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Coronavirus second wave won’t stop African Free Trade Agreement

ACFTA was set to have started this year but has been delayed due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

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African Free Trade , Coronavirus second wave won't stop African Free Trade Agreement

The African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) will not face any further delay even if there is a rebound of COVID-19 cases in Africa according to Wamkele Mene, the deal’s Secretary-General.

Mene told Bloomberg’s Invest Global Virtual Conference: “If the pandemic continues into 2021, we will develop the necessary public health protocols to continue and to push on with the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.”

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The agreement signed in 2019 ( including Nigeria) was set to have started this year but has been delayed due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Further negotiations on tariff concessions and tradeable goods have been put on hold.

READ ALSO: Buhari sets up committee on AfCFTA implementation

About 54 nations have signed up to be part of the agreement but only 28 have fully beatified it.

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Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria is also yet to ratify due to concerns on trans-shipment of goods entering the zone from nations not part of the agreement, Nigeria had initially hesitated to sign the deal on fears that the deal will make Nigeria a “dumping ground”.

READ MORE: Gold nears 8-year high, more economic stimulus coming

Mene praised Africa’s efforts and rapid response In tackling the disease and introducing nearly lockdown which is a result of Africa’s experience tackling other pandemics like Ebola.

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Africa is behind Asia and Europe in terms of Continental Internal Trade which is just 15% in the continent compared to 58% in Asia and 70% in Europe. The agreement will implement the free movement of people and services, reduce cross border tariffs for goods by 90% and bring the much-needed investment into Africa’s economy.

The ACFTA will be the biggest trade zone by land area when fully operational by 2030 with a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion and potential market size of 1.2 billion people.

Mene said African Governments want the deal to move on as soon as possible once the conditions are right for it, urging that trade will help kick-start economic activity in areas heavily affected by the disease, highlighting the necessities of continental and regional value chains for manufacturing capacity.

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Economy & Politics

Just in: Suspended EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu, finally released from detention

Magu’s lawyer confirmed his release from the custody of the DSS.

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EFCC to help AMCON recover bad debts

The suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has been released from police custody after about 10 days in detention.

According to a monitored report, this was confirmed by his lawyer, Tosin Ojaomo, who said that the EFCC boss is no longer under custody.

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The suspended EFCC boss was invited by the presidential probe panel headed by Ayo Salami, a retired President of the Appeal Court to the Presidential Villa in Abuja on July 6 over allegations bordering on corruption and financial misconduct.

He was later moved to Area 10 Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) of the police in Abuja where he has since been detained.

Just earlier today, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, asked Magu, to direct his bail application to the presidential probe panel.

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This was in response to a request by Mr Oluwatosin Ojaomo, Magu’s legal representative, who asked the IGP to grant bail to his client on self-recognisance after the suspended EFCC chief had spent four days in custody.

But in a letter dated July 14, 2020, and addressed to Mr Ojaomo, the IGP said the police force is not investigating and detaining Magu, so, it cannot grant the bail request.

It also advised the lawyer to redirect his request to the chairman of the presidential probe panel for appropriate action.

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Economy & Politics

OPEC+ to reduce production cuts in August to 7.7 million barrels a day

OPEC+ is preparing to increase production in a period demand picks

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OPEC+ to reduce production cuts in August to 7.7 million barrels a day

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies have agreed to increase crude oil supply starting from next month, as demand continues to rise to pre-pandemic levels.

OPEC+ agreed to reduce the daily production cut from 9.6 million barrels a day to 7.7 million barrels a day from August. The reduction in cuts was backed by both Saudi Arabia and Russia, including other participating oil ministers in the virtual conference.

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This comes nearly 3 months of production cuts after oil fell to peak lows in April, last month OPEC production reached its lowest level in nearly 30 years since the gulf war. The decision to taper the previous reduction was expected earlier today as the body also talked on extended production cuts for countries like Nigeria, Iraq, and others for not meeting their production cuts for the months of May to June.

However, the risk remains on the strength of a demand recovery as the virus seems to be rebounding in the United States. Saudi Oil Minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman revealed that the extra supply due to the already planned ease of production cuts will be consumed as demand rises. He added that economies globally are beginning to reopen, however, “this is a cautious and gradual process. The recovery signs are unmistakable.”

READ MORE: OPEC launches Annual Statistical Bulletin (ASB)

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Nigeria’s position: OPEC expects the increase in supply to be offset by countries like Nigeria that did not meet full compliance on production cuts. Nigeria will join Iraq and Angola by engaging in a further 842,000 barrels a day of cuts through September. It is still unclear if Nigeria and the other defaulting members would be able to meet production cuts compliance as Nigeria has historically failed to meet production cuts numbers before.

Prince Abdulaziz, who has made it his mission to end the quota cheating that has dogged OPEC+ since its inception in 2016, said these compensation cuts are a crucial principle and the group must resist the temptation to relax.

OPEC+ is preparing to increase production in a period demand picks as Prince Abdulaziz has ensured that no country heats on its production cuts, adding that its essential the group cuts and increases production with one voice. The organization cut production to almost just 10% of global supply which enabled prices to rebound to over $40 after April’s lows.

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Russia says the tapering goes in hand with the current rising demands and expects output hikes to be consumed in markets of OPEC members as it local demands recovers. Saudi Arabia expects flat exports next month as demand rises locally.

 

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Economy & Politics

Over 98% of telecom consumer complaints resolved – NCC

A total of 26,169 complaints were received through all the Commission’s official channels.

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Over 98% of telecom consumer complaints resolved – NCC

Over 98% of the service-related complaints from telecom consumers lodged with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) have been successfully resolved, the commission has stated in a report.

In a press release signed by the Director of Public Affairs, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, and published on its site, the commission noted that all of these complaints were received between January 2019 and  April 2020, and urged consumers to follow established channels of reporting whenever they have a complaint.

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The commission assured consumers of its commitment to improving the “Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE) for both voice and data services for the nation’s over 190 million telecom subscribers”, especially amid the communication challenges imposed by the spread of the Coronavirus.

In the period under review, a total of 26,169 complaints were received through all the Commission’s official channels of communication, and managed by the Commission, out of which 25,575 (98%) were successfully resolved.

“These include 24,481 complaints received through Commission’s Contact Centres; 1,007 complaints received through the NCC Consumer Portal; and 296 others received as written complaints submitted at NCC Head Office in Abuja and at the Commission’s five zonal offices in Lagos, Enugu, Port Harcourt, Kano, and Ibadan. 

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“Complaints also reached the Commission through its official email ([email protected]) while 366 of the complaints were transmitted to the Commission through its social media handles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and the specially-dedicated Twitter handle for consumer issues (@ConsumersNCC). Also, 19 complaints were also referred to the Commission during the period through the Twitter account of Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami” the release stated.

READ MORE: NCC creates digital economy department to harness technology in Nigeria

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, the Prof, Umar Danbatta, expressed his delight that consumers are increasingly utilising the complaint channels instituted and noted that efforts are still ongoing to resolve those that may not have been addressed to the consumers satisfaction.

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“It is important to note that Commission’s actions in this regard is in congruence with NCC’s mandate to protect and defend the rights of the consumer, and to give concrete expression to its faith in the consumer as the lifeblood of the telecom sector,” Danbatta said.

He added that given the outbreak of the pandemic, it had become more expedient for TelCos to provide consumers with reliable services in order to cope with the restrictions to physical movement, and the Commission is determined to hold service providers to their responsibilities and reduce the incidence of complaints.

 

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