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Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and African Development Bank sign MoU to promote cooperation

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and African Development Bank sign MoU to promote cooperationJoachim von Amsberg, AIIB Vice-President for Policy and Strategy, and Charles Boamah, African Development Bank Senior Vice-President, at the MoU signing ceremony in Washington, DC.

A Memorandum of Understanding to enhance collaboration on sustainable economic development was signed on April 18 by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the African Development Bank and formalized during the World Bank-International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in Washington, DC.

The mandates and comparative advantages of the two institutions converge around infrastructure development, particularly energy and power, transportation and communication. These key activity areas will provide a framework to foster collaboration in developing programs, co-financing, and other forms of financial assistance, knowledge and staff exchange.

Joachim von Amsberg, AIIB Vice-President for Policy and Strategy, remarked, “Today’s MoU with the African Development Bank reflects a strong partnership between two institutions with the same vision to promote sustainable economic development. It enables more effective cooperation between the two multilateral development banks and allows us to complement each other with our respective capabilities. In particular, it allows AIIB to benefit from AfDB’s rich experience in financing infrastructure projects in Africa.” Egypt, Ethiopia, Madagascar, South Africa and Sudan have all joined or been approved to join the AIIB as non-regional members.

African Development Bank Senior Vice-President Charles Boamah stressed, “This partnership will benefit the Bank by leveraging additional resources for the continent, which are critical to the achievement of its High 5 development priorities.” He said it is key for the Bank to cooperate with new development players like AIIB and to join forces in raising the voice of developing and emerging economies in the global policy landscape.

AIIB and AfDB will maintain a working relationship to achieve their common objectives of assisting developing countries in their development efforts.

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The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a multilateral development bank with a mission to improve social and economic outcomes in Asia and beyond. Headquartered in Beijing, we commenced operations in January 2016 and have now grown to 84 approved members from around the world. By investing in sustainable infrastructure and other productive sectors today, we will better connect people, services and markets that over time will impact the lives of billions and build a better future.

The overarching objective of the African Development Bank Group is to spur sustainable economic development and social progress in its regional member countries, thus contributing to poverty reduction. To do so, the Bank mobilizes and allocates resources for investment in African countries and provides policy advice and technical assistance to support development efforts.

African Development Bank organizes Workshop on Strengthening Role of Parliament in Combating Illicit Financial Flows from Africa

From: 24/04/2018
To: 26/04/2018
Location: Abuja, Nigeria

The African Development Bank will hold a Workshop on Strengthening the Role of Parliament in Combating Illicit Financial Flows from Africa (IFFs) from 24 to 26 April 2018 in Abuja.

Since the approval of the Bank Group’s Policy on the Prevention of Illicit Financial Flows and its accompanying Strategic Framework and Action Plan in April 2017, the Bank has organized and/or participated in a number of Conferences and Workshops aimed at building the capacity of regional stakeholders to combat illicit financial flows.

The workshop will address the challenges and difficulties faced, and the good practices adopted, by experts and practitioners in African countries in their fight against illicit financial flows and in recovering the proceeds of crime from criminals, and the role that parliamentarians can play in facilitating the work of the practitioners.

Participants at the workshop will include Parliamentarians from the Bank’s regional member countries (RMCs), as well as national and international experts and practitioners in the field of taxation, financial crimes, and Financial Intelligence Units, among others, who are central to the Bank’s work on illicit financial flows.

The workshop’s expected outcomes include widespread awareness among parliamentarians on (i) their role in combating Illicit Financial Flows from Africa; (ii) the role which they can play in translating the key recommendations of the HLP Report on Illicit Financial Flows into laws that respond to specific needs of their countries; and (iii) generation of ideas on how to initiate and/or deepen cooperation and synergies among parliamentarians on IFFs in the Banks RMCs.

What:            Workshop on Strengthening Role of Parliament in Combating Illicit Financial Flows from Africa

When:           24-26 April, 2018, 09:00 to 17:00

Where:          Abuja Nigeria, Transcorp Hilton Hotel.

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IB and African Development Bank to support private sector investment in Nigeria with Development Bank of Nigeria backing
April 20, 2018
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EIB and African Development Bank to support private sector investment in Nigeria with Development Bank of Nigeria backing

The European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank have agreed to support the creation of the new Development Bank of Nigeria to strengthen lending for business and agriculture investment in the country. The European Investment Bank has finalized a US $20-million equity stake in the new financing institution, alongside US $50-million equity participation from the African Development Bank.

The Development Bank of Nigeria has been created by the Federal Government of Nigeria to address financing challenges hindering private sector investment in the country. The Bank is called to play an important and catalytic role in providing funding and risk sharing facilities to micro, small and medium enterprises as well as small corporates.

“The Development Bank of Nigeria will overcome the funding gap in the micro-, small- and medium-scale enterprises space and help businesses unlock opportunities across Nigeria. DBN’s ambition is strengthened by the financial and technical support of international partners, including the European Investment Bank and African Development Bank. The new institution builds on international experience and uses a business model that has demonstrated proven success to enhance private-sector investment across Africa and around the world where other financing options are inadequate or absent,” said Tony Okpanachi, Managing Director of the Development Bank of Nigeria.

“Private sector businesses are critical to the development of the Nigerian economy as they possess huge potential for employment generation and output diversification. Nevertheless, there has been under-performance of these businesses and this has undermined their contribution to economic growth. Among the issues affecting their performance, the shortage of finance, particularly investment finance, occupies a very central position. The Development Bank of Nigeria is expected to contribute to mobilizing significant long-term financing to an important yet underserved sector with high development potential,” said Stefan Nalletamby, Director of the Financial Sector Development Department at the African Development Bank.

“New private sector investment is crucial to create jobs and enable business to expand and limited access to long-term financing holds back economic growth. The European Investment Bank is pleased to support the new Development Bank of Nigeria to strengthen private-sector investment in Africa’s largest economy. We look forward to continued close cooperation with Nigerian and international partners to ensure that once fully operational the new Development Bank of Nigeria can help harness the country’s economic potential,” said Ambroise Fayolle, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB).

“The European Union is committed to supporting private-sector investment in Nigeria. The new backing for the Development Bank of Nigeria by both the European Investment Bank, the bank of the European Union and the African Development Bank, with 13 EU member state shareholders, will make a clear contribution to tackling the lack of access to credit by entrepreneurs and businesses across the country. With more investment, we hope to promote a vibrant economy and stimulate growth, employment and increase opportunities, especially for youth,” said Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, Head of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Addressing the investment gap holding back private-sector investment

At present, new investment essential for companies to expand and create jobs is hindered by limited access to commercial banks. It is estimated by the Development Bank of Nigeria that only 5% of the 37 million entrepreneurs and small businesses in Nigeria that contribute to 50% of GDP can access credit in the financial system.

Building on broad international support

Other international financial institutions including the World Bank, Germany’s KfW and the French Agence française de développement (AFD) will also support the new bank alongside backing from the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Background:

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.

The African Development Bank is a development finance institution whose overarching objective is to spur sustainable economic development and social progress in its regional member countries, thus contributing to poverty reduction. It aims to achieve this objective by mobilizing and allocating resources for investment in regional member countries and providing policy advice and technical assistance to support development efforts.

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Successful completion of Third West African Forum for Climate and Clean Energy Financing in Abidjan
April 20, 2018
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Successful completion of Third West African Forum for Climate and Clean Energy Financing in Abidjan

The third West African Forum for Climate and Clean Energy Financing (WAFCCEF-3) was held on Thursday, April 12 in the Babacar Ndiaye Auditorium at the African Development Bank in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Representatives of international organisations, private developers and energy experts, and many academics and students attended.

Organized by the Private Financing Advisory Network (PFAN) in partnership with the ECOWAS Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), the forum presented projects seeking finance and an interactive session between participants and energy experts.

In his opening remarks, Wale Shonibare, the Director of the Bank’s Energy Financial Solutions, Regulation and Policy, emphasized the stakes of access to energy in Africa and then urged participants to think about the levers that might help the continent to catch up in this sector. “There is no development without access to energy. Having understood that energy is a development issue, the Bank has made the sector one of its five strategic priorities, or High 5s. The Light up and power Africa initiative aims to provide access to energy for as many Africans as possible,” he observed.

Peter Storey, the PFAN Global Coordinator, saw the forum as an excellent platform for bringing together entrepreneurs involved in the struggle for an energy transition, recognized sectorial experts, and potential investors in the climate and clean energy.

A five-member jury then judged the presentations of 10 projects seeking finance. The Masada Waste Transformers and Solar Era Holdings, two projects from Sierra Leone, won the first two prizes. The first winning project is a private enterprise that recovers and transforms household waste, and the second is a solar energy producing undertaking. The jury also selected runners-up and second runners-up.

Storey observed, “We will be working with the winners, finalists and semi-finalists to help them complete the financing needed to implement their projects. Our goal is to help them get these 5 projects completely financed so that they can be implemented. He emphasized that, “It is always good for a project to have gone through PFAN because its stamp of approval considerably increases the project’s chances of securing financing from other funders.”

In addition to project presentations, the third Forum included an important interactive session between PFAN’s professional coaches and participants. Discussions focused on strategies for developing bankable projects, on determining available finance mechanisms, and on the ways of involving universities and young people in a dialogue on renewable energy.

African Development Bank, African Institute of Mathematics and Science to transform industry-led research in Africa

African Development Bank, African Institute of Mathematics and Science to transform industry-led research in Africa

The African Development Bank and the African Institute of Mathematics and Sciences (AIMS) have initiated a landmark relationship aimed at building an industry-led research institution in the league of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, led a delegation of the High-Level Advisory Council of AIMS to a meeting with the African Development Bank in Abidjan, where a 10-year partnership proposal was made to build mathematical and scientific capacity in Africa, strengthen industry linkages, and create a competitive industrial and innovative space.

Obasanjo, the Patron of the High-Level Advisory Council for AIMS’ Next Einstein Initiative, with former Ghanaian President John Kufuor as Vice-Chair, described the visit as a huge opportunity for the Bank and AIMS to forge an extraordinary partnership to support African countries in the expansion of mathematical science education, training and research. He commended Bank President Akinwumi Adesina for championing Africa’s development and assured that the proposed partnership is critical for the continent’s future. “If we are going to make substantial progress in industrialization within the next decade, be truly visible in the rapidly unfolding fourth industrial revolution and rise effectively to the challenge of creating decent and sustainable jobs for our youths, the continent must produce well motivated and well trained young innovators.”

Adesina stressed the need for Africa to develop with pride and pledged the Bank’s commitment to build a partnership with AIMS that would allow the continent to compete with the rest of the world. “We must recognize that the world is moving fast. Consequently, how can Africa position itself in a rapidly changing world so that it doesn’t become disadvantaged? We are a knowledge-driven Bank and think our partnership will help us build quantum knowledge for growth. We are excited about the focus on young people. We also like the regional integration dimension of the work that AIMS does.”

The Bank President promised to convene a meeting of donors to discuss AIMS’ funding request, but stressed the need for greater participation by the private sector, particularly key industries that benefit from the institution’s research and work in science, technology and innovation.

He described the involvement of industry-led research as the driving force of the Silicon Valley. He also made a case for venture capital and private equity funds to support research outputs from the continent.

Neil Turok, the Founder of AIMS, described the Bank as a leading institution in Africa and said the Institute is excited about the prospect of a partnership. “I was trained to believe in Africa. I can tell you AIMS is the most exciting and dynamic science and educational institution in the world. What has driven the institution are the young students from Africa.”

Turok said AIMS’ research and industry-led capacity development aligns with the Bank’s High 5s, including its regional integration targets. “What we are doing at AIMS is to transform Africa is by giving opportunities to the youth. AIMS is African-owned, African-run, African-operated, but it hosts the best scientists in the world to give African young scientists the stuff they need.”

He went on to say, “Our goal is to be the MIT for Africa. We know the impact MIT has on U.S. industry. We want to create the same for Africa, but we struggle with sustainable funding. We want to work with the African Development Bank to develop sustainable funding.”

The aim of the partnership program is to ensure that each of the 54 African countries has an additional 100-250 world-class specialists in mathematical sciences by 2020 to lead research and innovation in various fields. The total cost of the partnership program is projected at US $54.685 million.

AIMS is seeking bridging finance of $5 million to build mathematical capacity in Africa and called for the Bank’s support to establish the African Presidential Resource Center. AIMS’ President, Thierry Zomahoun, explained, “Bridging finance is needed to build upon and sustain the momentum in AIMS’ ongoing expansion of mathematical sciences education, training, research and industry initiative on the continent.

“With the generous support of donors since 2003, AIMS has been able to mobilize and commit more than $60 million in support of fully funded scholarships for the brightest young African scholars to obtain master’s and PhD education and training in the mathematical sciences and to implement an industry initiative.”

Adesina commended Obasanjo for establishing the Nigerian Trust Fund, hosted by the African Development Bank in 1976, when he was the Nigerian Head of State. “We want to ensure that Africa is not left behind in the 4th industrial revolution. That is why we, as a Bank, are very happy that you are leading the AIMS delegation to push for the strengthening of mathematical sciences.”

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FG To Modernise Agric Through Mechanisation, ICT
April 20, 2018
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Farm mechanisation: The Federal Government has affirmed that efforts are been made to modernise the agricultural sector through farm mechanisation and use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to target and encourage youth participation in agriculture.

Bukar Hassan, the Permanent Secretary, FMARD who was represented by Karima Babangida, the Director-Federal Department of Extension, made this known during a courtesy visit by Students of United States of America War College to the ministry.

He reiterated the commitment of the ministry in developing agriculture with a view to attaining national food security and provision of gainful employment for its teeming youth population.Farm mechanisation

He said the ministry in its effort to boost export is working with organisations such as the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council to ensure safety standard of food, maintenance of international quality standards and safety requirements.

Aisha Mohammed, Head Projects Coordinating unit, during an interactive session, explained to the group that government is committed to changing the narrative of being a major importer of agricultural produce, especially rice to becoming a major exporter of rice, cassava, cocoa, and other produce.

She noted that importation of rice has dropped tremendously as Nigeria is now engaged in local production of the product.

Osagie Aimiuwu, USAID Nigeria, said his organisation has developed a programme on integrated agriculture that will focus on the North East, saying his agency will collaborate with officials of the ministry to implement the programme.

Cornell Charlett Woodaid, leader of the delegation disclosed that the mission to the Ministry of Agric is to interact with USAID desk officers, deepen exchange of knowledge that are sector specific and have first-hand knowledge of projects being implemented by the ministry.

Workers In Food, Beverage Sector Suspend Strike As Labour Ministry Wades In

Striking workers in the Food and Beverage sector of the nation’s economy, yesterday suspended their three day old nationwide strike following intervention by the Lagos office of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.

The workers on the aegis of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association, FOBTOB, had on Monday, December 11, began a nationwide strike over a breakdown of negotiation between FOBTOB and the employers’ federation; Asssociation of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employers, AFBTE, on a new collective agreement to among others review upward their salaries and other fringe benefits.

But a statement by the General Secretary of FOBTOB, Solomon Iji, announcing the suspension of the strike, said: “This is to inform you that our indefinite strike which commenced on Monday 11th December, 2017 at 12:00 am is with immediate effect suspended. This is to allow both FOBTOB and AFBTE to go back and negotiate in good faith after the conciliatory meeting held under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.

It was agreed between FOBTOB and AFBTE that no employee shall be victimised for participating in the strike action. FG Raises Alarm Over Smuggling Of Unwholesome Food Items

The principle of “no work no pay” will not be applied against the employees. That negotiations should conclude between 14th – 17th December, 2017. Failure to agree would result in POBTOB and AFBTE returning to the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment by Monday December 18, 2017.”

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FCTA Urges Residents To Vaccinate Livestock, Cattle
April 20, 2018
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Livestock: The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has called on livestock owners in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), to take advantage of the ongoing mass vaccination and treatment exercise, for livestock in FCT, and bring their cattle, goats and sheep for vaccination.

Speaking when he flagged off the 2018 FCT mass vaccination and treatment exercise in Gwagwalada-Abuja yesterday, FCT minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, explained that the exercise would enable them breed healthier livestock, that would produce more milk and healthier offspring.

Bello added that the exercise was part of the administration’s effort to ensure food safety and prevent the outbreak and spread of livestock-borne diseases in the territory.

Represented by the secretary, FCTA Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat (ARDS), Hon Stanley Ifeanyichukwu Nzekwe, the minister reiterated the commitment of the administration towards ensuring that only healthy livestock, safe for consumption, are available in FCT markets.Grazing

He commended the area councils for their support and assured that the administration was very passionate about the agricultural sector, hence the approval for all the necessary logistics for the success of the exercise, adding that no livestock should be left out in the exercise.

Earlier in his welcome address, the chairman of Gwagwalada area council, Alhaji Mustapha Adamu Danze, had assured that the council would mobilize its agricultural officers to ensure the success of the exercise.

Making Millions From Snail Farming

Making Millions From Snail Farming, Once upon a long time ago, not much was thought of snails and the financial gains that could be derived from breeding them.

In those days, it was not uncommon to find Nigerians, young and old alike, going through bushes and wet vegetation, especially at dawn, to find snails for consumption. With time, however, people began to discover that snails could be reared for profit.

Some studies argue that West African countries, such as Nigeria, boast of the best types of snails for rearing and consumption. Some researchers have even proved that one can make as much as over N2 million annually from snail farming.

Interestingly, almost anybody can start a snail farm, depending on the commitment, time and resources one is willing to dedicate to the venture. Various factors should be considered when breeding snails. According to Agronigeria Online, there are some steps to follow to set up a profitable snail farm:

Snails need a moist environment to survive. To get the right snails for breeding, pick them raw from the bush by attracting them with fruits such as pineapples, plantain, pawpaw, among others – getting them from the market may not be very advisable as they would have been exposed to sunlight, which reduces their fertility. You can also opt for getting their eggs for breeding, provided you have the right environment and soil type to handle their fast reproductive level.

To build the right house for the snails, referred to as snailery, remember that snails can only function properly with the right soil, yet, note that they should be protected from large and small pests such as snakes, rats, ants and termites.

Depending on the type of snails you choose to breed, feeding them shouldn’t break the bank. Snails can be fed with leaves of okro, cabbage, cocoyam, pawpaw, among others. They can also be fed with certain kinds of fruits or specially prepared feed available in stores.

Agronigeria Online highlights various advantages of snail farming to include: minimum capital requirement for investment; high demand, which will result in huge profit; snail as an export commodity to improve Nigeria’ foreign exchange market; ease of practicability, among others.

A standard snail farm that produces millions for the investor.

“Snail farming in Nigeria requires small capital and the running cost is very low, hence their feeds are very local. If your start-up capital is N100,000 you can generate the sum of N1 million in one year. You can conveniently earn income higher than your present earning. You can keep your present job and do this on part-time since it doesn’t require much time,” it said.

Another juicy benefit of rearing snails is they are not just less stressful or take much time to breed, there is less risk of offensive odour or noise that will attract attention from neighbours. Cooperative Empowers Nassarawa Community, Begins Processing Of 10,000 Tonnes Of Maize

According to www.jovanafarms.com, “snail meat is a good source of protein. It is rich in iron and calcium, but low in fat and cholesterol compared to other animal protein sources. They are environmental-friendly because, unlike pigs and poultry, neither the snail nor its droppings smell offensively. Snails can also be reared in the backyard.”

Jovana Farms, which also breeds and raises snails naturally on pasture/free range method to produce high quality snail meat, offers 18-month-old snail breeders suitable for people who would like to start their own snail farms.

Snails also have various nutritional benefits. According to assistant professor with the Programme for Public Health at Michigan State University, United States, Natalie Stein, the dietary importance of eating snails is beneficial, depending on how they are prepared.

Snails are good for persons who wish to control their weight as “a 100-gramme serving size of snails has only 90 calories. This serving provides 16 grammes of protein, which is a filling nutrient. Snails may fit into a low-carbohydrate diet plan, since they only have two grammes total carbohydrates per serving,” and also provide healthy sources of fat, potassium, sodium and other nutrients.

According to Stein, Making Millions From Snail Farming, while those watching their cholesterol levels should minimise their quantity of snail intake, “you need iron for healthy red blood cells, and snails provide 3.5 milligrammes of iron, or nearly 20 per cent of the daily value. The iron in snails is in the heme form, which is easier for your body to absorb than iron from plant-based sources. Other essential nutrients in snails are vitamin B-12 and magnesium.”

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Board Pledges Support To NBMA
April 20, 2018
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NBMA: The Chairman and board members of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) have assured staff of the preparedness of the board to work with the agency to ensure that it attains its mandate.

Hon. Dasuki Nakande, Chairman of the board said at the inaugural meeting which held (today Tuesday) in Abuja, that the board recognized the fact that the agency was established to regulate a very controversial and volatile sector of the economy.NBMA

“As soon as my name was announced as the Chairman of the board, I started getting petitions from members of the public. This is to show that the agency is working. If you are not working nobody bothers about you. The fact that people are petitioning the agency alone shows that you are making progress,” he said.

He said that the board was constituted to ensure that the agency functions effectively without hindrance and distraction, acknowledging that since he was sworn in as chairman of the board he has undertaken some measures to address the immediate challenges facing the agency especially the issue of accommodation.

He charged the management and staff of the agency to be above board in their dealings and ensure that the health and safety of Nigerians remained paramount in the discharge their duties.NBMA

Prof. Ben Ubi, a member of the board, also commended the agency for its doggedness in the regulation of GMOs in the country. “Having gone through the GMO Detection and Analysis Laboratory and seen the kind of work that is being carried out, I feel proud to be associated with the agency.”

The board assured that it would work with relevant organs of government to provide the political support needed by the NBMA to actualize its mandate.

Katsina To Register 10,000 Youths For Agricultural Programme

No fewer than 10,000 youths in Katsina State will be enrolled in the Federal Government’s Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS) to reduce unemployment in the state.

Alhaji Ibrahim Shehu, Managing Director, Katsina State Agricultural Development Authority (KTARDA), made this known in Katsina on Friday at the closing ceremony of Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) training organised for NYSC members.

He said that the AADS was aimed at providing employment opportunities to unemployed youths nationwide.

He said that the engagement of the youths in the programme would boost agricultural production and enable the country to attain food security.

Shehu said that under the programme, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would give loans to the beneficiaries in each of the 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).Kastina state

He said that state governments were expected to provide one hectare of land for each of the beneficiaries to enable them to cultivate selected crops in which the states had a comparative advantage.

According to him, Katsina State had selected cotton and maize for cultivation by the beneficiaries.

“The state government will start with 1,000 youths as a case study, so as to identify the perceptible challenges which should be rectified,’’ he said.

Shehu said that programme would start during this year’s dry season.

In her remark, Hajiya Ramatu Sanda, the Katsina State NYSC Coordinator, said the NYSC Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) programme was designed to equip the corps members with entrepreneurial skills.

“As you all know, white-collar jobs are no longer available but with the SAED programme, beneficiaries would acquire different skills to establish their own businesses which will improve their economic well-being,’’ she said.

Sanda said that over 60 per cent of the ex-corps members had established businesses within and outside the state, with the support of the CBN.

She said he NYSC in Katsina State had trained corps members to acquire skills in 22 viable ventures.

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Africa Needs More Than Double Cassava Production To Feed Herself By 2050
April 20, 2018
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Cassava Production: Africa needs to double her cassava production to avert a major food crisis by 2050, says the Director for the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21), Dr. Claude Fauquet in Lagos.

Addressing a world press conference in Lagos, Dr. Fauquet described the low root yields of cassava in Africa as unacceptable and called on member nations to adequately invest in the crop to change the current yield per hectare.

Though accounting for 55 percent of global cassava root production, Africa’s yield per hectare is the lowest in the world with about 10 tons per ha as opposed to Asia where average yield is 21 tons per hectare—or double the yield in Africa.

Dr. Fauquet, whose speech comes ahead of the Forth International Cassava Conference in Cotonou, Republic of Benin in 11-15 June 2018, said a do-nothing approach would hurt the continent as it would have to contend with more people to feed, and changes in climate that would become more unpredictable.

L-R– GCP21 Director, Dr Claude Fauquet; GCP21 Director Designate, Prof. Malachy Akoroda; and IITA Head of Communication, Kathy Lopez during the press conference in Lagos

He argued that to reverse the current trajectory would demand deliberate steps including greater investment in research and innovations, provisions of a favorable policy framework, accessibility of loans to farmers at single digit rates, and mechanization across the value chain.

According to him, Africa needs to scale out proven technologies including the recommendations on weed control being developed by the Cassava Weed Management Project, improved cassava varieties, and best-bet agronomic practices such as appropriate fertilizer application.

“If we do these, then to double cassava yield will not be a dream but a possibility,” he said.

Dr. Fauquet said while technologies existed to transform cassava, not many policy makers were aware of such technologies, adding that the forthcoming Global Conference on Cassava with the theme “Cassava Transformation in Africa” was a unique opportunity that would create an environment for exchange of technical, scientific, agricultural, industrial and economic information about cassava among strategic stakeholders like scientists, farmers, processors, end-users, researchers, the private sector, and donor agencies.

R-L– GCP21 Director Designate, Prof. Malachy Akoroda; GCP21 Conference Communication Coordinator, Godwin Atser; GCP21 Director, Dr Claude Fauquet; and journalists during the exhibition of cassava products in Lagos.

According to him, 300 participants including policymakers, scientists, farmers, processors, end-users, researchers, the private sector, and donor agencies would be participating in the conference on 11-15 June 2018.

He reiterated that the aim of the Conference was to raise awareness on the importance of cassava in the world, reviewing recent scientific progress, identifying and setting priorities for new opportunities and challenges while charting a course to seek Research and Development (R&D) support for areas where it is currently inadequate.

The Director Designate of GCP21, Professor Malachy Akoroda noted that the Conference would provide an opportunity for African countries to tap the best, current, and most innovative technologies that would transform cassava value chains across Africa.

“This Conference is a shining opportunity for Africa,” he added.

Founded in 2003, GCP21 is a not-for-profit international alliance of 45 organizations and coordinated by Drs. Fauquet and Joe Tohme of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

It aims to fill gaps in cassava research and development towards unlocking the potential of cassava for food security and wealth creation for farmers, processors, transporters, marketers, and packaging enterprises.

The 2018 Global Cassava Conference is supported by several major institutions including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), CGIAR Roots Tubers and Banana, African Development Bank (AfDB), French Institute in Benin, French Embassy, CORAF, Forum for Agriculture Research in Africa (FARA), INRAB – Institut National Agronomique du Benin, and FAS-UAC – Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques de l’Université Abomey – Calavi, Republic of Benin.

A larger number of organizations will join the Conference, sponsoring special events, travel grants, workshops, satellite meetings, as well as private companies from the different parts of the world that will have the possibility to show-case their products at exhibition booths. The Conference will welcome as many as plan to attend.

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FEC approves N33bn for Bida-Lapai-Lambata road
April 19, 2018
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FEC approves N33bn for Bida-Lapai-Lambata road

The Federal Executive Council yesterday approved N33 billion for the rehabilitation of the Bida-Lapai-Lambata road in Niger State.

The Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Mustapha Baba Shehuri, disclosed this to State House reporters after the cabinet meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

The minister described the road as important as it links the Southwest to the northern part of the country.

“The road is about 123.9 kilometres. It costs N33 billion. It is the second road that connects southwest to the North,” he said.

Shehuri said the council also approved N224 million for extension of consultancy service for 215 megawatts power plant in Kudendan in Kaduna State.

The council also approved N6 billion for aviation equipment.

N/Assembly dumps election sequence bill

N/Assembly dumps election sequence bill

The National Assembly yesterday backtracked on the reordered election sequence rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The two chambers of the National Assembly yesterday stepped down consideration of the new bill introduced following the rejection of the amendment made to the Electoral Act 2010.

President Buhari had rejected the amendment, citing constitutional issues.

At the Senate, the lawmakers resolved to step down consideration of the new bill tagged, “A bill for an Act to amend the provisions of the Electoral Act to make provisions for sequence of elections, sponsored by Senator Suleiman Nazif (APC, Bauchi).

Immediately after Senator Nazif led debate on the bill, the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe), senators Kabiru Marafa, Olusola Adeyeye and Tayo Alasoadura opposed the bill.

Lawan said: “Let me state clearly that I’m totally against this bill. I said it before that I voted against the bill. Mr. President let us be practical in addition to unnecessary cost; the National Assembly should be on ground to legislate for the good governance of the country.”

Adeyeye said: “Please let us leave it the way it is. INEC must be given the right to fix dates and election sequence. Anything more is legislative rascality.”

Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary said the three areas objected to by President Buhari should be removed. He said a new bill reflecting the observation of the president should be sponsored.

When the prayer that consideration of the bill be suspended was put, majority of senators voted in affirmative.

Similarly, in the House of Representatives, the bill to amend the Electoral Act to make provision for election sequence was stepped down after pressures mounted on its sponsor, Edward Pwajok (APC, Plateau).

The bill was listed for second reading, but when Deputy Speaker, Yussuf Suleimon Lasun, who presided over the plenary, called on Pwajok to move for its second reading, the Plateau lawmakers sought for it to be stepped down.

Pwajok said he decided to step down the bill after “wide consultations” with his colleagues.

Passage of the bill by both chambers of the National Assembly had led to controversy, with many including several lawmakers claiming it was targeted at President Buhari’s second term bid.

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Reps summon Adeosun, Emefiele, others over metrology breach
April 19, 2018
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Reps summon Adeosun, Emefiele, others over metrology breach

A House of Representatives panel has summoned the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, over the non-implementation of the Federal Government policy on legal metrology services in the upstream sector.

The Committee on Petroleum Resources (upstream), chaired by Rep Victor Nwokolo (PDP, Delta) also summoned the Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mordecai Ladan.

The trio are to provide explanations to the controversies surrounding the collection of weight and measures charges from International Oil Companies (IOCs). They have been given April 24 to appear.

The lawmakers were angry that DPR director, Mordecai, did not deem it fit to appear before the panel, despite the fact that his agency is in the centre of the issues raised.

Thus, the panel turned down two representatives of the DPR from its hearing convened to investigate the matter.

Representative of Speaker Yakubu Dogara at the hearing, Chukwuka Onyeama, who is House Deputy Minority Leader, said: “I want to suggest that the committee shouldn’t take DPR. We always want people in the director’s level so that people won’t come and say they can’t answer certain questions.”

Also, Nwokolo said: “Ladan must be here in person to defend whatever it is. From the documents we have here, it’s not possible for us to conclude this hearing today without Ladan.”

Udoma tells London investors to invest in Nigeria

Udoma tells London investors to invest in Nigeria

Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma has told investors that the best time to invest in Nigeria is now, given that the economic policy initiatives adopted by the Federal government is yielding positive results.

Senator Udoma stated this at the UK-Nigeria Trade and Investment Forum in London, a statement by the special adviser on media to the minister, Akpandem James said.

The minister who was speaking at the plenary session of the Forum said Nigeria’s outlook for 2018, and over the medium term, is positive as the country had since exited recession and the economy is steadily growing again.

He explained that as part of government efforts to transform the economy and deliver sustained, diversified and inclusive growth, the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) was put together and several initiatives in the Plan are being implemented to remove constraints to investments. Some of the initiatives include the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) and the Focus Labs.

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Nestlé Nigeria introduces Golden Morn Puffs breakfast cereal
April 19, 2018
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Nestlé Nigeria introduces Golden Morn Puffs breakfast cereal

Nestlé Nigeria has introduced into the country’s consumer market its new breakfast cereal, the Golden Morn Puffs.

Made from grains and cereals, Golden Morn Puffs provides families with more choices of tastier, healthier food.

A statement from the Corporate Communications department of Nestle Nigeria explained that Golden Morn Puffs was fortified with vitamins and iron to contribute to efforts to address micronutrient deficiency in Nigeria.

Micronutrient deficiency is the lack of essential vitamins and minerals required in small amounts by the body for proper growth and development.

The statement referred to figures by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that two billion people in the world were affected by iron deficiency, which was described as the most common micronutrient disorder in sub-Saharan Africa.

Nigeria, the statement also mentioned, had been losing over $1.5 billion in gross domestic product directly and indirectly, to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

The Category Manager (Dairy) for Nestle Nigeria, Mr Aboubacar Coulibaly, disclosed that the Nestle Golden Morn Puffs breakfast cereal, made from maize, millet, oats and soya, was fortified with grainsmart, which was described as a unique combination of vitamins and iron.

 “Food fortification is a strategy that Nestlé has adopted to help address the burden of micro-nutrient deficiency. With 50 per cent of our portfolio already fortified with micronutrients, the introduction of Golden Morn Puffs breakfast cereal today is another step towards the fulfilment of our commitment to provide healthier, delicious food choices for all age groups, a journey we have been on for the past 57 years in Nigeria,” Coulibaly said.

He added that 94 percent of the grains and cereals used in the production of Golden Morn Puffs was sourced locally, supplied by Nigerian farmers.

79% of N’East residents are food insecure – Report

Borno, Yobe and some states in the North East of Nigeria have recorded over 100 per cent increase in prices of food in the last two years.

79% of N’East residents are food insecure – ReportData from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show that between January, 2016 and January, 2018, and even up to last month, food prices have been skyrocketing, not just because of inflation, but partly due to conflicts in the region.

A report conducted jointly by the World Bank and the NBS reveals that 79 per cent of households in the North East are food insecure largely due to high food inflation rate.

A Damaturu-based businessman, Mr. Bilar Lukar, confirmed to Daily Trust that prices of food items are high in Yobe and Borno and that the situation was even worst in remote or restricted areas where conflicts had made trading difficult.

Mr. Bilar said while prices of vegetables, beef and goats remain relatively stable, prices of imported food items and from other parts of the country had been on the rise in the past three years.

A resident of Maiduguri, Yusuf Tijjani, told Daily Trust that prices of food had been fluctuating in Maiduguri as a reflection of the country’s economy and not just because of conflicts.

“Prices of cash crops like beans, groundnuts and rice are always on the high side due to demand and consumption,” Tijjani said.

Nationwide food inflation rate of 19.29 per cent at April is higher than the headline inflation rate of 15.60 per cent in March, an indication that food prices have remained high despite decline in overall prices of goods across the country.

Data from NBS reveal that the price of 1kg of frozen chicken in Yobe State rose from N1,100 as at January, 2016, to N2, 600 as at January, 2018, and further up to N2, 725 as at March, 2018, translating to 248 per cent increase in two years three months.

Similarly, in Borno, the price of 1kg of frozen fish rose by 165 per cent in two years three months from N930 in January, 2016, to N1, 567 in January, 2018, and further up to N1,538 as at the end March.

In Yobe, the price of a dozen of a medium sized eggs rose from N250 in January, 2016, to N435 by the end of January, 2018, and further climbed to N520 by the end of March; an increase of N270 in exactly two years three months.

The situation is not different from the one in Borno where a dozen of eggs was sold for N248 in January, 2016, but rose to N442 in January, 2018, and further up to N485 in March.

In Borno, the price of 1 kilogram of broken rice (ofada rice) skyrocketed from N168 in January, 2016 to N370 by January, 2018 and N372 by March, 2018 while in Yobe, the price rose from N186 in January, 2016, to N355, and declined to N330 in March, 2018.

A recent report on conflict and food security in conflict areas in Nigeria conducted by the NBS in collaboration with the World Bank shows that 88 per cent of households in the North East, rely on the market as the main source of food amid high food inflation rate.

While 97 per cent of households in the North East consider there is “plenty of food available in the market”, 63 per cent of households in the region reported that price increases were the largest challenge in getting food from the market.

Twenty two per cent of households in the region blame lower agricultural production for the problem as they reported less production than last season as inputs’ prices remained high.

Giving more insight on the looming food insecurity in Borno and Yobe due to high prices, Mr. Bilar said high food price rise had been recorded in food items like rice, beans, maize, millet and yam.

“Their prices have either doubled or are getting to double in the last three years. More price increases have been recorded on imported products unlike the locally sourced food items,” he said.

He said hard hit places were restricted areas like Pulka, Gwoza, Banki, Mongono, Baga, Kala Balge, Damboa and other areas that traders found difficult to access, and that the impact of conflicts on food prices in urban cities like Damaturu, Potiskum and Maiduguri were minimal unlike restricted zones.

The report from World Bank and NBS notes that the future concern in the North East “is seeing an influx of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) moving back from refugee camps and this will increase demand for food.”

The report called on government to focus on understanding the sources of high food prices in the local markets and then use appropriate policies to tackle the problems.

 

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