Africa

Kyari predicts Nigeria will achieve net petroleum export status by December

Mele Kyari, the Group Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL), announced on Monday that Nigeria is on track to achieve net petroleum export status by December 2024. He attributed this forthcoming milestone to emerging trends in the energy and gas sectors.

During an interactive session with the Senate Committee on Finance to discuss Nigeria’s economic status, Kyari emphasised the ongoing improvements and strategic initiatives in the oil industry. Key attendees included Heineken Lokpobiri, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources; Atiku Bagudu, the Minister of Budget and National Planning; Sani Abdullahi, representing Central Bank Governor Olayemi Cardoso as Deputy Governor of Economic Policy; and Wale Edun, the Minister of Finance.

Kyari credited this anticipated achievement to a combination of production from NNPCL, the newly commissioned Dangote refinery, and other smaller producers. He highlighted that the Port Harcourt refinery would commence production early next month, followed by the Warri refinery in subsequent months, and the Kaduna refinery by December this year, facilitating Nigeria’s transition to net exporter status.

He further noted that Nigeria’s oil production is expected to reach 2 million barrels per day in the coming months, with all necessary preparations already in place. “NNPCL and the oil and gas industry play crucial roles in turning around our current economic situation,” Kyari affirmed.

Speaking about the broader economic context, Atiku Bagudu mentioned the ongoing implementation of the 2024 budget and negotiations with labor leaders on minimum wage to mitigate economic disruptions.

Chairman of the Committee, Sani Musa, acknowledged recent economic challenges and emphasized the government’s commitment to stabilizing the economy. “Our critical interactive session with you as economic managers is focused on growth and effective policy implementation,” Musa stated. “The National Assembly, as representatives of the people, is committed to oversight and ensuring accountability in our economic policies.”

CBN Appoints Sule Minjibr as Acting MD of NSPMs, Ousting Former Leadership

On Wednesday, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) replaced the senior management team of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc (NSPM). It designated Abubakar Sule Minjibr as the acting Managing Director.

The decision was communicated via an internal memo titled “House Notice No. 2083 – Executive Management Changes,” signed by Soji Ogungbesan, the General Manager of Corporate Services at NSPM.

Minjibr has assumed the role previously held by Ahmed Halilu, the former MD & CEO reportedly related to Aisha Buhari, the wife of former President Muhammad Buhari, who was appointed in 2022.

Dated July 10, 2024, the memo announced, “The board has opted to dissolve the current executive management team of NSPM with immediate effect and has sanctioned the formation of an interim executive management team as follows: Mr. Abubakar Sule Minjibr as Acting Managing Director; Mr. Mohammed Mustapha as GM, Finance and Strategy; Mr. Adesoji Ogungbesan as GM, Corporate Services.”

“The management team reaffirms its commitment to the welfare of NSPM staff, along with the strategic initiatives and organizational transformations outlined by the board. Employees are encouraged to collaborate with the new management team to achieve the board’s strategic objectives for the company.”

Those relieved of their positions alongside Halilu include Ado Danjuma, who served as ED Corporate Services; Tunji Kazeem, ED Security Documents; Chris Orewa, ED Lagos factory; and Victoria Lucky Irabor, Company Secretary and Legal Adviser.

BusinessDay recalled that President Buhari’s appointment of his brother-in-law to lead the Mint had sparked controversy, with Gravitas Group, an international advocacy organization, strongly criticizing it as nepotism.

“The appointment of the President’s brother-in-law to oversee the printing of sensitive materials in the country was alarming, leading the group to describe the situation as bringing the country’s Mint under his influence,” noted Gravitas Group in a statement at the time

2024 BET Awards: Tems and Tyla Secure Wins

Tems, the Nigerian star also known as Temilade Openiyi, secured her fourth BET Awards at the Peacock Theater in Downtown Los Angeles on Monday.

Established in 2001 by Black Entertainment Television, the BET Awards honor the achievements of Black entertainers and other underrepresented groups in music, film, sports, and philanthropy.

At the 2024 ceremony, Tems triumphed in the Dr. Bobby Jones Best Gospel/Inspirational Award category with her 2023 song “Me & U,” prevailing over esteemed artists such as CeCe Winans, Maverick City Music, and Kirk Franklin.

Previously, Tems had clinched BET awards for Best International Act and Best Collaboration for Wizkid’s “Essence” in 2022. Additionally, she won the Best Collaboration award in 2023 for her track “Wait for U” with Drake and Future, also earning recognition at the BET Hip Hop Awards the previous year.

Earlier in the evening, South African star Tyla claimed victories for Best New Artist and Best International Act.

Here is the complete list of winners across various categories:

ALBUM OF THE YEAR
11:11 – Chris Brown
A Gift & a Curse – Gunna
American Dream – 21 Savage
Coming Home – Usher
For All the Dogs (Scary Hours Edition) – Drake
Jaguar II – Victoria Monét
Michael – Killer Mike – Winner
Pink Friday 2 – Nicki Minaj

BEST FEMALE R&B/POP ARTIST
Beyoncé
Coco Jones
Doja Cat
H.E.R.
Muni Long
SZA – Winner
Tyla
Victoria Monét

BEST MALE R&B/POP ARTIST
Brent Faiyaz
Bryson Tiller
Burna Boy
Chris Brown
Drake
Friday
October London
Usher – Winner

BEST GROUP
¥$ (Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign) – Winner
2 Chainz & Lil Wayne
41
Blxst and Bino Rideaux
City Girls
FLO
Maverick City Music
WanMor

BEST COLLABORATION
“All My Life” – Lil Durk featuring J. Cole – Winner
“America Has a Problem (Remix)” – Beyoncé featuring Kendrick Lamar
“Barbie World” – Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice with Aqua
“Bongos” – Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion
“Carnival” – ¥$ (Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign) featuring Rich the Kid and Playboi Carti
“Don’t Play with It (Remix)” – Lola Brooke featuring Latto and Yung Miami
“Everybody” – Nicki Minaj featuring Lil Uzi Vert
“Good Good” – Usher, Summer Walker and 21 Savage
“Rich Baby Daddy” – Drake featuring Sexyy Red and SZA

BEST FEMALE HIP-HOP ARTIST
Cardi B
Doja Cat
GloRilla
Ice Spice
Latto
Megan Thee Stallion
Nicki Minaj – Winner

BEST MALE HIP-HOP ARTIST
21 Savage
Burna Boy
Drake
Future
Gunna
J. Cole
Kendrick Lamar – Winner
Lil Wayne

VIDEO OF THE YEAR
“Agora Hills” – Doja Cat
“All My Life” – Lil Durk featuring J. Cole
“Barbie World” – Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice with Aqua
“Bongos” – Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion
“First Person Shooter” – Drake featuring J. Cole
“Good Good” – Usher, Summer Walker and 21 Savage
“On My Mama” – Victoria Monét – Winner
“Rich Baby Daddy” – Drake featuring Sexyy Red and SZA

VIDEO DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
Benny Boom
Child.
Cole Bennett – Winner
Dave Meyers
Janelle Monáe and Alan Ferguson
Offset
Tems
Tyler, the Creator

BEST NEW ARTIST
41
4Batz
Ayra Starr
Bossman Dlow
Friday
October London
Sexy Red
Tyla – Winner

BOBBY JONES BEST GOSPEL/INSPIRATIONAL AWARD

“Award All of the Glory” – Shirley Caesar
“All Things” – Kirk Franklin
“Angel” – Halle Bailey
“Come Jesus Come” – CeCe Winans
“Do You Believe in Love?” – Erica Campbell
“God Problems” – Maverick City Music, Naomi Raine and Chandler Moore
“Me & U” – Tems – Winner
“Try Love” – Kirk Franklin

VIEWER’S CHOICE AWARD
“Agora Hills” – Doja Cat
“All My Life” – Lil Durk featuring J. Cole
“F–mean” – Gunna
“Lovin on Me” – Jack Harlow
“Made for Me” – Muni Long
“On My Mama” – Victoria Monét
“Rich Baby Daddy” – Drake featuring Sexyy Red and SZA
“Sensational” – Chris Brown featuring Davido and Lojay
“Texas Hold ‘Em” – Beyoncé – Winner
“Water” – Tyla

BEST INTERNATIONAL ACT
Asake (Africa)
Aya Nakamura (France)
Ayra Starr (Africa)
BK’ (Brazil)
Cleo Sol (UK)
Focalistic (Africa)
Karol Conká (Brazil)
RAYE (UK)
Tiakola (France)
Tyla (Africa) – Winner

VIEWER’S CHOICE: BEST NEW INTERNATIONAL ACT
Bellah (UK)
Cristale (UK)
Duquesa (Brazil)
Holly G (France)
Jungeli (France)
Makhadzi (Africa) – Winner
Oruam (Brazil)
Seyi Vibez (Africa)
Tyler ICU (Africa)

BET HER
“16 Carriages” – Beyoncé
“Blessings” – Nicki Minaj featuring Tasha Cobbs Leonard
“Commas” – Ayra Starr
“Fly Girl” – FLO featuring Missy Elliott
“Hiss” – Megan Thee Stallion
“On My Mama” – Victoria Monét – Winner
“Saturn” – SZA
“Yeah Glo!” – GloRilla

BEST MOVIE
American Fiction
Bob Marley: One Love – Winner
Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
The Book of Clarence
The Color Purple
The Equalizer 3
The Little Mermaid

BEST ACTOR
Anthony Mackie
Colman Domingo
Damson Idris
Denzel Washington – Winner
Donald Glover
Idris Elba
Jeffrey Wright
Lakeith Stanfield

BEST ACTRESS
Angela Bassett
Ayo Edebiri
Coco Jones
Danielle Brooks
Fantasia
Halle Bailey
Issa Rae
Regina King — Winner

YOUNGSTARS AWARD
Akira Akbar
Blue Ivy Carter – Winner
Demi Singleton
Heiress Diana Harris
JaBria McCullum
Jalyn Hall
Leah Jeffries
Van Van

SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD
A’ja Wilson
Angel Reese – Winner
Coco Gauff
Flau’jae Johnson
Juju Watkins
Naomi Osaka
Sha’Carri Richardson
Simone Biles

SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD
Anthony Edwards
Gervonta Davis
Jalen Brunson – Winner
Jalen Hurts
Kyrie Irving
LeBron James
Patrick Mahomes
Stephen Curry

 

 

 

 

Learn Africa Plc Issues Additional 96 Million Shares

Learn Africa Plc recently announced the issuance of an additional 96,431,250 ordinary shares at a price of N0.50k each, resulting in an increase of its share capital from N771.45 million to N867.88 million. This decision followed a recent board of directors meeting and was disclosed in a filing with the Nigerian Exchange Limited.

Consequently, Learn Africa Plc amended its Memorandum of Association to reflect a revised share capital structure of N433.94 million, divided into 867,881,250 ordinary shares priced at N0.50k each.

Learn Africa Plc emphasized that this strategic initiative not only rewards existing shareholders but also aims to strengthen investor confidence and support the company’s long-term growth objectives. The adjustment aligns the company’s legal framework with its enhanced financial structure, ensuring compliance with regulations and clarity in operations going forward.

By increasing its share capital through the issuance of new shares, Learn Africa Plc positions itself for future expansion and investment opportunities in Nigeria’s dynamic market environment.

University of Abuja Appoints Youngest Professor of Law as Acting Vice Chancellor.

The University of Abuja Senate has appointed Aisha Maikudi, the youngest Professor of Law at the institution, as the acting Vice-Chancellor. Maikudi, a Professor of International Law, currently serves as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for academics. Her nomination was confirmed during the valedictory Senate meeting held on Wednesday, as announced in a statement by the outgoing Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah.

Na’Allah explained that Maikudi’s appointment is temporary, effective after his tenure ends on June 30, 2024, pending ratification by the Governing Council. In her acceptance speech, Maikudi expressed gratitude to the Senate members for their confidence in her.

She expressed, “I want to extend my deepest respect and appreciation to everyone for the strong support and unwavering commitment you have shown me.”

Born on January 31, 1983, Maikudi attended Queens College, Lagos, where she earned her West African Senior School Certificate. She pursued higher education at the University of Reading, graduating with an LLB in 2004 and an LLM from the London School of Economics & Political Science in 2005. In 2015, she obtained her PhD in International Law from the University of Abuja.

Maikudi commenced her tenure at the University of Abuja on September 4, 2008, starting as a Lecturer II and advancing to the rank of Professor in 2022. Notably, she served as the first female Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Law in 2018 and subsequently became the inaugural Director of the University of Abuja International Centre in 2019.

Throughout her career, Maikudi has participated in numerous national and international conferences across the UK, US, South Africa, Germany, Italy, and Egypt, among others. She has conducted extensive research in United Nations Law and has authored numerous publications in this field.

Additionally, Maikudi is an active member of several professional organizations, including the Nigerian Bar Association, Nigerian Law Teachers Association, and International Federation of Women Lawyers.

President Tinubu dispatches NAMA personnel to Spain for enhancing airspace monitoring

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has authorized a delegation from the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to travel to Spain for an onsite inspection of facilities, engagement with technology providers to address security challenges, and the upgrade of surveillance systems.

Additionally, NAMA has begun enhancing its surveillance infrastructure at airports and various remote installations nationwide.

These developments follow a recent communication from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to aircraft owners and operators, revealing the presence of an unidentified aircraft hovering over the presidential villa.

Ahmed Umar Farouk, Managing Director of NAMA, disclosed this during a visit by a delegation from the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to the agency’s headquarters in Abuja, emphasizing the Air Force’s crucial role in ensuring the safety and security of Nigeria’s airspace.

He reflected on the longstanding collaboration between the two agencies as essential for maintaining the safety and security of Nigeria’s airspace. “NAMA handles civil operations, while the Air Force oversees security. Our close collaboration is crucial for ensuring a safe and secure airspace,” remarked the NAMA boss.

In his remarks, Air Vice Marshal Abubakar Abdulkadir, leading the NAF delegation, highlighted the Nigerian Air Force’s recent advancements in securing the nation’s airspace, deploying new platforms for national air defence stationed at the Air Defense Group in Makurdi.

He emphasized the NAF’s completion of daytime training and nearing completion of nighttime training, enhancing their ability to swiftly respond and intercept intruders in Nigerian airspace. He also updated on the NAF’s improved capabilities to monitor and identify all aircraft entering and leaving Nigerian airspace, underscoring the importance of enhanced collaboration and partnership between NAMA and the NAF in sustaining current airspace security and safety.

Abdulkadir likened NAMA and NAF to “twin siblings of the same parent,” illustrating how NAF’s responsibility for airspace security complements NAMA’s role in airspace management. He further discussed joint training initiatives to address the shortage of Air Traffic Controllers nationwide, citing the accreditation of the Nigerian Air Force training center in Kaduna by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). This accreditation will facilitate annual training for at least 20 NAMA staff members.

Tinubu Names Olatunji Bello as CEO, Vice Chairman of FCCPC

President Bola Tinubu has sanctioned the appointment of Olatunji Bello as the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice-Chairman of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), pending confirmation by the Senate.

According to a statement by Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Bello, a lawyer, administrator, and distinguished journalist, has previously served as Commissioner for Environment in various Lagos State administrations. He also held the position of Secretary to the Lagos State Government and holds a Master’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos, having graduated in Law and been called to the Nigerian Bar in 2002.

Bello commenced his journalism career at Concord Newspapers in 1985, where he progressed to roles such as Group Political Editor, Sunday Concord Editor, and Editor of National Concord. He was awarded the US Alfred Friendly Press Fellowship and appointed Chairman of the Editorial Board of THISDAY Newspapers in 2001.

The statement emphasized that the President anticipates Bello will comprehensively fulfill the Commission’s mandate to safeguard and advance the interests and well-being of Nigerian consumers. He is tasked with implementing measures to ensure the safety and quality of goods and services.

Tensions Rise in US-Africa Relations Amid Military Leaders’ Talks and Troop Reductions

The planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from bases in Niger and Chad, along with the potential redeployment to other West African nations, will be significant topics during discussions among top U.S. military officials at a chief of defense conference this week.

General CQ Brown, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Botswana on Monday amid a pivotal moment for U.S. strategy in Africa. Recent developments have seen military coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger prompt reassessments of their relationships with the U.S. and Western nations, with some turning to Russian-linked mercenaries for security support.

Brown, speaking to reporters en route to Gaborone, mentioned that as the U.S. withdraws its 1,000 troops from Niger, including from a critical counterterrorism and drone base, other West African countries are interested in collaborating with the U.S. and potentially hosting expanded American presence.

He emphasized that the conference provides an opportunity to engage with numerous African counterparts, understand their priorities and concerns, and explore possibilities for enhancing relationships.

“There are other countries in the region where we already maintain limited presence or partnerships,” Brown noted. “We are considering how to strengthen these relationships, which could offer alternatives for deploying capabilities similar to those we had in Niger.”

Brown stressed the importance of dialogue with these nations to determine the type and scale of U.S. military presence they desire. “This conference is crucial for that reason,” he added.

According to Brown and other defense officials, the conference aims to demonstrate to African leaders that the U.S. is receptive to local perspectives and solutions. A defense official, speaking anonymously about military relations, highlighted that the Botswana meeting represents an opportunity to cultivate military ties across the continent.

The reduction of troops at strategic bases in Africa’s Sahel region raises concerns about effectively combating the escalating violence perpetrated by extremist groups, including those affiliated with the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

The defense official expressed U.S. concerns about the proliferation of extremist activities from various groups, particularly in coastal West Africa.

Following the ousting of Niger’s democratically elected president by mutinous soldiers last July, the junta ordered U.S. and French forces to leave, turning to the Russian mercenary group Wagner for security support. Washington formally labeled this military takeover a coup in October, triggering U.S. laws that restrict military assistance and aid. The repercussions were significant, compelling U.S. troops to vacate the crucial drone base at Agadez, essential for counterterrorism operations in the Sahel.

According to the senior defense official, approximately 30% of the withdrawal of U.S. forces and equipment from Niger has been completed, with full completion slated for September 15, adhering to established timelines. The official noted that the pace of troop withdrawal will fluctuate as it depends on the removal of weapons systems and equipment. Currently, about 600 troops remain deployed there.

Shortly thereafter, Chad directed U.S. forces to leave Adji Kossei Air Base near N’Djamena. Around 75 U.S. Army special forces were relocated to Europe, leaving approximately 20 troops in the country, alongside Marine security forces assigned to the U.S. Embassy. The U.S. has characterized these troop reductions in Chad as temporary, pending the conclusion of the recent presidential election there. General Brown affirmed that the U.S. will collaborate with embassy leadership in Chad to determine future American presence.

Some African nations have voiced frustration with the U.S. for what they perceive as imposing issues like democracy and human rights, which many view as hypocritical given Washington’s close relationships with certain autocratic leaders elsewhere. In contrast, Russia offers security assistance without intervening in politics, making it an attractive partner for military juntas that have seized power in countries such as Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso in recent years.

Mvemba Dizolele, director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., emphasized that a critical aspect of U.S. discussions with African leaders is recognizing that America needs to adjust its expectations and demands of these governments and their armed forces.

“Dizolele stated, ‘U.S. security and defense policymakers should not approach Africa expecting every African military officer to align perfectly with American values,'” noting the realism in the situation. He pointed out that various obstacles, such as the Leahy Law prohibiting military assistance to foreign forces implicated in human rights abuses, and congressional budgetary constraints limiting aid to countries with overthrown leadership due to coups, often hinder U.S. engagement with certain African nations.

Conversely, Dizolele highlighted that other nations like Russia and China are ready to supply military aid and equipment that African countries can afford to purchase.

First NBA Academy in Africa to Open in Egypt

The inaugural NBA Basketball school in Africa is set to open in Egypt in January 2025.

The announcement was made jointly by The New Era Education, a Cairo-based educational services and school management company, and NBA Africa. The school will be housed at Uppingham School Cairo in New Giza.

During a visit to France for the Quai 54 streetball tournament on Sunday, Amadou Gallo Fall, President of the Basketball Africa League, reaffirmed NBA Africa’s commitment to developing African basketball talent and expanding the sport’s presence across the continent.

“We aim to nurture top prospects through initiatives like our NBA academy and Elevate program,” Fall explained. “Our goal is not only to develop local talent but also to retain it within the league and attract global stars. Africa should not only be known for exporting talent; we want to add value locally and ensure that talent remains on the continent.”

The NBA Basketball School at Uppingham School Cairo will cater to youth aged 5-18 and build upon the NBA’s existing initiatives in Cairo, including hosting the last three Basketball Africa League Nile Conference group phases.

Since 2017, NBA Basketball Schools have been established in various countries worldwide, including Australia, Brazil, China, the Dominican Republic, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Lithuania, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Uruguay.

NBA Africa operates as a subsidiary of the U.S. National Basketball Association (NBA).

South Sudan’s Vice President Voices Worries Regarding Ongoing Peace Negotiations

South Sudan’s vice president remarked on Thursday that peace negotiations in Kenya have disregarded the country’s 2018 peace agreement, suggesting that a newly proposed draft aims to supplant the original accord.

Riek Machar conveyed his concerns in a formal letter to the mediator of the talks, noting that the draft proposes alternative institutions that could replace or operate alongside those established under the previous peace deal. He emphasized that the current peace discussions should complement rather than undermine the original agreement.

In 2018, Machar, a former rebel leader, signed a peace agreement with President Salva Kiir, ending a devastating five-year civil war that claimed approximately 400,000 lives. Following the agreement, Machar was appointed vice president despite his group not being included in the current talks, which involve factions not party to the 2018 agreement.

Despite the peace deal, South Sudan continues to experience violence, largely attributed to rebel groups and ethnic conflicts. The body tasked with overseeing the implementation of the 2018 peace agreement expressed concerns in May about the slow progress in election-related tasks, with only a few months remaining until the December elections.

Opposition groups excluded from the 2018 peace agreement have been engaged in talks in Kenya since May 9, aimed at integrating these groups ahead of the upcoming elections. The discussions have produced a draft agreement recommending an extension of the transitional period to allow sufficient time for election preparations.

President Kiir received a progress report on Thursday from government representatives participating in the ongoing talks. The government spokesperson informed the media that the participants are nearing a final agreement.

CAN 2025 in Morocco Officially Rescheduled to December 2025 and January 2026

As anticipated, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has officially rescheduled the African Cup of Nations (CAN) 2025 to be held in Morocco from December 21, 2025, to January 18, 2026. This decision follows the earlier announcement of the Club World Cup scheduled for the summer of 2025. It marks the third consecutive postponement of the tournament, following CAN 2021 in Cameroon and CAN 2023 in Côte d’Ivoire.

Additionally, the CAF Executive Committee (EXCO) has unveiled the dates for the CAF Total Energies Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (“WAFCON”), which will also take place in Morocco.

Initially, CAF had planned to host CAN 2025 in July-August 2025 to avoid overlap with the 32-team Club World Cup scheduled from June 15 to July 13, 2025, in the United States. However, logistical challenges during the congested summer period prompted the postponement. Despite CAF’s recent denial of rumors, General Secretary Veron Mosengo-Omba hinted at the possibility in an interview with AFP, noting that discussions were underway and a decision would be announced “soon.” The postponement is now confirmed.

The 35th edition of CAN, to be hosted in Morocco, will be historic for its extended schedule spanning two calendar years, starting on December 21, 2025, and concluding on January 18, 2026.

This departure from the traditional CAN schedule, which typically starts in early January and ends in early February, is unprecedented. The reason for this change is to avoid any overlap with the newly introduced UEFA Champions League format, which will be implemented in 2024. Under the new format, the C1 group stage’s sixth matchday will conclude in mid-December, and the seventh matchday will commence around January 21.

This adjustment aims to ensure that players involved in European leagues and competing in the UEFA Champions League can also represent their national teams without encountering scheduling conflicts.

CAF has shown a history of modifying its original schedules since CAN 2012, indicating a consistent pattern of adaptation.

Kenya Repays Sh257billion Eurobond Few Days to Deadline

Kenya has paid off the remaining $556.97 million (Sh71.5 billion) of its $2 billion (Sh257 billion) Eurobond ahead of the June 24, 2024, due date. According to the National Treasury’s Public Debt Management Office, this final payment was made on Friday, June 21, three days before maturity.

This repayment has boosted Kenya’s National Reserves, pushing them above the statutory four-month import cover requirement for the first time in five months.

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) reported in its weekly brief that as of June 20, the usable foreign exchange reserves stood at $8.32 billion, equivalent to 4.3 months of import cover. This marks an increase of $1.31 billion (Sh168 billion), bringing the reserves to $8.32 billion (Sh1.07 trillion).

In February, Kenya had partially retired this note and issued a new Eurobond. The government received tenders worth $1.48 billion and accepted $1.44 billion in valid tenders. The National Treasury had indicated that the outstanding amount would be settled through a combination of syndicated, multilateral, and domestic financing. The new Eurobond, intended to retire the maturing one, was divided into three installments with an average life of six years and is set to mature in 2031.

In December, Kenya paid $68.7 million (Sh8.8 billion) in interest for the $2 billion (Sh313 billion) Eurobond. The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) had previously stated that to fully repay the Eurobond, the government would need to secure new funding from external markets, whether through a buyback or using foreign exchange reserves. Possible funding sources included the IMF, World Bank, and syndicated loans via multilateral agencies.

Davido and Chioma Set to Tie the Knot

Afrobeats sensation Davido and his partner Chioma Rowland are gearing up for their much-anticipated wedding, set for Tuesday, with a glimpse into their special day. Davido took to Instagram to share stunning pre-wedding photos, tagged with the hashtag #CHIVIDO2024.

Their traditional wedding is scheduled for June 25, 2024, in Lagos, promising a celebration of their love in grand style. The pre-wedding photos feature three contemporary African traditional outfits crafted by Nigerian designers Ugo Monye, Lucky Enemuo, Jennifer Rowland, Ntukokwu Obinna Samuel of Samuel Noon, and Xtra Brides Lagos.

Chioma’s attire was complemented with impeccable makeup by Pamela Morgan, elegant updos by Adefunkeee, and intricately styled Gele by Taiwo’s Touch. Captured in stunning portraits by Tope Horpload, the photos pay homage to Davido’s regal heritage as a prince of the Adeleke Royal Family of Ede in Osun State.

The images have captivated fans and well-wishers alike, building excitement for the upcoming wedding celebration.

 Slot Finds Amusement in Midday Kickoff Following Klopp’s Critique

Liverpool manager Arne Slot humorously remarked on Thursday that TNT Sports had scheduled the Reds’ first match of the upcoming Premier League season against Ipswich for a midday kick-off, jokingly attributing the timing to Jurgen Klopp no longer being in charge.

Former Liverpool boss Klopp, who departed at the end of the previous campaign, often criticized early kick-off times, especially following midweek matches and international breaks. Klopp had consistently expressed his displeasure with Saturday 12:30 pm starts, once describing such scheduling as “a crime” in one of his final press conferences at Anfield last month.

Despite Klopp’s absence, Liverpool will commence the new season with a 12:30 pm (1130 GMT) fixture at Portman Road on August 17.

“They’ve informed me it’s going to be 12.30… from what I understand, Jurgen complained a lot about this so probably they thought, with Jurgen no longer here, let’s schedule them for 12.30 again,” Slot quipped to Liverpool’s website.

“It’s different from a normal 12.30 because it’s not after a European game. I am looking forward to it. A promoted team so it’s going to be special for them as well,” added the 45-year-old Dutchman.

Slot also remarked, “I think every team might prefer a home game to start with, but we’re going to face Ipswich and we are looking forward to that.”

Last season, Liverpool had six midday kick-offs, whereas champions Manchester City and Manchester United had only three.

24 Trafficked Nigerian Girls Rescued by Nigerian Embassy, NGO in Senegal

In a joint overnight operation, the Nigerian Embassy and a Senegalese-based NGO rescued 24 Nigerian girls from sexual exploitation in the Tamaccounda and Kedougou regions of Senegal. The acting Ambassador of the Nigerian Embassy in Dakar, Salihu Abubakar, reported this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday.

Embassy of Nigeria in Dakar, Senegal

The girls, mostly under-aged and ranging from 11 to 24 years old, were trafficked to Senegal via Cotonou in the Republic of Benin and the Mali-Senegal border for sexual exploitation. “These girls are being trafficked to Senegal through Cotonou, Benin Republic via Mali to the Senegal border for prostitution,” Abubakar said.

Preliminary investigations revealed that most of the girls were school dropouts from Edo and Delta states, with a few from Imo and Abia, and two from Plateau. Of the 24 girls, 22 were repatriated to Nigeria weeks ago, and the remaining two returned safely on Saturday.

While the health status and details of their exploitation period were not immediately available, the successful repatriation underscores the strengthened international cooperation between the embassy and the NGO “Free the Slaves” (La Lumiere in French) in fighting human trafficking.

“Our main goal and number one priority is to discourage the trafficking of our Nigerian girls to any part of the world for prostitution under any disguise,” Abubakar emphasized.

NNPC to Complete OB3 Gas Pipeline by August

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd) announced on Saturday that the Obiafu/Obrikom/Oben (OB3) gas pipeline is expected to be completed by August, 2024. Olufemi Soneye, NNPC Ltd’s chief corporate communications officer, shared this update in a statement.

 

Mele Kyari, the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Ltd, made this announcement during an inspection of the OB3 pipeline’s River Niger crossing operation in Aboh, Delta State. “This project is of monumental value to our country, crucial for delivering the gas revolution. I am confident that by mid-August, we will complete this project, as assured by the project team,” said Mr. Kyari. He added that the pipeline would bring approximately 2.2 billion standard cubic feet of gas into the network, which is expected to meet the country’s gas demand over the next one and a half years and support the gas revolution.

Mele Kyari, Managing Director, NNPC

The $700 million OB3 gas pipeline, under construction by NNPC Ltd for years, has faced several delays. Initially reported as 80% complete in December 2016, it was intended to be finished by the end of 2017. However, technical challenges, including horizontal drilling under major rivers, caused delays. Further complications from rain, flooding, and the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as changes in contracting agreements, pushed back the completion date.

 

In February, the Nigerian government projected a March 2024 completion. Now, NNPC Ltd aims to finish the pipeline soon, marking a significant step toward enhancing nationwide gas supply to drive industrialization and economic growth.

 

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas), Ekperikpe Ekpo, expressed satisfaction with the project’s progress, dubbing it “Renewed Hope at work.” He noted that he was initially doubtful of the December 2023 completion promise but is now confident the project will be finished by July or August, ready for commissioning by the President.

 

Special Adviser to the President on Energy, Olu Verheijen, is also optimistic about the project’s completion, having been assured by the technical team that the right technology is in place to overcome the River Niger crossing challenges. 

 

Ingo Justen, Managing Director of Tunnel Service Group (TSG), one of the project’s contractors, also expressed confidence in the current technology being used, anticipating a speedy completion.

 

The OB3 gas pipeline is designed to connect the Eastern gas pipeline network with the Escravos-Lagos Pipeline System (ELPS) in the West and the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) Pipeline in the North. The River Niger crossing has been the main obstacle to the pipeline’s completion for over three years, due to the failure of various technologies to install the 48-inch pipe under the river bed between Ndoni in Rivers State and Aboh in Delta State. However, with the new Micro-Tunnelling/Direct Pipe Installation technology, contractors HDD Thailand/Enikkom and Tunnelling Services Group (TSG) have made significant progress, completing about 860 meters of the 1,800-meter stretch so far.

 

Nigeria and Ghana Chosen as Africa’s Representatives in US Spelling Bee

Nigeria and Ghana have been selected as the African representatives for the prestigious Scripps National Spelling Bee, scheduled to take place in the United States in 2025, as announced by the Young Educators Foundation, a non-governmental organization. The foundation’s CEO, Eugenia Tachie-Menson, disclosed this information in a statement to reporters in Abuja on Thursday.

Tachie-Menson noted that Ghana has held this role as the continent’s representative in the spelling bee for nearly 20 years. The competition assesses children’s proficiency in both spelling and vocabulary.

She attributed Nigeria’s inclusion in the representation to a partnership between the foundation and the Lucid Education Initiative in Nigeria. This collaboration aims to foster a passion for spelling and literacy among Nigerian youth.

According to Tachie-Menson, “The Scripps National Spelling Bee is not just a competition; it is a celebration of discipline, mastery of language, and academic excellence. This opportunity not only shines a global spotlight on Nigerian students and schools but also enhances cognitive skills, critical thinking, and mental agility among young learners. Furthermore, it ignites curiosity and nurtures a lifelong love for language and learning.”

She mentioned that the organization is currently developing a procedure for selecting students for national competitions to achieve international representation.

The CEO further explained that they initially began selecting students from a few private institutions before expanding to include public ones.

“The winner of this upcoming spelling contest will secure a place at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., scheduled for May 2025,” she added.

Afolajimi Akinyoyenu, CEO of Lucid Education Initiative, emphasized that Nigeria’s participation in the competition would highlight the importance of spelling and literacy education for young learners.

“This initiative provides a platform for Nigerian youths to demonstrate their literacy skills on a global scale. It aims to challenge the outdated stereotype that African children are solely concerned with necessities like food,” he remarked.

The 2024 edition featured a total of 245 national contestants, hailing from schools across the United States, Europe, Ghana, Canada, and various other countries.

Participants in the Scripps National Spelling Bee face a thrilling mental challenge, with just 75 seconds for questions and 90 seconds for spelling each word.

Joyous Occasions Follow Ramaphosa’s Re-election for Second Term as President of South Africa

Cyril Ramaphosa took oath for his second term as South Africa’s president on Wednesday in a ceremony held in Pretoria, the administrative capital. His reelection marked a historic first in the country’s three-decade rule, achieved with support from a coalition of parties.

Following his reelection by lawmakers on Friday, despite his African National Congress party losing its parliamentary majority in last month’s election, Ramaphosa is now poised to form a Cabinet in a new coalition government. This coalition includes the main opposition party and a smaller third party, marking a significant agreement to co-govern Africa’s most industrialized economy.

Navigating the challenges of South Africa’s first coalition government without a majority, Ramaphosa will oversee a government of national unity comprising at least three parties, with invitations extended to others to participate.”

Ramaphosa took the oath of office publicly at the Union Buildings, the government seat, administered by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Among the attendees at the inauguration were King Mswati III of Eswatini, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, Zimbabwe President Emerson Mnangagwa, and former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, along with numerous other dignitaries. This marks the beginning of what is anticipated to be a challenging final term for Ramaphosa.

The ceremony featured a 21-gun salute from the presidential guard and a flyover by the South African Air Force over the Union Buildings. Thousands of citizens were entertained by South African musicians and cultural dancers who were present at the swearing-in ceremony.

In his address to the nation, Ramaphosa acknowledged the electoral mandate and emphasized the need for collaborative governance: “The voters of South Africa have not granted any single party the exclusive mandate to govern our country. They have instructed us to collaborate in addressing their concerns and fulfilling their aspirations.”

Ramaphosa also acknowledged the electorate’s discontent with the government’s performance in certain areas: “The people of South Africa have clearly expressed their disappointment and disapproval of our shortcomings.” He highlighted the persistent societal challenges of inequality and polarization, warning of the potential for instability if these issues are not addressed effectively.

The boundaries etched into our landscape by our history—between black and white, man and woman, suburbs and townships, urban and rural, wealthy and poor—remain,” he stated.

He also pledged that the new government would generate fresh employment opportunities to tackle severe unemployment and focus on delivering essential services such as housing, healthcare, and clean water to the people.

While Ramaphosa’s remarks aimed to reassure a population already burdened by economic challenges, leading the new administration could prove daunting. It comprises parties with contrasting ideologies and divergent approaches to addressing the country’s myriad issues, including land redistribution, strategies to combat the electricity crisis, and perspectives on affirmative action.

Key players like the Democratic Alliance and the Inkatha Freedom Party have already entered the coalition, with others like the Patriotic Alliance, the GOOD Party, and the Pan Africanist Congress expected to follow suit. However, the third largest party, led by former President Jacob Zuma, the uMkhonto weSizwe Party, and the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters party have declined to participate.

The timing of the announcement of the new Cabinet formation remains uncertain.

Bagudu Calls for Youth Opportunities in the Creative Sector

Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Hon. Minister Budget and Economic Planning

The Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, has urged the Managing Director/Chief Executives of the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC), Dr. Ali Nuhu, to create valuable opportunities for young people in the creative industry.

Dr. Ali Nuhu, Managing Director of the Nigerian Film Corporation

The NFC, a parastatal within the Federal Ministry of Culture and Creative Economy, aims to promote a thriving film industry and cinema culture in Nigeria.

Bagudu also recommended that the corporation collaborate with KOICA of South Korea, Japan, and the French Embassy to advance the creative sector in the country. Dr. Ali Nuhu, described as a disruptor brought into government to use his creative ability to convey positive messages of Renewed Hope and project resilient Nigerians who strive for meaningful lives. Bagudu further called for support from international organisations and stakeholders to help the Nigerian Film Corporation enhance the country’s economic growth.

 The minister’s comments were made during a courtesy visit by Dr. Ali Nuhu and senior members of the corporation at the ministry, as stated by the ministry spokeswoman Julie Osaige-Jacobs. Abubakar Bagudu highlighted President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s deliberate establishment of the Ministry of Culture and Creative Economy, recognizing the economic contributions of certain organisations or fields to a nation’s growth.

The minister emphasised that the creative industry is our primary asset, not a liability, and is the largest employer of labour. In response, the NFC boss expressed the need for increased budget allocation to fulfil the corporation’s objectives. He highlighted that the budget increase would support maintaining liaison offices, developing the NFC permanent site, enhancing staff capacity, and recruiting new personnel. 

During her welcome speech, the Director of Economic Growth, Elizabeth Egharevba  said “Our entertainment Industry is contributing to our economic  growth and with your appointment by the President, we are positive you will achieve more”.

Delegates unveil $1.2 billion initiative to manufacture vaccines in Africa

World leaders, health organizations, and pharmaceutical companies announced a $1.2 billion funding initiative to support vaccine production in Africa during Thursday’s Global Forum for Vaccine Sovereignty and Innovation in Paris.

The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare significant global disparities in vaccine access, particularly in Africa, grappling with multiple health challenges.

Addressing attendees, French President Emmanuel Macron emphasized the importance of the African Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator as a critical step towards establishing a robust African vaccine market. He noted that currently, Africa produces only two percent of the vaccines it uses, aiming to increase production to sixty percent by 2040.

The recent resurgence of cholera across many African regions underscores the urgent need for local vaccine manufacturing capabilities. Senegal’s President Bassirou Diomaye Faye highlighted how the COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted health systems and jeopardized vaccination programs, leading to a UNICEF report revealing that 23 million children missed out on essential vaccines during the peak of the pandemic in 2021.

Also discussed at the forum, the Gavi vaccine alliance, a key event organizer, announced its intention to raise $9 billion for its vaccine programs, which distribute vaccines for over 20 diseases to underserved countries.

Gavi aims to allocate up to $1 billion over the next decade to enhance Africa’s manufacturing capabilities, improve global vaccine markets, and strengthen preparedness and response to pandemics and outbreaks.

Based in Geneva, the alliance plans to channel funds into African manufacturers upon achieving supply and regulatory milestones. This approach seeks to leverage market dynamics to lower vaccine costs and stimulate investment in production capabilities.

The initiative will also address contentious issues such as technology transfer, which some Western nations with influential pharmaceutical industries have opposed.

 Additionally, it may explore establishing an African medicines agency and resolving regulatory challenges inherent in Africa’s diverse legal frameworks.

Nigerian Stock Market Gains by N1bn

The Nigerian stock market wrapped up yesterday’s session with a mix of results, leaning towards bullish territory as the overall capitalization increased by N1 billion.

The All Share Index (ASI) climbed by 2.00 points, a 0.002% rise, closing at 99,842.95 points. Consequently, the market capitalization grew by N1 billion, ending at N56.480 trillion.
This slight uptick was influenced by gains in medium and large-cap stocks, including Guinness Nigeria, Julius Berger, Guaranty Trust Holding Company (GTCO), Unilever Nigeria, and Cadbury Nigeria.
Measured by market breadth, the market sentiment was upbeat, with 35 stocks gaining compared to 17 losers. Champion Breweries and Veritas Kapital Assurance saw the highest price increase of 10% each, closing at N3.56 and 89 kobo per share, respectively.

R.T. Briscoe Nigeria and Royal Exchange followed suit, both gaining 9.88% to close at 89 kobo and 64 kobo per share. Similarly, R.T. Briscoe Nigeria and Chams Holding Company experienced a rise of 9.79%, closing at N2.13 per share.

Conversely, Transcorp Hotels led the decliners with a 10% drop, closing at N90.00 per share. Regency Alliance Insurance was next with an 8.51% decrease, closing at 43 kobo, while LASACO Assurance declined by 6.05% to end at N2.02 per share.
NEM Insurance saw a 5.76% decline, closing at N9.00, while Fidelity Bank dropped by 4.15% to close at N10.40 per share.

The total volume traded went down by 6.04% to 1.30 billion units, valued at N25.326 billion, exchanged in 8,364 deals. FBN Holdings (FBNH) led the activity chart with 871.084 million shares valued at N19.119 billion. Fidelity Bank followed with 162.080 million shares worth N1.732 billion, and Transnational Corporation (Transcorp) traded 33.698 million shares valued at N399.732 million.

Access Holdings exchanged 23.362 million shares valued at N442.181 million, and AIICO Insurance traded 22.640 million shares worth N21.793 million.

Federal Government Announces Public Holiday for Eid-Ul-Adha

The Ministry of Interior’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Aishetu Gogo Ndayako, announced that Monday and Tuesday will be observed as public holidays for this year’s Eid-ul-Adha celebration, as declared by Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, the Minister of Interior, on behalf of the Federal Government.

Dr. Tunji-Ojo extended congratulations to all Muslim Ummah, both domestic and international. He urged them to embrace the values of peace, kindness, and sacrifice embodied by Prophet Ibrahim (Peace be upon Him), and encouraged them to pray for the unity, prosperity, and stability of the nation during this period.

The Minister affirmed the commitment of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR’s administration to protecting the lives and property of all Nigerians. “While extending Eid-ul-Adha greetings to the Muslim Ummah,” the Minister advised Nigerians to actively contribute to building a prosperous Nigeria for future generations. On June 7, Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar declared Sunday, June 16, as Eid-el-Kabir day, confirming Friday as the first day of Dhul Hijjah.

The Sultan’s announcement was conveyed by Sambo Junaid, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Religious Affairs to the Sultanate Council, Sokoto State. His Eminence, the Sultan, extends heartfelt wishes to Nigeria’s Muslim Ummah, praying for Allah’s guidance and blessings.

“The Sultan urges continued prayers for peace, progress, and development in the country, and extends best wishes for a joyous Eid-El-Kabir to all Muslims,” stated the Sultanate council.

Dangote Announces Repayment of $2.4 Billion from $5.5 Billion Refinery Loan

Aliko Dangote, the wealthiest individual in Africa and the founder of the Dangote Group, revealed that approximately $2.4 billion of the $5.5 billion loan he secured to construct his $19 billion refinery, situated near Lagos, has already been repaid.

Addressing attendees at the Afreximbank Annual Meetings (AAN) and Afro-Caribbean Trade & Investment Forum in Nassau, The Bahamas, the billionaire entrepreneur also mentioned that various local and international entities attempted to sabotage the 650,000 barrels per day facility.

Emphasizing that many had doubts about the project’s success, he commended Afreximbank and Nigeria’s Access Bank for their pivotal support, asserting that without them, the vision would have faltered.

He underscored the crucial role of financial institutions such as the African Finance Corporation (AFC), AfreximBank, and others in the industrialization of the African continent, citing their comprehensive understanding of the region’s challenges and unique issues.

Without directly naming them, he suggested that foreign banks lack interest in fostering Africa’s growth, alleging that some clandestinely attempted to force the company into defaulting on loans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Describing the situation as concerning, he expressed that proposing international project financing to them would have likely been met with rejection, as international banks would demand extensive documentation, jokingly remarking they might even ask for his great-grandmother’s birth certificate.

“We acquired the funds based on our own financial standing. Initially, we borrowed slightly over $5.5 billion. However, due to project delays caused by land acquisition challenges and prolonged sand-filling processes, we incurred significant interest expenses. For almost five years, there was minimal progress.

“We commenced active work in 2018, having borrowed the aforementioned amount. Over time, we have diligently repaid both interest and a portion of the principal, totaling approximately $2.4 billion. Considering the scale of the project, our progress has been commendable. Presently, we have around $2.7 billion remaining to settle.

“In response to queries regarding the sufficiency of crude oil feedstock supply from International Oil Companies (IOCs), Dangote remarked that entities accustomed to substantial financial gains over decades would naturally resist any change that threatens their interests. In a system where reliance on such revenue streams persisted for 35 years, the cessation of such privileges would understandably elicit opposition rather than support.”

“And I believe that’s the phase we’re currently navigating. However, the reality is that both the country, the sub-region, and indeed the entire continent of sub-Saharan Africa, require this refinery. So, we anticipate resistance in forms such as withholding crude supply or refraining from purchasing the product, but I view these obstacles as temporary. We will persevere,” he emphasized.

Highlighting his expectation of encountering opposition, Dangote acknowledged that he hadn’t anticipated its intensity. I expected some level of resistance, but I underestimated its intensity. The oil mafia, both local and foreign, have made numerous attempts to derail the refinery project,” he revealed, describing their influence as surpassing that of drug cartels.

Identifying himself as a lifelong fighter, Dangote asserted that he has faced and overcome various challenges. “I’ve encountered all sorts of opposition. However, fighting has been a constant in my life,” he remarked.

Although he acknowledged that the battle continues, he expressed confidence in eventual victory.” I am confident in our success because we have the backing of both the public and the government,” he asserted.

He emphasized the importance of Africa producing what it consumes, noting the lack of support from Western nations to the continent. “During the COVID-19 period, some international banks actively sought to push us into loan default, hoping to terminate the project. Thankfully, institutions like Afreximbank prevented this,” he revealed.

Furthermore, he disclosed that 25 percent of Dangote fertilizer currently exports to the US, highlighting its capacity to meet the urea needs of Caribbean countries.

He noted that presently, Nigeria lacks strategic oil reserves, a precarious situation. However, with the completion of the Dangote refinery, the country will have a reliable source. “So, we’re no longer living hand to mouth. Nigeria currently lacks strategic petroleum reserves, which poses significant risks. However, within our facility, we had initially 4.78 billion liters of tankage capacity, and now, with an additional capacity of 600 million liters, the refinery will effectively serve as the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve,” he explained. He emphasized that the refinery will produce and export top-quality products.

He highlighted that previously, Nigeria imported inferior-quality fuels with health implications such as cancer due to their poor quality.

Emphasizing the Dangote Group’s ambitious revenue target of over $30 billion, Dangote revealed plans to venture into the steel industry.” Our goal is to guarantee that all steel utilized in our operations is sourced from Nigeria,” he declared. He urged Africans not to be deceived, emphasizing the pivotal role of domestic investors in driving the continent’s development. “Foreigners cannot make our continent great; it’s the domestic investors that pave the way for foreign investment,” he stressed.

He emphasized that the Dangote Group currently generates approximately 1,500 megawatts of power for internal use without relying on the national grid, which would have adversely affected operations.

FG Remains Dedicated to Establishing Nigeria as West Africa’s Maritime Center, States Oyetola

Adegboyega Oyetola, Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, affirmed the Federal Government’s determination to tackle maritime challenges, aiming to elevate the sector to preeminence in West Africa and beyond. Oyetola made these assertions on Thursday, June 13, 2024, during his address at the maritime conference hosted by Business Day Media Limited.

He emphasized Nigeria’s vast potential, citing its expansive 853-kilometer coastline and advantageous location along crucial global shipping lanes, positioning the country to emerge as a maritime epicenter for West Africa and beyond.

“Yet, harnessing this potential necessitates a united effort to tackle numerous challenges that have impeded the sector’s progress and effectiveness,” he remarked.

The conference convened to explore strategies for unlocking potential and surmounting hurdles within the sector.

Nigeria’s maritime industry is a cornerstone of the nation’s economy, furnishing essential infrastructure for trade, commerce, and connectivity.

The former Osun State governor highlighted the absence of national policy and security concerns, among other issues, as key challenges confronting the sector.

In addressing these obstacles, he noted the ministry’s collaboration with law enforcement agencies to combat water insecurity.

Frank Aigbogun, the publisher of Business Day Media Limited, emphasized in his opening remarks that the maritime sector holds significant importance for the economic advancement of every nation.

“Maritime stands as a profoundly influential economic asset for every nation. The sector is undergoing significant transformation,” he remarked.

Nevertheless, he highlighted that Nigerians sometimes become engrossed in criticisms, overlooking the positive developments within the sector.

The conference presents stakeholders with a platform to network, cooperate and pioneer innovations. Industry titans, government representatives, international experts, and financial institutions converge to foster a vibrant atmosphere conducive to the cultivation of ideas and the formulation of solutions.

Nedbank Promotes the Use of Time as a Currency in South Africa

Nedbank’s latest campaign revolves around allowing customers to bank their time, and not just their money. This is based on the concept that time is more valuable than money.

The campaign is initiated by a film shot by Greg Gray of Romance Films. The story depicts an elderly man looking back at his younger self missing out on some key moments in his life. He watches his youth unfold in front of him and admits that if he could go back, he would spend more time doing the things that really matter.

Nedbank, together with Joe Public Johannesburg and Joe Public Durban, collaborated on a fully integrated campaign, which has a digital commerce platform at its heart, allowing consumers to turn saved time into a currency.

“We are proud of how smart our digital offerings are, allowing people to save time. This campaign encourages you to do the things you don’t usually have the time to do,” says Khensani Nobanda, a group executive at Nedbank.

Executive creative director at Joe Public Johannesburg, Martin Schlumpf, adds, “We’re grateful to have such a brave client. It is not often that you will hear a bank tell people that time is more valuable than money, and that you should spend it wisely.”

The mechanic behind the ‘Bank Your Time by Nedbank’ campaign is to drive people to use Nedbank’s innovative digital products and start saving time – ranging from opening an investment account to applying for a credit card.

The campaign has been further amplified on social media platforms, giving all South Africans the opportunity to #SeeMoneyDifferently.

Dangote Refinery Postpones Petrol Production Until Mid-July

Africa’s largest oil refinery, the Dangote Refinery, has rescheduled the commencement of premium motor spirit (PMS) production, commonly known as petrol, from June to mid-July.

Aliko Dangote, the President and CEO of the refinery, announced the revised production timeline during a press briefing at the $20 billion facility in Lagos on Monday. Dangote attributed the slight delay to operational factors, necessitating the shift from the initially planned June starts to mid-July. 

He mentioned that petrol production is set to begin between the 10th and 15th of July, with distribution to local marketers slated to begin in the third week of the same month.

“We experienced a slight delay, but PMS production is anticipated to commence between the 10th and 15th of July. However, we plan to allow it to settle in the tank before market release. Therefore, by the third week of July, we aim to introduce it to the market,” stated Dangote.

Simultaneously, the refinery has initiated the supply of jet fuel and diesel to domestic marketers in the country, leading to reduced prices of these products at the pump.

Additionally, Business Day reported that the $20 billion facility has initiated the export of its first jet fuel cargo to Europe. According to data from S&P Global Commodities at Sea, the initial shipment, loaded onto the vessel “Doric Breeze,” departed from the Lekki Free Zone in Lagos on May 27th and is currently en route to Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Anambra’s First Lady Commemorates Children’s Day with Orphanage Youths

May 27th marks the annual celebration of Children’s Day in Nigeria. On this occasion, numerous private and public entities extend support to the less privileged, often organizing children’s parties to foster a sense of inclusion among both disadvantaged and privileged children.

Among these charitable endeavors was the visit of Nonye Soludo, the First Lady and spouse of the Governor of Anambra State, to the Model Children Home, an orphanage in Awka, in honor of Children’s Day.

During her time at the orphanage, she advocated for enhanced welfare, affection, and kindness towards children nationwide, aiming to instill in them a sense of belonging and optimism for the future.

She stressed the importance of showering all children, especially those in orphanages, with love, care, compassion, and nurturing during this period.

The Governor’s wife also brought cooked meals and relief supplies, including financial assistance, for the children at the orphanage. Subsequently, she addressed reporters, underlining the necessity of providing children, irrespective of their background, with utmost care and protection, as they represent the nation’s future.

She elaborated that her visit aligned with the essence of Children’s Day, which is to spend quality time with children and aid them in discovering greater joy and purpose in life.

Reflecting on the significance of Children’s Day, she emphasized the importance of nurturing children and ensuring they feel valued and hopeful about their future, regardless of their circumstances.

Rev. Sister Philomena Akuchukwu, the Coordinator of the Model Children Home, expressed gratitude towards Mrs. Soludo, lauding her as humble, beautiful, lovely, and God-fearing.

The celebration at the orphanage encompassed cooking, serving meals, cutting a Children’s Day cake, engaging in games, and other presentations by the children.

In the spirit of Children’s Day, we extend warm wishes to every child, affirming that you all have the potential to shine brightly.

Brilliant Arrivals to Bring a Breath of Relief to Nigerians”

Given the rise in fuel prices and occasional scarcity faced by transporters, Garu Multi-Purpose Ltd, a Nigerian-based company, has partnered with a Chinese company (unnamed) to introduce electric and solar-powered vehicles in Nigeria.

These vehicles, which include cars, SUVs, motorcycles, pickups, and tricycles, were launched this week at Garu Multi-Purpose Ltd’s facility located at Shafa filling station in Mabushi, Abuja. Mr. Surajo Umar, a representative of the company, highlighted the special features of these vehicles.

Some cars come equipped with solar panels on their roofs, allowing them to harness solar energy for power. For those without built-in solar panels, the company provides solar panels separately.

The electric tricycles, popularly known as “Keke napep,” utilize a charger and can be connected to a port with five batteries. It takes approximately three hours for a full charge and can run for six to seven hours.

These tricycles can accommodate a minimum of six passengers and a maximum of seven. They are equipped with a reverse camera, operate without gears, and have charging ports for mobile phones.

While the electric tricycles have been introduced on a trial basis, the company plans to announce their availability for purchase once fully launched. However, the pricing details are yet to be confirmed.

The introduction of these electric and solar-powered vehicles is expected to enhance the quality of life for both transporters and Nigerians by reducing operating costs for transporters and subsequently lowering transportation expenses for citizens.

Tinubu Leaves Lagos to Inaugurate Projects in Abuja

President Bola Tinubu has left Lagos for Abuja, where he will oversee the inauguration of projects under the Federal Capital Territory Administration.

Departing from the Presidential Wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos at 11:43 AM, President Tinubu was bid farewell by Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, President Femi Gbajabiamila’s chief of staff, and other government officials.

During his recent visit to Lagos, the President inaugurated the 700-kilometer Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway, aiming to boost economic growth and development in rural areas. He also officially reopened the Third Mainland Bridge, the Apapa-Oworonshoki-Ojota Expressway, and initiated the restoration of 330 roads and bridges nationwide.

President Tinubu’s agenda in Abuja includes supervising the commissioning of various projects, including the southern Parkway connecting Christian Center to Ring Road One, named after him by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike.

On his one-year anniversary in power, May 29, 2024, President Tinubu plans to unveil the National Assembly Library Complex after participating in the National Assembly Dialogue Series. Following this, he will relaunch the commercialization of Abuja Light Rail, also known as Abuja Metro, and symbolically board the train heading into the city center.

After the train journey, Mr. Tinubu will officially inaugurate the Defence Intelligence Agency Headquarters and the Wuye Flyover-Link Bridge.

Military Confirms Reopening of Banex Plaza in Abuja

The Nigerian Army has officially declared the reopening of Banex Plaza, situated in the Wuse 2 area of Abuja, after its closure following a violent incident on May 18, 2024. The plaza was shut down following an altercation between soldiers and hoodlums amidst chaotic circumstances within the premises. The soldiers had escorted a customer, facing issues with a purchased phone, to the plaza, where the confrontation took place. The decision to resume operations at the plaza followed a meeting convened at the Office of the National Security Adviser, involving plaza management and heads of security agencies in the Federal Capital Territory.

Maj. Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, the Director of Army Public Relations, outlined the meeting’s outcomes, which included the immediate reopening of Banex Plaza to the public. Furthermore, Shop C93, the location of the attack, was to remain closed indefinitely, and the individuals responsible for orchestrating the assault were to be apprehended and handed over to the Nigeria Police. Market leaders were tasked with maintaining vigilance and reporting any remaining perpetrators to the authorities.

Two suspects associated with the incident were already in custody and had been transferred to the Nigerian Army Corps of Military Police for further investigation. Maj. Gen. Onyema stressed the importance of exercising caution when interacting with military personnel and other security operatives, emphasizing that violence against them was unacceptable and posed a threat to national security. He encouraged the public to utilize established channels to report grievances or misconduct by personnel. The Nigerian Army reaffirmed its commitment to protecting citizens and pledged to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Zenith Bank GMD Bows out Friday, Scoops Best CEO Award

For the second year in a row, Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank Plc, has won the International Banker 2024 Banking Awards’ Best Banking CEO of the Year in Africa category.

The prize and Onyeagwu’s five-year term’s end fall on Friday, as noted in the International Banker Magazine, United Kingdom, Spring 2024 issue.

Onyeagwu expressed his happiness at the prize in a statement released by the bank on Monday. 

He said, “It is indeed an honour to be recognised as the ‘Best Banking CEO of the Year in Africa’ for a second consecutive year. This award is a testament to our team’s collective efforts and our commitment to innovation, growth, and delivering value to our customers and stakeholders. 

“It also reflects our dedication to sustainability and high ethical standards, which are integral to our overall strategy. I am immensely proud of our accomplishments and look forward to future opportunities for the bank as I hand over the baton to my successor and begin the mandatory regulatory cooling-off period.”

Dr. Onyeagwu dedicated the award to Dr. Jim Ovia, the bank’s founder and chairman, for his mentorship, which was essential to his success as group managing director and chief executive officer; to the staff and management of the bank for their steadfast dedication over the previous five years; and to the bank’s patrons for their steadfast support.

During his term, Onyeagwu oversaw the bank’s achievement of important benchmarks in sustainability, corporate governance, financial inclusion, and performance.

On June 1, 2019, he was named group managing director and chief executive officer as part of Zenith Bank’s succession planning process. Dr. Adaora Umeoji, the first female GMD, would take over as the bank’s chief after him.

In honor of Zenith Bank’s exceptional risk management procedures and contributions to the larger financial community, the Chartered Risk Management Institute of Nigeria awarded its fellowship Onyeagwu last Thursday. 

Additional, Zenith bank has won various national and international accolades as a result of these accomplishments, including Best Bank for Digital Solutions in Nigeria by the Euromoney Awards 2023 and Best Bank in Nigeria four times in five years, from 2020 to 2022 and in 2024, by the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards. 

Nigerian Teenager, 18, Secures RISE Scholarship and Admission to 11 Leading US Universities

An 18-year-old Nigerian named Emmanuelle Ilok, who secured the RISE scholarship in 2022, has been accepted to 11 prestigious universities in the United States. Emmanuel, a student at Greenspring Schools in Nigeria, received admission offers from a range of top-tier institutions, including several Ivy League schools.

The universities that extended offers to her include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Columbia University, Georgia Tech University, Washington University, University of Chicago, Duke University, and Granger College of Engineering.

Emmanuelle earned the esteemed RISE program scholarship in 2022 at the age of 16, which not only acknowledged her academic prowess but also provided financial support for her higher education pursuits. Her RISE project, titled ‘CodEd,’ focused on enhancing computer science education in public schools compared to private institutions by offering teacher training, student curriculum development, and internship opportunities.

The RISE program stands as a flagship initiative within a $1 billion commitment by Eric and Wendy Schmidt to nurture talent and drive development across various domains. This program identifies promising individuals aged 15 to 17 and empowers them to tackle community challenges using their ingenuity and passion.

Emmanuelle excelled at Greenspring School, garnering numerous prestigious awards and achievements. She achieved an impressive score of 1500 on her Scholastic Assessment Tests. Additionally, she distinguished herself as a top participant in the Young Tycoons Business Challenge (YBTC) by developing an app aimed at addressing insecurity in Nigeria.

Attributing her success to the education she received at her school, Emmanuelle emphasized the institution’s focus on instilling effective communication skills, ethical values, and a spirit of community engagement through local projects.

Emmanuelle draws inspiration from Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,” underscoring the pivotal role of education in addressing societal challenges. She noted that her RISE project aligns with Sustainable Development Goal No. 4, “Inclusive Education for All,” advocating for equal opportunities for students in both public and private schools to access quality Computer Science education.

Recognized as one of the top Young African Yale Scholars, Emmanuelle’s project, titled “Introductory Computer Science/Coding Curriculum and Training Relevant and Accessible for Teachers and Students in Nigeria,” reflects her commitment to promoting computer science education in her home country.

Expressing her aspirations on LinkedIn, Emmanuelle revealed her ambition to become a Software Engineer. She expressed a keen interest in machine learning, deep learning, and artificial intelligence, aiming to leverage these technologies to address global challenges.

Cristiano Ronaldo Achieves New Goal-Scoring Milestone in Saudi Pro League with Brace against Al Ittihad

The Portuguese forward concluded the league season with 35 goals, surpassing Abderrazak Hamdallah’s previous record by one goal.

Despite missing out on the Saudi Pro League title, Cristiano Ronaldo, aged 39, concluded the season with a new milestone in goal-scoring. Ronaldo netted twice in Al Nassr’s 4-2 victory over Al Ittihad on Monday, bringing his league total to 35 goals, one more than the record set by Abderrazak Hamdallah in 2019.

Just before the end of the first half, Ronaldo, who had already seen two goals disallowed for offside, controlled a long pass from Mohammed Al Fatil and opened the scoring with a precise shot from the left side of the box. With 21 minutes left on the clock, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner ecstatically headed home a corner from Marcelo Brozovic. He was substituted five minutes later, receiving a standing ovation from the home supporters.

“I don’t chase records; records chase me,” he stated in an Instagram post.

It was a season full of action for Ronaldo, marked by four hat-tricks and a single red card. He faced suspension for a controversial gesture made in February towards Al Shabab fans chanting Lionel Messi’s name, Ronaldo’s long-standing rival.

Following their elimination by eventual champions Al Ain in the Asian Champions League quarter-finals in March, Al Nassr settled for second place in the league, trailing local rivals Al Hilal by 14 points, who completed their league campaign undefeated.

Aleksandar Mitrovic, signed from Premier League side Fulham during the summer, concluded the season with a goal in the dying moments to secure a 2-1 victory over Al Wehda. The Serbian striker ended with 27 league goals, second only to Ronaldo.

Al Hilal clinched their 19th title, a Saudi record, largely due to a world-record 34-game winning streak, halted only by Al Ain in the Asian Champions League semi-finals.

“This season has been truly exceptional for the team, arguably our best ever,” remarked Hilal coach Jorge Jesus. “The credit goes to the immense talent within the squad and the incredible sense of unity that transcends both on and off-field interactions.”

Al Ittihad’s defeat against Al Nassr marked a disappointing season for the defending champions. Despite the acquisitions of Karim Benzema from Real Madrid and midfielders N’Golo Kante from Chelsea and Fabinho from Liverpool, injuries and other challenges led the Jeddah team to only a fifth-place finish.

Al Ahli, one of the ‘Big Four’ clubs acquired by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund last June, secured third place, trailing Al Nassr by 17 points. Al Ahli clinched a 1-0 victory over Al Fayha, thanks to a late goal – his ninth of the season – from former Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino.

Ronaldo still has an opportunity to conclude the season with a trophy as Al Nassr prepares to face Al Hilal in the King’s Cup final on Friday.

Vice President Kamala Harris Aims to Provide Internet Access to 80% of Africa by 2030

US Vice President Kamala Harris has unveiled plans to establish a new alliance aimed at extending internet access to 80% of Africa by 2030, a significant increase from the current approximate coverage of 40%.

The announcement, made on Friday, is a continuation of Harris’ previous engagements on the continent, including her visit last year, and aligns with the ongoing visit to Washington by Kenyan President William Ruto. Harris and President Ruto were scheduled to participate in a fireside discussion at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Friday, focusing on the role of public-private partnerships in fostering economic growth.

A preview of Harris’ initiatives, obtained by The Associated Press, outlines her commitment to advancing digital innovation, building on promises made during her visits to Ghana, Tanzania, and Zambia.

The challenges facing African development are also highlighted.

Africa has faced challenges in securing the necessary investment to bolster its industrial and technological domains. According to a United Nations report released last year, foreign direct investment in the continent dropped to $45 billion in 2022 from a peak of $80 billion in 2021. Despite comprising around 18% of the global population, Africa only attracted 3.5% of foreign direct investment worldwide.

In addition to launching the nonprofit Partnership for Digital Access in Africa aimed at enhancing internet connectivity, Vice President Harris, a member of the Democratic Party, is introducing a new initiative aimed at providing digital economy access to 100 million individuals and businesses in the agricultural sector across Africa.

The African Development Bank Group, along with Mastercard and other organisations, will collaborate to establish the Mobilising Access to the Digital Economy Alliance (MADE). This alliance will initiate a pilot program to grant digital access to 3 million farmers in Kenya, Tanzania, and Nigeria, with plans for further expansion.

Harris, the United States’ first female vice president, is also revealing that the Women in the Digital Economy initiative, aimed at bridging the gender gap in technology access, has garnered over $1 billion in combined public and private pledges. Some commitments from the U.S. await congressional approval.

Beatrice Chebet of Kenya Establishes New World Record in 10,000 Meters

Beatrice Chebet from Kenya achieved a new world record in the 10,000 meters during the Prefontaine Classic meet on Saturday, crossing the finish line in 28 minutes and 54.14 seconds. 

This surpasses the previous record of 29 minutes and 1.03 seconds set by Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia at the FBK Stadium in the Netherlands on June 8, 2021. Chebet secured her victory ahead of Gudaf Tsegay from Ethiopia, who completed the race in 29 minutes and 5.92 seconds, amidst cloudy and cool conditions at Eugene’s Hayward Field.

Chebet began to increase her lead with three laps remaining, pushing herself even harder in the final lap.

“I felt my body responding well and I was in a strong state,” she expressed. “I felt incredibly comfortable.”

This marked her return to the 10,000-meter race in 2020 in Nairobi.

At 24 years old, Chebet clinched the silver medal in the 5,000 meters at the world championships held at Hayward Field in 2022. She also secured the bronze in the same event at the previous year’s championships in Budapest.

Her performance secured her spot in her inaugural Olympics scheduled for this summer in Paris. On Saturday, she expressed her ambition to compete in both the 5,000 and 10,000-meter events.

“But my priority is the 5,000-meter race first, with the 10,000 meters following,” she explained. “Since this is my first time racing the 10,000 outside my home country, I’m thrilled to have achieved a world record time of 28 minutes.”

The Prefontaine Classic stands as the sole American venue in the global Diamond League series.

Delegates Push for Global Adoption of Clean Cooking at Energy Conference

Attendees at a worldwide conference focused on minimizing global energy consumption are advocating for widespread availability of clean cooking, urging governments to provide incentives and subsidies to encourage greater private sector investment.

 The 9th annual conference on energy efficiency, hosted by the Paris-based International Energy Agency, convenes ministers, CEOs, and influential figures from across the globe to explore methods for accelerating advancements in energy efficiency—a crucial step in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, according to experts.

Central to the discussions is the issue of ensuring affordable access to clean cooking alternatives, such as electricity, solar power, and other environmentally friendly solutions, in lieu of more polluting fuels like charcoal, wood, and kerosene.

Brian Motherway, head of the International Energy Agency’s office of energy efficiency and inclusive transitions, highlighted, “There are numerous practical hurdles to achieving energy efficiency, not least the initial investment requirement. The pivotal factor in unlocking efficiency lies with governments – robust, coordinated governmental policies will facilitate financial support, empowering businesses and consumers to undertake measures necessary for reducing their energy bills.”

This year’s conference, currently taking place in Nairobi, is dedicated to expediting progress towards doubling energy efficiency advancements by 2030, a commitment made by governments at COP28.

During a panel discussion on Tuesday, Rashid Abdallah, executive director of the Africa Energy Commission, emphasized that “clean cooking should be integrated into any energy policy or socio-economic development plan.”

Globally, approximately 2.3 billion individuals rely on solid biomass fuels like wood, charcoal, and kerosene for cooking. In Asia, 1.2 billion people lack access to clean cooking facilities, while in Africa, over 900 million people primarily utilize biomass as their energy source, resulting in the release of harmful toxins and smoke that contribute to illnesses, fatalities, and climate change.

According to Matt Shupler, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, there is compelling evidence that household air pollution resulting from the use of unclean fuels for cooking can lead to health issues such as diabetes and adverse pregnancy outcomes like stillbirth and low birth weight. “There are numerous documented health implications,” he stated.

Cleaner alternatives, such as electric and ethanol cookers, emit fewer pollutants.

Although the affordability of clean and environmentally friendly cooking options remains a significant barrier, there are encouraging developments in the sector. Investment in clean cooking enterprises reached a record high of $215 million in 2022, with the number of enterprises generating revenue exceeding $1 million growing to 11 in the same year, as reported by the Clean Cooking Alliance.

However, despite these advancements, a substantial funding gap persists in achieving universal access to clean cooking by 2030. The International Energy Agency estimates that $8 billion in annual investment is required for clean cooking stoves, equipment, and infrastructure to reach this target.

Indonesia stands out as one of the nations that has notably expanded access to affordable, high-quality clean cooking solutions. In 2007, the government initiated a program aimed at transitioning the primary cooking fuel from kerosene to LPG.

The percentage of the population enjoying access to clean cooking doubled from 40% in 2010 to 80% in 2018. According to Dadan Kusdiana, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, effective regulation and incentives have been pivotal to the program’s success. “Our approach is to ensure energy affordability,” he remarked during a panel discussion on Tuesday. “People require this form of energy, but they are unable to afford it at market prices.”

South Africa’s Electricity Provider Postpones Closure of Coal Plants

South Africa’s state-owned power utility, Eskom, has decided to postpone the closure of several coal-fired power plants.

According to reports from local media outlet Engineering News on Monday (May 20), the Eskom board has approved the Camden, Krootflei, and Hendrina power stations to continue operations until 2030. Initially, these power stations were slated for retirement between 2023 and 2027.

Last year, South Africa faced one of its most severe electricity crises, resulting in daily power outages lasting up to nearly 10 hours, severely impacting the continent’s most developed economy. This crisis drew attention to the government’s energy transition strategy.

As developing nations are urged to prioritize environmentally friendly projects, various proposals and deals have emerged. One such deal, the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JetP) financing model, has sparked debate. This controversial deal was presented to South Africa.

In a move criticized widely, the Komati power plant in the northeastern province of Mpumalanga was decommissioned in October 2022. Plans are underway to repurpose it as a wind and solar power facility.

Army Chief Unveils Military Hospital 

Lt. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja spearheaded the introduction of an advanced medical facility in Makurdi, Benue State, a project hailed as exemplary on a national scale by Brig. Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu. The inauguration, overseen by Lt. Gen. Lagbaja, Chief of Army Staff, took place within the Joe Akahan Military Cantonment, showcasing cutting-edge medical capabilities.

Brig. Gen. Nwachukwu, spokesperson for the Nigerian Army, commended the facility as a benchmark for similar endeavors across the country, echoing sentiments expressed by the COAS. He emphasized the inclusion of an Intensive Care Unit outfitted with life-saving equipment, ensuring swift intervention before referral to higher-level medical facilities. Additionally, enhancements to the maternity wards aim to address maternal and infant mortality, a challenge exacerbated by insufficient resources.

Lt. Gen. Lagbaja highlighted the replication of such initiatives in other brigade medical centers, reaffirming the commitment to elevate healthcare standards for military personnel and their families nationwide. Stressing the significance of the project, he underscored its role in bolstering the well-being of soldiers and their families, acknowledging it as a governmental acknowledgment of their sacrifices.

Furthermore, the COAS expressed gratitude to President Bola Tinubu for unwavering support while urging the 401 Special Forces Brigade community to ensure the facility’s maintenance and optimal utilization.

Biden Welcomes Kenya’s William Ruto to Enhance Technological Collaboration

President Joe Biden extended a warm welcome to Kenyan President William Ruto during his three-day state visit to the White House, celebrating six decades of diplomatic relations and inaugurating a fresh phase of technological collaboration between their respective nations

This occasion also marked Kenya’s designation as a major non-NATO ally, coinciding with Kenya’s forthcoming deployment of troops to Haiti as part of a United Nations-led initiative aimed at addressing the security challenges in the Caribbean nation.

During his address, President Biden underscored the significance of the U.S.-Kenya partnership, particularly in the field of innovation.

He remarked, “As we commemorate 60 years of bilateral relations, it is evident that our people constitute the cornerstone of this alliance. This is most apparent in the domain of innovation. That’s why we see a multitude of enterprises represented here, spanning from Silicon Valley to Silicon Savannah. Our citizens have propelled us forward, pioneering novel technologies that are revolutionizing millions of lives.”

Biden unveiled fresh initiatives aimed at bolstering technological collaboration, encompassing exchanges and investments in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and semiconductor technologies.

He underscored the pivotal role played by the assembled leaders, stating, “We are embarking on a new chapter of technological cooperation between Kenya and the United States, encompassing innovative exchanges and strategic investments in crucial domains such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and semiconductors. The progress achieved owes much to the commitment of the leaders gathered here today.”

President Ruto echoed his enthusiasm for the partnership, emphasizing the potential for growth and innovation. He remarked, “Our youthful, skilled, and innovative population, coupled with cutting-edge American technology and the keen interest of investment capital and investors not only in Kenya but across our continent, presents an ideal alignment of circumstances. I believe we are at a historic juncture to explore investment opportunities between Kenya and the United States.”

The visit underscores Kenya’s strategic significance in the region and the potential for expanded collaboration across various sectors. It also aligns with the broader U.S. strategy to strengthen connections with African nations through technological and economic alliances.

Throughout the state visit, which commenced with a gathering of American and Kenyan tech leaders, the two presidents deliberated on strategies to capitalize on their nations’ respective strengths. Their discussions centered on nurturing innovation and confronting global challenges, spanning from cybersecurity risks to the imperative for robust advancements in AI and semiconductor technologies.

While the designation of Kenya as a major non-NATO ally carries symbolic weight, it signifies a deepening of military and security collaboration. This step reinforces Kenya’s involvement in global peacekeeping endeavors, including its forthcoming mission to Haiti.

Ghanaian Toddler Sets Guinness World Record, Spurs Advocacy for Early Talent Development

Ghanaian artist Amarkine Amateifio is urging parents throughout Ghana and Africa to foster their children’s talents from an early age, emphasizing the profound impact this can have on their future achievements. 

This call to action comes in response to the recent feat of one-year-old Ace Liam, who shattered a Guinness World Record, underscoring the remarkable potential young children harbored with opportunities to explore their skills.

The groundbreaking accomplishment of Ace Liam was unveiled during a press briefing on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. His journey towards this milestone commenced with a bold endeavor to imitate his mother’s daily routines within her art studio.

Chantelle Eghan, the mother of Ace Liam, recounted their journey, explaining, “He observes me painting and starts to paint as well. Whenever I set up my workspace, he brings his chair and joins me effortlessly.” She detailed how, at just six months old, Ace began experimenting with blending and spreading paint on canvas, progressing to using a paintbrush with remarkable intuition by the age of 11 months.

Ace Liam’s achievement astonished many Ghanaians who harbored doubts about the capacity of a one-year-old to produce meaningful art. However, Amateifio perceives Ace Liam’s accomplishment as a significant breakthrough. “Every child possesses such potential. 

They enter the world as artists, scientists, and engineers. We, the adults, inhibit them from sustaining these capabilities. I attribute all credit to the nurturing home environment, particularly to his mother, Kukua, who cultivated the conducive atmosphere for the talents this child brings into the world to thrive,” he remarked.

Guinness World Records officially acknowledged Ace Liam after his exhibition in Accra from January 18 to 20, 2024, surpassing the 31-year-old record set by Dante Lamb, who achieved a similar feat at three in 2003.

Amateifio emphasized the significance of fostering children’s innate inclinations, asserting, “From a very young age, children manifest their inherent tendencies. Children arrive to contribute and enhance the world. Liam’s Guinness World Record should catalyze parents to prioritize their children, furnish them with ample resources, and equip them with the necessary tools to nurture their talents.”

South Africa: Jacob Zuma Unveils New Party Manifesto

On Saturday, Jacob Zuma, the ex-president of South Africa, expressed concern over the significant poverty faced by Black South Africans. He pledged to generate employment opportunities and combat crime while introducing his new political party’s manifesto in anticipation of the forthcoming elections.

Addressing a large crowd at Johannesburg’s Orlando Stadium, he outlined plans to establish factories for widespread employment and offer free education to the nation’s youth.

He has additionally committed to amending the nation’s Constitution to bolster the authority of traditional leaders, arguing that their societal role has been diminished by the increased powers granted to magistrates and judges.

Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe party, referred to locally as the MK Party, has become a notable contender in South Africa’s forthcoming elections since its inception in December of last year.

He is presently engaged in a legal dispute with the country’s electoral body, the Independent Electoral Commission.

He has lodged an appeal against a court ruling that disqualified him from running in the election due to his criminal record. Zuma was handed a 15-month prison sentence for flouting a court directive to appear before a judicial inquiry investigating corruption allegations within government and state-owned enterprises during his tenure as president from 2009 to 2018. 

In 2018, he resigned as the nation’s president amid widespread corruption accusations, but he has reentered the political arena with aspirations to reclaim the presidency.

“My main concern is that South Africa has an excessive number of political parties. Far too many. They exacerbate the suffering of our people,” Zuma expressed to his supporters, many of whom had journeyed from other provinces like Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, where he still commands significant backing.

The former president attributes the country’s elevated crime rates to poverty among black citizens.

“Victims of crime are often individuals of Black ethnicity. This is primarily attributable to poverty,” he remarked. “People endure hunger, having nothing to sustain them. So, if food is readily available nearby, what other recourse do they have?”

Zuma articulated that his party’s objective is to secure more than 65% of the national vote in the impending elections, enabling them to enact significant alterations to the country’s constitution.

Recent surveys and expert analyses indicate that the ruling African National Congress may receive less than 50% of the national vote in the forthcoming elections, necessitating potential coalition formations with smaller parties to retain governance.

South Africans are scheduled to cast their votes on May 29th.

UN General Assembly Proclaims May 25 as Global Football Day

May 25th is now officially designated as World Football Day, following a resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, May 7th. This decision allows football enthusiasts worldwide to commemorate the most beloved sport.

The significance of May 25th lies in its marking of the 100th anniversary of the inaugural international soccer tournament, which featured representation from all regions. This historic event took place during the 1924 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, as detailed in the resolution.

The resolution, co-sponsored by over 160 countries, was adopted unanimously by the 193-member General Assembly. The decision was sealed with the striking of the gavel by its president, Dennis Francis, eliciting applause from diplomats gathered in the assembly chamber.

Who proposed this resolution?

The resolution was introduced by Libya’s U.N. Ambassador, Taher El-Sonni. Addressing the assembly, El-Sonni emphasized, “Football, or soccer as it is known in some regions, holds the title as the most widely played and followed sport worldwide.”

However, he underscored that football transcends mere recreation, being played by individuals of all ages in various settings, including streets, villages, schools, and courtyards, both for leisure and in competitive contexts.

 El-Sonni highlighted the sport’s “unrivaled prominence” in the global sporting landscape, stating, “Football acts as a universal language spoken across borders, transcending national, cultural, and socio-economic divides.”

The resolution acknowledges “the worldwide influence of football and its role in numerous domains, including commerce, peace, and diplomacy, while acknowledging that football fosters opportunities for collaboration.”

It also acknowledges “the pivotal role” played by FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, and underscores the significant contributions of regional and national soccer federations, as well as pertinent associations, in advancing the sport.

Furthermore, the resolution urges all nations to endorse soccer and other sports as instruments for fostering peace, development, and the empowerment of women and girls.

On May 25th, the resolution “urges” all countries, U.N. entities, international bodies, academic institutions, civil society, and private enterprises to observe World Football Day by their respective national priorities “and to promote the benefits of football for all, including through educational initiatives and public awareness campaigns.”

Actor Kanayo Engages Son in Filmmaking as Assistant Manager

Kanayo stressed in the video that his son should receive the same treatment as any other crew member since he is present at work. Nigerian veteran actor and lawyer, Kanayo O. Kanayo, widely recognized as K.O.K., has revealed that his eldest son, Clinton Onyeze Mbaise, is now part of the Nollywood film industry.

Kanayo revealed this in a video he posted on his Instagram page on Monday noting that his son will be joining his production company, Simpliciter Associates Productions, as an assistant production manager and personal assistant to him.

Kanayo emphasized in the video that his son should be treated like any other crew member because he is there to work and should not be given any preferential treatment because of his kinship.

He stated, “Meet Clinton Onyeze Mbaise, my eldest son. Today, he joins us as the assistant production manager and as my assistant.

“Please, do not treat him differently because he’s my son. I’m cautioning everyone about this. He’s here to work and will be compensated like any other individual. Let’s refrain from referring to him solely as K.O.K.’s son. I won’t tolerate that. Let’s regard him as an integral part of the production team.”

KOK also revealed that Clinton recently graduated from Babcock University, majoring in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). He stated, “So, he’s joining us today. He’s fresh out of Babcock University, where he pursued ICT. He’ll be shadowing the production manager to learn the ropes.

“Treat him respectfully, just as you treat everyone else with respect. That’s the kind of environment I want him to thrive in. It would help if you didn’t indulge my son in ways that would compromise his growth,” he emphasized.

In his caption, Kanayo mentioned that Clinton will initially focus on studies in management and filmmaking before exploring other areas of interest. He also believed that it’s valuable for children to gain experience working within their family’s businesses or other enterprises.

“We should encourage our children to gain firsthand experience in our organizations or other workplaces to understand the value of hard work and industry. Congratulations, Onyeze. Welcome aboard Simpliciter Associates Productions,” he wrote in his caption.

Opay Reaches a Market Value of $3 Billion as Nigeria Experiences Surge in Digital Payments

Over the past year, Opay experienced significant growth, mostly driven by a currency redesign that caused cash scarcity, prompting more Nigerians to turn to fintech apps like Moniepoint and Opay for transactions.

According to the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement Scheme (NIBSS), annual digital payments reached N611 trillion by the end of 2023.

With Opay’s user base quadrupling and its revenue increasing by over 60% throughout 2023, it is safe to say that Opay experienced significant growth. However, Opay is faced by challenges related to fraud and customer safety. This has led regulatory bodies, such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, to enact stricter rules to ensure account safety.

The Central Bank of Nigeria reportedly directed fintech firms like Moniepoint, Opay, Kuda Bank and Palmpay to restrict new account openings. This move is aimed at preventing further illegal activities.

Namibia achieves significant advancements in eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission

On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that Namibia has become the inaugural African nation and the first high-burden country globally to achieve a significant milestone in eliminating the transmission of both HIV and viral hepatitis B from mother to child.

The World Health Organization noted that eastern and southern Africa collectively bear over half of the global HIV burden, while the continent is responsible for two-thirds of all new hepatitis B infections worldwide. Namibia, where over 200,000 individuals live with HIV, experiences a disproportionate impact on women due to new infections. Anne Githuku-Shongwe, Regional Director for East and Southern Africa at UNAIDS remarked, “In many countries, we are neglecting our children by not providing them with the same level of treatment as their mothers and other adults.”

“We commend Namibia’s steadfast commitment to combating this injustice, and we take pride in acknowledging their remarkable endeavor to ensure no child is left behind. They stand as a guiding light for the entire region,” she expressed. HIV testing is nearly universally accessible among pregnant women throughout Namibia, and the availability of treatment has resulted in a 70% decrease in vertical transmission over the past two decades.

In 2022, just 4% of infants born to mothers with HIV contracted the virus, marking a significant achievement.

Furthermore, nearly 80% of newborns received the hepatitis B vaccine birth dose promptly, a crucial indicator of progress toward elimination. Namibia has effectively integrated primary healthcare services with antenatal, child health, and sexual and reproductive health services, ensuring widespread availability of free clinical services and support. Recognizing specific criteria, the World Health Organization has honored Namibia with “silver tier” status for its advancements in reducing hepatitis B and “bronze tier” status for its progress in combating HIV.

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, remarked, “This marks a pivotal accomplishment, illustrating the potential to save lives through dedicated political stewardship and the successful execution of public health imperatives.”

The WHO’s Triple Elimination Initiative, targeting the transmission of hepatitis B, HIV, and syphilis, strives to protect the well-being of mothers and children, asserting the fundamental right of every child to enter the world devoid of the burden posed by these viruses.

 

Italy’s Prime Minister Visits Libya to Finalise Agreements as Part of “Mattei Strategy” for Africa

The Prime Minister of the UN-backed Libyan government welcomed his Italian counterpart to Tripoli on Tuesday, May 7th. 

Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and Giorgia Meloni engaged in bilateral discussions. Meloni was accompanied by the Minister of University and Research, the Minister of Health, and the Minister of Sport and Youth, who signed memoranda of understanding to enhance cooperation.

 These agreements cover areas such as university collaboration, research, healthcare, sports, and youth initiatives, all within the framework of the Mattei Plan. This plan, supported by the Italian government, aims to mitigate illegal migration from Africa to Italy by fostering economic development and positioning Italy as a crucial energy hub.

Libya’s strategic location along the Mediterranean, coupled with the tumultuous aftermath of Muammar Gaddafi’s demise, has turned the nation into a primary pathway for migrants attempting to reach Europe.

 Amidst this instability, the country fractured, giving rise to rival administrations in the eastern and western regions, each supported by various militias and foreign entities. The route from Libya to Italy has now become one of the most frequented and perilous passages for sea migration. 

Additionally, according to the Italian news agency Agenzia Nova, Meloni plans to hold discussions with Khalifa Haftar, the influential figure who effectively controls the eastern sector of Libya. 

Before its engagements in Libya and, more recently, Albania, Italy, a coastal European nation, has sought greater solidarity from its EU counterparts, largely without success.

Constructing Brewery in Benue Despite Monthly Expenditure of N850 Million

The decision has been made by the Benue State Government to introduce its beer label, aiming to retain capital within the state. 

Dr. Raymond Asemakaha, the Managing Director of Benue Investment and Property Company, disclosed this information to journalists on Tuesday. He indicated that the beer’s name will be unveiled during its launch in December. Asemakaha, guiding reporters on a tour of the planned brewery, water, and bakery facilities in Makurdi, the state capital, clarified that recent research highlighting significant monthly expenditures on beer consumption outside the state prompted the establishment of the brewery initiative.

Asemakaha underscored the company’s commitment to furnishing Benue residents and Nigerians with premium beer crafted within the state, utilizing locally procured ingredients. He clarified that BIPC’s objective isn’t to engage in direct competition with established breweries but rather to provide consumers with a distinctive beer experience.

Highlighting the prevalent alcohol consumption rate in the state and the consequent outflow of finances from Benue, he emphasized the rationale behind the decision to enter the beer production sector: to maintain economic circulation within the state.

Asemakaha stated that the brewery’s anticipated production capacity is 180,000 bottles daily, with fermentation lasting 15 days. He outlined the strategy to lower beer prices in the region while avoiding direct competition with other breweries. Asemakaha reaffirmed the objective of keeping profits within Benue by encouraging local support for their products.

Additionally, Asemakaha highlighted intentions to procure raw materials locally and indicated that full-scale production at the facility would commence in the initial week of December. He also discussed plans to distribute seedlings to farmers to boost local output.

The managing director estimated the brewery project’s cost to fall between ₦700 and ₦800 million, expressing confidence in securing the required funding.

 

Burkina Faso: Ibrahim Traoré Dedicates Over 78 Billion CFA Francs in Equipment to Enhance Agricultural Sector

President Ibrahim Traoré of Burkina Faso has taken steps to boost agricultural productivity by allocating equipment valued at over 78 billion CFA francs to local producers. The distribution occurred on Monday as part of the government’s initiatives to foster food self-reliance and strengthen the agro-pastoral and fisheries sectors.

 

Under the guidance of the Transitional authorities, a significant increase in support for agro-sylvo-pastoral producers has been announced for the year 2024. President Traoré emphasized the notable expansion in resources, noting that the equipment and fertilizers provided this year far exceed previous allocations. 

 

“This year, we are allocating twice the amount of equipment compared to 2023 and over five times the average quantity distributed in the past 5 years. Similarly, the provision of chemical fertilizers will see an allocation of approximately 68,900 tons, more than double the amount distributed in 2023 and over five times the average of the past 5 years,” President Traoré remarked.

 

President Traoré, in his efforts to encourage youth participation in agriculture, highlighted the deployment of focal points in different regions that will offer support to aspiring producers.

 

This initiative underscores the government’s dedication to assisting local farmers and advancing agricultural development throughout Burkina Faso. The significant investment in agricultural equipment and resources reflects a renewed commitment to strengthening the country’s agricultural sector and fostering food self-sufficiency. 

 

The distribution of equipment and fertilizers is anticipated to have a substantial impact on enhancing agricultural productivity and enhancing the livelihoods of producers in Burkina Faso.

Borno State Governor Initiates 113km Maiduguri Ring Road Project

Governor Zulum Commences 113km Maiduguri Ring Road Project

Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, officially inaugurated the Maiduguri Ring Road Project on Monday. This project spans 113 kilometers and links the eastern, western, and southern sectors of the city.

This ambitious endeavor is part of Governor Zulum’s forward-thinking urban renewal strategy, aimed at easing traffic congestion, addressing housing shortages, fostering employment opportunities, and boosting economic growth in the region.

 During his speech, Zulum outlined the phased implementation of the project, starting with the construction from Maiduguri-K16.5 Road to Maiduguri-Monguno Rd. via Maid-Gubio Rd., covering an initial distance of 16.5km.

 “Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, is grappling with significant challenges due to the influx of internally displaced persons, which is exerting immense pressure on the city’s resources to meet the population’s needs, particularly in housing and shelter. We are taking proactive measures to alleviate the city’s congestion.”

The Borno State Government has opted to commence the initial phase of the project, covering approximately 16.5km.” By the grace of God, we are committed to expanding this endeavor to encompass the entire 113km of the ring road,” stated Zulum. 

The Governor also directed the Ministry of Works and Housing to ensure the delivery of high-quality work that can endure over time.”I implore you to handle this with utmost care and ensure that upon completion, the road maintains its durability for the next thirty years.” Do not prioritize costs over standards. I envision this road remaining resilient for years to come,” he emphasized. The Commissioner of Works and Housing, Engineer Mustapha Gubio, assured the governor of the project’s prompt completion while adhering strictly to all engineering specifications.

Providing an update to the Governor, Engr Sadu Auno, the Executive Secretary of Borno State Road Maintenance Agency, stated that the road features dual carriageways with a width of 7.3 meters, adhering to Federal Government standards and all engineering specifications.

 Additionally, Engr Adam Bababe, the Executive Secretary of the Borno State Geographic Information Service (BOGIS), mentioned that compensation totaling over N1.6 billion was disbursed to 732 individuals whose farmlands were affected by the project. He also highlighted plans to develop residential, commercial, industrial, recreational, and institutional areas along the ring road, covering approximately 2,000 hectares of land.

Kenyan Government Provides Food Assistance to Flood-Displaced Individuals

The flooding crisis persists in Kenya as rains persist, resulting in a death toll surpassing 200. Officials report 164 individuals currently missing, while 42,526 households, impacting over 210,000 people, have been displaced. The Interior Ministry has initiated the establishment of camps across the nation to accommodate those affected by the floods.

In Kisumu County, adjacent to Lake Victoria, displaced individuals have started to receive food assistance. Mercelyne Atieno Anyanga, an elderly widow forced from home by the floods, laments, “We are suffering from this lake; its waters are wreaking havoc on us here. When I survey the area, words fail me.” Nearby, a woman distributes handfuls of grain to those waiting.

The government faces challenges in addressing the escalating needs during this humanitarian crisis, amidst criticism of its inadequate response to the flooding.

 In Kisumu, Eliud Owalo, the Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication, and Digital Economy, reassures the public that the government is taking action.

 “Our current efforts to aid those stranded include helicopter evacuation services and providing short-term relief food support,” he explains. Looking ahead, he emphasizes, “However, our long-term strategy involves desilting the lake to redirect water from the Nyando River inward, rather than outward towards households.” This river, draining into the Winam Gulf of Lake Victoria, is a significant sediment source. 

The government has mandated the evacuation of residents near bodies of water at full capacity, warning of potential forced relocation.

With water levels at two major hydroelectric dams reaching record highs, downstream communities along the Tana River have been alerted to potential risks.

Ugandan Doctors Develop Application to Detect Reproductive Tract Infections

The Medical Team at Makerere University Hospital

The directorate for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) at Makerere University supported the medical team to jointly develop the Mak RTI mobile app launched on Friday at Makerere University Hospital in Kampala.

The Android-based mobile application is aimed at promoting reproductive health awareness and access to treatment.

The general public can access the service via Google Play Store on smartphones and get information on the different types of reproductive tract infections (RTIs), including their common signs and symptoms. The application is also designed to permit users to get assistance in case of emergencies, book appointments at Makerere University Hospital or chat with a doctor.

Professor Damalie Nakanjako, the Principal of the College of Health Services, at the launch, commended the team for developing the innovation. “Our vision as the College of Health Services is to provide transformative education and research to meet societal needs, so, this is meeting the needs of our population,” Dr Nakanjako said.

Professor Josaphat Byamugisha, the Director of Makerere University Health Services, said the infections are common among the active age group of 15 years and 49 years.

Reproductive Tract Infections are caused by organisms normally present in the reproductive tract, or introduced from the outside part of the body during sexual intercourse.

The medical experts advise the public to observe healthy practices such as wearing condoms as well as observing ideal bathing and toilet practices, as part of the prevention measures.

The application was developed with funding from the government under the Makerere University Research and Innovations fund. The amount of funding was, however, not disclosed.