Amazon Prime’s First African Original Movie to Premiere in Lagos - BLOOMBERG
BY Bloomberg News,
(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video premiered its first African original title, filmed in Nigeria, in Lagos Thursday ahead of its debut on the streaming platform Friday.
Crime thriller Gangs of Lagos is set in the center of Nigeria’s commercial hub, and tells the story of a group of childhood friends trying to navigate life in a bustling, overcrowded neighborhood, Prime said in a statement.
Amazon’s streaming division has been pushing to boost its subscriber base on the continent, which has the world’s youngest and fastest growing population. The film industry in Nigeria, where Amazon competes with rivals including Netflix Inc., Disney+, Showmax and local video-on-demand platforms, produces more movies than Hollywood.
Screenings of Gangs of Lagos will be held later this month in London and New York. It was directed and produced by Nigerian filmmaker Jade Osiberu, whose Greoh Studios has an exclusive deal with Prime.
Amazon Prime began operating in Africa in 2016 and introduced a local version of its service to Nigeria in 2021. It currently has about 143 licensed acquisitions, which include non-exclusive content, a company spokesperson said.
It signed licensing deals with local producers Inkblot and Anthill Studios last year. Inkblot produced Netflix’s first Nigerian young adult show, Far From Home.
Amazon is planning to launch its first South African original, an unscripted comedy series hosted by Trevor Noah called Last One Laughing, in 2024. A Nigerian version of the show is planned for later this year.
The expansion of the Nigerian studio relies on local talent, mirroring their model in at least twenty other countries, according to Ned Mitchell, head of Prime’s Africa and Middle East Originals.
“It’s more comfortable for creators to be able to speak with someone who understands their story and their lived experience and who can champion their point of view,” Mitchell said in an interview. “There are a number of originals in the pipeline.”
The film’s reception will serve as the latest litmus test for the international appeal of the world’s second-biggest film industry, known as Nollywood. Nigeria produced 2,500 films in 2021, according to UNESCO, far exceeding Hollywood’s output. However, the industry’s productivity has not always been matched by quality.
While Amazon declined to provide exact budget figures for Gangs of Lagos, their plan is to raise Nollywood production to global standards, Mitchell said.
“What we’re doing is spending a significant amount of time and resources on development and prep and all these things that typically creators aren’t able to do because of budgets and timelines that they face,” he added. “We focus on quality over quantity.”
(Updates with additional quotes from Amazon in last two paragraphs)
FULL LIST: UK stops recruiting healthcare workers from Nigeria, 53 others - PUNCH
By Lara Adejoro
The United Kingdom has placed Nigeria and 53 other countries on the red list of countries that should not be actively targeted for recruitment by health and social care employers.
The announcement was contained in the revised code of practice for the international recruitment of health and social care personnel in England.
It is recommended that employers, recruitment organisations, agencies, collaborations, and contracting bodies check the red country list for updates before any recruitment drive.
It defined active international recruitment in the code as the process by which UK health and social care employers (including local authorities), contracting bodies, recruitment organisations, agencies, collaborations, and sub-contractors target individuals to market UK employment opportunities, with the intention of recruiting to a role in the UK health or social care sector. It includes both physical or virtual targeting, and whether or not these actions lead to substantive employment.
The code of practice applies to the appointment of all international health and social care personnel in the UK, including all permanent, temporary, and locum staff in clinical and non-clinical settings.
This includes but is not limited to allied health professionals, care workers, dentists, doctors, healthcare scientists, medical staff, midwives, nursing staff, residential and domiciliary care workers, social workers, and support staff.
Recall that in 2021, the UK suspended the recruitment of healthcare workers from Nigeria and 46 other countries, noting that the increasing scale of health and social care worker migration from low and lower-middle-income countries threatens the achievement of their nation’s health and social care goals.
The WHO on March 8, 2023, listed Nigeria and other 54 countries as facing the most pressing health workforce challenges related to universal health coverage.
The red and amber country list does not, however, prevent individual health and social care personnel resident in countries on the list from making a direct application to health and social care employers, but rather without being targeted by a third party, such as a recruitment organisation, agency or recruitment collaboration.
The PUNCH reports that there are currently 11,055 Nigerian-trained doctors in the UK, based on statistics obtained from the UK General Medical Council, the government body that maintains the official register of medical practitioners.
Nigeria has the third highest number of foreign doctors working in the UK after India, and Pakistan.
The UK, however, in its revised code of practice said the health and social care organisations in England do not actively recruit from those countries the WHO recognises as having the most pressing health and care workforce-related challenges unless there is a government-to-government agreement to support managed recruitment activities.
The countries placed on the red list of ‘No active recruitment’ in alphabetical order are Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Liberia.
Other countries are Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Federated States of Micronesia, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Samoa, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Republic of Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Bird strike disrupts flight at Abuja airport - PUNCH
An Abuja-bound Air Peace flight was affected by a bird strike while landing on Saturday.
The PUNCH reports that a bird strike refers to a situation where a bird collides with an aircraft during takeoff, landing, or while the plane is in flight.
A statement by the management of Air Peace noted that the aircraft which took off from Asaba, Delta State capital, landed safely and passengers disembarked safely.
However, the airline further empathised with customers whose flights were disrupted as a result of the incident, adding that an arrangement was made for another aircraft to operate on the rotation.
The statement read, “This is to inform the flying public and our esteemed customers that our Asaba-Abuja flight- P47866- had a bird strike upon landing in Abuja on Saturday, April 8, 2023,” the statement read.
“The aircraft, with Registration Number ES-SAZ, landed safely and passengers disembarked normally.
“While we deeply empathise with passengers whose flights have been consequently affected by this unforeseen development, the arrangement was made for another aircraft to operate Abuja-Asaba, Asaba-Lagos and other flights on that rotation.
“Be assured of our strict compliance with established safety standards.”
Efforts to reach the General Manager, Public Affairs, Nigerian Safety and Investigation Bureau, Tunji Oketunbi, proved abortive at the time of filling this report.
Travelers allegedly get kicked out of flight after arguing over luggage size: ‘Everyone was staring’ - YAHOO NEWS
A woman is going after Frontier Airlines after she says an employee tried to charge her group for oversized carry-ons when the woman claimed they didn’t have any.
“Please make this go viral!” the caption on the first post read. “The frontier front desk and supervisor were not cooperating with their guest. PLEASE HELP US GET THIS TO FRONTIER!”
In the clip, a small group of women can be seen checking the size of their carry-ons at their gate — and to show they all comply with the requirements.
“Ma’am, these bags fit,” the person behind the camera tells a gate agent standing several feet away.
But even after showing that they fit within the parameters, the employee was apparently not satisfied.
“They don’t fit if you’re forcing them down,” the gate agent replies, which only confuses the women further.
The travelers repeatedly place their bags inside the “bag check” station and ask the attendant multiple to explain why they don’t fit, but she doesn’t appear to reply. At one point, they grow so irritated that one of the women says, “You’re acting like you own the freakin’ airline!”
Eventually, the employee walks over and tells them the bags don’t truly fit because the women are pushing down on them. But in turn, the women all say that they are not, and they refuse to pay the extra $100 bag fee the employee tries to impose on them.
After the first few videos started to go viral, one of the women — Sandra Romero — got on camera and tried to share more of the story.
According to Romero, she felt “ashamed” and “discriminated against” by the Frontier employees and noticed that it was only herself and two other Hispanic women who were stopped and humiliated over their bag size.
In a statement to In The Know, a representative for Frontier said, “The video fails to show that the customer using the sizer box had an additional carry-on bag. Each customer is allowed one free personal item that must fit within the smaller sizer box. This customer had more than one bag and they were not able to combine them into a single bag that fit in the personal item box.”
“I even told her that I was going to be late to my job,” Romero shared. “And they didn’t care.”
“Allowing these customers to board without paying would be inequitable to every other customer who was already onboard with paid bags,” the Frontier representative added.
Eventually, Romero tried to make her bag even smaller by digging through the carry-on and throwing out several articles of clothing.
“Everybody was staring at me because I had to pull out all my underwear and bras,” Romero said of the embarrassing experience.
In several follow-up videos, Romeo and Villa explain that they were ultimately not allowed on the flight and were told it was because they were filming and holding up the line of other passengers. They then had to re-book pricier tickets through another airline just to ensure they’d make it to their destination the following morning in time for work.
“If customers refuse to pay the required carry-on bag charge that is fairly and equally applied to all individuals whose bags do not meet the size requirements for a personal item, they will be precluded from boarding the aircraft,” the Frontier representative said.
Ultimately, the group said they received partial reimbursement from Frontier for the whole ordeal.
China Applicants Make Up 95% of Hong Kong Talent Visa Approvals - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- About 95% of applicants approved in Hong Kong’s program to attract top talent to the city were from mainland China, according to government statistics.
There were a total of 14,240 applications for the Top Talent Pass Scheme in first two months after Chief Executive John Lee launched the program in December, 8,797 of which had been approved so far, the Immigration Department said in a reply to lawmakers’ questions.
Hong Kong is fighting to stem a brain drain that is threatening its status as an international financial hub. The city’s working population declined 2.4% last year, the biggest drop since 1985, in part due to strict Covid policies and Beijing’s political crackdown.
More than half of the successful applicants to the talent program were between the ages of 18 to 30, while over 30% were aged 31 to 40, according to the government report.
The program to attract high-income workers and top university graduates has already drawn scrutiny. Hong Kong granted a disgraced Chinese scientist who gene-edited babies the work permit, only to revoke it hours later on suspicion that He Jiankui made “false statements” in his application.
152 stranded Nigerians in Libya arrive Ikeja Airport - VANGUARD
By Evelyn Usman
One hundred and fifty-two stranded Nigerians in Tripoli, Libya, arrived in the country aboard Al Buraq Air Boeing 737-800, at the Cargo Wing of the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, yesterday.
Out of the Assisted Voluntary Returnees, 54 were adult females and 10 female children. Others were 73 adult males, some with medical cases and 15 male infants.
While receiving them, the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency, Alhaji Mustapha Ahmed explained that the International Organisation for Migration, IOM and Nigeria Embassy in Libya collaborated to assist the stranded Nigerians back after their failed attempts to cross over the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.
Ahmed, who was represented by the agency’s Chief Executive General Service, Mrs Adenike OgunKunle, said “the returnees who arrived aboard Al Buraq Air Boeing 737-800 with registration number 5A-DMG landed at about 1638hours.”
Other agencies on ground at the Cargo Wing were officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, Refugee Commission, the Nigeria Police and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN.
Low funding, poor service hurting Lagos international airport passengers – IATA - PUNCH
By Deborah Dan-Awoh
Nigeria’s flagship gateway-the Lagos Murrtala Muhammad International airport is suffering from underinvestment and poor service levels at various passenger touch points, the International Air Transport Association has said.
IATA-the Switzerland-based international airlines trade association-said several airports in Africa were still having infrastructure challenges and there was a need to tackle the challenges as well as others inhibiting the growth of Africa’s aviation.
IATA Regional Vice President for Africa & Middle East, Kamil Al Awadhi, said this during the launch of “Focus Africa” aimed at strengthening aviation’s contribution to Africa’s economic and social development.
Al Awadhi said the various challenges affecting Africa’s aviation sector stemmed from poor infrastructure and other issues which could impede Africa’s admirable future.
He said, “Many airports in Africa have systems and processes which do not offer a good passenger experience. For example, the Lagos Murtala Muhammad International Airport suffers from underinvestment in the passenger experience, processing capacity and bottlenecks in service levels at various touch points.
“As well, airports such as NBO in Kenya have multiple layers of airport access, perimeter and terminal security which often pose a challenge for passengers and airlines.”
According to the IATA VP, the Focus Africa initiative is expected to tackle infrastructural challenges and improve connectivity, safety and reliability for passengers and shippers.
The initiative is expected to align private and public stakeholders to deliver measurable progress in six areas.
“Africa accounts for 18 per cent of the global population, but just 2.1 per cent of air transport activities (combined cargo and passenger). Closing that gap, so that Africa can benefit from the connectivity, jobs and growth that aviation enables, is what Focus Africa is all about,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General at the event.
Infrastructure constraints, high costs, lack of connectivity, regulatory impediments, slow adoption of global standards and skills shortages affect the customer experience and are all contributory factors to African airlines’ viability and sustainability.
The continent’s carriers suffered cumulative losses of $3.5b for 2020-2022. Moreover, IATA estimates further losses of $213mn in 2023.
In January, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria announced plans to expand the General Aviation Terminal of the Lagos airport.
However, the challenges at Lagos airport appears to have been abandoned for a long time even though the agency has recorded some milestones in runway lights among others.
Awadhi also emphasised that Africa as a continent has the slowest adoption of passenger data programmes globally, noting that only a handful of governments that have implemented passenger data programmes.
“API programmes, when implemented using Industry guidance and best practice, can strengthen borders, but also supports airports and governments to move towards advanced processing capabilities.
“Passenger data (API) is also important as it strengthens borders, and potentially paves the way for enabling additional efficiencies such as contactless and off-airport processing of passengers,” he noted.
He explained that “infrastructure in Africa also comes with a high price tag in many countries. User charges are eight per cent higher than the industry average.”
FG repatriates another batch of 152 Nigerians stranded in Libya -THE CABLE
The federal government and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) have evacuated 152 more Nigerian migrants living illegally in Libya.
The stranded Nigerians arrived in the country via the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, on Tuesday evening.
Kabiru Musa, Nigeria’s ambassador to Libya, in a statement, said this is the third repatriation exercise the Nigerian government and IOM have carried out in 2023.
He disclosed that over 500 Nigerians stranded in Libya have been successfully evacuated during the exercises.
The ambassador commended IOM and the Libyan authorities for their support and cooperation.
“Today, we have successfully evacuated another 152 Nigerians stranded in Libya to Nigeria,” he said.
“Libya is a transit country for irregular migrants to the Western and other parts of the world.
“Whenever these irregular migrants can no longer continue their journey to expected destinations, they become stranded here.
“Because of their status as undocumented immigrants, they become vulnerable to exploitation and degrading treatment, including forced labour and prostitution.
“The federal government is determined to protect the rights of these migrants and will continue to facilitate their safe and voluntary return home.
“This is the third exercise we have conducted this year. We evacuated almost 4,000 stranded Nigerians from Libya in 2022 and we hope to surpass that number this year.”
On March 28, 2023, the federal government announced that 151 stranded Nigerians have been repatriated from Benghazi in Libya.
Barely 24 hours later, another batch of 128 Nigerian migrants living illegally in Libya returned to the country.
RwandAir, Turkish Airlines sign codeshare agreement - PUNCH
As part of its expansion efforts to enhance its global connectivity, RwandAir has signed a codeshare agreement with Turkish Airlines.
A statement from RwandAir noted that the codeshare partnership allowed its customers to access Turkish Airlines’ extensive network of over 300 destinations worldwide, providing greater travel choices and seamless connection opportunities in Kigali, Rwanda, and Istanbul, Turkey.
It stated that Turkish Airlines customers would also benefit from the agreement, as they can now enjoy smooth onward connections across RwandAir’s African network from Kigali.
Currently, Turkish Airlines operates daily flights between Istanbul and Kigali.
The statement disclosed that RwandAir recently launched codeshare agreements with other leading airlines, such as Qatar Airways, as it sought to expand its reach and strengthen its position in the aviation industry.
“RwandAir is known for its excellent on-time performance, customer service, and safety, operating to 24 destinations across Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia from its hub at Kigali International Airport, which is located at the heart of Africa,” it stated.
The CEO of RwandAir, Yvonne Makolo, said, “We are incredibly excited to have signed this new codeshare agreement with one of the world’s largest and leading carriers, Turkish Airlines.
“This landmark move will not only allow our customers to access the 124 countries served by Turkish Airlines but will improve connections for inbound travellers to Africa via our extensive continental network.”
He claimed that RwandAir was always exploring new commercial opportunities to expand its reach into markets, which can deliver financial return and benefit our growing customer base.”
Airline announces network expansion - PUNCH
A Nigerian airline, Green Africa, has announced plans to expand its network across Nigeria starting August 2023, connecting Abuja to Sokoto, Kano, Enugu, and Ibadan
It would also be establishing a base in Abuja and extending its presence to 16 routes across 10 states including the Federal Capital Territory.
In addition to the new routes, Green Africa will also add a second daily service between Benin and Abuja and resume service between Abuja and Owerri.
The airline aims to continue its reputation as one of the most affordable and punctual carriers in Nigeria, with fares starting as low as N25,000 on all routes, including the new ones, if booked at least 60 days in advance.
The founder and Chief Executive Officer of Green Africa, Babawande Afolabi, stated that the expansion is the next phase of the airline’s journey to use air travel to create a better future in Nigeria and eventually across Africa.
Green Africa began commercial operations over a year ago and has quickly gained a strong reputation in the market.