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Africa already converted into IMF’s gospel, Kenyan central banker says



Africa has embraced sound economic policies and even the political class has started to appreciate the importance of such policies, Kenya’s central bank governor said on Wednesday.

Although some economies in the 54-nation continent have recorded some of the fastest economic growth rates in recent years, critics say some policies need to be changed to deepen the growth and make it inclusive.

“Good policies are good for the economy, they are good for the people,” Patrick Njoroge told an investor forum in Nairobi that was organised by Renaissance Capital.

“There is a greater acceptance and indeed appreciation of that … There is no preaching by the IMF or what you call the Washington consensus. We are already converted in terms of solid policies.”

Kenya embraced a free market economy in the 1990s, opening up its capital markets to foreign investment without any restrictions. It also has a free-floating foreign exchange regime and a diversified economy that is underpinned by farm exports like tea and coffee, as well as tourism.

The International Monetary Fund has in the past gotten into confrontations with some African governments due to its policy prescriptions that were sometimes deemed as too painful, such as spending cuts and reduction of public wage bills.

Njoroge, who was a senior IMF adviser in Washington before taking his current job in 2015, said the growing appreciation of the need for good economic policies was spreading even to the ruling class, citing low fiscal deficits and central bank independence.

“Those are things they may not fully accept, but for the most part they understand that we need to pursue positive policies and indeed strong policies,” he said.

Kenya, where inflation expectations are well-anchored, was a good representation of what is happening on the continent, he said.

Year-on-year inflation stood at 5.0 per cent last month, at the mid-point of the government’s preferred band of 2.5-7.5 per cent.

He said the main threat to the outlook for inflation was the fluctuating price of oil, adding that policymakers had adequate tools and experience to deal with the threat.

Kenya’s shilling currency has been the most stable this year among its Sub-Saharan Africa peers and Njoroge attributed that to a drop in the current account deficit, which stands at 4.2 per cent of GDP, down from 10.4 per cent four years ago.

“We expect it to remain at about 5 per cent  of GDP … that is a stable thing and it can be completely financed by foreign flows, FDI, portfolio investments,” he said.

Kenya’s government has been criticised for imposing caps on commercial lending rates, leading to a squeeze on private sector credit growth, but Njoroge said those were temporary.

He said the government has moved to tighten its fiscal policy, after the appointment of a new, acting finance minister in July, which could lead to a dovish monetary policy stance given the need for rebalancing.

“They have even signalled that there will be significant expenditure cuts because they want to have a strong fiscal stance,” he said.

Last week, the Acting Finance Minister Ukur Yatani warned government ministries and departments to expect brutal cuts, as the government gets rid of unnecessary expenditure.(Reuters/)


Edited by Abdullahi Mohammed/Silas Nwoha



Spotlight: Africa’s COVID-19 caseload nearing 160,000, while Italy partially reopens border




With the novel coronavirus still in pandemic mode, the African continent has seen a continued growth in the total tally, while Italy, an earlier epicenter of the pandemic in Europe, has begun to partially lift travel bans as its new infections are dropping.


As of Wednesday afternoon, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the African continent surpassed 158,318, and the death toll surged to 4,508, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.

The continental disease control and prevention agency also disclosed that some 67,630 people who have been infected with the disease have recovered across the continent so far.

On Tuesday, Africa CDC said the virus has spread to 54 African countries. Figures from the agency showed that the highly affected countries include South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, Ghana and Morocco.

It also said that the Northern African region is the most affected area across the continent both in terms of positive COVID-19 cases and the number of deaths, followed by the Western Africa region.

South Africa, the worst-hit country on the continent, on Tuesday reported a total of 35,812 confirmed COVID-19 cases. According to the latest data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, the tally now stood at 37,525.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on Wednesday projected that the ongoing pandemic could push 29 million people into extreme poverty across the continent.

The UNECA further stressed that the containment measures established in African countries “have already cost the region some 69 billion U.S. dollars per month and are expected to have a negative impact on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the region.”


Italy, earlier an epicenter of COVID-19 in Europe, partially reopened its border on Wednesday after closing it to all but essential travel for nearly three months.

Starting from the day, people in Italy are allowed to move freely within the country. Cross-border travel restrictions were also eased on the same day, with travelers from the European Union and Schengen countries, as well as the United Kingdom, Andorra and Monaco being allowed to visit the country without subjecting to quarantine.

The step was part of a wider strategy to help restart the Italian tourism industry, which was shuttered along with the rest of the Italian economy at the start of the national lockdown on March 10.

“A month from May 4, when we reopened our manufacturing and construction sectors, we can say the numbers are encouraging,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a nationally televised press conference Wednesday.

“The trend of new cases is constantly decreasing in all our regions,” he said. “This shows the strategy we adopted is and has been the right one.”

He added that the government is hard at work to ensure Italy is once again “the safe and coveted destination of the tourists of Europe and the whole world.”

Health Minister Roberto Speranza, meanwhile, sounded a note of warning to Italian citizens.

“We must proceed with caution and continue to follow the rules we have learned … because they are the key in the battle against COVID-19,” Speranza said in reference to social distancing in a statement released on Wednesday. “The virus is still very dangerous.”

Fresh figures on Wednesday showed that 71 new COVID-19 deaths were registered in the past 24 hours, taking the country’s death toll to 33,601, out of a total of 233,836 infection cases.


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South Africa eases lockdown level




A horse rider practices at a horseback riding site in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 3, 2020. South Africa imposed the lockdown on March 27 to curb the spread of COVID-19. The lockdown was lowered from level five to level four on May 1, and again eased to level three on June 1. (Xinhua/Chen Cheng)

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Artiste hosts maiden virtual drama festival to sensitise on virtues of African culture



Anthony Oluwabiyi, Chief Executive Officer, Theatre Centrik, on Wednesday urged Nigerians to imbibe strong African  moral values that are capable of making the  continent great.

Oluwabiyi made the call during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.

He said  that the promotion of African culture and theatrical performances would spur hidden talents to display their creativity.

He told NAN that he would be presenting a virtual drama festival that wouod educate Nigerians, as part of his efforts to enlighten citizens on the essence of embracing African cultural values.

According to him, the maiden virtual drama festival would  hold  on June 17 in commemoration of the 2020 edition of Green African Arts Festival (GAAF2020).

He said that the festival tagged:  “Dance from Dusk to Dawn” would  bring to the public the fantasy of stage performance and the beauty of African Theatre.

” The play will  centre on the theme of love; the intrigue and passion of love, the purpose and value of love and the true essence of love.

” It intends to re-enact in us the power of love as a veritable tool for self-discovery and fulfilment in Africa Arts  and Culture.

”  it will expise the strong hope that love brings and the unity it creates in the family, community, nation and the world at large.

Theatre Centrik has the vision to nurture and utilise poetry lines along with dance and drums to entertain, educate and create awareness through stage performances on virtual screens,”he said.

Oluwabiyi said it was of paramount importance to still promote African culture even while the COVID-19 ravaged the would as culture had huge role to play in successfully combating the virus.

He said that Agnes Olayemi and Kingsley Bassey would be the supporting Directors while Halimath Alabi would be  the Dance Director with other renowned actors and dancers .

He noted that the festival would be like the ancient exhibition of theatrical beauty of the Greco-Roman world.

” I believe that the  stage in a drama  itself is like the pulpit where the true message of unity and development can be spread abroad and my works are centered on positive change through theatre.

” I urge every art lover to link up with us on Theatre Centrik Facebook page on June 17, from 12 p.m. to 3p.m., it promises to be enlightening,” he said.


Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Peter Dada (NAN)



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Lagos to produce first forensic dentist in West Africa — Commissioner



The Lagos State Commissioner for Establishments, Training and Pensions, Mrs Ajibola Ponnle, says the state’ s Public Service will soon be producing the first forensic dentist in the whole of West Africa.

Ponnle made this known on Wednesday in Ikeja during the Year 2020 Ministerial Press Briefing to commemorate the first year in office of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

She said the massive investment of the state government in the area of human capacity development of its workforce was already attracting global attention.

‘The state public service will be producing the first forensic dentist in the whole of West Africa soon,” the commissioner said.

She said the state government sponsored one of its staff from the Ministry of Health to study at Masters  level, in Legal Medicine and Forensic Dentistry outside the country in order to bridge an identified gap in the state public service.

“Once the staff completes his course of study, he will be the first forensic dentist (new skill and area of specialisation) in West Africa and this points to the massive investment in human capital development that the present administration is embarking on,” the commissioner said.

Ponnle said the Lagos state government was committed to building a 21st workforce that would deliver dividends of democracy to Lagosians across every area of human needs.

She said that this was by directing its training and capacity development programmes to both generic and technical areas of competency.

According to her, one of the notable achievements and innovations to training programmes under the administration of  Sanwo-Olu is the introduction of on-line learning programmes starting with Webinar series.

Ponnle said this ensured that capacity of the entire workforce were developed even during the period of state-wide lockdown order.

The commissioner disclosed that within the past few months that the Webinar initiative started, 11 different series had been held, 10 Generic and one job specific for teachers.

‘There was also a Virtual Launch of the pilot of the Lagos State Learning Management System (LMS) with over 10,000 members of staff uploaded, giving access to over 500 training courses.

The pilot Phase of Executive Coaching Programme for Executive Council Members was also launched with 30 per cent of cabinet members enrolled.

‘The initiative was in partnership with International Coaching Federation accredited coaches, whereby cabinet members are offered one-on-one coaching sessions to provide support in developing their personal, professional and political aspirations,” she said.

Ponnle said the launch of the Learning Management System and the various Webinar series were aimed at achieving a paradigm shift from learning being an event to being a continuous process.

She said that this would ensure a workforce that was equipped with relevant skills, knowledge and competencies to deliver the dividends of democracy to the teeming population of the state.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)


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Maggi launches novel website for African dishes, embellishes Yelo Pèppè drama



The Nestlé brand, MAGGI, has launched a first-of-its-kind website in Central and West Africa (CWAR), offering fresh new twists to well-known African dishes.

It is also serving up a second season of Yelo Pèppè , its popular online nutrition education drama series , on YouTube from June 8, 2020.

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At a virtual media briefing on Wednesday, the company said the brand’s latest launches were just a few of the innovative ways MAGGI is meeting its consumers’ digital and nutritional appetites.

According to it, it is also adding to Nestlé’s purpose of enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future.

The MAGGI website, , provides over 40 African recipes on an easy-to-use platform and can help families cook balanced and nutritious meals.

Dominique Allier, Business Executive Officer for Culinary at Nestlé Central and West Africa, said: “MAGGI innovates once more by providing different variations of beloved African dishes that offer something for every food lover.

“We are proud to be the first region worldwide chosen by MAGGI to launch this unique website,” he added.

Also, Akua Kwakwa, Nutrition, Health and Wellness Manager for Nestlé Central and West Africa, said that the new website was built in collaboration with top African chefs, expert nutritionists and local food influencers.

According to her, it also provides helpful tips in some recipes on how to boost your iron intake and balance dishes.

“As well as highlighting the importance of including nutritious diets in our daily lives with well-known family favourites; people across the globe now have easy access to traditional African recipes we know and love.

“For people who are more concerned about sodium, saturated fat and added sugars,the website features the unique ‘MyMenuIQ’guide that illustrates how nutritionally-balanced each recipe is.

“The higher the score, the more balanced the meal is,” she said.

The websites comes at a very appropriate time when many people are spending more time cooking at home, and they can get some inspiration from the Recipe of The Day or the With A Twist section.

There are recipes for kids, adventurous cooks, those who love a classic dish and time-saving one pot meals, all available in English and French.

Following the success of Yelo Pèppèseason one, which recorded over 20.3 million online views, MAGGI is excited to present the new second season of the popular show to its fans, bringing back its beloved characters from the first season.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that notable celebrities including: Ade Laoye, who is now one of the best-known food bloggers in the region, Anita Erskine, Shirley Manso and Sophy Aiid were part of the cast.

The brand aims to boost the nutrition of families by improving the nutritional profile of its bouillons and other products through reducing salt and increasing micronutrients such as iron, to help tackle iron deficiency.

MAGGI pledges to use more familiar ingredients that people know and can find in their kitchens, ingredients such as smoked fish, shrimp, onions, garlic, ginger and chilli pepper.

Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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UNECA projects COVID-19 could push 29 million Africans into extreme poverty




The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on Wednesday projected that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could push 29 million people into extreme poverty across Africa.

“Africa was already witnessing the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis even before its impact on public health and may see its growth slow down by 1.8 to 2.6 percent of GDP, which could push 29 million people into extreme poverty,” the UNECA said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

The ECA further stressed that the containment measures established in 42 African countries to protect populations from the COVID-19 pandemic “have already cost the region some 69 billion U.S. dollars per month and are expected to have a negative impact on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the region.”

Vera Songwe, UN Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the UNECA, also on Wednesday stressed the urgent need to set COVID-19 recovery milestones across the continent in an efforts to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

“We are yet to know how long the COVID-19 crisis will last, but we need to set the milestones for recovery now,” the ECA chief told a webinar on “Rethinking the economy and academic paradigms in post-COVID-19 Africa.”

The ECA chief also elaborated on a number of issues that are critical for the development of post-COVID-19 crisis exit strategies, which include improving economic governance to ensure funds benefit those who need them the most, developing the digital economy, mitigating the impact of climate change, redesigning financial systems for better use of domestic financial resources such as African pension funds and reviving regional consumption through the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The webinar also provided participants with an opportunity for an initial discussion on how to rebuild African economies and re-design the study of economics to make it fit for purpose to African countries.

Some African economists argued for monetary integration of the continent as a pivotal measure for moving forward.

Various challenges were discussed such as the informal sector, where workers have been particularly negatively impacted by the crisis. Additionally, discussions touched on access to the Internet and its impact, in a continent where only a minority of the 330 million children unable to go to school have been able to study online as only 20 percent of Africans have access to stable internet connectivity. Participants also called for the redistribution of value chains and the development of African pharmaceutical industries. In this regard, panelists said it was necessary for the African diaspora to lead on technology transfer to the continent and for countries to master it.

Other topics raised during the webinar also include opportunities to digitize African economies and to rethink the architecture of African universities so that students can enjoy better access to quality education from home.

On Wednesday, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) disclosed that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the African continent surpassed 158,318 as the death toll from the ongoing pandemic surged to 4,508 as of Wednesday afternoon.

The continental disease control and prevention agency also disclosed that some 67,630 people who have been infected with the COVID-19 have recovered across the continent so far.


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Afreximbank partners International Trade Centre to enhance businesses in Africa



The African Import-Export Bank (Afreximbank), says it is collaborating with International Trade Centre (ITC), to help businesses make the most of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

This was disclosed in a statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja by Mr Amadou Sall, the Manager, Communications and Event (Media Relations), Afreximbank.

Sall said that Afreximbank would be teaming up with ITC to train small-business owners and young entrepreneurs in Africa to trade with other African countries as part of the new African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

He said the training would be focusing on how to export within the AfCFTA, a new free-trade area amid the economic strain of climate change and the Coronavirus pandemic.

According to him, the training will give business owners the knowledge and skills they need to engage effectively in cross-border trade under terms of the emerging free-trade area for Africa.

He quoted ITC Acting Executive Director, Ms Dorothy Tembo, as saying that Intra-African trade was structurally low at 15 per cent compared to Europe at nearly 70 per cent, for example.

And the AfCFTA will open a market of 1.2 billion people.

“Against the backdrop of the current COVID-19 health and economic crisis, African micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) need support to take full advantage of the continental market.

“Through this partnership, African businesses will have the opportunity to learn, plan and succeed in growing their business by taking full advantage of the AfCFTA,” Tembo said.

Similarly, Ms Kanayo Awani, Managing Director of Afreximbank’s Intra-African Trade Initiative, said the initiative was necessary.

According to her, increasing intra-African trade through exports of goods and services by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is the cornerstone of the AfCFTA.

“It signals an optimal strategy to aid businesses and develop regional value chains, which have become more relevant with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our joint initiative with ITC is a proactive way to support the implementation of the AfCFTA and to provide SMEs with the tools to respond more effectively to the economic and social challenges presented by the global pandemic,” Awani added.

She said that the training would be conducted through ITC’s popular multilingual SME Trade Academy platform, under the auspices of the Afreximbank Academy (AFRACAD).

She further explained that the programme would be piloted in Nigeria, Rwanda, and Côte d’Ivoire and would be launched in close collaboration with trade promotion organisations of the three selected pilot countries.

Afreximbank and ITC will work toward increasing opportunities for small-business owners to export and supporting countries to achieve their overall trade goals at the regional, continental and global levels.

ITC is also partnering Afreximbank to support South Sudan in increasing its trade competitiveness, boosting its exports through economic diversification and creating investment opportunities through the development of a trade and investment promotion strategy

Awani noted that the promotion strategy would identify several priority sectors with a high potential for trade and increasing job opportunities, especially for women and young people.

ITC will work with the country’s ministry of trade, investment agencies and private-sector associations to ensure the strategy provides sustainable solutions for the country’s development,’’ she said.

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is a Pan-African multilateral financial institution with the mandate of financing and promoting intra-and extra-African trade.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Africa CDC closely monitoring new outbreak of Ebola in DR Congo




The African Union (AU) on Wednesday said its specialized health institution, the Africa CDC, is closely monitoring the situation while preparing to support responses to the new outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Following a notification by the Equateur provincial health authorities of community deaths on May 23 and 30, the DRC government on Sunday declared a new outbreak of EVD in Mbandaka in the northwest Equateur Province.

This is the 11th EVD outbreak in the DRC and it has already claimed four lives and infected four other people in the community, said a statement from the 55-member pan-African bloc.

The outbreak began at a time when experts were close to declaring an end to the 10th EVD outbreak in North Kivu Province, and when countries are fighting hard to control the COVID-19 pandemic, noted the statement.

As the DRC Ministry of Health is currently establishing a coordination and response mechanism to effectively contain the outbreak, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is closely monitoring the situation while preparing to support response to the outbreak at the national and regional levels.

The Africa CDC has briefed the leadership of the AU Commission about the outbreak and the Commission has pledged its solidarity and support to the DRC in responding to the outbreak, according to the statement.

It also said that the Africa CDC would redeploy its resources and team of experts supporting response to the 10th EVD outbreak in North Kivu to support response to the new outbreak in Equateur Province.

Cognizant of the risk that multiple disease outbreaks have on the DRC, the Africa CDC is working with the DRC government, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners to strengthen response to both the 10th and 11th EVD outbreaks and the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Africa CDC is a specialized technical institution of AU, which supports member states in their efforts to strengthen health systems and improve surveillance, emergency response, prevention and control of diseases.


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Majek Fashek promoted African values, rhythm through music — Art council



Enugu State Council of Arts and Culture says African reggae Icon, Majek Fashek promoted African values and rhythm through his danceable and philosophical music.

The Executive Secretary of the council, Chief Edward Okolo, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday in Enugu.

NAN recalls that the African Reggae Legend whose real name was Majekodunmi Fasheke’s death was confirmed by his manager, Omenka Uzoma on the late singer’s official Instagram handle on Tuesday.

According to Okolo, Fashek is a great musician, who used his musical art to propagate African culture and value to the rest of the World.

The executive secretary noted that his brand of music deepened the understanding of African culture and life-style to the rest of the world.

“Fashek also popularised reggae music, which is a brand of indigenous music originating from Africa.

“His brand of reggae brought out the original African rhythm in music and makes such music danceable.

“The rhythm of his music such as “Send down the Rain’’ in the Rain Maker Album created an inner reflection and retrospect to the listener,’’ he said.

Okolo, vast in African arts and culture, said that Majek Fashek promoted African drum and  rhythm in his rich and philosophical music.

“African rhythm and rhyme comes from our indigenous drums and the drum makes African music unique and beautiful,’’ he said.

He added that the African music icon gave the world that natural African sound tailored in modern musical instruments.

Edited By: Cecilia Odey/Ese E. E. Ekama (NAN)


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