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Nigeria’s GDP growth drops to 1.5%, IMF predicts

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its latest World Economic Outlook update has projected that the Nigerian economy will grow by 1.5 per cent this year.

This is slightly lower than the 1.7 per cent it predicted for the country in its previous forecast.

The IMF’s latest outlook released on Tuesday, titled, ‘Policy Support and Vaccines Expected to Lift Activity,’ however, predicted that in sub-Saharan Africa, growth would strengthen to 3.2 per cent in 2021 and 3.9 per cent in 2022.

It also expected oil prices to average above $50 per barrel in 2021, a more than 21 per cent rise from 2020’s depressed level on the back of the rollout of vaccines and fiscal stimulus programmes.

IMF stated that the updated version of the report was reviewed in line with emergence of a new variant of coronavirus, which poses as a concern for global recovery.

The report stated, “Although recent vaccine approvals have raised hopes of a turnaround in the pandemic later this year, renewed waves and new variants of the virus pose concerns for the outlook. Amid exceptional uncertainty, the global economy is projected to grow 5.5 per cent in 2021 and 4.2 percent in 2022.

“The 2021 forecast is revised up 0.3 percentage point relative to the previous forecast, reflecting expectations of a vaccine-powered strengthening of activity later in the year and additional policy support in a few large economies.”

Economic Counselor and Director of the Research Department, Ms. Gita Gopinath, who at the virtual unveil of the WEO report, said as much as 90 million people worldwide would fall below poverty bracket and also urged low income and emerging economies to hasten COVID-19 vaccination.

She said, “Oil exporters and tourism-dependent economies are particularly hard hit and their prospects are severe given that oil prices have a subdued outlook and cross border travel is not expected to resume anytime soon.

“Even within countries, the burden of the crisis has been felt unequally across different groups. Workers with less education, youth and women have suffered disproportionate income losses. 90 million individuals are expected to enter extreme poverty over 2020/2021 reversing the trends of the past two decades.”

She called for more support to fund African countries’ purchase of vaccines.

“But there are many countries that are waiting till 2022 for that to happen and that is just costly for everybody not just for developing countries, it is also very costly for countries that have the vaccines. Which is why we are calling for greater funding for making sure these vaccines are available to poor nations.”

The IMF also said oil prices would average above $50 per barrel in 2021, a more than 21 per cent rise from 2020’s depressed level on the back of the rollout of vaccines and fiscal stimulus programmes.

It expects global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to grow 5.5 per cent in 2021, after a 3.5 per cent contraction in 2020, with the 2020 figure revised up 0.9 percentage point from the previous forecast issued in October while the 2021 estimate is a 0.3 percentage point upward revision.

The S&P Global Platts quoted the IMF as forecasting that advanced economies are projected to recover more quickly than developing countries due to quicker access to vaccines and broader fiscal measures.

“Oil exporters and tourism-based economies face particularly difficult prospects given the subdued outlook for oil prices and expected slow normalisation of cross-border travel,” it said.

The IMF uses a simple average of prices of Brent, Dubai and WTI to calculate its oil prices. With that methodology, the IMF said oil prices averaged $41.29/b in 2020 and would rise to $50.03/b in 2021, before falling back to $48.82/b in 2022.

The October forecast had estimated that oil prices would average $46.70/b in 2021.

“Non-oil commodity prices are also expected to increase with those of metals, in particular, projected to accelerate strongly in 2021,” the IMF said.

The fund said its forecasts were subject to uncertainty, with the pandemic yet to be contained.

 

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Airlines to pay $3,500 per passenger for flouting COVID-19 protocols – NCAA

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THE Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has issued a notification to airlines stating that they will pay a penalty of $3,500 per passenger if they flout the newly revised COVID-19 provisional quarantine protocols.

Besides, the regulator said extreme violation by any carrier would lead to an outright ban.

An All Operators Letter (AOL) issued on December 3, to accountable managers and signed by the NCAA Director-General, Captain Musa Nuhu, said protocols for international flight operations and quarantine protocols for travellers arriving Nigeria issued on July 1, still subsists.

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The NCAA directed airlines to airlift passengers travelling to Nigeria, who are in possession of a paid permit to travel with a QR Code and a result of a negative COVID-19 test done not later than 48 hours from time of boarding.

The NCAA said violation of these travel directives will cost the airline $3,500 for any individual passenger or earn them a ban from flying into Nigeria.

“Non-compliance to these pre-boarding requirements by any airline will attract a penalty of $3,500 per passenger. Airlines who consistently fail to comply with these requirements may be banned from coming to Nigeria.”

The Nation

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Buhari Sacks Abuja Disco Board Over Prolonged Internal Wrangling

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Minister of State, Power, Mr. Goddy Jedy-Agba

•Sets up interim management to oversee power company

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday formally sacked the management of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), following a prolonged internal power tussle among the owners of the company which affected the welfare of the staff of the distribution company.

A statement by Ofem Uket, a Media Aide to the Minister of State, Power, Mr. Goddy Jedy-Agba, announced that a new interim governing board had been appointed to oversee the day-to-day operations of the electricity distribution company.

Although the decision had been expected long before now, the dissolution of the board was further accelerated by Monday’s industrial action embarked upon by the aggrieved staff of the company over the non-payment of arrears of pensions, allowances, salaries and promotion.

The statement indicated that the sack of the management team was conveyed by the presidency to the federal ministry of power, stressing that the new development takes immediate effect.

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In addition, it stated that the Minister of Power, Aliyu Abubakar and Agba, had earlier intervened through dialogue with the ministry of labour, Bureau of Public Enterprises, and the Nigerian union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, to resolve and call off the 14 hours strike action.

AEDC’s franchise areas include the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and parts of Edo states.

The industrial action by the workers on Monday, had left the affected areas in total blackout between 7 am in the morning to about 8 pm as a result of the strike action.

“The presidential directive as conveyed has also directed the BPE to set up a new management team for the AEDC,” the statement revealed.

Furthermore, the statement noted that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), had earlier been jointly signed by Jedy-Agba; the Chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Sanusi Garba; the Director General, BPE, Alex Okoh; as well as Joe Ajaero on behalf of the union, for the suspension of the strike.

“And they have been given 21 days within which the outstanding emoluments and entitlements of staff will be paid,” the statement noted.

It further noted that government, “has described the non-performance and incompetence of the AEDC as a national embarrassment,” saying the suspension of the management team will subsist until further notice.

“At the end of the expansive consultation between the leadership of NUEE and relevant government institutions in the power sector over the industrial action government intervened with the firm arrangement to ensure the payment of the outstanding entitlements of AEDC staff within 21 days counting from the date of the signing of the MoU.

The tussle relating to the board of KANN Utility Company Limited, owners of AEDC had raged for years as the shareholders had continued to differ on decisions and appointments to the board and the management.

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The matter got to a head last year when some investors in the AEDC purportedly announced changes to the governing board of Disco.

At the time CEC Africa Limited (CECA), one of the parties in the matter, had said the board of KANN Utility Company Limited had announced the withdrawal of their nominations to the board of AEDC and their replacement with new nominees.

It had said that the board of KANN proposed the following new directors: Mr. Joe (Joseph) Makoju , Mallam Ibrahim Aliyu, Dr. Olubunmi Peters, Dr. George Nwangwu, and Mr. Faruk Aliyu.

“The board of AEDC has since resolved to accept both the withdrawals and the new appointments,” it said.

But Chairman of the dissolved board of AEDC and KANN, Shehu Malami in a reaction, said the alleged change in the management of the Disco was false.

”For the records the board of AEDC is the only authorised body that can appoint or remove its directors, and has made no such decision in recent time,” he said at the time.

Thisday

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Flying Doctors introduce catalyst fund for tech startups

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Flying Doctors Healthcare Investment Company has unveiled a catalyst fund to support health tech and fintech startups.

Catalyst funds are used to support inclusive tech innovators in emerging markets — especially micro and small firms.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the company said the initiative tagged ‘FDHIC Catalyst Fund’, would tackle Africa’s healthcare and finance challenges.
Citing the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the FDHIC noted that only a few countries in Africa spend between $34 and $40 a year per person on healthcare as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
This, it said, has led to very high infant and maternal mortality rates across Africa.
The company said solving these challenges requires a holistic approach to drive financial inclusion through private sector investments.
“Through the new Flying Doctors Healthcare Investment Company (FDHIC) Catalyst Fund, we are building an investor collective that will tackle Africa’s healthcare and financial inclusion challenges by backing technology-enabled healthtech and fintech startups in the early or growth stage,” the statement reads.
“Our Catalyst Fund offers corporate bodies and individuals, anywhere in the world, an opportunity to invest in, and get returns from, Africa-based HealthTech and FinTech Investments combined with the satisfaction of making sustainable impacts in underserved communities.
“We provide qualified investors – who are a part of our investors collective — with vetted investment opportunities in the Fintech and HealthTech space.
“The FDHIC Catalyst Fund will channel its investments through deal-specific syndicate investment vehicles domiciled in the USA.”
Assuring prospective investors of its expertise, FDHIC said its founder and management team have deep sector expertise in healthcare and finance from years of work and study.
“At FDHIC CF, we will bring to bear our investment analysis and portfolio management experience,” the statement added.
The company also pointed out that it has investments in companies like Mdaas Global, Helium health, Chisco express, Lifestores Pharmacy & Sygen.

FDHIC said it decided to democratise the membership of the catalyst fund to break away from the conventional.
“We want to give time-strapped executives and mid-level professionals the opportunity to get high-value returns without facing the attendant rigours of managing a full-time business,” the statement said.
It added that individuals and corporate entities can subscribe to membership of FDIHC’s investors collective, in preparation for deal sourcing, evaluation, and eventual investment

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