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GIZ, Bosch empower 20 artisans with carpentry tools

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Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and Bosch Power Tools, Nigeria, on Friday handed over power tools to 20 Nigerian Carpenters, who successfully completed their skills acquisition programme.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the programme: “Skills Development for Youth Employment in Nigeria (SKYE)” was organised for 20 artisans, some of whom were returnee migrants from Europe.

The fully-oriented carpentry training, which began on June 17 ended on July 11 in Lagos; it was facilitated by a trainer from Germany.

At the handing over ceremony, tools handed over to the artisans, included six professional Bosch power tools, circular saw, jigsaw, routers and planners.

In addition, some accessories that would enable them to apply the newly acquired skills and to start making positive impact in the society were also given to the artisans.

Mr Frank Diermann, Country Business Director, Bosch Power Tools, Nigeria, said the GIZ-SKYE programme was taking the challenge of addressing unemployment of youths in Nigeria.

“The combination of woodworking tools have been selected to match the needs and requirements of professional carpentry moving from traditional hand tools to power tools.

“This essentially reduces waste, while increasing production and profitability.

“The field trips and excursion organised are also expected to expose the participants to new ways of working,” Diermann said.

On his part, Mr Hans-Ludwig Bruns, GIZ Cluster Coordinator for Sustainable Economic Development and Head of SKYE Programme, said the collaboration with Bosch was one of the ways of seeking to improve employment opportunities.

Bruns explained that the quality of training and exposure of the trainees to new tools and working techniques would affect their carpentry skills.

He said that with the training, they were expected to have positive impact on their quality of employment.

“The intervention also considers returning migrants and supports them to ensure their reintegration into the society,” Bruns said.

Also, Mr Ejiro Daniel, one of the participants from Lagos and a returnee from Brazil, told NAN that the programme was practical and instructive.

“They taught us precision carpentry, and making furniture with so much precision.

“The furniture we made will last a lifetime.

Economy

South Africa’s Eskom needs $12bn to comply with new emissions laws

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South Africa’s power utility Eskom needs around 187 billion rand (12.60 billion dollars) to comply fully with existing legislation curbing harmful emissions, a government presentation to parliament showed on Wednesday.

Eskom, which uses mainly coal-fired power plants to generate electricity, was one of 37 top domestic polluters, including Sasol, granted a five-year reprieve by government until 2020 to meet air emission standards.

The new minimum emissions standards for air quality laws in South Africa, which cover particulate, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, came into effect on April 1, 2015.

“Complete compliance with the 2010 Minimum Emission Standard would require an estimated 187 billion rand,” the presentation by the Department of Public Enterprises said.

Africa’s biggest public utility supplies over 90 per cent of South Africa’s electricity, relying largely on ageing, heavily polluting coal-fired power stations, but does not generate enough cash to meet its debt servicing costs.

Project delays and cost overruns at Medupi and Kusile, two mega-coal plants currently being built by Eskom, largely contributed to Eskom’s debt ballooning to 440 billion rand.

“Given the current financial constraints, at this stage Medupi will be prioritised to be retrofitted with Flue-Gas Desulfurisation (FGD technology),” the department said.

South Africa has said any new coal plants would need to have emission-reducing technology such as FGD.

In September, Eskom said it might have to shut some plants if it fails to reduce emissions, raising the prospect of further power cuts in the county and also putting more pressure on the government which has had to bail out the debt-ridden company to keep it afloat.

Eskom has applied to the Department of Environmental Affairs for rolling postponements of its obligations under the legislation to meet the emissions and air standards.

Ageing plants and poor maintenance have triggered several power cuts throughout the year, putting pressure on key economic industries such as mining as the country skirts a recession.

The latest bout of nationwide blackouts come after repeated power cuts in February and March, which hit the economy and pushed the government to grant Eskom a four billion-dollar bailout on top of a 16 billion dollars bailout spread over the next 10 years.

Edited by Abdullahi Mohammed/Tajudeen Atitebi

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Economy

Economists list expectations ahead MPC meeting

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As the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) prepares to hold its last Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in 2019, experts have urged the apex bank to maintain the current Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) and other parameters.

The experts told the Nigeria News Agency on Wednesday in Lagos that maintaining the MPR alongside other policy parameters would help to tame inflationary pressures.

The next MPC meeting — the last for the year — is scheduled for Nov. 25 and Nov. 26.

Recall that the CBN had, since March 2019, held the MPR at 13.5 per cent alongside other monetary policy parameters.

The Director, Centre for Economic Policy Analysis and Research (CEPAR), University of Lagos, Prof. Ndubisi Nwokoma, urged the committee to use the MPR to stop the increasing direction of inflation occasioned by border closure.

“The Central Bank should do what it can to arrest the rising case of inflation that is occasioned by border closure.

“I will advise that the committee maintains the Monetary Policy Rate which is at 13.5 percent, or even go to 14 per cent if possible,’’ he said.

According to him, the inflation is trending upward and it can get worse because of the minimum wage that is about to be implemented.

He urged the apex bank to arrest and maintain price stability.

Nwokoma said: “The primary function of the Central Bank is price stability; Monetary Policy Committee specifically, is to maintain price stability and they have been arresting that for some time now and it’s been coming down; now its trending up.

“I don’t think they will want to lower rate; they will rather maintain it, if not even increase it, because they cannot see inflation trending upward and you are now loosening interest rate.

“That may not be what anybody will expect. So, I think they will seek redress to find stability,’’ he said.

In the same vein, the Chief Operating Officer of CitiServe Limited, Mr Jubril Salaudeen, believes that the monetary policy rate would be maintained.

“I strongly believe that CBN Monetary Policy Rate will be maintained at 13.5 per cent.

“Maintaining the monetary policy rate at its present level is essential for better understanding of the momentum of growth before determining any possible modifications.

“ The border closure and associated changes to deposit and withdrawal of cash across the country have upset the system a bit.

“Also, this will help the country to tame inflationary pressures as headline inflation rose to 11.37 per cent,’’ he said.

NAN reports that the MPC, at its last meeting in September 2019, left the MPR at 13.5 per cent and kept all other variables unchanged.

Liquidity ratio was left at 30.00%, Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) at 22.5%, and the asymmetric corridor unchanged at +200/-500 basis points around the MPR.

MPR is the interest rate at which CBN lends to the commercial banks.

The MPR is the benchmark against which other lending rates in the economy are pegged and is usually used as an instrument to moderate inflation in the economy.

CRR refers to the ratio of customer deposits banks are expected to hold as cash or keep with the CBN.

Edited by Oluwole Sogunle

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Economy

Associations harps on need to maintain commercial value of raw gum

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The National Association of Gum Arabic Producers, Processors and Exporters of Nigeria (NAGAPPEN), on Wednesday said that it would ensure that raw gum maintained its high commercial value at local and international markets.

National Chairman of the association, Chief Chidume Okoro told the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja that it would be the focus of the new leadership of the association.

Okoro said that the association would work closely with government agencies and other stakeholders to ensure increased production of gum arabic in the country.

According to him, the new leadership of NAGAPPEN would sensitise farmers and organise training programmes for those involved in gum arabic production value chain.

Okoro said that the move was intended to promote improved production of high quality gum.

This would include the research institutes and government agencies that have one thing or the other to do with gum arabic.

“This is an internationally traded commodity in which quality is paramount to the success of the product in the market.

“We will also keep on pushing to attract national and international support from donor agencies that are involved in one way or the other in the business of gum,’’ Okoro added.

He said that NAGAPPEN would set up a `network office’ in Abuja to provide information that would aid research and the trade of gum.

“We want to see a functional `network office’ properly equipped so that people looking for information either for trade purposes or for research purposes can get information from the office,’’ he added.

Okoro expressed worry that desert encroachment and insurgency were affecting gum production in Nigeria.

According to him, Nigeria has lost a lot of grounds to encroachments and activities of insurgents are eating forests that we get a lot of gum.

He said that the association would support farmers with seedlings at zero cost as a way of boosting production.

“We will seek government’s support for farmers that are involved in the domestication of this product by increasing the production of gum arabic nationally

“This is an internationally traded commodity in which quality is paramount to the success of the product in the market.

“We will also keep on pushing to attract national and international support from donor agencies that are involved in one way or the other in the business of gum.

“Gum arabic tree is used extensively in waging the encroachment of desert and desertification going down south and this is one of the problems making herdsmen come down south because their animals are not able to get pastures from the dry lands,’’ Okoro said.

Okoro further called for synergy among all stakeholders to move the sub-sector forward.

NAN reports that the association’s election on Oct. 3, led to the return of Chief Chidume Okoro as its National President and the emergence of Alhaji Alabura Dina as the National Vice President.

Others are Mr Imam Muhammad, National Secretary, Mr Usman Yusuf, Assistant National Secretary, Alhaji Shaibu Baki, National Treasurer, Mr Modibbo Adamu Financial Secretary and Mr Mohammad Danjuma, National Publicity Secretary.

Edited by Ese E. Ekama

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Economy

Rising inflation: Experts predict interest rate retention at last 2019 MPC

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Financial experts on Wednesday, expressed optimism that the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would retain existing rates due to the present inflation spike.

They stated this in separate interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos on expectations from the last MPC meeting for 2019 coming up on Nov. 25 and Nov.26.

Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella, a Professor of Economics, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State said that the MPC would likely retain the existing rates.

Tella predicted that the apex bank might introduce new policies to mop up liquidity in the economy.

“Given the fact that the CBN’s policy is to lower level of inflation, the Monetary Policy Committee is likely to retain the existing rates,” he said.

Malam Garba Kurfi, the Managing Director, APT Securities and Funds Ltd., anticipated that the committee would maintain the status in view of the rising inflation rate.

Kurfi said that the apex bank’s major concern would be how to stem the nation’s inflation rate, occasioned by border closure.

Also speaking, Mr Ambrose Omordion, the Chief Operating Officer, InvestData Ltd., said that looking at the macroeconomic indices, MPC would likely retain interest rate at 13.5 per cent.

Omordion also said that the apex bank would maintain all rates, considering the sharp rise in prices of goods since the border closure.

He noted that the nation’s rising inflation figure, if not checked, would discourage investment, noting that foreign investors were watching with trepidation.

NAN reports the MPC, at the September meeting, decided by a unanimous vote to retain the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) at 13.5 per cent and to hold all other policy parameters constant.

According to the MPC, the positive moderation in inflation, though slowly from 11.08 per cent in July to 11.02 per cent in August 2019, almost compelled the MPC to tighten the rates.

However, the committee was of the view that doing so in the midst of a fragile growth outlook would increase the cost of credit, and further contract investment and constrain output growth.

On loosening, the committee felt that this would result in increased system liquidity and hence, heighten inflationary tendencies in the economy.

In particular, the MPC was of the view that loosening would drive growth in consumer credit but without a corresponding adjustment in real sector output.

Edited by Dada Ahmed

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Agriculture

Tak Agro Plc to acquire 250 trucks for fertiliser production, distribution

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TAK Agro Plc, a major player in Nigeria’s agricultural value chain says it has concluded arrangement to purchase 250 MAN trailer-trucks for its fertiliser production and distribution, as well as grain processing and storage operations in readiness for dry season farming.

The Chairman of Tak Agro Plc., Thomas Etuh, said on Wednesday in Abuja that the decision was taken in Lagos, at the signing of N15 billion bonds facilitated for the company by Planet Capital as part of plans to acquire 1,000 trucks.

Etuh said that N15 billion was the first tranche of a N50 billion bond approved by Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) to finance the acquisition of key infrastructure to facilitate the movement of raw materials and evacuation of agricultural produce.

He also said it would help the company to meet the demands of boosting its production of fertilizers as well as provide the pillar that would enable it drive the government’s initiative towards boosting food production and food security.

He noted that acquiring the trucks became an important plank of the company’s strategy because of the intricate vehicular requirements of fertiliser and commodity businesses.

“Every six monhs, TAK Group moves raw materials and fertilisers to and from various blending plants.

“It requires about 34,000 truck trips to move one million tonnes for both raw materials and finished goods, and if you benchmark this against our installed capacity, we are basically talking of about 100,000 truck trips a year. You can now see why this is important to us.

“We are starting with 250 trucks for now but our requirement is more like 2,000 trucks to be able to meet our requirements.

“This means that even when we have the complete 1,000 trucks, we will still be supporting that with the third party trucking arrangement as we are currently doing,” he said in a statement by Mr Alex Emode, Media Consultant to Tak Agro.

Etuh explained that TAK Group is driving towards building a Pan African integrated agro solutions company with an installed capacity of three million metric tonnes out of the country’s need of about four million tonnes.

He expressed optimism that the additional investments in logistics would ensure optimal leverage of economy of scale with regard to the company’s installed capacity.

“TAK Group is one of the few end-to-end players in the agro value chain in Nigeria, starting from yield enhancement by providing NPK fertilizers to farmers all the way to storage of grains and the produce that comes out from the application of the fertilisers.

“TAK logistics is one of the key building blocks for the end-to-end value that the TAK Group delivers to the market, starting from the delivery of raw materials to the blending plants to the movement and distribution of blended fertilisers to the agro dealers.

“Nigerian farmers lose over 50 percent of their produce due to the lack of storage facilities and difficulty in moving the produce from farms to markets and storage centres, and that is why, part of the infrastructure that TAK group is putting in place is to deal with this issue.

“So, while we are enhancing yield per hectare with our fertiliser, we are also taking care of the waste that have been the lot in the industry over these years.

“This ensures our farmers earn a lot more at the end and the idea of seasonal availability of staples like grains will be a thing of the past,” he said.

The Managing Director, TAK Logistics, Mr Chuma Maduekwe, was also quoted as saying that the bond would help farmers be in control of the logistics chain.

He said farmers in Nigeria had hitherto, suffered serious losses owing to lack of storage facilities and poor handling of post-harvest activities.

“Nigerian farmers lose over 50 percent of their produce due to the lack of storage facilities and difficulty in moving the produce from farms to markets and storage centres.

“This is why part of the infrastructure that the TAK Group is putting in place is to deal with the issue of logistics.

“So, while we are enhancing yield per hectare with our fertiliser, we are also taking care of the waste that have been the lot in the industry over these years.

“This will ensure our farmers earn a lot more at the end and the idea of seasonal availability of staples like grains will be a thing of the past,” he said.

(Editing by Peter Ejiofor)

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Economy

Reposition your economies to create employment opportunities – Mahama tells West African countries

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Former Ghanian President, John Mahama, has called on West African countries to reposition their economies toward providing more employment opportunities for their people.

He spoke on ‘Beyond Politics: An Economic Narrative for West Africa’ at the 7th Anniversary Lecture, Investiture into The Realnews Magazine Hall of Fame and the Unveiling of the Book ‘Pathways to Political and Economic Development of Africa’ in Lagos.

Mahama, also a former Chairman of Economic Community of West African States  (ECOWAS), said that the world was experiencing changing population demographics .

The former president said the population growth in the developed world had slowed to an extent where in some parts, the rate of child birth was below the human replacement level in maintaining the size of their population.

“Africa’s population currently stands at about 1.1 billion people. At current rates, it could soar to four billion people by the end of the century, 2100.

“Nigeria alone will have approximately 400 million people and become the third most populous country after China and India, ” Mahama said.

Africa, according to him, has averagely 4.8 live births per woman, which is still lower than the average of 6.8 in the late 70’s.

The former president said that this demographic dividend presented both a benefit and a risk.

He said it could result in an energetic workforce with greater prosperity, if the next generations lower their fertility rates and have fewer babies.

” The challenge facing Africa at the present rate of population growth is how to find jobs for this teeming population of young people.

“Africa adds almost 12 million young people to the job market every year, and yet is able to produce only about 7 million sustainable jobs.

“This means almost 5 million idle hands every year,” Mahama said.

According to him, African economies must grow and clip along at above 8 per cent Gross Domestic Product  (GDP) growth rate to be able to sustain its rate of population growth.

He said in doing this, countries must change their existing economic models and paradigms.

The former president said Africa, with its urbanising population, must look more to developing its service and digital economies faster.

Mahama said this sector of the economy, if nurtured, was prone to fast growth and could provide employment for millions of young Africans coming out of school.

He said great potential for growth also exists in tourism, the creative industry, ICT, and financial services.

” In my country Ghana, as in Nigeria and other African countries, the services sector has overtaken agriculture as the largest and fastest growing sector of the economy.

“African countries must create the right environment for these to grow through tax incentives, reduced regulation and red tape.

” We must change our model of being producers of raw commodities.

“Africa’s gold must reach the rest of the world as valuable jewellery, her oil must arrive as petroleum products, her timber as furniture, her cocoa as chocolates, bauxite as aluminum and copper as semi-conductor parts,” the former president said.

According to him, value addition and processing will provide more wealth for African economies and millions of jobs to its young people.

Mahama stated that to achieve this, Africa must invest in making power more available for domestic, industrial and agricultural use.

He noted that Africa could not follow the model of the past industrial revolutions that had polluted and threatened the very existence of the planet

The former president said cleaner forms of energy, including gas-fired thermal, hydro, solar and wind energy were areas for aggressive invest investment.

“Nigeria must as a priority aggressively pursue a gas-to-power policy and stop the flaring of almost 300 billion standard cubic feet of gas per annum, representing a loss of almost 700 million dollars a year.

“Africa must support the Inga dam and other potential hydro power projects, which could bring about an additional 40,000 MW of power to South, East, West and Central African economies,” he said.

Edited by Abdullahi Mohammed/Oluwole Sogunle

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