For Africa to attain its desired goal in real growth and development, prominent African leaders and top entrepreneurs across the continent have decided to work effectively together towards integrating their economies to enable free trade among its members.
Specifically,Vice-President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, and president of the Dangote group, who are co-chair of the AfricanChampion Club urged top entrepreneurs in the continent to focus on job creation for their teeming unemployed youths as a way to ensure economic prosperity and poverty reduction in the continent.
Speaking at the launch of AfroChampions Initiative recently, Mbeki emphasized greater integration of African economies for real development and the Vice-President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osibajo urged the private sector in the continent to take the lead in reshaping Government policies and strategies in the continent.
Osinbajo congratulated the initiators of the Africa champions initiative on their visionary action and pledged that the administration was behind them.
“We think that it is the private sector that would do what is required to bring the urgency and the sense of mission to all the plans in the AU. We will like to see greater synergy and collaboration in the Africa champions while all the organs of the AU get involved in economic integration issues”.
He further said the continent: “still have one of the lowest trade integration levels under 20 per cent while Asia is at 40 per cent and European integration is very much further ahead at about 60 per cent. The fact remains that other regions play as a bloc but Africa is still largely splintered into several economies and the ease of doing business across the region remains a significant challenge”.
He said that in the past few years it had become obvious to many African countries that both the momentum and common sense were in favour of the private sector leading the economies of the continent.
Dangote on his part, said the Afrochampions initiative is for African businesses to cater to African needs to accelerate development in the continent and create more jobs to tackle unemployment of youths in the continent.
He acknowledged that it is the first time that leaders from Africa’s multinational companies will meet, not to discuss their sector and ad-hoc investment opportunities, but to exchange views on Africa’s transformation and on what contributions they may have.
Noting that Africa’s young population and a growing labour force are valuable assets in an aging world, he said: “Africa’s current population of 1.2 billion (16 percent of the world’s population) is expected to grow to 3.8 billion by 2100 – accounting for 49 percent of the world population. By 2034, the working-age population is expected to hit 1.1 billion, larger than that of either China or India.”
Dangote promised to work with his colleagues to make the club a unique platform on which “We as African business leaders, can overcome our differences and speak with one voice, to foster reforms facilitating trade between our states with investments in strategic projects and synergies between our countries.”
“We do have to change the dynamics in a way that is more favourable to Africa and Africans because as Africa’s biggest multinationals, we owe a duty towards our communities, towards the next generation of young men and women who now want to become Pan-African entrepreneurs”.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo expressed appreciation and commendation for the initiative and added that while the initiative had put the private and public sectors together it needed to integrate the financial institutions.
He mentioned the Lagos Plan of Action, the Abuja treaty, NEPAD as initiatives which had not achieved their purposes before going under.
“We should not allow this one to sleep; we should continue to fan the flame of Afrochampions initiative and may God help Africa,” the former President said.
Flour Mills moves to diversify funding sources with N29.8 billion bond listing
Flour Mills Nigeria Plc lists N29.8 billion bonds to diversify funding sources from the Nigerian capital market.
Flour Mills Nigeria Plc’s fresh N29.8 bond listing will help the nation’s leading food business company to explore diversified funding sources from the Nigerian capital market, with the hope of enhancing growth and the development of the company.
This statement was made by the Group Managing Director of FMN, Mr. Omoboyede Olusanya, at the listing of the Tranche A and Tranche B bonds valued at N29.8 billion on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
The food and the agro-allied company which has remained Nigeria’s largest and oldest integrated agro-allied business with a broad profile and robust Pan-Africa distribution issued these bonds under its N70 billion Bond Issuance Programme.
Olusanya said that the company would continue to explore funding opportunities inherent in the capital market to ensure business growth and continuity.
While speaking about the Credit Rating of the Programme, he disclosed that FMN’s credit rating, as well as the operational financing of the Group, have improved considerably.
According to him, the bonds floated by Flour Mill will help to strengthen the company’s capital base and provide the needed working capital required by the Company. He added that Flour Mills Group will continue to deleverage and replace short term financing with longer-tenured and lower price funding to optimize capital structure and reduce financing cost.
He noted that Flour Mills will continue to explore opportunities to raise fundings via the capital market as this enables the company to diversify its funding sources and continue to play a role in the capital market as a significant player in it.
What they are saying
The Group Managing Director of FMN, Mr. Omoboyede Olusanya, at the virtual event, said;
- “We are delighted with the response from the market, we are happy to be listed.
- “We are introducing an N29.9 billion listing under an N70 billion bond issuance cover; we will continue to raise funding to diversify our funding sources.
- “The company remains passionate about feeding the nation to improve the quality of living for Nigerians through increased production and investments in backward integration.”
What you should know
- With the successful issuance of the new N29.8bn Tranche A and Bonds, FMN has utilized its bond issuance program registered in 2018.
- It is important to note that the Senior Unsecured bond listing includes an N4.89bn under Series 4 Tranche A of the bond issuance programme, at a 5.5% rate for 5 years, due by 2025, and a 25bn under Series 4 Tranche B of the same program at a 6.25% rate for a tenure of 7 years, due by 2027.
- The bond proceeds will be used to refinance existing debt obligations. It will also help the company take collaborative actions to diversify the company’s financing options beyond expensive short term debt.
COVID-19: Evidence suggests that new variants could pose challenge for vaccines
The research findings show that the new COVID variants may likely not respond well to the vaccines.
Recent research findings suggest that the new coronavirus variants would likely pose a big challenge for the vaccines, as revealed by studies by several medical researchers.
The new variant was first discovered in South Africa in October but has now been spread to more than a dozen countries all over the world.
According to the most recent findings, as reported by CNN, researchers took antibodies from six people who were hospitalized with Covid-19 before the new variant was discovered. They found to varying degrees, that the antibodies for all six of the survivors were unable to fully fight off the virus.
According to Alex Sigal, a virologist at the Africa Health Research Institute and the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, “I think the evidence is building that these mutations — and I think other mutations — will emerge across the globe — and are emerging already — that are escaping antibodies from previous infection. It’s concerning.”
According to Jesse Bloom, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, “When you see two groups independently arriving at same basic answer, that good — there’s more consonance that they are correct”
What you should know
- Sigal’s findings were very similar to those of a recent study by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa.
- A research study has revealed that mutations in the new variant allowed them to evade some of the immunity induced by vaccination, but it was far from a complete escape.
- One thing that is critically safe for everyone is to get vaccinated, while the researchers are working to confirm whether these variants are dangerous or not to contain with the vaccines.
- According to Alex Sigal, “I would for sure get it if I could. My father-in-law had the opportunity to fly to Israel and get it, and I was shooing him out of the house because you can’t get it here in South Africa.”
- In a research study done at Rockefeller University, from a sample of 20 people who had received either the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine, it was found that different mutations in the viruses did allow some escape from some types of antibodies, but the volunteers’ immune systems threw an army of different types of antibodies at the viruses.
- According to the research conducted in South Africa, blood was drawn from 44 people who had Covid-19 but the antibodies of about half of the 44 people were powerless against the new variant, while the other half, their antibody responses were weakened, but not totally knocked out.
Facebook Oversight Board to review decision to suspend Trump’s account
The decision to suspend Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts will be examined by an oversight board.
Facebook’s Oversight Board has received a proposal to revisit the decision to indefinitely suspend former US President, Donald Trump’s access to Facebook and Instagram.
On January 7, Facebook suspended Trump’s account indefinitely, a decision reached when he incited a violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol, leaving the country shaken.
Nick Clegg, Facebook VP of Global Affairs and Communications said that the circumstances around Trump’s suspension was an unprecedented set of events that called for unprecedented action and also explained why the Oversight Board would review the case.
“Our decision to suspend then-President Trump’s access was taken in extraordinary circumstances: A U.S. president actively fomenting a violent insurrection designed to thwart the peaceful transition of power; five people killed; legislators fleeing the seat of democracy,” Clegg said. “This has never happened before — and we hope it will never happen again.”
The oversight board was established last year to make the final call on some of the most difficult content decisions Facebook makes. It is an independent body and its decisions are binding — they can’t be overruled by CEO Mark Zuckerberg or anyone else at Facebook. The board itself is made up of experts and civic leaders from around the world with a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives.
According to the Oversight Board, a five-member panel will evaluate the case soon with a decision planned within 90 days. Members will decide whether the content involved in this case violated Facebook’s Community Standards and values. They will also consider whether Facebook’s removal of the content respected international human rights standards, including freedom of expression.
Trump’s case is a big moment for how impactful the board’s decisions will really wind up being. If the board overturns Facebook’s decision, that decision would likely kick up a new firestorm of interest around Trump’s Facebook account, even as the former president recedes from the public eye.
What you should know
- Following the violent attack of the US Capitol building by Trump supporters, Facebook announced the suspension of Trump’s account indefinitely, on allegations of inciting his supporters.
- YouTube also suspended Trump’s channel and removed new content uploaded by Trump’s campaign, citing potential threats of violence.
- Twitter announced it has permanently suspended Trump, citing the risk of further incitement of violence.
- Jack Dorsey, the CEO and founder of Twitter, in his statement, said that the decision to ban Trump from the social network was the right decision, but one that sets a dangerous precedent.