African FTA ‘ambitious but achievable’

first_img10 July 2012African countries should not underestimate the task of ensuring that an African Free Trade Area (FTA) gets off the ground, AU Commission director of trade and industry Treasure Maphanga said as the African Union’s 19th summit opened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Monday.Speaking at the Permanent Representatives Committee meeting ahead of the summit’s opening, Maphanga told reporters that getting African countries to trade among each other was a huge task, one that needed commitment from all parties.The theme for this week’s summit is “boosting intra-African trade”, and the heads of state that will arrive later this week are expected to thrash out ideas that will lead to a more valued continent.“We are moving from the premise that this is ambitious, but it’s feasible,” Maphanga said. “This is a project that belongs to the continent, and we [the AU] are agents and facilitators, and our role at the end of the day is to assist in monitoring it to ensure its success.”At an AU summit earlier this year, African leaders endorsed the plan, expected to be operational by the end of 2017.It envisages a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of US$875-billion from 26 countries. The East African Community (EAC), Common Market for Eastern and Central Africa (COMESA) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) have already begun negotiations to merge, which is a precursor to a single trade area across the continent.According to the AU, the three regional economic blocs constitute 58% of the continent’s GDP and 57 percent of its population.South Africa has thrown its weight behind the plan, with President Jacob Zuma saying it would go a long way towards addressing poverty and underdevelopment.“We expect that we will have the opportunity to consolidate the architecture that was adopted at the last summit, and that architecture was very clear in terms of the continental frameworks and the structure that will support the FTA agenda,” Maphanga said.Africa had realised that without trade and investment and speeding-up economic self-reliance, there would be no progress on integration, she added.Critics of the plan have argued, however, that Africa was wrongly integrated into global trade, citing cheap labour and raw materials. There is also doubt on the level of political commitment among the continent’s leaders to push the plan.But Maphanga insisted that member states would be the key drivers of the project and that “there is no need to think too much about what others are saying”.“We have realised that we need a transformation of the patterns on trade. Without industrialisation and the value addition, we will not make any difference at all in terms of future trade patterns.”The Africa trade committee, which consists of heads of state, would need to keep the FTA project alive with regular progress reports to the assembly, and this should go beyond the current summit.She pointed to the progress that she said had been made by East and Southern Africa, singling out Kenya as enjoying the highest level of intra-African trade.A study has shown that Kenya had, over a five-year period from 2006 to 2010, exported horticultural products valued at Ksh30.5-billion – six times the value of imports (Ksh4.8-billion).The exports increased at an annual rate of 14.3%, from Ksh3.9-billion in 2006 to Ksh6.8-billion in 2010, while imports increased at a rate of 26.2%, from Ksh0.6-billion in 2006 to Ksh1.4-billion in 2010.The main market destinations for Kenya exports by value were Somalia (63%), Uganda (10%), Tanzania (8%) and South Africa (5%).“So we see that there are examples, and this is something that countries can look at,” said Maphanga.Source: SANews.gov.zalast_img read more

Read More →

I&K® Hair Piece Stylemaker Elegant Updo Scrunchie Scrunchy Bun Natural Colours – Would like to order again

first_imgSummaryReviewer Nathalie DuboisReview Date2019-11-10 17:29:14Reviewed Item I&K® Hair Piece Stylemaker Elegant Updo Scrunchie Scrunchy Bun Natural Colours (Lightest Blonde 613)Rating 4.1 / 5  stars, based on  26  reviewsPrice£5.99 Really like these. Look real on me However I am able to blend into my own hair quite easily. Best hair piece i’ve bought & i’ve tried many. I purchased the black expresso,i colour my hair with koleston perfect 44/00 & the match was perfect. I will order another one so i have 1 on standby as i’m sure through the summer months & holidays & night outs this will be used a lot. Nothing more chic than an updo,5☆ love love love. Great but where has the white colour gone ?. Very natural looking, would recommend. Natural-looking hairpiece,authentic colour,good value. Blends well with normal hair. Delivered really fast and an absolutely fabulous product. Off to buy three more to stock up. 10/10 , a gold star and a big kiss from me x. Really nice feel to the hair and good condition. Best hair piece I’ve bought & I’ve tried many Brill hair piece came on time as well and looks like my real hair to. I have a few scrunchies as i’m growing my hair out. This is by far my favourite as it’s much straighter than the others so more flexible. I can even get the megan markle look with it. I’ll ordering another shortly. Best bun piece i’ve purchased would definately buy again. This is a really lovely hairpiece. I have shoulder length hair but it doesn’t make much of an undo. This hairpiece makes a natural looking bum. I ordered the mid brown which is really quite dark. However i am able to blend into my own hair quite easily. Sprayed it with dry shampoo. Really nice feel, soft & silky. Don’t look at all fake on me. Loving using a few different ones to give me more volume. Great product consider the cheap price – had lots of compliments and it is a really good colour match. last_img read more

Read More →

The Energy Star Audit Wobble

first_imgChasing down and highlighting misleading, incorrect, and occasionally fraudulent product claims is a fun game. So is acknowledging, through unbiased testing, praiseworthy, consumer-friendly products. But for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, testing and verifying that a product meets the energy efficiency standards claimed by its manufacturer is the only game and the key to the program’s credibility.Last week, as the Government Accountability Office prepared to release a report citing weaknesses in Energy Star’s product-approval system, the New York Times previewed the document by citing a few bogus items, among 20 that had been submitted for Energy Star partnership, that had received Energy Star ratings, including an “air purifier” that in fact was an electric space heater with a feather duster glued to its grille, a gas-powered alarm clock, a geothermal heat pump, a computer monitor, and a refrigerator.Undermining the Energy Star labelThe GAO report would make entertaining reading but for the fact that the Energy Star program is promoted through tax credits and appliance rebates, federal agencies are required to purchase certain Energy Star-certified products, and, perhaps most critically, the program is presented as trustworthy and allows companies use Energy Star certification to market their products.The four phony products noted above were among 20 submitted for Energy Star certification. A total of 15 were approved, 2 were rejected by the program, and certification requests for 3 received no response, according to the GAO report. Four fake companies and individuals offered the products for certification.The upshot is, basically, that Energy Star, which is run jointly by the EPA and the Department of Energy, is a self-certification program. Its approval process also is in large part automated to the point where preliminary screening for bogus products and performance claims is nonexistent. The EPA points out there are after-market tests and self-policing procedures that ensure standards are maintained. An agency official also told the Times that certifications of the fake products didn’t pose a problem for consumers because the products don’t exist. That comment, unfortunately, seemed to draw additional attention to the EPA’s nonexistent pre-certification testing process.Testing … testing … one … two … three …This is hardly the first time Energy Star’s weaknesses have come in for criticism. One of the more recent critiques, titled “Energy Star Program Integrity Can Be Enhanced through Expanded Product Testing,” was published in November by the EPA’s Office of Inspector General and essentially foreshadowed the recommendations of the GAO report.Product testing, performance verification, quality assurance, well defined compliance standards for third-party testing, program oversight – all of the suggestions point to the need for properly developed and applied testing and certification protocols. It is, to be fair, a tall order – about 40,000 products, from more than 2,400 manufacturers, have Energy Star certification – but last week the EPA promised improvements. It obviously will have to act aggressively and no doubt will find plenty of weeding to do. I did, however, find the idea of a gas-powered alarm clock intriguing.last_img read more

Read More →

Energy Efficiency Incentives Need Updating

first_imgA broad coalition representing millions of Americans earlier this month urged Congress to modernize and extend expired energy efficiency tax incentives, touting the enormous, long-term benefits for both the industry and U.S. consumers. The coalition is comprised of environmental and efficiency groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, alongside leading manufacturers of windows, air conditioners, insulation, and other efficiency components that generate a significant number of U.S. jobs. (In total, energy efficiency supports 2.3 million U.S. workers.) Energy efficiency is generally considered the most effective solution for addressing climate change. But as the letter addressed to House and Senate leaders points out, three efficiency incentives expired on Dec. 31, 2017, leaving the tax code without any direct inducements to cut energy waste.RELATED ARTICLES‘All New Construction and Retrofits Must Be Carbon-Neutral’‘Always On’ Electronics and Appliances Waste BillionsA Fight Ahead For Solar Equipment Tax CreditsA (Potentially) Stronger Weatherization StimulusA Big Plan for Energy Retrofits in New York Meanwhile these incentives, as originally written, are outdated. They reference older building codes or efficiency thresholds, and offer dollar amounts that don’t reflect the current market prices for building technologies and high-efficiency equipment, the letter notes. For example, the incentive to buy a high-efficiency air conditioning system is capped at $300, which isn’t enough to meaningfully affect purchasing decisions on equipment and installation that often runs $10,000 or more. However, the letter says, this “glaring and urgent omission” also represents a golden, bipartisan opportunity. Not only would implementing efficiency credits significantly lower carbon emissions, it would also reduce energy costs for consumers, stimulate job creation, and promote economic opportunity. Tax credits have a proven track record of driving clean energy investments at minimal cost to taxpayers, so lawmakers should be eager to get on board. But because tax incentives have repeatedly expired and been reinstated, consumers, manufacturers, and contractors have found themselves uncertain about their availability, and unable to plan upgrades to the energy efficiency of their buildings accordingly. Thus, the letter also urges Congress to pass a “forward-looking, multi-year extension” that would offer a sense of security to get the most of out of the incentives. The letter calls for increased maximum credits for both new home construction under the Section 45L Energy Efficient Home Credit, as well as homeowner efficiency improvements under the Section 25C Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit for existing homes. It also supports a “modernized, forward-looking, multi-year extension” of the Section 179D incentive for commercial building efficiency improvements. Acting now will cut energy waste for decades Homes and buildings constructed or renovated today will still be in use 50 or 100 years from now; energy-intensive equipment like air conditioners and furnaces will be used for a decade or longer. Because the residential and commercial sector accounts for 40% of U.S. energy consumption, failing to update these incentives now guarantees unnecessary energy waste and carbon emissions for many decades to come. Improved efficiency, on the other hand, will save businesses and consumers hundreds of millions of dollars annually on energy bills, reduce the demand on the utility grid, and make the U.S. more economically competitive. The letter makes note of evidence showing that incentives are utilized more when they are set at meaningful dollar amounts. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, efficiency incentives for home improvements were increased, and nearly 7 million taxpayers claimed them in 2010. In the following years, that number fell to just 2.2 million in 2015, after the incentives dropped to pre-stimulus levels. Proposed changes Previously, the 45L Energy Efficient Home Credit provided builders up to $2,000 for homes that use 50% less energy than 2006 building codes for heating and cooling and a $1,000 tax credit for new manufactured homes that achieved 30% energy savings for heating and cooling or met Energy Star requirements. The proposed increase supported by the group would raise the maximum credit to $2,500 for new homes that meet requirements. Since 45L was enacted in 2005, the number of homes that qualified by using 30% to 50% less energy on heating and cooling rose from less than 1% to around 11%. Similarly, the 25C incentive previously provided a 10% tax credit for the purchase of certain nonbusiness energy-efficient measures up to $500. In 2015, more than $1.6 billion in tax credits were claimed by homeowners who invested in clean energy improvements, with over two-thirds of the benefits going to households with gross incomes under $100,000. The new proposal would raise incentives to provide a 15% tax credit up to $1,200, and also see some individual product category caps eliminated or raised, which would allow homeowners to do multiple projects. Efficiency tax incentives are especially crucial now, as the Trump administration continues its push for more climate-polluting fossil fuels while attempting to undermine the excellent and important progress on energy efficiency. The International Energy Agency reports that efficiency alone can account for at least 40% of the emissions reductions needed to meet global targets. Restoring and improving these incentives offers a bipartisan opportunity that would accomplish goals across the board. Lauren Urbanek is senior energy policy advocate in the Climate & Clean Energy Program of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Republished with permission from the NRDC.last_img read more

Read More →

Think Diversity at Your Startup Will Improve as You Grow? Think Again

first_imgRemote Working Culture: The Facts Business Owne… Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com. AI Will Empower Leaders, Not Replace Them Brad AndersonEditor In Chief at ReadWrite “It’ll fix itself as we grow” is a legitimate answer to many startup struggles. Talent acquisition, branding, and procurement all tend to be easier for larger firms than smaller ones. Diversity, however, is not.In a recently published research report, STELLARES, an AI-based talent acquisition platform, found that early-stage companies are just as homogeneous as enterprises. By collecting data on employees at more than 13,000 U.S.-based tech companies, STELLARES discovered that companies at the seed stage have the same proportion of female employees — 34 percent — as their post-IPO peers. In fact, companies at the seed, A, B, C, D, pre-IPO, and post-IPO stages differ by no more than 10 percentage points in terms of female employees, employees of color, females on the leadership team, and females on the extended leadership team.How does STELLARES explain those similarities? Roi Chobadi, CEO and co-founder, attributes it to “divertia,” which he defines as the momentum the early team’s demographic makeup generates for its subsequent hires. “Companies’ demographic DNA persists,” Chobadi says, pointing out that referrals and so-called “cultural fits” tend to look like existing team members. “It’s a perpetual cycle that keeps repeating until someone does something to stop it.”Conventional Silicon Valley wisdom focuses on execution, growth, and product-market fit in the earliest stages of startups, relegating diversity as something to go back and “fix” later. Chobadi argues that if diversity is a goal, you should do the opposite, and early-stage startups are at the ideal stage for solving diversity issues. “If all you need is 40 percent of headcount to be diverse — and then divertia will keep you on the path of diversity — you only need eight people if you’re a 20-person team,” he says. “But when you’re a 2,000-person company, meeting that same goal takes 800 hires, which is much harder.”Look Away From LookalikesSo how can entrepreneurs hire for heterogeneity? Four strategies stand out:1. Don’t default to your friends.Your inner circle may be the obvious place to look when you’re staffing your startup, but beware: Its members probably look an awful lot like you. Although the Public Religion Research Institute found that 75 percent of white Americans have an all-white social circle, the researcher noted similar tendencies among Americans of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. Before hiring a cast of your clones, fight the tendency to turn to your existing relationships. “Your commitment to diversity as a CEO needs to start at the very beginning, from your very first hire,” urges Manu Smadja, co-founder of edtech startup MPOWER Financing. “This is also when it’s hardest, because diverse and inclusive hiring rarely happens organically.” Although Smadja says that hiring from your inner circle has advantages like value alignment and an existing relationship, he points out that it’s possible to hire for vision and values outside your inner circle. Start by checking out startup job boards, where you can evaluate strangers to ensure an even playing field. 2. Hit up diversity hotspots.Rightly or not, a survey by venture group First Round Capital concluded that many tech entrepreneurs have given up hope on improving the industry’s diversity figures. A plurality of respondents said they think it will be 11 to 20 years before the tech sector looks like the general population across both race and gender. While most founders blamed the “pipeline problem,” with 36 percent attributing diversity issues to few minorities entering the industry, the second largest group attributed it to unconscious biases in hiring. A distant third set of founders cited non-diverse recruitment practices in university STEM programs.Whether the problem is one of pipelines, unconscious biases, or recruitment practices, the here-and-now solution for entrepreneurs is the same: Hire from historically black colleges and universities and traditional women’s colleges. When most of your interviewees come from underrepresented groups, chances are good that you’ll find the right person among them. 3. Retool your recruitment ads.If you post ads on job boards, take a look at them. Do they use masculine adjectives like “competitive,” “strong,” or “fearless”? If so, they may be bringing an outsized share of male applicants to your door. Research published by augmented writing platform Textio showed that the way in which a job ad is worded can dramatically affect the gender breakdown of its applicants. If you doubt that diction choices are that powerful, consider what Atlassian found when it tried Textio’s software on its own job ads. After replacing masculine terms in its job ads with more feminine ones, the Australian software company increased the number of women hired for technical positions by 80 percent over the course of a year. Want to put your own job ads to the test? Try the free gender decoder for job ads. The tool draws from the list of gender-biased words in a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology titled “Evidence That Gendered Wording in Job Advertisements Exists and Sustains Gender Equality.” 4. Make interviews more objective.What can you do to promote diversity beyond hiring from a more diverse pool of candidates? Leela Srinivasan, CMO at Lever, suggests standardizing the criteria used to evaluate those candidates. “It’s an ongoing source of astonishment to me that, given the widespread consensus that hiring is really important for success, startups spend comparatively little time, effort and resources training employees to make objective hiring decisions.” Thoughtful interviewing guidelines, Srinivasan argues, are a low-effort way to minimize the impact of hiring biases. Without those guidelines, she says many people unknowingly evaluate candidates in ways that inhibit diversity. “A prime example is choosing to reject a candidate because they don’t feel like ‘a culture fit’ for the organization, which is often code for ‘they didn’t really seem like us’ or ‘I wouldn’t enjoy hanging out with them,” she says. For each role that needs to be filled, create a guide that applies to all candidates. Don’t insist that interviewers use it as a word-for-word template — organic conversations are valuable sources of candidate information, too — but ask that they collect answers to the listed questions. Be sure, too, that your guide includes a rubric for evaluating their responses. How, for example, might an “A” answer about the applicant’s teamwork experiences differ from a “B” one?All too many founders assume that, as they grow their team roster, their diversity will naturally improve. In reality, companies build on what they have. That’s why the best time to dedicate your company to diversity was before your first hire; the second best time is before your next one. How to Make the Most of Your Software Developer… Related Posts Tags:#diversity#Diversity In Tech#hiring#inclusion#minorities in tech#Silicon Valley#women in tech What Nobody Teaches You About Getting Your Star…last_img read more

Read More →

CWG 2014: Watch this stunning 41-shot table tennis rally

first_imgNigeria’s Segun Toriola played out a 41-shot rally against Singapore’s Ning Gao in the men’s team table tennis semi-final at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. The Nigerian paddler displayed tremendous defence skills to win the rally, but could not salvage the game.Ning bagged the first two games 11-7, 11-8, but the 39-year-old Toriola fought back to seal the next two games 11-0, 11-7. In the final game, Gao absorbed the pressure and ralllied hard to a 11-9 win.Nigeria had to settle for bronze after losing to Singapore 3-1, but this 41-shot rally became the talking point of the Glasgow games on the social media.last_img read more

Read More →

PBA: Columbian breaks out of slump, ekes out win over Meralco

first_imgColumbian snapped its three-game skid at the expense of Meralco, 86-85, in the resumption of the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup hostilities Wednesday night at Araneta Coliseum.ADVERTISEMENT Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town UAAP volleyball: Judith Abil stars as UE picks up 1st win, sends Adamson to 0-3 And it paid dividends as the Dyip now see the this new stretch as “a brand It’s a brand new conference,” he added.Colubmian takes on a struggling Blackwater side this Friday at MOA Arena. Meralco, on the other hand, will try to arrest their losing streak when they face Magnolia in Cagayan de Oro City this Mar. 2.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next MOST READ PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss The Dyip bucked a lethargic start and crawled their way back into the game during the second period all thanks to a brilliant performance by Rashawn McCarthy.The Bolts had a chance to pull the rug from under Columbian after Chris Newsome hit a triple with 38 ticks left to bring Meralco within one.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesBaser Amer and Cliff Hodge squandered the opportunity to put Meralco ahead missing two looks in the final 13 seconds of the game.“I told the guys to forget what happened in the past six games but don’t forget about why we lose,” Columbian coach Johnedel Cardel, whose squad improved to 3-4, said in the post-game presser. SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting LATEST STORIEScenter_img “We’re lucky we started the second quarter good,” he added. “The first quarter we felt like we didn’t know how to shoot the ball.”Skipper McCarthy posted a new career-best scoring performance with 30 points, eight rebounds, and three assists.The craft guard was held scoreless in the opening salvo and then posted 10 points in each succeeding quarter. Glenn Khobuntin and Eric Camson pumped in 14 and 10 markers respectively.Meralco drew 17 points from Newsome as Cliff Hodge and Ranidel de Ocampo chimed in 14 each. Amer contributed 10 more in the effort.“It’s a good start for us. After the long break, [we are] much better because we had two wins,” Cardel said. “[T]he break has given us an opportunity to give the boys a time off from basketball.”ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Urgent reply from Philippine ‍football chief View comments ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes PDEA chief backs Robredo in revealing ‘discoveries’ on drug war Grace Poe files bill to protect govt teachers from malicious accusations US judge bars Trump’s health insurance rule for immigrantslast_img read more

Read More →