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Russia’s War on Ukraine Compounds Food Crisis in West Africa

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Inflation - Investors King

The number of people going hungry in West Africa has reached its highest level in decades, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exacerbating a food crisis that was already threatening millions of people and straining fragile, coronavirus-ravaged economies. 

“The number of hungry people has quadrupled between 2019 and 2022,” Ollo Sib, the World Food Programme’s regional adviser for research, assessment and monitoring, said at a media briefing in Geneva on Friday. “We’re facing an unprecedented and complex hunger crisis in West Africa with multiple structural vulnerabilities and shocks.”

Some 43 million people are food insecure in West Africa and the Central African Republic, and six million children in the Sahel region are undernourished, according to the WFP. It warned that farmers in the region who were already struggling to feed their families due to the impact of a 2021 drought, border closures because of the coronavirus pandemic and recent coups in Mali and Burkina Faso now also face surging food prices.

“The conflict in Ukraine is violently disrupting the global trade of food, fertilizers and oil products and driving up food and fuel prices across the globe,” the UN agency said in a statement.

The war and sweeping sanctions imposed on Russia have upended Black Sea supplies at a time when global stockpiles are already tight. Ukraine and Russia ship more than a quarter of the world’s wheat, and the fighting has closed ports and halted transport. Food prices have surged at the fastest pace ever due to the invasion, rising another 13% last month, the U.N.’s index of world costs shows.

Oxfam and other aid agencies warned earlier this week that another 11 million people in West Africa could be confronting hunger in the next three months. More than 27 million people across the region already don’t have enough to eat, according to the U.K.-based NGO.

The WFP estimates that food stocks won’t be sufficient to cover West Africa’s s needs until the next harvest around September.

The east of the continent is also confronting food shortages. In the Horn of Africa, another 13 million people could soon face hunger as the region contends with its worst drought in four decades. Its reliance on imports from the Black Sea countries such as Ukraine will worsen the situation by inflating prices, the WFP said earlier this week.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Dry Cleaners Set to Tap into $165 Billion Global Cleaning Industry

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The Fabric Professionals and Dry Cleaners Association of Nigeria (FPDA) is gearing up to host the “Clean Show Africa 2024” conference.

This conference aims to expose over 25,000 dry cleaners to the vast opportunities present in the global cleaning and hygiene industry, valued at a staggering $165 billion.

Scheduled to take place on May 28–29, 2024, in Lagos, the event is themed “Positioning Africa’s fabric and hygiene industry for excellence.”

It comes at a crucial time when Nigeria’s dry cleaning industry is experiencing steady growth, with projections indicating a 6.4% annual increase over the next decade.

According to Enibikun Adebayo, Chairman of FPDA, Nigeria’s dry cleaning industry was valued at $8.4 million in 2019.

However, this figure is expected to rise significantly, presenting a ripe opportunity for stakeholders to tap into.

Adebayo emphasized the importance of collaboration within the industry to fully leverage its potential.

“A year ago, we launched FPDA of Nigeria. We are also using the platform to educate our members to be better professionals,” stated Adebayo, highlighting the association’s commitment to enhancing professionalism and standards within the sector.

The conference will shine a spotlight on women in the dry cleaning business, recognizing their pivotal role in driving the industry forward. Reports have shown that dry cleaning businesses are often better managed by women, and the event aims to provide them with the necessary support and resources to thrive.

Ruth Okunnuga, Managing Director of Wasche Paint Nigeria, expressed the need to revolutionize Nigeria’s dry cleaning and laundry industry, emphasizing the lack of proper structure and investment.

She stressed the importance of data collection for effective planning and growth within the sector.

Joseph Oru, Managing Director of Zenith Exhibition, highlighted the conference’s objective of engaging the Federal Government to establish training institutions for dry cleaners. Such institutions would play a crucial role in equipping professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to meet global standards.

As Nigeria’s dry cleaning industry prepares to tap into the vast opportunities offered by the global cleaning market, the Clean Show Africa 2024 conference stands as a pivotal platform for collaboration, innovation, and growth within the sector.

With a focus on excellence and professionalism, stakeholders aim to position Nigeria as a key player in the dynamic and lucrative cleaning and hygiene industry.

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Nigeria-Taiwan Commerce Falls to $500m in 2023

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The Chief of Mission to the Taiwanese Government in Nigeria, Andy Liu, has said that the trade relations between Nigeria and Taiwan drop to $500 million in 2023 from $1 billion in 2021.

Liu made these comments during the 2024 Taiwan Business Forum held in Lagos.

According to Liu, Nigeria’s status as a net exporter of agricultural products, particularly sesame seeds has historically fueled the trade between the two nations.

However, the peak in trade experienced in 2021, buoyed by increased demand for Nigerian agricultural goods, notably declined in subsequent years.

“The highest peak of trade reached about $1 billion in 2021. It was the peak of COVID-19, with Nigerians enjoying surplus trading with Taiwan. We imported more of Nigeria’s agricultural products, such as sesame, aside from oil-related products. In 2021, we had a huge demand for agricultural products for our food processing industries,” Liu stated.

However, the trade dynamics shifted in the following years, leading to a significant decline in trade volume.

Liu attributed this decline to a normalization of demand following the peak in 2021, resulting in a reduction in trade value to $500 million by 2023.

Despite this decrease, Liu remained optimistic about the future trajectory of trade relations between the two countries.

“We might see some level of increase in the near future,” Liu enthused, highlighting Nigeria’s continued significance as a destination for Taiwanese businesses.

In addition to discussing trade volume, Liu addressed the issue of counterfeiting and piracy, which has affected Taiwanese products globally.

He said the Taiwanese government is working to combat this challenge by showcasing the quality of Taiwanese products and providing after-sale services.

“We have been having our delegates visit the world to prove that we are victims of piracy, but we are going to use the platform to show that we have good and quality products to let the world know who the true providers of these quality goods are,” Liu affirmed.

The President of Globe Industries Corporation, David Hwang, echoed concerns about counterfeit products, attributing the decline in profit margins to the influx of counterfeit goods from China.

Hwang emphasized the need for partnerships to address this issue and foster mutually beneficial trade relations.

Responding to the developments, the Director-General of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Sola Obadimu, commended the Taiwanese focus on African businesses and the quality of their products.

He pledged NACCIMA’s continued collaboration with Taiwanese companies to drive business growth for both nations.

As Nigeria and Taiwan navigate the challenges posed by fluctuating trade volumes and counterfeit goods, stakeholders remain committed to fostering resilient and mutually beneficial economic ties.

The 2024 Taiwan Business Forum served as a platform for dialogue and collaboration, laying the groundwork for future cooperation between the two nations.

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Nigeria Advances Plans for Regional Maritime Development Bank

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Nigeria is making significant strides in bolstering its maritime sector with the advancement of plans for the establishment of a Regional Maritime Development Bank (RMDB).

This initiative, spearheaded by the Federal Government, is poised to inject vitality into the region’s maritime industry and stimulate economic growth across West and Central Africa.

The Director of the Maritime Safety and Security Department in the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, Babatunde Bombata, revealed the latest developments during a stakeholders meeting in Lagos organized by the ministry.

He said the RMDB would play a pivotal role in fostering robust maritime infrastructure, facilitating vessel acquisition, and promoting human capacity development, among other strategic objectives.

With an envisaged capital base of $1 billion, RMDB is set to become a pivotal financial institution in the region.

Nigeria, which will host the bank’s headquarters, is slated to have the highest share of 12 percent among the member states of the Maritime Organization of West and Central Africa (MOWCA).

This underscores Nigeria’s commitment to driving maritime excellence and fostering regional cooperation.

The bank’s establishment reflects a collaborative effort between the public and private sectors, with MOWCA states holding a 51 percent shareholding and institutional investors owning the remaining 49 percent.

This hybrid model ensures a balanced governance structure that prioritizes the interests of all stakeholders while fostering transparency and accountability.

In addition to providing vital funding for port infrastructure, vessel acquisition, and human capacity development, the RMDB will serve as a catalyst for indigenous shipowners, enabling them to access financing at favorable terms.

By empowering local stakeholders, the bank aims to stimulate economic activity, create employment opportunities, and enhance the competitiveness of the region’s maritime sector on the global stage.

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