journalist said,

“There is a small number of Muslims in Australia who have engaged in acts of terrorism. There was one report in Time magazine that said that in 2014, Australia had the highest number per capita of Western exports to fight for ISIS. Now we are a relatively small country with a relatively small Muslim population, so it’s talking about the per capita. We also know that about 50 Muslim Australian men have been imprisoned on terrorism related charges over the past say, 15 or 16 years. So, there is a problem there.” 

Upon asking where the problem comes from and why it is there, Professor Halim said, 

“I think we’ve got to look more broadly at the Muslim world to see what’s been going on over the past 50-60 years. And one of the big factors here is a particular ideology or a particular interpretation of Islam that’s generally referred to as Salafism. But more specifically, we’re talking about the Saudi version of that, which is Wahhabism. And if you look at the various, Muslim extremist groups or terrorist groups, however you want to turn them, ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, what they have in common is not that they’re Muslim, I mean, that doesn’t really tell us anything. There are 1.8 billion Muslims on the planet, and overwhelmingly Muslims reject terrorism and conflict with other people. But what we do find common among these groups is that they all subscribe to this Wahhabi ideology. So, this has been something that has been promoted around the Muslim world since the 1960s, but particularly since the 1970s, including in Western countries, including Australia.”

However, a 2019 national survey Islam in Australia of 1,034 participants, conducted by Professor Halim Rane and his team of researchers at Griffith University’s Centre for Social and Cultural Research, found 90% so respondents when asked whether Islam permits fighting against or attacks against civilians, said Islam never permits this.

When asked does Islam sometimes permits this? The number dropped to 4% who said Islam sometimes permits this and lastly when asked does Islam generally permit this, less than 1% said yes Islam generally permits violence against civilians. 

These figures go to show that a vast majority of Australian Muslims reject any links between the religion of Islam and violent extremism.

Correspondingly, the Australian health commission survey found that Australia’s Muslim communities make a substantial economic, community and charitable contributions to Australian society. Yet they face a widespread discrimination, which 23% of respondents said they felt unable to speak about. 

The report further mentioned community solutions to overcome anti-racist and anti-Islamic sentiments, through community engagement, Public awareness education, visible allies, and increased representation of Australian Muslims in the media. 

The government on the other hand, for years now has been reluctant to admit that Islamophobia is a very real problem in Australia. 

Race discrimination commissioner Chin Tan says this national report shows the need for serious attention to support Muslim communities in Australia and “improve social cohesion”.

Mr. Tan says racism is a major economic, social, and national security threat to Australia. 

“It’s not enough to simply condemn racism,” he says, “we need a coordinated strategy that works on many fronts to actively counter racism at the various levels that it occurs.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Economics

Increasing Lebanese fuel prices cause further misery

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Lebanon was faced with an acute gasoline shortage this summer and while the situation has become better with no further fuel shortages in the country, a major hiccup that people are facing now is that they are not able to afford the cost of the fuel. As subsidies have been lifted from fuel prices, people are finding it difficult to top up their vehicles even partially as fuel prices are at an all-time high. The price to refill a car to the full now costs more than the minimum wage of the country.

With Lebanon facing its biggest economic crunch as the country’s currency has been steadily losing its value since 2019. The World Bank has ranked this economic crunch among the world’s three worst over the past 150 years and has described this situation as one of the sharpest depressions in modern times. Therefore the new government which was formed under Prime Minister Najib Mikati has been steadily lifting subsidies on fuel citing that the country’s economic crisis cannot afford the subsidies that were given before. However the government has promised that measures would be taken to help the needy families navigate through the crisis although the program to take care of the people has not been materialised yet. 

The public transport system has been the worst affected by the petrol hike. The drivers blocked roads and protested and demanded higher wages and to reinstate the subsidies. While one of the public transport unions threatened to shut down a highway to show their displeasure on the government, the protest was called off after the Prime Minister promised that measures to combat the gasoline crisis will be rolled out soon.

The price hike brings fear to the people over the price of other energy sources. Laury Haytayan, who is a gas and oil policy expert and general coordinator of the opposition party, shared worries on how global oil prices could affect the country as subsidies are being lifted, especially as living conditions continue to worsen. He said to Al Jazeera, “All I can say is that they are removing the subsidies now, then all we need to do is sit and pray that the global oil prices don’t go up … so it doesn’t become a burden on us,” 

George Brax who is the spokesperson for the Gas Station Owner’s Syndicate mentioned that gasoline prices could climb even higher if the price of the crude oil goes up and also said gasoline prices will increase as subsidies are being lifted on fuel when the dollar is increasing. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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