A special fund has been set aside for the reconstruction of the Trans-Saharan African Highway expected to connect Nigeria’s commercial city, Lagos with the capital of Algeria, Algiers.
The Details: The continental road rehabilitation exercise is targeted at boosting the economic prospects of Africa as a whole, according to President Muhammadu Buhari. The President who was represented by the Minister for Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, made this statement at the 70th Session of the Trans-Saharan Road Liaison Committee which held in Abuja.
Buhari’s words: “I am aware that the committee has made concerted efforts to execute the task of building the Trans-Saharan road, which is also known as the Trans-Saharan African Highway to link Algiers with Nigeria through Lagos.
“The road will also have routes and branches that link Tunisia, Mali and Chad. That highway is a pride of the African continent. This is why Nigeria is supporting and will continue to support (the project).
“The Nigerian government is currently upgrading the section of the Trans-Saharan road within its borders. Special funding consideration has been committed to the reconstruction work on the sections of Trans-Saharan roads from Lagos to Ibadan and Kaduna to Kano,” he added.
In addition, Buhari noted that the government had commenced repairs on roads like Ibadan to Ilorin, Ilorin to Jebba, Jebba to Mokwa and Mokwa to Kaduna to allow free movement of goods and persons utilising those routes.
Further Details: Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works and Housing, gave further insights into the plans of the Trans-Saharan Road Liaison Committee (TRLC). He disclosed that the TRLC was committed to connecting South Africa and Tunisia either by driving through East African border, West African border or through the centre of Africa.
He also added that a coast to coast connection is currently in the works which is expected to link West to East Africa, North-East Africa to North-West Africa and South-West Africa to East Africa.
“A total of nine highways at different stages of construction are meant to achieve this connectivity. Three of these highways pass through the territory of Nigeria.
“They are the Lagos-Dakar highway, through Seme in Benin Republic; Lagos-Mombasa, through Yaoundè in Cameroon; and Lagos-Algiers, which is the one supported by this committee and this is the subject of our meeting,” the Minister said.
African Union begins COVID-19 vaccine trial group
CONCVACT plans to capture more than ten late-stage vaccine trials at the earliest.
The African Union Commission just recently facilitated a program called the new Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) Consortium for COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Trial (CONCVACT).
The program is part of the Africa Joint Continental Strategy for stopping the deadly COVID-19 onslaught that has disrupted human activities. The goal is to prevent severe COVID-19 infections and deaths in African countries, reduce the economic damage caused by the pandemic, and help minimize the general disruption to everyday life.
Quick fact about COVID-19: Although for some individuals, the COVID-19 virus causes only mild illness, it can make other individuals seriously ill. The disease can be very fatal, especially among older individuals, and those with compromised immunities (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart problems) appear to be more susceptible.
South Africa’s leader, Cyril Ramaphosa, said, “Success in developing and providing access to a safe vaccine requires an innovative and collaborative approach, with significant local manufacturing in Africa.
“We need to support the contribution of African scientists and healthcare professionals. We need to act with urgency.”
CONCVACT plans to capture more than ten late-stage vaccine trials at the earliest, via collaborations with global vaccine developers, sponsors, and African businesses that enable clinical studies.
The African group also hopes to secure the safety and efficacy data of promising vaccine candidates for the African population in order to validate their launch after approval.
2021 Budget: FG projects spending plan of N11.86 trillion and deficit of N5.16 trillion
This tops 2020 budgeted expenditure of N10.8 trillion.
The Federal Government is projecting to spend N11.86 trillion for 2021. This was disclosed by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed at a virtual presentation of the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) held on Friday.
According to the finance minister, the government is planning to spend N11.86 trillion against revenue of N6.98 trillion meaning the government will have to grapple with a fiscal deficit of N5.16 trillion.
“The 2021-2023 MTEF&FSP is the pre-budget statement that provides the framework for the development of the 2021 budget. It is being framed against the backdrop of challenging global macroeconomic environment as well as domestic factors.
“We aim to keep the deficit within the three percent ceiling over the medium term and are therefore working on identifying new revenue sources and or cost of reduction.”
The minister noted that the 2021-2023 draft had been prepared against the backdrop of heightened global economic uncertainty.
Earlier today President Buhari signed the revised 2020 national budget of N10.8 trillion, which was passed by the National Assembly in June. The National Assembly passed a revised budget of N10.8 trillion on the 11th of June after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved a revised budget of N10.523trillion in May. 2020 Budget is based on a revised oil benchmark of $25 per barrel as against $57 while crude production was reduced from 2.18 million to 1.94 million barrels per day Budget deficit for 2020 is estimated at N5.365 trillion.
As of March 2020, the FG was running a 52% shortfall in the first quarter of the year with actual revenue collected of N950 trillion compared to budgeted revenue N1.96 trillion.
What this means: Nigeria is facing an unprecedented revenue crisis exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the crash in oil prices. At N5.16 trillion, Nigeria’s projected budget deficit will be 43% of spending and about 3.6% of GDP if the budget is passed. A budget deficit means the government will have to borrow heavily next year to fund its expenditure programs.
The government received a $3.4 billion funding from the IMF in April and expects another $3.5 billion from the World Bank in August 2020. The government also revealed it has no plans to access the commercial market for foreign debts as it takes advantage of lower interest rates in the domestic market.
Covid-19: Pfizer, BioNTech’s vaccine ready before end of the year
BioNTech is in partnership with Pfizer to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of German biotech firm, BioNTech, has announced that the company and New York-based pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer’s Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate is expected to be ready to obtain regulatory approval by the end of 2020.
The German biotech firm which is in partnership with Pfizer to develop this coronavirus vaccine is confident that it will be ready for regulatory approval by the end of the year.
The co-Founder and CEO of BioNTech, Dr Ugur Sahin, said that several hundred million doses could be produced even before approval and over 1 billion by the end of 2021, according to a wall street journal report.
The experimental vaccine which has shown a lot of progress against the fast-spreading respiratory illness in early-stage human testing is expected to move into a large trial stage that will involve 30,000 healthy participants later this month while waiting for regulatory approval.
According to an earlier report from Reuters, Pfizer and BioNTech are getting set to produce up to 100 million doses of the vaccine by the end of the 2020 and another 1.2 billion doses by the end of 2021 at sites in Germany and the United States.
It can be recalled that earlier this week, U.S. vaccine specialist, Novavax said in its statement that it will receive $1.6 billion from the federal government to support the development of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate as a new member of the government’s Operation Warp Speed (OWS) program, which aims to accelerate the development of a vaccine.