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NPA, UK Govt Partner on Trade Facilitation

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In a bid to find other sources of revenue for the federal government following the decline in crude oil prices that plunged the Nigerian economy into a recession, the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) plans to collaborate with the United Kingdom government in the area of trade facilitation and investment.

The partnership, according to the NPA, will ensure efficient greater synergy, cooperation and technical road map for the development of the Nigerian port industry.

Besides, the NPA said the partnership is aimed at developing more trade routes within the Gulf of Guinea and in order to improve revenue generation accruable to the Nigerian economy through the exportation of agricultural produce and solid mineral resources.

To this end, it said it has commenced an interface with the UK trade and investment group through the British Council who paid the executive management a working courtesy visit.

The Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman said the management of the NPA was desirous of working with parties on improving the volume of cargo into the country, which has reduced significantly due to the economic downturn currently being witnessed in the country.

She said there has been a prevalence of the diversion of cargo to neighbouring African countries resulting in the loss of revenue and consequently in the Nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“We are working assiduously with relevant security agencies at blocking these leakages arising from sharp practices within the system”, she said.

Bala Usman enlisted the support and synergy with the United Kingdom group in the areas of infrastructural development especially roads leading to the nation’s sea ports and environs.

According to her, the policy on automobiles requires reengineering in order to reap most meaningfully from it as well, noting that the port plays a significant role in the development and facilitation of trade within the Gulf of Guinea.

“We want to be able to tap into these by working with stakeholder’s home and abroad, in opening new trade routes. Government has interest in the swift evacuation of cargo especially agricultural produce and solid minerals to the North-East hinterland in view of its proximity to the Calabar Port, “she added.

In the area of trade facilitation, the MD called for technical assistance in the areas of project management as well as improving on the existing rail-lines within the terminals at the ports across the nation.

The NPA, she reaffirmed, is cooperating with the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) in creating more rail lines for the swift evacuation of cargo and efficient service delivery to the hinterlands.

According to her, “Over 50 per cent of cargoes from the ports need to go through the Rails in order to guide against congestion at the Ports and road access leading to them.”

She added that the NPA was deploring best IT solutions to automate port operations so as to eliminate unnecessary human interface and with the view to synergising with other stakeholders to establish a port community system.
Bala Usman said it was necessary to ensure Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) amongst others to reduce the effect of unwarranted discretion in operational processes and procedure.

The leader of the team, Velerie Agodo, told the NPA management that they were an international conglomerate with vast interest and concerns in Joint Ventures and partnerships globally adding that they were interested in working in unison with NPA management.

She stated that they were in the scheme of ensuring that the organisation –NPA achieved government’s desire of a greater efficient regime especially as it concerns diversification into agricultural produce export which would bring about greater boast to the economy.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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International Breweries To Train 500 Young Entrepreneurs Through Kickstart Initiative

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As part of its commitment to bringing people together for a better world and its objective of delivering impactful, developmental and sustainable projects, International Breweries Plc through its social investment arm, International Breweries Foundation has launched the 6th edition of its Kickstart entrepreneurship programme recently.

The initiative is targeted at enterprise growth and development for young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35.

During a media briefing to update the public on the process of this year’s edition, Managing Director, International Breweries Plc, Hugo Rocha expressed delight that the Kickstart Initiative had evolved from the regional programme it used to be, to an inclusive national programme that reaches the six geopolitical zones and 36 states of Nigeria.

“Over the years, we have held the conviction that the energy, zeal, and brilliance of the youths of Nigeria who constitute about 70 percent of the total population should be tapped and channelled to productive use. This is the logic behind Kickstart – to promote a culture of entrepreneurship among young people through training, provision of capital and mentorship,” Rocha said.

Rocha concluded his remarks on a high note, stating that, “as International Breweries celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year, I am pleased that the results of a 3-year impact assessment study that we commissioned on Kickstart came out positive and gives us the confidence to continue to support young people to achieve their dream of entrepreneurship. We remain steadfast in our commitment towards the economic development of Nigeria”

Also speaking at the press conference, Chairman, Advisory Board, International Breweries Foundation, Peter Bamkole explained that International Breweries Plc and its foundation is dedicated to continuing to contribute its quota towards tackling the twin challenges of unemployment and poverty while promoting Decent Work and Economic Growth in line with Goad 8 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDGs).

“By creating Kickstart, International Breweries Foundation set out to be the nursery of innovation in a business where budding enterprise managers are groomed—held by the hand and taken through the rigour of entrepreneurial work. We aim to produce well-rounded entrepreneurs who understand and are prepared to put in the work it takes to do business successfully in a unique climate like ours.” Bamkole said.

Over the past five years, the Kickstart initiative has provided training, mentoring, and seed capital of N325,136 million (in total) for 274 grantees; 708 direct beneficiaries and 2,832 indirect beneficiaries across a wide range of business sectors; with the result of the creation of about 571 jobs and 1,392 new jobs projected across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.

Speaking on the mechanics of the award, Legal and Corporate Affairs Director, International Breweries Plc, Temitope Oguntokun revealed that the award is in three phases: the application phase, the training phase and the pitch fest phase which is the final selection of grantees by judges.

She explained that the Kickstart Initiative will be incorporating an expansive training module that will train 500 young entrepreneurs online, with a number of them going into the bootcamp. This year’s edition also features a streamlined search for entrepreneurs into Agriculture, Modular Retailing, Circular Packaging (Recycling), Technology, and Renewable Energy sectors.

“After a transparent selection process on the Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) platform via the link, https://reg.smetoolkit.ng/program-apply/kickstart-nigeria-2021, which will open on the 20th of May, successful applicants will be equipped with critical skills and training on entrepreneurship by experienced entrepreneurs and corporate professionals during a 2-day boot camp. They will partake at the pitch fest where a panel of judges will appraise their proposals before final selection. Winners of the pitch fest will then be awarded grants at the awards ceremony in Lagos,” Oguntokun noted.

The press launch which held last week in Lagos had in attendance dignitaries such as the Director for Employment, Lagos State Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment, Mrs Iyabo Seriki-Bello, Director of Partnerships and Coordination for Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria; Dr Friday Okpara; Chairman, Advisory Board, International Breweries Foundation, Mr Peter Bamkole; members of the International Breweries team, past Kickstart Alumni, mentors and a host of others joining online.

Following its trajectory of success, impact over the years, and its extensive yet immersive plans for the 6th edition, Kickstart, under the auspices of International Breweries and its foundation is geared towards transforming Nigeria into an economic powerhouse through the impact of entrepreneurship.

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More and More Under 30s Seeking Financial Advice

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A growing number of under 30s are seeking financial advice, according to data released by one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organisations.

deVere Group has revealed that there has been a 54% year-on-year jump in the number of enquiries from potential clients under the age of 30 who are seeking to work with a professional adviser to devise and implement a financial planning strategy.

Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of deVere Group, comments: “The sharp increase in the number of under 30s seeking out advice, once again, debunks the myth that younger generations are not interested in building a plan for their long-term financial security.

“It would be a reasonable assumption to make that the year-on-year increase has been largely driven by the pandemic.

“It has brought into all-too-real focus how things can quickly change, how important it is to have a back-up/emergency plan, and value more than ever what really matters to them. For most, this includes ensuring that they can enjoy the opportunities and lifestyle that they desire.”

In March this year, a deVere poll of 450 clients found that seven out of 10 people will not splurge excessive savings accumulated over the pandemic.

When asked ‘Are you likely to spend the majority of the extra money you have managed to save over the last 12 months?’ 72% responded ‘no’, 16% said ‘yes’ and 12% ‘did not know.’

Mr Green continues: “Whilst it’s a fool’s game to generalise about any given cohort, anecdotally, our advisers who are working with the under 30s report that there are some definite trends.

“Perhaps unsurprisingly, more than other generations, the under 30s – who are ‘digital natives’ having grown up under the ubiquitous influence of the internet and other technologies – demand digital solutions such as fintech apps alongside their personalised financial advice.

“This gives them immediate, on-the-go, low-cost access to, use and management of their money.”

Another trend, says the deVere CEO, is impactful saving and investing.

“Our advisers say that, typically, younger people want to use their savings and their investments not only to improve their own lifestyles but for the betterment of their communities and the environments.

“Having more control over their financial affairs is a critical part of their wider activism on issues such as human rights and climate change.”
Mr Green concludes: “Perhaps more than ever, the under 30s are showing a desire to be financially resilient and put their long-term financial goals at the heart of their decision-making process.

“I believe that this ‘think about tomorrow first’ attitude is likely to be a permanent phenomenon due to recent seismic cultural, social and economic shifts.”

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Econet Group and Mastercard To Collaborate on Fintech Solutions For Covid-19 Response in Africa

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The Econet Group through its subsidiary Cassava Fintech International (Cassava Fintech) and Mastercard have entered into a strategic partnership to advance digital inclusion across Africa and collaborate on a range of initiatives including expansion of the Africa CDC TravelPass.

TravelPass is a digital health pass developed by Cassava Fintech and offered in conjunction with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). It is accessible to users of Cassava Fintech’s Sasai SuperApp and is recognised as one of the leading initiatives in the fight against the cross-border spread of Covid-19 in Africa. Mastercard is partnering with Cassava Fintech to enhance the security of TravelPass through Mastercard’s Community Pass platform. Mastercard Community Pass is an interoperable digital platform facilitating service delivery for marginalised individuals and communities, including access to critical health services like patient care plan tracking for Covid-19.

The joint initiative between Mastercard and Cassava Fintech seeks to offer a unified solution with greater convenience and enhanced security, that is expected to promote safe cross border travel in Africa in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The partnership will also allow the two organizations to explore collaboration such as the further integration of the Community Pass with Cassava Fintech’s mobile and financial services, acquiring and processing of card payments across the continent, along with the introduction of a virtual or physical card on the Sasai SuperApp.

Cassava Fintech’s CEO, Darlington Mandivenga said the partnership with Mastercard would pave the way for both companies to jointly tackle the challenges facing African economies as they re-open post the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are excited to work with Mastercard to explore solutions that will, among other things, mitigate the risk of falsified presentation of a third party’s Travel Pass at access and transit points,” Mandivenga said, adding that the same technology could also be used in payment solutions.

Cassava Fintech uses an integrated model to provide financial and digital services to ensure a “financially inclusive future that leaves no African behind”.

“We look forward to joining hands with Cassava Fintech in exploring new solutions that will make a difference and benefit the continent. In addition to digital innovation for future travel, Cassava will also leverage our secure payments network to advance access to financial services,” said Mark Elliott, Divisional President, Southern Africa, Mastercard.

Mastercard is a leading global technology company focused on building an inclusive, sustainable digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere, by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible.

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