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The Somali government says it will award exploration licenses to foreign oil companies later this year, despite calls from the opposition to wait until laws and regulations governing the oil sector are in place.
Seismic surveys conducted by two British companies, Soma Oil & Gas and Spectrum Geo, suggest that Somalia has promising oil reserves along the Indian Ocean coast, between the cities of Garad and Kismayo. Total offshore deposits could be as high as 100 billion barrels.
“We have presented our wealth and resources to the companies,” Petroleum Minister Abdirashid Mohamed Ahmed told the VOA Somali program Investigative Dossier. “We held a roadshow in London [last week], and we will hold two more in two major cities so that we turn the eyes of the world to contest Somalia.”
But several lawmakers have expressed concern the government is moving too quickly. Last week, the head of the National Resource committee in the Upper House of Parliament accused President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s government of a “lack of due diligence” and violating the constitution.
Barnaby Pace, an investigator for the NGO Global Witness, which exposes corruption and environmental abuses, says Somalia, after decades of internal conflict, does not have the legal and regulatory framework to handle oil deals and the problems they can cause, such as environmental abuses, corruption, and political fights over revenue.
“There is not a clear consensus about how the oil sector could be managed in Somalia,” he said. “And once Somalia makes deals like the one it’s proposing, it may be locked in for many years and find it difficult to renegotiate or change them to best protect itself.”
Former oil officials speak out
Somalia’s parliament passed a Petroleum Law to govern oil sector in 2008 when the country operated under a transitional charter. But constitutional experts say that law was nullified after a constitution was ratified in 2012.
A proposed new law is now before parliament for debate. The bill says negotiations for oil-related contracts will be the responsibility of the Somali Petroleum Agency, which would not be formed until the law is passed.
Ahmed said government’s timetable for awarding licenses is just “tentative,” though he believes the government can keep to its schedule.
But Somali lawmakers and opposition leaders are worried the government is in a needless rush.
Jamal Kassim Mursal was permanent secretary of the Somali Petroleum Ministry until last month when he resigned.
He says when the government came to power in 2017, the ministry was informed that bids for oil exploration licenses would not be considered until the Petroleum Law was passed and “we are ready with the knowledge and skills.”
Since then, he told VOA, “Nothing has changed — petroleum law is not passed, tax law is not ready, capacity has not changed, institutions have not been built.”
Abdirizak Omar Mohamed is the former petroleum minister who signed the 2013 seismic study agreement with Soma Oil & Gas.
Mohamed said the country needs political consensus and stability before oil drilling. He notes that a resource-sharing agreement between the federal government and Somali federal states has yet to be endorsed by the parliament.
“No company is going to start drilling without agreement with regions,” says Mohamed. “So why rush? It’s not good for the reputation of the country.”
Soma and Spectrum’s advantage
Mursal also objects to an agreement that gives first choice of oil exploration blocks to Soma Oil & Gas, one of the companies that conducted the seismic studies.
According to the agreement, Soma Oil & Gas will choose 12 blocks or 60,000 square kilometers to conduct oil exploration. Among these are two blocks believed to contain large oil reserves near the town of Barawe.
He says the government needs to renegotiate and offer just two blocks instead.
“This is the one that is causing the alarm,” he said. He predicts that if Soma Oil & Gas gets to choose 12 blocks, the company will “flip” some of the blocks to the highest bidder.
In 2015, Soma Oil & Gas was caught up in controversy after allegations of quid pro quo payments to the Somali Ministry of Petroleum. The payments were termed as “capacity building.” The following year, Britain’s Serious Fraud Office closed the case because it could not prove that corruption took place.
Somalia’s current prime minister, Hassan Ali Khaire, was working for Soma Oil & Gas at time. Somali officials say that since taking office, Khaire has “relinquished” his stake in the company, said to be more than 2 million shares.
The other company that conducted seismic surveys, Spectrum, also made payments to the Somali Ministry of Finance, according to Mursal.
Mursal told Investigative Dossier that between 2015 and 2017, Spectrum paid $450,000 every six months to the ministry.
A senior official who previously was involved in the Ministry of Petroleum told VOA that Spectrum paid $1.35 million in all. He said the payment was “consistent,” though, with the advice of the Financial Governance Committee, a body consisting on Somali and donors which gives financial advice to Somalia.
Spectrum has not yet responded to Investigative Dossier requests for an interview.
Current Petroleum Minister Ahmed said the government will do what is best for Somalia, but needs to have a law governing the oil sector in place.
“The parliament has the petroleum law,” he said. “Without it being passed, we can’t touch anything.” (VOA)
A cryptocurrency is a digital/virtual currency, that is secured by cryptography (study of hiding information). There are over 6,500 cryptocurrencies in existence as of September 2021. The value of cryptocurrency is growing at a quick rate and analysts and experts are still expecting a sharp rise in the value of Bitcoin, the oldest, and most valuable cryptocurrency in the world. however, china doesn't seem to be on board with the idea of digital coins in its economy as it has banned dealing and trading in these digital tokens.
China has taken several decisions to curb the rise of cryptocurrency in its market since 2013 by putting in place increasingly stricter rules on virtual currencies. But on September 17th, China's central People's Bank of China (PBOC) announced that all activities from transactions made in cryptocurrency to crypto mining are deemed illegal including offering trading of digital assets, order matching, token issuance and derivatives. Anyone who's found guilty of being involved with cryptocurrencies and working for overseas platforms from within China will be severely punished. Chinese Government directed the banks to not provide any products or services such as trading, clearing and settlement for cryptocurrency transactions.
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The price of several cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin etc. fell drastically after China's announcement. Bitcoin fell below $30,000 for the first time in more than five months nevertheless it recovered some ground by reaching $38,131, though it was still down -10.4%. Ether under Ethereum blockchain lost as much as 22% and Dogecoin lost up to 24%. Two of the largest bitcoin exchange companies Huibo and Binance have halted new registrations for new Chinese registrations and are planning to retire current accounts adhering to the country's new policies. Huibo announced that it'll close down all existing Chinese accounts by the end of the year. The ban makes buying or selling the assets difficult for Chinese mainland investors, as they cannot do so unless they leave the country. The ban has had a major negative impact on the gaming and tech sector.
ALSO READ: The Great Indian Crypto Circus
China was once the world's biggest bitcoin trading and mining centre in 2017. But in May 2021 China's State Council vowed to ban virtual coin transactions and mining. Several Chinese crypto companies are moving out of the country so that the impact of the ban would relatively limited. But why did China went as far as banning cryptocurrency? While the reasons behind China's ban on cryptocurrency remains vague. Speculations are that crypto trading had rebounded and was threatening to the safety of people's assets and disrupting the normal economic and financial order, that it is to prevent money laundering. A report by CryptDailyUse explained that the decision was made in favour of reducing energy prices, greenhouse fuel emissions and carbon footprints concerned with cryptocurrency transactions. China's ban will put China's internet security to test as to whether they're able to find and punish people and platforms that are breaking the laws. Some analysts have claimed that determined investors will find one or the other way to make trades in crypto or they'll simply move off-shore to perform transactions.
A new version of the Akash missile- "Akash Prime" was successfully tested by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) at the Integrated Test Range in Odisha's Chandipur on Monday at around 4:30 pm. The missile intercepted and tore apart a high-speed unmanned aerial target mimicking enemy aircraft, in its first flight test after all the enhancements.
Akash Prime is equipped with an indigenous active Radio Frequency seeker to accurately locate the enemy aircraft. The upgrade includes an improved, Launcher, Multi-Function Radar and Command, Control and Communication system. The test was carried out amidst bad weather conditions and yet Akash Prime successfully detonated the threat proving the all-weather capability of the weapon system. The improvements also established that the new missile has comparatively more reliable performance under a low-temperature environment at higher altitudes
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The system performance was validated through the data captured by number Radar, Telemetry and Electro-Optical Tracking systems deployed by ITR, Chandipur," the DRDO said. The test was also witnessed by a team of Indian Air Force Officers.
Akash Prime is equipped with an indigenous active Radio Frequency seeker to accurately locate the enemy aircraft.ANI
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated the Defence Research and Development Organisation, Indian Army, Indian Air Force, Defence Public Sector Undertaking (DPSU) and industry for the successful flight of Akash-NG- " Akash Prime" Missile. He added that the development of this state-of-the-art missile system will prove to be a force multiplier for air defence capabilities of the Indian Air Force and the successful flight test demonstrates the competence of the Defence Research and Development Organisation in the design and development of world-class Missile systems.
The teams were also greeted and congratulated by the Secretary Department of Defence R&D and Chairman Defence Research and Development Organisation, Dr G Satheesh Reddy. He declared that the success of the Akash Prime team will boost the confidence of the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army as the Akash system is getting inducted and improved with more lethal and accurate missiles with capabilities to destroy high-speed agile enemy threats.
"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
Schools all across the world have been closed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Over 1.2 billion children are out of school across the globe. (Reported by UNICEF). Because of this, education has changed immensely, with the introduction of e-learning, in which tutoring is provided remotely and using various digital platforms. According to research, virtual learning has been proven to enhance retention of information and take up less time, indicating that the changes produced by the coronavirus may be here to stay in the future.
However, many emphases have focused on "recovering" the current system, but there is a chance to "build back better".So, let's see the future of education after Covid19.
Challenges of covid for education
- Learning Loss
- Mental Health, Trauma, and Safety
- The strain on Learning: Professors, Teachers and Early Childhood Educators
Is physical learning a more effective form of learning than e-learning?
One important lesson to be learned from the COVID-19 situation is that the traditional physical teaching method with eye-to-eye contact is still the most effective form of learning. On the other hand, technology is a powerful facilitator, and as such, it has a significant role to play in the educational system.
The majority of educational institutions are trying with digital learning and trainers learning to adapt to new technologies. Training of teaching will need to be revised to include practical elements of technology in education and theoretical aspects of technology. In conjunction with improved methodology, the effective use of technology will be an essential component of teaching training programmes in the near future.
Traditional physical teaching method with eye-to-eye contact is still the most effective form of learning. | Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
Why should we adopt eLearning forever?
Online education allows teachers and students to determine their learning speed and set a timetable that works for everyone. Using an online educational platform provides a better balance of professional and academics, so no sacrifices are required. Online education includes time management skills, making work-study balance more straightforward. A shared plan can encourage both students and teachers to take on new tasks and gain more autonomy.
Online education is usually cheaper than in-person schooling. Payment choices frequently include instalments or per class. This improves budget management. Many of you may be eligible for discounts or scholarships, so the cost is low. You may also save money on travel and class supplies by using free resources. In other words, the financial investment is lower, but the returns may be superior.
There are limitless skills, techniques and subjects to teach and learn on the internet. More institutions and colleges are offering online programmes for all levels and subjects. Every student can choose from learning dancing to higher mathematics. Online programmes allow you to get an official certificate, diploma, or degree without ever having to step foot on a university campus.
Tutors and students can use internet resources like YouTube videos, pictures, and eBooks to enhance their teaching and learning. This supplementary content is available at any time, anywhere, making your education more dynamic and personalised.
There are limitless skills, techniques and subjects to teach and learn on the internet. | Photo by Ralston Smith on Unsplash
Why should we not adopt eLearning forever?
The present E-Learning tends to isolate and contemplate students. As a result of the absence of social interaction, many students and teachers who spend a lot of time online might develop social isolation. Lack of communication and social isolation typically leads to mental health concerns, including stress, anxiety, and negative thinking.
However, in an eLearning environment, there are fewer external factors that motivate students. In many situations, students are left to their own devices during learning activities with no encouragement. Students pursuing E-Learning courses will frequently be expected to master a tricky subject in the comfort of their own homes, without the extra pressure of traditional universities. As a result, students who lack motivation and time management skills may struggle to meet regular deadlines when studying online.
Unfortunately, one of the significant drawbacks of E-Learning is cheating. In Online mode, students can easily cheat in examinations since they are in their own surroundings, with no supervisor and disciple around. This takes the essence of a test and assessment away from the life of a student. Without a video stream, pupils cannot be directly watched during exams. Also, without appropriate identity verification, students taking online tests may allow a third person to take the test in their place, resulting in a false test result.
Because of the absence of social interaction, many students and teachers who spend a lot of time online might develop social isolation. | Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash
Keywords: COVID, education, aftermath, e-learning, aftermath, classes, social, students