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WACOMP will boost sub-regional, int’l trade, says ECOWAS official



The ECOWAS Commission said on Monday that the West Africa Competitiveness Programme (WACOMP) would add value to agricultural products and boost sub-regional and international trade.

Mr Kolawole Sofola, the Principal Programme Officer, Directorate of Trade, ECOWAS Commission made this known during a Media advocacy meeting in Abuja.

Sofola said that the media had a very critical role to play in sensitising the public and beneficiaries to the objectives and gains of the programmme.

WACOMP is a 120 million Euros project which will be implemented over a period of five years across the West African sub-region with a focus on two major objectives, namely: to improve performance, growth, and contribution to industry, regional trade and exports of selected value chains, and to improve the business climate at the national and sub-regional levels.

He said that the programme which implementation began a year ago consists of one sub-regional component and sixteen national components which are the 15 ECOWAS member states and Mauritania.

Sofola explained that the selected value chains at the national and sub-regional levels would promote structural transformation and better access to ECOWAS and international markets, taking into recognition social and environmental concerns.

“Under the West Africa Competitiveness Programme, at the regional level we are focusing on Mango, Cassava and its derivatives, Textile and garments and Information and Communication Technology as a horizontal value chain.

“We are focusing on this because we know they have regional opportunities to add values across West Africa, whereby one country may have a comparative advantage at a particular stage.

“And then value will be added through various processing stages across West Africa.

“These products have been strategically chosen, either that we are consuming them, or we have high production capacity, they generate employment opportunities.

“And we believe these are variety value chains to be used for this particular project.

“We are also aware that they are other priorities for both Nigeria and other economies but these are not to be undertaken under this particular programme.

“Under WACOMP we also have the Nigerian component, so Nigeria has its own allocation of 10 million been implemented with the support of the German Development Agency (GIZ).

“Nigeria selected its own value chain and we would seek to support Nigeria in the implementation of its national component.

“Whereby we also find synergy between what Nigeria is doing for example in textile and garments on the national level and what we would be doing on textile and garments at the regional levels”, Sofola said.

According to Sofola, the ECOWAS Commission, under its trade office believes that the programme will bring complementarity and synergy rather than unhealthy competition among countries.

The programme officer said that several sub- regional initiatives had been put in place to ensure the success of the programme and to enhance regional trade and integration.

He said that measures were also put in place to ensure that the products met required international standards to avoid rejection at the countries of destination.

Also speaking, Miss Natasha Aniekwu, Chief Technical Adviser, WACOMP Abuja said that as an implementing agency of WACOMP, ITC would introduce technological tools to improve regional data information.

She said that the technological tools would also be used to harness trade market intelligence and provide trade solutions.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that WACOMP is funded the European Union and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission.

(Edited & Vetted By: Emmanuel Yashim)


Kenya Airways names new acting CEO



Kenya Airways named the head of its low-cost subsidiary as its new acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on Monday after its current boss announced his resignation in May amid the loss-making carrier’s re-nationalisation process.

The new acting Chief Executive Officer, Allan Kilavuka, has been CEO of Kenya Airways subsidiary – Jambojet – for about a year.

He will continue in that role as well as leading Kenya Airways “until a substantive CEO for Kenya Airways has been recruited and appointed’’, the carrier said.

Kenyan lawmakers in July voted to have the state take back the airline, which is 48.9 per cent government-owned and 7.8 per cent held by Air France-KLM.

Kenya Airways was privatised more than 20 years ago but sank into debt and losses in 2014 after a failed expansion drive, among other factors.

The departing boss, Sebastian Mikosz, said in May that he would leave by the end of the year for personal reasons after leading the airline since June 2017.

“The nationalisation process is still ongoing and the airline can’t be left with a leadership vacuum,” Lisa Kimathi, an Investment Analyst at Standard Investment Bank said.

Kilavuka is definitely experienced on the operations of Kenya Airways.

Kilavuka has led the five-year-old low-cost carrier Jambojet since January 2019.

According to his LinkedIn profile, prior to that, he was General Electric’s global operations leader for sub-Saharan Africa.

Mikosz wished his successor the best.

“He knows he can count on me anytime,” he told Reuters in a text message.

Mikosz said in November that he expected the nationalisation process to be completed by next year.

Kenya Airways is hoping to emulate the successful model employed by its rival, state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest airline.

The airline flies to 54 destinations around the world, the majority of which are in Africa.

Edited by: Abdullahi Mohammed/Adeleye Ajayi





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Sri Lanka to double crude oil tank capacity by 2020



Sri Lanka aims to double its crude oil tank capacity by 2020 while a tripartite LNG terminal and power plant agreement would be signed with India and Japan by mid 2020,

The Minister of Transportation, Power and Energy, Mahinda Amaraweera, disclosed this in a statement on Monday in Colombo.

The minister said the newly appointed government, headed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, was planning for the current two-week fuel storage capacity to be increased to four weeks by 2020.

This, he said, was to ensure non-shortage of oil following a severe oil crisis which hit the island country in 2017.

While the previous government planned to expand fuel storage tanks at Kolonnawa Terminal in outskirts of the capital, the new government would evaluate the establishment of new tanks in Trincomalee in the east currently on lease to India.

A new oil distribution pipeline will also be constructed from Colombo Port.

Sri Lanka faced a massive oil shortage in Nov. 2017, with the island country’s transport sector coming to a standstill amid severe petrol shortage.

Petrol consumption in Sri Lanka had almost doubled since the ethnic war ended in 2009, with demand increasing about even per cent annually.


Edited by: Yahaya Isah/Tajudeen Atitebi


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Indonesia targets more investments from UAE



Indonesia expects to sign more deals with the United Arab Emirates in the energy, health and education sectors during a visit to the country in January by President Joko Widodo.

The coordinating ministry of maritime and investment affairs said this in a statement issued on Monday in Jakarta.

The Indonesian government is keen to attract more foreign investors to boost its economic growth, which has held near five per cent for several years.

Earlier this year, companies from Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates signed agreements worth a total 9.7 billion dollars during an official visit by the Abu Dhabi crown prince to the Southeast Asian country.

During Widodo’s planned visit in January, the government aims to sign a memorandum of understanding with sovereign wealth fund Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) “to support infrastructure development Indonesia”, the ministry said.

Indonesian state aluminum company, PT Inalum, is also planning to sign an agreement with Emirates Gold Aluminium to build a 500,000 tonnes-per-year smelter in North Kalimantan province on Borneo Island.

Indonesia’s state-owned energy company PT Pertamina and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) are expected to sign a deal to upgrade a refinery at Balongan.

Pertamina and Mubadala Investment Company are also expected to agree to expand a refinery in Balikpapan.

Edited by: Fatima Sule/Ismail Abdulaziz


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Samoa measles death toll rises to 73



At least 73 people, mostly children, have died in Samoa due to a measles outbreak since November, the Pacific Island government said.

According to the latest update on Monday from the Samoan ministry of health, 5,267 measles cases had been reported since the outbreak of the infectious disease.

As of Dec. 15, 93 per cent of the population has been vaccinated, according to the health ministry.

Earlier this month, Samoa conducted a door-to-door vaccination campaign in response to a measles outbreak, with a two-day shutdown of public services, commerce and road networks.

Officials had asked unvaccinated residents to hang red flags outside their homes to help the campaign.

Since mid-November, the government has declared a state of emergency and closed schools and a university.

Anyone aged under 19 is barred from public gatherings.

According to Radio New Zealand (RNZ), the measles outbreak in the Pacific is believed to have originated in New Zealand, but has now affected other countries, including Fiji and Tonga.

Samoa has been hit the hardest due to low vaccination rates, with the vaccination rate at 28 to 40 per cent, according to UNICEF.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said there were measles outbreaks in all regions of the world, with the number of cases reported to the WHO above 413,000 by early November, compared to 353,000 for all of last year.

It faulted “insufficient immunisation’’ in some of the world’s poorest countries for the rise.

Edited by: Fatima Sule/Ismail Abdulaziz


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American Business Council admits new members in Lagos



The American Business Council (ABC) in Nigeria, an affiliate of the United States Chamber of Commerce, on Sunday admitted eight new corporate members into its fold.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that those who came onboard during its first special event in Lagos included Jumia, Cisco, J.P. Morgan, Africa Resource Center, U.S. Soybean Export Council, amongst others.

NAN reports that ABC was founded in 2005 as the voice of American businesses in Nigeria to promote trade and investment between both countries.

Claire Pierangelo, the Consul General of the U.S. in Lagos, said at the event that the council had since its establishment played a key role in trade and investment.

“The council has brought together potential business in Nigeria and the U.S.

“This has in turn helped to strengthen the commercial ties between both countries.

“Nigeria remains one of our largest trading partners in Africa and we are excited about the partnerships that will be coming up in 2020,” the US envoy said.

Margaret Olele, said that the council was working with partners to create an enabling environment for U.S. companies in Nigeria

“The environment is getting more complex in terms of advocacy issues but we’re hopeful that 2020 would be a better year.

“We would be engaging the government a lot in different sectors to ensure that solutions are found to all issues,” Olele said.

Similarly, President of the Council, Dipo Faulkner, said that 2019 had been an eventful year considering growth and the louder voice the council had in terms of advocacy.

“We hope that the efforts put into this year will yield more results in 2020 because we not only work with the U.S. missions in Nigeria, but also speak as the voice of American businesses in the country.

“We create a platform for them to speak about their problems, we not only listen to them, we also put them in front of the right audience,” he said. 

Edited by: Wale Ojetimi


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NIDCOM boss applauds Nigerian martial artist, Usman for retaining UFC title



Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) on Sunday congratulated Nigeria’s Kamaru Usman, for retaining his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight title at UFC 245 in Las Vegas, Nevada, after knocking out Colby Covington.

Chairman/CEO of NIDCOM Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa praised Usman in a statement by the commission’s Head of Media and Public Relations, Abdur-Rahman Balogun.

She said that by the wonderful feat, Usman had brought honour and glory not only to himself but to the African continent as well.

Dabiri-Erewa, who barely a week ago, extended the same courtesies to Anthony Joshua, another Nigerian, for reclaiming his world heavyweight titles, said that the Nigerian-American mixed martial artist, Usman recorded his name in the history book of wrestling by becoming the first African champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

“This is something to be proud of,” she said.

The NIDCOM chief, therefore, urged him not to relent in bringing more honour and glory to the country.

She appealed to Nigerians living abroad to continue to be of good behaviour and to “show that Nigerians can be great wherever they find themselves”.

Nigeria News Agency reports that Usman, who hails from Edo state,  traveled to the U.S. at the age of seven years.

While in high school, Usman became a top-rated wrestler with an out-going record of 53 wins and 3 losses.

Since joining the UFC, Usman has slowly worked his way up the ranks from a rookie to a title challenger in just a few years.

In July 2015, Usman won the Welterweight Division of the UFC against American fighter, Heither Hardy.

Usman is the seventh ranked pound-for-pound UFC fighter.

Edited by: Emmanuel Yashim


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IPCR wins 2019 Human Rights Award



The Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) has emerged winner of the 2019 Human Rights Award for Federal and State Ministries, Departments, and Agencies category.

The institute made this known in a statement on Sunday by its Head of Media Mr Musa Mato.

The institute said that the award was organised by the National Human Rights Commission as part of its activities for the 2019 Human Rights Summit.

According to Musa, a poll was carried out online on the official website of the Commission.

The Executive Secretary of the commission, Mr Tony Ojukwu, while announcing the result said that the award was aimed at encouraging humanitarian activities in the area of promoting the rights of Nigerians especially the indigent members of the society.

Mato added that the Director-General of IPCR, Dr Bakut Bakut was honoured with the fellowship of the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC).

He said that ICMC presented the award to Bakut during its Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Conference, Induction and 20th Anniversary in Abuja.

Bakut was nominated for the award due to his commitment and determination in providing quality leadership in repositioning IPCR to enable it to prevent conflict and promote peace in the country in particular and in Africa in general.

Established in February 2000, IPCR is the apex agency of government responsible for strengthening Nigeria’s capacity for the promotion of peace and conflict prevention, management and resolution in Nigeria and Africa.

Due to its effectiveness in managing and resolving disputes and its ability to prevent conflict through various means, recently, stakeholders called on government to establish Conflict Resolution Offices in all the 774 Local Government Areas in the country.

Bakut, a strong advocate of peace, has assured the public that the institution would continue to work with relevant stakeholders to ensure that Nigeria remains a peaceful country.

Edited by: Emmanuel Yashim


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Arts, cultural exchange strengthen relationships between countries – Emirati Artist



Hamid Al-Ali, a United Arab Emirate artist, says arts and cultural exchange programmes can help harness the foreign policy of nations.

Al-Ali said this in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency on Saturday in Lagos.

According to him, the creation of art through photography exhibitions, strengthen the relationship between countries.

Photography, for Al-Ali, is the ability to freeze a moment in time and preserve it forever while sharing it with others, making it more valuable.

NAN reports that Al-Ali, who is in Nigeria for the art exhibition, has travelled to about 77 countries, including Nigeria, in search of natural beauty.

He said that travelling and visiting other countries could open the horizons to the acceptance of other races and cultures.

“In my country, this year for us is that of forgiveness and tolerance.

“This means the acceptance of others, regardless of their nationality, religion, gender or race.

“One of my works, which portrays acceptance, was done during my trip to Kenya.

“A lady that speaks a different language accepted that I take pictures of her and that is tolerance to me,’’ he said.

He added that people must learn to always look at the positive side of life because of its many benefits.

“In every country, there is the good and the bad but it’s up to us to select what we want to portray.

“Relationships last longer when we look at the positive side of things,’’ Al-Ali said.

Edited by: Abdulfatah Babatunde


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All the 2020 Democrats threatening to skip next debate in LA



All the 2020 candidates who qualified for the next Democratic presidential debate have vowed to bow out of the event because they don’t want to cross a picket line to get there.

Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, Amy Klobuchar, and Tom Steyer announced on Friday that they would pull out of the Thursday Democratic debate in Los Angeles if a local labor union dispute can’t get resolved.

The Democratic National Committee decided last month that it would move the debate from the University of California, Los Angeles to Loyola Marymount University following a conflict between UCLA and AFSCME Local 3299.

Now, however, the DNC finds itself in the crosshairs of another dispute. UNITE HERE Local 11, which represents 150 workers who prepare and serve meals for Loyola Marymount students, said it would boycott the next presidential debate after negotiations broke down with Sodexo, the university’s food services subcontractor.

“We had hoped that workers would have a contract with wages and affordable health insurance before the debate next week. Instead, workers will be picketing when the candidates come to campus,” said a statement from Susan Minato, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11.

Shortly after the announcement, Warren, Sanders and Yang took to Twitter and committed to not crossing the picket lines.

“The DNC should find a solution that lives up to our party’s commitment to fight for working people.

“I will not cross the union’s picket line even if it means missing the debate,” Warren wrote.

Yang said “there is nothing more core to the Democratic Party than the fight for working people,” while Sanders said he stood with the university workers “fighting Sodexo for a better contract.”

Biden, Buttigieg, and Steyer also offered their support for the Loyola Marymount workers, with Biden calling for them to receive “affordable healthcare and fair wages,” Buttigieg saying he would not “undermine” workers’ rights and Steyer urging the Democratic National Committee to “find a solution ahead of the debate.”

Klobuchar said at an event with labor leaders in Miami that she, too, would not cross the picket lines.

The debate is the first (and likely the last) to be held in California before the state’s March 3 primary election.

The Democratic National Committee announced that its next four debates will be held in January and February in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, leaving room for two more planned debates between March and June.

The Democratic National Committee said it’s working with the labor union and others involved and expects the debate to go on as planned.

“We are working with all stakeholders to find an acceptable resolution that meets their needs and is consistent with our values and will enable us to proceed as scheduled with next week’s debate,” said Xochitl Hinojosa, the committee’s communications director.


Edited by: Emmanuel Yashim


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