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Dangote moves to reduce unemployment rate with investments in agriculture 

The unemployment report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in December 2018 showed that the unemployment rate increased from 18.8% during the third quarter of 2017, to 23.1% in the same period in 2018

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Aliko Dangote

It is no doubt that unemployment is one of the biggest problems facing Nigeria. The unemployment report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in December 2018 showed that the unemployment rate increased from 18.8% during the third quarter of 2017, to 23.1% in the same period in 2018. According to the report, about 20.9 million Nigerians were out of jobs during the period under review. 

Therefore, in order to address the rising unemployment rate in the country,  Dangote Group has decided to scale up investments in agriculture. The investment, which was announced at the just concluded 2nd Edition of the Agribusiness Summit in Abuja, is expected to create jobs in the country.

According to Dangote Group’s Executive Director, Strategy, Capital Project and Portfolio Development Mr Devakumar VG Edwin, agriculture was the only most visible way of addressing the high unemployment rate in the country. He assured that the huge investments that would go into the sector would lead to real growth and development of the economy of the country. 

[READ ALSO: All red and Sweet…foreign brands dominate Nigeria’s Tomato Paste market]

The investments: Edwin stated that the Group would be investing in rice, tomato paste, sugar and dairy products. He disclosed that there was an ongoing investment in 15,000 hectares to produce and process tomato paste of 150,000 tons per year as the current import is 0.5million tons per year. He added that the conglomerate would equally invest in 40,000 hectares to produce sugar and that there was ongoing construction of a 3 million tons fertilizer plant. 

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He said presently the Pan-African Conglomerate was constructing state-of-the-art storage silos, and also carrying out parboiling, rice milling, polishing, sorting and parking units for a total capacity of one million tons of paddy. 

Edwin expressed optimism in growing the agricultural sector while hinting that the company was also planning on including investment in dairy products and oilseeds. 

Agriculture employs 37% of the population. This is against the backdrop of the 23% unemployment rate in the country. The time is rife to put the agricultural sector in the front burner, more so that Nigeria’s ever-growing population is projected to hit 440 million by the year 2050,” he said.  

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[READ ALSO: Aliko Dangote is 6th Most Charitable Individual Globally]

Chidinma holds a degree in Mass communication from Caleb University Lagos and a Masters in view in Public Relations. She strongly believes in self development which has made her volunteer with an NGO on girl child development. She loves writing, reading and travelling. You may contact her via - [email protected]

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Appointments

Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc appoints Sola David-Borha as Non-Executive Director

Sola David-Borha has been appointed as a non-Executive Director to the board of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc.

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Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc appoints Mrs Sola David-Borha as non-Executive Director

Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc has announced the appointment of Mrs Sola David-Borha to its board as a Non-Executive Director, subject to the receipt of all required regulatory approvals.

In a statement issued by the company, signed by the company’s secretary Mr. Chidi Okezie and sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange, stated that “Mrs. David- Borha is currently the Chief Executive, Standard Bank (Africa Regions). Prior to that, she served as Chief Executive of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC (2012-2017) as well as the Bank (2011-2012), after holding various executive positions in Corporate Banking; Corporate & Investment Banking; and Investment Banking Coverage for Africa (excluding South Africa). She is also an Independent Non-Executive Director on the Board of CocaCola Hellenic Bottling Company.”

She has a vast experience in the financial world and an astute board leader with a keen corporate governance. Sola has led and sat on various boards including being the former Vice Chairman for the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, subsidiaries of the Stanbic IBTC and Standard Bank Groups, Coca-Cola HBG A, and many others. She is also vastly educated having obtained MBA from the prestigious Manchester Business School and Bsc in Economics from the University of Ibadan. She is also an honorary fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

Recall that Stanbic IBTC had earlier declared a Profit After Tax (PAT) of N45.2 billion for H1, 2020. Its gross earnings also increased by 7.8% to N126.57 billion with a basic earnings per share of 419 kobo and a proposed interim dividend payment of 40 kobo per share.

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Coronavirus

WHO endorses emergency use of China’s COVID-19 vaccine

China says WHO has approved the emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine.

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WHO endorses emergency use of China’s Covid-19 vaccine

The World Health Organization (WHO) has endorsed the plans by China to start administering experimental coronavirus vaccines to people while clinical trials are still underway.

This disclosure was made by a Chinese Health Commission official, Zheng Zhongwei, during a news conference on Friday, September 25, 2020.

Zheng recalled that China launched its emergency programme in July, having communicated with the WHO in late June. Hundreds of thousands essential workers and other limited groups of people considered at high risk of infection have been given the vaccine, even though its efficacy and safety had not been fully established as Phase 3 clinical trials have not yet been completed.

Zheng at the news conference said, “At End-June, China’s State Council approved a plan of COVID-19 vaccine emergency use program. After the approval, on June 29, we made a communication with the relevant representatives of the WHO Office in China, and obtained support and understanding from WHO.’’

Nairametrics had reported that Chinese Pharmaceutical firms have been quite aggressive about the development of a Covid-19 vaccine with the likes of Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm publicly displaying their vaccine candidate for the first time at a trade fair in Beijing earlier this month.

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(READ MORE: COVID-19: European regulator ready to approve first successful vaccine this year)

It was pointed out that China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and the US-listed Sinovac Biotech SVA.O, are developing the three vaccines under the state’s emergency use program just as a fourth COVID-19 vaccine is being developed by CanSino Biologics 6185 HK, was approved for use by the Chinese military in June.

The WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan, while describing it as a temporary solution, said earlier this month in Geneva that national regulatory authorities could approve use of medical products within their own jurisdictions in the current emergency situation.

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He emphasized that the long-term solution in the successful development of a Covid-19 vaccine, lay in completion of Phase 3 trials, this is as China has not publicly released full details of its emergency use programme.

Zheng disclosed that China’s annual production capacity of COVID-19 vaccines is expected to reach 610 million doses by end-2020 and 1 billion doses by 2021. He said that the price of the vaccine will be affordable for the general public.

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Corporate Press Releases

We are ready to see AfCFTA succeed and invest in Key Infrastructure Projects – Abdul Samad Rabiu

BUA Group boss expressed optimism in the implementation of AfCFTA as he meets with the AfCFTA Secretary-General in Lagos.

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The Executive Chairman/CEO, BUA Group, Abdul Samad Rabiu has expressed excitement and readiness to work towards the implementation and success of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement which when fully operational, will transform the African economy and enhance development across the continent. Abdul Samad Rabiu expressed this while receiving the Secretary General of the AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene and the Acting Director, National Office of Trade Negotiations, Victor Offiong at the BUA HQ in Lagos State.

Rabiu spoke in depth about the current status of regional agreements from the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) to the East African Community (EAC) Customs Union, dumping, Proliferation of small arms and illicit, Smuggling, the Trans-African highway and Private sector/African Union/government partnerships – noting that these areas were critical to the success of the AfCFTA.

He specifically said due to the poor implementation of regional trade agreements, there is a high level of distrust amongst Africa nations despite their support for AfCFTA. He expressed serious concern over “a situation where people cannot move goods produced in African countries where over 90% value has been added to other African Countries”.

In proffering solutions to the problems, Rabiu said for the AfCFTA integration to be successful, there must be free movement through liberalized air travel, operations, and visa-free regimes across the Africa continent for businesses and individuals. He also emphasized that Private Sector must be invited by the Governments of Africa to discuss the way forward for sustainable investments and partnerships noting that the private sector has a lot to offer the continent saying, “For cross border trade to work, everyone – governments, private sector and DFIs must be willing to collaborate fast to fix infrastructure to spur growth. BUA is interested in being part of these effort and we also urge the secretariat to look into a private-sector led development of the Trans African Highway.”

“I am personally ready to mobilize like-minded businesses across the continent with the resources required (steel, cement, etc.) to do these roads at a concession and guaranteed by sovereign African nations. This can be done by the private sector with support from governments and the DFIs. Why don’t we for example partner with various governments and engage the Special Envoy for Infrastructure in Africa, H.E. Ralia Odinga and take the Mombasa – Lagos Highway into consideration. The Lagos-Mombasa Highway 8 is about 6,259kms or 3880miles and is contiguous with the Dakar – Lagos Route. If these roads are actualized, imagine the number of jobs that will be created as well as the amount of trade that will be facilitated as a result.

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“We are more than excited about the possibilities of the Free Trade Agreement for us, Nigeria and the entire continent of Africa – now more than ever. The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, if actualized and harnessed properly, will help spur development and trade within Africa like we have never witnessed before”. Rabiu said.

On his part, the Secretary-General AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene said the issues raised by Abdul Samad Rabiu were top priorities of the AfCFTA and added that opportunities will be created for the Africa private sector to boost intra-Africa trade.

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The Speech

“It is also my pleasure to congratulate you on your appointment and on the opening of the AfCFTA secretariat last month in Ghana. I believe the secretariat will further help to facilitate the prompt actualization of the AfCFTA vision.

“As you may already know, BUA is in the business of Foods, Mining, Manufacturing and infrastructure. The Fact that our manufacturing and mining businesses are mostly located in areas that are potentially primed for exports makes the continental free trade area attractive for us here at BUA. For instance, our Cement business in Sokoto, Nigeria is about 1,000kilometres to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and less than a 100kms from the border with Niger Republic, and also our upcoming project in Adamawa is situated at a border town in Adamawa – very close to the Cameroonian border. We are already doing some exports and are putting up a third line in sokoto with at least 70% of its output to be dedicated to Niger Republic & Burkina Faso. Based on these, we are therefore well positioned to take advantage of the agreement and this will also help drive the AfCFTA vision.

“However, for the agreement to succeed, we believe a lot needs to be done and addressed. These include: THE STATUS OF CURRENT REGIONAL AGREEMENTS – FOR EXAMPLE, ETLS, EAC Customs Union, MOVEMENT OF PEOPLE WITHIN THE CONTINENT, DUMPING, PROLIFERATION OF SMALL ARMS AND ILLICIT DRUGS, SMUGGLING, THE TRANS AFRICAN HIGHWAY, PRIVATE SECTOR/AU/GOVERNMENT PARTNERSHIPS.

“Mr. Secretary General, I am sure you are well aware that there’s still a high level of distrust despite the overwhelming support for the AfCFTA. One of the causes has been the poor implementation of previous agreements for example, the ETLS – The ECOWAS TRADE LIBERALISATION SCHEME and the EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY

A situation where people cannot move goods produced in African countries where over 90% value has been added to other African Countries is a cause of concern.

“How do we intend to address these issues? What is the Status of these regional agreements scheme going into the AfCFTA and how do we fix the issues that have beset it especially with regards to free movement of goods and services, tariffs amongst other things.

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“For integration to be successful, we must facilitate free movement via liberalized air travel, operations, and visa-free regimes across the continent for businesses and individuals. Currently, it is more tedious to travel within Africa than from Europe to Africa. This is not the best for business or for integration.

“The current situation where an Australian or Euopean can easily enter an African Country unlike an African gives great cause for concern. As it currently stands, only 25% of Africans can travel visa-free to other African countries whilst another 20% can get visas on arrival. We understand that there are still pending issues with security amongst other things but the Free Movement Protocol of the AfCFTA needs to be pushed with renewed vigor

“The lessons learnt from operating the current regional economic blocs are some of the biggest hindrances to the full acceptance of the CFTA. For instance… Nigeria with its huge population and large economy is a prime target for dumping from smaller neighboring countries however, these same countries do not permit the importation of some 100% produced in Nigerian goods whilst flooding Nigeria with goods/food imported from outside Africa. How do we protect import dependent states and those with high populations from Dumping?

“We understand the need to protect smaller nations and boost fair trade however, measures must be put in place to prevent dumping and promote made in Africa by Africans for Africa trade rather than the current scenario whereby certain countries take advantage of these policies.

“In Nigeria for instance, we have seen it happen with rice and cheap imports from other countries being smuggled and dumped into the country. AfCFTA negotiations must take these into account. The final agreement should be crafted in ways to prevent goods produced and imported from outside Africa (above national consumption needs) benefitting from the pacts. This will in turn prevent the larger countries and the continent from becoming dumping grounds and make smaller countries with value on offer to be less protectionist in nature.

PROLIFERATION OF SMALL ARMS & ILLICIT DRUGS, AND SMUGGLING

Whilst I am in support of liberalizing the free movement of persons across the continent, it is important to acknowledge the security challenges we face from the proliferation of small arms and illicit drugs. This was one of the main issues I believe led Nigeria to close its borders with its neighbors. I daresay that the proliferation of arm, drugs, and smuggling go hand-in-hand. Both are crimes against economic, physical and territorial integrity and security of African Nations. More needs to be done in this regard.

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PRIVATE SECTOR AU PARTNERSHIP & THE TRANSAFRICA HIGHWAY

On private sector involvement, It is our opinion that the Private Sector should be invited by the Governments of Africa and the Secretariat to discuss the way forward for sustainable investments and partnerships.

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For cross border trade to work, everyone – governments, private sector and DFIs must be willing to collaborate fast to fix infrastructure to spur growth. BUA is interested in being part of a coalition that we urge the secretariat to put together on the development of the Trans African Highway, for instance.

As we all know, the Trans African Highway is a 56,600km road network conceived about 50 years ago to develop infrastructure and connect major African cities from North to South and East to West across 9 highways.

Why don’t we for example partner with various governments and engage the Special Envoy for Infrastructure in Africa, H.E. Ralia Odinga and take the Mombasa – Lagos Highway into consideration. The Lagos-Mombasa Highway 8 is about 6,259kms or 3880miles and is contiguous with the Dakar – Lagos Route.

“I am personally ready to mobilise like-minded businesses across the continent with the resources required (steel, cement, etc.) to do these roads at a concession and guaranteed by sovereign African nations. This can be done with the private sector with support from governments and the DFIs.

“If those roads are actualized, imagine the number of jobs that will be created as well as the amount of trade that will be facilitated as a result.

“We are more than excited about the possibilities of the Free Trade Agreement for us, Nigeria and the entire continent of Africa – now more than ever. The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, if actualized and harnessed properly, will help spur development and trade within Africa like we have never witnessed before.

BUA is ready to partner with the secretariat… we are ready to pool our resources to see the continent succeed.

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