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AfCFTA: Expert Harps on Trade Bank to Support MSMEs

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The Acting Director General/Chief Trade Negotiator of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiation, Mr. Victor Liman, has called for the establishment of a trade bank that would empower the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to be able to participate fully in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

Liman, who is saddled with the task of negotiating Nigeria’s participation in the AfCFTA, made the call yesterday during a symposium organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) with the theme “AfCFTA: Roadmap to a Successful Implementation.”

Meanwhile, the Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Niyi Adebayo, who was represented by the Secretary of National Committee on AfCFTA, Mr. Francis Anatogu, said Nigeria would benefit from the continental trade pact in the medium term.

Liman said: “There are key financial consideration that we shall take into account when we talk about the productivity of the MSMEs and their ability to build capacity to have what to trade domestically and export.

“Therefore, there is a need for a dedicated fund, a dedicated bank, to be able to fund trade and trade interests. One of such could be by a way of grants that may not be paid back where the MSMEs can access money.

“But there have to be a mechanism to ensure that there is accountability for whatever fund they access because free money does not grow the economy. What grows the economy is money that is used in productive activities that can create job opportunities to employ people. So, there is a need for us to ensure that we have a dedicated platform for the MSMEs to access fund.”

He said this was important because most of them do not have the collateral and financial muscle that the commercial banks would require to be able to give them money to trade with, adding that legislative actions might be required to give the trade bank a legal framework so that it could become a policy.

The Nigeria’s chief trade negotiator also explained that it would take a while for Nigerian businesses to begin to participate in the actual trading within the AfCFTA protocol.

He added: “Negotiations is different from implementation, which requires a whole lot of preparation to be fully engaged.

“Now that we have negotiated the agreement we need to sit down to see how we can put to actions the things we have negotiated by setting up structures that need designated competent authorities to work.

“We have to set up the trade documentations and how to access them and the inputs that are required to go into these documents and criteria for the Rule of Origin.”

The minister of Industry, Trade and Investment also said the AfCFTA was expected to complement Nigeria’s national development agenda and act as a catalyst for Nigeria’s export diversification.

“It also supports Nigeria’s industrial policy through the negotiated and agreed “Exclusion and Sensitive category lists” to provide space for Nigeria’s infant industries; anda platform for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

“As with all other developmental initiatives, AfCFTA is not without its challenges, both in terms of its implementation and its overall outcomes.

“In the short run, there could be a threat to the survival of infant industries as established industries will be able to scale up operations more easily. But this will slowly disappear as smaller firms are incentivised to take up this challenge and scale up.

“Obviously, the more diversified economies with better infrastructure will benefit more from the trade integration in the short term.

“Nigeria lags in this area but given the huge amount of investment the federal government is making in the infrastructure space; Nigeria is poised to harness the gains in the medium term,” Adebayo said.

The President of the LCCI, Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, said the chamber put up the interactive session to deliberate on how to expidite the implementation of the trade agreement.

Travel

Emirates Lands In Nigeria In Style

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Emirates has today touched down in both Abuja and Lagos, marking the restart of daily services to Nigeria from Dubai. It received a spectacular water canon welcome at Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos. 

Both flights from Dubai, EK 785 to Abuja and EK 783 to Lagos, were welcomed to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and Murtala Muhammed International Airport with water cannon salutes. Upon arrival, a cake cutting ceremony was also held between Emirates officials and the airport authorities to mark the resumption of operations.

Paulos Legesse, Country Manager Nigeria said: “We are delighted to resume operations to and from Nigeria, and are pleased to see strong interest from our customers, reflected in robust forward bookings from the time of our announcement, as well as today’s full flights from Dubai to Abuja and Lagos. The services will also give our customers the opportunity once again to safely experience Emirates’ superior product and service, offering them convenient travel options to Dubai, an already popular destination for Nigerian travellers, as well as seamless connectivity other key cities across our network.”

The aircraft being deployed to both Nigerian cities is the three class Boeing 777-300ER which offers 8 luxurious First Class suites, 42 generous Business Class seats, and over 300 seats in Economy Class.

Customers across all classes were able to enjoy the airline’s regional delicacies onboard, as well as its renowned in-flight entertainment system, ice, featuring over 4,500 channels of on-demand entertainment, including Nollywood films and content.

Emirates operates to Abuja with EK 785 and 786. EK 785 departs Dubai at 1100hrs, arriving in Abuja at 1540hrs. The return flight, EK 786 takes off from Abuja at 1900, arriving in Dubai at 0435hrs the next day. Emirates flight EK 783 to Lagos departs Dubai at 1030hrs, arriving in Lagos at 1540hrs. The return flight EK 784 departs Lagos at 1810hrs, arriving in Dubai at 0415hrs the next day.

Travelling to Dubai: Ensuring the safety of travellers, visitors, and the community, Covid-19 PCR tests are mandatory for all inbound passengers arriving to Dubai, including UAE citizens, residents and tourists, irrespective of the country they are coming from. Travellers coming from Nigeria must hold a negative Covid-19 PCR test certificate for a test taken no more than 72 hours before departure.

Additionally, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has specified designated laboratories for passengers departing Nigeria and travellers must obtain their certificate from one of the labs listed here to be accepted on the flight. Travellers coming from Nigeria will also need to take another Covid-19 PCR test on arrival at Dubai International Airport.

Since it safely resumed tourism activity in July 2020, Dubai remains one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations, especially during the winter season. The city is open for international business and leisure visitors. From sun-soaked beaches and heritage activities to world class hospitality and leisure facilities,

Dubai offers a variety of world-class experiences. It was one of the world’s first cities to obtain Safe Travels stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) – which endorses Dubai’s comprehensive and effective measures to ensure guest health and safety.

Dubai is currently hosting the world for Expo 2020, happening between October 2021 and March 2022. Through the theme of Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, Expo 2020 Dubai aims to inspire people by showcasing the best examples of collaboration, innovation and cooperation from around the world.

Its programme is packed with experiences to suit all ages and interests, including a rich line-up of themed weeks, entertainment, and edutainment. Art and culture fans as well as food and technology enthusiasts can explore exhibits, workshops, performances, live shows and more.

Emirates continues to lead the industry with innovative products and services and recently took its customer care initiatives further with  even more flexible booking policies which have been extended to 31 May 2022.

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Npower Latest News: Npower Payment Update as at December 2

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Npower

The Npower programme has been under a lot of criticism lately for its inability to pay the programme’s beneficiaries their stipends since September. This article will be providing updates concerning the programme, payment of stipends and other updates concerning it.

Earlier in the week, the National Social Investment Management System (NASIMS) posted on its Facebook page that there had been a reversal of payment status. NASIMS apologized for the incident, saying that the reversal was caused partly by instability in network, causing it to bounce back after waiting days to “clinch the next payment process has elapsed.” They stated that they were working on resolving it, and all qualified beneficiaries would be paid eventually.

Then on Thursday, NASIMS addressed a Facebook post to the unpaid beneficiaries of Batch C1. The post informed beneficiaries that payment of the outstanding September stipend had begun.

This comes at a period when the affected beneficiaries are going through a frustrating period, considering the economic situation of the country (with rising prices of food and other products) approaching the festive period. It will come as a relief to many that at least one part of the outstanding payments has commenced, when the demand for the payment has been high in recent weeks.

NASIMS then implored the beneficiaries to continue monitoring their accounts closely, in case they are credited with their stipends without receiving any alerts. The Management System also confirmed that correction of any issues associated with payment is still ongoing, and once again assured the beneficiaries that all those concerned and qualified will be paid.

After posting the update concerning the September payment, NASIMS went ahead to speak concerning the October and November stipend payments. The Management System once again stated that in order to avoid false information, beneficiaries should bear in mind that the payment of the October and November stipends have not started.

NASIMS said that it was still working on issues concerning payment and hoped to settle everything as soon as possible.

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Npower Payment: NASIMS Talks Payment of October and November Stipends

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Npower

The National Social Investment Management System (NASIMS) has released an update concerning the payment of the Npower October and November stipends to the Batch C volunteers of the Npower programme. The failure to pay the stipends has launched quite the discourse concerning the efficacy of the programme.

In a Facebook post, NASIMS addressed the lack of payment, responding to the enquiries of some beneficiaries. These beneficiaries had previously repeatedly made attempts to find out exactly when the payments for October and November would be commencing.

NASIMS first moved to clarify how the payment process works, explaining that the payment procedure is not quick and it takes time. The group stated that the account would need to be validated before anything else, after which the bank account details would be forwarded to the Central Bank of Nigeria, who will in turn send out the required stipends to the financial institutions.

The Facebook post closed with NASIMS saying that they are not aware of an exact date on which the payment of the October and November stipends will commence, but mentioned that they are sure that the payment process will be starting anytime soon.

Also, the Federal Government – through NASIMS – has told the beneficiaries of Batch C to provide their Bank Verification Numbers if they are yet to do so, as the BVN is necessary for account validation. The Federal Government also confirmed that if payment status reflects as ‘Pending’ on the dashboard, it means that the account has been successfully validated.

At this stage, beneficiaries are to simply be patient and wait for the payment to be made.

NASIMS also stated that its attention has been drawn to a ridiculous post going around social media, concerning the commencement of Batch C2 selection. The post announced that the Batch C2 of the Npower programme had begun and individuals would need to pay N4500 to be enlisted.

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