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AfCFTA: Expert Harps on Trade Bank to Support MSMEs



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.

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FA Cup Semi-Finals, Copa del Rey Final Live on StarTimes



Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristia

Top-flight European football awaits sports fans this weekend on StarTimes.  

Barcelona will seek their first glory this season as they battle Athletic Club in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday at 8:30 pm

The FA Cup semi-final clash between Tuchel’s Chelsea and Guardiola’s Manchester City will take place Saturday in Wembley at 5:30 pm. Leicester City will face Southampton on Sunday at 6:30 pm.

All matches will be aired live and in HD on StarTimes World Football Channel, currently sitting on its Basic for N1700 monthly and Smart Bouquet for N2200 monthly.

Tuchel has been a perennial trophy-winner with PSG and last season won the double with the club from the French capital.

Like Tuchel, his Manchester City counterpart, Pep Guardiola has made winning trophies his business. He seems on track to win his third league title with the club this season and would love to emulate the 2018/19 season, when they won the double.

Guardiola has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to team-selection, with Ilkay Gündogan and Portuguese centre back Ruben Dias arguably being the stand-out players for the side in the last few weeks.

Despite being a midfielder, Gündogan is the club’s top scorer this season so far and Chelsea will be hard-pressed to keep the German international at bay.

Sunday’s semi-final sees Leicester City take on Southampton and like the Chelsea v Manchester City game, the match will be played at Wembley.

The biggest problem Leicester face is that they are very dependent on the goals of Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho, and if the two fail to score, Leicester struggle to win.

For Southampton, appearing in the semi-final is presumably, already a huge success, especially as they had to beat Arsenal to get there.

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FEC Approves N532m For UI Library Extension



The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved N532 million for the construction and furnishing of the University of Ibadan library extension.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, briefed State House correspondents after the virtual FEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

“The Minister of Education also presented a memo for the award of contract for the construction and furnishing of the extension of the University of Ibadan library.

“The memo, which was approved, is at the cost of N532 million with a completion period of 48 weeks,’’ the minister said.

Mohammed hinted that the memo was well received because of the need to extend the library facility in the university.

He said that for many years, the library had needed real extension, given the surge in the students’ population.

According to him, the extension project will comprise two suspended floors, two online reading areas and three cubicles,

It will also include one physically challenged reading area, four seminar rooms and one reprographic unit.

Other facilities are six staff offices, one control room, a general room, stores, four e-libraries, a coffee room, a technical service room, a media unit room, one galaxy/exhibition room and a journal publication unit, in addition to two reading areas.

“The contract was awarded to the UYK Nigeria limited and it is to be delivered in 48 weeks,’’ Mohammed said.

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Sony Music Africa Launches New Business Skills Programme to Build the Next Generation of Female Music Leaders



Sony 1

Sony Music Africa has partnered with not-for-profit pan-African women empowerment platform, The Women of Music Business (WOMB), to launch a new ‘masterclass’ training programme, supporting women working in the African music industry and helping to build the next generation of senior female music executives in the continent.

Founded by multi-award-winning singer, songwriter and music producer, Berita Khumalo, WOMB will support up to 30 female artists, producers and managers with a minimum of two years’ experience in the music industry from across Africa. Run in partnership the renowned WITS Business School based in Johannesburg, participants will participants will benefit from expert training in financial management, philanthropy and social investment, developing the skills needed to build sustainable careers and businesses in the Africa music industry within the context of social entrepreneurship. Candidates will also benefit from networking and insights that strengthen their role as a future music industry leader in Africa.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with Sony Music Africa on a programme that will have a lasting impact on the African music industry,” said WOMB Founder, Berita Khumalo. “Africa faces numerous economic, political and social challenges that require young people to approach the music business with a long-term view to better the continent. Knowledge on social entrepreneurship is particularly important in advancing women-led businesses in the music industry. So by better understanding investment and philanthropy, women participating in the programme will learn how to integrate music with social contribution to create a significant and lasting impact.”

 “More than ever before, women music entrepreneurs are breaking barriers, steering their own narratives, building their own teams and finding success,” added Sean Watson, Managing Director, Sony Music Africa.

“However, with gender disparity in the African music industry being a social and economic issue, there is much more to do and I applaud Berita on leading the way across the continent. We hope our support for targeted programmes like this will provide a real boost in helping empower women in the African music industry with the knowledge, skills and opportunities needed to succeed.”

 The programme is the latest in a series of global initiatives, launched through Sony Music Entertainment’s $100 Million Social Justice Fund, which focused on addressing social inequality and injustice around the world.

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