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Airlines Oppose Abuja Airport Closure

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  • Airlines Oppose Abuja Airport Closure

The Federal Government on Thursday explained to aviation stakeholders why the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja must be shut for six weeks beginning from March 8 in order to carry out repairs on its runway and taxi ways.

But despite the explanation made by the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, at a stakeholders’ meeting, the Airline Operators of Nigeria, an umbrella body for carriers in the country, opposed the move by the government to shut the NAIA.

The Federal Government had earlier stated that during the closure of the Abuja airport, passenger traffic and flight activities would be diverted to the Kaduna International Airport for the six-week period, a development that would lead to the screening of air travellers twice, in Abuja and Kaduna.

In a bid to get the inputs of stakeholders, the Federal Government convened an industry-wide meeting on Thursday, which had in attendance different security agencies’ officials, representatives of foreign embassies in Nigeria, international airline operators and their domestic counterparts, legislators, the governments of Kaduna, Kwara and Niger states, as well as other participants.

However, in its submission after an elaborate presentation by the minister, the AON declared that it was in support of the rehabilitation of the NAIA runway, but stressed that the facility should be repaired at night without necessarily shutting down the airport completely for six weeks.

Speaking on behalf of the airline operators, the Chairman, AON, Capt. Nogie Meggison, argued that the Kaduna airport might not be ready to carry the volume of traffic that hits Abuja on a daily basis, among other issues.

He said, “We are in total support of the rehabilitation of the Abuja runway, which is long overdue and is becoming a safety issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. But the AON, on the other side, is of the view that shutting the runway is not the best for now.

“We believe that the runway can be repaired at night, like what is done in other countries. A case study is the Gatwick Airport, which handles 400,000 passengers annually, far higher than what Abuja handles. Or alternatively, the runway in Abuja is 3,900 metres and if you split it into two, you will get roughly 2,000 metres.”

Meggison added, “With 2,000 metres of runway, they can fix one side for three or four weeks and come back to the other side. With 2,000 metres of runway, a 737 aircraft can comfortably get into it for a one-hour flight; and a DRJ, Dash-8 and domestic carriers can come in. International carriers can go to Lagos and Kano, and we distribute for them, like what is done anywhere in the world.”

“We also believe that Kaduna may not be too ready for this and for the volume of passengers that will be coming through that airport.”

In response to the AON’s position, the minister said the government would have worked at night on the Abuja airport if the level of dilapidation of the facility was just on the surface of the runway and taxi ways.

Sirika said, “But right now, all the four-level structures on that runway are completely gone. It is completely dilapidated. What was done in Gatwick was done for six months, but we are doing six weeks of closure to be able to attend to the critical parts of that runway.

“This working at night without disruption of flights is what we have been doing for 14 years on that runway and we have been achieving the same result. To stop spending billions and getting the same result, we engaged a wide range of engineers, who advised that it be closed and a complete and thorough job be done on the runway.”

The minister explained that the lifespan of the Abuja runway had been exceeded by 14 years without adequate maintenance as opposed to that of the Gatwick Airport, which receives constant maintenance.

He stressed that the Abuja runway might be forced to shut down on its own, as was the case of the Port Harcourt airport runway some years ago, a development that grounded flight activities in the state for two and half years.

On logistics being put in place for travellers to use the Kaduna airport, Sirika said N1.1bn had been approved by the Federal Government for its rehabilitation and that work on the facility would be completed before March 8.

He said Abuja passengers would board free buses to and from the Kaduna airport, adding that security would be provided by aviation security personnel, police, Ministry of Defence, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Kaduna State Government.

Sirika explained that military and police officers would be stationed on the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway during the six-week period, and that there would be train and helicopter services for passengers who could afford them.

On claims that the United Kingdom High Commission in Nigeria would close its services during the period, the minister stated this was a lie, adding that he had met with the personnel of the high commission and they had refuted the allegation.

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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How to Check Your Nirsal Loan Approval

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Loan - Investors King

Here is a step-by-step walk-through on how you can check your NIRSAL COVID-19 loan approval by NIRSAL Microfinance Bank.

How to Check NIRSAL Loan Status

To check your NIRSAL loan approval or access the NIRSAL loan portal, you must have applied for the COVID-19 relief loan for small businesses and individuals when the application was on. If you applied, carefully go through your email address to check if you received an email from NIRSAL Microfinance Bank indicating you have been approved for the loan.

Do not be panic if you could not find the email sent to successful applicants as you can still check by clicking here or copy https://covid19.nmfb.com.ng/ to your browser.

Then select the category you applied for, SME or Households loan. The next stage is to input your Bank Verification Number (BVN).

How to Check NIRSAL Loan Approval With BVN

All applicants are required to verify their accounts by entering their Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs). After inputting your BVN, a window will pop up showing you the amount you were approved for if your application was successful.

The next step is to claim your loan by providing your bank account information in the correct format as specified on the portal.

Please proceed to the final step and read the terms and conditions of the loan you just secured. The name of the director in charge of your payment, his/her details and repayment procedure will be clearly stated.

Please note that 5 percent of the total amount will be deducted from the loan before disbursement and you are expected to pay it back, contrary to popular notion.

Ensure not to default on repayment, make sure repayment is done within the stipulated three-year time frame. Finally, note that since your BVN is linked to all your accounts, if you fail to repay, you will be continually debited monthly until you pay the complete amount.

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Dangote Cement Boosts Sub-Saharan Africa’s Economic Development

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Dangote Cement - Investors King

Operating in 10 African countries, Dangote Cement has significantly boost Sub-Saharan Africa Economic Development and play major roles in attracting Investors and job creation.

Sub-Saharan Africa is populated by more than half a billion people, and rapid urbanisation is creating challenges in the areas of housing, roads, railways, power supply, dams and water pipelines – aspects of infrastructure that are critical to the well-being of the population.

This situation indicates that cement and concrete will play a major role in construction technology in Africa, an aspect that makes the continent an attractive destination for investors.

The Dangote Group has taken cognizance and advantage of the cement demand in Africa by investing in 10 sub-Saharan counties like Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana, Congo, and Sierra Leone.

Remarkably, the Dangote Cement plant has successfully operated in Senegal in the last five years, producing 32.5 and 42.5-grades, thereby offering the domestic market higher-quality cement at competitive prices.

The company’s 1.5Mta factory located in Pout, about 60km from Dakar, was commissioned at the end of December 2014 to take advantage of the geographical strategic location, strong demand and abundant limestone deposits.

Country Manager, Dangote Cement, Senegal, Luk Haelterman, said: “before our entry, the domestic market was almost entirely made up of 32.5-grade cement. Our plant produces 42.5-grade cement, thereby offering the market higher-quality cement at a competitive price, which the construction industry urgently needs.”

Dangote Cement Senegal’s integrated plant is modern, fuel-efficient that uses the latest technology to produce high-quality cement. This enables the company to compete very effectively in a Sub-Saharan cement industry that is fragmented and characterised by smaller-scale operators with older technologies.

Haelterman described Dangote Cement’s investment in Senegal as one of the biggest foreign direct investments by an African company, which is an indication of its strong belief in the future growth of its economy.

He said the market has potential for growth for both local consumption and export, despite being saturated by other cement brands, saying, “apart from capturing the local market in Senegal, we also now export cement to neighbouring countries of Mali, The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau.”

Haelterman attributed the company’s outstanding performance in Senegal to stringent quality assurance processes, which were deployed to ensure that customers get high-quality products that meet all the required technical standards.

According to him, Dangote’s introduction of the 42.5-degree brand of cement to the major market in Senegal upon entry has enabled the company to gain the desired market share in the country.

Luk also disclosed that Dangote Cement Senegal has developed a culture of supporting local employees and prioritising local hiring, which allows local country employees have the necessary knowledge, experience, and support to take up key roles within the company.

He said the policy aims to gradually reduce the number of expatriates employed by the business by enhancing the skills and capacity of Senegalese employees to take up leadership positions.

“We have ensured that our image has been aligned with two key principles from day one: maintaining high quality, and taking a local approach in everything that we do,” he said.

Human resources manager, Dangote Cement, Senegal, Waly Diouf, said the company takes training and development of employees as a priority. “Today, Dangote Senegal has about 800 employees. We make sure that we invest heavily in the training and development of employees. We have a programme, which enables us to boost the skills of local staff at all levels. Dangote Cement Senegal is one of the best plants in Africa. This consistent training of indigenous manpower has made our plant one of the best in Africa ” he disclosed.

Chief finance officer, Dangote Cement, Senegal, Ousmane Mbaye, said the company has contributed significantly to the development of Senegal’s economy, saying, “Dangote Senegal started operation in Senegal in 2015, and between 2015 and 2019, the company has contributed heavily into the Senegalese government treasury, thereby assisting in economic development.”

Head of mines, Dangote Cement, Senegal, Leyti Ndiaye added that “our job is to supply raw materials to the plant and make sure that blending of the limestone is done correctly. We operate under very strict environmental regulations. As a company, we have a sustainable environment management plan so as to reduce environmental degradation during operation as well as restoration of degraded lands after final mine closure.”

Chief executive officer, National Sector Mining Company, Ousmane Cisse commended Dangote Cement for investing massively in the Senegalese economy. “I am very proud to have Dangote Cement in Senegal. Dangote has been able to satisfy the Senegalese cement market since its inception in 2015. When Dangote arrived here, there were two players in the market. Dangote brought quantity and quality products through the introduction of 45.2R. Dangote has helped cement consumers in Senegal to access quality cement products.

“The company is also satisfying markets in the surrounding countries. When you visit Dangote, you will discover that most of the employees are Senegalese. The company has employed Senegalese and ensure adequate capacity building for everybody,” he stated.

The best practices adopted by the Dangote Cement Senegal Plant over the past five years have boosted its production process and quality of its products, with a corresponding positive impact on the economy of the country, Sub-Saharan Africa and the continent as a whole. This is a plus for development.

Dangote Cement has a production capacity of 48.6 million tonnes per year across 10 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Group has integrated factories in seven countries, clinker grinding plant in Cameroon, and import and distribution facilities for bulk cement in Ghana and Sierra Leone. Together, these operations make the Group the largest cement producer in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Based in Nigeria, the Group operates in many of Sub-Saharan Africa’s key cement markets, helping the continent become self-sufficient in this basic commodity. In 2020, it started shipping clinker to West and Central Africa from Nigeria. Its regional strategy stated that it look for markets that have ample limestone, thriving economies, growing populations, and a pressing need for housing and infrastructure.

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Arla Food To Set Up Dairy Farm In Nigeria, Train 1,000 Dairy Farmers

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Arla Foods- Investors King

Arla Foods, makers of Dano Milk, has announced that it will build a state-of-the-art commercial dairy farm in Northern Nigeria where it plans to train and support up to 1,000 local dairy farmers as part of its long-term commitment to developing the Nigerian dairy sector.

The 200-hectare farm, scheduled to open in 2022, will have housing for 400 dairy cows, modern milking parlours and technology, grasslands and living facilities for 25 employees.

The firm said the farm is expected to produce over 10 tonnes of milk per day to supply locally produced dairy products to Nigerian consumers.

Managing Director, Arla Foods, Peder Pedersen said “there was a great need for nutritious food and dairy products to satisfy the growing demand from Nigeria’s fast-growing population.”

“This requires a complementary approach where imported food is crucial to ensuring food security while also supporting the government’s long-term agricultural transformation plan to build a sustainable dairy sector in Nigeria,” Pedersen said.

In 2019 Arla scaled up its commitment to developing a sustainable dairy sector in Nigeria with a new public-private partnership with the Kaduna State government.

It is the first of its size and offers 1,000 nomadic dairy farmers permanent farmlands. Arla is the commercial partner that will purchase, collect, process and bring the local milk to market.

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