England Wins Scotland with 3-1 Victory in Friendly Match

England continued their dominance over Scotland with a comfortable 3-1 victory at Hampden Park in a friendly match to commemorate the 150th anniversary of their first meeting.

Despite Scotland’s impressive form in their last five matches, they failed to hit the same heights as England took control of the game. Phil Foden opened the scoring for England, diverting Kyle Walker’s cross into the net before Jude Bellingham fired in a second before half-time after Andrew Robertson’s error.

Harry Maguire’s own goal gave Scotland some hope in the second half, but Harry Kane’s lovely finish from a sublime Bellingham assist wrapped up the win for Gareth Southgate’s side.

Scotland last won this fixture in 1999, and hopes of another win looked faint from kick-off as they struggled to cope with their rivals’ dominance. England, on the other hand, were looking to recover from their frustrating draw with Ukraine and will be pleased with their performance.

The victory marks England’s continued dominance over Scotland, who have failed to beat their rivals since 1999. However, both teams will now turn their attention to Euro 2024 qualification, with Scotland hoping to continue their impressive form and England looking to build on their recent performances.

Ivory Coast Struggles to Meet EU Sustainability Standards for Cocoa

Ivory Coast, the world’s leading cocoa producer, is facing challenges in implementing a sustainability drive necessary for its cocoa beans to meet new European Union (EU) standards, according to sources with knowledge of the process. The EU regulations, set to take effect around the end of 2024, aim to curb the import of commodities associated with deforestation, requiring companies to prove that their goods were not grown on deforested land after 2020.

As Ivory Coast accounts for approximately 70% of its annual cocoa bean exports to the EU, the successful adoption of sustainability measures is crucial for the country’s continued access to the EU cocoa market. In response, Ivory Coast launched a national sustainable cocoa strategy (SNCD) in March to align its cocoa production with EU requirements. However, concerns have arisen about the pace of progress since then.

EU officials have expressed apprehensions about Ivory Coast’s sustainability efforts, citing uncertainties in the traceability and certification system, as well as doubts about the effectiveness of government policies related to forest protection and combating child labor. Failure to meet the EU’s sustainability deadline could result in Ivory Coast being classified in a risk category, subjecting cocoa operators and traders to additional checks and potential bottlenecks.

In response to these concerns, Ivory Coast’s cocoa regulator, the Cocoa Coffee Council (CCC), has stated that the country remains on track to meet the requirements. CCC director Yves Brahima Kone affirmed that Ivory Coast’s sustainability, traceability, and certification system are nearing completion and are expected to be fully implemented by 2024.

One key element of Ivory Coast’s sustainability plans is the introduction of an electronic card system to track cocoa beans from plantations to export ports, confirming their origin and assisting farmers in receiving the state-guaranteed price. However, approximately half of the 1 million cards still need to be distributed to farmers, and the CCC must also implement the certification system to document the precise origin of each cocoa batch, as mandated by the EU.

The Ivorian government estimates that the implementation of these sustainability measures will cost around 421 billion CFA francs (approximately $692 million) and has sought funding from donors, the cocoa industry, and chocolate companies to cover part of this expense. An official from the agriculture ministry acknowledged that limited financial resources have hindered the implementation process.

The outcome of Ivory Coast’s efforts to meet EU sustainability standards will have significant implications for the country’s cocoa industry and its access to the EU market, which remains a vital destination for its cocoa exports.


Source: Reuters

Anthony Modeste Joins Al-Ahly After Brief Stint with Borussia Dortmund

Former Borussia Dortmund striker, Anthony Modeste, has made a surprising move to Egyptian and African champions Al-Ahly, just one year after his signing with the German club. Modeste was initially brought to Dortmund with high expectations, seen as a potential replacement for the prolific Erling Haaland.

The French forward’s journey to Dortmund began when he was signed to fill in for Sebastien Haller, who had been diagnosed with a malignant testicular tumour. Haller’s arrival at Dortmund was itself a replacement for Erling Haaland, who had moved on to become a goal-scoring sensation at Manchester City.

However, Modeste’s time with Borussia Dortmund did not live up to expectations. In the 2022-2023 Bundesliga season, the 35-year-old striker managed to score only two goals in 19 appearances. One of those goals came in a dramatic last-minute equaliser that secured a 2-2 draw against Bayern Munich in October.

Al-Ahly, the reigning champions of Egypt and Africa, have now signed Anthony Modeste to a one-year contract, with the possibility of an extension “according to the terms that were agreed,” as stated by the club on its official website.

Modeste could make his debut for Al-Ahly as early as next Friday when the team faces Algerian side USM Alger in the African Super Cup, which will be held in Saudi Arabia. Following that, the Egyptian League is set to kick off just three days later.

This unexpected move has created significant intrigue in the footballing world, with fans and pundits eager to see how Modeste’s talents will contribute to Al-Ahly’s continued success and whether his time with the Egyptian champions will be more fruitful than his brief stint in Germany.


Source: Reuters

Medical Aid Arrives in Libya After Devastating Floods

AL ABRAQ, Libya (September 12, 2023) – Medical aid supplies have arrived at Al Abraq airport in Libya to assist with the aftermath of severe flooding that has ravaged the eastern city of Derna. Dams burst during a powerful storm, causing extensive damage and loss of life in the region.

The medical aid, which includes essential supplies and equipment, was dispatched by the municipalities of Tripoli and Misrata, in addition to contributions from local businessmen. This collaborative effort aims to provide much-needed relief to the affected areas and support the communities grappling with the devastating consequences of the flooding.

According to the Red Cross, an estimated 10,000 people are feared to be missing in various parts of Libya due to the widespread floods. The situation is particularly dire in the city of Derna, where approximately a quarter of the city has been submerged. Tragically, at least 1,000 bodies have already been recovered in Derna alone, and authorities anticipate that the final death toll could be even higher.

Storm Daniel, which struck the region, compounded the challenges faced by Libya, a nation already grappling with over a decade of conflict and instability. The storm intensified existing vulnerabilities, leading to catastrophic flooding in multiple areas across the country.

The humanitarian response to this crisis is vital in providing immediate assistance to those affected by the floods and addressing the urgent medical needs of the population. As aid continues to arrive at Al Abraq airport and other affected regions, efforts are underway to support and rebuild communities impacted by this devastating natural disaster.

The people of Libya, along with international organizations and partners, are working tirelessly to provide relief and support to those affected by the floods. The road to recovery will be long and challenging, but with concerted efforts, hope remains for the affected communities to rebuild their lives and regain a sense of normalcy.

Source: Reuters

African Union Plans to Launch New Credit Rating Agency in 2024

The African Union (AU) is gearing up to establish a new African credit rating agency in 2024, aimed at addressing concerns that ratings assigned to African countries are often perceived as unfair. The agency will be headquartered in Africa and will provide its own evaluations of the lending risks associated with African nations, offering additional context for investors considering the purchase of African bonds or private lending to these countries. Misheck Mutize, the lead expert for country support on rating agencies within the African Union, revealed that there is already significant interest from the private sector to support the agency’s implementation.

Critics within the AU, as well as leaders of member nations, including Ghana, Senegal, and Zambia, argue that the “big three” global ratings agencies—Moody’s, Fitch, and S&P Global Ratings—do not consistently and fairly assess the risk of lending to African nations. They also claim that these agencies are quicker to downgrade African countries during crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, the AU aims to create a credit rating agency that will offer a fresh perspective.

The AU’s goal with this new agency is not to replace the major global agencies but to increase the diversity of opinions available to investors. They believe that the big three often follow the assessments of smaller ratings agencies, which may have a better understanding of domestic dynamics. The plan for this new agency received endorsement from AU finance ministers over the summer and is being spearheaded by the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), a branch of the AU focused on improving governance across the continent. The AU’s executive council is expected to formally adopt the resolution in February.

The agency will be self-funded and overseen by the AU, with significant private sector involvement. A pitch book is currently being developed to attract potential investors and collaborators, although specific private sector and multilateral organizations that will run the agency have not yet been announced. Investors have expressed interest in the initiative, as it promises to provide them with valuable information for decision-making.

While Moody’s, Fitch, and S&P Global Ratings have not immediately responded to these developments, they have consistently maintained that their ratings follow the same criteria consistently across regions and do not exhibit bias. Ravi Bhatia, S&P’s lead analyst for sovereign ratings, recently stated that the agency applies its criteria consistently across all regions.


Source: Reuters