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Okonjo-Iweala Confirmed as First Female World Trade Organisation DG

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Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has been selected by consensus to be the next Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

All members of the WTO’s top decision-making body, the General Council, on Monday agreed on her appointment in a virtual meeting.

Okonjo-Iweala, an economist, is the first woman to assume the post.

Her appointment as Director-General at a meeting of envoys from the 164 WTO member countries is considered a mere formality.

The previous U.S. administration of President Donald Trump had been an obstacle to the appointment process by opposing Okonjo-Iweala.

Trump’s successor Joe Biden last week threw his weight behind Okonjo-Iweala, who previously served as Nigeria’s finance and foreign minister, and as the Managing Director of the World Bank.

Okonjo-Iweala prevailed over several other candidates in the months-long WTO leadership race, including South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung Hee, her main rival.

Okonjo-Iweala is set to take the reins from Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, who left the WTO before the end of his term in August.

He joined U.S. beverage giant Pepsico as an executive thereafter.

The leadership change comes as the WTO is in its deepest crisis since it was founded in 1995.

The organisation is no longer able to settle trade disputes between countries, since the United States has stalled the appointment of Appeal Judges.

The Trump administration sought reforms of the WTO, without clearly spelling out its demands.

In addition, free trade talks have been stalled for years, and the WTO now also faces a global economic crisis.

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West Africa Business News

Nestlé Nigeria Posts N39.35Bln Profit in 2020

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Nestlé Nigeria Plc has reported revenue of N287.08 billion for the 2020 financial year.

The company’s audited result released on the Nigerian Stock Exchange showed that the revenue was higher by 1.1 per cent in contrast with N284.04 billion recorded in 2019 comparative period.

Gross profit for the year stood at N 119.21 billion compared with N128.15 billion achieved in the corresponding period of 2019.

Also, the company posted profit after tax of N39.25 billion during the review period against N45.68 billion in 2019.

The board in addition to N25 per share interim dividend already paid in December 2020, proposed an additional dividend of N 35.50 per share making for a total dividend of N60.50 for 2020.

The proposed dividend would be submitted for approval at the company’s Annual General Meeting on June 22.

Commenting on the results, Mr Wassim Elhusseini, Managing Director and CEO of Nestlé Nigeria, said that the company strengthened market leadership across its categories.

“Amidst a very challenging business environment in 2020, we strengthened market leadership across our categories. Thanks to our high performing team, we successfully continued to provide our consumers with high-quality affordable foods and beverages to enjoy every day.

“In line with our purpose of unlocking the power of food to enhance quality of life for everyone today and for generations to come, we broadened our portfolio in 2020 to help our consumers fulfil their nutrition needs.

“Our latest innovation is the new GOLDEN MORN Multi-Cereal, fortified with iron and other vitamins and minerals,” Elhusseini said.

Speaking on future outlook, he said that the company would remain committed to supply of high-quality nutritious foods and beverages to consumers.

“Going into 2021 – which portends to be another challenging year – we will continue to focus on keeping our people safe, continued supply of high-quality nutritious foods and beverages to consumers as well as caring for our communities and the planet.

“We will also keep supporting our business partners as we strengthen our operations to adapt to the rapidly changing reality,” he said.

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Okonjo-Iweala Resumes as WTO DG

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Nigeria’s former minister of Finance Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Monday, started work as the new Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

“Welcome to Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala @NOIweala on her first day as WTO Director-General!” the WTO tweeted today.

She immediately swung into action upon arrival at Geneva as she takes the floor at a WTO meeting for the first time as Director-General at the General Council.

Okonjo-Iweala, 66, who is the first woman and first African to run the WTO, has said that addressing the health and economic consequences of the pandemic would be a key priority.

There are concerns in Washington and other capitals about China’s trade policies and how well equipped the WTO is to deal with them.

Resuming at her office in the WTO’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Nigeria’s ex-Coordinating Minister of the Economy, appeared in her country’s traditional attire sewn from an African wax fabric material.

The dressing wouldn’t be complete without her signature headtie (called Gèlè in Yoruba, kwalliyar kai in Hausa and ihe mkpuchi isi in Igbo) which led to the #BeLikeNgozi headgear challenge back home in Nigeria to honour her appointment.

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All Eyes on Ghana as African Gold Rises Like the Phoenix

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Ghana has become the toast of exploration firms in the continent and is now Africa’s largest gold producer. It churned out 80.5 tonnes in 2008. To prove her worthiness of the title, Ghana has 23 large-scale mining companies producing gold, diamonds, bauxite and manganese.

There are over 300 registered small scale mining groups and 90 mine support service companies. So, apart from earning revenue for Ghana directly, it also ensures many people earn a stable living along the value chain.

Gold production in becoming an important export earner in West Africa.

This is true for countries like Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali as these nations are expected to increase their export quota by 2.7% in 2021 to 8 Moz (million ounces) and grow to 8.4 Moz (million ounces) by 2024 – a 1.6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

After strong growth in 2019, West Africa’s gold production was badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, owing to the temporary suspension of mines such as Fekola in Mali.

The pandemic had a significant impact on African operations, mainly during the early part of the second quarter of 2020, when, at one point, the region’s gold mines were on hold with no production due to COVID-19 lockdowns according to Global Data, a leading data and analytics company.

And Ghana is expected to lead the growth, where the production is expected to reach 3.9moz (million ounces) in 2024 from a forecasted 3.6 Moz in 2021. West Africa’s second largest economy is looking more money in her coffers in 2021.

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