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FG travel restrictions on 13 countries: A little too late?

As part of efforts in mitigating the spread of the COVID-19, policymakers across the globe are increasingly taking more stringent measures.



Vaccine, COVID-19: How the tables turned on Europe, FG travel restrictions on 13 countries: A little too late?, Slack founder takes a swipe at Microsoft, says Teams is not a threat The founder of Slack, Stewart Butterfield, has taken a swipe at rival, Microsoft after Slack gained 2 million in about two weeks, increasing its connected users to 12.5 million in March 2020. Butterfield said Microsoft is no threat to Slack in the team-messaging app market, citing its performance and customer base. Butterfield said Microsoft has been pushing its rival, Teams, with free service for three years, despite this, no Slack enterprise customer has switched to Teams, “Microsoft has made a huge push the past three years with a free service, but can you find a single Slack enterprise customer who has switched to Teams?” “If Microsoft is such a competitive threat to Slack as it says, we would not have grown in sales and $1 million customers,” Butterfield told MarketWatch. He asserted that Slack's wide breadth, with up to 25,000 channels and security features give it a competitive advantage in the market. It took Slack about four years to move from 1 million simultaneously connected users on its platform to reach 10 million on March 10. The team-messaging app later hit 12.5 million on March 25, “The week of March 9 was the most productive in our company’s history,” he said. How both firms performed in March: Both Teams and Slack have both been having an impressive performance in March following the lockdown. The work-from-home caused by the Coronavirus outbreak has fueled the rise in Teams and Slack usage. Microsoft announced that teams recorded 2.7 billion meeting minutes on March 31, a 200 per cent increase from the 900 million recorded mid-March. Meanwhile, its Total video calls saw a 1000 per cent rise in same March. Before March ending, Teams accounted for 32 million on March 11 2020, but now clocks 44 million people on daily basis; a significant growth from the 20 million in November 2019. One of the biggest feat for Teams is Pentagon, which launched a Microsoft-based teleworking service for 4 million employees. Meanwhile, the cumulative number of minutes of active use of Slack during weekdays by all users globally now exceeds 1 billion. It was revealed that the company added 9,000 new paid customers from February 1 to March 25, an 80% increase over the full quarterly total the preceding two quarters. Slack also saw paid subscribers, which includes the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, KPMG and TD Ameritrade AMTD, -4.99 per cent, have climbed to 110,000. Slack experienced a surge in customers that spent more than $1 million annually on its product - the number climbed from 39 year-ago quarter to 70. This reflected in Slack's share, which gained 10 per cent this year, as its fiscal fourth-quarter revenue hit $181.9 million from $122 million a year ago; this is a 49 per cent surged. Scolding Microsoft further, Butterfield said, “I mean, 44 million is an impressive number, but that is out of 200 million Office 365 customers. That’s about a 20% adoption rate.” He added that, “The smaller startup has an advantage against the large, established company because its focus is narrowed on doing one thing better,” Butterfield said.

As part of efforts in mitigating the spread of the COVID-19, policymakers across the globe are increasingly taking more stringent measures, ranging from imposing travel restrictions, shutting down airports as well as closure of borders.

Notably, world powers such as the United States, Russia, China, Germany, United Kingdom and France have all imposed travel restrictions. In Africa, Egypt, South Africa, Cameroon, Ghana and Algeria are amongst the list of countries that have also followed suit with travel ban.

For Nigeria, the Federal Government announced on Wednesday it had restricted entry into the country for travellers from 13 countries (China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, the US, Norway, the UK, Switzerland and the Netherlands). The restriction is expected to take effect on March 21 and will be in place until further notice. The Federal government also suspended the issuance of visa on arrival to travellers from these countries.

While we applaud the decision of the government, we think it could have been put in place earlier as we understand that travellers from high-risk countries have been coming into the country, which poses a great risk to widespread contamination.

As of March 19, the country’s National Centre for Disease Control announced that four new cases of the virus had been discovered in the country, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to twelve. Notably, many of the new cases involved nationals who arrived from the USA and the UK.

[READ MORE: Reduction in PMS: A nod to the deregulation of the downstream sector?)

In a related development, we highlight that the National Youth Service Corps on Wednesday also announced the suspension of the ongoing orientation for the 2020 Batch A corps members.

The Lagos and Ogun state governments have also announced an immediate ban of all high-density gatherings that would bring together 50 or more persons such as social clubs, halls, cinemas, night clubs, restaurants, cafes, and sport arenas. Furthermore, schools in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja have suspended activities for now while several businesses have begun to work from home.

To effectively contain the spread of the virus and prevent a nationwide outbreak, we think the government needs to enhance the capacity of the health workers to detect cases promptly, improve health care facilities at the quarantine centres and work on techniques to better track all persons who have come in contact with those that have tested positive. We understand that about 3,000 persons are being tracked.

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Furthermore, we believe the government should take a cue from experiences of other countries by shutting non-essential economic activities for a reasonable period to curtail avenues for sustained spread of the virus. Along with the ban, relief packages should be made available for poor households whose income stream would be affected by the shut down.



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Cement prices surge in South East as scarcity, price hike hit North East

Prices of cement have risen by 67% in many Southeastern states and by 40% as observed in northern states including Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, others.



The prices of cement have risen by 67% in the South-East states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo.

This is as some residents of the North-Eastern part of the country also complained of price hike of cement, which they attributed to the scarcity of the product and the activities of middlemen who try to capitalize on the situation.

According to a report from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), a market survey conducted at various wholesale and retail shops in the eastern zone shows that the price of the product has almost doubled when compared to the price in 2020.

What the cement traders in the eastern states are saying

A cement dealer at Kenyetta Market in Enugu State, Mr Ifeanyi Amadi, said the increase in the price of the product which started last year was due to the Covid-19 pandemic and increase in dollar exchange.

He pointed out that a trailer load of Dangote cement with 600 bags, which sold for N1.5 million in 2020, sold for N2.3 million in the first quarter of 2021.

Another retailer, Samuel Uwakwe, noted that a bag of Dangote Cement now goes for N3,900, Unicem for N3,700; BUA Cement for N3,700 and Kogi Super Cement for N3,600.

While begging the suppliers to reduce the price and make the product available, Uwakwe expressed his reservations at few individuals being given the opportunity to supply the product noting that the prices would likely crash during raining season.

In Abia, a cross-section of residents of Umuahia, the state capital, also decried the high price of cement, which ranges from N4,000 to N4,100 per 50kg bag.

Those who spoke to NAN said the price hike had further dashed the hope of many Nigerians, wishing to own their personal homes.

A businessman, Mr Victor Ugwu, said he had to suspend his building project because of the current development as he could not afford to continue with the current price of the commodity.

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He said,  “I think the hike can be attributed to the monopoly being enjoyed by the cement producers in the country. Unfortunately, there may not be any respite until that monopoly is broken.”

However, a cement dealer, Mr James Ogbonna, said the price increase had nothing to do with the manufacturers of the commodity but rather put the blame on the activities of shylock distributors of cement.

He said, “In the first and second week of March, we sold a bag for N3,200, but within the third week we started selling at N3,500. By the end of March, the price moved up to N4,000 and now, we sell between N4,000 and N4100, depending on the brand.”

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A cement dealer in Awka, Mr Kenechukwu Okoye, said before the #EndSARS protest in 2020, a 50kg bag of cement was sold at N2,500 bur rose to N3,000 immediately after the protest and from there to the current price of N4,000 and N4,100.

The survey also says that in Owerri, the Imo state capital, the price of cement is between N3,850 and N4300, depending on the brand.

At the building materials Market in Naze, Owerri North Local Government Area, Dangote and BUA cement are sold at N4,000 per bag while BUA and UNICEM are sold for N3,900.

Mr Okechukwu Okonya, a seller, said the cost could be attributed to the high cost of transportation as a result of fuel price increase adding that major dealers sometimes hoard the product in their warehouses to create artificial scarcity.

The survey report says that in Abakaliki, Ebonyi, prices of almost all building materials have gone up, with Dangote and Bua which sold for N2,500 earlier in November and December 2020 now selling for between N4000 and N4500.

Similarly, Unicem cement which also sold at N2,300 within the same period had also gone up to N4,000 and N4,300.

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Similar price increase in North East

The survey report in Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Jigawa, shows an average of 40% increase in price.

According to the respondents, this could be attributed to the outbreak of Covid-19 which affected production in factories, while demand kept rising.

Others, however, blamed the hike on the high cost of transportation and other sundry activities associated with the business of procurement and sales of cement in the country.

Malam Ibrahim Sanusi, a cement dealer at the Gombe main market described the hike as outrageous when compared with the price of the same commodity the previous year.


He said that a bag of Dangote brand which he bought for N2,400 and sold for N2, 500, is bought for N4,000 from their depot in Gombe and sold for N4,200.

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Carbon Tax: A market-based alternative to carbon emissions in Nigeria

A carbon tax is a way to have users of carbon fuels pay for the climate damage caused by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.



climate, Understanding Carbon Credits and Carbon Offset market

Fossil Fuel is hurting us. It is an undeniable truth. I have heard in many conversations more often than not a very solid support for the fossil industry. Rather simple conversations on its perils and disadvantages always end with resignation by the other party that “fossil has come to stay.”

While not doubting that premise, I rather believe a lot can be done to limit the harmful effect of what is here to stay with us. A lot can be said about how beneficial fossil fuel is to the economy and how it is initially cheaper and more available but, in truth, the harms still exists.

Sadly, these harms are more than good. The clarion call to stop these emissions has been on for a very long time, but the reality remains the attention span of the larger consumer population is very very short when it comes to that discourse.

I would say, the essence and need for us to look to further means to mitigate the harm from fossil fuel is not just for a cleaner environment but also for an environment to still exist. The constant clamour for a change in our perspective is not just for the growth of the alternative sector but also a struggle for survival, because we will all lose if we do not stop.

Now, since we have declared to ourselves that we wouldn’t stop, it only makes sense if we can effectively checkmate how we continue with fossil, adopt Carbon Capture techniques and in an attempt to make sure no one goes overboard, impose fines on the amount on those that burn beyond their limit and on fossil that enters the country. This is a concept that, rather thankfully, already exists. Carbon Tax.

A carbon tax is a fee imposed on the burning of carbon-based fuels (coal, oil, gas). A carbon tax is a way — the only way, really — to have users of carbon fuels pay for the climate damage caused by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

It is a market-based alternative that helps the government reduce the carbon footprint and also allows them make money as a government when there is a breach of this solemn oath to stay in check. In Nigeria, The Carbon Tax Act came into force on 1 June 2019. The carbon tax was designed to apply to direct emissions in the following categories as specified in the National Greenhouse Gas Emission Reporting Regulations:

  • Fuel combustion, which relates to emissions released from fuel combustion activities;
  • Fugitive emissions from fuels, which relates to emissions mainly released from the extraction, production, processing, and distribution of fossil fuels; and
  • Industrial processes emissions, which relates to emissions released from the consumption of carbonates and the use of fuels as feedstock or as carbon reductants, and the emission of synthetic gases in particular cases.

It is trite to say that this entire scheme is altogether ineffective and barely surviving. It is sad to note because there are numerous benefits to Carbon Tax. The advantages of doing this asides still having a healthy civilization in the next 100 years are numerous. First, it would be creating a very profitable system of revenue for the government. Here, the government will not need to spend much on the initial cost of having this revenue stream in place. Aside from the need to establish an agency to enforce the limits and payment of fines and the adequate system of calculating and verifying the amount consumed, the expenses on the government is almost Zero. This agency unlike many others in this country will be more active than idle, considering the existence of various fossil burning industries in Nigeria and being largely oil-dependent.


Secondly, this would help Nigeria join the global effort to reduce the carbon footprint and in turn put Nigeria on the good pages of the global community as a contributor to green energy. This will birth a host of benefits for the Nigerian Community and also assist the domestic green energy advocates.

Furthermore, this system will help to promote the alternative energy industry. The renewable energy industry will from this initiative be able to sufficiently measure the actual impact of their activities on the environment and the economy as well as challenge the growth of new innovations to grow it. The campaigns will no longer be dependent on cancelling out the large emissions killing the environment since more revenue now streams for the government from them, but to the actual direct benefits of renewable energy.

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This alternative will also assist the government in assessing the benefits of reducing emissions and growing the renewable energy industry. The implementation of this will serve as a step for the assessment and understanding of the dynamics, policies and funding needed for the full inevitable integration of Green Energy.

The advantages are numerous and as such need Carbon Taxing to be revived in the country. In all sincerity to the dynamics of Nigerian politics and due respect to our exalted government, it is almost too easy for these things to be put in place seeing they will also have a fresh channel to loot from while saving our dear lives and making the air cleaner. A Win-Win for all the parties involved.


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Written by Ude Fortune Chiziterem

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