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Nigerians Banks Must Aid Investments in Renewable Energy Sources, Says Italian Investors

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300MW Solar energy
  • Nigerians Banks Must Aid Investments in Renewable Energy Sources

Nigerians can live better, away from all the noise and fumes from electric power generators, to be free of pollution that has caused so much ill-health and needless deaths, according to Roberto Fontana, an investor in renewable energy sources, who hails from Verona, Italy.

Fontana spent a week in Nigeria, casing the investment environment, and came away with positives but remarked that the nation’s banks must do more to encourage business growth.

Fontana, who had with him the Nigerian partner of the company, Mr. Mark Nebo said he has a company in Italy, Switzerland, Egypt, and Spain in renewable energy sector, including solar, wind and energy efficient systems.

He said, “I have a company that specializes in air compressors, chillers, and machinery like forklifts for big businesses. My interest is to bring to Nigeria high quality energy efficient and solar power systems. These will improve the lives of families, increase their wellbeing and to give them opportunity to stop using generators that make people to be sick from pollution. It is one week that I have been here but I am already feeling the effect of the pollution.”

He said his company would bring in long-lasting high quality solar systems that would dissuade Nigerians from buying cheap and poor-quality systems that are prevalent in the nation’s market today.

According to him, the products he intends to import would resolve people’s energy problems, and advised Nigerians to look forward to a bright future like it is experienced in other countries in Europe where quality products are used for their energy needs.

Fontana said he believes that even the low-income people should have energy sources to power their electrical systems like refrigerators, televisions, and not spend hard-earned money buying petrol for their generators.

According to him, his products would have an average of 20 years’ life span, adding “this is what obtains in every part of the world and must be done in Nigeria. They will resolve the problems of families and this is my company’s motto: Resolving Problems.”

He said he is will to take a step and let the market judge, adding that people would be given an opportunity to judge whether it was more economical to buy a product that would last a long time or to buy one that would be replaced often because it breaks down often.

Banks and economic growth…

Fontana said his company would sell to whole sellers/distributors but that “One big problem that I have seen since I have been here, is that while in the rest of the world people/families pay for goods in installment, people here pay in full.

“I have been trying to get the banks involved to have financing agreement but I see a great unwillingness or resistance and their desire to stick to their usual operational format and their absurd taxes/interest rates. Besides, interests charged by banks in Nigeria are too high and this will not make the nation’s economy to grow. The banks are prepared for my type of business, but they need to review downward their interest rates/taxes.”

Giving an example of where this hostile operational environment had posed a problem in the past, he said, “In 2003, Romania was at the level of present day Nigeria in terms of bank taxes/interest rates, but as the banks changed their system/politics, Romania has changed to a very beautiful country with topflight economy.

I suggest that the banks help Nigeria to be a country that is less polluted to improve people’s lives. I am not a banker but if I were, then I’ll change the banking politics.”

Import challenges…

Shipping his goods into Nigeria, Fontana said should not be much of a problem because after discussing with some big shipping companies in the country, he got to realise that the system is the same as in other parts of the world.

He said he would establish his presence in Nigeria as he has in other countries, adding that he had talked to some people in the country who deal in these products. “I have commissioned people to produce the systems that would suit people in the villages and rural communities, but there is need for the assistance of the banks. I see their willingness to do business and they appreciate my initiative a lot but I don’t know if they would play their part. I will play my own part.”

He said if the banks do not reduce their interests for financing the purchase of these products, then it may not work. “All developed countries are maintained with the assistance of their banks. In Italy, we buy telephones by installment payments. Buying goods outright here is not good for the economy and it is also not good for families.”

Solar systems…

According to Fontana, there is a big market in Nigeria for solar systems, adding that sunshine is free and that he would bring in equipment that are simple to use even in villages and that there are complex ones for both medium and big businesses. There are also small solar plants for all strata of society, permitting them to exploit sunshine during the day and use the stored energy during the night and as such there would be no need to use public electricity or petrol for generating sets.

“This money that families will save from not using public electricity and buying petrol, will be used for installmental payment to the banks and after about five years they will complete payment and for the remaining 15 years, the product will work free of charge.”

He intends to set up a complete office in Nigeria just as he has done in other countries, adding that he is comfortable in Nigeria because of the warm welcome that he received.

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.

Government

African Union Holds Global Conference to Accelerate African Vaccine Development and Manufacturing Capacity

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African leaders assembled at a global meeting to discuss the status of local pharmaceutical manufacturing on the continent, underscored the need to increase local production of vaccines and therapeutics to achieve greater public-health security.

“The production of vaccines and access to vaccines is an absolute priority,” Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, said Monday in opening remarks at the start of the two-day virtual meeting, convened by the African Union.

The meeting was attended by several African heads of state, health, finance and trade ministers from across the continent, as well as officials from global financial institutions, foundations, pharmaceutical manufacturers, business leaders, and the general public. The African Development Bank was represented by Solomon Quaynor, Vice President Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization.

Although Africa consumes approximately one-quarter of global vaccines by volume, it manufactures less than 1% of its routine vaccines, with almost no outbreak vaccine manufacturing in place. The region lags behind in procuring vaccines amid a global scramble for the medicines among wealthier nations. Thus far, only around 2% of the world’s vaccination against Covid-19 has taken place in Africa.

The need for a new public health order in Africa, which promotes domestic vaccine manufacturing, epidemic preparedness and upgraded healthcare systems to meet the needs of the world’s fastest-growing population, was the conference’s main objective.

The African Union and the Africa CDC said they would continue to work with all stakeholders to identify implementable actions, financing needs and timelines to competitively produce vaccines in Africa.

Quaynor noted that the current undertaking would require immense investment. “Vaccine manufacturing, because of its complexity, is not really an entrepreneurial drive but actually an institutional drive,” he added.

The African Development Bank is working with global and African stakeholders, to articulate a 2030 vision for Africa’s Pharmaceutical Industry in response to several calls received from African Heads of State, who have expressed a strong political will. This vision aligns with its “industrialize Africa” priority strategy.

The vision will build on previous efforts to produce a continental plan of action to boost local African pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, such as the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa adopted in Abuja in January 2005 and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA), prepared by the African Union Commission and the United Nations in 2012, to assist local manufacturers with pharmaceutical production.

Quaynor said Africa could count on the African Development Bank’s support to secure Africa’s health defense system. “Leveraging on our comparative advantages, we will both provide upstream support to governments on the enabling environment, as well as provide financing to private sector and PPPs both indirectly through some of our private equity investee funds and directly through lending, and credit and risk guarantees. We will also use the Africa Investment Forum to bring in all relevant stakeholders and partner DFIs into bankable opportunities…”

The 2030 vision for Africa’s pharmaceutical industry would also work with pharmaceutical industry associations in Africa to create capacity development links between universities and industry in Africa, and work with African scientists in the diaspora, Quaynor said in remarks made on behalf of African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina.

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ITF, Nigerian Air Force, Others, Sign MOU To Advance Research

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The Industrial Training Fund, ITF has signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, and Equipment and Protective Application International Limited to establish the framework that will give room for optimal performance as well as enhance productivity.

The Director General, Industrial Training Fund, Sir Joseph Ari while speaking at the NAF headquarters in Abuja, said the MOU will be pursued with vigour and all the seriousness it deserves so that greater success would be the catalyst that will drive their intentions.

He explained that over the years, ITF had redirected its focus on technical, vocational training and education noting that developed nations are where they are today because of the initiative.

According to him, “even here in Abuja, we have a model of a skills training centre and the model was brought in from the Singaporean experience of the institute for technical education and services of Singapore”.

“We brought a semblance of it here to experience with five trade areas, Mechatronics and Autotronics, Computer Networking, ICT, Facility Technology as well as culinary in both African and Western cuisine is right there in the heart of Abuja in the ITF house, it is like a university”.

“The ITF is well positioned to work hand in hand with the Nigerian Air Force,” he said

The ITF boss added; “I must say that the Chief of Air Staff has a lot of foresight with his men to think about this Memorandum of Understanding because I deed, ITF is where you should be”.

“The ITF came into contact with the Nigerian Air Force even though a lot of the officers of the Air Force might have participated in its programmes in the past and since then I have noticed that NAF has not relented in its efforts to equipped it’s workforce and also upgrade and retrain its people,” Sir Ari added.

He also commended the men and officers of the NAF for their sacrifice in keeping the nation safe.

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal, Oladayo Amao said the Nigerian Air Force has a highly technical Service and technology is the bedrock of all its operations.

Represented by the Chief of Standards and Evaluation, Air Vice Marshal, Olusegun Philip, Amao noted that in line with the focus of the Federal Government in promoting indigenous technology, the Nigerian Air Force has been looking inwards to gradually wean itself of overdependence on foreign technology and to become more innovative and resourceful.

“Therefore, in order to advance the Nigerian Air Force’s Research and Development efforts, we have deemed it necessary to formally collaborate with indigenous organizations through the signing of Memorandum of Understanding,” Amao stated.

“These collaborative efforts provide pedestals to leapfrog capability as well as a repertoire of capabilities that can be harnessed”.

“The collaborative efforts also provide platforms to synergise ideas for innovations that are key to achieving meaningful results to solve the technological challenges we currently face in a cost effective manner,” he said.

The Managing Director, Equipment and Protective Application International Limited, Engineer, Kola Balogun however, assured that the MOU entered would be for the overall economic benefit and development of the nation.

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SERAP Urges FG to Slash Politicians’ Allowances

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Chairman of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Elias Mbam, to urgently review upward the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for Nigerian Judges, and reduce the remuneration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other political office-holders in order to address the persistent poor treatment of Judges, and improve access of victims of corruption to justice.

The appeal came on the heels of a nationwide industrial action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government, and the federal government silence on the judiciary workers’ strike that has grounded court activities across the country.

In a letter dated April 10, 2021, which was signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said Judges should get all they are reasonably entitled to, and that it is unfair, illegal, unconstitutional, and discriminatory to continue to treat Judges as second-class people, while high-ranking political office holders enjoy lavish salaries and allowances.

SERAP expressed concern that the remuneration and allowances of Judges have fallen substantially behind the average salaries and allowances of political office-holders such as president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as members of the National Assembly.

The letter read in part: “According to our information, the last review of the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for political, public and judicial office holders carried out by RMAFC in 2009 shows huge disparity between the remuneration and allowances of judges and those of political office holders.

“Judges’ work is very considerable but they cannot give their entire time to their judicial duties without the RMAFC reviewing upward their remuneration and allowances, and closing the gap and disparity between the salaries of judges and those of political office holders such as the president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as lawmakers.

“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the RMAFC to comply with our requests.”

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