President Nana Akufo-Addo today visited the Luxembourg headquarters of the European Investment Bank and welcomed EUR 82.5 million Team Europe support for new investment to strengthen healthcare, provision of specialist medical equipment and medicines across Ghana under the national COVID-19 Health Response Plan.
The concessional Team Europe financing package comprises a EUR 75 million loan from the EIB and EUR 7.5 million European Commission grant.
The new loan, representing the EIB’s largest support for COVID related health investment in sub-Saharan Africa, was signed by Hon Kwaku Ampratwum-Sarpong, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, and Ambroise Fayolle, European Investment Bank Vice President, in the presence of President Nana Akufo-Addo, EIB President Werner Hoyer and Harriet Siaw-Boateng, Ambassador of Ghana to the European Union.
“Strengthened cooperation between Africa and multilateral development partners is crucial to share global best practice and ensure a rapid response to health, social and economic challenges triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The European Investment Bank and the European Union are key partners for Ghana and I welcome their support for our national COVID-19 Health Response Plan. Ghanaian and EIB experts have worked tirelessly in recent months to finalise this initiative, since President Hoyer and I met earlier this year. Specialist healthcare and medical services will benefit from both the EIB’s largest backing for COVID health resilience in Africa and EU grant support.” said President Nana Akufo-Addo.
“Ghana has taken significant steps to manage the impact of COVID and to unlock long-term investment. A few months ago President Akufo-Addo and I confirmed EIB backing for the Development Bank of Ghana. It is an honour to welcome our Ghanaian friends to our Luxembourg headquarters to discuss how to improve our partnership in the years ahead and increase impact.” said Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank.
“Ghana is a key partner for the EU. We are committed to step up our strategic partnership bilaterally, supporting our renewed partnership with Africa. Europe and Ghana stand side by side to tackle the health challenges triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, including diagnosis, treatment and vaccination. The new Team Europe support for Ghana’s COVID-19 Health Response Plan will strengthen public health systems and enhance resilience to the pandemic and future health threats across Ghana through new investment backed by the European Union and European Investment Bank.” said Jutta Urpilainen, European Union Commissioner for International Partnerships.
The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss recent EIB support for the retrofit of the Kpong Dam, Development Bank Ghana and COVAX, explore future cooperation to support local vaccine manufacturing and outline the EIB’s strengthened engagement in Africa through a new dedicated development finance branch to be launched in the new year.
Largest national EIB support for health investment in Africa
The new agreement with Ghana represents the largest national EIB financing for COVID related health investment in Africa.
The EIB and EU backed health investment will improve medical treatment for patients with COVID at Treatment and Isolation Centres and Intensive Care Units, as well as measures to detect and contain the virus and slow down transmission. The initiative will both enhance medical treatment during the pandemic and enhance public health in the years ahead.
Ghana was the first country in Africa to receive COVID-19 vaccines under the EIB and EU backed COVAX initiative. EIB experts also briefed President Akufo-Addo on plans to further accelerate delivery of vaccines across sub-Saharan Africa.
EIB strengthening cooperation with Ghana to improve business access to finance
The EIB is finalising new support for business investment in Ghana with ECOBANK that is expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks.
This follows the formal agreement in May this year between President Akufo Addo and EIB President Werner Hoyer for EUR 170 million EIB backing for the new Development Bank Ghana. This represented the largest ever EIB engagement in Ghana and most significant support for a national development finance institution in Africa.
Once operational Development Bank Ghana will increase access to long-term finance and boost job creation for thousands of businesses in key sectors, including agribusiness, manufacturing, ICT, tourism and other services across Ghana.
The European Investment Bank is the world’s largest international public bank and has financed transformational investment across Ghana, including renewable energy at the Kpong Dam, business and services since 1976.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.
North Korean Hackers Siphon Cryptocurrencies Worth $400m in 2021
A report by Chainalysis, a blockchain analysis firm has revealed that North Korea launched at least seven attacks on cryptocurrency platforms extracting nearly $400 million worth of digital assets last year.
The targets of the hacks were not identified, but the report noted that the victims were basic investment firms and centralized exchanges, including Liquid.com. The exchange company had announced in August that an unauthorized user had accessed some of the cryptocurrency wallets it managed.
The hackers were said to have used phishing lures, code exploits, malware, and advanced social engineering to steal organizations’ internet-connected ‘hot’ wallets funds. The funds were traced to North Korea-controlled addresses.
Last year, the US charged three North Korean computer programmers – working for the Asian country’s intelligence service, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, – accusing them of years-long hacking spree, aimed at stealing more than $1.3 billion in money and cryptocurrency, from companies, banks and Hollywood movie studios.
Chainalysis explained that the hacking group, the Lazarus Group likely carried out the majority of last year’s cyberattacks. According to the United States, the group is controlled by the North Korean intelligence.
The Lazarus Group had faced accusations of being involved in attacks on International banks and customer accounts, including an earlier 2014 cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment using the “WannaCry” ransomware.
The report added that 2021 was one of the most successful years on record for crypto hackers and cyber attackers.
It should be recalled that Investors King reported that CheckPoint Solutions Technology said Africa has about 1,600 cyber attacks in the year under review, while North America records about 497 attacks weekly. Weekly attacks globally amount to a total of 5,193 as Asia records 1,299 attacks, Latin America (1,117), and Europe with 665 attacks
“From 2020 to 2021, the number of North Korean-linked hacks jumped from four to seven, and the value extracted from these hacks grew by 40%. Once North Korea gained custody of the funds, they began a careful laundering process to cover up and cash out,” the Chainalysis report noted.
Some of the hackers are still said to be sitting on the stolen funds, not spending them, in hopes that they could outwit law enforcement’s interest before cashing out.
However, According to United Nations experts monitoring sanctions on North Korea, the country has used stolen funds to support its nuclear and ballistic missile programs to circumvent sanctions. The Asian country also appeared to step up efforts to launder stolen cryptocurrency, by significantly increasing its use of mixers, or software tools that pool and scramble cryptocurrencies from thousands of addresses, Chainalysis said.
Researchers had also identified $170 million in old, unlaundered cryptocurrency holdings from 49 separate hacks spanning from 2017 to 2021, the report added.
North Korea has still not responded to media inquiries, but has previously released statements denying allegations of hacking. Without any official word for the cyber attacks traced to the country, “Whatever the reason may be, the length of time that (North Korea) is willing to hold on to these funds is illuminating, because it suggests a careful plan, not a desperate and hasty one,” Chainalysis concluded.
Parallex Bank Limited Promises Limitless Possibilities
The latest entrant into the commercial banking industry in Nigeria, Parallex Bank has officially launched on Friday, January 14, 2022, with the promise to redefine the banking landscape in Nigeria and Africa at large. The bank launch was graced by several dignitaries from both the private and public sector. Also in attendance were several celebrities who witnessed the unveiling of the bank’s logo.
Introducing the bank to the gathering at the bank’s headquarters in Victoria Island Lagos, the chairman of the bank, Dr. Adeola Phillips said Parallex Bank is here to make a unique statement about what innovation can do in an industry that is constantly reinventing. She further stated that the bank will operate broadly with a competitive mindset, to disrupt the market and delight customers with very attractive offers. The goal is to empower the banking public and to drive convenient and efficient commerce through the bank digital platforms. She added that the Parallex mobile app offers customers the freedom to do much more. The app will eliminate inconveniencies and hardships often faced by customers while carrying out transactions.
Corroborating the Chairman’s claims, the Managing Director of Parallex Bank, Mr. Olufemi Bakre, popularly known as Mayor, said the bank’s promise to its customers is to be an enabler of limitless banking. He established that Parallex Bank is the first bank in Nigeria to migrate from a microfinance bank to a commercial bank. He is convinced that Parallex Bank limited will achieve more as the bank partners with customers to explore more business opportunities.
Mr Olufemi said the vision of Parallex Bank is to be the preferred financial solution provider redefining customer experience through innovation. He assured customers of excellent banking products and services stating that the bank offerings are designed to address the yearnings of Nigerians. With a strong ecosystem anchored around the customer, Mr Femi informed the guests that the bank has a robust product portfolio that is customer focused, innovative and simple.
According to him, the Parallex mobile app has unique features and benefits that are quite rare in this market. On the app, customers can choose to create their unique account numbers, increase their transfer limits, make five free transfers per day to any bank in Nigeria. They can request for free debit cards, which will be delivered to them for free. They will receive prompt responses to enquiries.
Beyond the app, Mayor added that customers will enjoy zero maintenance fees while current account holders will further enjoy up to 5% interest rate provided, they maintain a minimum average balance of N100,000.
Newly Launched Pan-African Payment System Will Make Cross-Border Transactions Easier– Emefiele
Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele has described the newly launched Pan-African payment and settlement system (PAPSS) as a platform that will make cross-border transactions easier.
He added that the payment system will also reduce dollars, pounds and euros known as third currencies for transactions in Africa.
The CBN governor, at the launching of PAPSS on Thursday in Accra, Ghana, stated that the launched platform will improve West Africa’s means of transaction.
PAPSS was launched by Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), in partnership with African Union (AU) and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The platform which is now available for commercial use was described as a milestone which will give fresh opportunity and aspiration for Africa.
Emefiele noted that CBN will ensure that financial institutions under it embrace PAPSS, while firmly recommending it to businesses in the country.
He further reiterated the Central Bank of Nigeria’s commitment to enhance the widespread adoption, acceptance and implementation of the platform.
According to Emefiele, the Pan-African payment and settlement system will benefit households, businesses, and financial institutions.
It will channel Africa towards growth and formalise transactions not captured in the official trade data.
“For example, businesses can be assured of an efficient and reliable payment gateway that supports the instant flow of funds and relatively the use of safe payment channels that usually comes at a high cost to households and businesses.
“The launch of PAPPS gives the fresh opportunity and aspiration for the African continent. It will simplify cross-border transactions, reduce third currencies for intra-African transactions and remove the need for correspondent Banks and ultimately amplify intra trade significantly.
“As a percentage of total trade, intra-African trade is expected to increase to 35% from 15% in five years with infrastructure provided by PAPSS as payments and settlements are resolved,” Emefiele stated.
Explaining the relevance of the new system, the CBN governor said settlements for intra Africa trade required a third currency and a non-African correspondent bank which had caused a loss of about $5 billion every year and lowered trade in African countries.
He lauded the newly introduced system put in place to curb further loss in the continent.
Emefiele stated that Nigeria is pleased by the features of PAPSS which made it participate actively in the programme for success to be achieved.
“With the growing pace of digitisation in financial services which has been accelerated from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, PAPSS can serve as a viable platform for supporting e-commerce in Africa,” CBN governor assured.
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