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Dangote Foundation Grants Target 1m Vulnerable Women

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  • Dangote Foundation Grants Target 1m Vulnerable Women

There is no other issue in Nigeria that reflects federal character in almost equal proportion other than poverty.

Even at the peak of her economic buoyance occasioned by the high price of the crude oil in the international market, years ago, there has not been any commensurable change in Nigerians’ lives for the past decades,.

Nigeria’s situation appears to be a paradox and her citizens’ living condition strange in that while the country was getting richer, her people become poorer. For a country with massive wealth and a huge population to support commerce, the level of poverty remains unacceptable. Despite being one of the three biggest economies in Africa, Nigeria ranks around 160th out of 177 countries on the scale of the Human Development Index (HDI).

Nigeria is reputed to hold the disgusting record of having about 80 per cent of her population living in abject poverty. And of this, 60 per cent are said to be women. Irrespective of where they live, whether rural or urban, poverty among women has remains alarming. Yet women bear almost all responsibility for meeting basic needs of the family. The vast majority of the world’s poor are women. Two-thirds of the world’s illiterates are female. Of the millions of school age children not in school, the majority are girls.

Though poverty cuts across Nigeria landscape, the women have been the most engendered specie. In a country where the level of poverty has taken a nosedive over the years, women, continue to face daunting and debilitating challenges.

In fact, despite every effort made by the Nigerian authorities at all levels of governance and other non-formal organizations towards poverty reduction in the country; this problem has continued to mitigate women from living happily and contributing their own quota to national growth and development. Thus women become a wasted potential to national growth.

Many women are denying themselves to ensure that their children are fed. These women are already suffering the effects of severe malnutrition, which inevitably will be their children’s fate as well. And if no cogent action is taken, the impact of this crisis will be with us for many years.

Studies have also shown that when women are supported and empowered, all of society benefits. Their families are healthier, more children go to school, agricultural productivity improves and incomes increase. In short, communities become more resilient.

It is against this background that the Dangote Foundation, a multi-purposegrant-making vehicle which supports interventions in critical sectors such as education, health, population and community giving decided to intervene to bring the helpless women out of the dingy life of animal existence.

Endowed by the Africa’s richest man and foremost entrepreneur, Aliko Dangote, the Foundation few years ago, designed a multi-billion naira micro-grants programme to assist the vulnerable women across the 774 local governments in Nigeria conjunction with the state governments.

It is expected that at the end of the exercise, a sum of N10 billion would have been injected to revive the economy of some one million women. Already, the grant has been disbursed in seven states among which are Kano, Yobe, Adamawa, Jigawa, Borno, and Kogi. Presently, the foundation is disbursing in local governments in Lagos state.

Explaining the rationale behind the Foundation’s decision to help women with the grants to do petty business, Alhaji Dangote said the Foundation believes that empowering women to be key change agents is an essential element to achieving the end of hunger and poverty.

According to him, “we thought of a response to the widespread poverty in Nigeria and how can we help in our own way and in 2011, we came up with this idea. So we instituted the cash transfer intervention. We call it the Dangote Foundation Micro-grants Programme, to provide cash transfers to select poor and vulnerable women and youths. The grant is to enable beneficiaries meet immediate family and livelihood needs by providing a one-time fund to start up enterprises that will boost their economic and consumption activities. He explained that the cash transfer intervention focused on women who bear the greatest brunt of poverty.

Said he “Our Programme provides a one-off grant that enables recipients to grow or start an enterprise, invest in product assets, improve the health of their families, and/or take on new activities that reduce their vulnerability and enhance their economic standing. It has successfully assisted women and their families in the states where we have made disbursement.

“I have always believed that one of the surest ways of alleviating poverty is through job creation and that the kind of jobs that the masses in Nigeria need could be created through such grants. We need this kind of empowerment especially for our women because when companies are established jobs would be created but not on a large scale again because the machines are automated and would only require few hands.

“It’s only in agriculture that the opportunities are massive”, adding that this was the reason he is investing in sugar plantation and refinery where thousands of people can work and earn living. He said agriculture is the solution.”

Explaining the partnerships with State governments, he said, “This is in keeping with Dangote Foundation’s belief in working through partnerships for effectiveness, scale and impact in tackling the challenges that we face as a nation. This is a key feature of the Programme which aims to support and compliment state governments’ poverty reduction efforts.”

The state governors have taken turn to commend Dangote foundation’s initiative to complement the poverty alleviating efforts of the states describing the gesture as godly and unprecedented.

The Kogi state government while expressing its appreciation to the Foundation recalled the intervention extended to the state during the deadly flooding across some states for which the state was given money relief items to cushion the effects on the victims.

Acknowledging the Dangote Foundation’s philanthropic gesture across the country and even internationally, the Kogi government enjoined other rich Nigerians to emulate Dangote and share part of their wealth with the masses.

In his own comment, Lagos state government said Alhaji Dangote’s decision to share his wealth with the people is an indication of his love for the people and should be emulated. “He has decided to support our programme of regeneration in Lagos state, we are grateful to Dangote Foundation. “This empowerment programme will cover all deserving in the 20 LG and 37 Development Areas in the state.

–Okoro works with Dangote Group.

We will ensure that nobody is denied this grant not minding the political or religious leaning. We will continue to give the required environment to make business thrive in Lagos.”

However, a new dimension has been added to the disbursement in Lagos as beneficiaries are also provided with free customized hand held phones, thorough which they receive alert for the disbursement.

At Somolu local government in Lagos, one of the beneficiaries, brought to the venue in crutches, Mrs. Moronkeji Oshikoya, on receiving alert for the grant, described the grant as life-saving and profusely prayed for Dangote Foundation and its Chairman, Alhaji Dangote.

Another beneficiary, Mrs. Augustina Chukwu, said they did not believe it initially but were surprised it was true. “We thought it was a joke, because when they mentioned Dangote he is the one who wanted to give us money. We said it was a lie because he is not a politician, so why would he give us money. But now we have seen that he is a man of God. He just pitied us and our condition and decided to give us from what God has given him; God will continue to add to his wealth. Tell others too to help the poor.”

Speaking on the micro grant and other activities of the Foundation, the Chief Executive Officer, Zouera Youssoufou, said the Dangote Foundation was concerned about the plight of the Nigerian women who are most vulnerable under the present economic quagmire and therefore the decision to empower them to compliment the various poverty alleviation programmes of state governments.

She explained that the research carried out by the foundation showed that women who are always at the receiving end, when empower are capable of quickly turning around the economies of the family, pointing out that the micro grant scheme was designed for women who need little amount to be back to business.

Mrs. Youssoufou explained that the state government have been very helpful in partnering with the Foundation to identify women who really need to grant to work. She stated that the addition of handset was a new development that makes the disbursement easier and that it started with Lagos and would subsequently done in the remaining states.

“We engage the services of some agencies and a leading telecommunication company to provide the phones, SIM cards, register it and send alert to the beneficiaries immediately rather than giving cash.

The beneficiaries can then decide to withdraw the money at the most convenient time so as not to expose them unduly. All charges are borne by the Foundation, so the beneficiaries receive the exact amount,” she explained.

 

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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Oil Prices Drop 3 Percent on Tuesday After Moderna’s CEO Comment

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Oil prices tumbled more than 3% on Tuesday after Moderna’s CEO cast doubt on the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines against the Omicron coronavirus variant, spooking financial markets and adding to worries about oil demand.

The head of drugmaker Moderna told the Financial Times that COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to be as effective against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus as they have been against the Delta variant.

Brent crude futures fell $2.32, or 3.2%, to $71.12 a barrel at 0912 GMT after slipping to an intraday low of $70.52, the lowest since Sept. 1.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell $2.15, or 3.1%, to $67.80 a barrel, off a session low of $67.06, the weakest since Aug. 26.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will also tell U.S. lawmakers later in the day the variant could imperil economic recovery, prepared remarks show.

“The economic impact is driven by fear, and by the policy response… Fear is impacting travel. There are outright bans. But also the fear of being stranded which causes travel plans to alter,” Paul Donovan from UBS said in a note.

Oil plunged around 12% on Friday along with other markets on fears the heavily mutated Omicron would spark fresh lockdowns and dent global oil demand. It is still unclear how severe the new variant is.

With a weakening demand outlook , expectations are growing that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting countries, Russia and their allies, together called OPEC+, will put on hold plans to add 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) to supply in January.

“We think the group will lean towards pausing output hikes in light of the Omicron variant and the oil stockpile release by major oil consumers,” Commonwealth Bank commodities analyst Vivek Dhar said in a note.

Pressure was already growing within OPEC+, due to meet on Dec. 2, to reconsider its supply plan after last week’s release of emergency crude reserves by the United States and other major oil-consuming nations to address soaring prices.

“Following the global strategic reserve releases and the announcement of dozens of countries restricting travel… OPEC and its allies can easily justify an output halt or even a slight cut,” OANDA analyst Edward Moya said in a note.

Still, Citi analysts expect OPEC+ to continue to add more barrels in January.

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Omicron Worries Subside, Solid US Data, Oil Rebounds, Gold Softer, Bitcoin Rises

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By Edward Moya

Financial markets have been on a rollercoaster ride since the middle of last week.  We wanted to believe we were getting close to the end of COVID, but the latest jitters from Omicron variant signaled the inevitable COVID winter surge might already be here. Omicron is the latest COVID test for the economic outlook and we won’t have a clear picture until a couple more weeks. Friday’s turmoil looked a lot worse given the lack of liquidity, options volatility and overall frothy levels for equities.

US stocks are rebounding as optimism grows that the Omicron variant is a cause for concern, but not a ’cause for panic’ and could potentially be the catalyst needed to get more of the country vaccinated. Investors will learn over the next couple of weeks if the Omicron variant causes more severe disease than the other variants. So far the MRNA vaccines have proved effective against other variants such as delta and optimism is that even they will eventually need to get tweaked that could be done in a few months time.

Risk appetite got a boost from both the Pfizer CEO and President Biden calmed markets nerves that we won’t go back to the darkest days of the pandemic.  The Pfizer CEO Bourla said he thinks the data will ultimately show the current vaccine will protect less against Omicron but will likely still offer some protection.  President Biden said the US won’t need shutdowns to curb the Omicron variant.

US Data

Pending home sales unexpectedly surged in October as rents skyrocketed and buyers were highly motivated as borrowing costs seem poised to increase steadily as the Fed positions itself to raise rates. US pending homes sales increased by 7.5% from a month earlier, which was a 10-month high.

The Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey came in slightly below expectations, but still showed manufacturing activity is healthy and the outlook has dramatically improved. The index for general activity came in at 11.8, a miss of the 17.0 consensus estimate and drop from the 14.6 reading in October.  The six-month outlook almost doubled to 28.6, while the raw materials price index hit a series high.

Oil

Oil prices rebounded for two key reasons: the Omicron variant seemed like it would most likely be short-term disruptive to the crude demand outlook and on growing expectations that OPEC+ will refrain from increasing production by 400,000 bpd.

The Chairman of the South African Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines noted that the cases so far had all been mild, mild -to- moderate which was a good sign. As long as South Africa does not see a massive uptick in hospitalizations, optimism will grow that this new variant won’t lead to a wrath closing of borders.  Highly vaccinated countries will continue to thrive and political pressure will grow to get those countries with low vaccination rates more supplies.

OPEC+ pushed their meetings to better assess the impact of the Omicron variant, which will most likely be followed by a delay in delivering an extra 400,000 barrels a day in January. Following the global strategic reserve releases and the announcement of dozens of countries restricting travel to and from South Africa and neighboring nations, OPEC and its allies can easily justify an output halt or even a slight cut in production.

Crude prices gave back some its gains after US State Department advisor reminded traders the US could release more oil.

Gold

Gold prices remained heavy as Omicron panic eased, the dollar rally returned, and after another round of strong US economic data. Wall Street is quickly shaking off last week’s de-risking theme that triggered safe-haven demand for bullion. President Biden said economic lockdowns in response to the Omicron variant are off the table, which means gold could be in trouble if this latest variant mostly yields longer supply chain issues that might fuel the ‘inflation is persistent’ argument. If supply chain issues deteriorate even further, that could lead to faster tapering and quicker rate hikes by the Fed.

Cryptos

Cryptocurrencies are rebounding after last week’s widespread panic-selling from the Omicron variant blew past many stops. The crypto selloff was an overreaction and buyers are quickly reemerging as traders reassess the impact of a new coronavirus variant. Bitcoin is a part of today’s broad risk rally that stemmed from easing COVID fears but will likely struggle to completely get its groove back until vaccine efficacy results in the coming weeks confirm highly vaccinated countries are going back to lockdown mode.

Bitcoin rose 3.5% to $58,284, which makes the year-to-date gain at 101%. Ethereum is back above $4400 and is almost 500% higher this year. The top two cryptos seem like they may consolidate here, but if the Fed accelerates their taper plans and prospects of rate hikes grow, a return to record highs seen earlier in November will be hard to do.

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V For Volatility

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By Jeffrey Halley, Senior Market Analyst, Asia Pacific, OANDA

The buy-the-dip mafia was out in force yesterday, with a fair bit Friday’s Wall Street and European equity sell-off unwound, as well as Friday moves in bond, currencies and commodities and energy. Notably, it hasn’t been a complete reversal by any means, as the world settles into a choppy holding pattern, for clarity about just worried, or not, we should be about the new Covid-19 omicron variant.

President Biden attempted to sooth nerves overnight, but what really drove the retracement were anecdotal reports from the South African medical establishment suggesting that symptoms were milder than delta. Always ready to selectively edit the facts to fit the prevailing market sentiment, cases popping up in multiple locations around the world (they were probably there already), kneejerk travel bans on travellers from Southern Africa (there is no evidence it originated there, they just reported it first), and in the case of Japan, all foreigners, and WHO warnings that the new variant posed a “very high” risk, were mostly ignored by investors worldwide. The fact that markets haven’t completely unwound the Friday meltdowns at least suggests a modicum of caution remains.

To be fair, having been scared by delta, much of Asia is still in ultra-cautious mode, as their recovery was only just gathering steam with borders being tentatively reopened. And one can’t blame national governments for shooting first and asking questions later, after paying the price so badly for their delta complacency earlier this year. Whether that escalates into wider restrictions than a ban on travellers from Southern Africa also remains to be seen.

It will likely be a couple of weeks before the great and good of the global scientific community can make a definitive judgement on how serious the omicron variant is. That means December is likely to be choppy and driven by omicron headlines, and the heavyweight data calendar this week, will be rendered irrelevant. All that will matter is whether more restrictions are coming back around the world, and whether central banks, especially the Fed, hit the pause button on monetary tightening plans. I already know the answer to that one. The big winner this month will be volatility, we should see plenty of it. But with markets selling everything on negative omicron headlines and clasping at the most tenuous of straws to buy everything back on any perceived positive headlines, investors looking for thematic direction moves this month, are likely to be sorely disappointed.

Markets got nothing out of the stream of Fed speakers overnight, who seemed to be going out of their way to avoid thoughts on omicron-world monetary policy. We have had some heavyweight data from Asia today though, although as I have just mentioned, it has been largely ignored. South Korean and Japanese Industrial Production was released, with the YoY data outperforming, while the MoM prints disappointed. South Korea falling -3.0%, while Japan rose on 1.10%. Electronics continued to perform well, but automotive and transport suffered due to the semiconductor bugbear. A cynic might say that the recoveries in both countries are stalling, much like the recent data from China suggests.

Speaking of China, official Manufacturing and Non-Manufacturing PMIs were released for November this morning. Manufacturing PMI managed to recover marginally into expansionary territory, creeping up to 50.1. that follows a sharp rise in Industrial Profits over the weekend, with metals refining and energy, unsurprisingly, leading the way. The data suggests China isn’t out of the woods yet though, although you wouldn’t bet against them. Non-Manufacturing PMI held steady at 52.3, with Covid-19 restrictions potentially offset by Singles Day. The general PMI rose sharply from 50.8 to 52.2, and overall, the data suggests an improvement driven by an easing of China’s power crunch and a slight easing in lending criteria to the property sector. The data is steady, rather than spectacular, and I won’t e breaking out the champagne yet.

We have a raft of GDPs across the Eurozone, as well as Eurozone November Flash Inflation, and German Unemployment this after. In the US, we have the Case-Shiller Home Price data, ad well as CB Consumer Confidence and both Janet Yellen and Jerome Powell are testifying on The Hill I believe. Sadly, unless Mr Powell says the taper will stop if omicron is serious, all of this be ignored. V is for volatility, and there is only one story in town this week, and it is invisible to the human eye.

Wall Street rebound lifts Asian equities.

Asian equity markets mostly ignored the sharp rally in US index futures yesterday morning, but with the rally consolidating in OTC markets in the US and Europe overnight, Asia feels confident about dipping its toes in the water today, although the gains are not universal. On Wall Street, investors unwound much of Friday’s sell-off drama, and despite the tenuous reasoning behind the move, always respect momentum.

The S&P 500 rose 1.32%, the Nasdaq leapt 1.88% higher, while the Dow Jones turned in a respectable 0.65% gain. In Asia, the FOMO mafia have continued pushing index futures higher with Dow futures lifting by 0.25%, and S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures booking 0.10% gains.

After a stunning downside reversal late in the Tokyo session as the government banned entry to all foreigners, the Nikkei 225 is doing what it does best today, following the Nasdaq. Softer Industrial Production data has tempered the gains, but the Nikkei 225 is still 0.60% higher. However, South Korea’s Kospi is 1.05% lower after the government shelved plans to relax Covid-19 restrictions, highlighting once again, what is really driving markets right now. Meanwhile, Mainland China markets have edged higher, the Shanghai Composite and CSI 00 rising by just 0.15%. The casino sell-off persists in Hong Kong today, the latest sector in the Chinese government spotlight, leading the Hang Seng to shed 1.20%.

Across the region, Singapore is unchanged, unable to shake of PM Lee’s comments that Covid-19 freedoms could be rolled back if necessary. Kuala Lumpur though, has risen by 0.55% with Jakarta rising by 0.40% and Bangkok climbing 1.05% as investors build a tourism premium back in once again. Manila has fallen 1.0% while Taipei has rallied by 0.80%. Australian markets, never short of herd-like optimism, or a proclivity to slavishly follow Wall Street, have rallied strongly. The All Ordinaries is 1.10% higher, while the ASX 200 has risen by 0.80%.

European markets reclaimed some losses overnight, and the price action in Asia will likely inspire more buying initially. The same is likely on Wall Street as the pull of the FOMO remains irresistible. I would caution, however, that we are just one negative omicron headline from the whole rally everywhere, evaporating into thin air.

Currency markets remain much more cautious.

Currency markets were volatile overnight but notably, the recovery rally in the US Dollar ran out of steam. US yields rose only slightly after Friday’s sharp falls. The dollar index rose nearly 50 points to test 96.50 intraday but retreated to finish just 0.13% higher at 96.19. In Asia, the last of those gains have been unwound, the index falling 0.08% to 96.11. The index looks like to trade in a choppy 95.75 to 96.50 range over the next few sessions.

Notably, Euro, Sterling and Yen all fell slightly overnight while the Swiss Franc still managed to record gains, as did the Chinese Yuan and Canadian Dollar. EUR/USD is back to 1.1300, with GBP/USD at 1.3325, while USD/JPY is holding steady at 113.65. USD/JPY will find a recovery back above 114.00 challenging this week. AUD/USD and NZD/USD booked modest gains to 0.7145 and 0.6825 overnight, suggesting caution prevails in the G-10 space regarding omicron, and both antipodeans are only just holding above their 2021 lows still at 0.7100 and 0.6800.

USD/MXN and USD/ZAR fell sharply overnight, and that sees the US Dollar is moving lower across the board versus Asian currencies today, helped along by a fall by USD/CNY to 6.3715. USD/KRW, USD/MYR, USD/INR have fallen by 0.25% while USD/SGD and USD/THB are holding steady.

In the G-10 space, currencies appear to be reflecting some well-deserved caution towards omicron still, as usual, refusing to indulge in the mindless FOMO price action in the equity space. However, in the Asian regional space, local currencies appear to be pricing in the likelihood of a slower Fed taper, or even a halt to it thanks to the new variant. It is hard to argue with either thesis at the moment.

That suggests that a lower than expected Non-Farm Payrolls number on Friday is likely to see strength in the emerging space, rather than the DM space versus the US Dollar. And omicron will likely mute any strong dollar effects from a higher than 500k print on Friday. Like other asset classes, markets will be on tenterhooks for the latest omicron headlines across the news ticker.

Oil’s recovery hits an OPEC+ wall.

Oil managed to claw back some losses overnight, but the price action was far from impressive. Brent crude left higher initially, climbing over 5.0% intra-day, but gave back almost all those gains to finish just 0.74% higher at $73.40 a barrel overnight. WTI fared slightly better, closing 2.75% higher at $70.05 a barrel, and reclaiming its 200-day moving average. (DMA) In Asia, both contracts have added another 0.80% to $73.95 and $70.55.

Brent crude appears to have a higher beta to the OPEC+ meeting, logical given it is an international pricing benchmark, whereas WTI is very much US-centric. Overnight, Russia said that other members had not contacted it regarding halting production increases at the full OPEC+ meeting later this week, and that seems to have capped Brent’s recovery. Things move quickly in OPEC+ circles though and I remain of the opinion that the odds of a temporary halt to production increases is well above 50% now, especially with OPEC+ compliance already above 100%, suggesting limited swing capacity anyway.

That said, Friday’s lows still feel like the bargain of the year if you were an oil buyer, speculative or physical. Rather than second-guessing OPEC+, I am content to watch from the side-lines from here, as oil markets will be more vulnerable than most omicron headlines and violent swings in sentiment. Heightened volatile means that long or short, you P and L can still be nought.

The respective 200-DMAs at $72.70 and $70.00 a barrel should provide some support, if for no reason that a fall to those points will send the relative strength indexes (RSIs) into oversold territory. Above, some resistance should be found at $77.00, and $74.00 a barrel respectively.

Gold looks unimpressive.

Gold’s price action continues to underwhelm, as it finished the overnight session down 0.46% at $1785.00 an ounce, before eking out a 0.20% gain to $1788.50 an ounce in Asia. There are zero signs of any safe-haven bids emerging to shelter from virus volatility, and it is falling despite both US yields and the US Dollar also falling. Gold has now closed below its 50,100 and 200 DMAs clustered between $1791.00 and $1792.50 an ounce.

Gold will have resistance at $1800.00 and $1815.00 to start the week, while yesterday’s spike to $1770.00 an ounce, will provide initial support. In between, gold may find some friends around $1780.00. Failure of $1770.00 signals a retest of $1760.00 and $1740.00 an ounce. Friends are what gold needs to find quickly though, and I do not rule out a move lower to $1720.00 this week, especially if the Non-Farms puts the Fed taper back in the spotlight and we have a lull in virus headlines.

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