Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What Africa needs now: Transnational infrastructure, Transparency in systems, Using and developing all her people, ...

Akinwumi Adesina is running for President of AfDB. He was a Most-Valuable Player on the Nigerian Federal Cabinet, so I say yes, hope he gets the job.
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Speech by Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Nigerian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and candidate for President of the African Development Bank 
Delivered at the Business Council for Africa’s Annual Debate
21 April 2015

Africa is experiencing a never-before-seen economic and political transformation. Five of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies are located here. It has rightfully created tremendous excitement not only within our borders, but around the world.

 While there are many reasons to celebrate the improved economic performance, daunting challenges remain and troubling trends have emerged.

We are facing widening economic and social inequalities that have resulted from non-inclusive growth. Africa’s poverty rates are still the highest in the world. Despite gains that have been made, the reality is that 44% of Africans still live on less than $1.25 per day.

These are struggles I know. I grew up in poverty, the son of a farmer who worked for less than 10 cents per day. I was one of the lucky few to attain education and opportunity. I don’t want my story to be the exception, I want the cycle of poverty to be broken across Africa. Our economic success needs to be shared – with prosperity for all – creating a more equal, stable, and peaceful continent. Nothing is more important than putting an end to poverty.

We are also facing rapid urbanization that will determine the resilience of the growth process.

We have exceedingly high levels of unemployment – which leads to social, political, and economic fragility.

Fragility is on the rise. 53% of Africa’s nations are fragile states. Fragility, joblessness, and economic and political exclusion breed terrorism. We need to tackle the fundamentals of fragility.

We are on the receiving end of climate change. Although Africa has done little to contribute to the damage, we are suffering heavily from the effects of it. We are paying a disproportionate price for climate change.

While we should celebrate our achievements, we also need to recognize that these key challenges must be tackled head-on by the African Development Bank. We need to renew our commitment to addressing these together – with both regional and non-regional members. As we do so, the Bank will grow into its role as the premier finance institution on the continent.

That is why I am running for president of the African Development Bank.

To make progress, the next President must not only understand the merits of a policy or strategy, but how to translate it into action on the ground. This is something I have done over the course of my career.

I’ve implemented innovative finance schemes in several African countries – from Uganda to Tanzania, Kenya to Mozambique, Ghana to Nigeria. I’ve helped to leverage over $4 billion from commercial banks to finance agricultural SMEs. And I launched an electronic wallet program which helped to end corruption in the fertilizer sector in Nigeria, and has reached 14.5 million farmers and impacted 50 million people. These are programs that have real impact on the ground.

Having lived and worked in 15 African countries, including 10 years in francophone countries, I have experienced firsthand the complexities of what our continent needs.

Too often our decisions are driven more by our own political interests or policy preferences, when it should be driven by the needs of those we are seeking to empower. This is particularly important when speaking about a continent so ecologically, socially, and economically diverse as Africa. There is no one solution or quick fix.

First and foremost, the question is: what kind of Africa do we want?

 I want an Africa with inclusive and sustainable growth, and one that is globally competitive. As President, I will focus on five strategic priorities: integrated infrastructure, private sector growth, increased employment opportunities, reviving the rural economy and regional integration.

The focus, across the board, will also be on scaling programs that have delivered results —tangible outcomes, not merely outputs.

Across all the priority areas, we need to strengthen integrity, transparency and accountability. We will demand of ourselves the same thing as we demand of our countries. We must manage our resources well, and we must always examine our actions from the perspective of the public. We must put people first, because ultimately we are investing in a better future for them.

Let me speak briefly to the priority areas.

We need to minimize the global widening of the infrastructure gap. There’s no lack of ideas about what Africa needs to do on infrastructure – the key is how you turn them into bankable projects. We need smart projects.

 In infrastructure, the players are many but they are not coordinated. The Bank can play that role effectively: funneling money to the right priority areas. The Bank should engage all domestic, regional and international partners – including established partners, like the World Bank, and newly emerging players, like BRICS’ new development bank. I will also lead the bank to focus on rapidly building infrastructure for small and fragile states.

We need to mobilize greater resources to finance infrastructure in Africa. To manage that effectively will require $93 billion per year and will require mobilizing domestic resources, private sector funds, and multilateral financing. Leveraging capital markets is crucial to improving our approach to infrastructure.

We need to prioritize the kind of infrastructure projects that will help us deliver “power-for-all” – universal access to electricity. Access to power is absolutely vital to Africa’s development. Africa has 50% of the world’s renewable energy, but it remains largely untapped. Developing energy infrastructure will drive rapid economic and social development. We should target investment toward renewable energy – solar, hydropower, geothermal, wind. And we should have a two track approach - supporting a combination of large, transformative regional power projects and smaller projects that can be implemented more quickly to create immediate impact in local communities.

Africa’s private sector accounts for 70 percent of investment, 70 percent of output and 90 percent of employment. The private sector can drive industrialization in Africa and unlock wealth at all levels of society. The Bank needs to develop its private sector operations.

Back in 2005, the Bank was lending $250 million. By 2013, it was lending $2.1 billion. Clearly, a lot is being done in private sector, but it is still not meeting the needs. For inclusive growth, we have to direct financing to empower entrepreneurship for those that impact the majority of the population – SMEs in the private sector. As President, I will work to build the financial intermediaries needed to deliver affordable financing to African companies. We will establish business development advisory services targeted at positioning SMEs to secure venture capital and private equity funds.

The equity capital market accounts for $1.5 trillion per year, but these funds are heavily concentrated in just three countries: South Africa, Nigeria, and Namibia.  We need to deepen the market to mobilize financing – we need to get these funds to smaller and fragile countries. It can’t all go to the same three places, that’s not real progress.

We also need to mobilize domestic resources. Non-regional donors must have a leveraging effect. There are a lot of domestic resources in Africa: such as pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, and diaspora funds – and we have to unlock them. We have $158 billion in sovereign wealth funds alone. We need to put it to good use.

And we need to prioritize blended finance - combining public and private financing - to reduce risk exposure to the private sector.

We need to work with governments to lower the cost of doing business across Africa. Currently 18 out of the 25 least competitive countries are in Africa. This needs to change. Enabling the private sector will increase the opportunities in the job market. Changes need to be made to address the fact that the economic growth we have today is jobless growth. And we need to pay special attention to unemployment among two populations: youth and women.

30 million youths enter the market annually, and we need to create jobs for them. This is not just an economic priority. It is a security investment. Without jobs, we face economic, social, and political risks. As many of you know, the majority of youth who turn to violence have no job—and seemingly no options. 50% of young fighters in Sierra Leone and Liberia participated in the violence because they didn’t have jobs.

And we’re facing a migration crisis – largely due to an absence of jobs for our young people. I want to build an Africa that keeps and attracts talented, hardworking people. Our people should not be boarding ships, putting themselves at incredible risk, in search of hope and a chance to make something of their lives. That’s why I believe we must build a more prosperous continent that will give hope and opportunities to tens of millions of our youth. We want an Africa where they want to stay, not an Africa they want to move away from.

You can’t develop without women. Investing in women is not just the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do. Women are the primary source for growth in local economies. Yet today, 64 million more women than men are unemployed in Africa. And if we don’t address women’s unemployment, we’re not going to make a dent in the broader unemployment crisis. Women need access to education, technology, jobs, and financing.

As president, I will lead the African Development Bank to implement an Annual Gender Score Card and an African Women Empowerment Index, because we shouldn’t just talk about women empowerment – we should actually do it and measure that we’re doing it well.

And with 50% of Africa’s farmers being women, we must commit to reviving the rural economies for their benefit as much as anyone else’s.

We need to change the way we see agriculture – it’s not merely about development, it’s an economic driver. If you use agriculture as an engine to revive rural economies you create new prosperity zones for the people and that will have an impact on reducing insecurity problems.

Africa has 65% of all the arable land left to feed the 9 billion people in the world by 2050. Transforming the agriculture sector will have the largest impact on inclusive growth on the continent, given that 70-80% of the labor force is engaged in the sector but are locked into poverty.

We must provide innovative financing instruments and direct private equity funds toward agribusiness investment. By reviving rural economies and empowering them with tools to connect their goods to viable markets, we will unlock incredible opportunities for growth, ensure equitable growth and realize the promise of a shared prosperity—as we lift millions out of poverty.

We need to diversify the economies in African countries that are rich in natural resources, to shield them from over-exposure to volatilities in global markets (as we saw recently with falling oil prices). Focusing on unlocking agriculture’s potential will go a long way toward diversification and building "soil wealth" rather than relying on oil and mineral wealth.

Much of Africa’s growth is due to commodities and high extractive rates. Focusing on exporting our abundance of raw commodities makes African economies vulnerable to volatilities in commodities prices. Unless this is changed, Africa is like a giant with feet of clay. We need to lead these countries toward diversification. And agriculture is key.

We also need to improve management of those natural resources – transparency and accountability must be enforced. Africa is not poor, but its people are poor because money disappears. That needs to change. Africa is rich in natural resources, with $85 trillion in discovered resources, but it loses $60 billion per year in illicit outflows. We need to work on all levels to enforce transparency and accountability. This money should be going to development – to advancing healthcare and education in our communities. Imagine what that $60 billion could do for our people each year. Africa’s resources should not belong to the few, but should be for the benefit of all.

We need to reduce inequalities in economic prosperity among countries in the region. We should integrate our region. Economies that focus on regional markets are less vulnerable to price fluctuations.
 The world’s most prosperous trading blocs are heavy on interregional trade.

Landlocked countries need to be connected to coastal ports through investment in transnational infrastructure, especially highways, trans-boundary water basins, and railway, maritime, and air transport systems. We must deliver integrated infrastructure and eliminate barriers – this will expand the size of the regional markets and reduce the cost of movement of goods, services and people, creating a more open Africa.

I know the roadmap toward that vision for Africa is challenging, but we are already seeing tremendous progress, and we now have the confidence to achieve even greater results.

We need to build a Bank with a pulse for Africa’s people. A Bank that is more impact-oriented, efficient and responsive to the needs of its clients in a rapidly changing, multilateral economic landscape. A Bank that will be the partner of choice for all things African development.

We must build an Africa that will unlock greater opportunities with hope and prosperity for all. An Africa that all Africans can be happy to call their home. Together, we can achieve this.

Source : 
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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.

NEWSBUKA for all the burning topics in Nigerian politics and society.GeT FREE EmAiL UpDaTeS"

Monday, April 13, 2015

Astrology - Work Compatibility

Do you make an outstanding team or will working together be a real pain?   Check out your compatibility with partners, colleagues, and other work associates.
Click to play
Congratulations if you're a match made in heaven, and if you're not, drop a comment on what you're going to do about it.  This is fun!
 "Help. I don't even know my sign!" (click)
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From Cairo to Lagos - still can't do? See maps.

Africa’s international road network has missing links, while administrative and regulatory barriers block existing connections - AfDB (African Development Bank for details)
The Trans-African Highway still has long gaps

...only 1 in 3 rural Africans has access to an all-season road;  but [roads] critical to raising agricultural productivity. cities, road construction has not kept pace with urbanization...mobility problems caused by too few paved roads and inadequate public transportation systems.
...road freight will continue to be costly and inefficient until competition in the trucking industry is increased and barriers to trade are lifted.,+Cairo+Governorate,+Egypt/Lagos,+Nigeria/@18.2027714,0.2061032,4z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x14583fa60b21beeb:0x79dfb296e8423bba!2m2!1d31.2357116!2d30.0444196!1m5!1m1!1s0x103b8b2ae68280c1:0xdc9e87a367c3d9cb!2m2!1d3.3792057!2d6.5243793!3e0
Google Maps shows no gap, and suggests you could make the trip in a few days.  Maybe not advisable?  Then the more direct route takes you through a couple of war/strife zones.

Rail is worse: in the context of transcontinental travel, let's just say trains are nonexistent.  (Or do we just need a new map - this map is old)

You would think Lagos, Cairo, each with about 20million inhabitants, are not so far apart that they should 'feel' so far apart.  On my wish-list for 2020... Till then, thank God for air travel.  And the internet

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Thursday, April 09, 2015

Where the world is going

The Sustainable development goals (2015 - 2030)
are to be determined in meetings and international consultations before the end of 2015.
Picking up where the MDGs left off, the SDGs will guide international development for the next 15 years.
Proposed Sustainable Development Goals, February 2015
In summary, the target is basic provision (of food and health for instance) for more people as in the MDGs (see chart), but now we want to cover 'all' people while taking environmental and social costs into account (via peace, pollution, equality, community, ...)  Anyway, the goals are still being worked on.

I don't see 'decent work for all' being possible unless we create new sinks for human effort, or redefine and share/distribute work. (See 'The world can afford to shrink the workweek')

As a complement to this, we need to promote play.  How best to do so?
We have earned the right to leisure, it would seem, with all our work-saving machines.  Let them work.
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Friday, April 03, 2015

This glorious summer of 2015 in Nigeria, incoming President Muhammadu Buhari will...

Having won the March 28th-29th Presidential elections, Retired General Muhammadu Buhari is expected to be sworn in on the 29th of May. 
Below is a campaign document detailing his pledge for the first 100 days of government.  

My 100 Days Covenant With Nigerians - Buhari  

Corruption and Governance
I pledge to:
  • Publicly declaration of my assets and liabilities
  • Encourage all my appointees to publicly declare their assets and liabilities as a pre-condition for appointment. All political appointees will only earn the salaries and allowances determined by the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC).
  • Personal leadership in the war against corruption
  • Inaugurate the National Council on Procurement as stipulated in the Procurement Act. The Federal Executive Council, which has been turned to a weekly session of contract bazaar, will concentrate on its principal function of policy making.
  • Review and implement audit recommendations by Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative including those on remittances and remediation.
  • Work with the National Assembly towards the immediate enactment of a Whistle Blower Act
  • Work with the National Assembly to strengthen ICPC and EFCC by guaranteeing institutional autonomy including financial and prosecutorial independence and security of tenure of officials. Make the Financial Intelligence Unit of the EFCC autonomous and operational.
  • Encourage proactive disclosure of information by government institutions in the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act.
  • Ensure all MDAs and parastatals regularly comply with their accountability responsibilities to Nigerians through the National Assembly.
  • All political officer holdersearn only the salaries and emoluments determined and approved by the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission RMFAC.
  • Work with the leadership of the National Assembly and the Judiciary to cut down the cost of governance.
  • I will present a National Anti corruption Strategy.
Insurgency and Insecurity
I have had the rare privilege of serving my country in the military in various capacities and rose to become a Major General and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. I defended the territorial integrity of our nation.
I pledge to:
  • As Commander-in-Chief, lead from the front and not behind in the comfort and security of Aso Rock to boost the morale of fighting forces and the generality of all Nigerians.
  • Give especial attention to the welfare of our armed forces and their families; lost heroes and their families and the victims of insurgency.
  • Boost the morale of the men and women in the field by public recognition of their efforts through memorabilia, stamps, statues, regular rotation, regular payment of allowances, regular communication between the men and officers of security agencies, provision of best health care and housing for families of deceased comrades.
  • I will present a marshal plan to the nation that will combat insurgency, ethnic and religious violence, kidnapping and rural banditry.
  • Provideof the best and appropriate military and other materials the country needs to combat insurgency, ethnic and religious violence, kidnapping and rural banditry.
  • Establish personal relationship with governors of the affected states by insurgency, with leaders of the countries in the region and with leaders around the world to coordinate efforts to combat insurgency, oil theft, piracy and criminality.
  • Restore confidence in the bilateral and multilateral partnerships in addressing insurgency including procurements.
  • Activate regular meetings of the National Police Council to ensure the discharge of its true constitutional role in a transparent and accountable way.
  • As a father, I feel the pain of the victims of insurgency, kidnapping and violence whether they are the widows and orphans of military, paramilitary, civilians and parents or the Chibok girls. My government shall act decisively on any actionable intelligence to #BringBackOurGirls.
Niger Delta
I pledge to:
  • Restore the integrity of the Niger Delta by implementing relevant sections of the Ledum Technical Committee on human capital development, resource management and distribution, governance and rule of law, reclamation and environmental and sustainable development.
  • Commit myself and my administration to the phased implementation of the United Nations Environment Program’s(UNEP) recommendations on Ogoniland.
  • Unveil a marshal plan for the regenerative development of the Niger Delta.
Diversity refers to the inherent complexities of the variations in the social fabric of a people. Elements of poorly managed diversities include absence of cohesion, low capacity or political will to address resulting tensions, weak institutions of the state, in-equalities in every facet, impunity, breakdown of mutual trust, rising incidences of violence and total breakdown of law and order. To quickly reverse this observable trend in our society:
L incoming President Buhari / R outgoing Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
 I pledge to:
  • Continually acknowledge and consciously (?) equality and equity in all government businesses and activities.
  • Implement the National Gender Policy including 35% of appointive positions for women.
  • Work with National Assembly to pass a National Disability Bill, which I shall immediately assent, into Law.
  • Immediately charge relevant MDAs to implement new building codes to ensure that people with disability have easier access.
  • I will lead the campaign for restoration of mutual trust and cohesion for nation building, while also working with the National Assembly to make appropriation to strengthen institutions and platforms promoting dialogue and inclusion.
  • I will promote amendment to the provisions of section 14:3 of the Constitution to give effect to the expansion of the scope of representation to include women and persons with disabilities.
  • Work with National Assembly to pass the National Disability Act and the Equal Opportunities Bill.

I pledge to:
  • Implement the National Health Act 2014,which guarantees financial sustainability to the health sector and minimum basic health care for all and ban medical tourism by government officials.
  • Launch special programme to improve availability of water and sanitation.
  • Review occupational health laws and immediately commence enforcement of the provisions to reduce hazards in the work place.
  • Unveil a health sector review policy to ensure the efficient and effective management of our health systems.
  • Mobilize the health workforce needed for the all-round implementation of our primary health programmes for rural communities.

I pledge to:
  • Make pronouncement to make agriculture a major focus of the government and lay the institutional foundation to attract large-scale investments and capital into the agricultural infrastructural sector
  • Launch a massive agricultural infrastructural investments plan that will focus on production, transportation infrastructure and marketing logistics across Nigeria
  • Launched a massive, well-coordinated and innovatively funded Youth in Commercial Agribusiness Programme.
  • Establish agricultural produce pricing and marketing mechanism and institutions
  • Work with State and Local Governments to launch Agricultural Support Programmes that will drive state level massive agricultural land development and mechanization agenda
  • Revamp, revitalize and continuous improvement on the national agricultural extension and rural support service system
  • Initiated a holistic project aimed at promoting and securing access of standardized agricultural products to both local and international markets
  • Lay the groundwork for a standardized market uptake and aggregation outlets for specific agricultural produce
  • Initiated a comprehensive revamp of key development banks (Bank of Agriculture, Bank of Industry and Nigeria Import & Export Bank) operations to fund inclusive agricultural value chain operations
  • Lay the groundwork for an ambitious, massive, seamless, accessible single-digit agricultural value-chain finance programme
  • Initiated the process to appropriately liberalise and expand agricultural and rural insurance system with premium subventions support to farmers
  • Revamp the agricultural cooperative system to drive rural agriculture and improves stakes for smallholder farmers
  • Launch appropriate tariff rectification instrument to support import-export anomalies
Management of the Economy for prosperity
Every Nigerian deserves to benefit from the running of our collective resources. We promise not to leave any Nigerian behind in our determination to create, expand and ensure equitable and effective allocation of economic opportunities. No matter the amount of funds we generate, unless there is an efficient and effective utilization, it will only create few billionaires.  Unless we fight corruption, the economy will only benefit the greedy in our society.
I pledge to:
  • Work with the legislature to strengthen constitutional provisions to make the meetings of the National Economic Council more periodic and predictable and its decisions more binding.
  • Present annual report on the state of the economy to the National Assembly and the Nigerian People.
  • The Preparation of Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and annual Budget will be guided by job creation projections.
  • Negotiate rule-based oil revenue management process, and adopt a rule based excess crude account management process, which will entail a fixed percentage (e.g. 10% or 20%) of oil revenue each year, and also set clear rules about where the proceeds will be domiciled, when the savings can be used, by whom, and what the savings can be used for.
  • Work with the National Assembly to adopt a rule based, realistic and predictable oil benchmark as a basis for a more transparent management of federation account revenue and excess crude account.
  • Launch a Small Business Loan Guarantee Scheme in partnership with Commercial Lenders to improve access to finance for SMEs.
  • Automate the business registration process to ensure sole proprietorships can be opened within 24 hours and incorporated business within 5 days.
  • Reduce the cost of company registration to a maximum of N10, 000 for sole proprietorships to encourage formalization.
  • Review and regulate import duty waivers to promote transparency and accountability;
  • Forge partnerships with state and local governments and private sectors to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and cottage industries;
  • Work with the National Assembly to review and finalize work on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB);
  • Boost community and local participation in downstream through expansion and promotion of local content development;
  • Commence organizational reforms to curb corruption in NNPC and its subsidiaries
Industrial Relations
I pledge to:
  • Give political force to collective bargaining in all sectors of the economy, revive Tripartite Committee of Government, employers and workers organisations, whose task would be to constantly review matters of labour relations and the practice of industrial relations.
  • Undertake to institute an annual statutory tripartite body contribute towards formulation and implementation of broad macro-economic policies.
  • Reposition Ministry of Employment, Labour and Productivity and all relevant agencies mandated to manage labour dispute and grievance handling process to ensure pre-emptive strategies to halt the current frequent incessant strikes phenomenon.

The power sector has become a monstrous demonstration of corruption. Despite investment of more than X there is nothing to show but few fat cats.
I pledge to:
  • War against corruption in the power sector
  • Tackle the issue of gas availability for the proposed power plants
  • Emphasis alternative sources of power such as small, medium and large hydro plants (Mambilla has capacity for 4,700 megawatts), wind, coal and solar. Efforts will be geared towards smaller and potable power supply.
  • Start an accelerated training of human resources for the power sector.
  • Work with PenCom to consider giving soft loans to power sector operators.

Youth and ICT Development
The youth are the salt of the nation. More than 60% of our population is categorized as being of youth age. The future of the nation depends on the brains of the youth and not on what is buried under the ground.
I pledge to:
  • Declare support for the appointment of young people with requisite qualification into key political offices to begin the incubation and mentoring for a successor political generation.
  • Unveil a policy that all federal contractors must employ at least 50% young people.
  • Work with the private sector to establish innovation fund for young people.
  • Encourage that girls’and boys’ education is prioritized in states where this is established to be a big problem.
  • Review and make pronouncements, with attendant political will and commitment, on the full implementation of the national youth policy.
  • Establish innovation centers in conjunction with proposed National Science Foundation and the private sector.
  • Include vocational skills in the curriculum of Almajiri schools so that they become self-employed.
  • Unveil a policy that will begin to multiply the efforts and effects of technology incubation centers to at least establish two of such centers in each of the geopolitical zone.
  • Establish a free-tuition and scholarship scheme for pupils who have shown exceptional aptitude in science subjects at O/Levels to study ICT-related courses.
  • Immediately establish linkages with friendly names to champion exchange programmes for the acquisition of IT related skills.
  • Extend the local content policies to cover software and hardware developments in the youth-driven markets. Put in place a quality assurance mechanism to ensure that standards are met and adhered to and make it a policy for companies to procure a % of their ICT needs from the local market.
  • Hold a summit of all ICT service providers, OEMs, etc both local and foreign that are doing business in Nigeria to device concrete skills transfer and capacity building models in a sustainable manner.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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