Partly cloudy skies on Saturday night

Tunis: The weather is expected to be partly cloudy on Saturday night across most regions, according to the National Institute of Meteorology (INM).

The wind will blow from the east, light to moderate. The sea conditions in the Serrat area will range from slight to gradually choppy.

Nighttime temperatures will range between 25 and 31°C in coastal areas and between 32 and 36°C in other regions.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Annual average olive oil production at Chal complex in Sfax down to less than 150 kg/ha

Tunis: The annual average olive oil production at the Chal agricultural complex in Sfax governorate has dropped to less than 150 kg per hectare over the past five years, said Director General of the Office of State Lands (OTD) Tarek Chaouch on Saturday.

Speaking at the regular press conference of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources, and Fisheries, Chaouch provided an overview of the ministry’s strategy to boost the olive oil sector at the Chal agricultural complex.

He noted that the average olive oil production from 2010 to 2019 reached 450 kg per hectare, compared to 695 kg per hectare during the 1990s.

The olive oil sector in Chal is plagued by several issues, including the hardening of approximately 6% of the olive trees, the ageing of 73% of the trees which are over 90 years old, most surpassing 100 years, and the impact of climate change such as reduced rainfall (76 mm across all farms this season) and rising temperatures, alongside alternating weather patterns.

Chaouch indicated that the mi
nistry has taken immediate measures to equip 44 hectares with localised irrigation systems, with an additional 78 hectares currently being equipped. The ministry is also accelerating the process of removing dry trunks to protect the forest from diseases. The complex has begun the irrigation process, utilising 12 tractors and tanks to irrigate approximately 3,000 olive trees per month.

The ministry has also irrigated 820 hectares of productive plantations to ensure a stable annual production level.

Deep wells are being drilled and equipped with photovoltaic panels, alongside the installation of localised irrigation systems for 820 hectares.

The Chal agricultural complex in Sfax is the second-largest olive forest globally, covering an area of 18,724.5 hectares. It houses approximately 350,000 olive trees and employs around 435 permanent staff and workers, along with 385 seasonal workers.

The average production of the most significant activities over the past five years has been about 3,500 tonnes of olive o
il, 1.1 million litres of milk, 6.5 million eggs, and 3,000 tonnes of concentrated fodder.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Dams filled to 28.30% by July 13, 2024 (Ministry of Agriculture)

Tunis: Water reserves in all dams have reached 664.3 million m3 up to July 13, a drop of 175 million m3 compared with the same period last year, equivalent to a filling rate of 28.30%, Director General of Rural Engineering and Water Exploitation at the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries Abdelhamid Mnajja said on Saturday.

These reserves are also 255 million m3 lower than the average for the last three years, he added at a regular press conference held at the Ministry’s headquarters.

Water supplies to dams during the current season have totalled 647 million m3, down by 30 million m3 compared with last year, he added.

The current situation of the dams is “critical” and requires reasonable management of resources, the official pointed out, adding that some major dams in the northern governorate, including those of Sejnane and Zayatin, are currently at very low levels.

The reserves of other dams in the centre (Nabhana) and Cap Bon are also low which has required water transfer operations,
he underlined.

Faced with this alarming situation, Abdelhamid Mnajja underscored the need to rationalise water consumption while managing demand, calling for the use of low-cost taps, auditing operations in the tourist and industrial sectors, and the use of alternative solutions such as treated wastewater.

As far as the agricultural sector is concerned, Manajja urged farmers to focus on crops that consume less water and to make the most of treated wastewater, while using brackish groundwater after desalination.

With regard to the national plan to guarantee the supply of drinking water during the summer period in urban areas, the official mentioned that 33 deep wells had been dug, 17 of which had been fitted out and connected to the distribution channels, recalling the entry into service of the desalination plant at Ezzarat, in the governorate of Gabes, which has a daily production capacity of 50,000 m3.

Efforts are under way to complete work on the Sfax desalination plant, which will supply 100,000 m3 per
day, he said, specifying that it is due to enter service at the end of July.

On the subject of water supply in rural areas, Abdelhamid Mnajja pointed out that 14 projects targeting 31,000 inhabitants have started operating, adding that the debts owed to STEG by the Agricultural Development Groups (GDA), estimated at TND 13.2 million had been settled.

He also said that the ministry had set up a central task force at the Interior Ministry, as well as regional committees to prevent and remedy water cuts, and that a system would be set up to instantly monitor any disruptions to the distribution system.

Moreover, efforts will also be stepped up to combat illegal drilling of wells, he said, pointing out that 38 offences have been recorded since June.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Some 180 thousand quintals of grain collected from July 8 to 10, 2024 (ODC)

Tunis: The Office des céréales (ODC) reported the collection of about 180 thousand quintals of grain during the period from July 8 to 10, 2024, bringing the total collected quantities to about 6.180 million quintals, at a time when officials are working to ensure that farmers receive their dues.

ODC Director General Saloua Ben Hadid paid a visit to the collection centres in the governorate of Zaghouan on Thursday, where she checked on the progress of the harvest and ensured that the region’s farmers have received their dues.

She also visited a number of establishments, including the Essaidi Society for grain collection, the comptoir des services agricoles, the Société coopérative centrale pour les grandes cultures, the Société coopérative centrale de blé, etc.

Tunisia has allocated some Dinars 1.5 billion to finance grain imports up to the end of May 2024, accounting for 53.7% of total food imports.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Government institutions should address unemployment and poverty: Theofelus

Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Emma Theofelus, has said poverty, unemployment and the high cost of living are contemporary pressing challenges for Namibia and government institutions must devise strategies to address these challenges.

Theofelus was speaking during a retreat for the senior leaders of her ministry, the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation, the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia, the Namibia Press Agency and New Era Publication Corporation at Von Bach Resort on Thursday.

She urged the participants to explore and exploit opportunities within Namibia’s bilateral relations, to bring in new technologies, foster international collaborations and ensure that the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector remains at the cutting edge.

‘In today’s global economy, countries increasingly partner to procure goods and services, leveraging their bilateral relations to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. These partnerships open up new avenues for innovation, growt
h, and development,’ she added.

Theofelus further said it is crucial for the entities to share resources and avoid duplication of efforts so they can maximise their impact while conserving scarce resources.

‘As we enter the second quarter of the financial year, our people need to see the combined tangible impact of our work. The late president Hage Geingob often said that nations go to war when dialogue fails. Let us heed his wisdom and make a concerted effort to maintain open, honest, and constructive communication,’ said the minister.

Theofelus also noted that ICT is the cornerstone of society and a tool that can be used to bridge gaps, create opportunities and inspire a new generation.

She urged the participants to use the retreat for collaboration, innovation, and strategic planning.

‘Together, we can steer the ICT sector towards a future of prosperity and inclusivity for all Namibians. Over the next few days our discussions should focus on how our industry can contribute to the alleviation of unempl
oyment, poverty and the high cost of living. It is possible through the digital economy, and it is our responsibility to harness the power of ICT to create jobs and foster economic growth,’ she said.

Source: The Namibia News Agency

Annual inflation rate drops to 4.6 per cent in June

WINDHOEK: The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) has revealed that the annual inflation rate for June 2024 was 4.6 per cent, down from 5.3 per cent in June 2023.

The monthly inflation rate declined to 0.2 per cent in June 2024 from 0.3 per cent in the previous month.

Statistician-General and NSA Chief Executive Officer, Alex Shimuafeni told Nampa on Tuesday that core inflation for June 2024 was reported at 3.8 per cent, with headline inflation at 4.6 per cent.

He said that core inflation removes volatile items like food and energy prices.

The food and non-alcoholic beverages category, accounting for 16.5 per cent of the Namibia Consumer Price Index (NCPI) basket, registered an annual inflation rate of 4.3 per cent in June 2024, compared to 11.7 per cent in June 2023, he said.

Monthly price levels for this category decreased by 0.4 per cent in June 2024, following a 0.5 per cent increase the previous month, while inflation in the food sub-category, which accounts for 14.8 per cent of the consumer basket, dec
reased significantly.

Within the food sub-component, bread and cereals holds the highest weight at 4.8 per cent, followed by meat at 3.5 per cent, and sugar, chocolate and confectionery at 1.4 per cent.

Vegetables, milk, cheese and eggs each weigh 1.2 per cent, while bread and cereal prices grew by 0.3 per cent in June 2024.

Shimuafeni added that key subcategories driving this downward trend included maize meal/grain (from 23.4 per cent to -3.3 per cent); macaroni, spaghetti and noodles (from 18.8 per cent to -6.1 per cent); and bread and cake flour (from 19.3 per cent to -4.1 per cent).

Vegetable prices, including potatoes and other tubers, rose by 5.5 per cent in June 2024, compared to 18.5 per cent in June 2023.

The fish subcomponent had an annual inflation rate of 4.6 per cent in June 2024, down from 11.7 per cent in June 2023, while meat prices had an average increase of 3.5 per cent in June 2024, compared to 8.3 per cent the previous year.

Pork pricing levels changed from 21.8 per cent to 0 per ce
nt.

Shimuafeni stated that the information highlights significant variations in inflation rates across different categories, reflecting changes in market conditions and consumer behaviour.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency

NBC refutes claims of blocking broadcasters amid NaCC anti-competitive conduct investigation

WINDHOEK: Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) Director General, Stanley Similo has refuted claims that NBC has prevented other broadcasters from accessing its platforms.

This comes after the Namibian Competition Commission (NaCC) has been investigating allegations of anti-competitive conduct by NBC.

Responding to the matter, Similo on Tuesday criticised the NaCC for its publication of the proposed findings, which he described as untimely and premature.

He emphasised that the matter is still under review, pending submissions from the affected parties.

‘The NaCC’s highly publicised stance on NBC’s infrastructure sharing policy, particularly as it pertains to other market participants, is ongoing. Therefore, we consider the premature dissemination of the proposed findings by the regulator to be not only ill-advised, but also potentially mischievous and malicious,’ he said.

He further noted that NBC has sought clarifications on several aspects of the NaCC’s investigation, highlighting that the matter is
not yet resolved.

‘One can thus only imagine what the agenda of the Namibian Competition Commission is, particularly at this juncture,’ Similo remarked.

He explained that NBC has been seeking equitable contributions towards the maintenance of the shared infrastructure, rather than allowing other broadcasters to benefit without contributing.

‘It is important to clarify that NBC has never prevented other broadcasters from accessing its platforms. Rather, we have sought for an equitable annual contribution towards the maintenance of the shared infrastructure, as opposed to allowing free riding,’ he stated.

NaCC’s investigation into NBC has centred on allegations that NBC engaged in anti-competitive conduct by limiting market access to other free-to-air broadcasters on the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) network.

The investigation concluded that NBC’s actions may have restricted market outlets, investment, technical development, and technological progress, as outlined in Section 26 (1) read with Section
26 (2) (b) of the Competition Act No. 2 of 2003.

The final decision from NaCC is pending, with NBC given a 30-day period to make written submissions or to request an opportunity for oral representations.

The outcome of this process will determine whether the proposed findings by the NaCC will be upheld or revised.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency