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Business

AfCFTA: How free movement of people will boost intra-African trade – ECA

The ECA has tasked member countries on the importance of the free movement protocol to the success of the AfCFTA.

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Jobs have been lost and prices have skyrocketed - LCCI's DG speaks against border closure

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has urged member states in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to prioritize the free movement of people as it was one of the agendas signed during the Abuja Treaty establishing the African economic community in 1991.

This was disclosed by Mr David Luke, Coordinator, African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) of the ECA during an event organised by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) at the 53rd session of its Conference of Ministers in Addis Ababa on Saturday.

In the lecture titled “Digitalising Migration Response to harness Africa’s Economic Development and Demographic Dividend in the COVID-19 Era”, the ECA director revealed that four basic freedom components made up the AfCFTA agenda which are: movement of people, capital, goods and services.

Luke cited the Abuja Treaty which formed the African economic community and adopted by the old Organisation for African Unity in 1991.

“This represents the fifth phase of the Abuja Treaty which is expected to be realised by 2023.

“The Protocol to the Treaty on the Establishment of the African Economic Community relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment was adopted in January 2018 together with a comprehensive implementation roadmap.

“Yet there has been a slow pace of signature and ratification of the protocol,” he said.

He added that Africa must do better than its current input on free movement as it cannot depend only on the AfCFTA Protocol on services that allow for movement in relation to investment and service delivery.

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The ECA disclosed that the protocol must be ratified by 15 member states to enter into force and 32 have signed but only Rwanda, has ratified it.

“It is the free movement of people which will boost intra-African trade under the AfCFTA, and enable African countries to proactively and swiftly respond to the twin green and digital transitions we are faced with in the 2020s,” Luke said.

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In case you missed it: Nairametrics reported in November 2020 that AfCFTA got closer to actualization as Customs officials in the continent agreed to draft continental guidelines to enable the movement of goods, services and people for the agreement.

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Business

FG gives completion date for Apapa-Oshodi-Ojota-Oworonshoki road project

The government said the reconstruction/rehabilitation of the expressway will be completed within 9 to 10 months.

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AfDB's Akinwumi Adesina and Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, AfDB to support Ekiti State road and airport upgrade

The Federal Government has given a timeline for the completion of the Apapa-Oshodi-Ojota-Oworonsoki expressway project.

The government said the reconstruction/rehabilitation of the expressway which was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2018, to resolve the Apapa traffic gridlock, will be completed within 9 to 10 months.

This disclosure was made by the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Mr Olukayode Popoola, during a joint inspection with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) on Saturday, April 17, 2021.

He assured that section one of the project would be completed within 3 weeks and thereafter opened for use.

Popoola said that the rehabilitation works, which had been divided into four sections to ease port congestion and gridlock at the Apapa axis, have section one which spans from Liverpool Round through Creek Road to Beachland near Sunrise and is about 10 km, while section two is 8.4 km and spans from Beachland to Cele Bus Stop.

Briefing the press after the inspection that also had in attendance the NPA Managing Director, Hadiza Usman, and the Hitech Construction Company, the subcontractor handling the project on behalf of the Dangote Group, Popoola said that grey areas such as accessibility due to trucks infringing on construction zone and disagreements on the pace of construction had been resolved.

What the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos is saying

Popoola said that the inspection gave the NPA team the opportunity to see for themselves that the contractor had been working progressively.

He said, “And this section that we are is the end of section one which we have completed. We will complete the remaining portion within the next three weeks, especially the asphalt work.

So within that three weeks, the outstanding works will be completed fully and then the section one will be made available to the motorists.

We (FMW) also complained about the trucks that are infiltrating the road while we are working. We have told them (NPA) that we cannot allow trucks to flock onto the section where we are working because they will disturb the contractor.

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So the trucks will now be monitored and controlled fully. Both the NPA security, the Nigerian Police, LASTMA and then the contractor’s representative will form a synergy to work out how they will be controlling the trucks that enter into the port road henceforth,’’ Popoola said.

He said the contractor is expected to move to site to start the construction works on section two of the project based on agreement adding that work on sections three and four had reached an advanced stage, with over 70% completion reached cumulatively.

Popoola said that the entire project would be completed and handed over within the next nine to 10 months, including section two which had just been awarded.

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The NPA Managing Director said that agreements were reached on timelines for construction works in order not to disrupt port operations with resolutions that the contractor worked during the weekends and on public holidays to ease congestion.

She said it was resolved that a corridor would be opened for trucks movement in addition to palliative works on some roads and another inspection in three weeks on section one.

The contract was awarded to AG Dangote Construction Company Ltd at the cost of N73bn under the Tax Credit Scheme of the Federal Government.

What you should know

  • It can be recalled that the Federal Government had earlier in the year said that the first phase of the Apapa-Oshodi-Ojota-Oworonshoki project, which has faced several delays, would be delivered in April 2021.
  • The government said that sections one, three and four of the project which was awarded to AG Dangote Construction Company Ltd at the cost of N73bn under the Tax Credit Scheme of the Federal Government, were almost ready and would be completed in April.
  • They had also said that section two of the project which spans from Beach Land bus stop area to Cele Bus Stop which was recently awarded would also be completed in December 2021.

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Business

USSD N42 billion debt: Telcos insist banks have to pay, seek CBN, NCC intervention

Telcos in Nigeria have called for the intervention of the CBN and NCC as they insist that banks have to pay the N42 billion debt for the USSD services.

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Bank CEOs, NCC, CBN to meet over USSD charges

Telecommunications companies have insisted that the banks have to pay the N42 billion debt for the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) and called for the intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) over the dispute.

This follows the accumulation of the debt to the mobile network operators over a period of about 1 year for services rendered to the deposit money banks.

According to a report from Punch, this was made known by the Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, Gbenga Adebayo, who said that this has become a moral burden on the banks.

What the Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria is saying

Adebayo, in his statement, said, “The over N42bn debt remains outstanding and the banks have to pay the telcos. It has become a moral obligation because the banks used the services, debited their customer accounts and now not paying the telcos.

Who do they expect to pay and what were the deductions made from their customers for USSD services, which you and I were debited for?

What is the deduction meant to for? It’s a debt and the banks have to pay the operators. It’s a moral obligation.”

On the association’s next step should the banks refuse to pay, Adebayo stated that the CBN and NCC would have to intervene.

He said, “We are hoping the regulators, CBN and NCC, having intervened by preventing operators from disconnecting the USSD services, will resolve the lingering debt issues.

 “They (banks) owe the operators and they will pay. Otherwise, where is the money deducted for USSD services from their customers? You and I know we were charged for USSD transactions; what is the deduction meant for?

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What you should know

  • It can be recalled that telecommunication firms under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), had threatened to withdraw their Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services to financial institutions from March 15 due to the N42 billion accumulated debt.
  • However, following the intervention of the CBN and NCC, the planned action was shelved with both parties (the telcos and the banks), going into a meeting with the Federal Government representatives.
  • As a fallout of the meeting, the CBN and NCC announced the introduction of N6.98 per transaction as new charges for customers using the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services with effect from March 16, 2021.
  • Recently, the Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, reportedly stated that Nigerian banks were not indebted to telecommunications firms for using telcos platforms to provide payment services.
  • The statement made the President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Ikechukwu Nnamani, ask CBN to call the banks to order as regards agreements reached on the settling of the N42bn.

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