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Okonjo-Iweala Cautions Nigeria and Other African Countries Against Unfavourable Bilateral Trade Agreements

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Financial Inclusion

The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has urged Nigeria to guard against entering into unfavourable bilateral trade agreements with rich countries.

She advised Nigeria and other African countries to embrace multilateral trade agreements through the WTO instead of entering into agreements that might put them in a disadvantaged position in global trade.

Okonjo-Iweala, during the Forbes Leading Women Summit 2021 edition tagged “One-on-One with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,” held virtually on Tuesday as part of activities to mark the 2021 International Women’s Day, said: “The WTO is important because it provides a forum for multilateral trade. So, what else has Nigeria got to do, and African countries have to do so that we do not enter into a lot of bilateral trade relationships with rich countries where we will be at a disadvantage? We must bring them to the multilateral negotiation table at the WTO, Nigeria included.”

Besides, she called on Nigeria, and Africa in general, to look inward and be keen to use all available tools to increase their productions and sell in order to attain sustainable development and improve Africa’s share of global trade that is currently hovering between two and three percent.

She added: “If you want to trade more and be part of the global system, you need to step back and look internally at what you can produce. To trade more, you have to produce more. For Nigeria, I think we need to look at the diversification of our products. As you can see, many countries are moving away from fossil fuels because they have high carbon emissions and turning to renewable. So, we have to think ahead in Nigeria about what does this means?”

She stated that the WTO would develop rules to strengthen the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and integrate them into regional and global value chains as a way of bringing in marginalised population.

“First, let me look at it from the perspective of trying to bring in marginalised population. There is a lot we are doing to look at the MSMEs and the rules of the trade that could help bring those enterprises into regional and global value chains where they can participate in global trade. So, we are looking at how we can make rules that are supportive of MSMEs for trade. And how we can also work with governments and other organisations to get investments into the MSMEs companies because most of them felt the liquidity crunch that is always a problem to women in trade,” Okonjo-Iweala said.

She, however, urged governments to empower women with educational, financial and legal supports and develop policies that could identify and fill the gaps in supporting women empowerment.

“But above all, we have to make sure that women are given a chance in the cabinets and in the private sector as CEOs,” she said, adding that women must be prepared to deal with gender stereotypes without being distracted.

She explained that she suffered gender stereotype recently when a Swedish newspaper greeted her appointment at the WTO with a headline that screamed: “66-year-old Grandma Takes over the Leadership of the WTO.”

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Afrexim and Asoko Partner to Help List African Companies

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Afreximbank - Investors King

Asoko Insight, Africa’s leading provider of corporate data and engagement services, is pleased to announce a partnership with Africa Export-Import Bank that will help African companies list on its due diligence platform, the MANSA.

Launched by Afrexim in 2018 to counter the cuts in trade finance and investment financial flows to Africa, MANSA aims to be a single source of the primary data required for Customer Due Diligence (CDD) and Know Your Customer (KYC) checks on African entities. The transparency MANSA provides will address key trade-related challenges facing the continent, including the lack of market information, the high cost of doing business in Africa and the challenges around discovering African counterparties.

The corporate information gathered through this KYC platform provides an additional layer of confidence for international financiers and African companies seeking business partners,  unlocking the flow of capital and creating a more transparent operational landscape for trade and investment.

Onboarded as an official data partner for the project, Asoko will host access to the MANSA platform on its Digital Engagement platform through which African companies can register and submit their CDD/KYC information to be listed on the MANSA platform.

Rob Withagen, co-founder and CEO of Asoko Insight, said, “Easing access to African companies for trade and investment opportunities is at the core of Asoko’s work. MANSA is a key tool for facilitating data sharing about members of Africa’s vibrant private sector and we’re pleased to offer a route to it via our Digital Engagement platform.

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HOPE Consortium and Astral Aviation Sign MOU to Enhance Vaccine Distribution Solutions in Africa

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HOPE Consortium - Investors King

As part of its continued commitment to vaccine distribution in Africa, the HOPE Consortium has partnered with Kenya-based cargo airline, Astral Aviation, to offer vaccine distribution solutions to Africa. This highlights the HOPE Consortium’s efforts in reinforcing partnerships that focus on fighting the COVID-19 global pandemic, as well as fulfilling the organisation’s mission as a global logistics facilitator, by aiding in vaccine delivery.

As part of the partnership agreement, both entities will focus on intra-African cooperation to enhance vaccine distribution within the African continent. The HOPE Consortium will utilise Astral Aviation’s comprehensive network, technologies, and market expertise, to support its global objective of facilitating vaccine availability with a specific emphasis on the African continent. The alliance will ensure timely delivery of vaccines and critical supplies to all 54 African nations.

Astral Aviation operates a diverse fleet of 14 freighter aircraft and provides innovative, flexible, and cost-effective UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) integrated drone-based solutions, as well as warehousing solutions to both in-store and remote locations.

This synergetic collaboration with the HOPE Consortium will see Astral Aviation provide capacity for vaccine deliveries on its scheduled and charter freighter network, in addition to world-class drone solutions and systems to Africa, with the purpose of facilitating immunisation programmes.

Commenting on the partnership, Mr. Sanjeev Gadhia, CEO of Astral Aviation said: “We are truly honoured to partner with the HOPE Consortium and participate in the critical distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, based on our track record in performing humanitarian initiatives and vaccine flights within Africa. Astral will add further technological and warehousing solutions for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines from the hub in Abu Dhabi, to all the 54 countries in Africa directly or via its Nairobi Hub, which occupies 9000 m2 of cold-storage facilities.”

It is worth mentioning that Astral has also been selected by UNICEF to perform vaccine flights for COVAX and for the African Union via the African Medical Supplies Platform.

Through this partnership, the HOPE Consortium furthers its end-to-end supply chains required to distribute vaccines from their base in Abu Dhabi to all African countries. The HOPE Consortium has geared its operations to transport millions of critical COVID-19 vaccines to any country in need and thus far has handled over 100 million vaccine doses across 40 countries.

Robert Sutton, Head of Logistics Cluster, Abu Dhabi Ports, said: “Africa has always been a high priority market for the HOPE Consortium, and to that end, we are pleased to join hands with Astral Aviation. With a track record of operating over 20 years within Africa, their expertise provides a new dimension towards achieving our overarching objectives. This partnership reinforces the HOPE Consortium’s aim of creating a sustainable ecosystem, based on our collective global networks, logistics and supply chain capabilities, in order to facilitate vaccine distribution across the world. Our partnership with Astral Aviation is another benchmark towards our commitment to serve every country, region, and locale. We are confident that this partnership will help enhance HOPE Consortium’s efforts in Africa and ensure that no one is left behind in the quest against the pandemic.”

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Konga Partners NIDCOM, Places World-Class Assets at Reach of Nigerians in Diaspora

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Konga

Konga, Nigeria’s leading composite e-commerce giant, has signed a partnership with the Federal Government through the Diaspora Commission to further strengthen the relationship between Nigerians abroad, their relatives and the nation.

To this effect, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Konga and the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) on Tuesday, September 14, 2021, in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Present at the signing ceremony was the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, NIDCOM, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa; Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, Co-CEO, Konga Group, Nick Imudia; Vice President, KongaPay, Isa Aliyushata as well as other senior officials of NIDCOM.

The terms of the MoU will see NIDCOM partner with Konga is offering Nigerians based in overseas locations a credible platform devoid of the potential concerns of fraud and other unscrupulous practices. Consequently, through this synergy, Konga will place its huge resources, extensive reach, world-class assets and credible database at the disposal of millions of Nigerians in the Diaspora in search of a reliable and robust platform to work within the country.

In addition, the partnership will see Konga set up an exclusive Diaspora Marketplace to aid Nigerians abroad gain access to quality Nigerian products and services, while also helping them sell their own items locally. Furthermore, NIDCOM will also leverage Konga TV, a cutting-edge Cloud TV soon to be launched by the e-commerce giant, to reach millions of Nigerians across the globe.

The development is one which the FG believes will ease capital flight, while also boosting the scope of useful foreign exchange earnings through Diaspora returns.

‘‘We are delighted to have signed this partnership with Konga which remains unarguably a world recognized and credible e-commerce leader in Nigeria,’’ disclosed Hon Mrs. Abike Erewa, NIDCOM Executive Chairman. ‘‘Through this initiative, millions of Nigerians will have access to a reliable platform here in Nigeria to guide their investment decisions, while also offering them a chance to empower their loved ones through the numerous opportunities that abound on KongaGroup. We are also confident that this partnership will encourage many Nigerians resident abroad to gain useful knowledge and consider major social investments in Nigeria, a development that will further rub off positively on the economy.”

Also speaking at the event, Ekeh, Chairman of Konga commended the NIDCOM Chairman and her team for their efforts and professionalism in making the partnership a reality. Ekeh, who pioneered e-commerce in Africa through the now-defunct BuyRight Africa Dotcom over 13 years ago, lauded the power of e-commerce in bridging gaps and growing the wealth of nations in the 21stCentury, a role he stated that Konga is eminently positioned to play in view of its huge resources and growth trajectory in Nigeria and beyond. He added that the partnership is expected to cause a change that would be a blessing to Nigerians in the 21st century.

On his part, Imudia, Co-CEO, Konga Group also stressed the many opportunities that abound for Nigerians in the Diaspora through the partnership with NIDCOM.

‘‘The opportunities are huge.

‘‘Many Nigerians abroad can now find credible merchants for their purchases in Nigeria or even set up their own stores on Konga. Also, they can access reliable information before committing funds or while making investment decisions. With Konga, Nigerians abroad can afford to extend support to relatives and their respective communities without stories.

‘‘Put simply, Nigerians abroad can order foodstuffs, medicines, and other products on Konga platforms and get them delivered to their families and friends without stories, no matter the location in Nigeria. All they need do is open a wallet on KongaPay, a Central Bank of Nigeria fully licensed mobile money platform. They can also use the Konga platform to pay school fees, monthly feeding allowances and pay contractors working for them in Nigeria, etc. and receive alerts that their instructions have been carried out with 100% accuracy.’’

The partnership with NIDCOM comes just as Konga recently signed off on another partnership with the Ministry of Youths and Sports Development to empower millions of Nigerians youths through a job and wealth creation scheme known as Konga Jobs (KJ). The initiative targets the employed, under-employed and unemployed Nigerians. Konga also recently entered a strategic partnership with the Edo State Government to launch the Edo Marketplace(EMP) on Konga as a major platform to take SMEs in the state to the global marketplace and to better serve the unreached and under-reached.

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