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Ivory Coast, Ghana looking to regulate cocoa industry’s sustainability schemes — Sources



Ivory Coast and Ghana are meeting major chocolate makers and grinders in Abidjan on Wednesday, to make plans to regulate the industry’s efforts to source cocoa sustainably, multiple trade and government sources told Reuters.

The plan comes after years of attempts by industry to self-monitor their sustainable sourcing practices and wipe out the blight of child labour and deforestation from the cocoa sector in West Africa.

Industry fears the new move might represent a major and costly overhaul of the certification schemes they use to boost their brands in highly competitive markets, where both consumers and investors are growing increasingly eco-conscious.

Ivory Coast and Ghana, who together produce two-thirds of the world’s cocoa, have already imposed a fixed “living income differential” of $400 a tonne in July on all cocoa sales for the 2020/21 season in a bid to tackle pervasive farmer poverty and deforestation.

The move was a major overhaul in how cocoa is priced.

Still, the two west African neighbours are pressing ahead with a further overhaul, sources say, setting their sights on the certification schemes used by major chocolate makers and grinders like Mars, Mondelez, Barry Callebaut and Nestle.

“We are going to discuss sustainability. Everything is not good. There are things to review, for example, standards for certification. It must change,” said a source at Ivory Coast’s Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC), its cocoa regulator.

Fiifi Boafo, spokeman for Ghana’s cocoa regulator Cocobod, said the meeting with industry was aiming to “come out with improved strategies to work towards sustainable cocoa production”.

The cocoa industry fears moves to regulate certification schemes could, alongside the “living income differential”, substantially increase their costs if, for example, Ivory Coast and Ghana impose a license on them for running the schemes.

“Traders don’t want to commit (to paying the living income differential) until the changes to certification schemes are clear. They want to know if there are additional costs,” said another industry source.

Even a move to standardise the schemes is a concern for industry, which often use self-certification schemes over third party ones like Fairtrade.

Companies have argued self-certification schemes can be more effective in tracking whether a product is ethically sourced, although some analysts say they have at times been used as a way to save money.

“We do not want (industry) alone (to) enact norms which favour them. We want more control. (We want to) see how we can be more involved,” said a second source at the CCC.

The cocoa industry’s efforts to source sustainably have been around for nearly two decades, though little has changed on the ground for farmers, with poverty widespread and forest cover, especially in Ivory Coast, all but decimated.

According to the Cocoa Barometer, a major report published in 2018 by international civil society groups, there are about 2.1 million children working in the West African cocoa sector, a slight increase from levels seen 5 years ago.

Reports like these have prompted some lawmakers in the west to call time on the cocoa industry’s efforts to self-monitor their sourcing practices, opting to look instead at introducing legislation.

In July, two U.S. senators called for imports of cocoa made with forced labour to be blocked, prompting Ivory Coast to urge them to desist from punishing an entire industry for what it said were isolated cases.

Cocoa makes up 40% of Ivory Coast’s exports and the U.S. is the third largest destination for Ivorian beans. (Reuters/)

(Edited by Emmanuel Okara/Peter Ejiofor)


Lagos APPEALS trains 350 women, youth agro-entrepreneurs



The Lagos State Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) project has started a two-week residency training for 350 women and youth agro-entrepreneurs.

This is contained in a statement issued on Thursday in Lagos by Mrs Folake Ogunlana-Lawal, the project’s communication officer, who quoted the coordinator, Mrs Oluranti Sagoe-Oviebo, as saying a total of 1700 women and youth would benefit from the project.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that APPEALS is a Federal Government and World Bank Assisted project with a core objective to develop the rice, aquaculture and poultry value chains in Lagos.

The project is also replicated in Kogi, Enugu, Kaduna, Kano and Cross River where beneficiaries will undertake entrepreneurial residency training in value chains of comparative advantage in the states.

Sagoe-Oviebo said that the 1,700 women and youth were selected from over 7,000 applicants, and the first batch of beneficiaries would undergo intensive training in two locations — Araga Training Institute in Epe and the Aquatic hub in Asero, Abeokuta Ogun.

The coordinator said that the state was set to raise over 1,700 agro entrepreneurs within the next two years through its Women and Youth Empowerment Programme (WYEP) scheme under the project

She said that two-weeks intensive residency training programme, which started on Sunday, was holding simultaneously in Lagos and Ogun States for beneficiaries of different value chains.

Sagoe-Oviebo said that the project was one of the highlighted strategies by wife of the Governor of Lagos State, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, during the 19th National Women’s Conference, as part of the government’s plan to empower women and create jobs.

According to the coordinator, the empowerment programme will provide technical assistance and build capacity in enterprise development as well as agribusiness training in the chosen value chain of interest.

“The capacity building will be followed up with grants to finance sub-projects and mentorship for startup or consolidation of existing women and youth-led businesses as individual or group beneficiaries.

“The WYEP is designed for the unemployed and under employed women and youths with the aim of facilitating income generation and improved livelihood of the beneficiaries.

“A total of 1,620 beneficiaries with 10 per cent slot given to People with Disabilities (PWD) out of over 7000 persons who expressed their interest during the competitive selection process of the programme are to benefit under this scheme,” she said.

Breaking down modalities for the training, Sagoe-Oviebo said beneficiaries had been divided into batches for efficiency and optimum utilization and best value from the training institutes based on their capacity and facilities.

She said: “A total of 350 beneficiaries were randomly selected to kick start the two weeks training programme in two Institutes; Araga Training Institute in Epe, where Poultry and Rice value chains beneficiaries will be trained and Aquatic hub in Asero, Abeokuta”.

Sagoe-Oviebo urged beneficiaries to be open and receptive to the training and make the best use of the opportunities provided.

She urged them to adhere strictly to the institute’s rules and regulations.

NAN reports that the basic strategy of APPEALS project is to increase productivity, production and improve processing and marketing of the targeted value chains, which are expected to foster job creation.

Edited & Vetted By: Bayo Sekoni/Oluwole Sogunle

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Outgoing LCCI boss seeks closing of nation’s infrastructure gap



The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) says closing the infrastructure gap in the country will help accelerate economic transformation as part of efforts aimed at boosting national development.

It has also said that addressing the infrastructure gap in the country will provide an enabling environment for local and foreign capital, thereby expanding the nation’s productive base.

Outgoing President of LCCI, Mr Babatunde Ruwase, said these at the chamber’s 131st Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday in Lagos.

Ruwase said another benefit of closing the infrastructure gap was that it would help to reduce the financial sector vulnerabilities, boost the non-oil sector and stimulate faster economic growth.

He explained that the economy was able to maintain a positive growth trajectory due to the recovery of oil price for the better part of the year.

Ruwase said the country achieved the feat because of its economy with a large market, abundant resources and a productive population in spite of some business constraints.

“The outgoing year was characterised by numerous opportunities, achievements and challenges.

“However, as investors, we had to contend with usual constraints of the business environment with issues of high interest rates, weak GDP growth, traffic gridlock, border closure, forex exclusion list and insecurity amongst others.

“It is hoped that efforts aimed at driving growth in the non-oil sector are vigorously pursued to stimulate faster growth of the economy.” Ruwase said.

He said the headline inflation was expected to trend higher in the coming months.

This, he attributed to a continued shutdown of the land borders, implementation of new minimum wage, proposed hike in Value Added Tax rate and festive-related consumer spending.

He advised the government to reduce dependence on debt financing to fund projects and start considering equity financing to raise capital.

Ruwase said, “Price pressure was largely driven by increase in food prices staged by closure of the country’s land borders, however, increasing inflation may further worsen the poverty status of many and this calls for concerns.”

He commended the government on the attainment of its 15 place upward movement in the 2020 Doing Business Report to 131st from 146th position last year.

“The ranking is Nigeria’s best since 2011 and this reflects the efforts of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC).

“However, Nigeria’s ranking in the West African Sub region is 5th position; we can do much better as the economic powerhouse of the region,” Ruwase said.

Speaking about the end of his tenure as LCCI President, he appealed that the same support given to him be extended to his successor.

Ruwase reiterated the chamber’s resolve at promoting policies that support private sector development and the general progress of the economy.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the chamber’s surplus for the year transferred to accumulated fund was N50.95 million.

NAN also reports that LCCI elected Mrs Toki Mabogunje to succeed Ruwase as President for the next two years.

The election follows the expiration of Ruwase’s tenure, having served for two years.

Mabogunje’s investiture comes up on Saturday.

Edited & Vetted By: Olawunmi Ashafa/Oluwole Sogunle

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Kaduna Govt. tasks youth on innovative ideas to accelerate SDGs



The Kaduna State Government has restated its commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The government also welcome innovative ideas from the youth to accelerate the attainment of the goals in the state.

Chief of Staff to Gov. Nasir El-Rufai, Muhammad Abdullahi, stated this in Kaduna on Thursday, at a youth dialogue organised by the SDGs Project Support Unit, Kaduna State Planning and Budget Commission.

The dialogue entitled, ‘Developing a Roadmap to Implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Building on the UN Strategy for Youth’, was part of activities to commemorate the 2019 Global Week to Act for the SDGs.

Abdullahi, who was represented by his Special Assistant on Policy, Mr Abdullahi Shagari, said that the state government had over the years shown clear and verifiable dedication to youth development and empowerment.

He pointed out that every goal in the SDGs brings relief and opportunity closer to the youth and challenged the youth to come up with innovative ideas that would support the government to move the society forward.

“We are looking forward to having youth that will take the bull by the horn, push for reforms and demand that the government delivers on key goals that will better the lives of the people.

“As youth, this will show how ready we are for the leadership role that will give us the opportunities to make our lives, the lives of our children and the future of our nation something to look forward to.

“We are no longer the leaders of tomorrow; we are the leaders of today, but only if we take the lead ourselves, because it will not be given to us.

“We also need to be aware that development does not come by chance, we have to work for it,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Thomas Gyang, Commissioner, Planning and Budget Commission, said that the state had integrated the 17 goals into the its Development Plan, 2016 – 2020, and in other policies and programmes.

Gyang, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the commission, Malam Mahmoud Yamusa, said that the dialogue would bring every one up to speed and contribute toward achieving the SDGs in the state.

He said that the dialogue was specifically organised to spark the interest of the youth on sustainable development and motivate them to be committed advocates of the SDGs in the state.

Also speaking, the State Coordinator, Young African Leaders Initiative, Mr Jonah Yahaya, noted that the youth have the energy, the innovation and the drive to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs in the state.

“But we can only achieve this if we have access to resources, positively engaged and supported to bring our ideas and innovation to reality.

“All we are asking is for the private sector to harvest the ideas and innovations of the youth and the government to provide the enabling environment that would bring to light the creativity of the youth.

“This will enable us to take advantage of the opportunities that abound in the state,” Yahaya said.

The coordinator of the SDGs in the state, Hajiya Aisha Mohammed, said that the commission had on Monday began a week-long sensitisation campaign on the SDGs.

She said that the move was part of efforts to leave no one behind in the global campaign for sustainable development.

Edited & Vetted By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Tukur Muntari.

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AfCFTA: MAN urges stakeholders to address vital issues



The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has called on stakeholders of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to address vital issues during negotiations to ensure that the overall goal is achieved by the continent.

MAN President, Mr Mansur Ahmed made the call on Thursday at the opening ceremony of a two-day African Continental Free Trade Area National Forum, in Lagos.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the event is themed, “Effective Implementation for Industrialisation and Inclusive Economic Development in Nigeria.’

Ahmed said the key issues included technical and political challenges that must be resolved.

According to him, it is important that Nigeria benefits and ensures  she meets the targeted seven per cent economic growth rate expected to take about 100 million people out of poverty.

President Buhari is committed to lifting 100 million people out of poverty in the next 10 years; how can we ensure that the AfCFTA leads us towards that journey?”

He said the critical dimensions that must be addressed during conversations concerning the AfCFTA should include policies and regulations, rules and conduct of the players.

“The way we merge the processes, the agreements, regulations, institutions and how these work together to ensure that the game is being played in accordance to the rules and expectations.

“The issues need to be defined in a way that we see the complexities; technical and political, to ensure clarity.

“All these must be formulated in a way that all stakeholders understand their roles and obligations and therefore play according to the rules,’’the MAN president said.

Ahmed said that all negotiators were not of the same capacity and inclination, which would require harmonisation on a regional level to resolve issues such as market offer and collaboration.

He urged stakeholders to view the negotiations with a sense of collaboration and not allow any player deemed as too powerful to dominate.

“We must look at the interest of the group as a whole and the interest of the region, and what provides the best long term and sustainable interest of the region.

“There must be a strong commitment by our governments, various institutions and private sector groups to look beyond the norms and look at the goal for the region and continent,’’he said.


Edited & Vetted By: Emmanuel Okara/Oluwole Sogunle

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Experts say Nigeria Electrification Project critical to economic development



Some power experts on Thursday said the Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP) was critical to the well-being of Nigerians and the economic development of the country.

The experts, who spoke at the Solar Future Nigeria Exhibition in Lagos, include Mr Segun Adaju, President, Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN) and Mrs Vera Nwanze, General Manager, Azuri Technologies.

Others are Mr Chukwuka Isichei, Business Development Manager, METKA Power West Africa and Mr Alistair Gordon, Chief Executive Officer, Lumos.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the NEP, which is funded by the World Bank, is a nationwide initiative aimed at delivering energy access to unserved and underserved communities in Nigeria.

The project supports the Federal Government of Nigeria’s goal to increase electricity access across the country as defined in the national development agenda.

It is expected to provide electricity to households, small-to-medium-sized enterprises, and public institutions in a least-cost and timely manner through off- and mini-grid solutions.

Gordon said the NEP, managed by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), had made tremendous impact in deepening solar penetration in the country.

He said Lumos, in partnership with MTN, has been able to reach over 100,000 Nigerians, providing them with affordable and clean energy to power their homes and businesses.

According to him, with the grant being offered by the World Bank, Lumos is determined to expand its operations in the country within the next few years.

Nwanze, on her part, said Azuri Technologies had been able to bring electricity to many Nigerians in rural communities with their solar-powered appliances such as television, radio and fan.

Nwanze said that had enabled them to reduce their spending on generators, increase their access to information and a healthier lifestyle due to low carbon emission.

She said more Nigerians need to embrace solar power and appealed to the government to consider waivers for solar equipment imported into the country to make them affordable.

In his contribution, Isichei said METKA had been providing off-grid mini systems to universities in Nigeria, including Uthman Dan Fodio University, Nnamdi Azikiwe University and Kano University of Science and Technology.

“This has made tremendous impact on the lives of the students and it is a model going forward because we are seeing more mini-grids coming up,” he said.

Ajadu, who chaired the panel of discussants session, said REAN’s goal was to ensure acceptability of renewable energy in Nigeria and help to influence policies geared toward that objective.

Edited & Vetted By: Olawunmi Ashafa/Oluwole Sogunle

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CMD tasks anti-graft agencies on activities of illegal training firms



Mr Bitrus Chinoko, the Acting Director-General of Centre for Management Development (CMD), has appealed to anti-graft agencies in the country to check activities of unaccredited training institutions.

Chinoko made the appeal while speaking with the Nigeria News Agency in Uyo on Thursday.

He specifically urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to assist the centre to deliver its mandate by checking the activities of quacks and unaccredited training institutions.

Chinoko said intervention by anti-graft and law enforcement agencies would ensure that unaccredited firms no longer get training contracts.

The acting director-general said that the regulatory powers of the agency were derived from the Act establishing it.

He said the centre formulated policies and issued guidelines for the coordination of management education and training activities across the country.

Chinoko said that the centre had developed and promoted high standards in management education, entrepreneurial development and supervisory training programmes.

According to him, the centre also keeps and maintains a register of management training institutions and their programmes, including their subjects, locations, standards, durations, types and cost.

Chinoko advised all the training firms in the country to get their companies accrEdited & Vetted By: the
(NAN)CMD to operate unhindered.


Edited Kamal Tayo Oropo/Tajudeen Atitebi

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