The military deployed more 4000 troops yesterday to rescue and deliver supplies to survivors from remote Taiwanese villages devastated by last weekend’s typhoon, but many criticized the government’s response as insufficient and too slow.
Villagers told officials who visited the worst-hit areas this week that more of their relatives could have been saved if they had moved sooner and faster.
The government said its operations have been hampered because many areas of the country were cut off when roads and bridges collapsed, though Interior Minister Liao Liao-yi said troops on foot had reached several villages Wednesday.
Until then, rescuers had relied solely on helicopters to reach the worst-hit areas, and on Thursday authorities requested larger choppers from foreign governments capable of carrying earth-moving equipment and shelters.
Some 14,000 villagers have been rescued — including 600 on Thursday — since Typhoon Morakot dumped more than 80 inches (2 meters) of rain past weekend, the island’s disaster relief center said. The storm unleashed the worst floods the island has seen in 50 years.
Another 2,000 villagers — who escaped those floods and were sheltering either in open fields or on higher ground — were still waiting to be ferried to shelters, it said. Several hundred more — no one is sure how many — remain unaccounted for and are feared lost in the mudslides.
The official death toll in Taiwan stands at 108, with 61 listed as missing. The storm also killed 22 people in the Philippines and eight in China.
The military sent 4,000 new troops on Thursday to join another 16,000 soldiers already working to save thousands of survivors stranded in several villages in the island’s south, the Defense Ministry said.
Relief officials on Thursday asked foreign governments to provide giant choppers that could carry cranes, prefabricated houses and sterilizers. Lawmakers said only the U.S. and Russia made those helicopters.
Taiwan has already received offers of financial assistance from the United States, Japan, Singapore and China.
In the southern Taiwan township of Toayuan, 500 villagers were told to run to higher ground about 30 minutes before a lake created by floodwaters and landslides burst its banks, an official said, adding that two nearby lakes were expected to burst soon.
“There would be a massive amount of water flowing down the Laonung River, and we have alerted villagers around to flee,” relief official Hsu Chin-biao said.
In the southern town of Liukuei, scores of private relief vehicles were held up along a narrow, muddy mountain road, waiting for permission to move toward the center of the heavy flooding that devastated a series of isolated villages.
Relief efforts by a number of Buddhist organizations complement the military’s work to pluck hundreds of villagers from the affected area.
But villagers complained to President Ma Ying-jeou and other leaders that the rescue operation was too slow.
“Why does the government say only useless things?” a woman anxious to learn the fate of relatives trapped in Kaochung village in the south asked. With tears filling her eyes, she told TV reporters: “I’ve been waiting for several days, yet there has not been anyone going to rescue my family.”
The mass circulation Apple Daily said Ma “failed to order the military to commit itself to relief efforts right away, and that made him an incompetent commander in chief.”
News reports said many villagers used their bare hands in the days after the mudslides to try to dig down to their buried homes in futile efforts to save their relatives.
Others sought to send messages for help.
On Wednesday, a wooden sign was seen being erected near a collapsed bridge in Hsinfa village in Kaohsiung saying “32 Buried SOS.” Rescuers rushed to the scene and tossed ropes over the river to pull several survivors to safety, according to news reports.
Nigerians Spend N2.6trn On Data, Airtime In Nine Months
MTN Nigeria and Airtel Africa have revealed that the amount spent on airtime and data by Nigerian telecom subscribers rose to at least N2.59 trillion in the first nine months of 2023.
According to the financial statements of the two telecommunication companies, this amounts to a 32.57 per cent increase from the N1.95 trillion both telcos recorded from both income sources in the corresponding period of 2022.
The increase in voice and data venue was partially driven by rising data subscriptions and the devaluation of the naira on Airtel’s part.
In the first nine months of 2022, Airtel made $1.41bn from airtime and data. When converted at the exchange rate of N461/$ which was obtained at the time, it amounted to N647.71billion.
In the same period of 2023, the company’s income from these two revenue sources amounted to $1.29 billion.
When converted at the exchange rate of N777/$ at the time, it amounted to N1.003 trillion.
On MTN’s part, increasing data revenues continue to fuel the company’s overall revenue growth. Data revenues grew by 36.36 per cent year-on-year, while voice revenues only grew by 10.64 per cent, indicating a rise in the usage of the Internet in the country.
Commenting on this growth, MTN said, “Data revenue grew by 36.4 per cent on increased usage and data conversion in new and existing base”.
The firm stated that data usage on its network grew by 29.1 per cent in the period under review.
It noted that “Data usage (GB per user) grew by 29.1 per cent to 8.6GB, and the number of smartphones on our network increased by 7.6 per cent, bringing smartphone penetration to 53.4 per cent, up 1.4pp YoY.
“Consequently, we recorded a 46.3 per cent growth in data traffic, with the 4G network accounting for 83.7 per cent of the total traffic (up 5.2pp YoY)”.
On its part, Airtel recorded an increase in data usage per customer to 5.9 GB per month. The firm highlighted, “Data revenue grew by 29.3 per cent in constant currency, driven by data customer base growth of 17.4 per cent and data ARPU growth of 12.3 per cent.
“Data usage per customer increased by 23.8 per cent to 5.9 GB per month (from 4.8 GB in the prior period). Our continued 4G network rollout has resulted in nearly 100 per cent of all our sites delivering 4G services”, it stated.
Increased Internet usage because of a rise in video streaming pushed the amount telecom consumers spent on telecom services to N3.86 trillion in 2022.
LCCI Faults FG’s $1trn GDP Projections
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has said the macro-economic projections in the Federal Government’s Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) are not sufficient to achieve the $1 trillion economy target it set to achieve by 2029.
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Yemi Cardoso, had last weekend restated the commitment of the government to realising the GDP target.
Reviewing Cardoso’s statement, the Director General, LCCI, Dr Chinyere Almona, explained that the basis for government’s projection contains some inconsistencies that will make it unachievable.
She said, “LCCI is aware of the enormous challenges and the uphill task before the CBN in ensuring macro-economic stability and restoring investors’ confidence.
“However, we note the inconsistencies between the Federal Government’s vision of achieving a $1 trillion economy in the next six years and the MTEF.
“The macro-economic projections in the MTEF state that the economy will grow by 3.76 percent 4.22 percent, and 4.78 percent in 2024, 2025, and 2026, respectively. We note that the projected growths are sub-optimal to achieve a $1trillion GDP by 2029, which implies an average growth of 21 percent over the next six years”.
Almona commended the CBN’s plan to review the minimum capital base of banks, but cautioned the apex bank to strengthen its banking supervision to avoid “too big to fail” banks.
She, however, said, “The Chamber appreciates the intellectual humility of the Governor in admitting the errors or mistakes of the past, particularly in the areas of corporate governance failures, diminished institutional autonomy of CBN, deviation from the core mandate of the bank, and unorthodox use of monetary tools and foray into fiscal activities under the cover of development finance activities.
“As we advance, we challenge the current CBN team to ensure professionalism and integrity and rebuild the trust of the general public.
“On recapitalization of banks, we commend the plan of CBN to review the minimum capital base of banks due to consistent devaluation of the Naira, which has eroded the capital base of banks, attracted significant investment into banks, as well as increased the capacity of banks to provide the required support for the economy.
“However, we caution the CBN to strengthen its banking supervision to avoid “too big to fail” banks.
“Given the sensitivity of monetary policy and price stability, we urge the CBN to ensure transparency and synergy between monetary and fiscal authorities and effectively communicate significant changes in policy direction”.
By: Corlins Walter
Firm Urges FG To Attract Foreign Investment
Multinational professional services firm, EY has advised the Federal Government to improve on its investment attractiveness as a way of building on previous year’s fortunes.
Senior Partner and Head of Markets, EY West Africa, Ashish Bakhshi, while sharing insights on a newly released report on Foreign Direct Investments for 2022, said Nigeria needed to improve on FDIs to achieve the ambitious targets it had set for itself to reduce poverty and build a sizeable middle class by 2030.
“Africa’s leaders will need to adopt pragmatism as they respond to a new geopolitical world order so that its member states can optimize the full spectrum of inbound investment opportunities, which will be essential in meeting Africa’s aspirations for a more equitable, wealthier and urbanised middle-class society”, the report read in part.
It stated further that “Last year saw Africa’s return as a top investment destination hub for global investors. The continent had struggled to attract investment since the onset of COVID-19 and took longer than other regions to recover, as a result of its delayed vaccine rollout and therefore its ability to reopen its 54 national economies.
“To this, its growth lagged pre-pandemic levels for longer than it did in mature markets, setting back the ambitious targets it had set for itself to reduce poverty and build a sizeable middle class by 2030.
“The new report, released by EY, a global multinational professional services firm, uncovered that FDI attracted more than 730 projects across the continent in 2022, injecting $194 billion in capital and creating 154,000 jobs.
“Significantly, Egypt saw a record of $ 107 billion in capital for its 149 FDI projects. In East Africa, Kenya dominated the FDI landscape while Nigeria was the leading country in West Africa.
“The countries came in third and fourth respectively for the largest FDI regions on the continent”.
The EY’s 13th Africa Attractiveness report tagged “A Pivot to Growth”, provides insights into the continent FDI, exposing that the 2022 calendar year saw a strong FDI rebound, led by Renewables inflows, with the West being the largest investor, while the North and Southern hubs of Africa were key beneficiaries.
A notable highlight of the report shows that CleanTech became the largest FDI recipient sector in 2022, leading Africa’s FDI for the first time.
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