Big pharma

Back in from the cold

An unpopular business has a shot at redemption

 


 

May 23rd 2020 | words 638

 

 

 

FOR MUCH of the past two decades big pharma has been a lost cause. Despised by the public, it became notorious for price-gouging, secretiveness and its neglect of global health problems. Big pharma also lost its lustre with investors, despite its bumper profits. They worried that a business model that relied too much on rent-seeking and too little on innovation was unsustainable, and that citizens would eventually revolt and demand more regulationor even rip up the patent system that gives drugs firms a temporary monopoly over new medicines. As a result, in the five years before the covid crisis the pharmaceutical sector lagged behind Americas S&P 500 index.

 

The pandemic has reminded the world of the industrys strengthsits capacity to innovate and provide drugs on a vast scale. Many of the big firms, such as Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi, are working on covid-19 vaccines and therapies. Scores of smaller companies are at work, too. On May 18th Moderna, an American biotech firm, said that its much-anticipated vaccine has shown positive early results (although some analysts questioned the validity of its tests). AstraZeneca, a big British firm that invests heavily in research and development (R&D), is working on a vaccine with scientists at Oxford University, helped by $1bn of new funding from Americas government. Even before the virus, the industry had started to invest more heavily. In the most recent quarter Americas 30 biggest firms boosted their R&D by a median of 6% year on year. Now medical innovation is back in fashion.

 

It looks like big pharmas moment to shine. However, the pandemic has also created new ethical and political dilemmas. Vaccine nationalism is spreading as governments panic that others may get their hands on crucial drugs first. Frances Sanofi has found itself embroiled in a transatlantic row over who will be first to get any covid-19 vaccine it develops. Paul Hudson, the firms boss, stated last week that because the American government invested in his firms risky scientific efforts, the United States would have early access. This led to a political explosion in France and a dressing-down from Emmanuel Macron, Frances president. And there is mounting pressure to suspend elements of the patent system. A gathering of the World Health Organisation this week passed a resolution urging drugs firms to pool patent rights. Several dozen current and former world leaders released an open letter demanding that any successful covid-19 vaccine should be made available patent-free.

 

There is an alternative to beggar-thy-neighbour nationalism and taking a sledgehammer to the intellectual-property regime. First, a global agreement is needed to govern the manufacture and distribution of a potential vaccine. It could take several years to vaccinate the worlds population; global co-operation will mean that the vaccine is deployed first where it brings most benefit.

 

Second, the patent system should be preserved because, correctly designed, it incentivises investment in new treatments. The big drugs firms have already said they will make any vaccine available at cost-plus prices. Arrangements exist for tiered pricing of medicines and free vaccinations for diseases afflicting the worlds poor that should be extended to covid-19 treatments. If a smaller drugs firm tried to price-gouge, governments in the West and elsewhere have the powers to pass compulsory licensing orders in an emergency. When the pandemic passes, there must be no going back to the bad old days. Governments should seek to authorise new drug patents faster, as the best way to balance innovation and lower prices. And big pharma needs to keep investing. That will help shareholders and global public health, too.








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Economist | Big pharma is having a good crisis

The Wise Old Man

The youth held the plant between his thumb and forefinger and pulled it out. The old man then asked him to pull out a slightly bigger plant. The youth pulled hard and the plant came out, roots and all. Now pull out that one, said the old man pointing to a bush. The boy had to use all his strength to pull it out.


Now take this one out, said the old man, indicating a guava tree. The youth grasped the trunk and tried to pull it out. But it would not budge. Its impossible, said the boy, panting with the effort.


So it is with bad habits, said the sage. When they are young it is easy to pull them out but when they take hold they cannot be uprooted.


The session with the old man changed the boys life.


Moral: Dont wait for Bad Habits to grow in you, drop them while you have control over it else they will get control you




Previously Shared Stories, 

Enjoy Reading;


| Bond of Love and the Truth

| The Circle of Good Deed

| The Seven Wonders

| The Frog in Hot Water

| Your Chance of a Greater Good

| The Bridge

| Your Chance of a Greater Good

| Act of Kindness and Goodwill

| Happiness and Sorrow

| Developing a Relationship

| Dont let anyone steal your dreams.

| The Needs and Desires

| The Ant and The Dove

| The Lion and a Clever Fox

| Sometimes Just let it be

| Choose Your Words Wisely

| Hundred Gold Coins & Birbal

| Farmers Well & Witty Birbal

| Tenali Rama and the Brinjal Curry

| How long can you keep hatred in your heart?

| Appreciation of Hard Work

| Little Boys Meeting with God

| 100 Percent Love

| An Old Man Lived in the Village

| A Kings Painting

| This was bound to happen

| Wealth without a Value

| Learn to Appreciate

| Fox and The Goat

| The Golden Egg

| Who is Happy? The Peacock and The Crow

| The Three Questions

| The Old Man and the Three Young Men

| The Bear and The Two Friends

| Think Before You Judge

| Georgie Porgie

| A Wise Old Owl

| Baa Baa Black Sheep

| Beg Your Pardon Mrs Hardin

| A limit of your Kindness

| The Man and The Little Cat

| The False Human Belief

| Making Relations Special

| The Monkey and The Crocodile

| The Wicked Barbers Plight

| The Wooden Bowl

| Smartest Man in the World

| The Little Mouse

| Helping Others

| Fear vs Respect

| Little Boys Love for his Family

| Unity is Strength

| The Pig and The Sheep

| Father Son Conversation

| Whats for Dinner

| The Poor Mans Wealth
| Grandpas Table

| The Lazy Farmer

| Who or What do we love more?

| The Three Types of People

| The Cat, the Partridge and the Hare

| Birbals Wisdom

| The Travelers and The Plane Tree

| Boys Job Appraisal

| Birbal caught the Thief

| Five More Minutes

| The Kite without a thread

| Lesson Learned

| The Wet Pants

| Cycle of Evil

| The Farmer and the Snake

| A Man with a Lamp

| The King and Macaw Parrots

| A friend in need is a friend indeed.

| A Town Mouse and A Country Mouse

| Rose for Mother

| The Praying Hands

| One who read the future

| Always let your boss have the first say

| Crows in the Kingdom

| The Dreaming Priest

| Information Please

| Why Should I feel Bad?

| Two Frogs

| Baby Camel and Mother

| The Eternal Bond of Brother and Sister

| Dont let anyone steal your dreams.

| Always let your boss have the first say

| The Man and the Lion

| The Needy King and a Sage

| The Pot of the Wit

| Wealth without a Value

| The Eagle and the Woodcutter

| The Wild Doves

| The Swan and the Owl

| Zeus and the Potsherds






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| The Wise Old Man

Samsung's next flagship phone, the Galaxy Note 20+ has been previewed in a fresh set of leaked renders. Shared by OnLeaks in collaboration with Pigtou, the images reveal a familiar, boxy design that's largely identical to the phone's predecessor. Its most striking trait is the huge, protruding camera bump on the rear similar to the existing Galaxy 20 lineup.


Unlike the highest-end Galaxy 20 Ultra, the Note 20+ is said to skip the headlining 100x zoom feature. It will come equipped with three camera lenses and leave out the additional fourth ToF sensor that offers depth assistance for portrait shots.

The hulking camera housing will pop out quite a bit with a thickness of 10.7 mm at its thickest point. However, it's unclear at the moment whether Samsung has figured out the design issue that is causing many Galaxy 20 Ultra phones' camera coverings to crack and shatter abruptly.


On the front, the Galaxy Note 20 Plus will have few alterations. It will be dominated by an OLED 6.9-inch screen (a hair taller than the Galaxy Note 10's 6.8-inch panel) that goes nearly edge-to-edge and has a minuscule cutout at the top center for the selfie camera. The set of ports will remain the same as well. It will probably have a USB Type-C port, a slot for the S-Pen stylus, and no headphone jack.

Previous rumors suggest the next Galaxy Note will have a 108-megapixel primary camera, the same one found on the Galaxy S20 Ultra. To mend the autofocusing flaws that have plagued the Galaxy S20, Samsung has reportedly added a new, dedicated sensor.


Another report claimed Samsung will raise the battery capacity to 4500mAh on the Galaxy Note 20 Plus, 200mAh more than the current Galaxy Note 10 Plus. The Galaxy Note is one of Samsung's two top-of-the-line phone series and the Galaxy Note 20 Plus will be no exception with a spec sheet to match. We expect it to be powered by Qualcomm's latest, 5G-enabled Snapdragon 865 chipset in the United States and Samsung's in-house Exynos 990 in other regions. While Samsung has yet to confirm it, the Galaxy Note 20 phones will likely launch in August.


Resource: digitaltrends.com

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Leaked renders show what the Galaxy Note 20+ could look like

In the world of smartwatches, there's one king the Apple Watch and a lot of copycats. 


But these copies often beat the original in so many ways that you have to start thinking which one is the better deal. 


Case in point, the freshly launched Realme Watch. Realme is a two-year-old Chinese smartphone manufacturer that has had great success in India, having launched several cheap smartphones with flagship-beating specs.


The Realme Watch won't win any originality contests. It's a squareish smartwatch that resembles Apple Watch, but it offers decent functionality for the low, low price of 3,999 rupees ($53). It has a 1.4-inch square LCD with a 320x320 pixel resolution and a curvy glass cover, runs a custom version of Android, has 14 different sports modes, displays phone notifications, and lets you control your phone's music player and camera. 

Here's where it gets interesting, though. The Realme Watch also has a real-time, heart rate monitor, as well as blood oxygen level monitor, which are pretty impressive features for a watch this cheap. Hard to say how well they work without trying the device out, though.


The Realme Watch also has an advertised 7 days of battery life with heart-rate monitoring on, 9 days of battery life when that feature is off, and 20 days in power-saving mode, which sounds a lot better than Apple Watch's 18 hours of battery life. Again, I'd have to test the watch to make sure, but it's definitely possible; there are non-Apple, non-Wear OS smartwatches with weeks of battery life. 


And sure, once that display lights up, it will be quite obvious that it's not an Apple watch - the bezels are massive, especially the bottom one. But it's such a bargain that its price handily beats not only the Apple Watch, but most other copycats by a massive margin. 


The Watch will become available for purchase on June 5, on Realme's website as well as Flipkart.  


Resource: mashable.com

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Realme Watch looks like Apple Watch, costs $50

China's space program will launch a Mars  mission in July, according to its current plans. This will include deploying an orbital probe to study the red planet, and a robotic, remotely-controlled rover for surface exploration. The U.S. has also been planning another robotic rover mission for Mars, and it's set to take off this summer, too peak time for an optimal transit from Earth to Mars thanks to their relative orbits around the Sun.


This will be the first rover mission to Mars for China's space program, and is one of the many ways that it's aiming to better compete with NASA's  space exploration efforts. NASA has flown four previous Mars rover missions, and its fifth, with an updated rover called 'Perseverance,' is set to take place this years with a goal of making a rendezvous with Mars sometime in February 2021.


NASA's mission also includes an ambitious rock sample return plan, which will include the first powered spacecraft launch from the red planet to bring that back. The U.S. space agency is also sending the first atmospheric aerial vehicle to Mars on this mission, a helicopter drone that will be used for short flights to collect additional data from above the planet's surface.


China has a number of plans to expand its space exploration efforts, including development and launch of an orbital research platform, its own space station above Earth, by 2022. The nation's space program also recently test-launched a new crew spacecraft, which will eventually be used in its mission to land Chinese astronauts on the surface of the Moon.


Meanwhile, NASA has issued a new set of draft rules that it is proposing for continued international cooperation in space, particularly as they related to reaching the Moon and setting up a more permanent human presence on Earth's natural satellite. The agency is also hoping to return human space launch capabilities to the U.S. this week with a first demonstration launch of astronauts aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft on Wednesday.


Resource: techcrunch.com

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China set to launch Mars probe and rover mission in July

China's space program will launch a Mars  mission in July, according to its current plans. This will include deploying an orbital probe to study the red planet, and a robotic, remotely-controlled rover for surface exploration. The U.S. has also been planning another robotic rover mission for Mars, and it's set to take off this summer, too peak time for an optimal transit from Earth to Mars thanks to their relative orbits around the Sun.


This will be the first rover mission to Mars for China's space program, and is one of the many ways that it's aiming to better compete with NASA's  space exploration efforts. NASA has flown four previous Mars rover missions, and its fifth, with an updated rover called 'Perseverance,' is set to take place this years with a goal of making a rendezvous with Mars sometime in February 2021.


NASA's mission also includes an ambitious rock sample return plan, which will include the first powered spacecraft launch from the red planet to bring that back. The U.S. space agency is also sending the first atmospheric aerial vehicle to Mars on this mission, a helicopter drone that will be used for short flights to collect additional data from above the planet's surface.


China has a number of plans to expand its space exploration efforts, including development and launch of an orbital research platform, its own space station above Earth, by 2022. The nation's space program also recently test-launched a new crew spacecraft, which will eventually be used in its mission to land Chinese astronauts on the surface of the Moon.


Meanwhile, NASA has issued a new set of draft rules that it is proposing for continued international cooperation in space, particularly as they related to reaching the Moon and setting up a more permanent human presence on Earth's natural satellite. The agency is also hoping to return human space launch capabilities to the U.S. this week with a first demonstration launch of astronauts aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft on Wednesday.


Resource: techcrunch.com

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China set to launch Mars probe and rover mission in July

Sony's Alpha-series mirrorless cameras are known for the best-in-class autofocus and fast continuous shooting, and those same features are now trickling down into Sony's latest phone. The Xperia 1 II will ship July 24, with pre-sales beginning June 1, Sony announced today. The Android 10 device also borrows tech from Sony's gaming and entertainment products.


No, the phone won't get a large APS-C or full-frame sensor like an Alpha camera, but Sony is integrating several key performance features of its camera line into the Xperia 1 II, like a 20-frames-per-second burst mode. That's as fast as the sports-oriented and $4,500 Sony A9 II mirrorless camera.

That speed is pointless without autofocus that can keep up. Here, the Xperia 1 II adapts another key component of Sony's high-end camera systems, with a continuous autofocus system capable of making 60 calculations per second. Real-time Eye AF, another Sony camera technology, also makes it into the phone. This uses artificial intelligence to automatically track a person's (or a pet's) eyes to keep focus locked right where it needs to be.


While those features sound an awful lot like Sony's latest mirrorless autofocus system, there are some key differences. The active focus area covers just 70% of the sensor compared to up to 93% in an Alpha camera. The fast burst speed is also only available when using the wide lens, not the ultra-wide or telephoto.

While sensor size is obviously limited by the size of the phone, the 24mm wide lens is paired with a larger-than-usual 1/1.7-inch sensor. Sony says this new sensor is also 1.5x more light sensitive than the previous version, which should help create cleaner images in low light.


The triple camera array also includes a 70mm f/2.4 and 16mm f/2.2 lens, and all cameras offer 12 megapixels. The wide and telephoto lenses use optical image stabilization while the ultra-wide does not. The selfie camera uses an 8MP sensor.


Video is recorded at 4K and 60 fps, including in HDR mode. Slow-motion goes down the 120 fps and the stabilization is available in video mode, too.

Besides shooting like a mirrorless camera, Sony also wants to make the Xperia 1 II feel like one. The camera user interface is inspired by Alpha cameras, with manual exposure controls included in the native camera app.


Like the Xperia 1, the second generation model takes inspiration from Sony's entertainment and gaming divisions, as well. The phone is equipped with a 6.5-inch 4K HDR OLED screen, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 with Game Enhancer mode, and Dolby Atmos sound. The smartphone uses Corning Gorilla Glass and is rated for water resistance.


Resource: digitaltrends.com

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The Xperia 1 II brings mirrorless camera tech to a smartphone

Zoom has temporarily disabled the integration of GIF platform Giphy in its chat feature, the company said in a blog post. "Once additional technical and security measures have been deployed, we will re-enable the feature." Zoom didn't offer any specifics beyond that on Giphy's removal.


The company mentioned the change as part of its latest list of security updates to the platform, which also includes limits on screen sharing, changes to muting and unmuting functions, and restrictions on logging in to meetings from multiple devices (for meetings that require registration).


The move comes a few days after Facebook acquired Giphy for over $300 million, with plans to integrate it into Instagram. How that acquisition will affect Giphy integrations with other platforms like Twitter, TikTok, and iMessage all competitors to Facebook remains unclear, but Facebook has had well-documented issues with privacy and security.


At the time of the Facebook acquisition, Giphy's GIFs did not use any embedded tracking, and its API did not have access to users' data, according to the company.


Zoom likewise has seen its share of security problems as demand for its service has soared during the coronavirus pandemic, with people working and schooling remotely.


Zoom and Giphy did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.


Resource: theverge.com

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Zoom has temporarily removed Giphy from its chat feature


Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, China's top court has been working on legal documents and calling for the wide application of online platforms in judicial work to ensure the quality and efficiency of foreign-related case hearings, a chief judge of the court said.


"The pandemic, which is still affecting the world, has brought difficulties to litigants at home and abroad as well as to our trials involving foreigners," Wang Shumei, head of the No 4 Civil Division at the Supreme People's Court, said on the sidelines of the two sessions, the annual gatherings of China's top legislature and top political advisory body.


Wang said difficulties in handling foreign-related civil and commercial disputes could last half a year or longer, but the top court has started researching solutions such as issuing judicial interpretations, drafting guidelines and disclosing typical cases for reference.


"Take the guidelines that are being drafted as an example. The amount of time that should be extended for overseas litigants when submitting case materials to Chinese courts during the outbreak will be clarified soon," she said, adding that the top court will make it more convenient for those involved in lawsuits during the pandemic.


The work report the Supreme People's Court delivered to the annual meeting of the National People's Congress last year showed that courts across the country increased international communication on the rule of law and resolved many lawsuits involving foreigners with fair and efficient legal services. The court's resolution methods are expected to be elaborated on again in this year's work report, which will be delivered on Monday afternoon.


Statistics provided by the top court showed that courts nationwide concluded 17,000 civil and commercial disputes involving foreign litigants last year, about 2,000 more than in 2018.


With higher demand for dispute resolution from litigants doing international business, "the number of foreign-related cases heard by our courts has kept rising," Wang said.


Foreign litigants involved in such disputes last year came from countries including the United States, Vietnam and Canada. The disputes mainly dealt with private loans, divorces, trademark infringements and purchase contracts, Wang said.


"As equal protection has been made a top priority in hearing such cases, we've also taken measures to ensure foreign litigants can be given easier, fair and professional access to litigation," she said.


In June 2018, two international commercial courts tasked with helping to resolve disputes related to the Belt and Road Initiative and improving the global credibility of the judiciary opened in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, and Xi'an, Shaanxi province. Later, an expert committee was established as the two courts' dispute resolution think tank.


Thirteen judges and 31 experts in the two courts have filed 13 international commercial disputes in various fields, including product liability, corporate profit distribution and entrustment contracts, with litigants from countries such as Japan and Italy.


In December, the top court issued a judicial interpretation of the Foreign Investment Law as a crucial step to help the country attract more foreign investment, create a sound business environment for foreign investors and better protect their rights.


The law and the interpretation both took effect from the beginning of this year, "but their roles in solving foreign-related civil and commercial disputes haven't been played because of the pandemic," Wang said.


Since there is no clear answer on when the outbreak will end, she encouraged courts to make full use of the internet and technical platforms to improve judicial efficiency, suggesting that they hear simple foreign-related disputes and supply legal services online to reduce the litigation burden of people from other countries.



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Top court in China to ease litigation for foreigners


Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, China's top court has been working on legal documents and calling for the wide application of online platforms in judicial work to ensure the quality and efficiency of foreign-related case hearings, a chief judge of the court said.


"The pandemic, which is still affecting the world, has brought difficulties to litigants at home and abroad as well as to our trials involving foreigners," Wang Shumei, head of the No 4 Civil Division at the Supreme People's Court, said on the sidelines of the two sessions, the annual gatherings of China's top legislature and top political advisory body.


Wang said difficulties in handling foreign-related civil and commercial disputes could last half a year or longer, but the top court has started researching solutions such as issuing judicial interpretations, drafting guidelines and disclosing typical cases for reference.


"Take the guidelines that are being drafted as an example. The amount of time that should be extended for overseas litigants when submitting case materials to Chinese courts during the outbreak will be clarified soon," she said, adding that the top court will make it more convenient for those involved in lawsuits during the pandemic.


The work report the Supreme People's Court delivered to the annual meeting of the National People's Congress last year showed that courts across the country increased international communication on the rule of law and resolved many lawsuits involving foreigners with fair and efficient legal services. The court's resolution methods are expected to be elaborated on again in this year's work report, which will be delivered on Monday afternoon.


Statistics provided by the top court showed that courts nationwide concluded 17,000 civil and commercial disputes involving foreign litigants last year, about 2,000 more than in 2018.


With higher demand for dispute resolution from litigants doing international business, "the number of foreign-related cases heard by our courts has kept rising," Wang said.


Foreign litigants involved in such disputes last year came from countries including the United States, Vietnam and Canada. The disputes mainly dealt with private loans, divorces, trademark infringements and purchase contracts, Wang said.


"As equal protection has been made a top priority in hearing such cases, we've also taken measures to ensure foreign litigants can be given easier, fair and professional access to litigation," she said.


In June 2018, two international commercial courts tasked with helping to resolve disputes related to the Belt and Road Initiative and improving the global credibility of the judiciary opened in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, and Xi'an, Shaanxi province. Later, an expert committee was established as the two courts' dispute resolution think tank.


Thirteen judges and 31 experts in the two courts have filed 13 international commercial disputes in various fields, including product liability, corporate profit distribution and entrustment contracts, with litigants from countries such as Japan and Italy.


In December, the top court issued a judicial interpretation of the Foreign Investment Law as a crucial step to help the country attract more foreign investment, create a sound business environment for foreign investors and better protect their rights.


The law and the interpretation both took effect from the beginning of this year, "but their roles in solving foreign-related civil and commercial disputes haven't been played because of the pandemic," Wang said.


Since there is no clear answer on when the outbreak will end, she encouraged courts to make full use of the internet and technical platforms to improve judicial efficiency, suggesting that they hear simple foreign-related disputes and supply legal services online to reduce the litigation burden of people from other countries.



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Top court in China to ease litigation for foreigners


Newly released statistics from the Henley Passport Index show an overall decline in the value of African passports over the past 10 years.


The report, which ranks passports based on their total visa-free score and data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), blames this decline on political instability and conflict.


Seychelles holds the title for the most powerful passport in Africa, for the third year in a row. It is followed by Mauritius and South Africa.


Here is the full list of 10 most powerful passports in the continent, according to the 2020 Henley Passport Index:


Seychelles

Global ranking - 29

Visa-free access to 151countries


Mauritius

Global ranking - 32

Visa-free access to 146 countries


South Africa

Global ranking - 56

Visa-free access to 100 countries


Botswana 

Global ranking - 62

Visa-free access to 84 countries


Namibia

Global ranking - 67

Visa-free access to 76 countries


Lesotho 

Global ranking - 69

Visa-free access to 74 countries


eSwatini 

Global ranking - 70

Visa-free access to 73 countries


Malawi 

Global ranking - 71

Visa-free access to 72 countries


Kenya

Global ranking - 72

Visa-free access to 71 countries


Tanzania and Zambia

Global ranking - 73

Visa-free access to 70 countries


It's 2020 and Nigerians still have one of the least powerful passports in Africa 

Meanwhile, Nigeria is ranked as one of the weakest travel documents. 


10 years ago, it was the 76th powerful passport in the world. Now it has dropped to the 95th position.


With this travel document, you only get visa-free access to just 46 destinations.


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Here are the 10 most powerful passports in Africa right now