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Alibaba Conducts Workshop for Rwandan Government Officials on Enabling a Digital Economy

Betty Tűndik

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Photo by Alibaba_Group
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– 12 delegates from the government of Rwanda participated in four-day workshop at Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China to learn about FinTech, logistics, eCommerce and big data technologies

This week, delegates from the government of Rwanda completed the first New Economy Workshop held at Alibaba Group‘s headquarters in Hangzhou. During the four-day workshop, twelve government leaders met with Alibaba executives across multiple businesses to learn about the transformative impact and promise of a new digital economy as well as how to drive economic growth by accelerating digital finance, logistics, e-commerce and big data industries.

The New Economy Workshop program aims to empower participants to use their knowledge to continue supporting the development of Rwanda’s digital economy. Participants included the CEO of Rwanda’s National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), the Rwandan Ambassador to China and representatives from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM), Higher Education Council (HEC), Rwanda Utility Regulatory Authority (RURA), Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA), Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Rwanda Energy Group (REG), and the Ministry of ICT & Innovation (MINICT).

The workshop follows the launch of the first African eWTP (electronic world trade platform) hub in Rwanda witnessed by President Kagame and Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma last October. Under the eWTP agreement, the government of Rwanda and Alibaba committed to work together to strengthen the country’s economic development by promoting policy innovation and providing capacity building to empower the growth of Rwanda’s digital economy.

“At Alibaba we have seen first-hand the transformative impact digital technology can have in building an inclusive society. This New Economy Workshop is meant to not only provide capacity building to Rwanda’s policy makers, but also to inspire them to become advocates for Rwanda’s digital transformation and for the country’s technology entrepreneurs,” said Angel Zhao, President of Alibaba’s Globalization Leadership Group.

“The Alibaba ecosystem has enabled millions of people to participate in the global economy and improve their standard of living through the use of technology,” said George William Kayonga, Chief Executive Officer, National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB). “I see great opportunity for Rwanda to similarly build a digital economy allowing us to move rapidly up the learning curve using the Alibaba experience as our guide.”

This week’s New Economy training is the latest example of Alibaba’s ongoing commitment to support Rwanda’seconomic development:

  • In October 2018, the first African eWTP (electronic world trade platform) hub was launched in Rwanda. Through this partnership, Rwanda and Alibaba work together to enable cross-border trade of Rwandan products to Chinese consumers and facilitate China outbound tourism to Rwanda.
  • In August 2018, fifty lecturers from Rwanda’s top universities attended the first Global E-commerce Talent (GET) Program organized in partnership with the Ministry of Education’s Higher Education Council and the Rwandan Development Board. GET is a five-day course to boost the competencies of Rwandan university teachers and deepen their understanding of the e-commerce industry, so they can train future entrepreneurs.
  • In partnership with UNCTAD, Alibaba Business School is training 1,000 entrepreneurs from emerging markets over five years. Two hundred of those entrepreneurs will come from Africa. Five Rwandan entrepreneurs have already graduated from the eFounders Fellowship program.
  • As part of eWTP collaboration, Alibaba Business School will host the first Alibaba Netpreneur Training program from March 2-13, 2019 for approximately 40 entrepreneurs contributing to digital transformation, who are currently operating in the Rwandan market, or are in the process of expanding to the Rwandan market. For those interested in participating, visit this page for more information and to apply now. Applications are open until January 20, 2019.

 

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Footprint Media Holdings Launches Bizz, a New Social Media App Designed to Boost Business

Vlad Poptamas

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Bizz - messaging done right
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Footprint Media Holdings, the company behind High TV, is proud to announce the launch of Bizz, the world’s first 5G messaging application designed to suit the needs of both individuals and businesses of all sizes.

Bizz is a revolutionary messenger service that combines voice, text, and video chat with content development, e-commerce and advanced community engagement tools. As a result, it’s the only application designed to cover all areas of social media under one roof.

Highlighted features include:

  • 4K live video streaming
  • Uncapped group chats
  • Group conference calls over voice or video
  • Voice and Video Calls
  • RADAR, a location based messaging service that allows users to send messages and advertisements based on geographic location
  • 24/7 streaming radio stations
  • End-to-end encryption, providing users with ironclad security
  • Campaigns/Polls in all types of Groups

What’s more, Bizz offers a number of unique tools for entrepreneurs and e-commerce professionals. Its platform can be transformed into a virtual storefront, where transactions take place on the application itself. Bizz even comes with its own marketing and customer service tools, allowing brands to offer discounts, resolve customer problems, and create on-app advertisements for videos and text channels.

More Than Just a Chat Tool

Other messaging services provide platforms where people can chat with their friends and families; Bizz takes it a step further by creating a fully-immersive ecosphere designed to connect people from all walks of life. Friends and family, government agencies and citizens, customers and brands are all vital to the Bizz community.

Bizz is the only communication tool designed to meet the needs of tomorrow’s influencers. By incorporating all the popular features of the leading social media services, Bizz makes it possible for influencers to reach bigger audiences, where they can create and share high-quality multimedia content, participate in branded marketing campaigns, and engage followers in Bizz’s uncapped, personalized groups.during Beta Phase the App got 60K testers from all around the Globe both on iOS & Android.

With the presentation of its first non-beta version, Bizz is also opening the doors to its global franchise/license opportunity. Companies interested in working together with Bizz to extend its global reach by becoming its official ambassador within their local region, are being offered the unique possibility of participating in an enormous revenue potential.

According to Ronny Shany, President of Bizz, “we believe that the official launch of Bizz is opening the door to a new paradigm of integrated social media. Our franchisees/licensees stand to convert this once in a lifetime occasion into a thriving long-term venture. The sky’s the limit, and conditions will never be more favorable.”

 

SOURCE Bizz

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European Commission Press Releases

EU budget for 2021-2027: Commission welcomes provisional agreement on the future European Defence Fund

Vlad Poptamas

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Photo source: euractiv.com
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

The EU institutions have reached a partial political agreement on the European Defence Fund, subject to formal approval by the European Parliament and Council, which will foster an innovative and competitive defence industrial base and contribute to the EU’s strategic autonomy.

In a world of increasing instability and cross-border threats to our security, no country can succeed alone. That is why the Juncker Commission is making an unprecedented effort to protect and defend Europeans. The European Defence Fund, proposed by the Commission in June 2018 as part of the EU-long-term budget for the years 2021-2027, is part of these initiatives to bolster the EU’s ability to protect its citizens.

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “This is a major step in making European defence cooperation a reality. The European Defence Fund will help Member States get better value for taxpayer money, promote a strong and innovative defence industry and raise the EU’s autonomy and technological leadership in defence.”

Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: “This agreement is yet another important building block to ensure that Europe becomes a stronger security provider for its citizens. The Fund will foster technological innovation and cooperation in the European defence sector, so that Europe benefits from cutting-edge, interoperable defence technology and equipment in novel areas like artificial intelligence, encrypted software, drone technology or satellite communication.”

Subject to final formal adoption by the European Parliament and Council, an agreement has been found on the following key elements:

  • The Fund will provide support all along the industrial development lifecycle, from research to prototype development up to certification.
  • The Fund will finance collaborative research projects mainly through grants.
  • Beyond the research and design phase, where up to 100% funding is possible, the EU budget will be available to complement Member States’ investment by co-financing costs for prototype development (up to 20%) and the ensuing testing, qualification and certification actions (up to 80%).
  • The Fund will provide incentives for projects with cross-border participation of the many SMEs and mid-caps in the defence supply chain by providing higher financing rates.
  • Projects in the context of Permanent European Structured Cooperation (PESCO) may, if eligible, receive an additional co-financing bonus of 10%, but funding is not automatic.
  • Projects will be defined in line with defence priorities agreed by Member States within the framework of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and in particular in the context of the Capability Development Plan (CDP), but regional and international priorities, such as in the framework of NATO, can also be taken into account.
  • Only collaborative projects involving at least three eligible entities from at least three Member States or associated countries are normally eligible.
  • At least 4% and up to 8% of the budget will be allocated to disruptive, high-risk innovation that will boost Europe’s long-term technological leadership and defence autonomy.
  • In principle only entities established in the EU or associated countries and not controlled by third countries or their legal entities are eligible for funding. EU based subsidiaries of third country companies can exceptionally be eligible to funding subject to defined conditions to ensure that the security and defence interests of the EU and the Member States are not put at risk. Entities based outside of the EU will not receive any EU funding but can participate in cooperative projects. The EU is therefore not excluding anybody from the European Defence Fund, but setting conditions to receive funding which are similar to the ones that EU companies face on third country markets.

Next steps

The preliminary political agreement reached by the European Parliament, Council and Commission in the so-called trilogue negotiations is now subject to formal approval by the European Parliament and Council. The budgetary aspects and some related horizontal provisions of the future European Defence Fund are subject to the overall agreement on the EU’s next long-term budget, proposed by the Commission in May 2018.

Background

In his political guidelines in June 2014, President Juncker made strengthening European citizens’ security a priority. He announced the creation of a European Defence Fund in his 2016 State of the Union address.

Since then, the European Commission, under the steer of President Juncker and with the support of Member States, is taking steps to make defence cooperation under the EU budget a reality.

The Commission is already paving the way under the current EU budget period which ends in 2020. For the first time in European history, the EU is incentivising European defence cooperation with a budget envelope of €590 million (€90 million for research over 2017-2019 and €500 million for developing equipment and technology during 2019-2020).

  • Defence research cooperation is already materialising. First EU grant agreements under the 2017 budget included the research project Ocean2020, which brings together 42 partners from 15 EU countries and supports maritime surveillance missions at sea and to that end will integrate drones and unmanned submarines into fleet operations. In the coming weeks the Commission will announce further collaborative defence research projects under the 2018 budget and present the work programme and final call for proposals under the remaining budget tranche for 2019.
  • The Commission has formally initiated work with Member States to finance joint industrial projects in the field of defence. Following the views of Member States, in a few weeks, the Commission will adopt the first ever Work Programme for the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) to co-finance joint industrial projects in the field of defence under the EU budget for 2019-2020.

On the basis of these two “pilot” programmes, and scaling up initial funding, the Commission proposed in June 2018 a fully-fledged European Defence Fund worth €13 billion under the next EU long-term budget to cover both the research and capability strands.

The European Defence Fund will complement other EU programmes proposed by the Commission, in particular the €6.5 billion earmarked for the Connecting Europe Facility to enhance the EU’s strategic transport infrastructures to make them fit for military mobility, and the proposal for a new €100 billion research and innovation programme Horizon Europe.

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European Commission Press Releases

Infringements: Commission adapts its calculation methodology for financial sanctions

Vlad Poptamas

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Photo source: export.org.uk
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Today, the Commission set out how it will adapt its calculation method when proposing financial sanctions to the Court of Justice of the EU in infringement proceedings. Enforcement of EU law by the Commission will continue to be vigorous, balanced and fair to all Member States.

When the Commission refers a Member State to the Court of Justice of the EU for having infringed EU law, the Court may, in certain situations, impose financial sanctions. The Commission proposes an amount to the Court, which then takes the final decision.

When calculating the proposed financial sanction, in addition to the seriousness of the infringement and its duration, the Commission has always taken into account both the economic situation of the Member State concerned, and its institutional weight. In order to translate those two elements into a number, the Commission has until now looked at the gross domestic product (GDP) of a Member State and the number of votes allocated to it in the Council.

In a recent judgment, the Court of Justice considered that the Council voting rules as changed by the Lisbon Treaty could no longer be used for this purpose. Since the Commission believes that, in addition to relying on the Member States’ GDP, the institutional weight should continue to be taken into account, a new method of reflecting that weight was needed.

For this purpose, the Commission will in the future use the number of seats for representatives in the European Parliament allocated to each Member State. This will lead to amounts that do not create unjustified differences between Member States and stay as close as possible to the amounts resulting from the current calculation method, which are both proportionate and sufficiently deterring. Under the new method, the Commission’s approach will continue to be vigorous, balanced and fair to all Member States.

What is next?

The Commission will apply the adapted calculation method from the date today’s Communication will be published in the Official Journal.

Once the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU becomes legally effective, and irrespective of whether the Withdrawal Agreement enters into force or not, the Commission will recalculate the relevant averages and will adjust the figures as set out in this Communication accordingly.

Background

According to the EU Treaty, the Commission may take legal action – an infringement procedure – against an EU Member State that fails to implement EU law. When the Commission refers a Member State to the Court of Justice, the Court may impose financial sanctions in two situations: first, when the Court has ruled that a Member State infringing EU law has not yet complied with an earlier judgment finding that infringement (Article 260(2) TFEU); second, when a Member State has failed to fulfil its obligation to notify measures transposing a Directive adopted under a legislative procedure (Article 260(3) TFEU).

In both cases, the sanction consists of a lump sum payment, to penalise the existence of the infringement itself, and a daily penalty payment, to penalise the continuation of the infringement after the Court’s judgment. The Commission proposes an amount for the financial sanctions to the Court, which then takes the final decision.

While the adapted methodology may lead to lower financial penalty amounts compared to the current situation, they come closer to the practice of the Court, which generally sets lower fines than those proposed by the European Commission.

For More Information:

–   Communication on modification of the calculation method for lump sum payments and daily penalty payments (20 February 2019)

–   EU infringement procedure

–   EU infringement decisions

IP/19/1288

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