India In-Focus —  PM Modi says India aims to become developed nation in 25 years; India achieves ethanol target ahead of schedule; Ola plans electric cars in 2024 

Update India In-Focus —  PM Modi says India aims to become developed nation in 25 years; India achieves ethanol target ahead of schedule; Ola plans electric cars in 2024 
Speaking from the Red Fort in Delhi as India celebrates its 75th year of independence, PM Narendra Modi exhorted its young people to “aim big” . (AFP)
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Updated 15 August 2022

India In-Focus —  PM Modi says India aims to become developed nation in 25 years; India achieves ethanol target ahead of schedule; Ola plans electric cars in 2024 

India In-Focus —  PM Modi says India aims to become developed nation in 25 years; India achieves ethanol target ahead of schedule; Ola plans electric cars in 2024 

RIYADH: India will aim to become a developed nation within 25 years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a national day address on Monday, with policies to support domestic production in power, defense and digital technology.

Speaking from the Red Fort in Delhi as India celebrates its 75th year of independence from British colonial rule, Modi exhorted its young people to “aim big” and give their best years for the cause of the country.

“We must turn India into a developed country in the next 25 years, in our lifetime,” said the 71-year-old Modi, wearing a turban in the colors of the Indian flag, in his 75-minute-speech in Hindi.

“It’s a big resolution, and we should work toward it with all our might.”

Ethanol target achieved ahead of schedule  

India has achieved the target of blending 10 percent sugarcane-extracted ethanol in petrol ahead of schedule, said Modi. 

During his Independence Day speech, the prime minister added that India should be self-sufficient in the energy sector. 

He noted that embracing renewables and promoting hydrogen-based energy could help energy independence. 

Paperless domestic travel becoming a reality at Delhi airport

The Indian government’s ambitious Digi Yatra, aimed at paperless domestic travel is becoming a reality at Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi. 

Delhi International Airport Ltd., also known as DIAL, on Monday announced the soft launch of a beta version of the Digi Yatra app for Android users. 

DIAL added that the app will be available for iOS users in another few weeks. 

“The face of passengers will act as their documents, like ID proof, vaccine proof, and also act as boarding passes,” said DIAL in a statement. 

The statement added that this paperless system will also enhance the safety and security at the airport, as the passenger data is validated with the departure control system. 

Ride-hailing firm Ola plans to start producing electric cars in 2024

Indian ride-hailing firm Ola Electric plans to start producing electric cars in India in 2024 with a range of up to 500 km, its CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said on Monday.

Ola, which is backed by Japan’s Softbank Group and currently makes e-scooters, did not give an investment figure or production target.

Aggarwal said that while companies like Tesla are leading the way in building electric vehicles more suited for Western markets, India can lead in the area of small cars, scooters and motorbikes for which global demand is higher.

Ola’s electric car with the most advanced features would go from 0 to 100 km per hour in four seconds, he said.

(With input from Reuters) 


China launches $28bn loan facility to support manufacturers

China launches $28bn loan facility to support manufacturers
Updated 28 September 2022

China launches $28bn loan facility to support manufacturers

China launches $28bn loan facility to support manufacturers
  • Yuan ends at weakest since global financial crisis, hits record low

BEIJING, SHANGHAI: China’s central bank said on Wednesday it has set up a relending facility worth more than 200 billion yuan ($27.59 billion) to help manufacturers and other companies upgrade their equipment, as part of a push to revive flagging demand.

The People’s Bank of China said in a statement that it will provide low-cost funds to financial institutions and guide them to lend to firms to support such upgrades. The loans will be issued on a monthly basis, and the interest rate for qualified firms will be no higher than 3.2 percent from Sept. 1, 2022 to Dec. 31, 2022, the central bank added. China’s one-year loan prime rate is currently 3.65 percent.

The lending facility will support sectors including education, health, culture, tourism and sports, electric vehicle chargers, urban underground facilities, new infrastructure and industrial digital transformation, the central bank said.

The PBoC has increasingly relied on structural, or targeted policy tools, including low-cost loans, to support the slowing economy, as it faces limited room to cut interest rates for fear of fueling capital flight and inflation.

The PBoC has rolled out relending facilities to support the transport, logistics and storage sectors that have been hit hard by COVID-19, as well as carbon emission reduction, tech innovation and elderly care.

On Sept. 14, China’s Cabinet announced steps to support equipment upgrades by companies, extending a raft of measures to bolster the COVID-ravaged economy.

Onshore yuan

China’s onshore yuan extended losses on Wednesday to end the domestic session at its lowest level against the dollar since the global financial crisis of 2008, while the offshore yuan hit a record low, pressured by expectations of more US rate hikes.

Currency traders said the yuan was reacting to broad greenback strength in global markets as the dollar hit a fresh two-decade peak against a basket of currencies, buoyed by safe-haven demand and a hawkish Federal Reserve.

In onshore markets, the yuan finished the domestic trading session at 7.2458 per dollar, its weakest such close since January 2008 and down 658 pips or 0.91 percent from previous late night close of 7.18.

The offshore yuan followed suit and weakened 1.15 percent on the day to trade at 7.2635 around 0830 GMT.

Fuel export

China may tweak a proposed sharp increase in refined fuel export quotas for this year by extending the plan into next year, as it weighs the benefits to the economy of higher exports against low domestic stocks and operational challenges, four sources told Reuters.

However, the four sources with direct knowledge of the matter — and three others — said the government was still reviewing the matter.

The market has been widely expecting China to release a fifth batch of fuel export quota of up to 15 million tons for the rest of the year, which would be its largest so far in 2022 and lift China’s sagging exports.

The proposal from refiners’ planning departments, following a government call to boost trade, has led some refiners to ready an increase in output to take advantage of the quota.


Consultancy agreement signed to launch Jordanian-Iraqi economic city

Consultancy agreement signed to launch Jordanian-Iraqi economic city
Updated 28 September 2022

Consultancy agreement signed to launch Jordanian-Iraqi economic city

Consultancy agreement signed to launch Jordanian-Iraqi economic city
  • Industries on the site will benefit from free trade agreements and have access to over 1bn consumers without customs restrictions

AMMAN: The Jordanian-Iraqi Industry Company and the Coalition for Engineering Consultancy have signed a contract for the provision of services for a Jordanian-Iraqi border economic city project, Jordan News Agency reported.

The engineering consultancy firm will be involved in all stages of finding a developer to carry out the project, including the creation of tender documents, according to the agreement. 

Following the signing ceremony, the company, which is owned by Jordan and Iraq, announced the start of administrative and procedural steps for the project. 

The economic city will strengthen Jordanian-Iraqi business cooperation, and spur development in western Iraq and eastern Jordan. 

The company said in a statement that industries operating in the economic city will benefit from free trade agreements signed by Jordan with many countries, and have access to more than 1 billion consumers without technical or customs restrictions.

It added that the project “constitutes an opportunity to build Jordanian-Iraqi economic integration in many fields, especially industrial ones.”

The joint economic city will be built on the Jordan-Iraq border, with both countries making land available for construction.

 


Bahrain-based Eat App raises $11m in a series B funding

Bahrain-based Eat App raises $11m in a series B funding
Updated 28 September 2022

Bahrain-based Eat App raises $11m in a series B funding

Bahrain-based Eat App raises $11m in a series B funding

RIYADH: Bahrain-based restaurant reservation platform, Eat App, raised $11 million in a series B funding round.

The funding round included venture capital firms MEVP, 500 Startups, Derayah VC, Dalah Albaraka, Ali Zaid Al-Quraishi and Brothers, and Rasameel Investment Company.

The firm seeks expand globally and invest in product development to support restaurants and guest experience.

“Looking back, the pandemic impacted Eat App greatly. While it caused a drop in revenue, it was also one of the largest accelerators of the business, as restaurants were forced to implement digital tools,” Nezar Kadhem, co-founder and CEO of Eat App, said in a statement.

Founded in 2015, Eat App currently operates in Bahrain, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha, with more than 800 restaurants on its platform.


Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures leads French AI firm Alteia’s funding round

Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures leads French AI firm Alteia’s funding round
Updated 28 September 2022

Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures leads French AI firm Alteia’s funding round

Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures leads French AI firm Alteia’s funding round

RIYADH: Alteia, a European artificial intelligence and industrial software company, announced that it closed its latest funding round led by Wa’ed Ventures, Saudi Aramco’s venture capital arm.

Alteia will utilize its funding to increase its presence in the Kingdom by opening an office in Dhahran to support companies in the region as well as invest in research and development.

“To have the world’s leading energy company invest in Alteia through its investment arm is a strong show of faith in our trajectory, and weighs in the value of contextualized, actionable visual data as the foundation to shape a more efficient, more sustainable industrial future,” Benjamin Benharrosh, co-founder of Alteia, said in a statement.


Egypt B2B marketplace Mazaya raises $5m in pre-seed round

Egypt B2B marketplace Mazaya raises $5m in pre-seed round
Updated 28 September 2022

Egypt B2B marketplace Mazaya raises $5m in pre-seed round

Egypt B2B marketplace Mazaya raises $5m in pre-seed round

RIYADH: Mazaya, an Egypt-based B2B e-commerce marketplace, raised $5 million in a pre-seed round, said a statement issued on Tuesday.

The funding round was led by financial investment firm Raya Trade and Distribution, it added.

The company will use the funds to boost its operation in Egypt as well as expand into new markets and other verticals.

“The funds raised will allow us to quickly scale our operations and expand to other markets beyond Egypt, we have plans to launch our services in Nigeria before this year-end,” Amir Aboul Fotouh, Mazaya co-founder, said.

The Mazaya app provides retailers and merchants of electronic goods and home appliances the ability to procure inventory for their stores from all major brands.

“The platform conveniently supports merchants, particularly small merchants who do not receive adequate services, with the ability to scale their business through a superior level of service and a wide range of electronic devices from all international and local brands at the click of a button,” Bassem Megahed, CEO of Raya Trade and Distribution, said in a statement.

The company also plans to offer financial services and support to their retailers by offering credit facilities and flexible payment options.