Access Bank secures $162.5m syndicate loan to support MSMEs
Lagos, March 11, 2019 Access Bank on Monday said it had signed a subordinated syndicated Loan agreement worth $162.5 million (N58.18 billion) to promote growth and job creation by supporting Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
The bank’s Spokesman, Abdul Imoyo, said in a statement in Lagos that the facility was arranged by FMO, a Dutch development bank, and was provided together with BIO, a Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries.
Others include Blue Orchard Microfinance Fund, CDC Group plc, DEG (Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH), Finnfund (Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation Ltd), Oikocredit (Ecumenical Development Cooperative Society U.A).
Also, European Financing Partners S.A, funded by the European Investment Bank, is acting on behalf of the European Community and Norfund (Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries).
According to the bank, FMO acted as the mandated lead arranger and will be the facility agent.
It said the facility would qualify as Tier-II capital, which would enable Access Bank to roll out its five-year strategy of becoming Africa’s gateway to the world.
Access Bank noted that part of the strategy was also to deepen the footprint in the retail segment as well as increasingly support local Micro, Small, and Medium-size Enterprises (MSMEs).
It said this would thereby support job creation in the Nigerian economy.
Speaking on the transaction, Herbert Wigwe, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at Access Bank, said the management was pleased to have worked with a world-class group of lenders on the transaction.
“The deal further reinforces the fact that our institution remains globally respected and reputable.
“The syndicated facility is geared toward supporting the bank’s efforts to promote the growth and job creation potential of the private sector through improved access to financing.
“Additionally, specific attention will also be paid to strengthening Micro, Small and Medium-size enterprises as many have been held back due to a lack of access to finance.
“We believe this relationship will be the beginning of many more international partnerships with such entities.”
Linda Broekhuizen, Chief Investment Officer at FMO, said FMO was proud to be the mandated lead arranger for this landmark transaction.
Broekhuizen said: “Through this transaction, FMO strengthens its long-standing relationship and commitment to our well-reputed client Access Bank.
“All lenders are pleased to be significant contributors to fostering the Nigerian economy and supporting job creation.”
Sexual abuse: Ekiti Assembly passes bill for child-victims to access compulsory medical treatment
The Ekiti House of Assembly has passed a bill to enable children, who fall victim of sexual abuse in the state, receive compulsory, immediate and adequate medical treatment.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the bill was passed at Tuesday’s plenary, presided over by the Speaker, Mr Funminiyi Afuye, in Ado-Ekiti.
The passage of the bill, entitled “Sexual Violence Against Children (Compulsory Treatment and Care) Bill, 2020, followed the submission of the report of the House Committee on Women Affairs and Social Development by its Chairperson, Mrs Adekemi Balogun.
Balogun (APC-Ado I) had said that the bill, if passed, would guarantee a child sexually abused access to immediate and adequate medical treatment at any registered hospital in the state.
The draft bill also stipulates that any hospital, person in charge of medical institutions and corporate organisations, who fails to receive and ensure access to adequate medical care of children sexually violated, is liable to prosecution.
The punishment for any offender, who refuses to receive and treat victim as well as report the matter to the nearest police station or the appropriate body, ranges from a fine of N500,000 to N1,000,000 or imprisonment upon conviction.
NAN reports that the Assembly, at its Tuesday plenary, also passed the Ekiti College of Agriculture and Technology, Isan-Ekiti Law (Amendment), 2020.
The lawmakers also debated the Ekiti Public Finance Management Bill, 2020.
Contributing to the debate, Messrs Gboyega Aribisogan (APC-Ikole I) and Rapheal Ajibade (APC-Moba) as well as Mrs Olubunmi Adelugba said that if passed, the bill would strengthen the management of public funds in the state.
They, therefore, urged members to give speedy passage to the bill in the interest of accountability and transparency of governance in the state.
Commenting on the bill, Afuye urged the appropriate committee to look at every clause of the draft so that there would not be any conflict with any extant law.
The bill was subsequently committed to the House Committee on Finance and Appropriation for further legislative consideration.
NAN reports the lawmakers, thereafter, adjourned plenary till June 4.
Food security: Lagos vegetable farmers seek access to fertiliser at affordable cost
The farmers told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos that lack of access to fertiliser during the previous planting season contributed to shortage and high cost of vegetables in markets.
He said that the price was too high for most subsistence farmers in the state.
Azzare said that not less than 23 bags of 50kg fertiliser would be required to ensure good harvest from his farm.
According to him, many farmers have resorted to the use of organic manure from animal waste to enrich the soil to enable them to break even.
“The organic manure application is cumbersome and requires much labour unlike the NPK inorganic fertiliser application that even gives better yield.
“Many of us did not plant this period because of our inability to get inputs at reduced price; that is a threat to food security in the near future,” he said.
Azzarr added that if government could help by bringing the price down, more farmers would cultivate during the late planting season and ensure availability of vegetables all year round.
Dogo, who said that he hired 15 labourers to assist him in his two hectares, said that fertiliser was essential to enable him to engage them all year round and make profit.
“I want government to sell fertilser to us. I have been going to the government warehouse at Ojo Agriculture Inputs office for the product but there is non there.
“The last time we got fertiliser there was two years ago at N5,000 per bag. It is much better than the rate at the open market,” he said.
The farmer said that availability of the product would encourage many of his colleagues to cultivate more, gainfully engagg more people and make vegetables cheaper in the market.
Maldives calls for universal access to COVID-19 vaccine
Maldives Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen has called for any vaccine or treatment invented to combat COVID-19 to be made accessible to all countries, local media reported here Saturday.
In a statement representing the Maldives at the Solidarity Call to Action for Global Access to COVID-19 Technologies, Minister Ameen said that the pandemic has shown the necessity for global cooperation.
Ameen said that COVID-19 had exposed the vulnerabilities of many countries and that support for developing countries in particular must be strengthened.
The Solidarity Call to Action for Global Access to COVID-19 Technologies was initiated by Costa Rica with help from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Farmers free to access farms despite lockdown – Kaduna govt
Hajiya Halima Lawal, Commissioner of Agriculture, said in a press statement issued in Kaduna that farmers should go for land preparations and other farming activities for the 2020 cropping season.
“The ministry, with the support of partners, has deployed fertilisers and other inputs to all the 23 Local Government Areas in the state.
“Similarly, companies that sell improved seedlings and other farm inputs have been encouraged to set up shop at the various fertiliser sales points, enabling farmers to purchase all required inputs in one-stop-shops across the Local Government Areas for time and cost effectiveness,” she added.
The commissioner warned against the diversion of the fertiliser being sold to farmers at N5,000 per bag, noting that the government had received reports of some individuals buying up the subsidised fertiliser by proxy.
‘’These middlemen, through their agents, buy up as many bags of fertiliser as possible, with the intention of reselling above the official price of N5,000.”
Lawal said security operatives have been mandated to arrest anyone involved in sabotaging government effort to make fertilizer available at affordable price for farmers.
According to her, the ministry has been running radio and television announcements, advising residents to report all suspicious cases of diversions or any illicit activities.
“Whistle-blowers should remain assured of their anonymity while reporting to these dedicated telephone numbers: 08030453360, 08029133240.’’
Lawal stressed that in spite of the lockdown, the state government has allowed unfettered movement of agricultural items and inputs, to ensure food availability.
Edited By: Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)
WHO and partners launch COVID-19 Technology Access Pool
The World Health Organization (WHO), Costa Rica and other partners on Friday officially launched a COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, an initiative aimed at making vaccines, tests, treatments and other health technologies to fight COVID-19 accessible to all.
WHO said in a press release that the Pool was first proposed in March by President Carlos Alvarado of Costa Rica and so far has been supported by over 30 countries and multiple international partners and institutions.
Speaking at a virtual media briefing on Friday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, or C-TAP, is a sister initiative of the ACT Accelerator, another plan that WHO and partners launched a month ago to speed up the development, production and equitable distribution of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics for COVID-19.
“Through C-TAP, we are inviting companies or governments that develop an effective therapeutic to contribute the patent to the Medicines Patent Pool, which would then sub-license the patent to generic manufacturers,” Tedros said.
He added that C-TAP is voluntary and builds on the success of the Medicines Patent Pool in expanding access to treatments for HIV and hepatitis C.
“WHO recognizes the important role that patents play in fueling innovation, but this is a time when people must take priority. Tools to prevent, detect and treat COVID-19 are global public goods that must be accessible by all people,” the WHO chief noted.
Adamawa Govt accesses N10bn UBEC funds
Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa says the state government has accessed N10 billion from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) funds
Fintiri made the disclosure in a special broadcast on the occasion to commemorate his one year in office on Friday in Yola.
According to him, on assumption of office on May 29, 2019, he discovered that the state had lost out on the UBEC funding from 2015 to 2019.
” Within one year in office, our administration provided matching grants for the lost years.
He noted that government had for the first time in many years, paid examination fees for students, who would be sitting for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination by WAEC, NABTEB, NBAIS and the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) by NECO.
Fintiri confirmed that since 2007 successive administrations in the state had stopped paying the SSCE fees.
He noted that his government had been able to present over 27,894 students for external examinations, with all the fees of such examinations paid by the government.
On security situation, he noted that with barely one year in office, his administration had revamped the Joint Security Taskforce, codenamed: “Operation Farauta”.
The governor also pointed out that the State Government had purchased and donated 60 Hilux vans to the taskforce, a move, which had yielded remarkable feats.
Speaking on agricultural development in the last one year, Fintiri stated that the citizens would soon witness bumper harvest as the farmer/herder crisis has been drastically reduced.
“Farmers are returning back to their ancestral homes and many Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the state are being permanently closed down, after months of sojourn in unfamiliar terrains,” he assured.
Edited By: Chinyere Nwachukwu/Felix Ajide (NAN)
Lockdown: Kano tomato farmers seek pest control measures, access to market
Some tomato farmers in Kano have advocated for pest control measures to accelerate cultivation of tomato and other perishable produce in the state.
They also advocated for easing of the restriction on movement to provide access to the market for the produce.
A cross section of the farmers made the call in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Kano.
Maikudi Ibrahim, a tomato grower in Jaba-Gama area of Kano, said that cultivation was becoming more difficult due to pest infestation of tomato plants.
Ibrahim lamented that pests were more prevalent during rainy season and exposed them to losses, the trend he described as discouraging.
“I have been practicing tomato farming for many years. I have experienced this kind of pest destruction in the past years.
“The arrival of the rain also affects the plants as many plantations wilted to the rain.
“We call for the governments’ intervention to boost cultivation and halt farmers jettisoning tomato cultivation for other crops because of pest invasion,’’ he said.
Another farmer, Mr Bautre Musa said that many people in the area engaged in tomato and perishable produce cultivation in view of its lucrative nature.
Musa said that most farmers lost their investments to the pests due to the lack modern technologies to control it.
“We no longer get good returns due to low market occasioned by the COVID-19 lockdown.
“It is desirable to review the lockdown measures to enhance farmers’ access to the market.
“We also call on the government to assist farmers with chemical and irrigation facilities to encourage productivity,” he said.
Alhaji Muhammad Bello, the Chairman of farmers’ association in the area, said tomato and other perishable produce cultivated by farmers were being transported to other parts of the country.
“Pest control is imperative to sustain tomato cultivation which provided means of livelihood to our people.
“It is because of the mass cultivation that a tomato processing plant by the Dangote Group and other companies came to the state.
“This is a proof of our contribution to the national food security,” he said.
NAN reports also that prices of tomato and other perishable produce had indicated significant increase due to low supply from the farms.
A basket of tomato is now sold at 4, 000 as against its old price of N3, 000 before the rainfall.
Similarly, a small size bag of pepper is sold at N7, 000 and onions N8, 000 as against its previous prices of N5, 500 and N4, 000, respectively.
A bunch of green leaf is also sold at N900 as against N300.
Abubakar Ali, a trader, attributed the hikes to decrease in the supply of the produce.
Ali, however, expressed hope that prices would go down when supply improved.
“Tomato and pepper are being supplied to the market from Kazaure in Jagawa and Katsina States.
“We are anticipating improvement in supply in the next coming weeks from the farms in Kano.”
Edited By: Grace Yussuf (NAN)
FG urges Afreximbank to simplify access to $500m dollar creative industry support fund
The Federal Government has implored the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) to simplify the process for accessing the 500 million dollar creative support fund by the pan-African finance institution.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed made the plea in Abuja at the close of a virtual forum of the AU Ministers of Arts, Culture and Heritage on the effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the creative sector.
In a closing remarks, the minister said the President of the bank, Prof. Benedict Oramah should make the process of accessing the funding easier for small scale artists and other practitioners
“We want Prof. Oramah to help the industry, by simplifying the process especially for small artists, fashion designers, make-up artists and others to access the funding through the various cooperatives which we are going to encourage them to form.
“The beauty of this industry is that after agriculture it employs the largest number of people especially women and youths,” he said.
Earlier in a presentation to the forum, Oramah recalled that just before the Covid-19 came, the bank announced the creative Africa support facility to the amount of 500 million dollar.
“This facility is targeted at exporting of creative goods like films, music, fashion and all aspects of creative goods.
“It also target the financing of production, building infrastructure for the production of the creative goods and supporting companies that are engaged in the production,” he said.
He disclosed that the bank had developed a cooperative arrangement so that small scale actors in the industry could team up to access the fund.
“We know that many actors in creative industry are small and may not be able to have access to the financing giving their small sizes.
“We, therefore, created a cooperative instrument so that we can give money to them through cooperatives,” he said.
Oramah also recalled that the bank, in 2019, launched the African Payment and Settlement System to make it possible for Africans to pay for goods and services in inter-Africa trade through their local currencies.He said the system which made it possible for somebody in Kenya to buy contents produced in Mali and pay in Kenyan Shillings would open the market for Africa creative goods.
Oramah, a Nigerian National and a Manager with the Nigerian Export-Import Bank before joining Afreximbank as Chief Analyst in 1994, underscored the need to create a mechanism for e-commerce on creative goods.
He said the mechanism would make it easier for Africans to trade among themselves and by doing so the creative goods would boom.
He noted that although the creative economy had been impacted but it had also shown some improvement.
“Some production activities has stopped such as the fashion sub-sector, production of movies and music had been impacted.
“However, we have seen a tremendous growth in the demand for some creative goods as people get confined to their respective homes.
“Global distribution channels for movies and music such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and even those that focus on Africa have seen remarkable growth in subscription.
“Netflix for instance announced an unprecedented 16 million subscribers during the first quarter of this year.
“Although we do not have statistics, some local platforms in Africa have also indicated rising demand.
The banker encouraged the ministers to promote inter-regional trade in creative product, to boost African share in the 2.25 trillion dollar global creative industry market.
Edited By: Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)
Jumia partners Int’l Breweries, Unilever for easy access to consumer goods
Jumia says it has partnered with International Breweries and Unilever to make consumer goods and beverages accessible to Nigerians on its online platform during the COVID-19 era.
Jumia Nigeria Chief Executive Officer, Massimiliano Spalazzi, made the disclosure on Thursday.
He noted that in addition, both companies would be offering free deliveries on selected products on the Jumia platform.
Spalazzi said that with the partnership, customers on the Jumia platform would be able to order a range of Unilever and International Breweries products.
“Both companies’ products include Trophy Premium, Budweiser Lager Beer, Omo detergent, Knorr seasoning, Pepsodent and Lux, among others,” he said in a statement.
Speaking on the partnership, Spalazzi said it was a reflection of Jumia’s commitment to soften the effects of the movement restriction imposed by the government to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 in the country.
“This partnership is in line with our “Stay Safe” campaign. We strive to continue operating so that customers can be safe at home by using e-commerce to shop at this trying time.
“We are proud to partner with Unilever and International Breweries as part of our commitment to provide customers easy access to essentials such as food and beverage products in the face of this pandemic.
“We also implemented contactless delivery for prepaid packages on the platform that enable consumers to make prepaid payments for products online and get them delivered without a direct body contact,” he said.
Edited By: Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)
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