Connect with us

Business News

Africa Open To Business With Asian Partners, Says AfDB3 minutes read

Published

on

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is open to business with its Asian partners in spite of the pandemic, an official of the bank said on Monday.

Chuku Chuku, the Officer in Charge of AfDB’s Macroeconomic Policy, Debt Sustainability and Forecasting Division, said this at a webinar to present the bank’s African Economic Outlook Supplement.

The supplement report was presented to Asian participants, who endorsed the report as critical for post-COVID-19 Africa.

The bank said the African Economic Outlook (AEO), Supplement underlines the urgency to build the resilience of Africa’s healthcare systems and economies to improve countries’ preparedness for future shocks.

This means that African countries would need to rethink their current development strategies and priorities, which had clearly shown their limitations.

Chuku said: “Policymakers must seize the new and real opportunities for participation in global value chains, particularly with Asia and within Africa and build the infrastructure needed to encourage large-scale teleworking, e-health, and distance learning architectures for a rapid, resilient, and sustainable recovery in a post-COVID-19 digital world.

“The pandemic notwithstanding, Africa is open to business and we look forward to working with our Asian partners,” he said.

The bank also stated that the supplement revised the growth projections and outlook for Africa for 2020 and 2021 and highlights the impact of COVID–19 on Africa’s socio-economic landscape.

It recommended policy responses to safely reopen economies and accelerate growth recovery.

However, Khaled Sherif, AfDB’s Vice President for Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery, said despite the pandemic affecting all African economies, its magnitude would vary considerably from country to country.

Sherif added that this depended on the economic characteristics and initial conditions of the countries.

“This urges us to avoid the one-size-fits-all solution to address the effects of COVID-19 in Africa.

“For that, the AEO Supplement notes that the continent will need the support and expertise of all.

“This is an opportunity to enrich the debate on what appropriate measures are needed to support African countries to recover from the pandemic, drawing particularly from Asian experience,” Sherif said.

Furthermore, Tetsushi Sonobe, the Dean of the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), said investment opportunities still abound in Africa despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Global markets are shifting to South Asia and Africa.

“In a sense, Africa is not very far for Asian investors who may be interested in the investment opportunities on the continent,” Sonobe said.

Sonobe observed that Africa’s GDP growth was projected to quickly rebound in 2021 following steady growth before COVID-19.

The dean further identified some of the potential opportunities highlighted in the AEO Supplement.

“A large market with a very talented youthful population; a three-trillion-dollar market opportunity through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreements; greater manufacturing potential as low-cost manufacturing opportunities continue to move to Africa; improved business environment; and improving macroeconomic governance.”

Participants in the webinar noted that the policy recommendations of the AEO Supplement could be regarded as important opportunities for investments.

Participants also observed that although Africa is human-resource-rich, the continent would need to work on closing its infrastructure gap.

About 350 participants attended the virtual event, which was co-hosted by the Asia External Representation Office of the African Development Bank.

The audience included government officials, representatives from the African diplomatic corps in Asia, development professionals, representatives of civil society, academics and think tanks, students, journalists, and the general public.

Released annually since 2003, the AEO provided compelling up-to-date evidence and analytics to inform and support African decision-makers.

Business News

COVID-19: Nigeria’s ICPC Discovers School Feeding Funds In Private Accounts

Published

on

An anticorruption agency in Nigeria has discovered over N5 billion in private hands. The head of Nigeria’s Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, disclosed that the agency found N2.67bn meant for the school feeding programme in private accounts. An additional N2.5billion was found in the accounts of a deceased staff of the ministry of Agriculture.

Other things were discovered from the ministry such as 25 plots of land, 18 buildings and 12 business premises. All illegally diverted to private hands.

The professor of law made the announcement in Abuja. He was speaking second National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector, which was organised in collaboration with the Office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation.

The summit had the theme, ‘Together against corruption’, also included the launch of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy.

He explained further that between January and August 2020, investigations revealed that Open Treasury Portal showed that of 268 ministries, departments and agencies (MDA) 72 had infraction totaling N90milillion.

Also, 33 MDAs gave full explanation for N4.1billion transferred to sub-Treasury Single Account while N4.2 billion that had been paid to individuals could not be satisfactorily explained.

The professor added, “We observed that transfers to sub-TSA were to prevent disbursement from being monitored. Nevertheless, we discovered payments to some federal colleges for school feeding in the sum of N2.67bn during lockdown when the children are not in school, and some of the money ended up in personal accounts.”

In continuation of the agencies investigation called Constituency Tracking Initiative from last year, the ICPC also reviewed constituency and executive project. In all, 722 projects with a threshold of N100m (490 ZIP and 232 executive) were tracked across 16 states. He said the commission had special attention to track projects in agriculture, water resources, power, education and health.

The Constituency Tracking Initiative is meant to investigate fraudulent procedure and practices in the award of contracts for constituency and executive projects. And to make recoveries on projects or contracts confirmed to have been inflated or in which contractors under-performed or did not perform at all. The professor explained that projects tracked at phase one were selected by the steering committee comprising Budget Office, Office of Accountant-General of the Federation, Bureau of Public Procurement, Media, CSOs and the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors.

The ICPC helmsman said the 2020 exercise showed some improvement in project delivery, but the commission was faced with many challenges.

In details, Owasanoye said, “We discovered that a number of projects described in the budget as ongoing were new projects.”

“We discovered that projects are recommended for communities that do not need them. Such projects are abandoned, in spite of the huge sums appropriated for them.”

“We discovered that projects were sited in private houses on private land thus appropriating common assets to personal use and totally denying communities expected to benefit,” he adds.

The chairman said that the commission’s effort had forced 59 contractors handling projects worth N2.25 billion, back to sites, while it recovered and returned to beneficiaries assets worth about N700 million and cash of almost N200 million.

Owasanoye, said that the commission would, in future, prosecute false description of projects as ongoing, in accordance with extant rules. All affected projects have been listed in the ICPC’s Interim Report for 2020.

Continue Reading

West Africa Business News

Dutch’s FrieslandCampina WAMCO Acquires Dairy Business In Nigeria

Published

on

Dutch owned multinational dairy products company, FrieslandCampina WAMCO, says it has completed the purchase of Nutricima’s dairy business in Nigeria.

Mrs Ore Famurewa, Executive Director, Corporate Affairs, FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria, disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday in Lagos.

Famurewa said that FrieslandCampina and PZ Cussons signed an agreement regarding the acquisition in March, noting that Nutricima’s dairy business would be integrated into FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria PLC.

“FrieslandCampina WAMCO has acquired the company’s production facility in Ikorodu, Lagos State, as well as the brand’s Olympic, Coast and Nunu milk products; a range of powdered, evaporated and ready to drink milk products.

“These brands have a good presence across the Nigerian dairy market,” Famurewa said.

Famurewa said that the acquisition underlines FrieslandCampina WAMCO’s continued commitment to contribute to the development of the Nigerian dairy sector.

She added that the acquisition satisfies the need for additional production capacity for FrieslandCampina WAMCO to meet the growing demand for locally produced evaporated and powdered milk by Nigerian consumers.

“Having fulfilled all requirements including requisite shareholders and regulatory approvals, FrieslandCampina WAMCO has commenced operations at the newly acquired plant,” she said.

Famurewa in the statement quoted Roel van Neerbos, President, FrieslandCampina Consumer Dairy, as saying, “FrieslandCampina WAMCO has been a key player in Nigeria since 1954. With this acquisition, we demonstrate our strong commitment to Nigeria and its dairy market.”

Ben Langat, Managing Director, FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria, added: “It is our mission to bring affordable and attainable quality dairy products to all Nigerians and meet the growing demand. That’s why we are pleased with this acquisition.”

FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria is an affiliate of Royal FrieslandCampina of The Netherlands, one of the largest dairy cooperatives in the world.

It is the maker of Peak and Three Crowns brands of milk in Nigeria.

Continue Reading

Business News

Nigeria’s Central Bank Admits Financial Inclusion Failure.

Published

on

Financial inclusion in Nigeria has missed its target. This has been confirmed in a report from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFinA) titled ‘Assessment of women’s financial inclusion in Nigeria’ for December 2019. According to the report, Nigeria’s financial exclusion stands at 36% for women and 24% for men. The report adds that, ‘The relative gender gap related to financial inclusion is 20-30%, placing Nigeria below its peers.’

It further states that, ‘Since 2012, although women’s exclusion has dropped, the gender gap has grown, revealing that men’s inclusion has improved more rapidly than women’s.’ The CBN launched the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) in 2012 to reduce financial exclusion to 20% of the adult population. This has not been achieved.

It has been an uphill task for years. The main reason has been linked to literacy rates and information. Literacy on the part of the people and information or lack of it on the part of the financial institutions tasked with informing people about the services they offer. And the recently, unforeseen socioeconomic factors such as recession (in 2016 and is hovering around the nation again due to the economic impact of COVID-19), the precarious security situation in parts of northern Nigeria, and other factors such as slow uptake of digital financial services.

What is financial inclusion?
Financial Inclusion according to the Central Bank of Nigeria is a state where financial services are delivered by a range of providers, mostly the private sector, to reach everyone who could use them. Specifically, it means a financial system that serves as many people as possible in a country.

EfinA has already proved that many Nigerians do not have bank accounts or access to formal financial services. EFinA stated in its 2012 survey of Nigeria that 34.9 million adults representing 39.7% of the adult population were financially excluded. Only 28.6 million adults were banked, representing 32.5% of the adult population.

High levels of financial exclusion pose two major threats to economies:
Losing opportunities for business growth. In the absence of finance, people who are not connected with the formal financial system lack opportunities to maximise their income and expand their businesses.

The country’s economic growth could be stifled. Vast unutilized resources, in the form of money in the hands of people who are in the informal sector could limit a country’s economic growth potential.

What is Nigeria losing? Billions of Naira notes have and still are being circulated through the informal sector and this harms the country’s economic growth and development. The unbanked sector could considerably increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria.

The EFInA survey in Nigeria 2012 revealed that 23.0 million adults save money at home. The report explained that, if 50.0% of people saved N1,000 every month with a bank, then up to N138 billion could be incorporated into the formal financial sector every year.

The opportunity for the private sector.

Providing financial products and services to the low-income population represents a large business opportunity for the private sector. Providers of financial products and services should develop innovative products and services that better suit the needs of the low-income unbanked and under-banked population.

Accessibility to more fintech services was heightened by the economic squeeze, inactivity, the lockdown imposed to curb the pandemic itself. Also, the CBN granting more licenses to Telco’s could insure the previously unbanked become truly financially inclusive.

Continue Reading

Trending