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AfCFTA: CSEA advocates awareness for MSMEs

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The Centre for the Study of Economies of Africa (CSEA) says developing a context-specific awareness dissemination strategy will make Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) be familiar with the workings of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Dr Adedeji Adediran, Director, Education and Governance Research, CSEA, spoke virtually at an AfCFTA Media Launch for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) on Friday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the webinar was organised by the Nigerian Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).

Adediran said that developing the strategy was pertinent following its findings that most MSMEs were unaware of the existence of AfCFTA.

According to him, key findings of a survey reveal that 67 per cent of respondents showed a low level of awareness regarding the existence of the AfCFTA.

Adediran said that a significantly more substantial portion of 67 per cent of the medium-sized enterprises declared their awareness of the agreement.

He said that special attention should be given to non-digital dissemination strategies to ensure full reach of Nigerian businesses irrespective of their technological participation levels.

“Many MSMEs are often disenfranchised from international trade as a result of the complications associated with compliance to Free Trade Areas ( FTAs).

“Ensuring localised training programmes through partnerships with the private sector and international donors can help fill the technical skills gap that will hamper MSME’s uptake of AfCFTA.

“Businesses need to partner with specific agencies such as the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and National Agency for Food, Drug, Administration, and Control (NAFDAC) to ensure adherence to standards.

“This will boost the capacity of Nigeria businesses to compete in AfCFTA,” he said.

Adediran said that disaggregation by enterprise sectors showed that 97 per cent of agricultural MSMEs were not aware of the agreement, while 50 per cent of manufacturing sector enterprises were also not aware of the agreement.

He added that results showed modest positive welfare gains to Nigeria with machinery, other transport, textile and metal products as well as textile industries accounting for most of the positive effects on real wage.

He said that Nigeria also recorded modest positive welfare effects compared to other African countries.

“Our simulation results indicate that agriculture, mining, food, and machinery dilute the overall gains from terms of trade as the price of export for these commodities declines relative to the price of their imports.

“Although there is growth in the export of agricultural products, the terms of trade deterioration in this sector dilutes the overall gains from trade and changes in real wage from the agricultural sector.

“Based on predictions, Nigeria’s imports from several African countries including Botswana, Burundi, Ghana, and Namibia declined by more than 10 per cent as well as imports from China and Canada by 29.5 and 11.3 per cent respectively.

“On export, Nigeria records growth in exports of agricultural products, food, electrical, and machinery products while exports decline significantly in wood and paper industry,” he said.

The CSEA director stated that respondents expressed concern over some potential adverse effects of the AfCFTA to MSMEs in Nigeria.

According to him, a predominant concern is the deficient human and technological capacity of MSMEs in Nigeria which predisposes them to the negative spillovers potentially associated with free trade and investment exchanges within the continent.

“Most prominent among the threats is the fact that cheaper goods from other African countries will be competing against local goods in Nigeria.

“Other threats to MSMEs in Nigeria that could be associated with the AfCFTA include an increase in foreign competition, reduction in the demand for local goods, and dumping of sub-standard products,” he said.

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FG MAY SLASH CIVIL SERVANTS’ SALARIES, MERGE AGENCIES, OTHERS TO CUT COST- ZAINAB AHMED

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the salaries committee to review payroll and also review the number of agencies.

The government will also remove some redundant items from the budget as a move to cut the cost of governance in the country.

Ahmed disclosed this at the ongoing ‘National Policy Dialogue on Corruption and Cost of Governance in Nigeria’ held in Abuja on Tuesday.

The programme was organised by the Independent Corrupt Practice Commission.

Zainab Ahmed Minister Of Finance Budget And-National-Planning

The government had approved a N13.88trn budget with a deficit of over N5.6trn.

The government projected a revenue of N7.98trn to fund part of the 2021 budget.

“We still see government expenditure increase to a terrain twice higher than our revenue,” Ahmed said.

The Finance boss said all agencies must come together to trim its cost amid the country’s dwindling revenue.

She said, “We need to work together, all agencies of the government to cut down our cost. We need to cut down unnecessary expenditures. Expenditures that we can do without.

“Our budgets are filled year in year out with projects that we see over and over again and also projects that are not necessary.

“Mr President has directed that the salaries committee that I chair, work together with the head of service and other members of the committee to review the government pay rolls in terms of stepping down on cost.”

She revealed that the FG will also review the number of government agencies in terms of their mandates.

Ahmed disclosed that for agencies with the same mandate the government will look at “how to merge the two.”

The Chairman of the ICPC, Bolaji Owasanoye, noted during the stakeholders meeting that the cost of governance is the “driver of corruption in Nigeria.”

He said the government has committed to improving the country’s revenue from new and existing sources.

Owasanoye said the government’s commitment to streamline payroll, removal of subsidies and reduction of the cost of contracts and procurement are all for the benefits of the “poor and vulnerable.”

He said a critical area of concern was “payroll padding” and the “phenomenon of ghost workers.”

He also lamented the duplication of projects such as the constituency projects of lawmakers.

The ICPC boss said funding for such projects are usually released without any mechanism for monitoring and evaluation and reconciliation of the funding.

He cited a project executed by the Redeemed Christian Church of God which was inadvertently diverted as an executive project.

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Another Increase In Electricity Tariff Imminent, as NERC Considers Appraisals For DisCos

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The stage appears set for an upward review of electricity tariff following the release Monday of indications by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) that it is concluding the Extraordinary Tariff Review process for the 11 Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos).

With the parameters released by NERC for the review, it is obvious that there will be an upward rather than a downward review.

The reviews, it said, would put into consideration changes in inflation, foreign exchange, gas prices and available generation capacity. Most of these have been on an upward climb, while generation capacity is not known to have improved substantially.

The regulatory body said it would also consider Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) required to evacuate and distribute the said available generation capacity in accordance with EPSRA and other extant industry rules.

In a notice to the general public and industry stakeholders posted on its website, the commission said the review was pursuant to the provisions of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA).

Extraordinary tariff reviews are carried out in instances where industry parameters have changed from those used in the operating tariffs to such an extent that a review is urgently required to maintain the viability of the industry, NERC said.

To worsen matters, the commission has also indicated its plans to commence the processes for the July 2021 Minor Review of the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO-2020), which is done every six months.

“Further to the above, the commission held series of public hearings and stakeholder consultations in the first quarter of 2020 on the Extraordinary Tariff Review Applications of the 11 DisCos to consider their respective five-year Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs).

“However, the evaluation of the DisCos’ requests for review of the CAPEX proposed in their PIPs could not be concluded for the consideration of the commission during the Minor Reviews undertaken in 2020.

“Specifically, Section 21 of the MYTO – 2020 Order provides for consideration of DisCos’ CAPEX application upon further scrutiny and evaluation of the investment proposals,” it said.

NERC said the notice was being issued in compliance with the provisions of EPSRA, the Business Rules of the commission and the Regulations on Procedures for Electricity Tariff Reviews in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry.

The commission said it was aimed at soliciting for comments from the general public and stakeholders on the proposed reviews and advised them to send their comments to NERC’s headquarters in Abuja within the next 21 days.

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Food Security: NALDA moves to reactivate 1,200 hectares Farm will address farmer-herder crisis – Ekiti Governor

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File image of a rice farm

NALDA’s farm estate will empower Ekiti youths — Gov Fayemi

As Nigeria looks on to agriculture as an alternative to oil and gas for national development, the National Agricultural Lands Development Authority, NALDA, yesterday, disclosed moves to reactivate 1, 200 hectares of farmland in Ekiti State.

This was made known by the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer, NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne, while on a visit to the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, while on inspection of the farm estate located in Okeako/Irele Ekiti in Ikole Local Government Area of the State.

Interestingly, the farm estate had been in existence for over 20 years but owned by NALDA, where 50 hectares of Cashew farm, storage, and a processing facility exists would still be reactivated and upgraded for optimal production.

Ikonne promised farmers of better productivity and wealth creation with NALDA’s return to its farm, and will work hard and ensure that the farmers have access to farm input to produce, and also added that an access road will be constructed to the farm.

Meanwhile, he thanked farmers and indigenes of the community for securing the farm estate and maintaining it over the years after it was abandoned.

He said: “We are here to make sure that this abandoned estate comes back to life, the farm products that you use to take out, you will still take them out to sell but this time it will be fully processed because whatever we are going to produce on this farm will also be processed.

“We will put processing plant too so that we can add value to what we produce, this will also help your youth be engaged because agriculture is the way to go”

He also stated that with the development of the farm estate the community would not be left behind but will definitely benefit from it as being the host of the farm estate, because the farm will have processing, packaging, and farming zones, and added that all these will bring about huge development to the community.

However, according to Ikonne who noted the concerns and fears of members of the community and farmers over alleged threats from herdsmen and insecurity in the area,  the best way forward is to have a round-table discussion and dialogue between farmers and herders in and around the communities to stop all forms of hostility.

“The solution is, how do we come together to do our businesses so that it would benefit all of us? That is what NALDA would do, I believe that the herders want their cow to be healthy and fattened so they can sell and make a profit, what this means is that they also want a conducive environment to do their business”

“So NALDA is going to engage them and the communities,  we will create an avenue where they can feed their cattle so that we all can live in peace. Based on that we are doing what we call integrated farming, they can buy from us, while we also can buy from them and the farm can benefit also through the cattle’s dunk serving as manure”

“So we must find a way to live in peace so that our children and their children after them would also have peace. Trouble, bitterness, hatred, and war does not pay any community so as an Authority NALDA would find a way to bring both parties to the table”

In another meeting with the Ekiti state Governor Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Prince Paul Ikonne said NALDA is in Ekiti state to carry out President Muhammadu Buhari’s instructions which are for NALDA to recover and reactivate its abandoned farm estates across the country and utilize it for agriculture to benefit youths in the grassroots.

“Having made the funds available for NALDA to use, we will start immediately to reactivate the farm, we will start with road infrastructure which is about 4.5 kilometers, and then clear the remaining lands in the areas that have not been cleared, we will take it in phases and I’m very much sure that we are going to farm there this wet season as NALDA will be providing the tractors for the land clearing”

In appreciating the State government for providing an enabling environment for NALDA, the NALDA boss noted that the authority can only carry out its operations in a peaceful environment that promotes productivity and development.

He also commended farmers in the state for their readiness to embrace and engage in modern agriculture and agribusiness, which his organisation would train as well in the new way of doing agriculture.

Meanwhile, he (Ikonne) explained that with the flag-off of the Young Farmers Scheme in November of 2020 by President Muhammadu Buhari, integrated farm estates across the country would fast-track impact and achievement of the objectives of the Young Farmers Scheme in boosting food security.

In responding, the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, asserted that said agriculture in the state is now a way of life for all because his administration has set it as the number one means of employment, wealth creation, and revenue generation to develop the State.

He also added that anything that needs to be done to accelerate development in the sector is a welcome development.

He said: “Currently we have about three rice mills that are coming on in Ekiti, all of this will not really bring to bear the quality and capacity of our people if we don’t have enough farmers growing, somebody has to feed the mills, either it’s Cassava or rice we must produce in order for the mills to be active and whatever you can do to assist us just as you have promised we will certainly be full of gratitude”

“We all know how dear agriculture is to Mr. President, at every opportunity he would tell us that we must grow what we eat and eat what we grow and that is also our passion in this State, and with NALDA onboard more youths in the state would get empowered through agriculture.”

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