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



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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Berger paints to unveil automated water-based plant in Lagos



Berger Paints PLC said that it would soon unveil its automated water-based paint factory in Lagos.

Chairman of the company, Mr Abi Ayida made the disclosure on Tuesday in Abuja when he visited the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Richard Adebayo.

A statement issued by the Minister’s Special Assistant on Media, Mr Julius Toba-Jegede quoted Ayida as saying the “plant is in its final stage of factory acceptance testing”.

Ayida also told the minister that the plant which represents a two billion naira investment would create jobs for Nigerians, strengthen the naira and sustain the local paint market.

According  to him, the project is expected to be formally commissioned in 2020 by Adebayo.

“The company is on the cusp of a major revolution in the paint industry as it commissions a fully automated water-based paint factory.

“The plant has adequate capacity for large volume production with derived benefits of increasing local capacity, thereby, reducing importation of finished products and consequently strengthening the naira.

“The fully automated factory is expected to activate the industrialisation era of the paint sector in Nigeria as this will be the trend going forward,’’ Ayida said.

He, however, called for improved access to Forex (FX) for raw materials.

“Government should consider including paint raw materials as part of items on priority list for FX access’’.

He equally called for the promotion of paint technology in the nation’s tertiary institutions by including it in school curriculum.

Ayida said that the move would deepen local expertise.

In his remarks, the minister appreciated the visit and pledged Federal Government’s support for investment drives.

“One of my mandates here following my appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari is to support private sector industrial growth.

“We are proud of what your management is doing and we are ready to support you.

“I am not unaware of some of the challenges facing the paint industry in Nigeria. But we are working round the clock to address them.

“To create jobs, eradicate and take 10 million Nigerians out of poverty, we are looking at industrialisation and agriculture,” he said.

The statement added that the company which has 100 per cent indigenous ownership commenced operations in Nigeria in January- 1959.

Edited by Ese E.  Ekama

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Access Bank Plc appoints Ajoritsedere Awosika Board Chairman



The Board of Directors of Access Bank Plc have announced Dr Ajoritsedere Awosika as its new Chairman.

The bank’s Company Secretary, Mr Sunday Ekwochi, said in a statement on Tuesday in Lagos that Awosika would assume the position of the company’s Board Chairman on Jan. 8, 2020.

Ekwochi said that Awosika’s appointment was apt to lead the board in the next phase of the bank’s transformation into becoming Africa’s Gateway to the World.

According to the statement, Awosika will take over from Mrs Mosun Belo-Olusoga as chairman following the later’s retirement as her 12-year term will elapse in January 2020.

The retirement of Belo-Olusoga, who became the Board Chairman in 2015, was in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Code of Corporate Governance for bankers and Discount Houses.

Awosika joined the board in April 2013 as an Independent Non-Executive Director and has been the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Board Credit and Finance Committee and the Board Audit Committee, respectively in addition to membership of other Board Committees.

She is an accomplished administrator with over three decades experience in public sector governance. She was at various times, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministries of Internal Affairs, Science & Technology and Power.

Awosika is a fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacy.

She holds a Doctorate degree in Pharmaceutical Technology from the University of Bradford, United Kingdom.

She is currently the Chairman of Chams Plc and Josephine Consulting Limited and a Non-Executive Director of Capital Express Assurance Ltd.

According to the statement, the board expresses its appreciation to Belo-Olusoga for her contributions to the bank’s transformational growth and wishes Dr (Mrs) Awosika success in her new appointment.

Edited by Wale Ojetimi

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Ports : 25 ships with petrol, food items expected — NPA



The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), in its daily publication — ‘Shipping Position’ — said on Tuesday that it was expecting 25 ships to bring in petroleum products, food and other goods at Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports,

The document indicated that the vessels were scheduled to come in between Nov. 16 and Dec. 31.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that 17 of the vessels were expected with petroleum products.

Nine ships were bringing  in general cargo/vehicles, buckwheat, steel pipes bulk sugar and containers carrying different goods.

According to the NPA, 17 ships were at the ports waiting to berth with petrol, container, kerosine and general cargo.

NAN reports that 18 other ships were at the ports discharging buck wheat, general cargo, petroleum coke steel containers and bulk sugar.

Edited by Oluwole Sogunle

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People, not oil, are the Nigeria’s greatest asset — Ex Finance Minister



Dr Mansur Muhtar, Vice- President, Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and Former Minister of Finance, says the greatest potential Nigeria needs to explore is its people and not oil.

Muhtar said this while unveiling of the Book “Pathways to Political and Economic Development of Africa” at the 7th Anniversary Lecture and Investiture into the Realnews Hall of Fame in Lagos.

The former minister spoke on “Beyond Oil: Whither the Nigeria Economy”.

He noted that with about 196 million people and projected at 401 million by 2050, Nigeria was the most populous country on the African continent, making it the largest after India and China.

“Nigeria has large numbers of young people, presenting opportunity for deepening human capital base for a sizable domestic and home market – growing size and strength of consumer class,” Muhtar said.

The former minister said “beyond figures, trends from the Economic Intelligence Unit database of November 2019 shows that Nigeria oil production was below potential and could be optimised by increasing investment.”

He said the government must also address security issue which had created supply disruption.

“Meanwhile, Nigeria is still a big player in the international market, largest oil producer in Africa, ranked 12th in the world, second largest amount of proved crude oil reserve in Africa, largest natural reserves on the continent,” Muhtar said.

The former minister, however, made case for economic diversification through broadening of sources of growth with greater domestic linkages.

He said this would shield the economy from price and output volatility, reduce vulnerabilities and allow sustainability of growth against natural resources depletion.

Muhtar said this would also enhance employment prospect by providing expanded and wider job opportunities, thereby facilitating a more geographically-balanced equitable growth.

The former minister noted that the advantageous geographical location of the country in West Africa was also its key asset that would facilitate its trade relations with neighbouring countries as well as easy access to European, North and South African markets.

Muhtar urged the government to create an enabling environment in human capital through investment in health, education, enhanced security, law and order.

“Leadership is not one person’s endeavour, a strong team that shares common ideals is needed; a critical mass of credible leaders and tough decision which demand end to business as usual,” he said .

Mr Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra, in his goodwill message, said that oil would not serve Nigeria or any county in the world.

Obi said the world was moving out of oil and Nigeria must follow suit and diversify and also invest in education.

“Oil has not serve Venezuela which has three times the oil reserve of Nigeria and it will not serve Nigeria or any other country either,” he said.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that other dignitaries at the event included Mr John Mahama, Former President of Ghana, Mrs Margaret Olele, Chief Executive Officer, American Business Council, Mr Alex Okoh, Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprise, Mr Dele Momodu, Publisher ,Ovation magazine, among others.

Edited by Abdullahi Mohammed/Wale Ojetimi

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Nigeria needs massive supply of private capital to develop infrastructure–ICRC



Mr Chidi Izuwah, the Director-General of Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), says Nigeria needs massive supply of private capital to be able to develop its infrastructure.

Izuwah said this in Abuja on Tuesday at a news conference on the forthcoming Joint Public Private Partnership (PPP) Consultative Forum and Nigeria PPP Network.

The PPP Consultative Forum and Nigeria PPP Network which will be sponsored by Afreximbank is scheduled to hold on Thursday.

He explained that the country currently had 69 active PPP projects but stressed that there was a need to have more because the deficit was still huge.

Izuwah said all Nigerian port terminals and Garki Hospital in Abuja were under PPP arrangement.

According to him, ICRC is doing its best to accelerate PPP projects to touch the critical sector of the economy.

He disclosed that Ibom Deep Seaport was on the last point of negotiation as the preferred bidder had been identified.

“Apart from Ibom Seaport, we also have Bakassi Seaport and Warri Deep Seaport which PPP arrangement was done through ICRC.

“Rail line that goes from Itakpe to Warri and then to Abuja is also a PPP project which has been approved by ICRC.

“University of Port-Harcourt has a world-class shopping complex built on PPP basis, if you see it, you won’t believe that you are in a campus, you will think you are in Dubai.

“There are a lot of massive projects that the Federal Government is doing with the PPP space,” he explained.

Izuwah emphasised the need to create unified factor and synergy between the states and the Federal Government  considering that most foreign investors who wanted to invest in the country only knew Nigeria.

The director-general disclosed that the upcoming event which would have some renowned foreign investors from South Africa,  would be jointly organised by ICRC, Nigerian Governors’’ Forum (NGF) and the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.

The Executive Director of  NGF, Alhaji Abdulatif Shittu,  pledged that the forum would ensure all the states embrace  PPP arrangement.

Shittu said already 20 states had established PPP with offices created to enable them to work independently.

Edited by Saidu Adamu/Chukwudi Ekezie

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