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Again, Balogun Market on fire, five buildings, goods worth millions engulfed 

Balogun Market is currently on fire, two months after goods worth millions of naira were destroyed in a fire outbreak in the market.

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Balogun Market currently on fire, five buildings, goods already engulfed by fire 

Some parts of the popular Balogun Market, located on Lagos Island, are currently on fire. The incident, which occurred two months in the market when goods worth millions of naira were destroyed in a fire outbreak, has claimed five buildings and goods worth several millions of naira.

According to a report, the Lagos State Firefighters are still battling the inferno, which might result in the loss of goods and valuables at the location. In one of the videos of the fire outbreak, some individuals could be seen salvaging the situation by throwing some goods down the buildings.

Balogun Market currently on fire, five buildings, goods already engulfed by fire 

The reason for the fire outbreak has not been made known by the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) but it is being reported that the fire started from a Plaza, which escalated to three other Plazas within minutes. Channels TV reported that the fire has extended to two other buildings.

The fire started early in the morning, at the same time the fire outbreak witnessed in the market in November 2019 started. For now, there is no casualty report.

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A growing concern:  Just about a week ago, a Timber market in Mushin area of Lagos State was razed by fire. The consistent fire outbreaks in the State have led to some residents alleging the incidences are premeditated acts by unknown individuals.

[READ MORE: Reactions trail Onitsha fire as extent of damages become clear)

A social media user, @toondeh, had stated that, “Balogun Market in on fire again. Now I can say this act is premeditated by someone.” 

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Another Twitter user, @Akmonabiodun tweeted, “There is something wrong with that balogun market, the fire outbreak in this market is very alarming.”

Meanwhile, @NatashaofLagos wrote, “I feel like someone is purposely setting these places on fire……it’s insane….#balogunmarket.”

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While @Sucreplum69 tweeted, “F*** yahoo yahoo, Balogun Market is on fire. This country is a mess, steady focusing on secondary issues. Nab the arsonist asap!!!”

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Olalekan is a certified media practitioner from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). In the era of media convergence, Olalekan is a valuable asset, with ability to curate and broadcast news. His zeal to write was developed out of passion to shape people’s thought and opinion; serving as a guideline for their daily lives. Contact for tips: [email protected]

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Business

US Government removes visa reciprocity fees for Nigerians from December 3

The US government has removed all visa reciprocity fees for Nigerian citizens seeking visas to the US.

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The United States government has announced the removal of all visa reciprocity fees for Nigerian citizens seeking visas to the US with effect from December 3.

This disclosure was made through a statement titled, ‘Update on removal of visa fees for Nigerian citizens by the US Government,’ by the Federal Ministry of Finance on Saturday, December 4, 2020, and signed by the ministry’s Spokesperson, Ferdinand Nwonye.

The Federal Government revealed that this positive development follows the removal of excess visa application, processing and biometric fees for United States citizens applying for Nigerian visas by the Nigerian Government.

The statement from the Foreign Affairs Ministry reads, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to inform that the United States Government has removed all visa reciprocity fees for Nigerian citizens seeking visas to the United States.

“The positive development is in line with the removal of excess visa application, processing and biometric fees for the United States citizens applying for Nigerian visas by the Nigerian Government. The United States Government has therefore eliminated reciprocity fees for Nigerian citizens with effect from December 3, 2020.”

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The foreign affairs ministry, in the statement, also advised prospective travellers to the United States to visit www.travel.state.gov for details.

What you should know

  • It can be recalled that in 2019, the Donald Trump administration had imposed the reciprocity fee for all approved non-immigrant visa applications by Nigerians. This fee was charged in addition to visa application fees for only applicants who were issued visas.
  • While imposing the additional reciprocity fees, which ranged from $80 to $303 depending on the class of visa, the US Embassy in Nigeria disclosed that the reciprocity fees were a fallout of unsuccessful talks with the Nigerian government over the reduction of visa fees it charged United States citizens.

 

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Corporate Press Releases

Technology now a great tool to drive desired growth in Nigeria, amid COVID – FITC

FITC is passionate about empowering the youths with the right skills and knowledge needed to excel in todays’ tech-driven world.

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Financial Institutions Training Centre (FITC)

The Financial Institutions Training Centre (FITC) has stated that technology has become a great tool for driving the desired changes in Nigeria, altering ways of life, individual engagements and interactions, especially amid Coronavirus pandemic.

During a webinar organised by the Centre and attended by Nairametrics, Managing Director/ CEO, FITC, Chizor Malize, explained that the 20th century has recorded major breakthroughs in technology through innovation in health, energy production, disease control, business engagement, financial services, and other enterprise solutions.

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She lauded the event partners and sponsors – Bank of Industry, Stanbic IBTC, International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) and media partners; Nairametrics, Regtech, BBbuzz, The Nation and Financial Nigeria for making the event a huge success.

One of the speakers, the Managing Director of Zercom Systems, a software technology company, Tayo Awosanya, noted that digitization, creativity, and resourcefulness are key elements in achieving personal and organizational success in today’s world. He noted that one of the very bright spots on COVID-19 pandemic is the acceleration in digital learning being witnessed across the different sector of the economy.

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READ: FG records $9 million transactions from SheTrades since 2016 

For Tayo, aside from turning to technology for effective and smart learning outside the classrooms, the pandemic has triggered rapid online product advertisements which is a formidable space for everyone to explore in growing their businesses and acquiring knowledge, which in turn can also become a huge source of livelihood for implementors.

In her submissions, Chief of Staff/ Co-Founder, Future of Africa, Adenike Sheriff, urged youths to consider ways of designing and implementing solutions amid challenges. She disclosed that while Africa has a plethora of problems, the problems invariably presents opportunities for the people of the continent to explore and deploy solutions for the benefits of mankind.

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READ: Infrastructural financing in Nigeria: Why bonds are better than loans

According to Sheriff, leveraging and finding investible ideas opens doors for organizations that will provide the needed take-off grants. Still, the promoter of such idea, she said, must have a clear understanding of how it works and what to do to turn it to reality.

Musty Mustapha, Co-Founder & CTO of Kuda, who spoke on the “Rise of Bedroom Coders” among others, stated that more Africans, many of whom are women, are learning software development with free resources online. He noted that as the continent produces coders, potentially disruptive start-ups are being founded in sectors ranging from fintech to transportation.

READ: Corruption still responsible for Nigerians’ sufferings – Buhari

According to Musty, while digitization is spreading across the African continent, it is not quite a revolution yet. “Only about 20% of the people living in sub-Saharan Africa have internet subscriptions. In the same region, the average subscriber uses 300MB of internet data in a month,” Musty noted.

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While listing the gains of affordable banking services to the people, economy, and businesses, Musty noted that smart technology is leading and bringing people to take advantage of the global digitization that is taking place.

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READ: Okonjo-Iweala shares her vision with WTO members, as she pitches for DG post

“There are lots of start-ups springing up around Nigeria, and people have to take advantage of the industry that is exploding. What we need currently, is the democratization of knowledge to enable more people take advantage of technology to drive their businesses and promote connectivity” Musty stated.

Also at the event, FITC announced the top three winners in the maiden edition of its Youth Connect Essay Challenge 2020.

The winners were announced during the FITC’s virtual Pan African Technology Summit which held on Tuesday, December 1, 2020, in Lagos, with the theme: “Accelerating Growth and Development in Africa: The Role of Technology and Innovation”.

Oke Donatus Chibuzor, an undergraduate from the National Open University, Lagos, Nigeria was announced the star prize winner for the essay competition. He was rewarded with $1,000 cash prize, a laptop, a Leadership Certification programme and a one-year mentorship programme.

The second prize went to Abdul Pelumi Ganiyu, a 20-year old undergraduate at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, who received $500, a laptop and one-year mentorship programme while Ololade Oshodi, a 23-year old undergraduate at the University of Lagos, emerged as the third-place winner and was awarded a laptop and one-year Mentorship programme.

In their comments, the judges said submissions by the finalists were judged on originality, expression, creativity, and appropriateness to the theme.

Speakers at the summit and awards event – Managing Director/ CEO, FITC, Chizor Malize, as the key note speaker, Tayo Awosanya, Managing Director, Zercom Systems; Greg Malize, Founder, IMPACTGEN; Adenike Sheriff, Chief of Staff/Co-founder, Future of Africa and Musty Mustapha, Co-Founder, Kuda- discussed extensively on the growth and development Africa can achieve by leveraging on technology.

Malize, stated that FITC is passionate about empowering the youths with the right skills and knowledge needed to excel in todays’ tech-driven world. She noted that the star prize winner went the extra mile in his report to give depth and showed mastery of the subject, which gave him an edge over others.

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“Africa is filled with very intelligent people and we are proud of all the contestants for the zeal and knowledge displayed in the course of the exercise. FITC will be adopting all winners from across Africa and exposing them to fantastic programmes in the next one year.

“This is definitely not a winner takes it all programme as there is something significant for everyone that has shown interest and commitment in this maiden edition,” she assured.

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Hospitality & Travel

COVID-19: Over 70% of jobs lost in aviation, tourism industries in 2020 – AfDB

The AfDB has stated that about 5 million jobs have been lost in the aviation and tourism industries in Africa due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Aviation in Africa

About 5 million out of Africa’s 7 million aviation and tourism industry-related jobs have been lost in 2020. Also, as much as $15 billion in revenue, half of this to African airlines.

This was disclosed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in a statement issued and seen by Nairametrics on Friday.

READ: FG bars aides of VIPs from airport terminals, to grant loans to airlines, others at 5%

Vice President for Infrastructure, Industrialization and Private Sector, AfDB, Solomon Quaynor explained that the pandemic’s effect was felt more in Africa, a claim that was backed up by numerous panelists at the just concluded AfDB’s webinar themed ‘African Aviation Recovery Conference: coordinating an efficient response to the COVID-19 crisis’s effects on the Aviation sector in Africa.’

READ: FG to double number of airports across the country by 2023

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He said, “The air transport system is really at the forefront of all our collective objectives to realize Africa as a single economic bloc. The centrality of the aviation sector to Africa’s long-term goals by referencing three flagship projects of the AU’s Agenda 2063 that aim to advance open skies and closer connectivity: SAATM, The African Continental Free Trade Area, and the African Passport-Free movement of people.

READ: These are the sad reasons Nigerian airlines struggle and fail 

“The air transport system is really at the forefront of all our collective objectives to realize Africa as a single economic bloc of 1.3 billion people with a GDP of almost 3 trillion dollars, for which we want to begin to really focus and increase trade among ourselves, as well as investment.”

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Also at the event, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika called on African governments to embrace full liberalisation of the aviation sector, invoking the Yamoussoukro Decision, which established an arrangement for the gradual liberalization of intra-Africa air transport services.

READ: Aviation: Aviation sector grasps for stimulus in worst ever crisis

He said, “Nigeria today has all its bilateral air service agreements with the YD and was also among the first ten countries that signed a commitment to implement the Single African Air Transport Market.”

Dr. Amani Abou Zeid, African Union Commission for Infrastructure and Energy, explained that Africa’s aviation industry represents a huge market that the continent’s airlines need to exploit more fully, with technology and AI offering the way forward for expansion, regional development experts.

READ: Plentywaka raises $300,000, seeks partners as it launches operations in Abuja

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“Technology and smart technologies are offering this fantastic opportunity, so let’s make use of AI, let’s make use of the Internet of Things, let’s capacitate our people to revamp and to rethink our industry, to make sure that both our airports and our airlines cater for the very near future,” said Zeid.

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READ: COVID-19: Travel agencies beg FG for interest-free loans

What they are saying

A key takeaway was the urgent need for coordinated action among the sector’s actors, including governments, aviation authorities and multilateral stakeholders such as the Bank.

“The time is now. All of us who have really been working on upstream issues such as SAATM, the World Bank, ourselves, the AU and others, now is the time to really pool our advocacy and resources to make this happen once and for all because if we continue to operate as a federation of 54 states as opposed to an integrated market, our economies will continue to be sub-optimal,” said Quaynor

READ: SAHCO acquires eco-friendly electric tractors for its ramp operations

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