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Business

AfCFTA: African Finance Ministers to discuss payments system for trade bloc

The African Union is set to discuss the launch of a payment system for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

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Take-off of Africa Free Trade Zone (AFCFTA) suffers set back

The African Union has announced that its Specialised Committee on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and Integration will discuss the launch of a payment system for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) from the 1st to the 3rd of December.

The African Union disclosed this on Tuesday evening, the meeting will be 2 days before the planned deadline on the ratification of the agreement.

READ: CBN provides guidelines to address credit, liquidity risks, others  

What you should know 

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is one of the  biggest free-trade agreements in the world right now with a potential market of 1.2 billion people and a combined gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion

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The Federal Government announced that it has ratified Nigeria’s membership to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), ahead of the December 5, 2020 deadline. The agreement goes into effect from the 1st of January 2021.

READ: Afreximbank invests over $500m in the maritime industry in 3 years 

Mr. Francis Anatogu, Secretary, National Action Committee on AfCFTA, stated that the agreement would reduce the erosion of the naira, which has suffered nearly 90% devaluation since 2016, through exports of Nigerian-made goods and services, and give exposure of the naira to other currencies.

The African Union is building a Continental Payment System that would help ease payment integration in AfCFTA countries. The theme of the meeting will be “Securing Africa’s Taxing Rights, Stemming Illicit Financial Flows and developing payment system for AfCFTA”.

READ: AfDB rewards winners of AgriPitch competition with $120,000

The AU disclosed that it would be a major step towards the Agenda 2063 for Africa. They also added that the meeting will discuss implementations of “Aspiration1”, which aims for continental inclusive growth and development.

They will also discuss how to prevent illegal capital flight and tax challenges surrounding the agreement due to the rising African Digital Economy.

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Business

Lagos reviews building permit approvals and processing time

The Lagos State Government has promised to review planning permit processing time and reduce the lay-out approval process.

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Lagos issues ultimatum to Tank Farm Operators over planning permit, Lagos seals 27 residential and commercial buildings in Lekki, LASG Seals 19 more Buildings in Banana Island over planning permit

The Lagos State Government has promised to review planning permit processing time from 28 to 18 days and reduce the lay-out approval process from 90 to 30 days.

This is part of measures employed by the state to re-engineer their operating procedures to meet the 21st-century demands of the Lagos Megacity.

According to a statement from the Assistant Director of the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mukaila Sanusi, this was contained in a communiqué adopted from resolutions of an annual retreat of the ministry and its agencies.

What the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development is saying

Sanusi in a statement, said, “Highlights of the forward-looking resolutions include the reduction of Planning Permit processing time from 28 to 18 days, reduction of lay-out approval process from 90 to 30 days and the adoption of one stage approval for layout instead of the existing two stages.’’

He pointed out that the staff agreed that the ministry and its agencies should step up their efforts toward realizing their mandates, especially in relation to the 21st century Lagos Economic goal.

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He said, “They resolved to enhance synergy between and among the agencies, particularly the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA) and the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA).’’

According to the statement, the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr Idris Salako, was quoted as saying the resolutions were capable of delivering many advantages.

Some of the benefits of the re-engineered process

Salako listed the benefits to include;

  • Improved revenue,
  • Enhanced service delivery,
  • Reduction of bottlenecks in Planning Permit and Layout approvals,
  • Drastic reduction in illegal building construction,
  • Seamless attainment of an orderly and sustainable environment.

He urged the workforce to fulfil the content of the communiqué with a renewed commitment to providing needed solutions to the challenges in the system.

What this means

The implementation of the resolutions reached at the annual retreat of the ministry and its agencies will ensure that developers apply and process building permits easier, faster and less cumbersome.

It will also eliminate the delays and bottlenecks experienced at state government agencies and reduce the spate of illegal and unapproved buildings.

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Business

Remittance flows to sub-Saharan Africa to dip to $41 billion in 2021- Report

Remittance flows to sub-Saharan Africa are likely to decline by 6.8% to $41 billion in 2021 as against $44 billion achieved in 2020.

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Remittance flows to sub-Saharan Africa have been projected to decline by 6.8% to $41 billion in 2021, from $44 billion achieved in 2020.

This was disclosed in the Foresight Africa 2021 report, a publication of African Growth Initiatives of the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit organization devoted to independent research and policy solutions.

According to the report:

  • “The pandemic has significantly dampened new migration flows worldwide due to widespread travel restrictions, fear of the virus, and weak job prospects. In many host countries, employment levels for foreign workers have fallen, invariably more so than for native-born workers.
  • “A significant number of unemployed migrant workers are returning to their countries of origin, which are now facing the challenge of accommodating hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of returnees, including through the provision of health care, housing, jobs, and financial support.
  • “In the long run, migration flows from Africa are expected to increase significantly, driven by income gaps, the rapidly growing working-age population, and climate change.
  • “Notably, the average income in high-income OECD countries is over 50 times the average income in low-income countries. At recent (pre-COVID-19) growth rates, it would take over a hundred years to close that gap; the pandemic is likely to worsen it.”

What you should know

  • The cost of sending money appears to be quite high and might need to be reduced. For example, the fees paid to remittance service providers to send money to Africa average nearly 9% – the highest rate in the world and three times the Sustainable Development Goal target for remittance costs of 3%.
  • Also, most of the popular digital platforms during the crisis have had their fees reviewed upward in recent months.
  • No doubt, a decision to lower the burden of sending remittances would maximize remittance inflows which are important sources of financing for development in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • It is important that the policymakers work assiduously to make sure remittance service providers do not face difficulties in partnering with correspondent banks via strategic collaborations with post offices, micro-finance banks and other financial institutions, Telcos, etc. to remove entry barriers and increase competition in the remittance markets
  • It is suggested that the global community should consider creating a non-profit remittance platform to provide a one-stop solution to keep remittances flowing and leverage them for development financing for the benefit of millions of poor people in Africa and the rest of the world.

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One killed, 15 kidnapped by pirates on Turkish ship off Gulf of Guinea

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shipping tariffs, Nigeria

A Turkish ship was attacked off Nigeria’s Gulf of Guinea coast, killing an Azerbaijani citizen, and kidnapping 15 sailors, with reports stating the attack, happened way offshore compared to other attacks.

This was disclosed in a report by Reuters on Sunday, as the attack happened on Saturday and has been confirmed by the Turkish government.

The Liberian-flagged vessel was headed to Cape Town from Lagos when it was attacked 160 kilometers (100 miles) off Sao Tome island on Saturday, maritime reports showed.

READ: FG to launch policy to prevent smuggling of mineral resources

The ship which was Liberian Flagged was on its way to Cape Town from Lagos, was attacked 160 kilometers off Sao Tome, crew members added that the attack was well planned as the pirates stormed the Ship’s protective citadel.

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The Gabonese government has confirmed the Ship has reached its waters as 3 Sailors remain on the ship, Mozart,

“The ship is in our waters and our sailors are assisting a few nautical miles from Port Gentil,” Gabon’s presidency spokesman Jessye Ella Ekogha, said.

READ: Blockchain technology expected to tackle Africa’s challenges across industries

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s office said Erdogan spoke with the fourth captain of the ship, Furkan Yaren, and assured them that he will “rescue of kidnapped ship personnel”.

 Furkan Yaren, disclosed that the Ship had been “cruising blindly” towards Gabon as Pirates damaged most of the ship’s controls leaving only radar working.

 Nigerian Navy commander, Edward Yeibo, revealed that Nigeria was not aware of the attack as to when it happened but would seek more details about it.

READ: Fish production, demand, piracy and the required strategies to boost supply

What you should know 

  • Nairametrics reported that West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea recorded an unprecedented increase in piracy attacks in 2020, according to the International Maritime Bureau in its 2020 Annual Piracy report.
  • The IMB reported that 135 crew members were kidnapped from their vessels in 2020, with the Gulf of Guinea accounting for over 95% kidnapped. A record of 130 crew members was kidnapped in 22 separate incidents.
  • The FG launched the $195 million Deep Blue Project which is a NIMASA initiative aimed at the prevention of illegal activities in the maritime domain. Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi stated that all equipment needed for the Deep Blue Project will be ready by March 2021.
  • Maersk, the world’s largest shipping company, has called for military intervention in the piracy problem in the Gulf of Guinea, which has made the gulf the new global headquarters for piracy.

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