Nigeria’s candidate for the vacant World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General post, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has expressed confidence in her quest to lead the crisis-ridden global trade organization after all of Africa backed her candidacy, vowing she would champion reform.
This disclosure was made by Nigeria’s former Finance Minister at a virtual press briefing on Friday, October 17, 2020, after 55-member African Union officially supported her over the sole remaining opponent, Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea.
Okonjo-Iweala during the virtual press briefing said, “I feel the wind behind my back,”
She said she was thrilled to learn that all African countries are supporting her. According to her, this is in addition to a group of Caribbean and Pacific countries, who had promised to back her, bringing the number of countries officially endorsing her candidacy to 79 out of the 164 countries that comprise the WTO.
She was also optimistic of support from Latin American and felt she has gotten very good traction and good support in Asia so far.
She said the European Union was meanwhile due to announce its preference soon and feels quite confident that across the regions, they will be able to attract support.
The global trade body is set to be led by a woman for the first time whichever of the two candidates is successful in their bid to succeed Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down as WTO director-general in August a year ahead of schedule.
Okonjo-Iweala, 66, who served as Nigeria’s first female finance and foreign minister and has a 25-year career behind her as a development economist at the World Bank, said it would be good if WTO could also boast its first African leader.
She said, “If that person is African and a woman, I think that is great. Because… neither an African nor a woman has led the organization.’’
“The WTO at this time with the challenges it confronts needs a very competent Director General who is able to have the political reach and stature to be able to do reforms and deal at very high levels. It is not only having those skills, but having them all meet in one person at this juncture when the WTO needs that.”
The WTO was already grappling with stalled trade talks and struggling to manage tensions including trade disputes between the United States and China, even before the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic.
The global trade body has also faced relentless attacks from the United States, which has crippled the WTO dispute settlement appeal system and threatened to leave the organization altogether.
Okonjo-Iweala said she had broad experience in championing reform and was the right person to help put the WTO back on track.
She said, “I am a reform candidate and I think the WTO needs the reform credentials and skills now.”
It can be recalled that the initial pool of 8 candidates for the WTO’s top post, which has been reduced after 2 rounds of elimination processes, had included 3 Africans, and the AU had until now refrained from offering an official endorsement.
The third and final round of consultations seeking to establish consensus around one candidate is due to begin next week and end on October 27, with the announcement due in early November.
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Nigerian states generate N1.31 trillion IGR in 2020 as Lagos dwarfs others
The 36 states and the Federal Capital, generated a sum of N1.31 trillion as Internally generated revenue (IGR) in 2020
The 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory generated a sum of N1.31 trillion as Internally generated revenue (IGR) in 2020. This was contained in the state IGR report, which was recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
According to the report, the states’ IGR declined by 1.93% from N1.33 trillion, recorded in the previous year to N1.31 trillion in 2020. It however increased by 11.7% compared to N1.69 trillion recorded in 2018.
The decline may be due to the effects of the covid-19 pandemic on the various states of the federation, as they were forced to implement lockdown protocols to curb the spread of the disease in the country.
- States generated N1.09 trillion from taxes in the year 2020, accounting for 83.3% of the total IGR received in the year.
- Tax revenue also declined, when compared to N1.11 trillion collected in the previous year. This represents a 2.25% decline year-on-year.
- Lagos State recorded the highest Internally Generated Revenue of N418.99 billion, accounting for 32.1% of the total and closely followed by Rivers State with N117.19 billion.
- Others with the highest IGR in 2020 include Abuja (N92.06 billion), Delta (N59.73 billion), and Kaduna (N50.75 billion).
- Kebbi State recorded the highest year-on-year growth of 87.02%, closely followed by Ebonyi at 87.3%. Oyo State grew its IGR by 42.23%, Borno (41.63%), while Katsina grew by 34.16%.
- On the flip side, Benue State recorded the highest year-on-year decline of 41.38%, followed by Sokoto State, which dipped by 37.93%, Kwara (36.03%), Jigawa (32.95%), and Ogun State (N28.44%).
A cursory look at the data shows that the States recorded the highest quarterly IGR in the first quarter of the year, before the covid-induced lockdown in March 2020. It however dipped significantly by 25.53% to stand at N269.88 billion in Q2 2020.
States generated a sum of N338.57 billion in Q3 2020 and then recorded a marginal decline in Q4 2020 to stand at N335.25 billion.
Lagos dwarfed others
Lagos State recorded the highest internally generated revenue in 2020, having made N418.99 billion, accounting for 32.08% of the total states’ IGR recorded in the period under review.
- It is no surprise that Lagos State makes this much revenue as it is regarded as the commercial hub of Nigeria.
- According to the data from NBS, Rivers State is a distant second on the list with N117.19 billion as IGR, representing 8.97% of the total, while the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja followed closely with N92.06 billion, representing 7.05% of the total recorded in the year.
- Others on the list include Delta State (N59.73 billion), Kaduna State (N50.77 billion), Ogun (N50.75 billion), and Oyo State with N38.04 billion.
Kebbi, Ebonyi boosted revenue by over 80%
Kebbi State and Ebonyi State grew their internally generated revenue by over 80%, with Kebbi recording 87.02% growth in IGR to stand top on the list of states with the highest growth rate; followed closely by Ebonyi State with 82.3% growth in IGR to stand at N13.59 billion.
- Oyo State grew its IGR by 42.23%, Borno (41.63%), Katsina (34.16%), and Gombe (25.5%).
- Meanwhile, 18 out of the 37 states of the federation recorded a decline in IGR in 2020, a list led by Benue State, having dipped its annual IGR by 41.38%, followed by Sokoto with 37.93%, Kwara (36.03%), Jigawa (32.95%), and Ogun State with a decline of 25.44%.
What this means
- The decline in states’ internal revenue was caused by the pandemic which struck earlier in 2020, disrupting economic activities in the country.
- Nigeria recorded a recession in the third quarter of 2020, after a consecutive economic contraction, recorded in Q2 and Q3 2020.
- It, however, recovered from the recession in the fourth quarter. It is therefore hoped that as economic activities resume fully in the country, the states will be able to boost their revenue in the short-to-medium term.
Lack of vaccine access will reduce Africa’s economic growth compared to rest of world – IMF
IMF forecasts that Nigeria is expected to grow by 2.5% in 2021 and 2.3% in 2022.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stated that a continued lack of access to vaccines will see Africa’s projected growth at 3.4% compared to the rest of the world at 6%.
The IMF disclosed this in its Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa, April 2021, which was published on Thursday.
What the IMF said
- Despite turning out better than expected, growth in 2020 is estimated to have been the worst on record at –1.9 %, leading to a sharp spike in poverty.
- In 2021, the region’s economy is expected to resume expansion at 3.4%, weaker than the 6% for the rest of the world, amid a continued lack of access to vaccines and limited policy space to support the crisis response and recovery.
- Macroeconomic policies will in many countries entail some difficult choices. Saving lives remains the first priority, which will require access to affordable vaccines, ensuring that the logistical and administrative prerequisites of vaccination rollouts are in place, targeted containment efforts, and added spending to strengthen local health systems.
The IMF urged that African leaders needed to create more fiscal space and implement transformative reforms to unlock economic growth. These include mobilizing domestic revenue, strengthening social protection, promoting digitalization, and improving transparency and governance.
The body added that the need for reforms is to reduce debt and find a sustainable footing which would be a catalyst for longer-term growth and provide opportunities for the region’s new job seekers.
On growth projections
- IMF forecasts that Nigeria is expected to grow by 2.5% in 2021 and 2.3% in 2022.
- South Africa is expected to grow by 3.1% in 2021 and 2.0% in 2022.
- Kenya is expected to have higher growth at 7.6% in 2021 and 5.7% in 2022.
- Meanwhile, Ghana is forecasted to grow by 4.6% in 2021 and 6.1% in 2022.
In case you missed it
Nairametrics reported earlier this month that the International Monetary Fund had lifted its global growth outlook to 6% in 2021 (0.5% point upgrade) and 4.4% in 2022 (0.2 percentage point upgrade), after an estimated historic contraction of -3.3% in 2020, due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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