UK Flags Borno, Yobe, Others as Danger Zones
By Ashemriogwa Emmanuel
The United Kingdom (UK) has advised its citizens against travelling to some northern and middle belt states in Nigeria it described as danger zones as a result of the heightened kidnap cases and increased insecurity in those regions.
These states include Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River.
In a travel advisory for its nationals released on Saturday, October 16, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) announced to foreign nationals that there was a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria for ideological, financial or political reasons.
According to the advisory, “The groups have previously shown intent and capability to conduct kidnaps in Nigeria. Foreign nationals, including humanitarian workers, are likely targets for kidnap.
“Humanitarian hubs and workers have been targeted during attacks in the North East, including Monguno, Borno State on June 13, 2020.
“There’s a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria. Kidnaps can be motivated by criminality or terrorism and could be carried out for ideological, financial or political gain. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the risk of kidnap increases after dark.
“The security environment in the North East has deteriorated since 2018 and there is a heightened risk of kidnap. Kidnaps in the North East have included humanitarian and private-sector workers.
“There are also reports that Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa, ISWA, are continuing to actively plan to kidnap foreigners.
“In North-East Nigeria, extremist groups operate in some northern and middle belt states, including Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Kogi, Kaduna, Niger and Adamawa states. If you’re working or travelling in these states then you should be aware of the risk of terrorist kidnapping.”
The information also disclosed the increased protests and demonstrations in the South East region of Nigeria Since August 9, 2021, warning that stay-at-home protests are likely during October in the South East region.
“There have been reports of violence during Stay at Home protests previously. You should monitor local media, avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings and follow any instructions from local police and security forces.
“There have been a number of attacks and targeted killings in the South-east and Southsouth regions of Nigeria, including in the states of Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Imo, Abia, Anambra, Delta, Edo and Ebonyi.
“Some of these attacks have been on isolated roads and in remote locations, but there is a chance that they could occur in metropolitan areas. There is also a heightened risk of indiscriminate attacks on police and security infrastructure, which may inadvertently affect bystanders,” it read.
The UK government then advised travellers to these regions to exercise caution if travelling in remote areas at night and follow local news outlets for further information.
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South Africa Faces Deep-Seated Economic, Energy Crisis
By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
South Africa, highly considered an economic powerhouse, is in a deep-seated crisis. The energy deficit has crippled industrial operations, and supplies for domestic use have largely been reduced. Unemployment is rising, and the cost of living becomes unbearable across the country. As a result of the crisis, social discontent has engulfed every corner of South Africa.
Reports monitored here say South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet on May 7 held an extensive meeting with key business leaders as concern over the country’s energy crisis, logistic constraints, and close ties with Russia grow. Attendees discussed collaborating to obtain inclusive growth, inspire confidence in the economy and create jobs, the Presidency said in an official Twitter post.
Five years after Ramaphosa ushered in a wave of business optimism that he’d revive the economy crippled by industrial-scale corruption under his predecessor, executives are running out of patience with the president, who is seeking reelection next year.
Economic stagnation stoked by record daily power cuts, rampant crime, disintegrating infrastructure and foreign policy missteps is leading investors to the exits. Yields on the benchmark 10-year generic government bond have risen 129 basis points this year to 12.1%, foreign buyers have been net sellers of the nation’s stocks, and the rand has plunged 11%.
Executives including Daniel Mminele, Nedbank Group Ltd.’s chairman, and MTN Group Ltd.’s Chief Executive Officer Ralph Mupita have called for urgency in resolving domestic hindrances to economic growth and warned the country is at risk of becoming a so-called failed state. Others, such as FirstRand Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Alan Pullinger, have criticized the country’s relationship with Russia. The government’s indifference to the war in Ukraine and its friendship with Russia is “foolhardy in the extreme,” he said.
Early March, reports also warned that South Africa’s banking industry faces a “profound geopolitical risk” from the government’s close ties with Russia. South Africa has drawn criticism from some of its biggest trading partners, including the United States and the European Union, over military exercises it conducted with Russia and China. Those countries have also censured Ramaphosa’s administration over its abstention from United Nations resolutions condemning Russia’s war with Ukraine.
“Countries are noticing our government’s left-leaning enthusiasm for China and Russia vehemently opposed” to the war in Ukraine, FirstRand Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Alan Pullinger said at an investor briefing in Johannesburg. The government’s indifference to the war and its friendship with Russia is “foolhardy in the extreme,” he said.
South Africa’s banking industry is dependent on access to international markets, global clearing and settlement, Pullinger said. The country risks consequences because of its stance on Russia, he said. “Our collective access is a privilege; it is not a right and can be revoked easily,” Pullinger said. “FirstRand does not share our government’s enthusiasm for Russia.”
With an estimated population of 58 million, South Africa is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres of coastline that stretches along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini.
Nigeria, Ghana Expediting Actions On Abidjan-Lagos Highway Construction
By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
Popularly referred to as the Abidjan-Lagos corridor, this is a long highway which stretches from Abidjan to Lagos, crossing five independent states (Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria) from west to east, and includes two political capitals and many regional economic centres.
By European standards too long, but this highway, which has a length of approximately 965 kilometres, is considered the most mega-project to undertake in Africa.
Due to the countries’ linguistic, cultural and political differences, the region’s economic potential has not yet been fully exploited. There has been little alignment of standards and construction of common infrastructure, and even within the countries, transportation links are often unreliable. The idea of undertaking this transport connection has still been on the planning table, with its biggest headache about the source of finance.
Reports emerged that there had been a series of negotiations and meetings at the highest levels to determine effective ways of financing and its final realisation in the region. In this extreme case for this giant infrastructure, global key players offer reassurance, but there has not been any noticeable successful financial commitment.
The Ministerial Steering Committee of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Project held its 19th in May 2023 to take decisions on expediting the completion of technical studies, securing lands for the right of way, financing the construction of the highway project and the operationalization of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Management Authority (ALCoMA).
Welcoming participants on behalf of the ECOWAS Commission, the Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalization, Sediko Douka, lauded the commitment of the member countries and highlighted the fact that the Abidjan-Lagos Highway remains a flagship project for the Commission and is one of the interventions that could change the narrative of ECOWAS by highlighting the contribution to the total economic growth of community citizens with projects in transport, health, agriculture, customs, migration, education and more.
“It will enable community citizens to appreciate better and be informed about tangible achievements of ECOWAS. Indeed, we must accentuate the visibility of ECOWAS achievement on physical infrastructure projects in the area of transport, energy, telecom, water resource and agriculture, just as this project has been presented at various African Investment Forums by the African Development Bank, he said.
Commissioner Douka, however, charged the participants to take an interest in ensuring that the project becomes a reality. “We keep calling on both public and private investors to accompany the countries and ECOWAS in the realization of this visionary venture,” Douka added.
The feasibility and preliminary design studies have been completed, whiles the final phases should be completed before the end of this year. “On resource mobilization, it should be noted that ECOWAS has just adopted a new regulatory framework on the Public Private Partnership (PPP) that is an incentive for the entry of Private Sector in large Investments like the nature of this project,” according to the Commissioner.
Ministers of Roads and Works of Corridor Countries took turns to express their continued commitment to support the completion of the technical studies and accompany ECOWAS and Development Partners to raise the needed investment to fund the project.
Chairman of the Ministerial Steering Committee and Minister of Public Works and Housing of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Babatunde Raji Fashola, expressed his pride at the achievements so far attained from the outset. He highlighted that projects of such magnitude usually encounter several challenges at the preparatory stages, but through the hard work of Project Engineers and Member States, most challenges have been overcome.
“We are building a road over 1,000 kilometres, across five (5) countries, across a diversity of languages and political structures, in a modern era of climate change, people’s rights and sustainability on our horizon. We have heard issues about compensation, environment, social impact assessment, resettlement and action plan etc., because, at the end of the day, this is all about people. So, we must build in a way that takes care not only of people’s interest but also climate and other diversities,” noted Babatunde Raji Fashola.
In this case, partners and stakeholders are still highly optimistic about the completion of the necessary reports to address all the obstacles relating to the project. “If we get this right, then constructing the project will be very easy, so please do not despair. It may look difficult, but with my little experience, this is the hardest part, and we are almost there,” he said and intimated that the operationalization of the Management Authority that will manage the corridor highway development project has commenced with the formation of the Board of Directors.
Vice President of the Republic of Ghana delivered a keynote address during the meeting through Yaw Osafo Maafo, Senior Advisor to the President. The Vice President commended the ministers and ECOWAS for their sustained effort and strong collaboration in preparing the Corridor Highway Project. He hinted that in preparation for the construction of Ghana’s Multinational Highway section, Ghana has embarked on massive sensitization drives along the host communities.
He expressed excitement over the assurance of the African Development Bank (AfDB) to raise the required funds for the highway construction, describing the project as top on the agenda of the Ghanaian government. “The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Project is on the priority list of the Government of Ghana, and we keenly look forward to the day that the sword will be raised for the commencement of this construction. We believe that this project will give a new dimension to ECOWAS, and we believe it will change the economies of the five (5) countries and the region, and therefore whatever we can do to support it, we will do it,” concluded Yaw Osafo Maafo.
Construction of a highway route from Abidjan to Lagos is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2025. The project is expected to cost $15 billion and will significantly increase regional economic integration. The African Development Bank (AfDB) is involved in the financing. In broad terms, it contributes to poverty reduction and economic and social development in the least developed African countries by providing concessional funding for projects and programs and technical assistance for studies and capacity-building activities.
Its materialisation largely depends on sustained collective efforts to the corridor highway project and strong collaboration. Facilitating the sub-region movement of goods and people. It will connect the industrial zones and move products and services across West Africa. Consequently, this project will give a new dimension to ECOWAS. High gratitude goes to the African Development Bank (AfDB) which is leading the consortium to raise the funds for this project in the region.
Worth re-emphasizing here the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway implementation and its related significance to the African Continental Free Trade Area in the West African region. It has the full potential for achieving the ultimate goals of the single market under discussion. This highway infrastructure involves the five corridor member countries: Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
The population within the region is experiencing rapid growth, and nearly 50 million people are expected to live within the corridor by 2035. The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway offers an opportunity for a significant portion of West Africa’s economic output to be generated, and it is also envisaged that cities within the corridor will become the most economically developed across the West Africa region – in the Economic Community of West Africa.
GTS Drilling, Others Lauded for Supporting Children’s Heart Foundation
The President of the Children’s Heart Foundation, Ghana, Mrs Jacqui Akomka-Lindsay, has praised GTS Drilling and others for supporting the organisation over the years.
According to her, over 200 children are diagnosed with congenital heart diseases annually in the country, and their families cannot pay $6,000 to $10,000 for surgery.
She noted that the exploration and drilling company and others have always made efforts to support patients with funds to carry out surgeries.
Speaking at the organisation’s annual fundraiser ball, she emphasised that it takes benevolent and kind-hearted individuals and organizations to aid children with heart defects.
“At this juncture, I will like to mention the names of some companies that, since 2011, have supported us. These include GTS Drilling, Ghana International School, Labadi Beach Hotel, and Interplast for helping undertake the surgeries of children with heart defects financially,” said Mrs Ahomka-Lindsay, adding that, “The rest are Tropical Cables, Electromat, Melcom, and ECOBANK, among several others.”
The president of the Children’s Heart Foundation explained how heart disorders have, over the past years, affected the growth and development of infants in the country and the need to treat them properly.
“Congenital heart disorder continues to be the most common childbirth defect for infants worldwide. These are defects that do not discriminate based on affluence or lack thereof, and those environmental conditions, especially at the early age of pregnancy when the major organs of the foetus are developing, can increase or decrease the risk of a child being born with various heart defects leading to heart diseases if not treated properly,” she added.
The Human Resources Manager for GTS Drilling, Iddi Baah-Kurey, told News Ghana in an interview that the company is motivated by saving the lives of children with such heart defects.
“Saving the children’s lives is close to our hearts”. The real heroes are the children who demonstrate courage and patience while undergoing treatment and recovery,” said Mr Baah-Kurey.
“Each recipient inspires us as employees of GTS Drilling and individuals while reminding us that health is the greatest wealth,” he added.
GTS Drilling is a local provider of drilling services to major, intermediate, and junior mining companies in Ghana.
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