What Should Be Done For Economic Recovery, Growth In Africa – Okonjo-Iweala
…Explains Why COVID-19 Vaccine Is Scarce
John Michael Ojo
The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation and former Nigerian Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has given a list of actions that must be taken by African leaders and entrepreneurs for the economic development of the continent.
Okonjo-Iweala disclosed this while appearing as a guest speaker at the UBA Africa Day celebration alongside President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, World Health Organisation Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Managing Director of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Makhtar Diop and the host, Chairman of UBA group, Tony O. Elumelu.
According to her, to catalyse the economic growth of the African continent, “Africa leaders must, first of all, solve the health problem, see the short- term economic policy, like how can we get more fiscal stimulus into our system ?
Okonjo-Iweala revealed that ” the developed countries are recovering very fast because they’ve been implementing a massive amount of fiscal stimulus. For the rich countries, 28 percent of GDP, the emerging market, 6.9 percent and for the poorer countries with about 2 percent.
” if we want to recover, Africans must invest not only in health but also in the economy.
“The good news is, all our Presidents like President Kagame have been pushing for SDR, Special Drawing Rights at the International Monetary Fund and $650 billion has been agreed and Africa will get $34 billion.
“We can use this to help implement more fiscal stimulus so that our economy can have the ability to recover.
“Of that, we should use some of the liquidity for the private sector.
“In the rich countries, private sectors have access to credit and liquidity, small and medium have been able to recover, we need to do that too. We need to look at how we can revive the service sector too,
” Many of our countries depend on tourism, some of our countries depend on logistics like aviation in Ethiopia. How to get these industries revived is very important, these are all in the short term.
“In the long term, we need to diversify our economy. We are too vulnerable to movement in commodity prices and we have seen it during the pandemic.
“The commodities we depend on have seen a lot of fluctuations, be it minerals, oil or gas.
READ ALSO: CBN Retains MPR At 11.5 Per Cent
“The countries that are doing better are those that have more diversified economy. So we need to do that in the long term.
“And we must take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area, specialise some of our countries in production, trade more with each other and also more with the outside.”
The WTO DG also revealed that the scarcity of COVID-19 vaccine around the world was as a result of the actions of some countries that went against the initial plan of the World Health Organization to vaccinate a certain proportion of the society.
According to her, in order to ensure an equitable distribution and access by various nations to the vaccine, the WHO through its Director-General, Dr. Tedros, created an ACT-Accelerator to enable people to access vaccine therapeutic and diagnostic.
The idea according to the WTO DG was “to try and ensure equity of access. That the world should vaccinate 3 per cent of the people who are frontline workers and then the next 20 per cent of those who are vulnerable.
“If everybody did that, we would have had access in an equitable fraction.
“But some countries decided to do otherwise and vaccinated everybody. And we got into this situation with the scarcity of supply and inequality,” the WTO DG added.
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BREAKING: Old N200, N500, N1,000 Notes Remain Legal Tender Till Dec 31 – CBN
In compliance with a ruling of the Supreme Court, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has declared that old N200, N500, N1,000 banknotes remain legal tender till December 31, 2023.
The apex bank’s Acting Director of Corporate Communications, Isa AbdulMumin spoke in a statement on Monday. This is coming 10 days after the Supreme Court ruled that old naira notes should co-exist with new ones till the end of the year.
“In compliance with the established tradition of obedience to court orders and sustenance of the Rule of Law Principle that characterized the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, and by extension, the operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as a regulator, Deposit Money Banks operating in Nigeria have been directed to comply with the Supreme Court ruling of March 3, 2023.
“Accordingly, the CBN met with the Bankers’ Committee and has directed that the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 31, 2023.
“Consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly,” the statement read.
The highest court of the land had on March 3 ordered that old N200, N500 and N1000 notes remain valid till December 31, 2023.
This was after 16 states of the federation instituted a suit to challenge the legality or otherwise of the introduction of the policy.
The 16 states led by Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara had prayed the apex court to void and set aside the policy on the ground that it is inflicting hardships on innocent Nigerians.
The Supreme Court subsequently ruled that President Muhammadu Buhari’s disobedience of its February 8 order is a sign of dictatorship, adding that the President breached the Constitution of the Federation in the way he issued directives for the re-designing of the Naira by the CBN.
After the March 3 judgement by the Supreme Court, the Presidency, CBN and the AGF kept mum, throwing many bank customers and Nigerians into confusion as the ruling of the apex court contradicted the directive of the President on February 16 that old N500 and N1000 notes are banned and old N200 notes remain valid till April 10.
However, the Presidency broke its silence on Monday, saying the President never told the CBN and the AGF not to obey the order of the apex court.
“The CBN has no reason not to comply with court orders on the excuse of waiting for directives from the President,” the Presidency noted.
According to the Presidency, the President is an absolute respecter of the rule of law and that the “negative campaign and personalised attacks against the President by the opposition and all manner of commentators is unfair and unjust.”
The CBN had extended the deadline for the swap of old N200, N500, and N1,000 from January 31 to February 10 following complaints by many Nigerians but the Supreme Court, after a suit filed by the states, held that the Federal Government, the CBN, commercial banks must not continue with the February 10 deadline pending the determination of a notice in respect of the issue.
However, the President, in a national broadcast on February 16, directed the apex bank to release old N200 notes into circulation to co-exist with new N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes for 60 days — by April 10, 2023. He also said old N500 and N1,000 banknotes cease to be legal tender in Nigeria.
There has been a flurry of reactions and stark criticisms against the President’s directive including from governors of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Governors Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Umar Ganduje (Kano); Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; and many stalwarts of the ruling APC have openly censured and faulted the President’s directive, arguing that it has no grounds because the case is before the apex court.
Leading Senior Advocates of Nigeria like Femi Falana and Mike Ozekhome have equally faulted the President’s move, saying he cannot overrule the apex court of the land.
CBN Asked Banks To Receive Old Naira Notes – Soludo
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has asked commercial banks to dispense and accept old naira notes as deposits, according to Anambra State Governor Charles Soludo.
Soludo, a former CBN governor, made this known in a statement he posted on his social media handles.
He explained that the Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele gave the directive at a Banker’s Committee meeting on Sunday.
He added that Emefiele personally confirmed the directive to him.
According to him, residents should report banks refusing to accept the old notes.
“Commercial banks have been directed by the Central Bank to dispense old currency notes and also to receive the same deposits from customers. Tellers at commercial banks are to generate the codes for deposits, and there is no limit to the number of times an individual or company can make deposits.”
“The Governor of the CBN gave the directive at a Bankers’ Committee meeting held on Sunday, 12th March 2023. The Governor, Dr Godwin Emefiele, personally confirmed the above to me during a phone conversation on Sunday night. Residents of Anambra are therefore advised to freely accept and transact their businesses with the old currency notes (N200, N500; and N1,000) and the new notes”, the statement added.
Elon Musk Reclaims Title As World’s Richest Man
Months after losing the title of the world’s richest man, Elon Musk has regained it.
A rally in Tesla’s stock price on Monday boosted the Twitter owner’s net worth by nearly $7bn to $187bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Musk’s recovery of the top spot from the French luxury goods magnate Bernard Arnault follows a precipitous drop in his wealth in late 2022, when he became the first person ever to amass and then lose $200bn. His wealth peaked at about $340bn in November 2021 and fell to about $128bn at the start of 2023.
Musk’s personal wealth primarily derives from stock in Tesla. The electric carmaker lost nearly two-thirds of its value in 2022, amid investor concerns over weakening demand, Musk’s distracting purchase of Twitter and the tumultuous start to his tenure atop the social media platform.
While Musk’s troubles at Twitter continue, having reportedly fired an additional 200 employees over the weekend after already slashing the workforce from 7,500 to about 2,000 since October, the share price of Tesla has risen nearly 90% since the start of 2023.
On Wednesday, the company will hold its annual Investor Day at its factory in Austin, Texas, and Musk is expected to discuss future products, including the long-promised Cybertruck and Semi Truck, along with plans to expand its production infrastructure around the world.
One such plan was previewed on Tuesday, when the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said Musk had promised him by phone that Tesla will build a new factory in the city of Monterrey.
“This is going to mean a considerable investment and many, many jobs,” López Obrador said.
Tesla already has plants in China and Germany, and analysts suggest it may expand to Canada as well as Indonesia.
The carmaker continues facing challenges, however, including increased scrutiny of its driver assistance technology. It announced a recall of 362,000 vehicles on 16 February after regulators said its Full Self-Driving Beta software did not follow traffic laws.
Shareholders filed another lawsuit on Monday against Musk alleging that Tesla’s repeated exaggeration of its self-driving capabilities amounted to fraud.
Musk also keeps courting controversy through his erratic and provocative behavior online. After lifting bans on white supremacists, neo-Nazis and QAnon conspiracy theorists on Twitter, the billionaire has curried favor with rightwing trolls and activists.
On Monday, he threw his support behind Scott Adams, the Dilbert cartoonist whose racist rant in a recent YouTube appearance has led to the cancellation of his comic strip in US newspapers.
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