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South Africa planning incentives to revive ailing economy

By News Desk,

Embattled South Africa is planning to introduce new incentives in key industrial sectors and reduced red-tape in order to revive the country’s moribund economy.

The economy which got into technical recession recently, is getting messier because of the increasingly hostile international trade environment.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said the government would target industries such as auto and agro-processing and continental trade relations as part of a package to draw investors back to South Africa.

He said the state had also reviewed its bureaucratic red tape to make it easier for investors to start new businesses in the country.

“Some of them (incentives) are sectoral, we have the motor programme, the clothing and textile programme, we also have a business processing services programme as well as the agro-processing programme,” Davies said.

“There are also tax incentives. There are specific incentives that apply to the special economic zones (SEZ).

“In addition the Department of Trade and Industry provides infrastructure and support for the institution of the SEZ.

“In addition to that, there is a tax incentive for companies that invest in the SEZ. There is a suite of incentives which we communicate to investors domestic and foreign which are crucial for making investment decisions.”

In a frank and wide-ranging interview ahead of the Investment Summit next week, Davies painted a bleak future for the South African economy, saying yesterday that next week’s presidential summit and the medium-term Budget policy statement would help kick-start the economy.

Davies conceded that some of South Africa’s economic problems were self-inflicted, pointing to rampant corruption and state capture that had turned investors away.

He said key government institutions were also performing below their capacity and that this had undermined investor confidence in the country.

“Our abilities to influence the economy have been weakened,” he said. “Some of those include, for example, tenders that have been problematic and were given to consortiums involved in imports rather than manufacturing locally.”

Davies said the government was worried about the continuing trade spat between the US and China and its impact on South Africa’s exports to the US.

He said there were plans to increase the local content of assembled cars to 60 percent by 2035 from the current 38 percent.

South Africa fell into a technical recession after recording negative growth in the second quarter, and unemployment rising above 27 percent as output in the manufacturing and mining sectors stagnated.

The country also had to grapple with policy uncertainties and inconsistencies, onerous regulations which curtailed growth.

Davies said – without mentioning the SA Revenue Service by name – that the outlook in the immediate and medium term would remain bleak as revenue collection was expected to come under pressure.

He said the government was moving with speed to address investor concerns and had already taken steps to return create certainty in renewable energy and gazetting the revised mining charter.

“All of these have resulted in an improvement in the investment pipeline,” Davies said.

“The (investment) summit will showcase important investment announcements, and it will also be an opportunity to engage investors.

There is an appreciation for a new dawn and a willingness to realise opportunities that were put on hold in the recent past rather than being pushed forward.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a bold plan to attract $100 billion (R1.42 trillion) of investment for the country in the next five years in April.

Ramaphosa also appointed envoys including Afropulse chairperson Phumzile Langeni, Standard Bank group chief executive Jaco Maree, former finance minister Trevor Manuel and former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas to champion the investments drive.

Davies said the government had targeted industries such as mining, agriculture and mining to kick-start the economy.

He said the government also planned to seize the opportunities presented by regional integration and the establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area to produce more goods for other African markets.

Former Chief Justice Idris Kutigi dies

By News Desk,

Former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Idris Kutigi is dead. He was 78 years old.

Niger state commissioner for Information, Danjuma Sallau said Kutigi died in a London Hospital.

Idris Legho Kutigi was the chief justice of Nigeria between 2007 and 2009 and after retirement, he was made the chairman of the Constitutional Conference set up by the Jonathan administration in 2014.

Kutigi was born on 31 December 1939 in Kutigi, Lavun local government of Niger State.

He began his early education in the town and later had his secondary education in Bida and Barewa College in Zaria.

He also graduated from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, after which he left for England, where he studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and Gibson and Weldon, before returning to attend the Nigerian Law School in Lagos.

Justice Kutigi served as the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Niger State until 1976, when he was appointed high court judge.

He was on the bench in Niger for more than 10 years before his appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court in 1992.

He became the chief justice in 2007, succeeding Justice Alfa Belgore.

He retired on 30 December 2009 and did the unusual by swearing in his successor, Justice Aloysius Iyorgyer Katsina-Alu, who died in July. He did so because President Umaru Yar’Adua was not in the country at the time, due to ill-health.

AfDB gives $50m to Fidelity bank for SMEs

By News Desk,

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a $50 million line of credit to Nigeria’s Fidelity Bank Plc to support small and medium sized.

The money is also meant to support women-owned enterprises in selected transformative sectors, including close to a hundred SMEs in manufacturing, health and education.

Approved by the Bank’s Board on 10 October 2018, the facility is fully dedicated to financing micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs), with a minimum of 30 percent going to women-owned enterprises.

The loan will enhance Fidelity Bank’s liquidity and help meet the demand for medium-term funding to players in the target sectors, contributing to improved quality of lives, job and wealth creation and tax-revenue generation.

The facility complements the Government of Nigeria’s long-term development strategy, as espoused in its Vision 20:2020 agenda.

Aligned with Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-2020 (ERPG), the funding will ultimately boost enterprise competitiveness and expand Nigeria’s economic base.

The ERPG seeks to stimulate Nigeria’s economic growth, catalyse macroeconomic stability, foster diversification of the economy, and enhance social inclusion as well as governance.

According to AfDB, SMEs account for 30 per cent of Fidelity Bank’s loan portfolio.

The selection of the tier 2 Nigerian bank for this seven-year credit facility (with a grace period of two years) is based on its strong niche presence in the SME and mid-sized corporate space.

It is also in recognition of the bank’s credit management and strong track record with the African Development Bank. The Nigerian lender has previously received US$18 million and US$75 million lines of credit from the development finance institution in 2001 and 2013, respectively.

“Fidelity Bank is a niche player, focused on the SME space and this US$50 million credit line will contribute to strengthening its presence in its key market segments,” said Ebrima Faal, Senior Director, Nigeria Country Office at the African Development Bank.

“The Nigerian financial institution also continues to meet its ongoing credit obligations under the terms of previous support received from the African Development Bank.”

The line of credit to the Nigerian financial institution is consistent with the Bank’s Ten-Year Strategy (2013–2022). It also aligns with two of its High 5 priorities – Industrialize Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

Founded in 1987, Fidelity Bank Plc has grown from its marginal position into a stable banking institution.

Currently the 10th largest commercial bank in Nigeria by asset size, it was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in May 2005.

It has a broad client base of about four million customers nationwide, served from a network of over 240 branches and business offices, supported by alternative service delivery channels like ATMs, mobile and electronic banking, and agency banking channels.

Following its renewed digital banking and retail drive, Fidelity Bank was ranked 4th best bank in Nigeria in the retail market segment in the KPMG Banking Industry Customer Satisfaction Survey (BICSS) in 2017.

Canada running out of marijuana two days after it became legal

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

Canadians were so excited about getting their hands on some legal, recreational marijuana the country is reportedly experiencing a shortage.

Police were called to help shops struggling to handle long queues and with frustrated people unable to buy cannabis.

Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief who has led the government’s legalisation programme, told public broadcaster CBC the country was unable to supply enough to meet demand.

“We expected, you know, certain strains might run out and there would be a bit of a run on supply,” he said.

“But, you know, they’ve got a pretty good infrastructure in place and I’m confident it will work.”

On Wednesday Canada became the first industrialised nation and only the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to legalise recreational cannabis as part of a controversial experiment in drug policy.

Under the new law, citizens will be allowed to carry up to 30 grams of cannabis in public and each household will be able to grow up to four marijuana plants.

Nestlé, Chefs promote healthier eating for children

By Health Desk,

Having a variety of fresh foods from all the essential food classes provides one with a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, Nestlé Nigeria Plc said on Saturday in Lagos.

Victoria Uwadoka, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs (CCPA) Manager of Nestlé Nigeria, made the assertion at an event to mark the 2018 International Chefs Day.

The International Chefs Day is commemorated annually on Oct. 20.

The theme for 2018: “ Healthy Foods for Growing Up’’,  is intended to encourage children to think about what they will like to be when they grow up, and how healthy eating today can help them get there’’.

According to Uwadoka, the body needs a variety of the nutrients from protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins and minerals food classes to stay healthy and productive.

“We at Nestlé believe that foods and beverages can be both tasty and healthy; food plays an important role in a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

“So, the World Chefs Day is an opportunity for us to gather with the chef community, those who make sure that we have food to sensitise people about the importance of healthy eating, healthy food habits, especially for children.

“It is important to know how to combine the food that we eat, how to eat healthy and to grow up healthy, then to achieve our dream of living a qualitative life because it is one thing to be alive and one thing to live well.

“Good food makes us live good life and well and for us at Nestlé, our purpose is to contribute to healthier future for individuals and our families,’’Uwadoka said.

Buhari tasks traditional rulers on nation’s unity

By News Desk,

President Muhammadu Buhari has called on traditional rulers across the country to continue to build bridges of unity to ensure the development of the country.

Buhari made the disclosure at the official launch of a book “the Benin Monarchy an Anthology of Benin history” held in Benin on Saturday in commemoration of the 2nd coronation anniversary of the Oba of Benin Oba Ewuare 11.

The president  was  represented by the Secretary to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Boss Mustapha.

He commended the good relationship that exist between the Sultanate and the Benin Kingdom saying it should cut across the country.

He said traditional institutions must continue to stay abreast with the digital changes in the world and should not allow the changes to affect the preservation of customs, languages and tradition of the people.

Buhari congratulated Oba Ewuare 11 and the council of chiefs for preserving the Benin culture, saying that the kingdom is a role model for others to copy.

He further called on traditional rulers across the country to join hand with the Federal Government in preaching against hate speech and money politics as the 2019 elections draws nearer.

The Chairman of the occasion, Retired Gen. Yakubu Gowon commending the outstanding features of the Benin Monarchy describing the book a masterpiece that tells African history written by Africans.

“One of the tragedies of Africa is that our story has always being told by others from their own perspective and from their own purpose.

“The result is that much of the narratives of our continent have been a distorted picture against this background, we appreciate the impact of this singular effort of telling the history of the Benin Kingdom,’’ he said.

Also speaking, former President Good luck Jonathan said the Benin Kingdom had always made the country proud via its rich history and well structured governance system.

Jonathan commended the Oba of Benin for his resourcefulness and protection of his people.

In his remarks, Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo assured that the construction of Benin Royal Museum would be completed before Oct. 20, 2021.

He said he took the decision to complete the project at the recent meeting of the Benin Dialogue Group which was made up of all prominent museums in Europe.

“We also got the commitment of the group to return many of the works that were taken from the palace during the expedition in 1987”, the governor said.

Other dignitaries at the event included the Sultan of Sokoto, former governors of Edo, Chief John Oyegun and Adams Oshiomhole, Vice Chancellor of University of Benin, Prof. Faraday Orumwense among others.

LASG votes N25bn for empowerment programmes – Commissioner

By News Desk,

The Lagos State Government has earmarked N25 billion to facilitate multifarious vocational training programmes under Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode’s leadership.

The Commissioner, Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs Lola Akande, made the disclosure at the 2018 National Insurance Brokers Conference on Saturday in Lagos.

The commissioner spoke on the sub-theme: “Grassroots Development and Poverty Alleviation: The Insurance Alternative’’.

Over 500 insurance practitioners participated in the conference with the theme: “Insurance industry, thrive and survive’’.

Akande said that the major challenge confronting most developing countries, including Nigeria, was poverty.

“Poverty as a disease can engender several other problems including social vices, criminality and emotional challenges.

“It is often said that poverty leads to criminality because an hungry man is not only an angry man but a dangerous fellow,’’ she said.

The commissioner urged private and public sectors to develop ingenious strategies to alleviate poverty.

She noted that the state government had already put in place some measures to tackle such future challenges.

Akande said that empowerment had been a front burner issue for the past and present leaderships because poverty could only be surmounted through empowerment projects and programmes.

“Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode, has not withheld his resources from providing veritable platforms upon which multifarious vocational training programmes can be obtained on tuition-free basis,’’ she said.

She said that over 18,000 students had passed through the centres in the past one year and many of them were empowered at the end of their training.

“This informed the creation of 17 functional skills acquisition centres across the five divisions of the state, where beneficiaries are empowered after completing their training.

“The state government, also, through the Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment set up the Employment Trust Fund to promote entrepreneurial activities to assist women in their businesses, ‘’ the commissioner said.

According to her, the main objective of the fund is to encourage the spirit of enterprise among our young people.

She commended the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB) for sustaining the tempo of regulation of insurance brokers, in spite of the industry’s challenges of poor image and poor acceptability of insurance.

Akande urged industry players to evolve cheaper insurance policies that could stabilise the micro-traders.

She said that once insurance industry can step up its mitigating services to entrepreneurs, “Grassroots Development and Poverty Alleviation’’ will be enhanced.

Boko Haram insurgents kill two farmers in Borno–Army

By News Desk,

The Nigerian Army on Saturday said two persons were killed by Boko Haram insurgents at Kuwa-Yangewa village on Maiduguri-Damboa Road in Borno.

Brig.-Gen. Abdulamalik Biu, the Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Division, said the insurgents attacked a group of persons scavenging for leftover farm produce and killed two of them.

Biu disclosed that the troops deployed to the area rushed to the scene when one of the female victims reported to them.

The commander said he had visited the scene of the attack to appraise the situation, adding that normalcy had been restored to the area.

“Some people went to the farms and Boko Haram insurgents attacked them, they butchered an elderly man and a youth.

“The wife to the elderly man ran and informed the troops, who rushed to the scene to save them. The insurgents fled on sighting the approaching troops.

“Only two persons were killed and no abduction in the attack,” he added.

However, reports indicated that the insurgents killed six farmers and abducted eight others who were harvesting their crops.

A witness, Rachel Hassan, said about a dozen insurgents armed with weapons attacked them while working in the farm in the afternoon.

Recounting her ordeal, Rachel said the insurgents separated females from the males and requested them to go home.

“I hired somebody, a displaced person residing at the Bakassi Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), to work in my farm.

“The insurgents came and gathered us in one place, they asked women to go and macheted the males,” she recounted.

Rachel said that some of the corpses were cut to pieces, adding that she reported the case to the GRA police station.

Malam Ahmadu Salisu, a relative of one of the victims, said his brother and 11 other farmers of Maduganari area of Maiduguri, went to work in their farms in the morning.

Salisu narrated that the insurgents attacked the farmers from different directions and butchered them.

“So far we recovered four corpses from the farms while eight others are missing or abducted by the insurgents,” he said.

Another victim, Aisha Waziri, said that she was informed by her neighbors that her husband was killed in the farm by the insurgents.

Madrid poor run puts Lopetegui under pressure

By Sports Desk,

Real Madrid failed to ease the pressure on coach Julen Lopetegui and instead set the record for the longest goal-drought in the club’s history during a surprise 2-1 defeat by Levante on Saturday.

Defeat means Madrid have now gone five games without a victory and by the time Marcelo gave them hope of a comeback at the Santiago Bernabeu, they had gone 481 minutes without a goal too.

The club’s previous worst run had been 464 minutes, in 1985.

For a team that prides itself on flair and flamboyance, it is a streak that reflects just as badly on Lopetegui as the results, which could leave Real Madrid four points adrift of Barcelona later on Saturday, with a ‘Clasico’ to come next weekend at the Camp Nou.

If Barca’s players were watching, they would have been licking their lips at the sight of Raphael Varane handing Levante a two-goal lead here after just 13 minutes. Jose Luis Morales and Roger Marti, from the penalty spot, were the beneficiaries.

At the final whistle, Lopetegui stood on the touchline, with his hands on his hips, staring ahead in disbelief.

He had left Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema on the bench, perhaps due to fitness issues, and the gamble backfired, despite both making a difference when brought on in the second half.

Madrid were two behind after 13 minutes and both came from Varane mistakes. The first was more blatant as he misjudged the flight of Sergio Postigo’s through ball and Morales was clear.

Thibaut Courtois rushed out but Morales nicked it round him and fired into the open net.

It got worse as Varane handled a bouncing ball on the edge of the area but as Madrid’s wall waited, Guillermo Cuadra refused to allow the free-kick to be taken.

The Video Assistant Referee said Varane’s handball was inside the box and Roger converted the penalty.

For the rest of the half, Madrid were scatty and imprecise, their finishing spoiled by bad luck but a lack of composure too.

VAR proved their undoing again, ruling Marco Asensio’s follow-up offside after Casemiro had headed against the crossbar. Mariano was also denied by the woodwork while Ramos and Lucas Vazquez missed from three yards.

At half-time, there were a scattering of white handkerchiefs — the traditional expression of discontent — but more whistles. After the restart, the home fans sang “echale huevos”, meaning, “play with some balls”.

Lopetegui had thrown Bale on for Alvaro Odriozola at the interval while Benzema and Dani Ceballos were introduced on the hour. Not before the 56th minute had passed, however, and Madrid’s drought became their longest ever.

Benzema shot straight at Oier Olazabal, who then pushed a bending Bale free-kick wide. Finally, Madrid scored, with that pair involved again as Bale flicked to Benzema at the back post. He picked out Marcelo to drive into the roof of the net.

Madrid believed again as Benzema struck the far post with a curling effort and Mariano thought he had grabbed an equaliser in the 87th minute. The striker, however, had strayed just offside. For Madrid, it was not to be.

The burden of needs as more states join emergency list

By News Desk,

Needs among flood-affected communities are rising as five new states have been added to the list of states whose flood related concerns had been declared a national emergency.

An approximate 602,000 people have been displaced and 1.9 million are affected, according to the latest numbers released by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

According to an assessment conducted by Nigerian Red Cross, food, essential household items, as well as basic health and sanitation are among the most urgent needs.

Mr Dan Usman, Branch Secretary of the Nigerian Red Cross in Kogi State said that communities have lost everything – all their farmland is submerged.

“They have left their homes and they have nowhere to go, people are managing to eat one meal a day now – honestly, it’s devastating,” Usman said.

The Nigerian Red Cross has conducted an assessment in communities across four of the worst affected states – Anambra, Delta, Kogi and Niger with support from an international team of experts from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Many houses have been submerged and IDPs are taking refuge in schools, hospitals and other upland buildings where government is supporting some basic needs.

In places like Patani, Delta State, the only area upland is on Patani-Ughelli expressway where small shanties have been built near a swamp to house the influx of people.

Florence Apa, a person who is disabled in Patani IDP Camp, said that although the location of the camp was not the best, it was the only upland available for them to move in.

Florence Apa, a woman living with disability, sitting in front of her shanty that had been devastated by flood

“For my condition, it is very difficult for me because when my son is out looking for what we would eat, I cannot get up to my wheelchair on my own.

“We are here not because we want to, but because our houses have been flooded and this is the only option that we have.”

“I hope we can find another place which would be a bit more comfortable while they wait for the water to recede,”Apa said.

Kwale camp is one of the most congested in the state, which has put major strains on the ability to deliver enough relief supplies to cater to the large numbers of IDPs.

Johnbull Imunoh, a businessman said that most of the IDPs in the camp spread their cloths to sleep on in the corridors because the classroom halls cannot accommodate anymore people.

“As you can see, there is no way to walk through in the hall, it is overcrowded it puts us at risk of getting contagious diseases.

“Already, we have recorded several cases of malaria, and now, some of them are having different kind of skin infections but there is no antifungal creams for treatment, we need urgent help,” Imunoh said.

Dr Michael Alawei, Patani Local Government Primary Health Care doctor in charge of the Patani IDPs camp said that cases of malaria have been rising every day because of the stagnant water.

“At the moment, the most prevalent illness we have is malaria but because of the proactive measures we have taken, we have not recorded any mortality.

“Although, we still need more malaria drugs, especially the injectables,” Alawei said.

Abubakar Kande, Secretary General of the Nigerian Red Cross said that the NRCS is distributing emergency food and essential household items such as blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, kitchen sets, buckets, female hygiene kits and sanitation item.

He said that they are distributing these items to more than 10,000 families across several flood-affected states, starting in Kogi followed by Anambra, Delta and Niger.

“We want to ensure that families can meet their critical basic needs right now to get them through the next several weeks and months.

“However, we know that recovery from a devastating flood like this will be a long road ahead and Red Cross will continue to do everything possible to support communities for the years to come,” Kande said.

The IFRC has launched an appeal, seeking 5.4 million Swiss Frans to enable Nigerian Red Cross to respond to 300,000 of the most vulnerable people affected by floods.