As part of the stimulus package announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy and businesses, the apex bank introduced an N50 billion Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) in March 2020, to support households and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that have been affected by the pandemic.
The facility from CBN, which is to be disbursed through the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank Ltd (NMBL), had recorded about 80,000 applications as at April.
However, this program has not been without some hiccups with many applicants complaining about difficulties in assessing the facility.
During an interview with ChannelsTV, the Managing Director of NIRSAL Microfinance Bank Plc, Abubakar Kure, explained why there were difficulties in disbursing the facility to the applicants.
He disclosed that the nationwide lockdown and restrictions had been a major challenge to the smooth processing of the facility. This was also compounded by the inability of some of the applicants to secure guarantors.
According to Kure, “You are all aware of the lockdown across the country and major cities. We have lockdown around Kano, Lagos, Port Harcourt, and incidentally Kaduna. So all these major cities constitute a significant part of the applicants who applied for COVID [loans]. We are actually thinking outside the box to see how we can reach them so that they can come and have the loans.
“Currently what we do is that we are using digitalization in the form of emails. We send emails to those who have email accounts, we print their offer letters, send back to them, do the documentations and they are able to drawdown.
‘’The most important thing is about the lockdown and that’s why the credit facility was created. It also constitutes a challenge.”
Going further he said, ‘’We are improving our processes, systems, people to be able to meet up with the expectations. You are fully aware that this loan is for a short term. It’s a short term seamless package by Central Bank intended to cushion the effect on businesses and people. However, because of the lockdown and the restriction of people, there have been delays. We have also noticed the issue around guarantors.”
The NMFB boss, while explaining, also encouraged qualified individuals to come forward and guarantee the approved applicants because they had viable businesses. He said that the ones that had been evaluated were very successful SMEs with the capacity to pay back.
On why the difficulty in disbursing the credit facility considering that it was supposed to be a short term facility to cater for businesses and households during the period of pandemic and lockdown, Mr Kure said, “This is a loan and not a grant, you are required to sign offer letters in terms of documentation that need to be signed so that it requires physical interaction between the bank i.e. NIRSAL Microfinance bank as well as the customers. So customers are unable to even come to sign the documentations and customers are even unable to get guarantors.”
However, as part of the solution to this challenge, Kure said the bank was trying to enlighten the customers about other channels of payment like mobile applications and the USSD. He said that those that we’re able to finish their documentation and sign offer letters, a fundamental aspect of the loan, could drawdown.
On the number of applicants that had benefitted so far from the facility, the NMFB MD said, “If you go to our website, we have over 1000 applicants that are enjoying the facilities. The buildup is expected in a few days to come.”
He also disclosed that NIRSAL Microfinance bank had received N5 billion from CBN for about 5,000 applicants and they hoped to disburse about 90% of that in a few weeks to come.
This disbursement from the apex bank was collaborated by CBN’s Director for Development Finance, Yusuf Yila, who said that they had disbursed N5 billion for 5,000 applicants through the NMFB.
On the kind of collateral needed for small businesses, Kure said they were usually soft collaterals that ranged from guarantors to movable assets like cars, equipment, and so on, unlike large volume ticket collaterals for big businesses. He said the most important thing to consider in the approval was the cash flow and the ability to pay back the facility.
He also disclosed that the households constituted about 65% of the applications that were received.
Covid-19: African Union in talks with China and Russia over vaccine
The AU and Africa CDC have revealed that they have reached out to both China and Russia over the possibility of vaccine partnerships.
The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Union announced they have been in talks with China and Russia over the possibility of vaccine partnerships to ensure that Africa is not left behind when vaccines become available.
This was disclosed by John Nkengasong, Africa CDC Chief, at the Bloomberg Invest Africa online conference.
“We are not limiting ourselves to any particular partner. As a continent of 1.2 billion people, we are willing to work with any partner who adheres to our strategic plan for vaccine development and access in Africa.
He said that the WHO Covax programme only covers 20% of the population, but Africa will need 60% of its population vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
“There are multiple avenues being explored now to make sure Africa has the appropriate doses of vaccines and also that we have that in a timely fashion, not in a delayed manner,” Nkengasong said.
He revealed that the AFREXIM Bank agreed to finance vaccine procurement with $5 billion and is waiting to see how much it will receive from World Bank’s $12 billion vaccine procurement fund for developing nations.
What you should know
Nairametrics reported earlier this month that Pfizer Inc. disclosed that its experimental vaccine, which is jointly developed with BioNTech, was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19, based on initial data from a large study in the ongoing phase 3 trials.
Last week, a pharmaceutical company, Moderna Inc., stated that its COVID-19 vaccine was 94.5% effective in treating coronavirus, after preliminary analysis of a large late-stage clinical trial.
The G-20 nations also announced a pledge to pay for vaccine distribution to developing nations that could not afford it. The leaders also unveiled a debt extension programme to developing nations during the weekend’s G-20 summit.
The Federal Government of Nigeria also announced through the Ministry of Health, that it would inaugurate an 18-man Covid-19 Vaccine Task Team, in a bid to ensure vaccine security In Nigeria.
Covid-19: EU considers skipping vaccine patents to boost vaccine access
The EU has disclosed plans to increase its access to Covid-19 vaccines by offering financial incentives to vaccine production companies.
The European Union (EU) says its planning emergency measures to increase its access to Covid-19 vaccines including sidestepping patent rights and offering financial incentives to vaccine production companies to move production to Europe.
This was revealed in an EU document on Wednesday and reported by Reuters. The Document says the EU may create an emergency coordination mechanism to be issued at short notice when the EU needs a vaccine license, which is different from fully patent waivers, discussed in the WTO last week.
The EU says the new move will ensure faster procedures during a pandemic, which will enable generic production in the EU without the consent of patent holders.
“The Commission sees the need to ensure that effective systems for issuing compulsory licenses are in place, to be used as a means of last resort and a safety net, when all other efforts to make IP (intellectual property) available have failed,” the EU’s document said.
The EU’s actions may be triggered by its inability to access the antiviral drug, remdesivir, during the pandemic, as the United States ordered most of the stock.
The EU also disclosed that it will begin a consultation process with pharmaceutical companies next year to address issues in its pharmaceutical value chains. They added that measures could be imposed to encourage manufacturers to move pharmaceutical production to Europe from China and India.
“The Commission calls on member states to ensure that the tools they have are as effective as possible; for instance, by putting in place fast-track procedures for issuing compulsory licenses in emergency situations,” the EU said.
They added that it is urgent “to assess whether manufacturing capacity for certain critical medicines may be required in the EU.”
“We need to be able to rely on ourselves, not on others,” the Commission’s Vice President, Margaritis Schinas said. He disclosed that the EU is working on more compliance with drug supply need and increased stock levels by 2022.
What you should know
This comes as surprise considering the EU rejected a World Trade Organization (WTO) proposal last week to waive the intellectual property rights needed for the manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines. The waiver would have made the vaccine access cheaper for developing nations.
COVID-19 Update in Nigeria
On the 25th of November 2020, 198 new confirmed cases were recorded in Nigeria
The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record significant increases as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 66,805 confirmed cases.
On the 25th of November 2020, 198 new confirmed cases were recorded in Nigeria, having carried out a total daily test of 5,838 samples across the country.
To date, 66,805 cases have been confirmed, 62,493 cases have been discharged and 1,169 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 749,136 tests have been carried out as of November 25th, 2020 compared to 743,298 tests a day earlier.
COVID-19 Case Updates- 25th November 2020,
- Total Number of Cases – 66,805
- Total Number Discharged – 62,493
- Total Deaths – 1,169
- Total Tests Carried out – 749,136
According to the NCDC, the 198 new cases were reported from 13 states- FCT (53), Lagos (48), Ogun (40), Akwa Ibom (20), Bauchi (9), Plateau (8), Kaduna (5), Kano (4), Benue (3), Jigawa (3), Nasarawa(3), Edo (1), Kwara (1)
Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 23,066, followed by Abuja (6,629), Plateau (3,813), Oyo (3,715), Rivers (2,963), Kaduna (2,945), Edo (2,696), Ogun (2,196), Delta (1,823), Kano (1,781), Ondo (1,727), Enugu (1,332), Kwara (1,096), Ebonyi (1,055), Katsina (1,012), Osun (945), Gombe (938). Abia (926), Bauchi (762), and Borno (745).
Imo State has recorded 662 cases, Benue (496), Nasarawa (488), Bayelsa (445), Ekiti (354), Akwa Ibom (339), Jigawa (331), Niger (296), Anambra (285), Adamawa (261), Sokoto (165), Taraba (157), Yobe (94), Kebbi (93), Cross River (90), Zamfara (79), while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases only.
Lock Down and Curfew
In a move to combat the spread of the pandemic disease, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days, which took effect from 11 pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.
The movement restriction, which was extended by another two-weeks period, has been partially put on hold with some businesses commencing operations from May 4. On April 27th, 2020, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari declared an overnight curfew from 8 pm to 6 am across the country, as part of new measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19. This comes along with the phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States, which took effect from Saturday, 2nd May 2020, at 9 am.
On Monday, 29th June 2020 the federal government extended the second phase of the eased lockdown by 4 weeks and approved interstate movement outside curfew hours with effect from July 1, 2020. Also, on Monday 27th July 2020, the federal government extended the second phase of eased lockdown by an additional one week.
On Thursday, 6th August 2020 the federal government through the secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 announced the extension of the second phase of eased lockdown by another four (4) weeks.