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Aviation: Aviation sector grasps for stimulus in worst ever crisis

In 2019, the Nigerian aviation sector was the fastest growing sector in Nigeria in real GDP terms, up 13.2% y/y to N83.5bn.

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Aviation sector to contribute over N1.2 trillion to Nigeria's GDP by 2020, Nigerians might be hit with higher ticket price as airlines battle fuel scarcity, fuel price increase , Aviation: Aviation sector gasps for stimulus in worst ever crisis

In 2019, the Nigerian aviation sector was the fastest growing sector in Nigeria in real GDP terms, up 13.2% y/y to N83.5bn from N73.8bn in 2018. However, the outbreak of the coronavirus in Nigeria has threatened to derail the fast improving prospect of the industry. The aftermath policies of the Federal Government in the bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus resulted in the shutdown of the Nigerian airspace since March 22. The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on coronavirus recently announced a 4-week extension to the ban on both local and international air travel.

The economic costs of the shutdown of air travel is significant for Nigeria. According to the Minister of Aviation’s briefing to the PTF on coronavirus, Nigeria currently loses N21bn/ month. In addition, data from International Airline Tranport Association (IATA) estimates that the coronavirus outbreak would cost Nigeria’s aviation sector US$994.0m (N357.8bn) in Revenue, 125,370 jobs would be lost, and the overall economy would lose US$885.0m (N318.6bn) in form of nominal GDP contribution from the sector.

READ ALSO: FG waives import duties for medical supplies, orders Customs to expedite clearing

The crisis in the aviation industry is a global phenomenon that resulted from the need to curb transmission of the global pandemic across countries. However, the difference in the case of Nigeria is the dearth of palliatives to ease the crisis in the sector. For example, in the United States, the historic US$2.2tn fund includes a US$61.0bn relief package for airlines. In exchange, they promised to keep their thousands of employees through the crisis.

In Europe, governments have made available loans for airlines, although countries like UK have instructed that the airlines must have exhausted other sources of funding. In Nigeria, the situation appears different, while the CBN has announced several stimulus packages in union with the FG, the attention seems to have been directed towards, health and pharmaceuticals. This comes despite the request made by the Minister of Aviation for stimulus measures to support the industry.

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(READ MORE: British airways set to suspend 32,000 employees)

We note that while the sector has been showing signs of promise in recent years, the story has not always been positive, with intense competition among airlines forcing ticket prices lower. When the low occupancy rate of local flights is considered, the situation appears worse, forcing smaller players who could not compete to file for bankruptcy. Failure by the Government to provide adequate support for the industry will lead to several airlines shutting down and massive job losses within the sector. For example, Airport Hotel, an associated hotel business close to the Lagos Muritala Muhammed airport sent its workers on a 3-month leave without pay.

In our view, the Federal Government needs to provide dedicated funding support in the form of loan facilities and tax breaks to support the very fragile aviation industry, as the aviation sector would play a key role in the economic recovery process post pandemic.

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Around the World

US House passes reform bill to decriminalize marijuana

US Congress has passed a sweeping legislation that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.

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The 116th US Congress passed a reform legislation to decriminalize marijuana and expunge non-violent marijuana-related convictions and prosecution.

The bill, however, moves to legislate H.R. 3884, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019, under a closed rule.

According to a statement made by the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Jerry Nadler, the MORE Act is a commonsense bill that will make a tangible difference in the lives of millions of Americans, as it is tied around ideals of racial, economic, and moral justice.

However, the bill still has to pass through the US Senate, but it is likely that the Senate would pass it, given the uncertainties around it and owing to the non-inclusion of a cost estimate in the committee report, according to Clause 3(d) of rule XIII.

However, US representative for the eastern part of Bronx in New York, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, tweeted that 68% of Americans support marijuana legalization.

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This year, South Dakota, Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey joined 11 other states in legalizing it. Yet, the federal government still classifies pot as a dangerous drug. The Senate must listen to the American people and vote on this bill.

Why this matters

The bill, if finally passed by the senate would decriminalize cannabis, and also provide for reinvestment in certain persons adversely impacted by the war on drugs, through the expungement of certain cannabis offenses and for other purposes.

Thus, leading to the delisting of marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances and expunge some marijuana convictions for nonviolent criminals.

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The bill would also ban the denial of federal public benefits to a person on the basis of certain cannabis-related conduct or convictions.

What they are saying

The House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Jerry Nadler, representing parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn said:

There is no reason for cannabis to be classified as a federally scheduled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. The MORE Act deschedules cannabis, allowing states to establish their own marijuana regulations and providing medical marijuana access to veterans in need.”

“The MORE Act is a common-sense bill that will make a tangible, real difference in the lives of millions of Americans. I’m proud of this bill centered around ideals of racial, economic, and moral justice.”

“I’m so proud that the MORE Act passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 228 to 164. I introduced this bill to provide restorative justice, modernize America’s cannabis laws, and deliver meaningful investments to America’s communities & small businesses.”

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Co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, Earl Blumenauer, representing Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District, while speaking at Capitol Hill during the House session on Friday said:

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We are here because we have failed three generations of Black and Brown young people, whose lives can be ruined or lost, by selective enforcement of these laws.

This Legislation will end that disaster. It’s time for the Congress to step up and do its part”

What you should know

  • Recreational marijuana is currently legal in 15 states and Washington DC, while Medical marijuana is legal in 34 states of the 50 States of the USA.
  • The MORE Act has seen a lot of criticisms by people who believe the bill is an unserious bill, as there is zero interest in moving this bill in the Senate and zero interest in supporting it in either the current administration or the incoming one.
  • Earlier this week, Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, criticized the House for passing the cannabis bill, instead of focusing on a COVID-19 stimulus bill that both parties reportedly have agreed upon.

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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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