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Musings From Abroad

French President Macron wins second term, beats far-right leader Le Pen

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Incumbent French President Emmanuel Macron has won a second term in office after Sunday runoff voting, defeating far-right’s candidate, Marine Le Pen, by a slim margin of 58.2% to 41.8%.

But Le Pen succeeded in delivering the far right its biggest-ever score in a French presidential election, after campaigning on the cost of living crisis, and promising a ban on the Muslim headscarf in public places as well as nationalist measures to give priority to native-French people over others for jobs, housing, benefits and healthcare.

The pro-European centrist Macron becomes the first leader to win a re-election in France for 20 years after Jacques Chirac in 2002

However, the win over Le Pen was a lower margin than the 66% Macron won against her in 2017 as this year’s turnout was lower than that of five years ago, with abstention estimated at 28%, making it the country’s highest abstention rate in 50 years.

Le Pen described her defeat as a “striking victory,” calling it “a shining victory in itself”, adding: “The ideas we represent are reaching summits.”

The third candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, said Le Pen’s defeat was “very good news for the unity of our people”, while stressing that Macron was “the most badly elected president of the Fifth Republic”.

Macron’s next focus will now shift to the parliamentary elections in June, where he will seek to get a majority for his centrist grouping and possibly expanding alliances with the right.

Musings From Abroad

French, Russia, Chinese firms court Ghana amid plan for first nuclear power plant

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According to a representative of the energy ministry, Ghana will choose a contractor by December to construct its first nuclear power station from among competitors which include China National Nuclear Corporation, France’s EDF, and the United States NuScale Power and Regnum Technology Group.

Robert Sogbadji, the deputy director for power in charge of nuclear and alternative energy, Russia’s ROSATOM and South Korea’s Kepco and its subsidiary Korea Hydro Nuclear Power Corporation were also vying for the contract, which was scheduled to last for the next ten years.

“Cabinet will approve the final choice. It can be one vendor or two nations; it will depend on the financial model and the technical details,” Sogbadji told Reuters on Monday.

The government issued a call for vendors, and 16 countries and businesses replied, according to Sogbadji. However, a technical committee of state agencies headed by the Ministry of energy reduced the list to the current five countries.

In the 1960s, Ghana began exploring the construction of a nuclear power facility, but a coup halted the project. With help from the International Atomic Energy Association, it brought the plan back to life in 2006 after a catastrophic power outage.

Similar to other African nations, Ghana is progressively exploring the potential of nuclear power to bridge supply gaps on a continent where more than 600 million people live without access to energy.

Both Burkina Faso and Uganda have agreements in place with China and Russia to build their first nuclear power plants. As part of their energy mix, Namibia, Kenya, and Morocco are also aiming to include nuclear power.

Amidst acute power shortages, South Africa, which runs the only nuclear reactor on the continent, plans to add 2,500 megawatts (MW) of power from the resource. According to Sogbadji, Ghana wants to increase its electricity mix to include 1,000 megawatts of nuclear power by 2034.

Energy authority in the West African nation, which is now experiencing power shortages, has 5,454 MW of installed capacity, of which 4,483 MW is available.

Ghana, a country that exports gold, oil, and cocoa, anticipates using nuclear power as its foundation for faster and more comprehensive industrialization while expanding energy exports via the West Africa Power Pool to countries like Benin, Ivory Coast, and Togo.

According to Sogbadji, the government has already acquired a location big enough to house five reactors. It would be preferable, he continued, to “build, own, operate and transfer” with space for local equity holding.

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Musings From Abroad

Nigeria’s Air Peace accused of safety violation by UK regulator

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Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority has received a letter from the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority claiming that Nigerian carrier, Air Peace, had allegedly broken several aviation safety laws.

The allegation comes just three months after the Nigerian airline initiated the Lagos-London route.

“United Kingdom SAFA Ramp Inspection Report with reference number: CAA-UK, -2024-0217” and “NATS Management System Safety Report” were the titles of the CAA’s letter of complaint that was sent to the NCAA. Additionally, the NCAA has written to Air Peace to elucidate the matters at hand.

The letter was labelled “United Kingdom SAFA Ramp Inspection Report” and has the reference number NCAA/DOLTS/APL/Vol.11/03624 on it. Capt. O.O. Lawani, the NCAA General Manager of Operations, signed the document, which had the date May 14, 2024.

The NCAA stated in the letter that the flight captain acknowledged using an electronic flight bag for navigation and that the UK CAA had alerted it to the lack of operational approval for Electronic Flight Bag functions that could compromise the aircraft’s safety.

NCAA added that “no mounting device for the use of EFB, no charging points, or battery for backup” was mentioned in the letter from the CAA.

Air Peace has started flying from Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos to London Gatwick as part of Nigeria and the United Kingdom’s bilateral air services agreement.

As of the time of publication, Stanley Olisa, the Air Peace spokesperson, could not be reached.

Since Air Peace started operating flights from Lagos to London, international airlines including British Airways, Virgin, and others have reduced their fares on the route.

Several industry watchers have urged Nigeria’s government to back Air Peace by opposing ‘aero politics” along the route and taking retaliatory measures to undermine Air Peace’s viability there.

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