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AfDB, EU Commit $18m to Construction of 1,008km Lagos-Abidjan Highway

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  • AfDB, EU Commit $18m to Construction of 1,008km Lagos-Abidjan Highway

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and European Union (EU) have made financial commitments worth $18 million to the construction of a 1,008 kilometres stretch highway that will run from Lagos in Nigeria through other cities in the West African coast to Abidjan in Ivory Coast, the President of Economic Community of West African Countries (ECOWAS) Commission, Marcel Alain de Souza, has disclosed.

Souza, stated this on Friday during the ninth steering committee meeting of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Programme in Abuja.

He stated this just as the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said at the meeting that the Abidjan-Lagos super highway project would resolve a lot of the cross border challenges that affected integration in the ECOWAS region, as well as boost regional trade in the region.

The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway is a 1,008 kilometre road that will traverse five countries in the region including Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Benin Republic, Togo and Nigeria, and will reportedly provide access to vibrant sea ports which account for about 90 per cent exports and 60 per cent imports across the sub-region.

Souza, who in his remarks, described the presence of Osinbajo at the ministerial committee meeting as a sign of Nigeria’s commitment to the highway project, stated that the project had already attracted $9 million support from the AfDB and $9 million from the EU.

The funds, he stated would be solely expended on the project as participating member countries will provide an additional $1 million as part of feasibility study for the highway project. He also explained that while the feasibility study for the project could start before January 26th, 2018, construction would likely start in six months’ time.

He however lamented the delay in implementation of the project despite its importance to developing the regional economy.

“We have discussed with the former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and other private sector to support us. 42 years of integration, ECOWAS has not achieved 15 per cent of its goal and 70 per cent of trade in the region is done through this route. So, hopefully, the construction will start in six month time,” said Souza at the meeting which was attended by ministers of works from Nigeria, Republic of Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo

In his remarks, Osinbajo, said beyond trade and other economic prospects, the project would go a long way to promote tourism, create jobs and open small businesses in the region to global opportunities.

According to him: “The development of the Abidjan-Lagos project is the flagship of the entire ECOWAS enterprise and we believe that it will promote regional integration, enable trade, tourism and other forms of economic activities in our sub region and create the much needed jobs for our large youth population.”

“No doubt, it will connect West Africa by means of efficient road network. It is one of the easiest and most direct ways of boosting local and international economies by extension our regional economy. The corridor will inevitably open up new vista of economic opportunities and set the stage of foreignisation of the vast informal economies that exist in our region,” he added.

He pledged Nigeria’s commitment to the project and its completion on schedule, adding that the nation’s recent ratification of the treaty was a demonstration of its commitment.

The Vice President said: “The project will go a long way in resolving the hindrances to cross border trading in West Africa with obvious positive implications for our business environment and beyond linking the major economic centres in West Africa, it is our hope that it will steer regional economy and regional bloc across the continent.”

He also described the project as a testimony of the strong relationship among ECOWAS member nations, despite language and currency differences.

While commending the efforts of AfDB, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and other financial institutions on the project, Osinbajo, said it would strengthen existing relations within the region.

“I will like you to keep in mind as you commence your deliberations that beyond the hard infrastructure, which is the main priority of this committee, we must also pay attention to the development of the requisite self-infrastructure, good brotherliness, mutual respect, security and rule of law.

“As we build the super highway, we must also build the highway of unity, brotherhood and prosperity for all of our people within ECOWAS and the African Union,” he explained.

Earlier, the Chairman of the Ministerial Steering Committee, and Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, said the meeting was held to work towards the project financing.

He acknowledged commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari and the ECOWAS Commission to improving trans-border trade.

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

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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