Africa A ‘Hostage’ Of Russia’s Ukraine War, Zelensky Tells AU

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a speech during a press conference with Denmark's and Spain's Prime Ministers in Kyiv on April 21, 2022. Genya SAVILOV / AFP
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a speech during a press conference with Denmark’s and Spain’s Prime Ministers in Kyiv on April 21, 2022.
Genya SAVILOV / AFP

 

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday that Africa was “a hostage” of Russia’s war on Ukraine which has spurred global food shortages and famine fears across the African continent.

But he said Kyiv was engaged in “complex negotiations” to unblock the grain trapped at its Black Sea ports by Russia’s naval blockade.

“Africa is actually a hostage… of those who unleashed war against our state,” Zelensky said in an address to the African Union.

Russia’s invasion and its blockade of Ukraine’s ports has paralysed grain exports from one of the world’s largest producers, sparked dramatic grain and fertiliser shortages and put hundreds of millions of people at risk of hunger.

“This war may seem very distant to you and your countries. But the food prices that are catastrophically rising have already brought (the war) to the homes of millions of African families,” he said.

“The unjust level of food prices, which has been provoked by the Russian war, is being painfully felt on all continents. Unfortunately, this can be a particular problem for your countries.”

Although the global grain crisis would last as long as Russia pressed its “colonial war”, he said Ukraine was trying everything to free up its ports while also trying “to build a new logistical supply chain” for the 25 million tonnes of grain blocked inside its borders.

READ ALSO: Africa Needs $25 bn A Year For Full Electricity Access – IEA

“We are conducting complex multilevel negotiations to unblock our Ukrainian ports. But there is no progress yet because no real tool has yet been found to ensure Russia does not attack them again,” he admitted.

So far, global organisations had not yet found a way to convince Russia to end its invasion.

“That is why the food crisis in the world will continue as long as this colonial war continues.”

He said Kyiv wanted to “intensify” dialogue with African Union member states and would soon appoint a special representative for Africa.

And he also proposed opening discussion on a “major political and economic conference” on ties between Ukraine and Africa.

Senegalese President and African Union chair Macky Sall thanked Zelensky on Twitter and said Africa “remains committed to respecting the rules of international law, the peaceful resolution of conflict and the freedom of trade”.

African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat also reiterated “the urgent need for dialogue to end the conflict to allow peace to return to the region and to restore global stability” in a posting on Twitter.

Africa Needs $25 bn A Year For Full Electricity Access – IEA

A file photo of a powerline.
A file photo of a powerline.

 

The number of Africans with access to electricity fell during the Covid pandemic, but $25 billion in annual investments could bring full coverage by 2030, the International Energy Agency said Monday.

The IEA said 600 million people, or 43 percent of the continent’s population, lack access to electricity — mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.

The number of people living without electricity increased by four percent, or 25 million people, between 2019 and 2021, after a decade of progress.

Before Covid, there had been “lots of good developments in countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda,” IEA chief Fatih Birol told AFP ahead of the release of the Paris-based agency’s African Energy Outlook 2022.

“But because of Covid and the economic difficulties, we see that this positive trend is reversing now,” Birol said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has added to the economic strains on Africa from the Covid pandemic, as the conflict has sent the prices of energy, food and other commodities soaring, according to the IEA.

“When I look at 2022, with the high energy prices and the economic burden on the African countries, I don’t see many reasons to be hopeful,” Birol said.

But Africa could get universal access to electricity by the end of the decade with $25 billion in annual investment, according to the IEA.

Countries need to give international financial institutions, especially development banks, a “strong mandate” to make Africa and clean energy on the continent “an absolute priority”, Birol said.

“It’s not the case now,” he added.

Africa is facing more severe effects from climate change than most other parts of the world, despite emitting less energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) than any other region, the IEA said.

“We have to see a huge amount of investment coming in Africa in all parts of the energy system, but the most important one will be clean energy options,” Birol said.

“We would need to double the energy investments to reach our energy and climate goals.”

Renewables — including solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal — could account for over 80 percent of new power generation capacity in Africa by 2030, the IEA report said.

While Africa is home to 60 percent of the best solar resources worldwide, it only has one percent of installed solar energy capacity, according to the report.

Africa Needs To Collaborate Internationally – Osinbajo

A file photo of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

 

 

Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo has said that Africa’s developmental aspirations can be actualized by deepening cooperation and collaboration with the rest of the world.

He said the imperative of Africa’s economic sovereignty also exists as there are areas where public and private sector leaders must continue to strive for it.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Tuesday while speaking at the opening panel of the ongoing Africa CEO Forum holding in the Ivorian city of Abidjan. The panel was themed- “Economic Sovereignty: From Ambition to Action.”

The Vice President who had arrived in Ivory Coast last night was welcomed at the Felix Houphouët-Boigny International Airport by the Prime Minister of Cote d’Ivoire, Mr Patrick Achi.

Other speakers at the opening panel were, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana; the Managing Director of the International Finance Corporation, Mr Makhtar Diop; the Governor of the Kenyan Central Bank, Dr Patrick Njoroge; the CEO of Telcar Cocoa, Kate Kanyi Tometi-Fotso and CEO of Instadeep, Karim Beguir.

Emphasizing the need for collaboration between Africa and the rest of the world, Prof. Osinbajo said “I think that we have to be a bit more careful with the concept of economic sovereignty because we really need to collaborate more and with the way that development is going, we need to watch some of these things.

“For instance, if we look at the way that technology is going which is key for us in Nigeria, particularly issues of taxation of tech companies and all of that, it is evident that this is difficult and it is a major expression of sovereign power – the power to tax.”

Continuing, the Vice President said “the way that the world and technology are structured today, there is no way that you can use the same basis – personal and territorial basis for taxation. These are multinational enterprises that spread across countries and continents.”

Prof. Osinbajo noted that “we have got to cooperate with the world and the international tax system to ensure that we are able to derive maximum benefit. We have got to take a seat at the table and ensure that all of the various initiatives on international taxation favour us in Africa.”

According to him, “while we are looking inwards, we have to be very careful to look outwards as well because a lot of money is obviously used by tech companies across the world and a lot of our countries are value creators for these companies.

“There is a great need for us to look inwards and at the same time keep our eyes on the ball because we need to recognize that the world has gone beyond brick and mortar. The world is now more about intellectual capital. We have to think of how we can work with the world to achieve maximum benefit for our intellectual capacity.”

In another chat with organisers of the forum, the CEO of BUA Group, Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu spoke about the concept of economic sovereignty, urging Africa to look inwards as a way of fast-tracking development on the continent.

He cited leveraging opportunities provided by the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and improving infrastructure as some of the key areas that leaders in the continent must focus on.

Earlier at the opening ceremony of the forum, President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire commended the initiative of the organisers to bring together public and private sector leaders across the continent and beyond to discuss and develop new paths aimed at boosting the transformation of economies across Africa.

He noted that though the COVID-19 pandemic may have negatively impacted growth projections in the continent, the vision of the forum and similar efforts are geared towards “building new partnerships between the public and private sector, especially providing opportunities for young Africans with particular focus on green economy.”

On his part, the President and Founder of the Africa CEO Forum, Amir Ben Yahmed, commended leaders across the continent for their efforts despite the disruptions in the global economy occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

He noted that economic sovereignty, green economy and industrial transformation, among others are new paths to Africa’s prosperity, adding the projected impact of the AfCFTA on economies across the continent was premised on a viable and productive economy.

The Vice President is also billed to hold bilateral meetings with the Managing Director of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Mr Makhtar Diop, and the United Nations SG’s Special Advocate on Inclusive Finance for Development, her Majesty, Queen Maxima of Netherlands.

 

Conference Of Speakers To Pursue Debt Forgiveness For Africa – Gbajabiamila

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

 

Conference of Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments (CoSAP)on Tuesday agreed to pursue debt forgiveness for the continent from creditor-nations.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, disclosed this in Abuja while briefing reporters on the sidelines of a two-day conference which held in the nation’s capital.

“We talked about debt cancellation and debt forgiveness. We felt parliament should be involved and speak as one voice and speak to our creditors and make a case as to why we needed debt forgiveness,” he said.

READ ALSO: No Extension Of Timeline For Party Primaries – INEC

“We also agreed that in doing so, we are going to push for a tripartite agreement between the creditors, the executive other governments and the legislators, reason being that even if your debt is forgiven and funds are freed up to be diverted in other areas like health, education, your creditors will need to assured that the institution that is responsible for appropriation is involved and that is the case we are making.

“CoSAP as an institution has made commitments, even signed commitments within ourselves and ready to commit to the creditors that we would follow the money.”

The session was chaired by the Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa, Rt. Hon. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

Participants at the session, backing Gbajabiamila’s position, spoke on the need for parliaments to step up their oversight duties in tracking how the Executive spent the loans taken on behalf of countries, which ended as debt burdens or traps.

Some argued that in countries that secured debt reliefs, the parliaments must interrogate how the money returned to them was spent.

They pointed out that the creditor-nations, in considering the appeals for debt cancellation or relief, would look at several factors, including accounting for how the loans were utilised and the compliance of countries to agreements signed at the inception of the loan requests.

Hit By Ukraine Conflict, Africa Faces ‘Unprecedented’ Crisis -UN

A file photo of a woman at a market.

 

 

Africa faces an “unprecedented” crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, particularly with soaring food and fuel prices, United Nations officials said on Friday.

The conflict and Western sanctions on Moscow are disrupting supplies of wheat, fertilizer and other goods, compounding difficulties facing Africa from climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is an unprecedented crisis for the continent”, UNDP Africa chief economist Raymond Gilpin told a press conference in Geneva.

Gilpin, who spoke by video-conference from New York, said there were risks from a widespread surge in inflation, particularly in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone.

“We are seeing a reduction of GDP growth on the continent, supposed to rise slightly this year after Covid,” he said.

That puts millions of households at risk across the continent — which includes a majority of the poorest countries in the world.

Economic difficulties could also exacerbate social tensions in crisis-hit parts of the continent, such as the Sahel, parts of central Africa and Horn of Africa.

“Tensions, particularly in urban area, low-income communities, could spill over and lead to violent protests and violent riots,” he said.

Countries holding elections this year and next year were particularly vulnerable.

Many African countries depend heavily on food imports and fertilizer from Russia and Ukraine, two major exporters of wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower oil. Rising oil prices from the war have also increased fuel and diesel costs.

In some African countries, up to 80 percent of wheat came from Russia and Ukraine.

“With the disruptions that now happen, you see an urgent situation materialise because where do these countries turn overnight for commodities?” said UN Under-Secretary General and UNDP Africa regional director Ahunna Eziakonwa.

She said the crisis could also impact debt for many African countries with high borrow rates such as Ghana.

“There needs to be an effort by multilateral, bilateral institutions to really think about” restructuring debt, she said.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said this week he was seeking talks to bring back Ukrainian and Russian agriculture and fertilizer products into world markets to help end a “three-dimensional” crisis in developing nations.

The International Monetary Fund said last month the war in Ukraine had already significantly impacted the Middle East and North Africa, warning high prices may lead to social unrest in Africa.

Measles Cases Soar 400 Percent In Africa This Year

More than 6,000 people have died in DR Congo’s latest measles outbreak.
File photo: AFP

 

 

Africa is facing an explosion of preventable diseases due to delays in vaccinating children, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday, with measles cases jumping 400 percent.

Twenty African countries reported measles outbreaks in the first quarter of this year, eight more than in the first three months of 2021.

The Africa region recorded almost 17,500 cases of the highly contagious virus between January and March.

The WHO and the UN’s children’s agency UNICEF announced Wednesday in Geneva that measles cases surged by nearly 80 percent worldwide this year, warning that the rise of the “canary in a coal mine” illness indicates that outbreaks of other diseases are likely on the way.

Most of the outbreaks were in Africa and the eastern Mediterranean.

WHO’s Africa regional bureau said outbreaks of other vaccine-preventable diseases have also become more common on the continent.

Some 24 African nations confirmed epidemics due to a variant of polio in 2021 — four more than during the previous year.

Thirteen countries had epidemics of yellow fever last year, up from nine in 2020 and three in 2019.

“Inequalities in accessing vaccines, disruptions by the Covid-19 pandemic, including a huge strain on health system capacities, impaired routine immunisation services in many African countries and forced the suspension of vaccination drives,” WHO said.

“The rise in outbreaks of other vaccine-preventable diseases is a warning sign,” WHO’s regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti told an online briefing.

“As Africa works hard to defeat Covid-19, we must not forget other health threats,” she added.

The measles virus attacks mainly children with the most serious complications including blindness, brain swelling, diarrhoea and severe respiratory infections.

Osinbajo Calls For End To Global Energy Poverty In Africa

A file photo of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

 

 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called for an end to global energy poverty in Africa, this is ahead of the next conference on Climate Change scheduled for Egypt.

The Vice President is advocating climate justice for Africa, noting that a just transition would mean more energy and must include ending global energy poverty.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this at a virtual event on climate finance themed “Climate Finance and a Just, Equitable Energy Transition for Africa”, organized by The Atlantic Council.

The Atlantic Council is a nonpartisan organization that galvanizes US leadership and engagement in the world, in partnership with allies and partners, to shape solutions to global challenges.

According to Prof. Osinbajo, “we are already seeing the investment rules limit the technology choices of African countries in ways that do not apply to wealthy nations. Applying a set of standards to Africa that you can’t apply in your own country is the opposite of climate justice.”

Continuing, the VP said “if the global energy transition is going to become reality, if we are true, in this climate crisis together, then the priorities of African nations cannot be sidelined. Climate justice must include far greater support for countries with the greatest needs and who contribute the least to global emissions.

“It must include investments, not only to mitigate carbon emissions but also to ensure that developing countries can adapt to the impacts of climate change caused by the rich polluting nations. Climate justice must include ending energy poverty. Anything else would be the opposite of justice.”

Speaking to the issue of a just and equitable transition for Africa and others, the VP said “what is a just transition for countries with no coal and deep energy poverty? A Just Energy Transition means something very different for every other African country, including my own country, Nigeria. For us, a Just Transition means a lot more energy, not less.”

He noted that “climate justice must include ending global energy poverty. Every person on the planet deserves to have modern energy. Every person deserves a job. All modern economies require abundant affordable and reliable energy.

“And with the impacts of climate change bearing down on us, every nation must have enough energy to build resilient infrastructure, deliver essential public services, and provide the cooling and air conditioning to withstand a warming planet. I’ll say this again: climate justice must include ending energy poverty.”

On expectations at the forthcoming Conference of Parties, tagged COP27, in Egypt later in the year, Prof. Osinbajo said “every nation must play its part in solving the dual crises of global poverty and climate change.”

His words: “Africa must be committed to solving both of these emergencies because both poverty and a warming planet affect us more than any other region. We are absolutely clear that Africa must be proactive, we must be assertive of our needs, and we must do a better job of making our views heard. That is what to expect in Egypt.”

In Nigeria, the Vice President noted that the country remains committed to the net-zero emission by 2060 but would require the support and partnership of other stakeholders.

“Nigeria will require huge investments in new infrastructure. We’re going to build more roads, ports, industrial parks, and especially power systems. For every Nigerian to consume the Modern Energy Minimum of 1,000 kilowatt-hours per year by 2050 would require a 15-fold increase in our national power generation.

“To ensure every household has access to cleaner cooking will require access to LPG, biogas and electric cooking for the tens of millions of families still cooking with wood and charcoal.”

He also explained that “an immediate priority is to create 20 million jobs and rebuild our industries. We must add more than 200 gigawatts of new power capacity, principally utility-scale solar by 2060.

“We will need to upgrade our power infrastructure, especially for transmission and distribution, using a strategic mix of grid and mini-grid systems. To be successful we will need partners.

“The majority of investment in our energy transition will come from our own national resources. But we estimate we need an additional $410 billion above business-as-usual investment to meet our goals.”

Another point raised at the meeting by Prof. Osinbajo was the use of alternative technologies. He stressed that “every country must find its own path to a low carbon future. The EU decision to label both gas and nuclear as green energy is a clear recognition that Europe knows that countries need a wide range of options.

“The United States too has a long-term plan that includes an array of different technologies that meet the needs of diverse communities across the country. Africa too will find its own path. Africa too will use an array of technologies that meet the needs of diverse countries across the continent.”

The VP expressed optimism that Africa will get it right at COP27, noting that “Egypt will be a crucial moment for African leaders to explain their common position and for Western leaders to show they are hearing us and living up to their commitments and responsibilities.

“Egypt can be a turning point for fighting climate change and for ending global poverty. The win-win is there for the world to grasp. We can succeed. But only if the needs of developing countries are heard.”

The Climate Finance virtual event is one of the preludes to the COP27 event scheduled to hold in Egypt later in the year to further galvanize efforts toward a just transition.

 

Two-Thirds Of Africans May Have Had COVID-19 –  WHO Study

In this file photo, a healthcare worker administers a SINOVAC Covid-19 vaccine on a minor during the Numolux/SINOVAC Paediatric Covid-19 Vaccine Clinical Trial at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in Pretoria, on September 10, 2021. (Photo by Phill Magakoe / AFP)

 

More than two-thirds of Africans may have contracted Covid-19 over the past two years, around 97 times more than reported infections, a World Health Organization report suggested on Thursday.

Laboratory tests have detected 11.5 million Covid cases and 252,000 fatalities across the African continent, Yes, according to the report, by September last year, some 800 million people could have already been infected.

But the WHO Africa region said its study — which is still being peer-reviewed — suggests the officially confirmed numbers were “likely only scratching the surface of the real extent of coronavirus infections in Africa”.

“A new meta-analysis of standardised sero-prevalence study revealed that the true number of infections could be as much as 97 times higher than the number of confirmed reported cases,” said WHO Africa boss Matshidiso Moeti.

“This suggests that more than two-thirds of all Africans have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus,” she added.

READ ALSO: Nearly Entire Global Population Breathing Polluted Air – WHO

The report analysed more than 150 studies published between January 2020 and December last year. It showed exposure to the virus jumped from just three percent in June 2020 to 65 percent by September last year.

“In real terms, this means that in September 2021, rather than the reported 8.2 million cases, there were 800 million,” said Moeti.

The global average of true infection numbers is believed to be 16 times higher than the number of confirmed reported cases.

With limited access to testing facilities for much of Africa’s populations, many infections went undetected, as testing was mainly carried out on symptomatic patients in hospitals and travellers requiring negative PCR results.

“The focus was very much on testing people who were symptomatic when there were challenges in having access to testing supplies” and this resulted in “under-representing the true number of people who have been exposed and are infected by the virus”, Moeti told journalists.

Pandemic Fears Proved Wrong 

Moeti said producing accurate data on the continent, which largely has inadequate and under-resourced health facilities, has been difficult because “67 percent” of people on the continent show no symptoms.

While the pandemic has had a catastrophic impact on some parts of the globe, Africa appeared to have escaped the worst and was not as badly hit as initially feared at the start of the pandemic.

With weak health facilities and services, many experts had feared the systems would be overwhelmed.

Several analyses have been made of the pattern of the pandemic in Africa, with some concluding that the continent’s youthful population acted as a buffer against severe illness.

In Ghana, the WHO study established that the most infected were young people, according to Dr Irene Owusu Donkor of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research.

Many African countries are accustomed to epidemics, but reported numbers do not always reflect the reality.

The WHO had last year already cautioned that six out of every seven Covid infections went undetected in Africa.

Most covid cases on the continent have been recorded in South Africa – with over 3.7 million infections — which conducted most tests and boasts of better-resourced health facilities compared to most sub-Saharan Africa countries.

Even so, its official covid fatality toll is believed to be much lower than the actual numbers of people killed by the virus.

Latest data compiled by the South African Medical Research Council shows that numbers of deaths could be triple the reported figures.

South Africa  recorded 303,969 excess deaths from natural causes between May 3, 2020 and last Saturday – yet official figures show that Covid killed 100,075 people since the start of the pandemic.

AFP

Our Policies Have Made Nigeria A Fertilizer Powerhouse In Africa – Buhari

A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Abuja attributed Nigeria’s rising prominence as Africa’s fertiliser powerhouse to the implementation of the right policies by the present administration.

“With our over seventy blending plants operating, Nigeria is on its way to becoming Africa’s fertiliser powerhouse. And with our mega Urea production facilities, Nigeria is definitely a global player in the Urea space,” the President said at an audience with the Executive Committee of Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN).

Speaking further, he noted that the remarkable achievement, in a very short period of time, had ensured a steady flow of investments to the sector from the private sector; bringing prosperity to millions of Nigerians and good returns to the investors.

Read Also: Conduct Democratic Primaries Or Face Disqualification, INEC Tells Political Parties

The President expressed delight that the era of persistent shortage of fertilizers in the country was now a thing of the past, commending FEPSAN for partnering with the Government in the very patriotic backward integration project of enhancing the agricultural value chain.

He also used the occasion to recount steps taken by his administration to limit overreliance on imports, ensure the availability of the commodity and achieve self-sufficiency in food production in the country.

“When this administration came to office in 2015, our focus was on three key areas; Security, Economy and tackling corruption.

“For every nation to have peace and prosperity, its economy must be inclusive.

“For Nigeria, a predominantly agrarian nation, having an inclusive economy meant we needed to prioritise the enhancement of our agricultural value chain.

“We quickly identified the persistent shortage of fertilizer as a key reason for the low yields experienced in our farms.

“This historical scarcity of fertiliser was due to our over-reliance on imports and the inefficient participation of the Government in distributing this essential commodity to the farmers.

“As a government, it was very clear to us that these practices needed to change. Nigeria is naturally blessed with most of the raw materials needed to produce fertilisers.

“Nigeria has all the skills and manpower required to convert these raw materials to fertilisers. With the right enabling environment, Nigeria has entrepreneurs who are ready to invest in the sector.

“So we went to work. And as the Chairman of FEPSAN mentioned in his remarks, the rest is now history,” he said.

The President noted that a key indicator of the present government’s successful policies is the fact that the country had no shortages of fertilizers during the global COVID lockdowns.

“Today, I am pleased to hear your assurances that we will not have any shortages in Nigeria because of the Eastern European conflicts that have impacted the global fertilizer trade. All these trends indicate our backward integration policy was the right policy.”

Appreciating those who have invested and continue to invest in the sector, the President said: “Through these investments, you are double blessed as you are making profits and bringing prosperity to millions of Nigerians working in the agricultural value chain.”

In his remarks, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said fertiliser remains a key input to achieving food security and in realisation of this, the apex bank has continued to place great importance on its availability and accessibility by farmers to improve yield, productivity and ultimately, output.

Highlighting some CBN’s interventions, including the Real Sector Support Facility, Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, National Food Security Programme and the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI), Emefiele said a total of over N114.09bn has been disbursed to support the fertiliser industry in the last five years.

He explained that the interventions were long-term loans at concessionary interest rates to support domestic blending and distribution across the country.

Given the massive funding support received by FEPSAN members from the CBN, Emefiele announced that the bank is working with majors in the industry, such as Dangote and Indorama, to ensure that they sell Urea at discounted prices to the blending plants to ensure that the prices of fertilizer are moderated in the market.

“The Bank will equally work with the blending plants to ensure that the blended fertilisers are made available to end-user farmers at affordable prices,” he said.

On CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, the CBN Governor said the Bank has disbursed N941.26bn to 4.2million smallholder farmers cultivating 21 agricultural commodities on 5.4million hectares of land across the country.

He added that for the 2021 wet season programme, the CBN disbursed N193.59bn to 923,699 farmers cultivating seven commodities on 1.16 million hectares of land.

According to Emefiele, the CBN currently has a balance of stock of fertiliser from the last planting season under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme to the tune of 1.95 million bags and have committed additional 2.6 million bags for use during the 2022 programme.

Also speaking, FEPSAN president, Thomas Etuh thanked President Buhari for commissioning two facilities by members of the association – Barbedos blending plant in Kaduna and the Dangote Urea plant in Lagos- within two months.

“Mr President, FEPSAN’s success is not only evident by the number of factories we commission, but also by the many pyramids of rice, maize and other crops you have been inspecting across the country.

“Mr President, before you created the PFI Initiative in 2016, Nigeria’s fertiliser production base was almost zero. We had less than 7 companies producing at 10 per cent of their installed capacity. Nigeria’s Urea output was reported at less than 300,000 tons,” he said.

Citing recent data from a fertiliser working group that reviews and validates consumption data spanning over 12 years, the FEPSA President said Nigeria recorded its highest consumption of fertilisers at 1.8 million tons per annum in 2021.

He, therefore, assured Nigerians that the association is ready, willing and available to ensure that fertilisers are available in all parts of the country for the 2022 wet season.

African Mask Sold For $4.6m In France Despite Protest

This photograph taken on March 24, 2022, shows a “Ngil” mask of the Fang people of Gabon which is estimated at 300,000/400,000 euros and which will be auctioned on March 26, 2022, at the Montpellier auction house. Pascal GUYOT / AFP

 

A carved mask from Central Africa, dating from the 19th century, was sold in France for 4.2 million euros $4.6 million) on Saturday, despite Gabonese protesters in the auction house calling for the item’s “‘restitution”.

The rare wooden “Ngil” mask, used in ceremonies by the Fang ethnic people of Gabon, smashed its estimate of 300,000-400,000 euros at the auction in the southern French city of Montpellier.

“It’s a case of receiving stolen goods,” a man describing himself as a member of the Gabonese community in Montpellier exclaimed from the back of the auction room, surrounded by half a dozen compatriots.

“We’ll file a complaint. Our ancestors, my ancestors, from the Fang community, we will recover this object”, the protester added, describing the mask as a “colonial ill-gotten gain”.


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Auctioneer Jean-Christophe Giuseppi poses next to a “Ngil” mask of the Fang people of Gabon which is estimated at 300,000/400,000 euros and which will be auctioned on March 26, 2022, at the Montpellier auction house, on March 24, 2022. Pascal GUYOT / AFP

 

Auctioneer Jean-Christophe Giuseppi said the auction was “entirely legal”, as far as he was aware.

Accompanied by security guards, the demonstrators left the auction hall calmly but continued their protest against the sale of African works of art.

Saturday’s auction also included a Congolese chair which sold for 44,000 euros.

With added costs and fees the total paid by the successful bidder for the Fang mask was 5.25 million euros, close to a record for such an item.

In 2006 a similar Fang mask brought in 2.09 million euros at a Paris auction.

AFP

WCQ: Tissoudali’s Brilliant Goal Gives Morocco Advantage Over DR Congo

 

 

Tarik Tissoudali scored a brilliant equaliser as Morocco moved closer to a sixth World Cup appearance by drawing 1-1 with the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kinshasa on Friday.  

A move that began with a superb slide tackle by Moroccan defender Romain Saiss ended with Tissoudali rifling the ball into the net on 76 minutes in the first leg of their play-off.

Yoane Wissa had given  DR Congo a 12th-minute lead, sprinting down the wing, cutting inside, and unleashing a shot from just outside the box that brushed Saiss and beat goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.

READ ALSO: Italy Miss Second Straight World Cup After Shock Defeat To North Macedonia

With away goals counting double if teams finish level on aggregate, a 0-0 draw in Casablanca on Tuesday would take Morocco to the World Cup in Qatar.

Morocco were unsettled after falling behind and Cedric Bakambu and Dieumerci Mbokani wasted chances to put the Congolese further ahead lead on a gloomy and windy evening.

The visitors squandered an early second-half chance to equalise when Ryan Mmaee blazed a penalty over the crossbar.

DR Congo were reduced to 10 men with five minutes remaining when Ngonda Muzinga was sent off after being yellow-carded twice. He will miss the return match.

Later on Friday, Cameroon, Mali, Egypt and Ghana have home advantage over Algeria, Tunisia, Senegal, and Nigeria respectively in other first legs.

AFP

WCQ: Onazi On Standby, Ighalo Returns As Nigeria Name Squad For Ghana Clash

(Top L-R) Nigeria’s goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, defender Kenneth Omeruo, forward Taiwo Awoniyi, midfielder Joe Aribo, defender William Troost-Ekong, (bottom L-R) forward Kelechi Iheanacho, defender Ola Aina, defender Zaidu Sanusi, forward Moses Simon and forward Samuel Chukwueze pose prior to the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 round of 16 football match between Nigeria and Tunisia at Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua on January 23, 2022. Daniel BELOUMOU OLOMO / AFP

 

Midfielder Ogenyi Onazi has been put on standby as Nigeria on Friday named their squad, which included Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2022 absentee, Oghenekaro Etebo, for the World Cup play-off against regional rivals Ghana later this month.

The long-time absentee was part of the Super Eagles side that won the AFCON in 2013.

Leicester City forward Ademola Lookman was also included in the provisional squad.  Nigeria take on Ghana at the 20,000–capacity Cape Coast Sports Stadium on March 25, with the reverse leg set for Abuja four days later.

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The winners from the tie will earn one of Africa’s five tickets to the World Cup finals in Qatar from November 21 to December 18.

Lookman has been cleared by FIFA to play for Nigeria after he represented England at various age-grade levels.

He is one of three uncapped players selected by Nigeria, along with Calvin Bassey of Scottish champions Rangers and FC Copenhagen youngster Akinkunmi Amoo.

The enlarged squad also includes Watford forward Emmanuel Dennis and striker Odion Ighalo, who were blocked by their clubs from featuring at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, who missed the competition, was also invited.

Taiwo Awoniyi, Peter Olayinka, and Chidozie Awaziem, who all played at the recent AFCON, as well as long-term absentee Ogenyi Onazi, are on a seven-man standby list.

The training camp opens in Abuja on March 21 with a 24–man final list for the two play-off games to be released at a later date.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (AC Omonia/CYP), Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs/RSA), Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam/NED)

Defenders: Semi Ajayi (West Brom/ENG), Kenneth Omeruo (Leganes/ESP), Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers/SCO), William Ekong (Watford/ENG), Ola Aina (Torino/ITA), Calvin Bassey (Glasgow Rangers/SCO), Abdullahi Shehu (AC Omonia/CYP), Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto/POR)

Midfielders: Frank Onyeka (Brentford/ENG), Joe Aribo (Glasgow Rangers/SCO), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City/ENG), Oghenekaro Etebo (Watford/ENG), Akinkunmi Amoo (FC Copenhagen/DEN)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk/TUR), Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal/ESP), Victor Osimhen (Napoli/ITA), Moses Simon (Nantes/FRA), Sadiq Umar (Almeria/ESP), Odion Ighalo (Al-Hilal/KSA), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City/ENG), Emmanuel Dennis (Watford/ENG), Ademola Lookman (Leicester City/ENG)

Standby: Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor/TUR), Jamilu Collins (Paderborn/GER), Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow/RUS), Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin/GER), Paul Onuachu (Genk/BEL), Peter Olayinka (Slavia Prague/CZE), Ogenyi Onazi (Al-Adalah/KSA)

AFP