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Food Insecurity Threatens 15% of Africans—WFP

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Food Insecurity

By Adedapo Adesanya

The socioeconomic situation of the urban poor in Sub-Saharan Africa has worsened following the COVID-19 pandemic, with millions of people facing acute food insecurity and malnutrition, according to a new report by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UNHABITAT) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The new report shines a spotlight on urban vulnerabilities and food insecurity amidst the global pandemic, revealing that the urban poor in Africa has been disproportionately affected.

The analysis reveals that the urban poor often relies on the informal economy, live in overcrowded settlements, and have limited access to basic social services including water, sanitation and health and formal social safety nets.

Moreover, urban livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa are less diversified, irregular, unstable and are predominantly informal and more reliant on markets and the cash economy.

In this context, the loss of income combined with price surges due to COVID-19 containment measures, and the closure of informal markets on which the urban poor rely for a large part of their food supplies, have all undermined their ability to access nutritious foods.

While the pandemic has affected all segments of society, urban poor living in slums and informal settlements, who make up more than 60 per cent of the total population of Sub-Saharan Africa, were particularly hard hit, with over 90 per cent of the COVID-19 cases recorded in cities.

An estimated 68.1 million women, men and children among the urban population were at risk of acute food insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2020.

This includes 22 million in Central Africa, 16 million in West Africa, 15.7 million in East Africa and 14.4 million in Southern Africa, representing 15 per cent of the total urban populations in the region.

According to Mr Chris Nikoi, WFP’s Regional Director for Western Africa, “Hunger and malnutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa have long been associated with rural areas. But the pandemic is revealing the changing face of hunger, exposing vulnerabilities of the urban poor.

“This report is a wake-up call for us all to boost urban food security, sustainable livelihoods, including social protection, in order to empower the urban poor and make them more resilient to shocks,” he added.

Mr Oumar Sylla, Director, UNHABITAT Regional Office for Africa called on governments to prioritize and enhance social protection systems and to upgrade basic social services to urban populations, particularly for those living in slum areas and informal settlements.

“Considering the current trends of urbanization that are largely driven by those migrating from the rural to the urban in search for economic opportunities and better access to services, food assistance programmes must be augmented and tailored to meet the needs of the urban poor, many of whom have no access to formal social insurance systems.

“With the number of Africa’s urban population projected to increase to 1.5 billion by 2050, collaborations in policy design, implementation and assessments across governments and agencies that work on health, WASH and social welfare is ultimately necessary to enhance programming and address multiple dimensions of urban deprivations,” Mr Sylla added.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Economy

Nigeria’s Crude Oil Refining Capacity to Hit 1.2 million bpd in 5 Years—NCDMB

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Diesel Refining Capacity

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has expressed optimism that in the next five years, crude oil refineries in the country would be able to refine not less than 1.2 million barrels per day.

The Executive Secretary of the organisation, Mr Simbi Wabote, while speaking at the maiden NCDMB Nigerian Content Midstream/Downstream Oil & Gas Summit in Lagos themed Towards Maximizing Potentials in the Midstream and Downstream Oil & Gas Sector – A Local Content Perspective, said, “About 400,000 barrels per day is expected from the rehabilitation of NNPC refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri, and Kaduna using target performance of not less than ninety per cent of nameplate capacity.

“The Greenfield element of the roadmap covers the mechanically complete 650,000 barrels per day Dangote Refinery in Lagos and the 200,000 barrels per day BUA Refinery in Akwa Ibom state.”

He disclosed that the NCDMB has partnered with major operators in the industry such as NNPC, Waltersmith, Azikel, and Atlantic Refinery among other stakeholders to help grow domestic refining capacity.

Mr Wabote also said that Nigerian content is targeted to achieve 70 per cent in the Nigerian oil and gas industry by the year 2027.

“Based on our 10-year strategic roadmap to achieve 70 per cent Nigerian Content target in the Nigerian oil and gas industry by the year 2027, the midstream and downstream sectors of the industry represent key areas to derive and extract value to meet our set target,” he said.

According to Mr Wabote, there is an opportunity to maximize potential in the midstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry, especially in the area of employment, entry barriers for businesses, and profit margin in the LPG value chain, energy security and social impact.

“It is important to highlight that this development goal goes beyond the oil and gas but has linkage to other sectors of the economy covering construction, ICT, agriculture, Research and Development, Education, and others.

“NCDMB is serving as a catalyst to enhance the realization of the refining roadmap,” the NCDMB boss stated.

He also emphasized the importance of the completion of projects undertaken by the board and partners, saying, “There is no doubt that these giant strides in the midstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry are indeed the envy of many African countries. It is however important that we finish off the projects under development so that the associated values and opportunities could be realized.”

”The need to share investment and skills across the borders within Africa, indigenous research and development, funding structure for hydrocarbon projects, and others were key factors identified as focus areas to ensure our readiness to take our destiny in our hands.

“I am delighted that APPO has signed an MOU with Afrexim Bank to set the ball rolling in addressing the funding challenge,” he added.

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Economy

Identity Management System Will Reduce Unclaimed Dividends—SEC

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Unclaimed Dividends

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has expressed confidence that the identity management system being developed for the Nigerian capital market will reduce the problems of unclaimed dividends.

The high unclaimed dividends in the system have been a source of worry for the regulator, prompting the introduction of the e-dividend mandate, which made it possible for shareholders to receive their cash rewards directly into their bank accounts.

One of the issues discovered to be fuelling the fallow dividends is the identity management crisis and to eliminate this, SEC is coming up with an initiative to allow investors to regularise their shares bought with different identities into a single account.

Over the weekend, the Director-General of SEC, Mr Lamido Yuguda, received members of the Committee on Identity Management for the capital market in Abuja and he described identity theft as a fraudulent practise of using another person’s name and personal information to obtain shares, credit and loans, among others.

He added that the commission decided to engage relevant stakeholders in a bid to resolve issues of identity management to tackle the problem of unclaimed dividends.

According to him, the problem of unclaimed dividends has to do with identity management, hence, the efforts to harmonize various databases of investors and facilitate data accuracy in the market as well as increase investors’ education to stem the trend.

Mr Yuguda, who expressed satisfaction with the work of the committee so far, added that stakeholder engagements would commence in earnest to ensure the success of the project.

While thanking the members of the panel for lending their support and resources to the project, he also expressed confidence in the success of the scheme that it would build a greater Nigeria and impact unborn generations.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the team, Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, commended the agency on the recent release of Rules on Issuance, Offering Platforms and Custody of Digital Assets, saying that it was a step in the right direction.

Mr Aig-Imoukhuede said the committee’s work had exposed the need for standardization of systems within the Nigerian capital market that would support Open Finance which the SEC can drive, adding that the SEC could leverage on the committee to develop the framework for the Nigerian capital market.

According to him, “The committee had clearly defined the task ahead in a roadmap and also identified that the project would be carried out in stages supported by a consultant with recourse to the SEC on a regular basis.

“The committee is committed to ensuring that the customer journey for investors is such that would cause a revolution in the Nigerian capital market, thereby making our market attractive to the tech-savvy and younger generation.”

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Economy

LBS, NowNow Unveil Financial Literacy Initiative

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NowNow financial literacy initiative

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A financial literacy initiative designed to drive financial inclusion growth in Nigeria has been unveiled by the Lagos Business School (LBS) and NowNow, a leading African B2B and B2C fintech company.

The LBS is embarking on this project through its Sustainable Inclusive Digital Financial Services (SIDFS). The fintech will use this programme to ensure smart financial planning and reach its customers, especially those who do not have bank accounts.

“We strongly believe that financial inclusion should be complemented by financial education. In this regard, we are excited to partner with the SIDFS of the LBS to provide financial literacy directly to Nigerians.

“Our partnership with SIDFS is critical to moving the financial inclusion needle to ensure citizens have the necessary knowledge and skills to use financial services,” the Partnership Director of NowNow Digital Services, Mr Lekan Akinjide, stated.

The Programme Lead at SIDFS, Olayinka David-West, disclosed that; “Since 2016, LBS’ Sustainable and Inclusive Digital Financial Services has supported the financial services ecosystem with rich evidence-based insights, particularly about women, youths, and rural dwellers, who are the most excluded groups.

“Research shows that financial literacy is a driver of financial inclusion and providing financial education can produce outstanding results in the quest to integrate excluded people into the formal financial system.

“We are excited to work with NowNow to improve financial literacy among Nigeria’s most excluded demography and look forward to the impact and outcome of our collective efforts.”

The LBS, with the support from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, launched the Sustainable Digital Financial Services Project in Nigeria in 20152016.

The initiative engages in research and advocacy projects with the goal of creating an inclusive ecosystem for financial services and understanding.

The SIDFS supports the development and promotion of sustainable solutions to Nigeria’s financial inclusion challenges and helps more Nigerians access financial services.

In partnership with SIDFS, NowNow will adapt the content into an easily digestible format for specific audiences. The fintech company aims to bridge the gap between the banking system and the unbanked population by providing educational content through different channels to raise awareness and establish financial inclusion.

NowNow’s mission is to deliver best in class financial services to SMEs, banking agents and consumers, and provide financial empowerment to Africans. The long-term partnership would be in phases with the initial offering focused on women before expanding to youths and then to other sub-categories.

The strategy to focus on women at the initial stage is informed by the statistics that they form a greater percentage of the financially excluded groups and are more excluded from the formal sector in comparison to the other groups.

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