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ICT start-ups: Incentives For Digital Economy Production In Cameroon

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Over the last decade, information technologies (IT) have revolutionized the way people and businesses carry out their daily activities worldwide.

There is abundant evidence that the upsurge of technology has been a major contributor to fundamental economic change, notably the growth in global production and the distribution of intangible goods and services.

As a result, the digital economy has become the new focus for economic growth in developing countries.

With ICT set to become the engine of development in Cameroon in its role as a hub in the Central Africa sub-region, the 2021 tax scheme has been updated to promote innovative ICT start-ups.

Eligibility for the benefits of the start-up promotion scheme is subject to the consent of Approved Management Centres dedicated to start-ups.

The specific obligations of the Approved Management Centres shall be specified by instrument issued by the Minister in charge of finance.

ICT start-ups whose status is confirmed by an approved management centres will be eligible to claim several incentives:

 a) During the incubation phase, which must not exceed 5 years, companies which fall under this category shell be exempt from all taxes, duties, levies and payments, except social security contributions

b) At the end of the incubation phase, in the event of the sale of the start-up, a reduced capital tax gains rate of 10% – instead of the standard 16.5% – will be applied to the increase in the value of investments through the lifespan of ownership.

c) If the company enters the operation phase at the end of incubation, it shall, for a period of five (5) years, benefit from:

– exemption from the business licence tax,

– exemption from registration fees on the incorporation, extension or capital increase instruments,

– exemption from all tax and employer’s charges on salaries paid to their employees except social security contributions,

– application of a reduced 5% rate of income tax on movable capital revenue on dividends paid to shareholders and interest paid to investors.

 At the end of the fifth year of operation, ordinary tax law policies will become applicable.

The development of dedicated policy to support ICT start-ups signals commitment from the Cameroon government to development of the digital economy.

If implemented properly, these tax incentives should attract investment to Cameroon. Secondary benefits of these policies include an increase in employment, capital transfers, research and technology development, and structural development in less-developed areas.

Although it is difficult to approximate the value of these tax incentives in general, proper implementation is likely to improve overall economic welfare through increased economic growth and government tax revenue.

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Opinions

On Rwanda-France Relations

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President Kagame and the people of Rwanda have done their part in showing the World (though most of what was already known) that France aided the genocide against the Tutsi by providing military trainings, weapons, financial aid and all forms of assistance, including advocacy to the United Nations, to a genocidal regime just to advance French influence in Rwanda and Africa.

Since 1994, French leaders have denied their country’s role in the genocide and limited it to “assistance-under-ignorance,” arguing that they weren’t informed a genocide was being planned and would be implemented to exterminate the Tutsi.

Many people, in Rwanda and the World, are pleased with President Macron’s decision to acknowledge, though partially, his country’s role in the atrocities that befell the Tutsi.

I, like many others, would want to consider such a move by the French leader a heroic act. However, considering that Macron and France, in general, could be doing this for geopolitical gains, I am yet to have a feel-of-appreciation for Macron.

Aware that France is trying to build a French influence over Uganda and that France’s relations with the Francophone West Africa are already sour as nations held captive to this former colonial master in economic and security affairs have started raising their concerns about the implications of such captivity and most of them have taken a strong stand against it, which is a loss for France, I would like to hold back my praises for President Macron.

I’m also aware that France has, for so long, been responsible for a series of regime changes in numerous nations in the West and Central of Africa, not forgetting its role in what became the fate of Gaddafi and Libya.

So, as France is working hard to strengthen relations with Uganda, Rwanda and other nations, the masses in Francophone West Africa are already standing up against their countries’ financial ties to France, which Dr. Arikana Chihombori calls the “Pact for the Continuation of Colonization.”

A meticulous geopolitical analysis would reveal that France stands to lose a large share of its Francophone West African influence as people raise France’s activities in different countries in the West of Africa. This, and not benevolence, makes Macron act the way he is.

With knowledge of the above, a number of questions come to my mind;

Is France’s Macron remorseful for his country’s role in the genocide? 

Is he personally determined to get things right which his predecessors got wrong?

In my opinion, he is not. Being the progressive he seems to be, and being a true European, appreciating of the place Europeans have in World affairs, he is determined to play his cards right to keep his country’s influence in Africa tact.

But, why should he consider being at good terms with Rwanda if he is interested in other countries? In my opinion, Rwanda serves as the worst example of French activities in Africa as Namibia serves a worst example for German activities in Africa. Geopolitically, improving relations with Rwanda helps France reposition its image in Africa, and Macron’s France, at least, and from the periphery, will be considered a partner that understands peculiar national priorities and interests and seeks respectful and mutual (win-win) relations and not the old France that imposed terms that governments were to follow or be overthrown. 

If France and Macron were really intending to accept their role in the genocide against the Tutsi and be accountable for their role, reparations, extraditing genocide perpetrators who have found a safe haven in France would, inter alia, be on the table. But (as if to justify my suppositions), France is offering to give Rwanda financial aid in hundreds of millions of Euros and rich Frenchmen and women have, already, started receiving special support to help them exploit investment opportunities in Rwanda.

In the short run; therefore, Rwanda is winning as the new relations with Macron help expose, beyond doubt, France’s role in the genocide. On a politico-economic standpoint; however, France is winning bigger.

The author is a political commentator and critic. His views do not reflect those of Taarifa’s editorial line.

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Opinions

A Rare Chance To Chart A New Course Toward Peace

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There has never been an Israeli government representing the entire political spectrum from the extreme left to the extreme right. This offers a rare chance to chart a new course to gradually end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It will be tragic to miss this historic opportunity.

Righting the Wrong

Now that the arduous wrangling between eight starkly ideologically different parties—including the Islamist Arab party Ra’am—has ended and a new coalition government will soon be sworn in, a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should top the agenda of the new government.

However, due to the parties’ profound ideological differences, they agreed to not tackle issues over which they have significant disagreement, especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (IPC).

This is the worst possible decision particularly because the new government represents the whole political spectrum from left to right. Since Israel has moved significantly to the right, if this government refuses to deal with the IPC, which coalition government will?

As we have witnessed in the past, the left and left-of-center parties could not form a government on their own capable of tackling the conflict, and the right and right-of-center parties largely oppose a peace agreement based on a two-state solution. This explains the decades-long sad and deteriorating impasse between Israelis and Palestinians.

The question is, will Israel’s political leaders, including Yamina’s and Jewish Home’s Bennett and Lieberman, rise to the occasion and acknowledge that the conflict with the Palestinians will not go away, and if they wait four more years it will only get worse unless they address it head-on?

The new government does not need to decide now about negotiating a peace agreement, because this will not happen given the profound distrust, hatred, and animosity between the two sides.

The new government should focus on reconciliation, through building trust on both government-to-government and people-to-people levels during the four-year tenure, and substantially and mutually improve the relationship with the Palestinians.

They have to agree in principle only that there will be a two-state solution down the road, and the purpose of the reconciliation process is to pave the way in that direction.

In fact, even if they don’t achieve a peace agreement, any process of reconciliation in and of itself is positive, as it will create a more peaceful and conducive atmosphere to negotiate a peace accord at a later day.

This process should include Hamas. In order to prevent a future deadly conflagration between Israel and Hamas, a 15–20-year long-term ceasefire should be established.

In fact, Hamas has been seeking that for many years, and Egypt has now taken the lead, with the strong support of the Biden administration.

Mediating such an agreement on which to build a more cooperative relationship between Israel and Hamas would lead to easing the blockade and eventually lifting it altogether once Hamas recognizes Israel.

While the Biden administration can play a pivotal role in advancing the peace process, it must not channel the promised reconstruction aid in Gaza through the Palestinian Authority, but instead through a monitoring commission composed of the donor countries.

That said, just as Egypt is negotiating with Hamas to establish a long-term ceasefire, the US should involve Hamas in the reconstruction efforts.

Like it or not, Hamas officially represents the Palestinians in Gaza and enjoys tremendous sway in the West Bank as well.

However, involving Hamas should be conditional upon Hamas moderating its position by ending its poisonous narrative against Israel, fully adhering to the ceasefire agreement, and renouncing the use of force to achieve a political objective.

If Hamas meets these conditions consistently, the US should declassify it as a terrorist organization which would provide Hamas with a huge incentive to behave responsibly as a legitimate governing authority.

Other than providing immediate humanitarian aid to the tens of thousands of Palestinians that have been displaced during the war, tying major reconstruction to a long-term ceasefire is critical. Without doing so, should Hamas provoke or threaten Israel in the future, Israel will not hesitate to level everything standing again.

Moreover, involving Hamas will incentivize it not only to adhere to these pre-conditions, but also to prevent any violation of the ceasefire by renegade jihadists in Gaza.

Since the new Israeli prime minister will certainly be invited to the White House, President Biden should “read him his rights.” Biden ought to make it abundantly clear that the US will not, under any circumstances, support anything but a two-state solution.

Moreover, it will never tolerate annexation of another inch of Palestinian territory in the West Bank, and it will fully support a process of reconciliation.

Biden can certainly make a strong case because Democrats in the House and the Senate are becoming extremely critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, with prominent Democrats saying the US shouldn’t be selling arms to Israel, which has never been expressed by any congressmember before.

Finally, the new Israeli government must immediately focus on the unprecedented violence between Israeli Jews and Palestinians in Israel proper which erupted in the wake of the disturbances on Temple Mount and the subsequent Israel-Hamas war. Years of discrimination against Israeli Arabs has finally come to a boil.

Furthermore, Netanyahu’s violation of Palestinians’ human rights in the West Bank and Gaza further enraged Israeli Arabs, as they have affinity towards their brethren and feel their suffering under occupation or blockade.

The Israeli Arabs can play a significant role to ameliorate the Israel-Palestinian relationship in general, or become a fifth column. Now that there will be an Arab party supportive of or in the government, it could usher in a new period of rapprochement between Israeli Jews and Arab.

The new Israeli government must make every effort to end the discrimination against Israel’s Arab citizens, especially in the areas of education, job opportunities, and development of their towns and villages.

These measures are absolutely crucial, especially in time of violent conflict in the West Bank and Gaza. Otherwise, another rampage of violence will destroy the social fabric between the two sides, which is a recipe for disaster for all Israelis, Jewish and Arab alike. Any Israeli government that ignores this ominous development will do so at its peril.

Israel and the Palestinians have missed many opportunities to make peace. After more than seven decades, the situation is ever more intractable and deadly.

The new Israeli government must seize this perhaps once-in-a-generation opportunity, show statesmanship, and demonstrate to the whole world that Israel is ready to make peace by taking concrete measures to that end.

____________
Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

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Lifestyle

The Rwandan Health Crisis (And I am NOT Referring To Coronavirus)

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The fitness industry has been deemed non-essential by most world governments, including Rwanda, during a time of a pandemic and health crisis. COVID-19 is a serious threat and our response is a necessary step to bring the spread to a halt, save lives, and lead to an eventual restoration of normality.

I have to salute the efforts by frontline institutions such as Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) and Rwanda National Police (RNP), their tireless work in mitigating the spread of the virus is of high standards.

The fight against COVID-19 took the precedence over the fight against other medical conditions
that destroy someone’s quality of life and cause thousands of unnecessary deaths like:

  1. Heart Disease / Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)
  2. Cancers, some auto-Immune Diseases
  3. Infections and Diseases of the Lungs
  4. Metabolic Syndrome (Obesity, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, etc)

In addition, there are other problems that are not considered as medical conditions but as natural progressions of aging:

  • Excess body fat percentage
  • Sarcopenia and loss of functional capacity
  • Poor coordination and balance
  • Decreased cardio-pulmonary capacity

Pandemic or not, these issues exist. People still suffer from heart disease, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. To extend their lifespan or manage their symptoms, they seek for a pill instead of dealing with the sources.

According to the New Times’s article of October 27th 2020, the Ministry of Health (MoH) is seeking for $640m to reduce premature mortality from Non-Communicable diseases (NCDs).

On an alarming note, MoH says the number of cardiovascular patients treated in the country’s health facilities has more than tripled between 2018 and 2020 (from 25,353 in 2018 to 88,486 cases in 2020).

Fitness professionals are always ready with one of the most proven medical interventions known to humanity – EXERCISE.

In conjunction with optimal macro and micronutrient-rich diet of appropriate calories and quality sleep, exercise can quite literally save lives. Clearly, on the preventive health care front, the Government of Rwanda needs a comprehensive plan that involves fitness professionals as partners.

Fabrice 31, is a hard-working father of 2 at the prime of his life. Just like everybody, he needs to maintain his health in check to be able to accomplish his life goals and responsibilities.

About 5 years ago, I met Fabrice for the first time at CALI FITNESS, a gym where I spend most of my time. He was a regular client of the gym but we had never worked together. At some point Fabrice disappeared from the gym, we can say that life happened.

When he resurfaced months later, I couldn’t believe what I saw, Fabrice had gained a lot of weight and his health was under serious threats. He approached me and expressed interest to work with me so that I could help him lose all that excess weight and ultimately get his life back.

The next day, we had a consultation meeting, where I got to learn a bit more about what happened and about his then lifestyle. We set short term and long-term goals, and we started working very hard.

After 1 year of serious sweat work and clean eating, Fabrice lost a lot of body fat and built a tone of muscles as you can see on the photo.

His posture is better, his sleep was significantly improved, his confidence is through the roof and most importantly, he has reversed critical conditions which weighed heavy on him and a real threat to his health.

None of this would have been possible without the intervention of professional help on   exercise. His achievement is definitely the proof that gyms are the perfect solution to fighting NCDs.

Exercise is ESSENTIAL To Health

Without a doubt, exercise routine is ESSENTIAL to our health, especially when it comes to addressing longevity and quality of life.

  • Exercise can improve our body composition,
  • Increase our metabolic rate
  • Manage our blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides,
  • Increase oxygen supply to the body and brain
  • Keep our hormones in balance.
  • Strength training that leads to muscle hypertrophy which results in  good posture and overall strength
  • Being strong makes us resilient to injury and pain, helps maintain coordination, balance and ultimately helps overcome physical, emotional, and mental hurdles.
  • Exercise makes us happier – This is a well-studied area and data shows that the gym is an effective anti-depressant and the perfect place to invest anxious energy.

This list is not exhaustive, but it paints a crystal clear picture:

Exercise is essential for all. It is effective if you are an individual or if it’s a collective. Movement is fundamental to any preventive plan against disease and disfunction.  

Thus, when we consider those of us who have dedicated our lives to preaching exercise, preaching its benefits, with mission to make our world a healthier place – clearly, our profession is ESSENTIAL.

The list of preventable diseases and dysfunction is uncomfortably long and yet our field which one of the most effective solutions, is not seen as essential.

About The Author

Ivan Munyengango, known on social media as Ivan Munye, is a fitness entrepreneur, a fitness trainer with more than 10 years in the industry. Certified by the International Sports Science Association (ISSA) He is a member of The International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) His work revolves around private training, Strength and Conditioning for athletes and Corporate wellness consulting. He is a health and fitness professional who loves sharing knowledge and passion for fitness and it’s impressive to see how many Rwandans he inspires.

“The human body is, by design and construction, an athletic machine designed to perform physical tasks. To neglect the required maintenance of that machine is to deny its nature”

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