• Australia leads Commonwealth tributes to Prince Philip

    In a statement issued from Canberra, Mr Morrison said: "For nearly 80 years, Prince Philip served his Crown, his country and the Commonwealth.

    "His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh was, in the words of Her Majesty, her 'strength and stay'. He embodied a generation that we will never see again.

    "Beginning as a naval cadet in 1939, he served in war and in peace. When Her Majesty ascended the throne, The Duke ended his military service and became her constant support.

    "Prince Philip was no stranger to Australia, having visited our country on more than 20 occasions. Through his service to the Commonwealth he presided as patron or president of nearly 50 organisations in Australia. Given his own service, Prince Philip also had a strong connection with the Australian Defence Force.

    "For 65 years, The Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme has encouraged over 775,000 young Australians to explore their leadership potential. Forty thousand young Australians are currently participating in the program. Australians send our love and deepest condolences to her Majesty and all the Royal family.

    “The Commonwealth family joins together in sorrow and thanksgiving for the loss and life of Prince Philip. God bless from all here in Australia.

    "Further details about Australia's remembrance of Prince Philip will be announced over the coming days. Flags will be lowered in honour of His Royal Highness."

    Other Commonwealth leaders left comments with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying: "My thoughts are with the British people and the Royal Family on the passing away of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

    "He had a distinguished career in the military and was at the forefront of many community service initiatives. May his soul Rest in Peace!"

    Taoiseach of Ireland Micheál Martin said he was "saddened to hear of the death of HRH, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Our thoughts and prayers are with Queen Elizabeth and the people of the United Kingdom at this time".

    New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: "Our thoughts are with Her Majesty The Queen at this profoundly sad time. On behalf of the New Zealand people and the Government, I would like to express my sincere condolences to Her Majesty and to all the Royal Family."

  • Australia returning 14 artworks of disputed provenance to India

    The National Gallery of Australia is to return 14 works of art to India that are suspected of having been stolen, looted or exported illegally.

  • Barbados launches new virtual global insurance and risk management conference

    As Barbados continues to stamp its place among the world’s global business domiciles, the island will host the inaugural Barbados Risk & Insurance Management (BRIM) global conference next month.

    Bringing together local, regional and international thought leaders on insurance, risk management and global business, the virtual conference is expected to attract over 200 industry professionals for the March 24-25, 2021 event. BIBA, the Association for Global Business, is hosting the conference.

    Fresh from its staging of the highly successful Global Business Week 2020 Conference, BIBA rolled out plans for BRIM 2021 during a recent media launch, with BIBA President Derrick Cummins emphasizing that Barbados is one of the top tier domiciles for captive insurance companies globally.

    A captive insurer is an insurance company that is wholly owned and controlled by its insureds, and its primary purpose is to insure the risks of its owners. At the same time, its insureds benefit from the captive insurer's underwriting profits.

    In his remarks at the BRIM 2021 media launch attended by officials of BIBA, the Financial Services Commission (FSC) and sponsors, Cummins said: “We have designed this conference as a must-attend event for risk, insurance, finance, investment, legal and any professionals aligned with the insurance sector, especially the captive industry.”

    Among the many topics up for discussion at the conference are:

    ·         Risk Management Post-Pandemic

    ·         Emerging Markets – New Opportunities

    ·         New Initiatives in Captives - Covering Cyber Risk and Pandemic Risk

    ·         Risk Management & Climate Change

    ·         Managing Investment Portfolios for Captives, and Regulation in a Post-COVID World

    Scheduled speakers at BRIM 2021 include:

    ·         Michael Serricchio, Managing Director of Americas, Marsh Captive Solutions

    ·         Daryl Senick, Partner and National Insurance Leader, BDO Canada

    ·         Elizabeth Emanuel, Technical Assistance Manager, CCRIF SPC (formerly Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility)

    ·         Professor Avinash Persaud, Chairman, Barbados Financial Services Commission (FSC)

    ·         Ben Arrindell, special advisor to Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley on international business matters, and Deputy Chairman, Cidel Bank & Trust

    Carmel Haynes, Executive Director of BIBA, described the conference’s target audience as those directly and indirectly involved in the insurance industry. These include insurers, actuaries, financial services professionals, attorneys-at-law, accounting professionals, and others in a service relationship with the insurance industry.

    According to Cummins, as businesses and individuals grapple with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the insurance industry worldwide is experiencing a high demand for coverage. However, on the flip side, he said insurers were facing high capital adequacy requirements, “creating the type of hard market that leaves clients little room for negotiating on premiums, and insurers little appetite for writing new policies.”

    Despite this, Ricardo Knight, BIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee Chair and Senior Vice President of Marsh Captive Solutions, said captive insurance business registrations continued to expand in Barbados.

    “We are one of the Top 10 jurisdictions in the world. I don’t think we can speak to many industries in the world where Barbados is in the Top 10 of an industry which is growing during one of the harshest pandemics that the world has ever seen,” Knight stressed.

    Statistics from the FSC show that Barbados has 279 captive insurance companies, the bulk of which are Canadian and American operations. Announcing their commitment to long-term sponsorship of the event, Jeanne Crawford, Senior Vice President of USA Risk Group, and Elliott Barrow, Vice President, Portfolio Manager and Investment Advisor of RBC Dominion Securities Global, said they were pleased to be diamond sponsors of BRIM 2021.

    “We are excited to be involved in this and be a diamond sponsor. This is long overdue, and BIBA has our full support and commitment for 2021 and beyond,” said Crawford.

    Barrow, who described the captive insurance industry as a significant part of RBC Dominion Securities Global's portfolio, remarked: “It is an industry we are very excited to be a part of, and we will commit to being diamond sponsors. This is an important development for our industry and for Barbados.”

    The staging of this conference is being made possible by Diamond Sponsors: RBC Dominion Securities Global, and USA Risk Group; Platinum Sponsor: London & Capital; Gold Sponsor: Strategic Risk Solutions; Silver Sponsor: Clarity Life; and Bronze Sponsors: Invest Barbados, Sagicor Life Inc, and Summit Asset Management.


  • Barbados set to remove Queen as head of state

    Barbados has announced that it intends to remove Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and will become a republic.


    Following a statement by the Caribbean island nation's government which said: "The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind," it said that it aims to complete the process in time for the 55th anniversary of independence from Britain, in November 2021.


    Prime Minister Mia Mottley further followed that by writing a speech saying that Barbadians wanted a Barbadian head of state.


    The speech read: "This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving."


    Buckingham Palace said that it was a matter for the government and people of Barbados.


    A source at Buckingham Palace said that the idea "was not out of the blue" and "has been publicly talked about by many."


    The statement was part of the Throne Speech, which outlines the government's policies and programmes ahead of the new session of parliament. While it is read out by the governor-general, it is written by the country's prime minister.


    The speech also quoted a warning from Errol Barrow, Barbados's first prime minister after it gained independence, who said that the country should not "loiter on colonial premises".


    His is not the only voice in Barbados that has been suggesting a move away from the monarchy. A constitutional review commission recommended republican status for Barbados in 1998.


    Ms Mottley's predecessor in Freundel Stuart also argued for a "move from a monarchical system to a republican form of government in the very near future".


    Barbados would not be the first former British colony in the Caribbean to become a republic after Guyana took that step in 1970, less than four years after gaining independence from Britain.


    Trinidad and Tobago followed suit in 1976 and Dominica in 1978.


    All three stayed within the Commonwealth, a loose association of former British colonies and current dependencies, along with some countries that have no historical ties to Britain.


  • Beijing suffering worst sandstorm in a decade

    The Chinese capital of Beijing was covered in thick dust on Monday as it experienced what its weather bureau has called the worst sandstorm in a decade.

    The storm caused an unprecedented spike in air pollution measurements - with pollution levels in some districts at 160 times the recommended limit. Hundreds of flights were cancelled or grounded as the sky was covered by an apocalyptic-looking orange haze.

    The sand is being brought in by strong winds from Mongolia. In that country (Mongolia) the severe sandstorms have reportedly caused six deaths and left dozens missing. Media outlet reported that at least 12 provinces in the country, including the capital, had been affected, and the weather was likely to continue before improving at night.

    The WHO (World Health Organisation) currently sets safe levels of air quality based on the concentration of polluting particles called particulate matter (PM) found in the air. According to news wire AFP quoting the Global Times, the PM 10 pollution in six central districts reached "over 8,100 micrograms per cubic metre" on Monday.

    The WHO considers levels between 0-54 as "good" and 55-154" as "moderate" levels of PM 10. AFP added that schools had been told to cancel outdoor events, and those with respiratory diseases advised to stay indoors.

    Beijing was historically hit by sandstorms on a much more regular basis, but pollution reduction projects - including prohibitions on new coal-fired power plants, restrictions on the number of cars on the road and reforestation - have significantly improved air quality in the city. Sandstorms like the one seen this week, caused by wind, are harder to control.

    Beijing, though, and surrounding regions have suffered from high levels of pollution in recent weeks, with one Greenpeace activist telling AFP that it was a result of intense industrial activities. These, he said, exacerbated sandstorm conditions, which were the "result of extreme weather conditions and desertification".

  • Bill and Melinda Gates divorce after 27 years of marriage

    Bill and Melinda Gates say they are getting divorced after 27 years of marriage, with the pair writing on Twitter: "We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple.

    "After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage." The two met in the late 1980s, when Melinda joined Bill's Microsoft firm, and they have three children and jointly run the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation organisation which has spent billions fighting causes such as infectious diseases and encouraging vaccinations in children.

    The Gates' - along with investor Warren Buffett - are behind the Giving Pledge, which calls on billionaires to commit to giving away the majority of their wealth to good causes. Bill Gates is the fourth wealthiest person in the world, according to Forbes, and is worth $124 billion.

    He made his money through the firm he co-founded in the 1970s, Microsoft, the world's biggest software company. The pair both posted the statement announcing their divorce on Twitter.

    "Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives," it read. "We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in the next phase of our lives.

    "We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life."

  • Billionaire Motsepe announces Caf presidential bid

    South African Patrice Motsepe, one of Africa's richest men, has announced his intention to become the next president of the Confederation of African Football (Caf).


    The chair of 2016 African club champions Mamelodi Sundowns becomes the third person to bid for the role, after incumbent Ahmad and Jacques Anouma of Ivory Coast.


    Motsepe is Africa's tenth richest man, according to Forbes magazine which estimates his wealth at $2.4 billion. 


    South Africa FA president Danny Jordaan said: "Caf must improve its global standing.

    "He is the most appropriate person we could offer for the leadership of Caf. We do not want any compromise on governance or ethics in football."


    Motsepe, who is in quarantine at home after contracting Covid-19 according to Jordaan, was not present at the press conference in Johannesburg to announce his bid, with Jordaan - flanked by South Africa's Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa - doing so instead. In a related development, one expected challenger - Amaju Pinnick of Nigeria - has decided against standing for the Caf presidency and given his backing to Motsepe instead. The South African is the second candidate to announce in less than 48 hours, after Anouma - a former member of Fifa's Executive Committee (now Fifa Council) between 2007 and 2015 - was formally backed by the Ivorian federation.


    It is understood that reigning president Ahmad submitted his candidacy in October but his ability to contest March's elections is in doubt given he is set to face a ban from football after being found to have breached various Fifa's ethic codes.


    The 60-year-old from Madagascar, who was questioned by French anti-corruption authorities last year without being charged, has previously denied any wrongdoing.


    Motsepe's bid, which comes ahead of the deadline for candidates to formally register their interest, breaks the traditional contestants for the Caf presidency, which has been restricted to high-ranking members of African football's ruling body in the past. He is able to contest the position since he fulfils the requirements of having been involved in football for the past five years, with the South African having led Pretoria-based Sundowns since 2004, and has received the backing of his own federation.


    Having made his fortune in mining after starting out as a lawyer, Motsepe - whose elder sister is the wife of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa - is already receiving support from across Africa, with Botswana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone among those to have already publicly backed him.


    Pinnick said: "He has more superior qualities than me.

    "It's not about me, it's about African football. If you have someone with superior qualities, you have to learn from him and queue behind him and wait for your time."

    "The key to successful governance starts from the point where the right person or persons are put in the right positions for the right reasons," said Sierra Leone FA president Isha Johansen. "African football and the African continent needs to be on the global platform for the right reasons."


    Botswana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone were among the eight countries - with Anouma's Ivory Coast another - that refused to give their backing to Ahmad last month when 46 other African FA presidents called on the Malagasy to contest a second term.


    With countries only able to nominate one candidate for Caf's Executive Committee, including the presidency, Motsepe's bid means South Africa FA president Danny Jordaan can no longer apply for the Fifa Council role that he has long coveted.


    "It's a deferred ambition," Jordaan said.


    Caf's elections are set to take place in Morocco next March.


  • Billionaire Richard Branson to Open His Caribbean Private Island to the Public

    With summer holiday travel set to return to full force post-pandemic, British billionaire Richard Branson is set to open one of his private islands in the Caribbean to the public this summer.

    The 70-year-old Virgin Group founder owns three islands, two in the Caribbean and one in Australia. The island he’s going to open to the public is Moskito Island, a 125-acre property just two miles away from Necker Island, a 30-hectare property which Branson famously bought in 1978 at the age of 29.

    Both islands are part of the British Virgin Islands. Branson bought Moskito in 2007 and ordered a renovation project starting 2010. The island is made up of a collection of luxury private villas which can be rented by guests looking for the ultimate island hideaway with exceptional service, just like you’d expect from a five-star hotel, according to the private island’s website. His own three-villa, 11-bedroom estate on the island is already accepting reservations.

    With COVID-19 vaccines rolling out globally, the travel industry is expecting a busysummer. In fact, demand for luxury vacation experience is higher than ever as the “screw you 2020” mentality sets in, said Roman Chiporukha, cofounder of Roman & Erica, a New York-based luxury lifestyle and travel management firm.

    Chiporukha said: “People are looking for different and unforgettable experiences. The bystander vacation is no longer an option or a want for our members, and they are racing to book private islands, villas, and yachts without hesitation to avoid losing the property to another.” Roman & Erica serves an exclusive clientele who pay an annual membership fee ranging from $62,500 to $180,000 for arranging vacation, travel, kids’ birthday parties and other lifestyle events.

    “Our member base are seeking a disconnect from the conventional vacation that exclusive private islands can provide. These exclusive properties bring forth the opportunity for a robust getaway while avoiding flooded tourist traps,” Chiporukha continued.

    According to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index, Branson’s net worth reached an all-time high of $7.3 billion in 2020 just before the global coronavirus outbreak. He lost a third of his fortune, on paper, last summer as Virgin Group grappled with pandemic-related losses. However, thanks to a booming stock market in the second half of 2020, Branson’s net worth quickly recovered to over $7 billion by February 2021. He is said to be worth $6.5 billion.

    Moskito is a favourite vacation spot of A-lister celebrities, including former U.S. President Barack Obama and the late Princess Diana amongst others.

  • Born Free calls for reform of exotic pet keeping in the UK

    The recent two-part ITV documentary Britain's Tiger Kings - On The Trail With Ross Kemp highlighted the growing problems associated with the keeping of wild animals as pets.

    In response to the documentary, Born Free’s co-founder and Executive President Will Travers OBE said: “I think most people will have found it unbelievable that, in this day and age, so many dangerous animals, including big cats, bears, crocodiles and venomous snakes, are being kept as pets by private individuals across the UK. Increasing demand for all kinds of wild animals as exotic pets puts owners and the wider public at risk of injury or disease. It can also cause serious animal suffering, and the demand may increase the pressure on many wild populations which are often already under threat.”

    Born Free believes the documentary provided further evidence of the need for far greater restrictions on the trade in and keeping of wild animals as pets in the UK. For many years Born Free has been highlighting the fact that obtaining a Dangerous Wild Animals (DWA) licence is far too easy, and calling for reform. As well as failing to keep the public safe, the Dangerous Wild Animals Act does not adequately address animal welfare and takes no account of wildlife conservation or owner suitability.

    Earlier this year, Born Free revealed almost 4,000 wild animals were being kept privately under DWA licenses across Great Britain. This number is believed to be the tip of the iceberg, given many species don’t currently require a licence, and long-standing concerns that there is widespread non-compliance with the Act. 

    Some of these animals are kept for commercial purposes, however the majority are believed to be kept by individuals as pets, a practice that is on the increase; Born Free’s data suggests an increase of at least 59% in dangerous wild animals kept as pets since 2000.

    At the time of its inception, the Dangerous Wild Animals Act was intended to make the private keeping of dangerous wild animals an exceptional circumstance. However the ongoing increase in wild animals kept as pets flies in the face of the intention of the Act.

    While modest changes have been made to the Schedule (species covered by the Act) over the years, the Act itself has not been substantially updated for more than 40 years. There are still species absent from the Schedule which, under other legislation, including the Zoo Licensing Act, are regarded as a risk to the public, such as large varanid lizards like Komodo dragons, large python & boa species, and a number of birds of prey.

    Will Travers continued: “It’s high time for a comprehensive review of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act and its Schedule, and far greater restrictions on the trade in and keeping of wild animals as pets in the UK.

    “As a minimum, we are calling for full consideration of whether the welfare needs of individual animals can be met, and owners have necessary qualifications and experience; a guarantee that the trade does not compromise conservation of species in the wild; due consideration of potential environmental concerns (such as the establishment of invasive species through escapes, the deliberate releases of unwanted pets, and the possible spread of zoonotic diseases); and confirmation there is no risk to wider health and safety of animals or people.”

    As part of its campaign on this issue Born Free, in collaboration with the RSPCA, has launched a petition calling on the Government to review and reform laws on the private keeping of Dangerous Wild Animals. Born Free has also created an interactive map detailing the dangerous wild animals licensed to be kept privately by local authority.

  • Bottega becomes a supporter of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity

    Bottega S.p.A., winery and distillery in Bibano di Godega (TV), has been making an unbreakable commitment to sustainability for many years, seeking to maintain a medium-to-long term vision that can lead to real, concrete results in reducing its impact on the environment, the society and the economy.

  • Brazil hits 500,000 Covid deaths amid 'critical' situation

    The number of deaths related to Covid-19 has passed 500,000 in Brazil, the second-highest in the world, as experts say the outbreak could worsen amid slow vaccination and the start of winter.

  • British tech firm launches world’s first 5 in 1 secure health passport wallet

    British technology company VST Enterprises has today confirmed it has developed the world’s first secure 5 In 1 digital health passport and wallet. V-Health Passport is a crucial ‘safe technology enabler’ in reviving global economies, home lives and helping Governments, business and industry to start returning to work and normality.

    The cross border, cross corporation V-Health Passport can be used by international Governments, consumers and companies to authenticate a person’s true identity, their Covid test results and vaccinations. This ‘enabler’ allows them to prove their test and/or vaccination status. Uniquely the V-Health Passport has its own contact tracing capability using anonymised data, whilst also protecting citizen’s data and privacy with a concept in the vein of ‘self-sovereign identity’.

    Manchester headquartered VSTE have innovated the V-Health Passport to be the most secure digital health passport and wallet in the world, but at the same time multi-functional and future proof to deal with all future pandemics ;

    The V-Health Passport has 5 key ‘enabling’ features to its technology:

    • Powered by the world’s most secure cyber security coding technology VCode® it is the world’s most secure ‘next generation’ code scanning technology using a closed loop system with end to end encryption and 2.2 Quintillion collision free codes (A VCode® can only exist once due to being encoded from a centralised system).

    • V-Health Passport is a test agnostic system so it can record results from all global Covid testing manufacturers and protocols from PCR to rapid antigen and antibody testing. 

    • V-Health Passport also has its own unique contact tracing capability ‘True Contact™’ built within the technology designed for travel, sports stadiums, venues, factories, offices and construction sites. 

    • The ultra-secure platform can now also hold vaccination records of all the major vaccination manufacturers which will be crucial in a person validating they have been vaccinated, the vaccine type, batch, dosage and date.

    • Uniquely V-Health Passport is the only health wallet and cross border platform in the world that is multi-functional and GDPR compliant. It allows acts like ‘self sovereign identity’, meaning a citizen’s personal data is protected and they choose what they want to share and with whom they want to interact or authorise.

    But at the same time tech boss Louis-James Davis - CEO of VST Enterprises  warned of the potential dangers and reliance on using QR code scanning technology within any form of health passport for airline travel or entry into a venue or workplace which could lead to potential security breaches of personal data and information.

    It follows the hack and breach earlier this year of the former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot whose Quantas airline boarding card was hacked and details revealed including his passport number, mobile phone number and Qantas airline messages referring to the former PM.

    Louis-James Davis went on to state that both bar codes and QR codes - which represent first and second generation technology - are unsecure and vulnerable to hacking. 

    “QR codes were originally developed as a scanning technology for close proximity car parts tracking, a world away from Identity and banking use cases and now digital health passports. It was then used to skip the input of websites in marketing and promotional purposes. They were simply never designed with security or privacy in mind… they are simply not fit for purpose and should not be used at all in any form for delivery of sensitive information, travel or event tickets or health passport. QR codes can be subject to a process called ‘Attagging or ‘cloning.’  Louis-James Davis said.

    Davis also warned that the public will not tolerate breaches of their personal data and information along with their already existing and heightened concerns over privacy during the pandemic.  He continued;

    “Attagging is where a ‘genuine QR code’ is replaced by a ‘cloned QR code’ which then redirects the person scanning that code to a similar website where personal data can be intercepted and breached.

    “The problem is that serious that in India alone there are over 1 billion fraudulent financial transactions each day using QR codes. As the scanning user journey is the same, it is only tech savvy individuals that may notice the domain name has changed.”

    As reported by a recent Forbes Magazine investigation, it is predicted that over 11 Million households in the US alone will scan a QR code this year and the majority of them, some 71% of people who have interacted with a QR code will not know if it is the start of a malicious hack. It is envisaged that over 5.3 Billion QR codes will be redeemed this year making it one of the fastest growing tech scanning interactions and also posing one of the greatest cyber threats.

    QR codes can be cloned and redirected to other information points or websites. Often criminals and hackers will exploit this by putting a fake QR code over a genuine QR code. So a QR code for example on scanning would link to the genuine website at: www.similardomain.com  but a fake QR code can be made up printed off and placed over the genuine code to redirect to www.similar-domain.com at this point the member of the public is tricked into entering their personal information, private data and financial information. The rogue website looks and feels exactly like the genuine one and is made to mirror it precisely.

    VCode which is the ultra-secure digital code which powers the V-Health Passport cannot be cloned. Even if it was printed off, or a photograph was taken and placed over a VCode® or V-Health Passport it simply won’t scan as it works on a call and response system of information between the code and web platform to verify location of the code, user ID and time and date and much more.” 

    Louis-James Davis said; “We developed and built the V-Health Passport and health wallet to be the most secure technology on the planet that you could use as a health passport where you could combine your test status, vaccination record, boarding pass, airline ticket, music or sports ticket all in one app.

    “With V-Health Passport we wanted to provide functionality and greater mobility to allow citizens to return to work, be fit to fly or return to the sports stadiums. But at the heart of the technology was the ability to protect and respect data privacy of the individual.

    “The lack of engagement and interaction by the public with Government track and trace app/s over the pandemic was over privacy, security of data and the tracking of a person’s live location. This is why we have built a unique system in the vein of ‘Self Sovereign ID’ with the ethics of privacy & security by design. The V-Health Passport puts the citizen in control in a way which they share information with who, when and where.”

    By having a technology health wallet which confirms your Covid test status and your vaccination record/s it then becomes a ‘safe technology enabler’ to assist Governments, companies, consumers and organisations to resume greater mobility and returning life back to normality. But critically this technology will help revive and restore economic prosperity.

    V-Health Passport will help employers safely return their employees back to their offices, factories and warehouses. It will facilitate airlines to allow their passengers to be fit to fly and avoid the need for quarantine restrictions. At the same time it will ensure their airline ticket or boarding pass is secure and won’t be hacked.

    V-Health Passport will allow sports fans to return to the stadiums at capacity and not at the current socially distanced crowd protocols of 2000 fans. It will help get the hospitality sector back on its feet welcoming customers back. Because of the way V-Health Passport™ is designed - based on interaction and incentive - the hospitality sector can engage with unique offerings and discounts to its customers. 

    V-Health Passport will help the live music and entertainment sectors resume their concerts and performances in arenas, stadiums and theatres. They will be safe in the knowledge that fans have either been tested or vaccinated and can authenticate their status. 

    A citizen will be able to share their health pass and confirm their Covid test status, or present their vaccination record. They will also be able to show their credit score, work permit or visa, scan their travel or event pass. 

    At the heart of each interaction they will have peace of mind that their data and information is highly secure and ultimately, they control who sees what, who scans what, where and when. 

  • Buhari at UNGA: Focus on issues not Yoruba Nation, IPOB Presidency to media

    As President Muhammadu Buhari prepares to attend the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, the presidency has appealed to the Nigerian media to focus on issues, not Yoruba Nation and Biafra revolutionaries.

    In a statement on Wednesday, presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu said it was shocking to see Yoruba Nation advocates throw their lot in with Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) at the start of UNGA on Tuesday.

  • Buhari plan to turn to Glasgow to seek more power scuppered by COVID-19

    After inviting President Muhammadu Buhari to this year’s COP26 climate change summit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was said to be hugely disappointed after it had to be cancelled due to the worldwide coronavirus epidemic.


    He (Johnson) was very interested in investing Nigeria’s clean energy sector after the UK won the bid to host COP26 (the 26th Conference of the Parties) having entered into a partnership with European counterparts Italy.


    A United Nations environmental gathering, which was set to take place in Glasgow, in Scotland, later this year, it was designed to produce a worldwide response to the climate emergency


    After winning the hosting bid, the UK was set to hold the main COP26 summit, with – as part of the agreement - Italy due to hold preparatory event; which includes a youth event.


    Prime Minister Johnson’s invited President Buhari follows the recent UK-Africa Investment Summit, in London.


    The UK’s nominated COP26 president, Claire Perry, said: “The world’s leaders were due to gather to discuss how we can tackle the climate change on a global scale.


    “And, with it being one of the UK’s most sustainable cities, there was nowhere better than Glasgow – with its great track record for hosting highly successful, high-profile international events like this”.


    Currently, Nigeria’s’ gross power supply is generating just over 7,000MW – way below the much-required 40,000MW required for the general, every day needs of the country.


    The west-African country is, however, leading the way into movements to introduce cleaner energy, as they are encouraged to look into wind, solar and recycled waste although getting investment to pursuit those lines is said to be a big struggle.


    With it being the largest in the world, the United Kingdom’s total off-shore wind power capacity stands at 8,183MW – a third of Europe’s total off-shore resource.


    It equates to three-times the UK’s electricity needs.


    On-shore, the UK’s total number for wind turbine power equals 13,532MW.


    In excess of 30,000 delegates were expected at the Scottish Events Campus for the 26th Conference of the Parties.


    With CO26 now postponed, revised plans will be set out to reschedule COP26.

  • Cabinet reshuffle could signal increase in Australian meat imports - Scottish and Welsh farmers will be most affected

    A cabinet reshuffle this week may signal a post-Brexit increase in Australian meat imports to the UK, as advocated for by Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Minister of State Lord Frost. However farming communities in Scotland and Wales stand to be affected most by such a decision, a leading academic has said.

    Birmingham City University political economist Professor Alex de Ruyter commented on the UK’s ongoing free trade agreement (FTA) discussions with Australia, raising questions about the removal or lowering of tariffs around, and quality of, food imported from Australia.


    “Politically it is clear that there is a huge cabinet split between different Brexiteer groups. On one side, Michael Gove and George Eustice both favour limiting imports of Australian meat whilst on the other Liz Truss and Lord Frost favour more complete trade liberalisation. Now that Mr Johnson has come down on the side of an FTA with Australia it looks like Truss and Frost have won the arguments over their Cabinet opponents.

    “Truss in particular wants an outline agreement ready in time for the G7 meeting next month. Many would argue that this aggressive timeline puts unnecessary pressure on the UK to compromise. However, there is no real need to move so quickly. Details (especially over standards) are important. The gains from liberalised trade with Australia are likely to be very small overall.

    “Many would favour lower food prices for consumers. However, there are a few complicating factors. Australian food standards are different to British ones. Practices that are unacceptable here are quite widespread e.g. the use of growth hormones in cattle. There are environmental questions over the sustainability of present levels of meat consumption (especially red meat) in general and of Australian agriculture in particular.

    “The farming communities that would be affected are overwhelmingly concentrated in Scotland and Wales. Liberalisation (even if both countries would gain in aggregate) would provide another stick with which Mr Johnson’s Nationalist opponents could beat an “out of touch Westminster”.

    “If (and it remains a large if) any trade deal allowed food with different sanitary and phytosanitary standards from our current ones to enter the UK then that could dramatically complicate longer-term efforts to reduce frictions in the border in the Irish Sea.

    “The impending cabinet reshuffle will give a further indication as to Johnson’s medium-term plans in this regard amid rumours that Eustice might be moved.”

  • Car rally for Indian farmers attract thousands to Consulate in Birmingham

    Thousands of people drove to the Indian Consulate in Birmingham to show support for farmers in India protesting about agricultural reforms. Despite the city being under tier three rules, people from across England have been taking part a week after a similar gathering in London.

    The National Sikh Police Association UK advised people not to attend.

    Arjan Singh, from Manchester, said people wanted to show the Indian government the reforms were unfair. Protests in India have seen more than 250 million workers go on strike.

    "Everyone has come together as these reforms are very detrimental to farmers and only serve corporate interests which will leave the farmers with nothing," Mr Singh, 37, a company director from Bramall, said. "I feel very proud to be here... it's happened in London, Canada and America and it's a domino effect from India and we're trying to make the government see what's happening and that something's got to change."

    The Kisaan Car Rally started at Guru Har Rai Gurdwara in West Bromwich, in the West Midlands, with participators driving to the consulate.

    The National Sikh Police Association UK advised people not to attend because of the tier three restrictions and warned people if they did, to stay in their cars or potentially face enforcement action. Some smoke devices were let off in Sandwell as part of the rally, West Midlands Police said as they advised motorists to avoid the the whole of West Bromwich, Birmingham city centre and the Jewellery Quarter because of severe traffic disruption.

    Jas Singh, a business consultant from Derby said he could see people in the slow-moving convoy en route to the city were adhering to social distancing if they got out of their vehicles.

    "It's taken me one-and-half hours to get from Soho Road to the city centre because of the convoys," he said. "There's thousands of people here, from all ages and from around the country and they're wearing masks and very little mixing is going on - everyone is very conscious of that."

    When the vehicles reached Birmingham, some people did leave their cars to gather outside the embassy in the Jewellery Quarter prompting police to say they would take "appropriate action".

    "Deliberately not following the regulations and measures put in place to limit the spread of the virus is unacceptable and our officers will take the appropriate action where necessary," the force tweeted.

  • Carib-Export Launches First Virtual Expo Event

    Carib-Export (the Caribbean Export Development Agency) has launched its first virtual expo event named ‘Absolutely Caribbean, unlocking the profit potential of the Caribbean’.  The event is bringing together around 50 producers from across the region to showcase some of the best products that the Caribbean has to offer.   

    Dr. Damie Sinanan, Manager of Competitiveness and Export Promotion, Carib-Export, said: “We’re really excited to be organising our first virtual expo. We have seen a growing trend for Caribbean food, beverages and natural products across Europe in the last few years which presents a real opportunity for us.  In the UK alone, Caribbean food is now estimated to be worth £97m1 with the number of Caribbean restaurants in the last year having grown by 144%”. 

    Attendees will have the chance to book slots to meet with producers from a variety of categories including natural food products, sauces and condiments; rum & spirits, neutraceuticals and plant-based cosmetics. There will also be a presentation by consumer goods and retail experts to discuss the latest insights on these fast-moving consumer goods within the UK.

    Carib-Export - the only regional trade and investment promotion agency in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group: established in 1996 by an Inter-Governmental Agreement as the regional trade and investment promotion agency, it serves the 15 states of the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM), namely: Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago - has partnered with Shaun and Craig McAnuff of Original Flava for the event who have found great success with their Caribbean food and lifestyle platform and recently released their first cookbook of authentic Jamaican recipes.  With an increase in demand for Caribbean sauces and condiments across Europe, the duo will host a live session to show how versatile these products are, including a cooking demonstration. 

    The event is also supported by the West Indies Rum & Spirit Producer’s Association (WIRSPA), who represent distillers’ associations from across the ACP Caribbean3 and will be hosting a session on premium alcoholic drinks from the Caribbean in collaboration with the Rum and Spirits Academy of Europe.  

    The online event is a joint venture between Carib-Export, the European Commission and the German International Development Agency (GIZ), and has been launched off the back of a successful three-day trade show and conference which took place in Germany last year. 


    The agency carries out numerous programme based activities designed to enhance the competitiveness of regional small and medium sized enterprises, promote trade and development amongst CARIFORUM states, promote stronger trade and investment between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Dominican Republic, CARIFORUM states and the French Caribbean Outermost Regions (FCORs) and the EU Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) in the Caribbean. 


    For further information, visit: https://www.carib-export.com

  • Caribbean Institute for Sustainable Island Living Inspiring the Next Generation

    Interns completing the 2021 Caribbean Institute for Sustainable Island Living (CISIL) Summer Internship say they are grateful for the quality learning and hands on experiences now inspiring them for the future.

    The young people began the programme at the Jessamine Eden Farms on July 12 focusing on plant science, soil science and apiculture.

  • Caribbean Tourism Development Partners Seek Inclusive, Collaborative Rebuilding

    Leading regional and international agencies from the public and private sectors, as well as nongovernmental partners in academia, health and other interests, have come together to jointly host a high-level virtual conference on the future of Caribbean tourism. The day-long event will be held on Monday, 27 September in observance of the Word Tourism Day 2021.

  • Caribbean tourism leader lauds women’s contributions to fighting COVID-19

    Caribbean women are being celebrated for their tremendous efforts in helping the region's countries and territories combat and recover from the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

    In a statement marking International Women’s Day on March 8, 2021, Vanessa Ledesma, Acting CEO and Director General of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), called for a greater commitment to equality, asserting that Caribbean women have been at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, working tirelessly to ensure hotel and tourism facilities and communities remain safe and secure during the pandemic.

    “Our colleagues in the tourism and hospitality sectors are exemplary and effective leaders in protecting our destinations and strengthening our communities during this extraordinary time,” Ledesma stated. “Many of them worked with significantly reduced resources for much of the pandemic … they should be recognized alongside their colleagues in health care, caregiving, and community organizing for their effective mobilization to resist the pandemic.”

    Observing this year’s theme, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”, Ledesma noted that while the tourism sector in the Caribbean has made strides in recognizing the value of women, more remains to be done to build an effective enabling environment for women to assume more leadership positions: “The responses of the region’s tourism sector to the crisis reinforce our contention that the different experiences, perspectives and skills women bring to the table strengthened markedly the Caribbean containment of the novel coronavirus.”

    According to the United Nations, the majority of countries that have been more successful in stemming the tide of COVID-19 and responding to its health and broader socioeconomic impacts are headed by women. For instance, Heads of Government in Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, New Zealand and Slovakia have been widely recognized for the rapidity, decisiveness and effectiveness of their national response to COVID-19, as well as the compassionate communication of fact-based public health information. Despite these impressive facts, women are Heads of State and Government in only 20 countries worldwide, with only a handful of females holding such positions in the Caribbean.

    Ledesma noted that gender diversity at all levels of management and leadership positions also provides competitive advantages. “This has been confirmed during the pandemic response, so we need to create the right conditions to ensure the outstanding contribution of women to the health and safety of the region will be enlisted and installed in the highest executive levels of hospitality and tourism organizations,” she stated, adding that CHTA continues to invest in the next generation of female leaders through its Young Leaders Forum initiative.

    According to the CHTA leader it is time to move “forward together” beyond COVID-19: “We have to tap into the wealth of experience and strength women have displayed during this global crisis, and we must ensure the perspectives of women are integrated into the formulation and implementation of policies and programs at all stages of the ongoing pandemic response as well as our recovery.”