By Kola Aina
Nigeria’s rapid population growth and low median age are often touted as positive indicators, but infrastructural development has not kept pace.
Healthcare, for example, often works like the electricity grid; established systems fail, then we sigh, settle to “manage it like that” or find personal workarounds. This is merely an inconvenience for those who can afford it, but most people can’t, and it can mean the difference between life and death.
Last year, a childhood friend had to travel four hours from Abuja to Zaria, sometimes twice a week with his two-month old son who had a hole in his heart. Some days, they would arrive at the hospital in the middle of a power cut. Sometimes, the radiologist would be out of office. No parent should have to endure the emotional and financial strain that experience brought.
Thankfully, today the boy is okay, but this is not a special case. Across the country, and indeed in much of Africa — especially in low-income areas, access to radiology, cardiology, and other diagnostic services is poor. Where facilities are available, they are expensive to access; where prices are low, the wait times are unbearable. Healthcare spend is low (only 4.6% of GDP, compared to 11.9% in Sweden), and driven by the private sector (only 1.5% of federal government expenditure), with most consumers paying out of pocket.
The result is that diagnostic centers are clustered around urban areas, where the cost of equipment will be recouped faster. It is not uncommon to see people travel for hours to do basic tests. At the same time, according to WHO, non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease will cause 46% of all deaths in Africa by 2020, up from 25% today.
So, when we first met Oluwasoga Oni in March, we paid attention. He saw these issues first hand at his father’s hospital growing up, and today, his company, MDaaS.io, is building a network of tech-enabled diagnostic and primary healthcare facilities for clinically underserved communities in Africa, starting with Nigeria. By introducing software, being smarter about process design, investing heavily in an integrated supply chain, and sharing resources across locations, MDaaS has significantly dropped the cost of setting up and operating each center.
Soga and his team have proven capable operators. The first center went live in Ibadan, Oyo State, ten months ago, reached break-even in month five, and has grown revenue 500% since January. They have learnt a lot from this primitive, and will focus on quickly replicating their success across Nigeria.
At Ventures Platform, we believe bold entrepreneurs will solve some of Africa’s most important problems using technology, and in the process, create value for their shareholders.
In the past four months, we have only gotten more convinced that Soga, Genevieve, Joe, and Opeyemi will succeed and we share their commitment to building a future where African consumers have access to better healthcare, no matter their income level.
That’s why I am excited to announce our $100,000 investment in MDaaS.
P.S: By the way, they recently got accepted into the first Techstars Impact cohort in Austin. 🙂
Purpose; Tech; Grit; Excellence; Impact; Balance; Legacy.
Ahmed, Emefiele join other world economic experts at IMF/World Bank meetings
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed and the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, will join other economic experts from around the world to discuss issues affecting global economy in Washington DC, US.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the discussions are scheduled to hold between April 9 and April 14, under the auspices of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC.
The 2019 Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank is expected to bring together central bank governors, ministers of finance, parliamentarians, private sector executives, representatives from civil society organisations and the academia.
The experts will discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development and aid effectiveness.
The meeting will also feature seminars, regional briefings, press conferences and many other events with focus on global economy, international development and the world’s financial system.
NAN reports that Nigeria attends the meeting each year because of the quantum of investments and technical support it receives from both the IMF and the World Bank.
Although Nigeria currently has zero loans with the IMF, it enjoys technical support from the organisation.
The World Bank Group, on the other hand, is helping to fight poverty and improve living standards in the country through 33 Core Knowledge Product Reports and 29 ongoing National and Regional projects.
African Development Bank and Microsoft launch All-female Coding training in Nigeria
One hundred and sixty young women have begun a month-long coding class on two Nigerian campuses under a new programme to give African youth digital skills for the work force. The Coding for Employment programme, organised by the African Development Bank and Microsoft Philanthropies, prioritises young women who typically have been side-lined in the technology ecosystem.
At a launch event held 25 March at Covenant University under the theme: “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change, academics, women leaders in technology and tech start-up founders, highlighted the importance of a level playing ground for women.
“As in every sector, the participation of women in ICT matters to ensure inclusive development. We are committed to addressing the skills gap so that women can fully access opportunities in the digital era,” Vanessa Moungar, Bank Director for the Gender, Women, and Civil Society Department, tweeted on the day of the launch.
Other high-level participants at the event included the Vice Chancellor of Covenant University – Professor Aderemi Atayero; Partner Technology Lead, Microsoft, Olatomiwa Williams, Expansion Strategy Manager, Andela(Jackie Ugokwe and Cofounder/COO, Piggyvest, Odunayo Eweniyi.
The special all-female training kicked-off March 11th at Covenant University and Gombe State University, the two campuses selected for the programme in its initial pilot phase. The crash course will include topics such as digital literacy, introduction to word processing and spreadsheets. The training program will also include a Life Skills component where notable role models in the technology and digital skills space will share their stories with the cohort and act as mentors for the students throughout the program.
The classes will run in shift sessions to accommodate those who need flexible training times due to other commitments.
The program is being piloted in 5 countries – Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal.
African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina leads delegation to IMF-World Bank Spring meetings
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – President Akinwumi Adesina is expected in Washington DC, on Monday, to take part in the IMF/ World Bank Spring meetings from 9-12 April.
Dr. Adesina and a delegation of senior Bank officials, are expected to meet with US Congresswoman Karen Bass, who serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs where she is a Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Huma Rights and International Organisations. The meeting will be attended by other US government officials and investors.
During his four-day DC trip, Dr. Adesina will also hold bilateral meetings with heads of sister Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) including Takehiko Nakao, President of the Asian Development Bank; Sir Suma Chakrabarti, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank.
Dr. Adesina took over as chairman of all MDBs in Davos earlier this year.
Also scheduled during the trip are bilateral meetings with Dag-Inge Ulstein, Norwegian Minister for International Development; Hon. Maryam Monsef, Canadian Minister for International Development and Vice Minister Masa Asakawa, the Japanese Vice Finance Minister for International Affairs.
On Wednesday, 10 April, the President and his delegation will attend the 3rd Consultative Forum of the Southern African Development Community ministers of finance.
The African Development Bank Governor’s Consultative Committee (GCC) Meeting, to take place on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank meetings on 11 April, is expected to be one of the key highlights of the DC trip. The meeting aims to move forward discussions on the 7th General Capital Increase (GCI-VII) of the Bank group. It follows the December 2018 Regional and Non-Regional Governors Consultation meeting held in Rome.
The President’s four-day agenda will end with a ministerial meeting of Finance and Economic ministers from Africa. Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; a development economist and former Nigerian Finance Minister and Lord Nicholas Stern, professor of economics and chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, will be in attendance.
Air Peace Nigeria’s deal with Embraer makes it the first African airline to operate E-Jets E2
Embraer has signed a firm order for 10 E195-E2 jets with Air Peace, Nigeria’s airline. The order was announced during the Embraer’s Africa Airline Business Seminar, in Mauritius.
With this order, Air Peace will become the first E-Jets E2 operator in Africa. The contract includes purchase rights for a further 20 E195-E2. With all purchase rights being exercised, the contract has a value of USD 2.12 billion, based on current list prices. The order will be included in Embraer’s 2019 second-quarter backlog.
Air Peace has grown rapidly since it commenced flight operations in 2014 and is now the largest airline in West Africa. The airline intends to address the significant untapped demand in the African market with the E195-E2, the newest, most efficient, and most comfortable aircraft in the segment.
Air Peace Chairman/CEO, Mr. Allen Onyema, said, “Embraer’s new E195-E2 presents us with a marvel of economic performance. It’s also great that we will be the first E2 operator on the African continent. We already have the ERJ145s in our fleet, so we understand the high standards of Embraer products”.
“Air Peace embodies the kind of pioneering spirit that Embraer loves. The airline was established to bring highly skilled work opportunities to the people of Nigeria and to boost connectivity, which in turn significantly contributed to the economy in the region. Air Peace has delivered successfully on both aims, and has become a fast growing successful airline. It’s great to now have them onboard the E2 as well” said Arjan Meijer, Chief Commercial Officer, Embraer Commercial Aviation.
Meijer continued, “The market in Africa presents significant opportunities for airlines to deliver the connectivity that the whole continent needs. Aircraft however must be right-sized to develop those routes profitably; more than 90% of intra-African flights depart with fewer than 150 passengers onboard. And more than 70% of markets are served with less than one flight per day.”
Air Peace subsidiary, Air Peace Hopper, started operating six ERJ145 last year on short thin routes. That experience with Embraer’s products, and the undeniable economic benefits of right-sizing aircraft for the mission, was a key factor in selecting the E2.
Embraer is the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial jets up to 150 seats. The Company has 100 customers from all over the world operating the ERJ and E-Jet families of aircraft. For the E-Jets program alone, Embraer has logged more than 1,800 orders and 1,500 deliveries, redefining the traditional concept of regional aircraft.
Etihad Airways to introduce flights to Johannesburg, Lagos, Milan
ABU DHABI — This Summer, Etihad Airways has announced that it will introduce the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on its scheduled services from Abu Dhabi to Johannesburg, effective 1st August, Lagos, effective 2nd August, and Milan, effective 1st September, replacing the Airbus A330s currently operating the routes.
All three destinations will feature Etihad Airways’ next-generation Business and Economy cabins, configured with 299 seats – 28 Business Studios and 271 Economy Smart Seats.
Etihad Airways extensive global network to and from Abu Dhabi will see more 787 Dreamliners introduced on key destinations as the airline takes delivery of more of the type.
Dangote Sugar Nigeria says illegal imports hurt sales and profit
Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Nigeria’s biggest grower of the sweetener, said illegal, low-quality imports are putting pressure on its selling price, while a traffic gridlock around its production site in Lagos is hampering delivery to customers.
“Sales and production volumes were constrained’’ in 2018 because of “these challenges,’’ the company said in emailed presentation. It plans to “work with the regulatory agencies to combat smuggled sugar’’ this year, it said.
Although Nigeria banned packaged-sugar imports to protect local industries and diversify the economy, importers take advantage of the nation’s porous borders to bring in the product. Also, traffic jams around the ports of Lagos, which currently handle about 80 percent of shipping activities in the West African nation, hamper distribution.
The company, owned by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, said revenue dropped 26 percent to 150.4 billion naira ($418 million) in 2018 while net income retreated 44 percent to 22.2 billion naira.
More storage facilities will be built for finished products at Dangote’s refinery this year so it can better optimize its production cycle, which has been hampered by the unavailability of trucks due to the traffic gridlock, it said.
Dangote Sugar gained 1.1 percent to 13.90 naira at the close in Lagos to pare declines this week to 2.1 percent. The stock has retreated 8.9 percent this year compared with a 5.8 percent drop by the 164-member Nigerian Stock Exchange All Share Index.
Shell Petroleum to invest $15 billion in Nigeria’s oil, gas industry
LAGOS — Nigeria will get a large oil and gas investment from Shell Petroleum Development Company in the amount of about $15 billion, according to the Lagos-based newspaper ThisDay, citing managing director of the unit, Nosa Okunbor.
The company operates under a joint venture between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Total Exploration and Production Nigeria Ltd. and Nigerian Agip Oil Company Ltd., according to its website. Shell has a 30% stake in the business.
The projects earmarked for investment will include deep offshore, shallow water, swamp and land terrain, the newspaper reported.
Shell has also taken a final investment decision regarding the 300 million standard cubic feet/day Assa North Ohaji gas project, which is expected to generate 1,200 megawatts, said Okunbor.
Nigeria Struggles To Keep Oil Production At Quota Levels
Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu admitted that reducing oil production to the quota assigned by OPEC is a challenge, not least because of the start of production at the Egina oil field.
The offshore field will have a capacity of 150,000 bpd but, Kachikwu said, “We’re not there yet.”
Still, Nigeria is hoping the oil production cut deal OPEC agreed with its non-member partners led by Russia will be extended for another six months beyond the June deadline, Kachikwu told local media.
Interestingly, Nigeria doesn’t have much to do with the success of the deal, which has helped Brent climb to almost US$70. According to Bloomberg data, the West African country pumped some 1.92 million bpd in March, up by 90,000 bpd from February. Kachikwu, however, said production in March averaged 1.7 million bpd, slightly above the OPEC quota of 1.685 million bpd.
OPEC agreed to take 800,000 bpd off the market last December, with Russia and several other producers agreed to remove an additional 400,000 bpd for a total cut of 1.2 million bpd. Exempt from the previous cuts agreed in 2016, Nigeria had to be convinced to join these cuts, which Saudi Arabia took care of.
According to the Nigerian Petroleum Minister, the deal had succeeded in propping up prices “to a point where both consumers and producers are at least a bit comfortable. I would like to see that go on.”
Some large importers would probably disagree that prices above US$60 for Brent are comfortable for everyone, but most sellers are certainly happier at this price level. There is doubt, however, that Russia will agree to an extension since it doesn’t need oil to be as expensive as most Middle East producers do. There have been reports that Moscow may only agree to a three-month extension, which would weigh on prices.
Irina Slav contributed to this report
Obiano inaugurates N1.2bn fish feed plant in Onitsha
Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra on Saturday inaugurated a modern fish feed production plant valued at N1.2 billion in Onitsha to boost fish business in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the private plant is owned by Grand Cereals Ltd., a Nigerian integrated foods company that produces and markets consumer food products.
The firm, which is a subsidiary of Nigeria’s oldest and versatile conglomerate, UAC of Nigeria Plc., produces Vital Fish Feed brand.
Obiano commended the firm, saying the project was an outcome of an earlier engagement between the government and the firm in 2015.
The governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, said his administration was already partnering with the firm to integrate farmers into the project.
According to him, we are already working to ensure that the basic raw materials including maize, sorghum and cassava are sourced within the state.
The governor said the project fell within the agriculture and industry pillars of his administration and would help generate employment for the people of the state.
“We expect the facility to expand to employ more people and to ensure that the state is self-sufficient in fish production,’’ he said.
Obiano said his government would work closely with the company and other manufacturing firms within the Ogbaru Industrial Layout, where the firm is located to solve the problem of power supply.
“We are ready for more investors; we will like your Gala factory to come to Anambra because we are looking for investors,’’ he said.
In a remark, the Acting Deputy Managing Director, Grand Cereals Ltd., Mr Sanjeen Jain, explained that the company would begin production of 2,500 tonnes of fish feeds per month.
In spite of its production capacity, Jain said Nigeria currently has a supply gap of about 2.1 million tonnes of fish.
He said the location of its factory in Onitsha would bring fish feed closer to the farmers in the Southern markets, improve availability all-year round and further improve quality.
Jain commended the efforts of the state government at various levels to develop agriculture and farmers’ output via their various programmes.
“Grand Cereals will continue to contribute its own quota to the development of agriculture value chain in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Jain, however, said that prospects in the aquaculture sector could improve if government sustains its ban on the importation of frozen fish and poultry products into Nigeria and aggressive action against smugglers.
He called for the provision of new fish farming estates with laid-out farming plots and support services with accelerated grant of Certificates of Occupancy for small and medium-sized farmers.
Jain also called for special support to feed millers in terms of tax holidays and easier access to credit from CBN/BOA, especially those that are currently providing extension services and market development programmes.
Earlier, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Afam Mbanefo, who commended the company for sighting its factory in the state, said the plant would assist the state government build its fish value chain.
He expressed confidence that in the next six months, fish sold in the state would be produced within.
Mbanefo further assured the firm of the continued collaboration of the ministry to achieve Gov. Obiano’s vision in the fish sector.
Also speaking, the National President of Catfish and Allied Fish Farmers Association of Nigeria, Mr Rotimi Olibale, urged Grand Cereals to continue to partner farmers to tackle challenges in the business.
Olibale said that the Vital Fish Feeds produced by Grand Cereals were of good quality and were being recertified yearly to maintain the quality.
Nigerian central bank delivers an unpredicted rate cut
Nigeria’s central bank has slashed the benchmark interest rate after two years of holding firm.
Nigeria’s economy has been struggling due to low oil prices, and the International Monetary Fund predicts that the economy will grow by just 2% this year.
The surprise rate cut was announced on 26 March by the bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, after a meeting of the influential Monetary Policy Committee (MPC). Previously 14%, the benchmark interest rate has now been reduced to 13.5%, while cash reserve and liquidity ratios remain at 22.5% and 30%, respectively. This, even in the face of a projected sustained double-digit inflation rate. Inflation has been above 10% since 2015.
“The MPC decided by a vote of six out of 11 members to reduce the monetary policy rate by 50 basis points,” Emefiele said. “The MPC noted the positive moderate outlook for growth and the risk on the horizon. The committee also noted that having achieved a relatively stable exchange rate with price stability, it is imperative that the monetary policy should explore the next steps necessary for enhancing growth, reducing unemployment and diversifying the base of the Nigerian economy.”
Emefiele, whose five-year tenure ends in June, also said after the meeting that the committee is making recommendations for a rebasing of gross domestic product (GDP). Governments periodically rebase their GDP calculations to get a more accurate picture of the economy. Nigeria’s last rebasing was in 2014.
Implications for Nigeria’s economy
On the surface, the reduction of the rate is good news because bank lending rates and the cost of credit for borrowers will be lower. Analysts had expected the central bank to hold the rate but are now looking at the implications for the economy.
John Ashbourne of London-based Capital Economics told Reuters: “This…suggests policymakers have made a clear decision to ignore their own inflation targets and to focus on providing monetary stimulus. […] I doubt that this will do much to boost growth, but it will hit the bank’s credibility with investors.”
Local investment and business intelligence website Nairametrics argues the cut will neither stimulate nor dampen the equity market, as investors are in all likelihood “waiting for clearer macroeconomic direction in the Buhari administration’s second term. This is so because foreign portfolio investors are more interested in the fixed income market.”
President Muhammadu Buhari, who took six months to appoint a cabinet during his first term (2015-2019), had no clear fiscal policy for most of the period. Ahead of his inauguration in June, he is yet to decide on a host of policy matters – among other things, if Emefiele will be getting a second term or if the central bank will have a new governor.
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Aguleri , The Citadel Of Igbo Civilisation
Five years after Boko Haram kidnap, 112 Nigerian girls still missing
Announcements, Arts & Books
Driving Job Creation for Africa’s Youth: Mentor to Watch.
Ada Osakwe, CEO of Agrolay Ventures
Ada is an award-winning food entrepreneur and investor. She was also a lead in the launch of the Youth Employment in Agriculture Program (YEAP) that supported the rise of a new cadre of food-entrepreneurs in Nigeria through training, mentorship and financing. Ada is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and a Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow.
In 2016, she was Entrepreneur of the Year and featured on Choiseul 100 Africa list consecutively from 2016 to 2018. She received the ‘Achiever in Agriculture’ Award and was on the 2014 Forbes 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa list. She is also a mentor on the Future Global Leaders Fellowship.
Uzodinma Iweala : CEO of The Africa Center in New York.
Uzodinma is an award-winning writer, filmmaker, and medical doctor. He is the CEO of The Africa Center in New York, promoting a new narrative about Africa and its diaspora through a focus on culture, policy and business. He is the author of three books: Beasts of No Nation (2005), a novel also adapted into a major motion picture; Our Kind of People (2012), a non-fiction account of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria; and Speak No Evil (2018), a novel about coming-of-age in Washington, D.C. His books have been mentioned by Time Magazine, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Times and Rolling Stone. ‘Uzodinma Iweala completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard University and he earned a medical degree at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.’
ENTER NIGERIA Winning Sunday with The Young Netpreneur for the Week :Ken Nwadiogbu @kennwadio
Ken Nwadiogbu (b. 1994) is a Nigerian born Multidisciplinary Artist, popularly known as KenArt, whose practice is primarily centered around hyper-realistic drawings and works on paper.
Nwadiogbu believes that the society speaks- This voice inspires his art, which evaluates, interrogates and challenges socio-political structures and issues within the society. In his reply to this society, he is able to inspire one or two people to also re-valuate their socio-political structures as we know it. The desire to change his society and the way people think is what drives him to create art every day. Gender equality, African cultures, and Black power are a few aspects of his current research and artistic practice.
Nwadiogbu was born in Lagos, Nigeria and holds a B.Sc in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. His art career started in the university, and with no formal training, has pushed him to become one of the most interesting young contemporary artists from Nigeria, creating works that question life- calling out some of the problems and becoming very grounded in human consciousness..
Nwadiogbu has been featured in lots of local and international group exhibitions and fairs, including the Insanity exhibition, sponsored by Frot Foundation, in Omenka Gallery, Nigeria; the TMC’s It’s Not Furniture, curated by Winifred Okpapi; the Artyrama’s group exhibition curated by Mr Jess Castellote; Art X Lagos, sponsored by Artyrama Gallery, in Lagos, Nigeria; the Moniker Art Fair, sponsored by Creative Debuts, in Brooklyn, NYC; the Anti-Trump show organised in UK; the Afriuture Exhibition by Ramati Art Africa in association with Commonwealth Africa Summit, in Toronto, Canada; amongst many others. He has been televised and publicized on different platforms like Guardian Life, Tush Magazine, WIRED Magazine, Candid Magazine, Bored Panda, BBC, CNN, and more as well as inspiring and encouraging young creatives through public speaking appearances like TEDx. He co-founded Artists Connect NG, the largest Nigerian artist gathering that took place at Lekki Leisure Lake, in Lagos, Nigeria.
To Nwadiogbu, Art is indeed timeless, it is his solace and hiding place, a safe haven he has found to be devoid of restrictions, boxes and boundaries.