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COVID-19: CBN Has Disbursed N83B Loans to Healthcare Sector

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CACOVID

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday, said the central bank had disbursed over N83.9 billion to pharmaceutical and healthcare practitioners in the country since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Also, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has stressed the need for a slash in the cost of governance in the country, saying a lot more resources could be dedicated towards healthcare and critical infrastructure.

They both said this yesterday, at the premiere of ‘Unmasked’, a documentary on Nigeria’s response to the pandemic held in Lagos.

Emefiele, who was represented by the CBN’s Director of Corporate Communications, Osita Nwasinobi, explained: “Building a robust healthcare infrastructure was also vital from a security perspective, as some nations had imposed restrictions on the exports of vital medical drugs as well as the use of drug patents that could aid in containing the spread of the pandemic.

“As a result, we focused our interventions in the healthcare sector on three areas. Building the capacity of our healthcare institutions supporting the domestic manufacturing of drugs by businesses, and providing grants to researchers in the medical field, in order to encourage them to develop breakthrough innovations that would address health challenges faced by Nigerians.

“In this regard, we disbursed over N83.9 billion in loans to pharmaceutical companies and healthcare practitioners, which is supporting 26 pharmaceutical and 56 medical projects across the country. We were also able to mobilise key stakeholders in the Nigerian economy through the CACOVID alliance, which led to the provision of over N25 billion in relief materials to affected households, and the set-up of 39 isolation centres across the country. These measures helped to expand and strengthen the capacity of our healthcare institutions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to the CBN Governor, the banking sector regulator also initiated the Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Grant Scheme, which was to aid research on solutions that could address diseases such as COVID-19, and other communicable/non-communicable diseases.

He said so far, five major healthcare-related research projects were being financed under the initiative.

Speaking further on the call to increase access to health insurance, Emefiele said: “One key aspect which we would have to address is improving access to healthcare for all Nigerians. A key factor that has impeded access to healthcare for Nigerians is the prevailing cost of healthcare services.

“According to a study by World Health Organisation (WHO), only four percent of Nigerians have access to health insurance. Besides food, healthcare expenses are a significant component of average Nigeria’s personal expenditure.

“Out of pocket expenses on healthcare amount to close to 76 percent of total healthcare expenditure. At such levels of health spending, individuals particularly those in rural communities may be denied access to healthcare services.

“Expanding the insurance net to capture the pool of Nigerians not covered by existing health insurance schemes, could help to reduce the high out of pocket expenses on healthcare services by Nigerians. It will also help to increase the pool of funds that could be invested in building our healthcare infrastructure and in improving the existing welfare package of our healthcare workers.”

“The private sector has a significant role to play in this regard given the decline in government revenues as occasioned by the drop in commodity prices. Leveraging innovative solutions that can provide insurance services at relatively cheap prices could significantly help to improve access to healthcare for a large proportion of Nigerians particularly those in our rural communities.”

According to Emefiele, the CBN remains committed to working with all stakeholders in improving access to finance and credit that would support the development of viable healthcare infrastructure in our country.

On his part, Sanwo-Olu said: “What are the lessons that we have learned with the Covid-19? Looking at all the things that Covid-19 has cost us, how are we preparing ourselves?

“The truth be told the structure of our governance system needs to change particularly the cost of governance. We need to speak up and ask ourselves are we ready to change.”

“When it gets to the election it is the same set of people that will come up and people don’t come out to vote and we end up having 20 percent out of 100 percent that will elect those that will govern. So, the change has to be about all of us. That is how the real change that will help us will come,” he added.

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Economy

Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) Begins Full Operations of Lagos-Ibadan Train, Releases Timetable

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Lagos-Ibadan Train Services - Investors King

The newly completed Lagos – Ibadan standard gauge railway service from Lagos to Ibadan will commence full operations on Tuesday, according to the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).

The management of NRC disclosed this in a statement signed by Mr. Jerry Oche in Lagos on Sunday.

According to Oche, the Lagos Ibadan Train Services will henceforth be available in the morning.

He said “The updated timetable for Tuesday to Friday is as follows: Lagos to Ibadan: 8:00 a:m from Mobolaji Johnson Station at Alogo megi Ebute – Meta Lagos. Also, the train will take off from Ibadan to Lagos: 8:00 am from Obafemi Awolowo Station at Moniya.

“The train will take off from Lagos to Ibadan: 4:00 pm from Mobolaji Johnson Station Alagomji, while from Ibadan to Lagos: 4:00 pm from Obafemi Awolowo Station at Moniya.

“The standard gauge train schedule on Saturday from Lagos to Ibadan: 8:30 am from Mobolaji Johnson Station at Alagomeji while the train will leave from Ibadan to Lagos: 8:30 am from Obafemi Awolowo Station at Moniya.

“For Saturday evening from Lagos to Ibadan: 6:00 pm from Mobolaji Johnson Station at Alagomji, while the train will take off from Ibadan to Lagos: 6:00 pm from Obafemi Awolowo Station at Moniya,” Oche said.

He added that the Alagomeji, Abeokuta, and Moniya were still the stop stations of the Lagos Ibadan Train Services

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MyOffice to Supply 220 Million Rubles Worth of Licenses to Republic of Burundi

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Myoffice software - Investors King

MyOffice, a Russian developer of office software for document collaboration and communication, announced the expansion of cooperation with the Republic of Burundi.  MyOffice distribution partner in Africa, Independence.digital, and INGO Tech s.a.r.l., a Burundian IT company and integrator, have signed a contract, under which Russian office software licenses worth about 220 million rubles ($3 million) will be supplied.

This news was reported by Dmitry Komissarov, General Director of MyOffice, at Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum 2021.

In accordance with the contract, over the course of five years, the customer will receive MyOffice Standard and MyOffice Professional licenses, depending on their needs. The purchased office software will be installed on the national servers of the Republic of Burundi. The purchase of Russian software will help bolster the digital independence of the country and organize the secure storage of electronic documents and files. At the same time, full control over user data will be ensured.

MyOffice has been ramping up business relations with the Republic since 2019, when the company announced at the Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum that it would supply 300 licenses of MyOffice Professional to the Government of Burundi. At the time, it was the first international contract for the Russian developer.

“The Republic of Burundi has been successfully using Russian software for two years now. Several top government officials have been trained at a certified training center in Russia and have mastered the office software. The decision to expand cooperation was made in the wake of the positive experience of using Russian office software and our high evaluation of its reliability,” said Rossalyn Kamariza, CEO of INGO Tech.

“The digitalization of the African countries is progressing by leaps and bounds and has a direct impact on their economic well-being. According to the estimates of independent analytical agencies, fast-paced implementation of modern technological products will cause the GDP of the region to grow by $148–318 billion by 2025,” stated Dmitry Komissarov, General Director of MyOffice.

“Our contract for the supply of MyOffice software shows that the government of the Republic of Burundi not only cares about the economic development of its country, but also pays great attention to the security of the digital solutions it uses. In turn, for MyOffice, this commercial delivery during the pandemic, with many international processes slowed down, is an important milestone in bolstering its position on the global market and a spectacular example of the high export potential of Russian IT solutions.”

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Cuba’s Central Bank Suspends US Dollar Deposits Nationwide

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Cuba, the island country located where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean meet, said this week U.S. dollars will be suspended in the country.

The mandate comes from the country’s central bank and foreign tourists have been told to leave U.S. dollars at home when visiting. The announcement was invoked at a roundtable discussion that was aired on state-sponsored Cuban television.

“In view of the obstacles that the U.S. embargo creates for the national bank system to deposit abroad the U.S. dollars that are collected in the country, a decision was made to temporarily suspend deposits in U.S. banknotes in Cuba’s bank and financial system,” the Central Bank of Cuba (Banco Central de Cuba, BCC) members said.

Yamilé Berra Cires, the vice president of the BCC, explained during the roundtable discussion that at the beginning of the Trump administration’s leadership, the U.S. tightened the embargo’s grip. The United States has had an embargo with Cuba since 1958 and the U.S. has had numerous issues with Cuba during the Eisenhower presidency and Kennedy presidency as well. After the 2008 crisis, the U.S. and Cuba seemed to gravitate toward friendlier terms during the Obama presidency.

However, BCC vice president Berra Cires claims issues have gotten worse since Trump and said 24 foreign banks stopped dealing with Cuba. Berra Cires also said during the roundtable discussion that 95 foreign financial institutions reported on the transgressions of Cuban national banks doing business with counterparties. “It is ever more difficult for Cuba to find international banking or financing institutions willing to receive, convert or process U.S. currency in cash,” Berra Cires further remarked.

“People who will be coming into the country during this time will have to arrive with a currency other than the dollar,” Francisco Mayobre Lence the BCC’s first vice president said.

Of course, after hearing about the USD ban in Cuba, members of the cryptocurrency community wanted Cuba to adopt digital currencies like El Salvador recently did with bitcoin. “It’s like [a] 50-year embargo. It’s really depressing,” one individual wrote about the Cuba situation with America on Reddit. “Will they take crypto now?” another Redditor asked in the r/cryptocurrency thread. Another crypto enthusiast responded to the question and said:

I doubt they want to be the last Latin American country to do so.

Minister-president of the Cuban central bank, Marta Sabina Wilson González explained during the roundtable discussion that Cuba had no choice but to make the decision. “We had no choice but to take this measure, which we are explaining at the Round Table, as we always do when it is a measure that affects the people, who will understand that there is no other option,” the minister detailed.

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