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Monday, 12 February 2018

UN launches $1 bn appeal as N.E. Nigeria’s Boko Haram crisis marks its 9th year

Source: UN News Centre
With the crisis in north-east Nigeria – a region devastated by the Boko Haram insurgency – into its ninth year, United Nations agencies together with humanitarian partners today launched a $1 billion appeal to fund life-saving and emergency assistance programmes in the region.
“The humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s north-east, that has spilled over into the Lake Chad region, is one of the most severe in the world today,” said Edward Kallon, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the country.
“This crisis is a protection crisis first and foremost that has also evolved into a food security and nutrition crisis,” added the UN relief official.
According to estimates, nearly eight million people are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance in the restive region, with the states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe the worst impacted.
Fully funded, the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan will reach some 6.1 million most vulnerable, providing them with food, protection, water, shelter and sanitation, medicines, as well as with healthcare, education and agricultural support.
In addition to catering to immediate needs, the Plan also includes a multi-year strategy aligned with national development and recovery efforts as well as with the UN Sustainable Development Partnership Framework in the country.
Altogether, some 60 humanitarian organizations, including UN agencies and non-governmental organizations will be implementing the Humanitarian Response Plan in 2018.
“It is a step towards strengthening the humanitarian, development and peace nexus, in line with the New Way of Working and commitments made at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016,” said Mr. Kallon.
Underscoring the importance of strong coordination and generous funding, the UN official recalled humanitarian efforts in 2017, which delivered life-saving assistance to millions across the region, helped contain a deadly cholera outbreak, and supported children go to school.
However, despite the achievements, many challenges remain and conflict continues to force people from their homes. And while humanitarian assistance has stopped people from slipping further below emergency thresholds, a lasting political solution is critical, said Mr. Kallon.

Friday, 9 February 2018

You can bet on Nigeria’s future, set up factories here now: VP Osinbajo to MNCs

Address by His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, at the Commissioning of the New Nestle Milo Ready-To-Drink Factory in Agbara, Ogun State, Nigeria, on Thursday, 08 February, 2018.
“Our government is also a “ready-to-serve” government, ensuring that we implement the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) to keep the economy on the path of sustainable economic growth and global competitiveness.”
“One important component of the Plan is the provision of critical infrastructure, such as roads, rail and power, which this administration is fully committed to. We’re fully committed to supporting companies such as Nestle as we spur growth and create jobs within the economy.”
“It is my very special pleasure to be here on this occasion of the commissioning of the Nestlé MILO Ready to Drink Factory.
“I am sure we all agree that Nestlé MILO holds a special place in the heart of every Nigerian – since as children, we all aspired to be future champions. Indeed, Nestlé’s commitment to doing business in Nigeria has been unwavering over the past 57 years, since the company’s establishment in Nigeria in 1961. This is truly worth commending – particularly when you consider the socio-economic benefits achieved for Nigeria by the location of its factories in rural areas and sourcing its raw materials from local farmers.
“I recall inaugurating the Abaji water factory in May 2016 and, today, the Ready-to-Drink Factory is another testimonial of the company’s commitment and success in Nigeria.
“I am told that this factory was built at a cost of N4.1 billion, and it will create 150 direct jobs in addition to local sourcing of raw materials from Nestle’s network of over 30,000 farmers.
“Drawing an analogy from that, I must say that our own government is also a “ready-to-serve” government, ensuring that we implement the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) to keep the economy on the path of sustainable economic growth and global competitiveness.
“One important component of the Plan is the provision of critical infrastructure, such as roads, rail and power, which this administration is fully committed to.
“We’re fully committed to supporting companies such as Nestle as we spur growth and create jobs within the economy.
“Another is the creation of an enabling business environment, and making Nigeria a progressively easier place to do business.
“To actualize this goal, in July 2016, Mr. President inaugurated the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), which he asked me to Chair, and he gave us the task of implementing this mandate.
“The business climate reforms undertaken under PEBEC have already begun to bear some fruit and reflects that Nigeria is committed to creating an enabling environment to facilitate private sector-led growth and development. Many, of course, will recall that in October, 2017, the World Bank released its flagship ‘Doing Business’ report for 2018. In that report, Nigeria moved up by an unprecedented 24 places, and for the first time the country was also recognized as one of the top 10 most improved economies in the world.
“This result shows the power of collaboration across various levels of government, especially in the reform areas such as getting credit, where we are now ranked 6th out of 190 countries due to our enhanced legal framework, with the potential to unlock credit to small and medium-scale enterprises by giving added comfort to lenders.
“Last week, PEBEC announced a National Action Plan (NAP 3.0), which commenced on February 5 and will run until April 5, 2018. This accelerated intervention programme will focus on implementing some of the most relevant ease of doing business reforms that have ever come within our radar within the next two months.
“For example, we are working with NAFDAC, SON, the Nigeria Customs Service, as well as the Nigeria Police Force, amongst others, to ease the burden of product registrations, quality standards regulation, as well as the movement of goods and services across the country.
“Since July 2017, the Council also began collaborating with State Governments to implement ease of doing business initiatives that will make States increasingly attractive investment hubs.
“This year, we are working on a number of key reform initiatives, including the deployment of a National Trading Platform comprising a Single Window Platform, deployment of scanners, and a Ports Community system, that will together promote transparency and efficiency at our ports.
“Our implementation efforts will be underpinned by ensuring compliance with Executive Order 001 and on efficiency and transparency in government, as well as our web-based reporting application for validation and objective feedback from the public.
“Furthermore, we are, once again, collaborating with the National Assembly and supporting the passage of their priority business climate reform bills, while partnering to deliver an Omnibus Bill, which will address various irritants within extant laws that need to be amended for the purpose of achieving a better environment for doing business in Nigeria.
“Last Monday, February 5th, Mr. President signed Executive Order 005, a decisive step in the promotion of indigenous businesses, talent and professionals, especially in Science, Engineering and Technology. The order mandates all procuring authorities to give priority to Nigerian companies and firms in the award of contracts. The Order also directs all MDAs to engage Nigerian professionals in the planning, design and execution of National Security projects. The order also specifically prohibits the Minister of Interior from granting work permits to foreign workers whose skills are already available in Nigeria. Where expertise is lacking, procuring entities are required to give preference to foreign companies and firms with a demonstrable and verifiable plan for indigenous development, prior to the award of such contracts.
“From a broader perspective, two days ago, we launched what we call the Policy Laboratories, this is an intervention to accelerate the implementation of our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). The Laboratories will bring together all private and public sector stakeholders necessary to achieve the specific policy or project objectives of our economic plan. In the first instance, we are focusing on three specific areas; agriculture and transport, power and gas supply, and manufacturing and processing.
“The goal of these labs is to generate $24 billion worth of investment, 80% of which we expect will come from certain private sector participants, with 15 million jobs, projecting about 3.5% GDP growth this year, and 7% by 2020.
“As a long time active player in our market, we look forward to continued collaboration with Nestle in achieving our objectives of economic growth and job creation.
“So, on this note, I would like to congratulate the Chairman of Nestle Nigeria – Engr. David Ifezulike; the Managing Director – Mr. Mauricio Alarcon, as well as other members of the Board and management of Nestle Nigeria, and, of course, all of the workers of this great company, on the inauguration of the new Ready-to-Drink factory.
“I believe it is a significant step, not just for Nestle, but also for Ogun State and Nigeria as a whole.
“I, therefore, urge other multinationals to take a cue from Nestle, and bet on Nigeria’s future and domicile their manufacturing bases right here in this country, because this country is, clearly by far and away, the best investment destination in Africa.
“Once again, let me congratulate you all and thank you very much for your attention.”
Source: APO

300 child soldiers released by armed groups in South Sudan

Source: UN News Centre
Some 300 child soldiers, including 87 girls, were formally released by armed groups in South Sudan, the United Nations mission in the country reported on Wednesday, calling on all stakeholders to support young people on the journey back to their communities and help them build a future for themselves.
“Children should not be carrying guns and killing each other. They should be playing, learning, having fun with friends, protected and cherished by the adults around them,” said David Shearer, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for South Sudan, welcoming the release.
Undertaken in Yambio (south-western South Sudan), it is the first such release in over a year and marks the first phase of the overall programme which will see more than 700 children return back to their communities.
“They will have endured suffering, including sexual abuse. It is vital that they receive the support they need to re-join their communities and that they are welcomed home by family and friends without any sense of stigma,” added Mr. Shearer
At a formal ceremony, the children were disarmed and were provided with civilian clothes as well as medical screenings. In the days to come, agencies, such as the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and local partners will provide them with counselling and psychosocial support as part of the reintegration programme.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

More than 600 human rights abuses committed b/w Jan 2016 to June 2017 in Mali, UN report

Source: UN News Centre
Despite the signing of a 2015 Peace Agreement, the human rights situation in Mali still remains a concern, according to a United Nations report published on Thursday.
It found that more than 600 cases of human rights violations and abuses were committed between January 2016 and June 2017: an interim period established under the peace deal aimed at laying the foundations for a democratic and unified country.
“This report provides useful insights on the challenges and progress in the human rights situation in northern and central Mali,” said Mahamat Saleh Annadif, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), which issued the report together with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
“It also demonstrates that respect for human rights, far from being a generator of tension, may contribute, on the contrary, to creating an environment that is conducive to the implementation of the Peace Agreement.”
The Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali signed by the authorities, a rebel alliance from the north and a pro-government armed coalition, was finalized in June 2015.
The UN study showed that more than 800 other incidents involving unidentified armed elements and which put the lives of civilians at risk also took place during the reporting period.
Overall, these acts of violence impacted more than 2,700 victims, the majority of whom were men and children.
They include 441 individuals who were killed.
Nearly 80 per cent of violations, abuses and other incidents that put civilians at risk involved armed movements that were signatories to the Peace Agreement, those which had not signed it, or unidentified armed elements.
Perpetrators also included elements affiliated with Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Ansar Dine and other similar groups.
Meanwhile, the Malian defence and security forces, and other state actors, were involved in 20 per cent of the cases, while international forces, including MINUSMA, were involved in two per cent.
The report said primary factors which led to the violations include confrontations between signatory armed groups in the Kidal region, the expansion of activities of AQIM, Ansar Dine and other similar groups, and increasing armed robberies and other violent crime in the central regions of the country, as well as counter-terrorism operations conducted by the state.

NEXIM urges SMEs to access N550 billion export facilities

The Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) has called on export-oriented Small and Medium Entrepreneurs in the Southeast and Delta States to access the N500 billion Export Stimulation Facility (ESF), and the N50 billion Export Development Fund being managed by the Bank to boost their businesses, create more jobs, and contribute to the foreign exchange revenue earnings of the country.
This call was made in a statement by the Managing Director and CEO of NEXIM, Mr. Abba Bello, and made available by the Bank’s Enugu Regional Office after a one-day seminar on “LEVERAGING NEXIM BANK FACILITIES TO UNLEASH YOUR EXPORT POTENTIAL.” The seminar was held at the Oaklands Centre, Enugu, organised by the Bank and the SME Centre, Enugu.
The facilities were made available to NEXIM Bank last December and will lend at a maximum of 9% interest rate. The funds were designed to redress the declining export credit to SMEs and reposition the non-oil sector to increase its contribution to the country’s revenue generation and economic development. The improved export financing for non-oil exporters will enable them to upscale and expand their businesses and improve their competitiveness.
Speaking on behalf of the Bank’s MD/CEO, the Head of the Bank’s Enugu Regional Office, Mr. Chinedu Moghalu stated that the funds are being made available to the NEXIM by the Central Bank of Nigeria at a time the Bank has decentralized its operations to all the regions of the country for easier accessibility of its products and services to maximize their impacts. According to him, “NEXIM Bank is determined to ensure these funds achieve the desired impact of triggering non-oil export development, growth and economic progress in line with its mandate as the Trade Policy Bank of the Federal Government and the applicable CBN guidelines for the implementation of the facilities.”
The representative of the Enugu State Governor and Special Assistant on SME Development, Honourable Anayo Agu, stated that the programme has come at the right time. According to him, “the opening of NEXIM Bank Regional Office for the Southeast and Delta States in Enugu, and the invitation to the SMEs to access affordable non-oil export facilities, had been the missing link in the efforts of various Governments in the region to derive maximum benefits from their investments in the SME value chain, especially in the agriculture and other non-oil sectors. It provides us the platform to reach heights we could only dream about before now.”
The objectives of the ESF as contained in the CBN guidelines are to: a) Improve access to concessionary finance for exporters to expand and diversify the non-oil export baskets; b) Attract new investments and encourage re-investments in value-added non-oil exports production and non-traditional exports; c) Shore up non-oil export sector productivity and create more jobs; d) Support export oriented companies to upscale and expand their export operations as well as capabilities; e) Diversify and increase the level of contribution of non-oil exports revenue towards sustainable economic development; and f) Broaden the scope of export financing instruments.
The transactions permissible for funding under the ESF include, export of goods wholly or partly processed or manufactured in Nigeria; export of commodities and services, which are permissible and excluded under existing export prohibition list; imports of plant and machinery, spare parts and packaging materials, required for export oriented production that cannot be produced locally.
Other businesses eligible under the ESF are export value chain support services such as transportation, warehousing and quality assurance infrastructure; resuscitation, expansion, modernization and technology upgrade of non-oil exports industries. Stocking facility and working capital can also qualify for funding under the ESF.
Potential applicants to the ESF can either send their requests through their local commercial banks or directly to NEXIM as the revised CBN guidelines assigns the Bank a dual role of both manager and participating financial institution.
The N50 Billion Export Development Fund will be managed by NEXIM and implemented in collaboration with the State governments. NEXIM has earmarked at least N1 billion for each State under the State Export Development Programme component aimed to catalyse and incentivize export investment to promote diversification and industrialization.
Through the Programme, NEXIM Bank will also have a programme for Women/Youth Development, especially to provide support to industries that are involved in Apparel/Garmenting, Cashew and Shea.
The Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele had stated at the announcing of the funds in December 2017 that the ESF can also be implemented by adapting the Anchor Borrowers Programme framework while promoting the PAVE initiative.
According to Moghalu, “The overall aim of the ESF and EDF is to lower the costs of Nigerian exporters so that their products can be priced at a level where they can compete with other products around the world.”
The NEXIM Bank Regional head urged eligible export-oriented companies in the Southeast and Delta States with permissible transactions under the schemes to participate in the funding scheme by submitting proposals for consideration through the financial institutions of their choice or directly to NEXIM Bank. He emphasised that as Nigeria’s sole export credit agency, NEXIM Bank remains the only window through which the Government can provide export financing for non-oil products and services.
Thanking the participants and other stakeholders on behalf of the NEXIM MD, Mr. Moghalu gave assurance that the Bank is committed to working assiduously, in line with its mandate, to fully realise the objectives of the schemes and stated a readiness to provide the necessary advice, additional information or clarifications as may be required.
He thanked the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN), the commodity associations and other organised private sector for their relentless technical support, partnership and collaboration as well as the commitment to work with the Government and private sector in Nigeria to diversify the economy, create jobs, boost industrial production and exports.
Other participants at the seminar were Southeast Government officials; representatives from the members of various chambers of commerce and industries; SME professionals in the banking sector; as well as the media.
Source APO