Colors: Blue Color

Ugandans are celebrating the resumption of internet services after a shutdown was imposed ahead of the recent election. However, social media platforms remain blocked and are only accessible using Virtual Private Networks (VPN).

President Yoweri Museveni, who won an unprecedented sixth term in office, had accused the platforms of being biased. Bobi Wine, presidential candidate for the opposition National Unity Platform, alleged the poll was marred by fraud.

The party's spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi accused Mr Museveni of shutting down the internet to prevent them from sharing evidence of fraud. He said that the party was in the process of collecting election results forms that have evidence of irregularities.

Mr Ssenyonyi told the Reuters news agency that NUP's offices had been raided saying;

"They don't want work to continue at our offices because they know that we are putting together evidence to show the world how much of a fraudster Museveni is." President Museveni said that the poll could be the "most cheating-free" in the history of the country.

The electoral commission declared Mr Museveni the winner with 59% of the vote, with his closest challenger Bobi Wine, a pop star whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, garnering 34%. Mr Museveni has ruled Uganda since 1986. His party is also on course to secure an overwhelming majority in the 500-member parliament.

Yogananda Pittman, a senior-ranking female law enforcement officer and HBCU graduate, has made history after her recent appointment as the acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police department.

Pittman began her law enforcement career with the United States Capitol Police in April 2001, and she has steadily worked her way up the ranks to be named Assistant Chief of Police in October 2019.

In 1991, she graduated from Morgan State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology. In 2018, she completed the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy and graduated from the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives’ CEO Mentoring Program. In 2019, she earned her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

“It is very important for young female law enforcement officers to see someone who looks like them in leadership positions,” Yogananda says. “It says to them that these positions are obtainable and available to them. I enjoy being a mentor. I was very fortunate to have great mentors myself.

“Often officers will stop me and ask my advice, and it means a lot to me to be able to discuss their future plans and offer my insights. I am very appreciative of WIFLE and its mission, and for their selecting me for this honour.”

Her appointment came just one week after the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., was breached by hundreds of Trump supporters, which resulted in multiple injuries and at least 5 deaths.

A team of World Health Organisation (WHO) officials has arrived in the Chinese city of Wuhan to start its investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. It comes after months of negotiations between the WHO and Beijing. With Covid-19 first being detected in Wuhan in central China in late 2019, the group of 10 scientists is set to interview people from research institutes, hospitals and the seafood market linked to the initial outbreak.

The team's arrival coincides with a resurgence of new coronavirus cases in the north of the country, while life in Wuhan is relatively back to normal. The group will undergo two weeks of quarantine before beginning their research, which will rely upon samples and evidence provided by Chinese officials. Just before the trip team leader Peter Ben Embarek said that it "could be a very long journey before we get a full understanding of what happened. I don't think we will have clear answers after this initial mission, but we will be on the way."

The probe, which aims to investigate the animal origin of the pandemic, looks set to begin after some initial hiccups. Earlier the WHO said its investigators were denied entry into China after one member of the team was turned back and another got stuck in transit. But Beijing said it was a misunderstanding and that arrangements for the investigation were still in discussion.

China has been saying for months that although Wuhan is where the first cluster of cases was detected, it is not necessarily where the virus originated. Professor Dale Fisher, chair of the global outbreak and response unit at the WHO, said that he hoped the world would consider this a scientific visit. "It's not about politics or blame but getting to the bottom of a scientific question," he said. Prof Fisher added that most scientists believed that the virus was a "natural event."

The visit coincides with China reporting its first fatality from Covid-19 in eight months. News of the death in northern Hebei province prompted anxious chatter online and the hashtag ‘new virus death in Hebei’ trended briefly on social media platform Weibo.

The country has largely brought the virus under control through quick mass testing, stringent lockdowns and tight travel restrictions. But new cases have been resurfacing in recent weeks, mainly in Hebei province surrounding Beijing and Heilongjiang province in the northeast.

Leading communications, safety, and security systems integrator, Optilan, have just announced the official opening of its new office in Mumbai, India. One the UK’s major communications specialists for the energy, power, rail, and infrastructure sectors, it is involved in key UK infrastructure projects such as Cross-rail and major international energy infrastructure works, including the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline.

Optilan’s new Indian Engineering Hub will serve as a primary centre for driving cutting edge innovation. The decision to open the Engineering Hub is testament to Optilan’s growing commitment to invest in India’s world class engineering talent, as part of its mission to create security, safety, and communications related solutions that can have a genuinely global impact.

The new office houses employees from diverse disciplines, with a focus on the provision of skilled services to support the rest of the Optilan Group as part of a seamless international operation. It will facilitate Optilan’s drive to develop its innovative approach to service solutions and project delivery.

Bill Bayliss, Chief Executive Officer at Optilan, said: “We are thrilled to announce the opening of our new Indian Engineering Hub. Optilan operates within a highly competitive industry that’s characterised by constant change. This evolving landscape demands innovative approaches to how we transfer both skills and expertise, in order to produce hubs of engineering excellence to service our global business.

“The decision to set up the Engineering hub in India was more than justified, given it is home to some of the world’s most exceptional engineering talent. Its addition to our portfolio is driven by Optilan’s strategic plans for continued growth and development across the Middle East and South Asia region, through an investment in local operations with local presence.

“We are excited to tap into the engineering talent available in this part of the country, motivated by our vision of creating a truly pioneering organisation that will build innovative solutions for global impact.”

The new office complements Optilan’s existing offices in the UK, UAE, Azerbaijan, and Turkey.

U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow issued the following statement:

“We are profoundly heartbroken by the disturbing actions at the U.S. Capitol that are being viewed around the world. The behaviour we are witnessing has no place in any peaceful democracy, much less in the country that is supposed to be the foremost example of democratic principles.

“Working American families depend on a productive government to facilitate their livelihoods—especially in this time of unprecedented crisis and challenge—and the wilful disruption of our democratic transition is an unacceptable act of harm that is felt not just in Washington, but in every corner of the country.

“With all our hearts, we urge the swift and peaceful end to the chaos and mayhem in our capital city, and that we come together to heal and move forward for the sake of our country and our future.”

Nigeria expects to get its first batch of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of this month as part of its plan to inoculate 40% of the population this year and a further 30% next year, the head of the country's primary healthcare agency, Faisal Shuaib, has said. The first batch would contain 100,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, obtained through the global vaccine-sharing scheme known as Covax.

Nigeria will first inoculate frontline health workers, first responders, national leaders, people vulnerable to coronavirus and the elderly, Mr Shuaib said. The country hopes to get 42 million vaccines to cover one-fifth of its population through the scheme, he added. WHO (the World Health Organisation) set up the Covax scheme to help poorer countries obtain Covid-19 vaccines amid widespread concerns that the wealthier nations would snap them up before the lesser ones.

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa said last week that the country expected to get vaccines through Covax scheme by the second quarter of 2021, following the initial payment of 283 million rand ($19.3; £14.1m). Health Minister Zweli Mkhize subsequently said that the government was also in talks with private pharmaceutical companies to obtain vaccines by next month.

South Africa's government has been under intense pressure to roll out an inoculation programme following the discovery of a faster spreading variant of the virus. The country has recorded more than 1.1 million Covid-19 cases, the highest in Africa.

Nigeria – with approximatley 200 million, the biggest in Africa - has so far recorded close to 100,000 cases. More than 1,200 new cases were recorded on Monday, its highest ever.

The pandemic has drastically decreased demand for oil and gas globally and some producers have been forced to act. New data shows that as the demand dropped, most oil and gas rigs were shut down. Data presented by Bankr indicates that the United States oil and gas rigs in operation have dropped by 59.49% between February 2020 and November 2020.

In February, the rigs were 790 while in November the number was at 320. The research also overviewed the weekly Brent, OPEC Basket, and WTI crude oil prices between 30 December 2019, to 7 December 2020. During the period, the OPEC basket dropped by 30.65% with the lowest price at $14.19 on April 20. WTI crude oil prices plunged by 25.81% while April 20 registered the lowest price at -$37.63. Elsewhere, the Brent price plummeted by 28.71% and the lowest value was on April 28 at $20.46.

The drop in the number of US oil and gas rigs have historically followed changes in oil prices over an elongated period. However, the 2020 decline in rigs followed the dramatic decrease in the oil prices at a rapid pace. The rig count began to plunge in February, something that was reflected by the sudden loss of oil and gas demand globally due to the pandemic.

The global oil consumption is mainly driven by the transport sector and in the course of the health crisis, authorities imposed lockdowns that grounded travel. A combination of falling demand, rising supply, and decreasing storage space led to a massive crude petroleum price drop. The negative price movement’s impact was significant on April 20 when crude petroleum traded at a negative price.

The steady closure of rigs translates to less oil being produced. The closure continued across the year as producers ran out of space to store their extra oil with the crisis continuing to bite. At some point, the government intervened with President Donald Trump pledging support for the oil industry. Government storage facilities were opened, so that producers do not have to sell at a loss due to lack of storage. However, these measures appear to have had little impact on the sector. Furthermore, some rigs were forced to shut down as a safety measure for workers. This is after several facilities recorded cases of Covid-19.

The closure was necessitated by the fact that most rigs have limited medical facilities, great distances from the mainland hence it could be devastating if they recorded cases of coronavirus. However, the emergence of a vaccine could reverse the fortunes of the sector.

On the other hand, gas rig activity is known to decrease alongside the natural gas price.

However, the decrease in natural gas prices began earlier even before the pandemic. Gas rigs have been impacted by the warm weather and relatively small withdrawals from storage during the winter which led to a sustained decrease in the gas price. After collapsing to worse levels in April, oil prices have partially rebounded following several response measures like the lifting of the lockdowns.

Additionally, the steep response by OPEC and its partners are key in controlling oil production. The recovery in prices was driven by a reduction in production through the OPEC+ initiative. The group agreed to cut production by 9.7mb/d, which is about 10% of the global oil supply. In general, while oil consumption has risen from its lows in 2020 Q2, it remains well below its pre-pandemic level.

Going into 2021, the pandemic’s full effect on the oil rigs and prices cannot be fully quantified. The crush might have a lasting impact on consumption due to changing consumer behaviour. In the long-term, the pandemic is likely to affect oil consumption as people cut on air travel for business with a preference for remote working. Working from home trends might also lower the gasoline demand. The future forecast in oil demand will also impact corporate investment decisions.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that regional restrictions in England are "probably about to get tougher" to curb rising Covid infections. He said stronger measures may be required in parts of the country in the coming weeks. He also warned that this included the possibility of keeping schools closed, although this is not "something we want to do". But he added ministers had to be "realistic" about the spread of the new variant of the virus.

Mr Johnson said the government was "entirely reconciled to doing what it takes to get the virus down," and warned of a "tough period ahead". He also said increasing vaccination would provide a way out of restrictions and that he hoped "tens of millions" would be vaccinated in the next three months.

Defending his handling of the pandemic, the prime minister said the government had taken "every reasonable step that we reasonably could" to prepare for winter. But he said ministers "could not have reasonably predicted" the new, more transmissible variant of the virus that has emerged over the autumn. He also urged parents to send their children to primary school on Monday if they are open in their area, adding he had "no doubt" schools were safe.

Secondary schools in England are due to stagger their return - with pupils taking exams in 2021 starting on 11 January, and other year groups returning in person on 18 January. In London and some surrounding areas, primary schools will not open for most pupils until 18 January.

In other areas of England, primaries are due to return on Monday, with teaching unions and some councils calling for them to also stay closed. However Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted, England's schools watchdog, said closures should be kept to an "absolute minimum".

As Covid-19 dominated headlines, there were some social media moments in India that cheered people amid the gloom,

Karan Puri, an elderly resident of Panchkula, in the northern Indian state of Haryana, was in for a pleasant surprise when the police came to his door. In a video that later went viral, Mr Puri can be seen striding towards the gate, saying, "I am Karan Puri, I live alone and I am a senior citizen." But what happens next leaves him stunned and touched. As the officers sing "happy birthday to you", Mr Puri doubles over in surprise, and asks them how they found out. He tears up and tells the police officers that his children live abroad and he was indeed feeling lonely.

The officers there then say "we’re like your family" and that "there is no need to feel alone". They bring out a birthday cake and everybody starts clapping and singing again. This heart-warming video melted hearts on social media and won the officers praise for their thoughtful gesture.

It all started with a teary-eyed video uploaded to Instagram by a food blogger. The video showed Kanta Prasad, 80, breaking down on camera over the lack of business at his street food stall during the pandemic. Street food, although hugely popular, had taken a massive hit during the pandemic, forcing many vendors to shut shop. Mr Prasad and his wife, Badami Devi, had been running their shop, Baba ka dhaba, since 1990 in south Delhi's Malviya Nagar

In the viral video, Mr Prasad shows the dishes they have prepared for the day. When asked how much he has earned so far, he says "very little" and breaks down. The blogger, Gaurav Wasan, shared the clip on Instagram in early October. It travelled quickly, soon making its way on to Twitter. A woman shared it saying it "completely broke her heart" and urged people in Delhi to visit Baba ka Dhaba and help Mr Prasad and his wife. And the appeal was heard as crowds of people and camera crews gathered at the small eatery within hours after the video went viral.

The tweet was noticed by celebrities - from Bollywood stars to cricketers - and ordinary people alike. The video has now been watched nearly five million times.

People donated from all over the world to help the elderly couple. But the story took an ugly turn when Mr Prasad accused Mr Wasan of misappropriating funds collected under his name. The blogger denied the allegation. Mr Prasad also filed a police complaint against him. But it appears that the two have patched up now. Mr Prasad reportedly thanked Mr Wasan after opening a new restaurant recently and the blogger wished him luck. Arup Senapati started working as a Covid doctor in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam in April.

As the pandemic continued to overwhelm hospitals, health workers and doctors like him were forced to work around the clock, often to a point of physical and mental exhaustion. But Dr Senapati found a unique way to de-stress while also cheering up Covid-19 patients. It also happened to be something he loved doing - dancing to Bollywood numbers.

A colleague filmed one of his impromptu dance routines in October and tweeted the video, which instantly went viral. It has so far been watched 5.7 million times.

Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan, famous for his dance moves, praised Dr Senapati, who says it was his humble attempt to make his patients laugh. But he never imagined that his video would reach so many people! When Snehal Satpute returned home after recovering from Covid-19, she didn't expect the welcome she received.

In a video which went viral on social media in July, her 23-year-old sister Saloni is seen dancing with joy on the street in front of their house to welcome her sister home. Snehal then joins her and other family members also come out to participate.

Saloni told the Pune Mirror newspaper that she wanted to "relay a message to her neighbours who had shunned them after five members of her family tested positive".

In India, stigma against those who had contracted Covid was a widespread issue when the pandemic first took hold there.

As revellers were not able to ring in the New Year in the usual way because of the coronavirus pandemic, in seeing off 2020, 2021 was celebrated with a fireworks and light display over London that included tributes to NHS staff as people, instead, were told to stay at home. But the 10-minute show over the Thames was broadcasted at midnight. Edinburgh's traditional Hogmanay street party was cancelled, with videos of a drone display released instead.

The series of videos showed a swarm of 150 lit-up drones over the Scottish Highlands and Edinburgh were released, which organisers said it was the largest drone show ever produced in the UK. Despite the cancellation the Hogmanay celebration - which normally attracts 100,000 people on the city's streets - there were some people who ignored the pleas to stay at home. Crowds of several hundred people gathered at Edinburgh Castle to see in the new year. They sang Auld Lang Syne and danced before eventually dispersing when several police vans and cars pulled on to the castle esplanade.

Much of the UK saw in the new year while under lockdown rules, with about 44 million people in England - or 78% of the population - in tier four, the top level of restrictions. Mainland Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are also under lockdown.

On New Year's Eve, Health Secretary Matt Hancock called on people to take "personal responsibility" and stay at home to avoid spreading Covid-19. Light projections lit up the sky over the O2 Arena, in London, including the NHS logo in a heart accompanied by a child's voice saying: "Thank you NHS heroes".

Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised £33m for the NHS by walking laps of his garden, was also featured in the display, with an image of him shone over the arena.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he was proud of the show, which he said "paid tribute to our NHS heroes and the way that Londoners continue to stand together".

"We showed how our capital and the UK have made huge sacrifices to support one another through these difficult times, and how they will continue to do so as the vaccine is rolled out."

Usually, around 100,000 people pack into the streets around Victoria Embankment to watch the New Year's Eve fireworks. But this year, people were warned not to attend any parties outside their own homes, there were many people around the country who ignored the rules.

Elsewhere, other forces also broke up parties and handed out hundreds of fines. They included Greater Manchester Police, which issued 105 fixed penalty notices at house parties and larger gatherings. And Leicestershire Police had to issue six on-the-spot £10,000 fines to party organisers.

In his New Year's message, the Archbishop of Canterbury will say he saw "reasons to be hopeful for the year ahead" despite the "tremendous pain and sadness" brought by 2020.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby speaks of his experience volunteering as an assistant chaplain at St Thomas' hospital during the pandemic, saying: "Sometimes the most important thing we do is just sit with people, letting them know they are not alone."

In his message, he says: "This crisis has shown us how fragile we are. It has also shown us how to face this fragility. Here at the hospital, hope is there in every hand that's held, and every comforting word that's spoken.

"Up and down the country, it's there in every phone call. Every food parcel or thoughtful card. Every time we wear our masks."

Pablo Torres, the president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), predicted the Caribbean will see a return of tourism to the region, “faster than many parts of the world,” thanks to the protocols and partnerships implemented throughout the region to help lessen the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Averring 2021 would be a year of recovery, Torres declared, “Tourism is our key to recovery, to restoring the livelihood of thousands of employees in our industry, to reopening our doors, and welcoming our guests.” In addition to replenishing tax revenues to cash-strapped governments, Torres noted that a tourism revival would refresh and renew “the minds, bodies and spirits of millions of travelers who will discover that the Caribbean is the best place on earth to recover from the ravage of this pandemic.”

Describing COVID-19 as an unprecedented challenge, he applauded the Caribbean’s rapid response to the pandemic, which helped to contain the spread of the virus more effectively than many other parts of the world. He saluted the “countless health heroes” whose dedication and sacrifices had averted a great deal of human suffering and have helped to set the stage for the economic recovery the region will be experiencing in the coming months.

Torres commended not only health care professionals but also front- and back-of- house workers across many industries, including tourism, airports and airline personnel, immigration and customs officers, and ground transportation workers: ”You have led by example, providing exemplary services while adhering to essential health safety protocols. We are all in debt to your service.”

The hospitality industry veteran lauded CHTA’s “key partners in health”, including National Hotel and Tourism Associations, the Caribbean Public Health Agency, the Caribbean Tourism Organization, the UN World Tourism Organization, and the World Travel and Tourism Council: “Through collaboration and sharing insights and expertise we all help one another.”

From territory- and country-specific COVID-19 testing requirements and stringent cleaning and sanitization protocols in place at accommodations providers to social distancing and face mask policies and rules limiting capacity at restaurants and other gathering places, Torres noted that the Caribbean hospitality sector has gone to great lengths to protect and ensure the health and safety of both residents and visitors. 

Recalling that the Caribbean and its tourism sector has weathered many crises over the years and has always rebounded, Torres described 2020 as a year when CHTA members were challenged to do more with less, including significant revenue shortfalls.

The EU has begun a co-ordinated vaccine rollout to fight Covid-19, in what the bloc's top official says is a "touching moment of unity". European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had been delivered to all 27 member states.

Some countries started administering the jabs on Saturday, saying they were not prepared to wait another day. The EU has so far reported more than 335,000 Covid-related deaths.

More than 14 million people have been infected, and strict lockdown measures are currently in place in nearly all the member states.

The vaccine rollout comes as cases of the more contagious variant of Covid-19 are confirmed in several European nations as well as Canada and Japan. Mass vaccination across the EU - a bloc of 446 million people - began early on Sunday.

This comes after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Commission authorised the German-US Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The EU has secured contracts for more than two billion vaccine doses from a range of drug companies.

"Today, we start turning the page on a difficult year. The #COVID19 vaccine has been delivered to all EU countries. Vaccination will begin across the EU," Ms von der Leyen tweeted. "The #EUvaccinationdays are a touching moment of unity. Vaccination is the lasting way out of the pandemic," she added.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said: "This really is a happy Christmas message. At this moment, lorries with the first vaccines are on the road all over Europe, all over Germany, in all federal states.

"This vaccine is the crucial key for defeating the pandemic. It's the key for us getting back our lives." Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio urged his compatriots to get the jabs. "We'll get our freedom back, we'll be able to embrace again," he said.

Health workers in north-east Germany decided not to wait and started immunising elderly residents of a nursing home in Halberstadt. In Hungary, the first recipient of the vaccine was a doctor at Del-Pest Central Hospital, the state news agency says.

The authorities in Slovakia also said they had begun vaccinating.

As one of the millions of slaves who were dragged away from their African homeland, the story of Anton Wilhelm Amo, who hailed from Axim in the Western region of Ghana, is one to behold.

From leaving the golden shores in 1730, records show that he was taken to Amsterdam, in The Netherlands, by a preacher who was working in Ghana to serve the Dutch West Indies Company. He was later given out as a 'gift’ to Dukes August Wilhelm and Ludwig Rudolf von Wolfenbüttel in Germany as a child-slave, where he served as an ‘errand boy’ in the Prussian court in Germany. He was, however, also baptised before being affirmed in the Duke’s palace chapel and began to be treated as a member of the Duke’s family.

Following his experience there, Wilhelm Amo was allowed to study in the Halle and Jena Universities and became Germany's first Black philosopher and writer, having entered the Law School where he completed his preliminary studies within two years. Following that, two years later, he received what was a doctorate in philosophy from Germany’s University of Wittenberg and during his study; it is believed that he became the first African-born student to attend a European university. He also found time to master seven languages during his lifetime.

Amo published work across a variety of disciplines; from philosophy to psychology, and he also established himself as a highly-regarded enlightenment thinker as he became notable to be one of the most respected Black philosophers in the 18th century who also fought for the abolishing of slavery. His unrelenting opposition led to his decision to return to his homeland where he remained until his death.

During this year’s International Migrants Day, David Tette, a senior programme coordinator at the PME Ghana, said: “Anton Wilhelm Amo set the pace for most us to go outside overseas, acquired knowledge, then come back home with what we have learnt and used it to better us and ours here in Ghana.

“There are many other people who also did the same by coming back to contribute to national development.”

During the past October Google honoured Anton Wilhelm Amo with a doodle on its website illustrated by Berlin-based guest artist Diana Ejaita to celebrate the Ghanaian-German philosopher, academic and writer.

Born in 1703, Anton Wilhelm Amo left Ghana in 1730.

At age four, the story of his life began, not on a good note, but little did he know it will lead to something great.


A report says China will overtake the US to become the world's largest economy by 2028, five years earlier than previously forecast. The UK-based Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) said China's "skilful" management of Covid-19 would boost its relative growth compared to the US and Europe in coming years. Meanwhile India is tipped to become the third largest economy by 2030.

The CEBR releases its economic league table every year and although China was the first country hit by Covid-19, it controlled the disease through swift and extremely strict action, meaning it did not need to repeat economically paralysing lockdowns as European countries have done. As a result, unlike other major economies, it has avoided an economic recession in 2020 and is in fact estimated to see growth of 2% this year.

The US economy, by contrast, has been hit hard by the world's worst coronavirus epidemic in terms of sheer numbers. More than 330,000 people have died in the US and there have been some 18.5 million confirmed cases. The economic damage has been cushioned by monetary policy and a huge fiscal stimulus, but political disagreements over a new stimulus package could leave around 14 million Americans without unemployment benefit payments in the new year.

"For some time, an overarching theme of global economics has been the economic and soft power struggle between the United States and China," says the CEBR report. "The Covid-19 pandemic and corresponding economic fallout have certainly tipped this rivalry in China's favour." The report says that after "a strong post-pandemic rebound in 2021", the US economy will grow by about 1.9% annually from 2022-24 and then slow to 1.6% in the years after that.

By contrast the Chinese economy is tipped to grow by 5.7% annually until 2025, and 4.5% annually from 2026-2030. China's share of the world economy has risen from just 3.6% in 2000 to 17.8% now and the country will become a "high-income economy" by 2023, the report says.

The Chinese economy is not only benefitting from having controlled Covid-19 early, but also aggressive policymaking targeting industries like advanced manufacturing, said CEBR deputy chairman Douglas McWilliams. He said: "They seem to be trying to have centralised control at one level, but quite a free market economy in other areas. And it's the free market bit that's helping them move forward particularly in areas like tech."

But the average Chinese person will remain far poorer in financial terms than the average American even after China becomes the world's biggest economy, given that China's population is four times bigger.

More than 40 countries have banned UK arrivals because of concerns about the spread of a new variant of coronavirus. Flights from the UK are being suspended to countries across the world including Spain, India and Hong Kong.

Boris Johnson said he spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and both sides wanted to resolve "these problems as fast as possible". The prime minister told a Downing Street press conference: "We had a very good call and we both understand each other's positions."

Mr Johnson, who earlier chaired a meeting of the government's emergency committee, added: "We are working with our friends across the Channel to unblock the flow of trade."

European Union member states met earlier in Brussels to discuss a coordinated response, with officials suggesting a requirement for tests could be imposed on all people arriving from the UK. Eurotunnel services to France are also suspended and Eurostar trains to Belgium are not operating.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned that the new variant of the virus - which may be up to 70% more transmissible - is "getting out of control". The new variant has spread quickly in London and south-east England, but health officials say there is no evidence that it is more deadly or would react differently to vaccines.

The only journey they're being told to make is to the back of the ever-growing queue that makes up Operation Stack. That will mean spending tonight, and all day tomorrow in their cabs - when all they want to do is get back home. It's a depressing situation in the run-up to Christmas. And if France does insist that all drivers need to be tested before being allowed to cross the Channel, it's likely some won't make it back before the big day.

Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has described a never-before-attempted musical feat as “uplifting and a powerful testament to the Commonwealth’s resilience”. The recently released ‘Simple Gifts’ soundtrack under the United Commonwealth COVID Music Project, features a collaboration of musicians, each representing a Commonwealth country.

The Secretary-General said: “Strings, woodwind, brass, percussion and the enchanting sound of the human voice of all ages, arranged in one powerful performance to the backdrop of the Commonwealth’s villages, cities and coastlines.

“It is a true reflection of the iridescent spectrum of our multidimensional, multicultural Commonwealth.” She added: “As parts of the world descend into lockdown, as we face the heart-wrenching moments of saying goodbye to loved ones, as economic turmoil and uncertainty become our new norm, this video will hopefully lift our spirits and inspire hope for a bright 2021.

“This project reminds us that we are not alone and that whatever we face, we face as a family, rich in talent and innovation. It reminds us that we have all the tools to build back better.” The Secretary-General pointed out the importance of considering the arts in COVID-19 recovery strategies. She said: “It is not just about employment prospects and developing human capital, it is also about mental health and other health benefits.

“Research suggests that involvement in art or music not only raises morale, promotes a sense of community and improves personal resilience, but also has a measurable impact on stress levels and benefits the immune system.” 

Delivered in partnership with a professional music group, Dionysus Ensemble, the project harnesses the power of music to lift spirits, improve mental health and encourage international camaraderie, as countries tackle the challenges of the pandemic. Project Leader and ​Artistic Director of​ The Dionysus Ensemble, Léonie Adams, ​connected with high commissioners, musicians and participants to put together the inspiring soundtrack.

She said: “When I first listened to the finished project, the hair on the back of my ​neck stood up. It has been an amazing, exciting journey from Africa, to the Caribbean, to Asia to the Pacific, the Americas and right back here to the UK where I reside.

"It has been great to connect with people from all walks of life all over the world putting this together. It has been an incredible chance to share some joy and to create the most extraordinary network across the Commonwealth in a year when musicians' livelihoods everywhere have been hard hit.”

The Dionysus Ensemble is the Ensemble-in-Residence for the Commonwealth Resounds - the accredited music organisation within the Commonwealth.