AFRICAN Development Bank, AfDB, has provided US$73.6 million to Malawi and Zambia for multinational Nacala road corridor phase IV. The board of directors of the African Development Fund, ADF, the concessionary arm of the AfDB Group, on December 3, approved a loan of US$65.0 million and a grant of US$900,000 to Malawi, and also a loan of US$7.7 million to Zambia, respectively. Altogether, a total of about US$73.6 million was approved for the multinational Nacala road corridor development project phase IV.
The facilities constitute part of the fund’s contributions towards strengthening Malawi and Zambia’s transport infrastructure to promote inclusive growth and expand trade and regional integration. The project is a continuation of the Nacala road development corridor being supported by the AfDB in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zambia, respectively. The Phase IV will involve rehabilitation of a 75-kilometre road between Liwonde and Mangochi and the establishment of One-Stop Border Posts at Chiponde and Mchinji at the Malawi-Mozambique and Malawi-Zambia borders, respectively.
Under the four phases of the project, more than 900 km of road are under construction or rehabilitation in the three countries. The project has been a model of donor cooperation. The AfDB financing of the corridor has been crucial in bringing other co-financing partners such the European Union, the European Investment Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency and Korea Exim Bank.
The Nacala corridor at its completion will be one of the most cost-effective routes to the sea for imports and exports from Malawi, Zambia and western Mozambique. It will also contribute significantly to boosting intra-regional trade and integrating the economies of the Southern African Development Community region.
The project is expected to generate more than 400 temporary jobs and about 100 permanent jobs. It is anticipated that 70 per cent of the jobs will be taken up by youth and 25 per cent by women. In addition, three roadside markets will be constructed at convenient locations along the road to provide business opportunities to small-scale traders for which 60 per cent are women. The project will also provide for the training of women traders in export and import processing and entrepreneural skills.
Cart Before the Horse
STAKEHOLDERS in the maritime industry have kicked against the recent introduction of 75 percent levy on imported fairly-used vehicles, popularly called tokunbo, and warned that the new policy would have adverse effect on the nation’s economy. The stakeholders explained that the policy would not only lead to diversion of cargoes to neighbouring countries, but would also deprive Nigerians from driving cars.
Yenukume Nohoesu, managing director, Braveview Investment Limited, said that government did not take the plight of the people into consideration before coming up with the decision. “The government has not taken time to look into the plight of the people in the middle-class. With the duty raised to 75 percent, assuming the vehicle costs N600,000 earlier, with 75 percent of N600,000 being about N450,000, nobody will buy it at N1.05 million in Nigeria. Compare this with the new vehicles to be manufactured in Nigeria when there is no infrastructure; light or power to work and produce vehicles, no plant to assemble vehicles right now in Nigeria; they are only making Nigerians poorer. What government should have done is to allow for the commencement of the manufacture of those vehicles before increasing duty on tokunbo cars. Nigerians are managing to buy those cars to survive,” he said.
Similarly, Samuel Elem, secretary, Association of Freight-Forwarders, ASSOFF, Apapa chapter, said the policy had shown that the federal government does not have plans for the down-trodden. He noted that most Nigerians would not be able to afford the fairly-used vehicles coming in from Europe, unless there is a plant that can manufacture cars at a cheaper rate.
A source close to the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Tin-can Island chapter, said that importers and agents at Tin Can Island are re-strategising on how to engage the government on the proposed hike. The source said that some stakeholders including ANLCA will be meeting with the government in Abuja soon to make their views known on the negative implications of the hike. The source also explained that the increase will not only lead to diversion of cargoes to Cotonou, but will lead to smuggling and loss of jobs. The source also said that the policy will also affect the revenue collection of government agencies like the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS.
A Boost in Local Rice Production
THE federal government said it is ready to produce 2.6 million metric tons of paddy rice in the 2014 dry season farming following the success it had recorded in the wet season rice cultivation and production. Akinwumi Adesina, minister of agriculture and rural development, disclosed this during a courtesy call by commercial farmers from Zamfara State in Abuja.
Adesina commended the farmers for their productivity and for also keying into the agricultural transformation agenda in the agricultural sector. He said the transformation recorded in Zamfara State agricultural sector had made it possible for government to record a great leap after 28 years of the down trend in agricultural activities, adding “agriculture has become a serious business in the state.”
“Last year, when President Goodluck Jonathan approved that we do dry season rice farming and production, it was the first time in the country that the federal government took a policy decision to produce rice in the dry season. As we are going into this dry season, our expectation is that we will produce 1.6 million metric tons of paddy rice in this dry season. Already in this wet season that just ended, our estimation is 9, 000 metric tons in the main season and we are going to do 1.6 metric tons in the dry season. If you add both, you will get 2.6 million metric tons of paddy rice by the end of the season.
“That means that we will produce the equivalent of 80 percent of what our needs are and if we can mill it in industrial scale quality, that will be 1.7 million metric tons of milled rice, and the total amount we are importing is 2.1 million metric tons of rice. People want us to continue to import rice. So, when they see us producing rice, they are not happy because they want to bring in rice from Thailand, and that will not be our portion,” he said.
The minister noted that the federal government was seriously working hard to get a lot more of integrated rice mills into this country, saying that he would be leading a delegation of Rice Processors and Millers Association of Nigeria to China. “We have decided that we are going to adjust our tariff system, duties and levies to cut off those who are trying to kill us with smuggling through Benin Republic. And we are also going to have rice aggregation centres; all of them will be equipped to clean, grade and guarantee a price for the rice and it will be sold to the millers. That already, I have asked USAID to lead that effort and they are designing it.”
Compiled by Anayo Ezugwu
— Dec. 16, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT