G7’s billion jabs plan highlights imbalance

G7’s billion jabs plan highlights imbalance
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his spouse welcome Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga during the G7 summit in Carbis Bay. (Reuters)
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Updated 12 June 2021

G7’s billion jabs plan highlights imbalance

G7’s billion jabs plan highlights imbalance

GENEVA: The G7’s plan to donate 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses will help combat the pandemic in poorer countries but will hardly end the drastic global imbalance in access to jabs.
Vaccination rates in the world’s poorest nations are way behind the Group of Seven industrialized powers and other wealthy states.
In terms of doses administered so far, the imbalance between the G7 and the planet’s low-income countries, as defined by the World Bank, is 73 to one.
The World Health Organization welcomes pledges of future vaccine donations but has stressed that while sharing doses is essential, the matter of when is just as important.
By the time those doses reach poorer countries to vaccinate health workers and the elderly — who are the most vulnerable to dying of COVID-19 — the G7 could be well advanced with jabs to children.
A WHO spokeswoman said Friday that it was “very heartening” that countries holding large numbers of doses were now heeding “the call that we’ve been making since January.”
The United States and the European Union have promised to vaccinate most of their adult population by the end of summer in the northern hemisphere.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called for a massive effort to vaccinate at least 10 percent of the population in all countries by September, and at least 30 percent by the end of the year.
That will require an additional 250 million doses by September, with 100 million needed in June and July alone.
The call for equitable vaccination is driven by concerns that if parts of the world are left wide open to virus transmission, the greater the chances of ever-more worrying mutations emerging — variants that could eventually evade vaccines.
Nearly 2.3 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been injected in at least 216 territories around the world, according to a count.
A quarter of those doses have been administered in G7 countries, which account for 10 percent of the population.
In the highest-income countries, accounting for 16 percent of the global population, 67 doses have been injected per 100 inhabitants — 73 doses within the G7.
That figure stands at just one dose per 100 in the 29 lowest-income countries, home to nine percent of the world’s people.
Covax is the globally-pooled coronavirus vaccine procurement and equitable distribution effort.
Launched in June 2020, it is co-led by the WHO, the Gavi vaccine alliance and CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
Covax was set up to combat the likelihood of rich countries buying up most available doses — which occurred exactly as predicted.
It intends to procure enough vaccines for 30 percent of the population in 91 of the poorest participating territories — 20 percent in India — with donors covering the cost.
Many poorer countries are entirely reliant on Covax, and the scheme has already delivered more than 81 million doses to 129 territories.
But that is about 200 million doses behind where it had hoped to be at this point, says the WHO.
It has been hit by a shortage of vaccines available to purchase, plus delivery delays.
AstraZeneca shots make up 97 percent of doses supplied so far, while the rest come from Pfizer/BioNTech.
The Serum Institute of India, producing AstraZeneca doses, was supposed to be the backbone of Covax’s supply chain — but India restricted exports to combat its own devastating coronavirus surge.


Fitch lifts 6 Saudi banks outlooks to stable from negative

Fitch lifts 6 Saudi banks outlooks to stable from negative
Updated 33 sec ago

Fitch lifts 6 Saudi banks outlooks to stable from negative

Fitch lifts 6 Saudi banks outlooks to stable from negative
  • These ratings follow a similar action on Saudi Arabia’s sovereign rating on 15 July 2021 that was attributed to better fiscal management and an increase in oil prices

RIYADH: Ratings agency Fitch has revised six Saudi banks’ credit outlooks to stable from negative and affirmed their international ratings at BBB+.

The banks are Arab National Bank (ANB), Banque Saudi Fransi (BSF), Alinma bank (Alinma), Saudi Investment Bank (SAIB), Bank Aljazira (BAJ) and Gulf International Bank - Saudi Arabia (GIB SA).

These ratings follow a similar action on Saudi Arabia’s sovereign rating on 15 July 2021 that was attributed to better fiscal management and an increase in oil prices.

“Fitch’s assessment considers the authorities’ strong ability to support the banking system, given large, albeit reduced from their historical levels, external reserves,” Fitch said in the statement.

“It also reflects a long record of support for Saudi banks, irrespective of their size, franchise, funding structure and level of government ownership.”


Saudi Arabia targets energy reduction worth $6.6bn by 2030, says CEO

Saudi Arabia targets energy reduction worth $6.6bn by 2030, says CEO
Updated 6 min 48 sec ago

Saudi Arabia targets energy reduction worth $6.6bn by 2030, says CEO

Saudi Arabia targets energy reduction worth $6.6bn by 2030, says CEO
  • Its services include retrofitting buildings and streetlighting and promotes the use of renewable energy, including rooftop solar PV

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s National Energy Services Company (Tarshid) said it plans to reduce energy consumption in the Kingdom by SR25 billion ($6.6 billion) by 2030.

“We are targeting integrated savings through the Saudi Energy Efficiency Program (SEEP), and in the public sector alone, we will be saving 8 terawatts and SR2.5 billion annually,” Tarshid CEO Waled Alghreri told CNBC Arabia in an interview.

Tarshid was established by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) to pioneer energy efficiency in Saudi Arabia in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy.

Its services include retrofitting buildings and streetlighting and promotes the use of renewable energy, including rooftop solar PV.

Its Energy Efficiency Program is a rare example of a country creating a dedicating, integrated initiative to target energy efficiency, said Alghreri.

Most such programs are scattered and decentralized and do not produce encouraging results, he said.


Amazon to rebrand Souq.com Egypt site this year

Amazon to rebrand Souq.com Egypt site this year
Updated 49 min 49 sec ago

Amazon to rebrand Souq.com Egypt site this year

Amazon to rebrand Souq.com Egypt site this year
  • Souq.com sellers in Egypt encouraged to set up on Amazon.eg

CAIRO: Amazon said it plans to rebrand the Egyptian version of Souq.com as Amazon.eg this year, following similar moves in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Sales partners previously registered on Amazon’s Souq.com affiliate can access their accounts through the Amazon Seller Center in preparation for selling their products on the Amazon Egypt website immediately after its launch.

Amazon acquired Middle East etailer Souq.com in 2017 from Syrian entrepreneur Ronaldo Mouchawar.

On May 1, 2019, Souq.com UAE became known as Amazon.ae. On June 17 last year, Amazon launched its dedicated Saudi website Amazon.sa, rebranding the old Souq.com website.

Amazon announced plans in March to hire 1,500 new employees in Saudi Arabia and add 11 buildings to its network. The expansion will boost storage capacity in the Kingdom by 89 percent and its geographical delivery network by 58 percent.

The company operates an extensive logistics network and local operations across Egypt, which includes the main warehouse supported by 15 delivery stations across the country.


Sawiris creates $1.4 billion fund for gold mining assets, seeks outside investors

Sawiris creates $1.4 billion fund for gold mining assets, seeks outside investors
Updated 27 July 2021

Sawiris creates $1.4 billion fund for gold mining assets, seeks outside investors

Sawiris creates $1.4 billion fund for gold mining assets, seeks outside investors
  • Fund took $100 million from an unnamed strategic partner
  • Fund will be open to outside investors

LUXEMBOURG: La Mancha Holdings, owned by Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, has launched a $1.4 billion fund to hold his gold mining assets and pursue new opportunities in precious and electric-vehicle metals.

The fund, La Mancha Fund SCSp, took on $100 million from an unnamed “strategic partner” and will soon be open to outside investors, Luxembourg-based La Mancha said in an emailed statement.

“Creating a fund is the natural consequence of what we have been doing since we vended-in our operational assets into Evolution and Endeavour in 2015,” Sawiris said in the statement. “Transitioning to a fund structure and welcoming new investors is timely when we are seeing opportunities in a gold mining sector which is fragmented and needs further consolidation.”

The fund will mainly be focused on gold and precious metals miners, but may also invest in EV battery metals. It will seek to acquire significant stakes in listed junior mineral resource companies with the goal of creating value over a three-to-five-year horizon.

As part of its mandate, the fund will seek to improve ESG metrics within its portfolio
companies during its investment tenure, it said in the statement.


Saudi Central Bank steps up efforts to increase locals in financial sector

Saudi Central Bank steps up efforts to increase locals in financial sector
Updated 27 July 2021

Saudi Central Bank steps up efforts to increase locals in financial sector

Saudi Central Bank steps up efforts to increase locals in financial sector
  • SAMA working with Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development and Human Resources Development Fund
  • Initiative could create 200,000 jobs - economist

RIYADH: The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) has signed an agreement with other government entities to increase the number of locals in the financial sector, a move that might lead to the creation of more than 200,000 jobs for nationals.

SAMA signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (HRSD), in partnership with the Human Resources Development Fund (Hadaf), SPA reported on Monday.

“This MoU aims to increase localization, provide human competencies capable of meeting the requirements of the financial sector, and create more than 203,000 jobs in the sector,” independent economist Fadhel Al Buainain told Arab News.

The measures will establish sustainable strategic steps to ensure the creation of more jobs and prepare young people to fill them, he said.

For decades, the Saudi financial sector was made up only of banks, but since the entry of new financial entities such as investment institutions, financial companies and the insurance sector, localization of jobs has become more important, to achieve sufficiency, strategic security and address unemployment, said Al Buainain.

Supporting specialized financial colleges and creating a college for banking sciences are among the tools that will help achieve the sector’s localization goals, he said.